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.
The Petit Noel art exhibit and sale features a variety of work by local and area painters, photographers, potters and artisans at the Callander Bay Heritage Museum & Alex Dufresne Gallery. “We have over 30 people participating and the show is a great snapshot of the various artistic talents we have here in Northeastern Ontario,” states a museum notice. There will not be an opening reception and numbers are restricted as per COVID-19 safety restrictions but visitors welcome Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “Please wear your mask, respect social distancing, and do not visit if you are not feeling well.”Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
The Kamistiatusset (Kami) project in Labrador west has entered another phase of its long saga. The iron ore project was put back into limbo earlier this year when the owners, Alderon Iron Ore, defaulted on a $14-million loan and went into receivership. Now, Australia-based Champion Iron Ltd., the operators of the nearby Bloom Lake project just across the border in Quebec, has picked up the gauntlet on the sizable iron deposit in the Labrador Trough. Champion was the successful bidder on the project to the tune of $34 million, which also covers the cost of Alderon’s secured debt. The deal was approved by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador this week. Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown said he wants to sit down and have some talks about where the project is going and assurances from government the resources will benefit Labradorians. Alderon had always touted a potential $1-billion project in Kami, with 300-400 local jobs projected. Brown said he wants to make sure that work stays on the Labrador side of the border and that the benefits of the resource goes to this province. “A lot of people hope and want the project to go ahead, and be a mine that uses a local workforce, minimizes fly-in fly-out operation, things like that. I just want to make sure this resource benefits Labradorians as the resource is in Labrador.” Brown said he wants to have that conversation with Champion, and make sure those concerns are front of mind as they proceed. Michael Marcotte, vice-president of investor relations with Champion, told SaltWire they’re very excited about the possibility of the project but don’t know where it will go until they complete a feasibility study. “We’ll have to look into a standalone project to some extent, see how we can benefit the infrastructure we currently have, but the way it will be structured and the scale, it’s too early to say,” he said. Marcotte said the company has hired people to start a study, work on that for several months, and then come back to the local communities and see what the potential plan would look like. But at this point it’s to early say how or if the project will proceed. He said Bloom Lake is a great anchor for Champion, with an expansion announced to that project last week, and they think Kami is positioning the company for another phase of growth. As part of the purchase, Champion will get an additional eight million tonnes annually of port capacity in Sept-Isles, Que., where they currently send the iron ore concentrate from Bloom Lake. Marcotte said they won’t have the extra capacity at Bloom Lake to integrate the iron ore from the Kami project so that will be something they will be studying. The Kami project has had a couple of near starts over the years, one as recently as 2019. Alderon had announced it hoped to start construction in 2020 but was unable to secure funding, citing the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, and lost the project and assets to Sprott Lending Corp. The project then went up for sale. Champion also picked up Bloom Lake at a time when the project seemed unlikely to be profitable, buying it from Cliffs Québec Iron Mining ULC for $10.5 million in 2016. Marcotte said it shows that they have a track record of exceeding expectations. “We think we have a secret sauce and the recipe is working at Bloom,” he said. “We’re excited to bring our know how to the region and hopefully have a benefit to the region.” Altius Minerals has had its hand in the Kami project pretty much since it began. The Newfoundland based company did the initial drilling program that identified the Kami site in 2008 and later sold it to Alderon, holding a 37.3 per cent equity holding in the company at the time of its demise. Altius is receiving 600,000 shares in Champion as part of the current deal and expects to receive a portion of the cash Champion paid for the project once the details are worked out. “In some ways it’s bittersweet,” Altius CEO Brian Dalton said when asked about the deal. “It’s tough to attract that kind of capital with a junior mining company so I was disappointed Alderon wasn’t able to get across the line.” He said timing was against Alderon, but he has a lot of faith in Champion and people shouldn’t underestimate their ambition or their ability to execute. Dalton said he wouldn’t expect to see any major changes to the scope of the project, since Alderon already had a lot of the permitting and approvals in place and a major change of the scope would mean starting a lot of processes over.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
LOS ANGELES — Bruce Swedien, a five-time Grammy-winning audio engineer who collaborated with Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, has died. He was 86. His daughter, musician Roberta Swedien, said her father died Nov. 16 in Gainesville, Florida, after battling an illness and complications from surgery. The New York Times reported that he tested positive for the coronavirus but was asymptomatic. “He had a long life full of love, great music, big boats and a beautiful marriage,” Roberta Swedien posted on Facebook. “We will celebrate that life. He was loved by everyone.” Bruce Swedien had more than 65 years of music industry experience and was best known for his collaborations on Jackson’s hit albums “Thriller” and “Off the Wall.” He also had recording sessions with some of music's biggest names including Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Duke Ellington and Diana Ross. Swedien, the son of two musicians, landed a position at Universal Studios where he was mentored by legendary engineer, Bill Putnam. His career rose to new heights when he teamed up with Jones to mix the soundtrack “The Wiz” before both collaborated on Jackson’s 1979 debut album “Off the Wall.” Swedien worked as an engineer on three more albums for Jackson including “Thriller,” “Bad” and “Dangerous.” He won Grammys for those albums in the best engineered album, non-classical category then two more for Jones’ albums “Q’s Jook Joint” and “Back on the Block.” Jones posted on social media that he was “devastated” about the news of Swedien’s death, calling him a sonic genius. Swedien is survived by his wife, Bea, of 67 years and two daughters. He was preceded in death by his son. The Associated Press
We're good at giving presents, eh?
