Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Health Critic Michelle Rempel sparred in the House of Commons on Wednesday over a disagreement over Trudeau's role in approving - or not - an at-home rapid COVID-19 test.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Health Critic Michelle Rempel sparred in the House of Commons on Wednesday over a disagreement over Trudeau's role in approving - or not - an at-home rapid COVID-19 test.
WASHINGTON — Outgoing Attorney General William Barr's decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of the Russia probe ensures his successor won't have an easy transition.The move, which Barr detailed to The Associated Press on Tuesday, could lead to heated confirmation hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's nominee, who hasn't been announced. Senate Republicans will likely use that forum to extract a pledge from the pick to commit to an independent investigation.The pressure on the new attorney general is unlikely to ease once they take office. With the special counsel continuing to work during the early days of the Biden administration, it may be tough for the Justice Department's new leadership to launch investigations of President Donald Trump and his associates without seeming to be swayed by political considerations.Barr elevated U.S. Attorney John Durham to special counsel as Trump continues to propel his claims that the Russia investigation that shadowed his presidency was a “witch hunt.” It's the latest example of efforts by Trump officials to use the final days of his administration to essentially box Biden in by enacting new rules, regulations and orders designed to cement the president's legacy.But the manoeuvring over the special counsel is especially significant because it saddles Democrats with an investigation that they've derided as tainted. Now there's little the new administration can do about it.“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy,” Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.A special counsel can only be dismissed for cause. And as was the case during Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, such probes can sometimes stray from their origins.The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment on the special counsel appointment.But Barr's decision could influence whom the president-elect puts forth as a nominee for attorney general. One leading candidate, Sally Yates, was already viewed skeptically by some Trump-aligned Republicans for her role in the early days of the Russia investigation. Her nomination could face even greater challenges because she's connected to some of the work that Durham is examining.As deputy attorney general, Yates signed off on the first two applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor communications of ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a process that has been among the focuses of the Durham investigation.A Justice Department inspector general report found significant flaws and omissions in the four applications to the court, though it also found no evidence that Yates or any other senior Justice Department officials were aware of the problems.Some Democrats have privately expressed concerns – likely to deepen with Durham’s appointment as a special counsel – that nominating Yates would lead to a messy confirmation process that focuses on the Russia investigation, instead of focusing on reforms and shifting priorities at the Justice Department, people familiar with the matter have said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.Others potentially in the mix for the role include Lisa Monaco, a former homeland security adviser and senior Justice Department official in the Obama administration, and outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who famously prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a Birmingham church in the 1960s.The question for Biden, however, is how to balance top Cabinet picks as he attempts to fulfil his pledge for racial, ethnic and gender diversity. Many of Biden's leading nominees so far have been white, which could work against Yates, Monaco and Jones.Some Black Democrats are attempting to elevate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is Black and led the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Bill Clinton, in discussions about potential attorneys general.Whoever emerges as the nominee will be pressed to demonstrate independence from the new White House after Biden campaigned on a pledge to depoliticize the Justice Department.That could be tough, however, if the future attorney general faces calls for new probes into the Trump administration. Some investigations into Trump have been frozen because of the immunity he enjoys as president. Others swirling around members of his family and associates have been simmering for years.On Tuesday, an unsealed court filing revealed an investigation into a potential plot to solicit political donations in exchange for the president using his pardon power.Barr, for his part, insisted that he was trying to keep politics out of the Durham probe, explaining that is why he delayed announcing the special counsel appointment until a month after the election.“With the election approaching, I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Muller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election,” Barr said in an interview with the AP on Tuesday.“I wanted to have the team, both Durham and his team understand that they be able to finish their work,” Barr said.Durham has already been a huge disappointment for Trump and his allies, and prompted a dispute with Barr over why things weren’t moving faster and why the investigation did not yield major prosecutions in the weeks before the election. The investigation wasn’t expected to result in many more criminal charges, and there has only been one so far — a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to a single charge.But the investigation is worth more politically than practically.A nearly 500-page inspector general report chronicled in great detail the errors and omissions FBI agents made in a series of applications to surveil Page. Declassified documents released by congressional Republicans have raised additional questions while not undercutting the overarching legitimacy of the Russia probe. And the facts of the one criminal case Durham has brought so far, against an FBI lawyer who admitted altering an email, were already mostly laid out in the watchdog report.There’s also been a degree of turmoil within Durham’s ranks as one of the team’s leaders, Nora Dannehy, resigned months ago, a significant departure given the active role she had played.___Miller reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Colleen Long in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
A recent ruling by the East Ferris Integrity Commissioner has left some residents wondering how much financial interest is required before a conflict must be declared. “What would make it significant?” asks Maggie Preston-Coles, referencing the findings of Integrity Commissioner David King last month. Preston-Coles asked King to investigate her allegation that the East Ferris Planning Advisory Committee chairman John O’Rourke should have declared a conflict on a subdivision application March 27, 2019. As King’s report notes, O’Rourke co-owns the Brownstone Kitchen and Bath in North Bay and does installations for the developer of the subdivision in question. The Brownstone lists the developer’s main business, Degagne Carpentry, as one of their “quality partners” and they are in a promotional photo together for a contest giveaway. King found that there was direct interest for O’Rourke but ruled that, because they are not in a financial partnership and Degagne’s customers can choose kitchen and baths from a variety of options, that it was “remote and insignificant.” King’s report noted that O’Rourke has been well involved in the community for three decades as a hockey coach, chairman of a parent-teachers’ association, and volunteer firefighter. “I have lived in East Ferris for over 30 years and would have to declare a conflict on approximately 85 per cent of all applications based on knowing the parties,” he said, as quoted by King in the report. “In fact, the whole committee would also have to declare based on this as well.” Preston-Coles, however, maintains that there’s a difference in knowing someone as a potential customer than actually doing past, present or future business with a residential subdivision developer. Related: East Ferris, LPAT testing teacher's patience Related: East Ferris planning chairman cleared of pecuniary interest allegations by integrity commissioner Related: Letter - East Ferris conducted robust public process in 25-lot subdivision development She said it’s surprising that King would agree there is a direct interest, a conflict, but then dismiss it as “insignificant, remote” without asking exactly how much business is transacted between them. Degagne’s Carpentry, she explains, has developed multiple subdivisions in East Ferris and has numerous individual residential lots listed for sale. King, she said, should have asked how many kitchens and bathrooms Brownstone has installed for Degagne over the years so it’s clear how much pecuniary interest he has or doesn’t have. Phil Koning, who has written several letters to council about public matters, has his own concerns about how East Ferris is handling the issue. Koning made his thoughts public by posting them on a Facebook page he created prior to the last municipal election in 2018, called Elected by You – East Ferris. He was reacting to a media release East Ferris circulated about news coverage about Preston-Coles’ fight against the subdivision and complaints to the Integrity Commissioner. “The municipal response to the report,” Koning wrote, “seemed to indicate the issue of conflict of interest for Mr. O’Rourke has been resolved. Unfortunately, I do not think that is the case.” Koning referenced negative feedback regarding development during a municipal survey in 2019. He said, “The only way to counter the growth of that attitude is to provide clear evidence of unbiased decisions and absence of any conflicts.” He said King’s report substantiated those concerns without quantifying the line municipal representatives must stay within. “This is where Mr. King’s report falls flat, in my view,” Koning wrote, “…it does nothing to dampen the controversy.” By stating that the pecuniary interest is “too remote or insignificant to influence behaviour,” Koning said King left a major question begging to be answered. “I would think the amount of business historically generated by the relationship would be a better indicator of its significance than the structure of it,” he said, referring to King’s assertion that it wasn’t a true partnership and not exclusive between them. Koning also felt King should have looked into the municipality’s boards and committee