JERUSALEM — Israeli media reported Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Saudi Arabia for a clandestine meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which would mark the first known encounter between senior Israeli and Saudi officials. The reported meeting was the latest move by the Trump Administration to promote normalized ties between Israel and the broader Arab world and reflected the shared concern of all three nations about Iran. The Israeli news site Walla, followed quickly by other Hebrew-language media, cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying that Netanyahu and Yossi Cohen, head of Israel's Mossad spy agency, flew to the Saudi city of Neom on Sunday, where they met with the crown prince. The prince was there for talks with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. People travelling with Pompeo declined comment. Netanyahu, in a meeting with his Likud Party, also declined to explicitly confirm the visit. “I have not addressed such things for years and I will not start with that now. For years I have spared no effort to strengthen Israel and expand the circle of peace,” he said. The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, denied on Twitter that the meeting took place. “No such meeting occurred. The only officials present were American and Saudi,” he wrote. He did not elaborate. The flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.com showed a Gulfstream IV private jet took off from Tel Aviv on Sunday night and flew south along the edge of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula before turning toward Neom and landing. The flight took off from Neom over three hours later and followed the same route back to Tel Aviv. Pompeo, who was in Israel last week, travelled with a small group of American reporters on his trip throughout the Mideast, but left them at the Neom airport when he went into his visit with the crown prince. While Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates have reached deals under the Trump administration to normalize ties with Israel, Saudi Arabia so far has remained out of reach. The Trump administration, as well as Netanyahu, would love to add the Saudis to that list before it leaves office in January. In Sudan, a military official said an Israeli delegation was in the country on Monday to discuss the normalization efforts. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the visit with the media. King Salman long has supported the Palestinians in their effort to secure an independent state as a condition for recognizing Israel. However, analysts and insiders suggest his 35-year-old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, likely is more open to the idea of normalizing relations without major progress in the moribund peace process. Israel and Saudi Arabia have a shared interest in countering archrival Iran, and they have welcomed the Trump administration's pressure campaign on the Iranians, which included withdrawing from the international nuclear deal with Iran and imposing tough economic sanctions on the Tehran government. The reported meeting puts even more pressure on Iran ahead of an incoming Biden administration that has signalled a potential willingness to return to the 2015 nuclear deal. “I think there's a message to Iran. Look, there's a front against you. There's two months to go to the new administration. Beware. We are on the same page,” said Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, a prestigious Israeli think-tank . In an apparent message to President-elect Joe Biden, Netanyahu said in a speech Sunday evening, shortly before the reported trip to Saudi Arabia: “We must not return to the previous nuclear deal." In the same speech, Netanyahu also praised “trailblazing Arab leaders who understand the benefits of peace" and predicted “we will see other states that widen the circle of peace.” In another possible reference to the Saudi meeting, a Netanyahu aide, Topaz Luk, accused Netanyahu's rival and coalition partner, Defence Minister Benny Gantz, of “playing politics at the same time that the prime minister is making peace.” Gantz on Sunday launched an investigation into Israel's purchase of German submarines — a scandal that has turned several close Netanyahu confidants into criminal suspects. Netanyahu himself is not a suspect. The reported visit Sunday night to Neom, still a largely undeveloped desert region alongside the north end of the Red Sea, also reflected Prince Mohammed's ambitions. It brought two world leaders to Neom, which he hopes will become a futuristic, skyline-studded Saudi version of Dubai that will offer the kingdom jobs and cement a future beyond its vast crude oil reserves. It also would reframe a rule so far colored by the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the kingdom’s grinding war in Yemen. It was unclear where the three men met, though the Saudi royal family has massive mansions along the turquoise waters of the Red Sea, with a major golf course. Netanyahu has long signalled back-channel relations with the Saudis, though the nations have never officially confirmed a meeting between their leaders. But Saudi Arabia appears to have given its blessing to the decisions of its Gulf neighbours, the UAE and Bahrain, to establish ties with Israel. The kingdom approved the use of Saudi airspace for Israeli flights to the UAE. Bahrain normalizing ties also suggest at least a Saudi acquiescence to the idea, as the island kingdom relies on Riyadh. ___ Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem, Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed. Ilan Ben Zion, The Associated Press