policy, developed by council, and not be limited by the Municipal Act. He said East Ferris advises members to declare a conflict to avoid the “appearance” of conflict, and it’s clear from King’s report that there was direct pecuniary interest. “There is no discussion of penalty in the policy, but certainly the fact that a municipality’s policy was not followed puts the entire process in jeopardy,” Koning said. The Integrity Commissioner’s report also noted that the planning advisory board doesn’t make final decisions only recommendations. He also said there’s no record of O’Rourke voting on the subdivision plan (a recorded vote wasn’t requested so the minutes don’t reflect who participated in the decision). Koning said the responsibility falls to council to ensure transparency and accountability for all its committees, agencies, boards, and commissions where East Ferris is represented. “Council members are the ones who should be seeking clarification of these apparent omissions in the Commissioner’s report since ultimately they will be held accountable,” he said. East Ferris Mayor Pauline Rochefort, through chief administrative officer/treasurer Jason Trottier, declined to comment when asked about the points raised by Preston-Coles and Koning. O’Rourke said he didn’t want to “stir the pot” by commenting and King didn’t respond to an email query sent Tuesday. Degagne Carpentry wasn’t asked for comment because nobody has alleged any wrong-doing or policy breach by the developer. King noted in his report that he still investigating Preston-Coles other complaint regarding the conduct of council. She said council had a duty to look into her concerns about O’Rourke’s business conflict when she raised it. And she said council and members of the municipal staff have made residents feel their presence and input unwelcome at the meetings. Preston-Coles has also approached the Ontario Ombudsman about the Integrity Commissioner’s investigation and report but feels it may not be worth her time and effort. She said the Ombudsman can only review the process King followed and not his ruling. Preston-Coles said she has enough on her plate preparing for a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal hearing she requested over council’s approval of the 25-lot subdivision plan. LPAT rescinded its acceptance of changes to her application this summer and recently asked East Ferris to put forward a motion to dismiss it entirely. Meanwhile, Preston-Coles is awaiting word about her complaint about lack of communication from the LPAT staffer assigned to her case, which is supposed to come before Friday. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
CALGARY — Police in Calgary have ticketed three organizers of an anti-mask rally held over the weekend. The province has banned outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19. Media have reported that hundreds attended the rally in the city's downtown. Artur Pawlowski has been charged under the Public Health Act with contravening a public health order, failing to wear a face covering where required and failing to have a permit for an event. David Pawlowski and Ryan Audette are also charged with contravening a public health order and failing to wear a face covering. A Calgary police spokeswoman says the public health order charges each come with a $1,200 fine and there is a $50 fine under Calgary's mask bylaw. The charge for failing to have a permit does not have a set fine but is to go to court on March 16.Investigators are seeking three additional people who face charges. The Calgary Police Service says in a statement that it's not always safe for officers to issue a ticket at the time of an alleged offence, like during a protest where "emotions are high.""In many instances, tickets are issued in the hours or days after an infraction based on evidence obtained at the time of the event," police said. "We know everyone is struggling right now and our intent is not to punish, but to protect the safety of Calgarians as we work together through this pandemic."This report by The Canadian Press was first published December 2, 2020. The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story; a previous version had incorrect charges and fines.
“It was a really bad year,” said Ann Marie Bagnall, chair of the Guysborough and Area Board of Trade, as the organization assesses 2020 and looks forward to the year ahead. In an interview Nov. 27, Bagnall told The Journal that the pandemic, and resulting restrictions, hit each of the 35 members of the organization differently, depending on which sector of the economy they belonged. But,overall, everyone struggled. “For every member it was difficult because it was so full of uncertainties. And there were so many changing protocols. Some of our members – like the restaurants, accommodations and retail that depend on a lot of tourist volume—they were very hard hit. And, it was difficult to plan; not knowing if you would be open the next day or week,” she said. The focus of the board this past year has been keeping the members abreast of the constantly changing programs and protocols. That was made a little easier when the board started to have weekly online meetings with Cape Breton-Canso MP Mike Kelloway, who represents the area covered by the board. That line of communication, said Bagnall, was critical. The board was able to give feedback about programs and make suggestions, which were used to adapt and modify some programs, such as the wage subsidy program and student job grants, to fit the needs of local businesses and non-profits. “That was what was so key about those meetings (with MP Kelloway); it really did result in changes. The programs themselves – the government was just trying to get them out so quickly – it was trying to address the majority. But, once you got into those details and you look at (board) members particular circumstances, they can’t qualify because of ‘X,’ but they should qualify. It was bringing those issues up and getting them addressed,” said Bagnall of the meeting outcomes. While it has been a very trying time, Bagnall said, unlike other boards she’s heard of, none of their members have had to close their doors permanently due to the impact of the pandemic. Nor have they, to the best of her knowledge, had any difficulty finding workers due to government programs such as CERB; a problem that was anticipated by some in the business community nationally. As we head into the second wave of the pandemic, Bagnall said she thinks board members are prepared to deal with the disruptions that may lie ahead. “I think we’re positioned to deal with it – it’s just a question of uncertainty. If you go into lockdown, how much inventory should I have beforehand? It’s the unknown; you gotta just roll with it, whatever happens. From the board’s perspective, we’re continuing to look at the support programs…. We’re going to keep following the same track we’ve been on.” That being said, the board has made a change regarding this year’s ‘Buy Local’ campaign. “The ‘Buy Local’ draw has been going on for quite a few years now and even last year we talk about the need to change it. This year we looked at it and said it was really impractical with COVID restrictions to have a draw done with ballots and people writing; there were a lot of issues if we were going to try to do that,” said Bagnall. So, instead of a draw, the board of trade has decided to donate half of the budget they have traditionally used for the ‘Buy Local’ campaign give-away, and “reinvest that in a charity in the community,” said Bagnall. “Major fundraisers for a lot of organizations have been so disrupted,” Bagnall said, which helped fuel the board’s decision to donate $250 to the Guysborough Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. “The work that they do, and the importance of the hospital,was highlighted this year,” said Bagnall, adding that,while the amount was not huge, “It could help in a small way. And show that we really do appreciate their effort.” While the pandemic has few silver linings, one of them might be the increased realization that we need local businesses to thrive, and – in order for them to do that – they need community support. “Buy local; that is key and that will continue to be key, even more if a lockdown occurs again…. I think it (lockdown) highlighted the services we have in Guysborough. Can you imagine if you had to go further afield to go grocery shopping, get drugs or gas,” said Bagnall, adding, “It was a year that really highlighted supporting those merchants and making sure that we kept them.”Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
CENTRE WELLINGTON – Centre Wellington’s Business Improvement Areas (BIA) are calling 2020 a challenging year but one that saw some successes that they want to expand on going forward into a new year. Tuesday’s Centre Wellington committee of the whole meeting heard delegations from Elora BIA and Fergus BIA. Micaela Campbell, Elora BIA administrator, called it a strange year and obviously not what they were anticipating. She explained that much of their budget was redirected to shop local and stay safe campaigns during the early months of the pandemic. Fred Gordon, Fergus BIA administrator, said the COVID crisis definitely had a detrimental effect on downtown Fergus. “In 2020, we decided to take that negative and turn it into something positive,” Gordon said, adding that they too shifted their budget toward shop local campaigns. Campbell said the most successful project that went forward was the weekend street closures downtown, calling it very successful for local businesses. From June until Thanksgiving, sections of Metcalfe Street and Mill Street were closed to vehicle traffic on the weekend which allowed for better social distancing and restaurants could expand their patios into the street. “It also was very effective in accommodating what felt like a massive influx of tourists this summer, mostly from areas outside of Elora, Fergus or Centre Wellington,” Campbell said, adding that a drop in international travel probably led to travel within the province. This was tried in Fergus as well by closing Provost Lane and St. Andrew Street. “Closing St. Andrew Street did not work for our members at all,” Gordon said. “Downtown Fergus has a heavy service oriented profile, many of which rely on seniors. They just couldn’t get close enough parking.” However, Gordon said Fergus BIA is interested in expanding on closing Provost Lane with some beautification at the historic weigh-scale building. “We can’t wait for the new year to get that project going,” Gordon said. Campbell said the Elora BIA would also like to see the weekend closures happen beyond the emergency situation. She admitted however that there are some logistical issues involved and the reopening of the Badley Bridge could complicate this as well. Campbell explained that for the most part, the reception to it has been positive. “I will be supporting downtown street