Nunavut is entering the first full week of its "circuit-breaker lockdown" following a spike in COVID-19 cases over the weekend. There are 132 active cases across the territory as of Monday. Four new cases of COVID-19 were announced on Monday, three in Rankin Inlet, bringing that community's total to 18 and one in Whale Cove, bringing its total to 16 cases. The announcement came as Premier Joe Savikataaq and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson gave the territory's first update of the week Monday morning, along with Minister of Health Lorne Kusugak .Missed the government update? Watch it here:There are no new cases in Arviat, though Patterson warned last week that daily case announcement can be more reflective of testing turnaround than the actual spread of the virus in the community. "Because of the timing of testing, the variability of plane flights, the numbers will go up and down from day to day regardless of what's happening in the community," Patterson said. "Say they're weather-delayed and we may not be able to get a number of samples until the next day. So it could literally go from zero one day to a large number the next day." On Monday, Patterson said health teams are still finding evidence of community transmission in Arviat, but they not sure if it's residual or ongoing transmission.There are 98 cases in Arviat. Two previous cases in Sanikiluaq have since recovered.All active cases are currently in isolation and doing well with mild to moderate symptoms, according to a news release from the territory Monday.Patterson said health teams are "working around the clock" to trace, test, isolate and contain the spread and that it would take some time to see if the current public health measures are working. How exactly COVID-19 entered Nunavut is still unknown, Patterson said, as the government's focus continues to be community support. An environmental health officer from Nunavut was flown to Winnipeg to inspect its isolation hubs, while another team is reviewing the policies associated with Nunavut's southern isolation hubs. A public health physician is looking at links that could have led to infection with Manitoba Public Health also involved in the the review, Patterson said. He expects new cases to continue to be announced, but says if new case numbers continue be fewer, he said to take that as evidence, health measures are succeeding in breaking transmission. Sanikiluaq outbreak status While Sanikiluaq's two cases have recovered, the outbreak in the community is not yet over, Patterson said. That will happen 28 days after the last infected person's 10 days of infection."There's a worldwide accepted standard that from the time somebody starts symptoms — or the date that a swab was collected — 10 days later they're no longer infectious," Patterson said.Sanikiluaq's second case was identified on Nov. 8. Once contact tracers are no longer finding new cases and all contacts with cases are in isolation with their test results known, Patterson says contact tracing will be paused. He reassured Nunavummiut that experienced contract tracers are good at getting the information they need about a person's contacts while maintaining confidentiality. Isolation remindersPatterson took the opportunity of Monday's press conference to speak about the importance of following isolation measures, especially for those who have been identified as contacts of positive COVID-19 cases. "People can still spread the virus when they don't have symptoms, this is what we mean when we say asymptomatic transmission, some people can spread the virus up to two days before developing symptoms, and some can spread the virus for 10 days without ever developing symptoms," Patterson said. He explained that by the time people know they are sick, they will have infected many more, who will also spread the virus.The government has received general complaints that some people are not following isolation rules, but since there have been no specific complaints with names and dates, there have been no fines issued for violating public health orders, Patterson said. Someone who is asked to isolate should keep to their own space in a house as much as possible and high traffic areas in the house should be disinfected regularly. They are not supposed to go to the grocery store, instead they should ask friends and family to pick up supplies and drop them off, he said. When asked about fears related to dropping off groceries to those in isolation and how those without credit cards can order food, Savikataaq said the hamlet of Arviat is dropping off food hampers to affected families. The territorial government is working with the Department of Family Services, to makes sure food is delivered and those on income support can have their cases evaluated over the phone, Savikataaq said. In a Saturday news release, Savikataaq said he knows the number of COVID-19 cases in Nunavut seem scary, "but it is not a reason to panic.""We will continue to see dips and rises in our case numbers for some time," he said. On Friday, the premier repeated his call for Nunavummiut to stay focused on containment efforts, including wearing masks and not socializing with people outside one's household. "This virus does not care how hard we're working or how bored or tired we are," he said in a Friday afternoon update."We do not get to relax for a single moment with what we're doing. Please do not give it a chance to take more of a hold in any of our communities."