closures at the county level as long as I’m there,” said mayor Kelly Linton. “I think it was just fabulous, it had a great feel. We have to make sure we address some of the parking issues but overall, from what I heard, it was well received.” In spite of the pandemic, both Elora and Fergus have had new businesses come to town this year. Gordon said there are no vacancies in downtown Fergus going into winter which is unusual. When asked about loss of revenue or employees, Gordon said it was a difficult time for members but wasn’t aware of any permanent job losses. Campbell said the tourism in Elora has made retail stores recover well but restaurants are struggling due to limited seating allowed under public health guidelines. Going forward, both BIAs are looking to make downtown Elora and Fergus known as destinations. Campbell said the Elora BIA will be looking to promote to wider markets to lean into the tourism expansion they’ve seen and to beef up beautification and events next year. In Fergus, Gordon said they are reaching out to the many new developments that are going up in town to let new residents know they have a thriving downtown. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
ISLAMABAD — The U.S. envoy who brokered the ongoing peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban said Wednesday the two sides have overcome a three-month impasse and agreed on rules and procedures for the negotiations.The development is significant as it means the warring sides are getting closer to actually starting to negotiate the issues that could end decades of fighting in Afghanistan and determine the country's post-war future. But first they must decide on the agenda for the negotiations, which is the next step.In a series of tweets, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said there was a signed document and urged both the Taliban and the government to get down to the business of negotiating a “political roadmap and a cease-fire.”The three-page document lays out the rules and procedures for the negotiations, which are taking place in Qatar where the Taliban have long maintained a political office.Afghans “now expect rapid progress on a political roadmap and a ceasefire. We understand their desire and we support them,” Khalilzad tweeted.A cease-fire, rights of women and minorities, and constitutional amendments are expected to top the agenda. But the list is likely to be long and contentious, with issues such as safety guarantees for thousands of Taliban fighters who disarm, as well as for disbanding the heavily armed militias loyal to Kabul warlords, many of them allied either with the government or opposition politicians.U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who on Feb. 29 signed a Taliban-U.S. deal that paves the way for withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, welcomed the agreement.“As negotiations on a political roadmap and permanent ceasefire begin, we will also work hard with all sides in pursuit of a serious reduction of violence,” he said.Khalilzad’s announcement was not unexpected — last month, the Taliban said the rules and procedures were settled and the U.S. said last week it was all but wrapped up. But then the Afghan government said it had concerns with the some of the words in the preamble that set off accusations that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was holding up the deal. His spokesman denied this.There were no details about the document, but Taliban spokesman Mohammed Naeem said the two sides have appointed a committee to hammer out the agenda items.Since the Afghan-Taliban talks started in September, violence has spiked significantly. The Taliban have staged deadly attacks on Afghan forces while keeping their promise not to attack U.S. and NATO troops. The attacks have drawn a mighty retaliation by the Afghan air force, backed by U.S. warplanes. International rights groups have warned both sides to avoid inflicting civilian casualties.In Washington, U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military’s plan for reducing American troop levels in Afghanistan to 2,500 by mid-January has been approved by the acting secretary of defence, Christopher Miller. Milley declined to discuss the plan beyond saying that the smaller U.S. force would operate from “a couple of larger bases,” along with several smaller ones, in order to continue its current missions of combatting extremist groups like al-Qaida and training and advising Afghan defence forces.Milley asserted that the U.S. has achieved “a modicum of success” in Afghanistan after more than 19 years of war, given that there has not been a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland. Noting that President Donald Trump made the decision to reduce the U.S. force to 2,500, Milley said, “What comes after that, that will be up to a new administration; we’ll find that out on the 20th of January and beyond.”In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the breakthrough on the Afghan-Taliban talks, amid uncertainty over the alliance's future in Afghanistan and urged for rapid progress on cease-fire and establishing a political road map.“You can discuss whether it is a big or a small step, but the important thing is that it’s the first step,” Stoltenberg said, after chairing a videoconference of NATO foreign ministers. “It’s the first time actually that the Taliban and the Afghan government are able to sign a document agreeing on the framework, the modalities, for negotiations addressing a long-term, peaceful solution.”NATO has roughly 11,000 troops in Afghanistan, but under the U.S.