PARIS — The trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy for corruption and influence peddling was suspended Monday less than two hours after it started, to allow a medical report on one of the defendants.Sarkozy is accused of having tried to illegally obtain information from a magistrate about an investigation involving him in 2014.This is the first trial for the 65-year-old politician, who has faced several other judicial investigations since leaving office in 2012.He stands trial in a Paris court along with his lawyer Thierry Herzog, 65, and the magistrate, Gilbert Azibert, 73. They face a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of 1 million euros ($1.2 million.) They deny any wrongdoing.Sarkozy and Herzog are suspected of promising Azibert a job in Monaco in exchange for leaking information about an investigation into suspected illegal financing of the 2007 presidential campaign by France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.Sarkozy arrived at the court surrounded by his lawyers and bodyguards, in the presence of dozens of journalists. The Paris court has been placed under high security as hearings in the case, scheduled until Dec. 10, are taking place at the same time as another key trial — that of the 2015 attacks at the Charlie Hebdo offices and a kosher supermarket.The trial started Monday in the absence of Azibert, whose lawyer requested the hearings to be postponed. He argued his client's bad health makes it risky for him to travel and appear in court amid the coronavirus pandemic, leading the court to suspend proceedings pending an expert medical report. The trial will resume on Thursday.In 2014, Sarkozy and Herzog used secret mobile phones — registered to the alias name of “Paul Bismuth” — to be be able to have private talks as they feared their conversations were being tapped.Sarkozy and Herzog explained that they bought the phones to avoid being targeted by illegal phone tapping. Investigative judges, however, suspect they actually wanted to avoid being tapped by investigators.Judges have found that discussions between Sarkozy and his lawyer suggested they had knowledge that judicial investigators at the time tapped their conversations on their official phones — they mentioned “judges listening.”Sarkozy argued that he never intervened to help Azibert, who never got the job and retired in 2014.Investigative judges consider that as soon as a deal has been offered, it constitutes a criminal offence even if the promises haven't been fulfilled.Legal proceedings against Sarkozy have been dropped in the Bettencourt case.Sarkozy, a lawyer by training, pointed at judicial harassment, accusing judges of breaching lawyer-client privilege via wiretapping.“I don't want things that I didn't do to be held against me. The French need to know... that I'm not a rotten person,” he told BFM TV earlier this month.He said he was facing the trial in a “combative” mood.Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty in 2011 of misuse of public money, breach of trust and conflict of interest and given a two-year suspended prison sentence for actions during his time as Paris mayor, before he was president from 1995 to 2007.Sarkozy’s name has appeared for years in several other judicial investigations.Allegations, which include illegal financing of his 2007 campaign by then-Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, cast a shadow over Sarkozy's comeback attempt for the 2017 presidential election.After failing to be chosen as candidate by his conservative party, he withdrew from active politics.Sarkozy remained the most popular figure amid French right-wing voters in recent years. His memoirs published this summer, “The Time of Storms,” was a bestseller for weeks.Sarkozy was handed preliminary charges including “illegal campaign financing” in the Libyan investigation, which has been underway since 2013 — and prompted the wiretapping of his phones.Earlier this month, French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine retracted his previous statements that he delivered suitcases from Libya containing 5 million euros ($5.9 million) in cash to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff, Claude Gueant.Instead, he told news broadcaster BFM and magazine Paris-Match that there were “no Libyan financing.”Sarkozy said that the truth “finally comes out.”Financial prosecutors said in a statement that charges in the Libyan case are based “on strong or corroborated evidence that are not limited to one person’s statement only.”Meanwhile, the former president will stand another trial in spring 2021 along with 13 other people on charges of illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign.His conservative party and a company named Bygmalion are accused of using a special invoice system to conceal unauthorized overspending.They are suspected of having spent 42.8 million euros ($50.7 million), almost twice the maximum authorized, to finance the campaign, which ended up in victory for Socialist rival Francois Hollande.Nicolas Vaux-Montagny And Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
This has not a normal year for many local and provincial organizations. This includes the Municipalities of Saskatchewan, who are taking their yearly regional meetings online for this year. There are ups and downs to this format, said Gordon Barnhart, president of the Municipalities of Saskatchewan. In a normal year, each region would meet in one of their communities with Municipalities of Saskatchewan representatives also in attendance to share information and answer questions from the regional members. Having the meeting virtually and over a two span will save people travel time and expenses. With a province as large as Saskatchewan, it takes some people a lot of time to get to and from meetings, Barnhart said. There were benefits to face to face meetings, he said, and that is going to be lacking this year with members only meeting through cyberspace. “We're all humans and we form friendships. Those friendships are very important in terms of serving our municipalities, so we're missing out on that, but on the other hand, this option is better than nothing at all.” While he hopes the meetings can eventually go back to being done in person, Barnhart said he respects the work of Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, and does not want these regional meetings into times of COVID-19 spread. The realities of COVID, losses of revenue and extra cleaning costs to municipalities are topics of conversation that may come up during the meetings, Barnhart said, as well as infrastructure projects and provincial and federal funding during COVID. These additional funding opportunities have meant a boost for municipalities, he said, whether those are to help weather COVID or use funds to maintain services and facilities that would have taken a financial hit due to spending difficulties. That has been a silver lining for municipalities during the pandemic, Barnhart said. With the municipal elections wrapping up at the beginning of the month, these regional meetings will also mean new members at the individual council tables and, therefore, new representatives being elected to positions on the Municipalities of Saskatchewan board, Barnhart said. This year’s meetings will be split between two days of meetings with the north, northwest, northeast, and west central meeting on Dec. 1 and the central, east central, southwest, and southeast meeting on Dec. 2. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
À notre époque, des élans de solidarité s’expriment de part et d’autre face à la pandémie. On le sait, la crise actuelle bouleverse le paysage culturel ainsi que celui de la restauration. Julie Tessier, 44 ans du Café du Couvent et Marie-Ève Bourdage, 33 ans, du Centre d’art de Richmond, ont convenu d’un partenariat. À chacun ses gestes, ses initiatives, pour composer une large palette solidaire. (Cette entrevue devait se passer en période de zone orange. Mais voilà que l’Estrie repasse au rouge.) « Covid oblige, la salle à manger du Café du Couvent se voyait amputée de plusieurs places, en raison des mesures de distanciation. Tandis que les activités du Centre d’art sont également ralenties par la situation, nous avons choisi de faire équipe !, expliquent-elles. Les clients du Café du Couvent ont pu s’installer dans le réfectoire du Centre d’art, ce qui ajoutait une quinzaine de places. Un bel exemple de l’entraide qui existe entre les différents locataires du Couvent Mont Saint-Patrice ! » Qualité et créativité Nouveaux bilans, nouvelles mesures, les cartes doivent être de nouveau brassées. Nos entrepreneures ne cessent d’échafauder des scénarios réalistes pour traverser ce dur moment. « Durant la première vague, le Café a été fermé de la mi-mars à la mi-juillet, précise Julie. On a en profité pour bonifier nos équipements, notamment pour ce qui est des présentoirs réfrigérés. La capacité d’offrir des mets préparés ainsi que congelés est dorénavant enrichie. De plus, jusqu’à Noël, nous avons mis sur pied une boutique éphémère qui offre des produits d’artisans régionaux. Le tout en respectant les directives sanitaires. » « Du côté du Centre d’art, ça s’est passé un peu différemment, précise Marie-Ève. L’été, nous sommes fermés de toute façon. Le couvent est un vieux bâtiment de 1884 non climatisé pour l’instant. Avec le retour de l’automne, les activités sont au ralenti. Sauf pour les cours individuels de musique, car notre école roule en ce moment à pleine capacité. Les gens ont ressenti un réel engouement pour les activités qui les font sortir de chez eux. » Il faut savoir que huit personnes travaillent au Café et que sept autres contractuels œuvrent au Centre d’art. Tous unis et résolus à se réinventer afin de maintenir le cap. « Avec cette crise, conclut Marie-Ève, j’espère que l’on prendra tous conscience de l’importance de faire preuve de loyauté envers les organismes qu’on aime ! De plus, des partenariats ont été créés pour rester. » facebook.com/cafeducouvent facebook.com/centredartrichmondMireille Fréjeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal L'Étincelle
Calgarians will have a chance Monday to speak their minds on the city's plan to cut $90 million in spending in order to bring in a tax freeze for 2021.Council has set aside a week for its annual budget debate and that includes a public hearing which allows residents to weigh in.The property tax picture for year three of the current four-year budget cycle is actually broken down by city officials this year in a somewhat complicated way.Administration is proposing an overall tax reduction of 1.66 per cent.That translates into an increase of 0.67 per cent for residential properties and a 0.55 per cent decrease for non-residential properties.To eliminate that small tax hike for homeowners, the city is asking council to approve a one-time rebate to bring about a tax freeze.Freeze means cutsMayor Naheed Nenshi said administration has followed council's direction to not raise taxes for 2021 instead of going with a previously approved 3.23 per cent increase.But that freeze would be achieved through $90 million in spending cuts.About $46.8 million in spending cuts are landing in administration, primarily by finding savings through more efficient ways of carrying out the business of government.But the cuts are also about axing the annual civic census (saving $1 million annually).The next biggest single savings will be to claw back a $10 million increase in the Calgary police budget for 2021. That money was to be used to hire 60 new officers.If the budget adjustments are approved, they would result in the loss of 162 city jobs. That would mean 574 city jobs will have been cut from the payroll since 2019.Nenshi said this would bring city staffing down to 2013 levels."Since 2013, we've added 200,000 people to Calgary. We've added two Red Deers and we are still having the same number of civil servants as we had then," said Nenshi."We have increased taxes by less than inflation plus growth in every year since the economic downturn and looking at a freeze this year."Some want to cut deeperSome councillors said in tough times, they want to cut deeper.Coun. Jeromy Farkas said Calgarians expect city hall to find more reductions."While this is a start, I think we need to be much, much more aggressive in terms of our spending reductions, to be able to respond to what every Calgary family and business has had to do: tighten their belts," said Farkas.He wants another $90 million cut from the budget and that could happen in what he calls non-essential areas that wouldn't affect Calgarians. He points to arts spending and communications as possible areas for further reductions.Coun. Ward Sutherland is also looking for additional cuts. But he said it is getting challenging to find significant areas to cut.The city has reduced spending by nearly three quarters of a billion dollars in recent years so the low-hanging fruit has already been picked."People need to be reminded that between police, fire, transit and roads, it's basically over 83 per cent of our entire operating budget. So the ability to cut big numbers is diminishing every year," said Sutherland.Balancing actNenshi is more blunt about the prospect of finding big cuts without affecting the services Calgarians expect from the city."We're already seeing concerns about roads maintenance, about parks maintenance," said Nenshi."You want the bigger cut to even below the lowest taxes in the country? Tell us where to cut and see if you can get eight votes."In past years, councillors have offered few specific ideas for additional reductions except for across the board cuts that administration would be forced to implement.Council has typically rejected those because of the impacts that would be felt in areas like transit, the police and the fire department.More rebates possibleOnce council settles the municipal tax rate and budget for 2021, it is expected to turn its attention to finding money for rebates to help property owners who will be adversely impacted by this year's land reassessments.Some downtown properties are expecting to see small drops in value while hotels and motels are projected to see a 30 per cent drop.Administration said those reductions will result in property taxes going up significantly for properties that have seen increases in values. These include some types of retail properties. Large warehouses are looking at a potential 25 per cent tax increase next year due to their higher assessments and that shift in the non-residential tax burden."I think that we're going to have to look at some sort of a rebate for those businesses in this year because you don't want to just pile on with what a difficult year they've had," said Nenshi. "But at some point, we actually have to let the market work."It's a line that's been used by several council members in recent years as one tax rebate after another have been handed out to blunt the impacts of what they call a broken tax and assessment system.The mayor said any changes to that system can only be made by the provincial government.
GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country's legal process.In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr. Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations."The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called “daiyo kangoku” system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”"Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn," it added.Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr. Ghosn, "specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media...”Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said."He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.Ghosn's lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.____Jeffrey Schaeffer reported from Paris.Jamey Keaten And Jeffrey Schaeffer, The Associated Press
Bishop's University has decided to suspend the majority of on-campus activities after a spike in COVID-19 cases.Fifteen members of the university community in Sherbrooke, Que., have tested positive for the coronavirus. Before Nov. 11, no cases had been detected, according to the university.At the end of the day on Friday, all in-person university activities were suspended until Wednesday morning, said university spokesperson Olivier Bouffard.Until Wednesday, all classes will be given remotely. Only essential activities, including certain research projects, will continue.While other Quebec universities chose to conduct much of the fall semester online, Bouffard said Bishop's has been in "hybrid mode," with some classes online, some in person and some a mix of both.More than half the university's courses were already being held online prior to Friday's decision, Bouffard said. The university intends to assess the risks by Wednesday to determine its plan for the final weeks of the semester.University monitoring residencesThe university intends to closely monitor the situation in its residences, which can accommodate more than 400 students this semester. At least two cases of COVID-19 have been detected in residences, according to the university."The majority of people who tested positive have returned to their homes outside of Bishop's. We have also identified spaces for people who have tested positive and who need to isolate," Bouffard said. Prevention measures have been put in place in the seven university residences. According to the spokesperson for the establishment, however, it's too early to close them.The university is urging all at-risk students to be tested for COVID-19, and says taxi vouchers are available for students who need to go to screening centres.
Agriculture in Labrador has always been a bit of a hard go. While there is a huge amount of agricultural land in the region — far more than on the island portion of the province — the vast majority of it is uncleared and even getting access to some of it could take years. There is a bright side, though. In recent years, a few new farms have popped up and one is even planning to sell local beef. Food insecurity is a big issue in Labrador, with high prices and the area only producing one per cent of the food it consumes. The provincial government created a work sector plan for agriculture in the last few years and highlighted some concerns producers are having in Labrador, including the lack of an abattoir or the ability to sell large-scale commercial eggs in the region and the need for more Crown land to be made available for agriculture. On Nature’s Best Farm, Desmond Sellars has been growing produce such as carrots and potatoes in the region for about 20 years. He is a familiar face to many in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as the guy who sells vegetables in front of the courthouse, There is a huge amount of opportunity for farmers in Labrador, according to Sellars, but he feels the industry is still in its infancy stage and 'requires a lot of zeroes in your bank account.’ “Farmers here in Labrador can produce more but it always comes down to policy around agriculture. There’s no question about the soil, there’s no question about the land being able to produce, but we do not have the right policy and the right supports at the present time to support increased agriculture here in Labrador.” Things are moving in the right direction, he said, with the province recognizing the need for more locally produced food, but agriculture is a long game and that’s even more true in Labrador. It can take years to get leased land from the government, he said, and that’s just the first hurdle. Since all agricultural land in Labrador is leased, not granted, farmers don’t have access to any capital from it to go to banks, and so have to invest a lot of their own money up front. Even then, he said, the province still owns it and when a farmer retires, all the investments they made on the land can be lost. Freight costs are another barrier, he said. It costs just as much to ship things sometimes as the items themselves. That drives up his cost, which is a barrier to selling his produce to local stores. It’s cheaper for local stores in bring in food from outside the province than buy from him, he said, and that needs to be addressed. “Farmers don’t need a handout, they need a hand up,” he said. ‘If I could, for example, be able to expense freight on a subsidy basis I could compete with P.E.I., Ontario, New Brunswick, and I’d have that market, I know I would. That wouldn’t be a terrible cost to anyone, but it would be a big step for producers.” At the end of the day, he said, young people need to see that agriculture is something worthwhile to pursue and he doesn’t see a lot of that messaging out there. While farming is a long-term investment because of the large upfront capital costs, he said, it can be very profitable and there need to be more conversations around that. “The whole notion of farming as an important, viable business for this province and for people to engage in, there aren’t enough conversations around that. Farming is an underdeveloped part of this province, that’s self-evident. For that to change it requires ongoing conversations and I would argue some policy changes. “ Jim Purdy is one of the operators of Birch Lane Farm on Mud Lake Road in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which produces a wide variety of products, from produce to live chickens and live ducks to berries and jams. Purdy highlighted some of the same issues as Sellars, especially around the impact of freight costs and getting Crown land. “Our biggest competition isn’t here, it’s in Quebec and Ontario. They can sell their product cheaper here than we can produce it for. We have to depend on the local market, loyalty, to sell our products.” Purdy said people do recognize that locally grown food tastes better, but producers need to move into larger commercial markets to be able to grow and that isn’t possible right now. Other provinces have programs to assist with that, he said, and something needs to be done in Newfoundland and Labrador. Things that aren’t issues in less remote places, he said, like getting a tractor fixed or hiring someone to clear land, can be a real barrier in Labrador. “I would say that there’s less than 200 acres of cleared agricultural land in Labrador and in some places that’s a small farm,” he said. “It’s not like you can call someone and get them to do it. We don’t have the infrastructure here for agriculture, it’s as simple as that.” He said in his opinion other provinces have done a lot more to help with agricultural production and it doesn’t seem to be a priority for the government in Newfoundland and Labrador. Much like Sellars, Purdy cites the rules around Crown land and the unwillingness of government to grant it to farmers. “They can but they won’t,” he said. “It took me a few years to get a lease and that was on land no one else wanted. Can you imagine how long it would take if someone else had wanted it? I don’t know why the process takes so long but it isn’t helping anything. If you want to farm here, you better be ready for a long investment,” he said. When asked what could be done to help the industry grow Purdy said he didn’t even know where to start, but government offering more support is a big part of it. When SaltWire Network contacted Fisheries, Forestry, and Agriculture Minister Elvis Loveless, who was given the portfolio three months ago, he said he hasn’t had a chance go to Labrador to meet with local producers yet and discuss the issues, but he’s committed to doing so. “Our goal, in terms of helping farmers, is opening up access to land,” Loveless said when asked about the concerns expressed over the inability to get granted agricultural land. “Farmers, in order to grow vegetables, or just around the culture of growing, need land, there’s no doubt. I won’t make a commitment on a timeframe, but I will commit to talking to farmers. I’m looking to get on the ground in Labrador and have those conversations with them; what are their priorities moving their industry forward in Labrador?” Loveless said in terms of issues, it’s “all on the table.” He referenced recent investments made by the provincial government in the central Labrador region for community gardens and a cold storage and packaging facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and said there are plans to make more agricultural land available in the region. “Having access to safe and healthy food is on everyone’s minds, and addressing those needs has never been more important than right now, especially in Labrador, where the residents rely heavily on food imported from other areas, and that’s something we’d like to change.” Tomorrow: a new beef farm is the only one of its kind in Labrador. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
Saint-Tite – La MRC de Mékinac réagit au cri du cœur lancé dans nos pages par les relais de motoneiges qui craignent de ne pas traverser l'hiver si on leur permet seulement d'accueillir des clients pour les réchauffer, sans pouvoir ouvrir leurs salles à manger. Tous ont décrié l'impact des coûts fixes élevés comme le chauffage, la main-d'oeuvre ou le nettoyage des lieux pour expliquer les difficultés financières qu'ils anticipent. La MRC de Mékinac se dit sensible de la situation vécue par les relais de son territoire. «C’est une situation vraiment préoccupante pour notre milieu. L’industrie de la motoneige est un moteur économique très important pour notre MRC, tant au niveau des relais que des autres commerces autour. Les motoneigistes sortent souvent dans les sentiers avec le but de se rendre dans un relais, de consommer et de faire d’autres arrêts dans différents commerces. La fermeture des relais peut entrainer un ralentissement économique sur un volet beaucoup plus large» s'inquiète Nadia Moreau, directrice du service de développement économique de la MRC de Mékinac. Elle craint que l'impact financier des décisions gouvernementales ne vienne hypothéquer sérieusement le secteur jusqu'au printemps. «Nous sommes évidemment grandement conscients des enjeux de la propagation de la COVID-19. Nous tentons par tous les moyens de soutenir notre milieu pour passer à travers cette crise. Par contre, nous aimerons grandement que ce que nous pouvons favoriser localement puisse se faire chez nous. La possibilité de voir les habitués de notre région se déplacer vers une région aux conditions plus souples demeure inquiétante tant au niveau sanitaire qu’économique» ajoute Nadia Moreau. La MRC soutient que selon les commerçants, les chiffres d'affaires sont en péril de 75 à 90%.Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
Wuhan, the Chinese city that was ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic, went into lockdown on Jan. 23. Life has returned to nearly normal 10 months later, but residents there still remember the harsh conditions.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny has tested positive for the new coronavirus, his representative said Monday.The announcement came a day after the musician won favourite male Latin artist and favourite Latin album for "YHLQMDLG” at the American Music Awards.Bad Bunny, whose real name is Benito Martínez Ocasio, was scheduled to sing his hit, “Dákiti,” with Jhay Cortez at the event but cancelled without explanation, leaving many fans disappointed. The singer, however, presented the award for favourite Latin female artist remotely.Publicist Sujeylee Solá told The Associated Press that Bad Bunny wasn't showing any major symptoms as of Monday. She did not provide further details, saying only that the musician was not granting any interviews.The Associated Press
SAINT-TITE – Devant combler un important manque à gagner généré par la pandémie, le Carrefour emploi Mékinac a reçu une aide financière «d'urgence» de la part de Desjardins, via son Fonds d'aide au développement du milieu. En temps normal, le Carrefour emploi Mékinac bénéficie des retombées du Festival western pour financer la portion d'investissement du milieu dans le cadre des activités du projet Place aux Jeunes. Or, l'annulation de l'édition 2020 de l'événement est venue créer un vide important. C'est à la suite d'une demande à la Caisse Mékinac/Des Chenaux que Desjardins a consenti à octroyer un financement de 4 000$ pour le maintien des activités d'attraction, d'accueil et de rétention de jeunes diplômés dans la MRC de Mékinac. Depuis plus de 20 ans, Place aux Jeunes a permis à de nombreux participants de découvrir les municipalités du secteur et de s'y établir, notamment grâce aux services d'un agent de migration dont la mission est de prendre contact avec les personnes intéressées à s'établir sur le territoire et à les accompagner pour se trouver un emploi, un logement et aux autres besoins qui peuvent subvenir. Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
Ontario health minister Christine Elliott told Sudbury MPP Jamie West this past week that while many parts of Ontario do not have all the mental health resources that many people need right now, there is a plan in place to have provincewide mental health and addictions services. Elliott was responding to West's plea for the government to take action to immediately increase funding for mental health services in Sudbury. “Sudburians are suffering,” said West during question period at the Ontario Legislature. “Family members are mourning and local health resources are overwhelmed," he added. West described how he had met with Denise Sandul of Sudbury, the mother of 22-year-old Myles Keaney, who died of an opioid overdose earlier this year. He also told the legislature that a cross had been erected in downtown Sudbury close to where Keaney died, as a memoriam to a young life lost. West said the number of crosses had increased dramatically to the point where it is expected more than 50 crosses will be in place before too long. “Will the premier commit to immediate increased funding to help Sudburians like Denise and her family?” asked West in the legislature. Health Minister Elliott stood to respond and offered her sympathies. "First, let me express my condolences to Myles’s family and all of the other families who have lost anyone through an overdose, through addictions of any kind. That is something none of us want to see happen in the province of Ontario," said Elliott. She added that Ontario has a plan in place to address mental health concerns across the province. "That is why we brought forward our Roadmap to Wellness, to make sure that across Ontario — that includes Northern Ontario, southern, eastern and western Ontario — we can have that core basket of addictions and mental health treatments," said Elliott. The Roadmap to Wellness is a joint federal-provincial 10-year action plan to address several concerns that include too long wait times, barriers to access, fragmented services, uneven quality of services and lack of data. Elliott said the addictions and mental health crisis is similar to what existed several years ago with the shortfalls in cancer care in Ontario. Elliott said it took time and money before cancer care was improved significantly. She said work is underway, costing billions of dollars, to ensure that all parts of Ontario get better mental health and addictions support. In his comments in the Legislature, West also stated the opioid overdoses are involved in as many as 50 to 80 deaths per week in Ontario. In a study published earlier this year by Public Health Ontario (PHO), it was stated that opioid deaths were quickly outpacing the number of deaths that occurred in Ontario in 2019 and the increase might be as much as 50 per cent higher by the end of this year. "If the number of opioid-related deaths continues to increase at the weekly pandemic rate for the rest of 2020, it is anticipated that there will be 2,271 opioid-related deaths in the province by the end of the year. This would represent a 50-per-cent increase from the year prior (1,512 opioid-related deaths in 2019)," said the PHO report. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
The grief and lessons, five years after I lost my brother.