-Taliban deal, all foreign troops would leave the country by May 1 if conditions allow. Stoltenberg has said that NATO faces a “difficult dilemma” over what to do.A decision on its future in Afghanistan, where NATO has led international security efforts since 2003 in the hope of keeping extremist groups at bay, is expected to be made in February after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.The Taliban today control or hold sway over nearly half of Afghanistan and are at their strongest since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled their regime over sheltering al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden.Many Afghans, particularly in larger urban areas fear a return of their repressive regime that harshly punished those who defied their strict Islamic edicts. Unlike when they ruled, the Taliban now say they will allow girls to go to school and women to work and hold public office, though they will not allow a woman to become president or a chief justice of Afghanistan's Supreme Court.___Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Ken Guggenheim in Washington, Tameem Akhgar in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.Kathy Gannon, The Associated Press
Purolator has teamed up with emerging Canadian artists to help spread a little holiday cheer this year. The shipping company has selected 13 artists from across the country – one from each province and territory – to design a unique and festive shipping box that will be made available at Purolator shipping centres and Michaels craft stores for anyone looking to send a little extra cheer along with their gifts to their friends and families this holiday season. With the country boasting a population of more than 37 million people, choosing one artist from each province and territory in Canada could have proved to be quite daunting, but Patrick Hunter, a Two Spirit Ojibwe artist, said he thinks the online community he has already amassed helped to secure him the spot as Ontario's representative. “I have a pretty nice following of people on Instagram, and I think that's how they reached out when they were trying to find diverse artists to be a part of this project,” Hunter explained. “It was a quick turnaround to get the project off the ground, I think we started in November or the end of October, but with really cool emails like that, 'Purolator wants to work with you on such-and-such,' it's a pretty quick response. I think it took me all of ten seconds to say 'yes, I'm in.'” While he is currently working out of Toronto, Hunter is originally from Red Lake. His art in the Woodland style takes inspiration from his hometown and the work of famed Woodland artist Norval Morrisseau, and he brought the same sensibilities he brings to his painting to the art he was inspired to create for Purolator's box, along with his own wishes for the holiday season. “It's all digital artwork, so you have to know how to use some graphic design-y programs,” Hunter explained. “We were given a template to work within the edges and back and top sides. Why I chose the imagery I chose, which is Ojibwe florals, is because it's a holiday season, it's one of my favourite gifts to give, and one of the best gifts First Nations folks give their friends are beaded moccasins or gloves, so my hope for these boxes is when someone gets a box that they have that feeling of 'oh my god, beautiful box' but then 'what's inside?'” Being chosen by Purolator to be the representative for Ontario also carries added heft for Hunter. Knowing the boxes have the potential to wind up almost anywhere in the world, Hunter said that it was like a personal responsibility to answer Purolator's call for his art. “I'm a First Nations gay man from Red Lake, Ontario,” he explained. “When things like this come along you have an obligation to the people that are coming behind you to try and illuminate the path. So my goal with this is to show other First Nations kids and gay artists can have opportunities like this too and not be afraid of them. As well, to bring some visibility. I don't think First Nations culture is always put in the forefront in a mainstream way and Purolator has done a good job of asking not just me but other diverse people in Canada to come up with box designs.” Laurie Weston is the director of retail for Purolator who was on the team searching for artists to take part in the campaign. She noted that part of trying to find emerging artists to design a box was ensuring they were a good fit for both where they came from and the peoples and cultures they represented. “What's really interesting about this is we actually went grassroots and we scoured social media,” Weston explained. “We went through social media and we narrowed it down to the ones that we felt their artwork represented not only the province but their culture. I think with Patrick, we were so incredibly lucky he wanted to do this with us because I think his floral motif and his indigenous background and what it represents for Ontario is pretty special. So it resonated with us. So that's why we picked him.” In a year when the shipping company expects far more packages to be delivered over the holiday season – Weston said their busy season began in August this year, when it usually starts to pick up in November – the drive to showcase original Canadian art on special holiday boxes was to help spread that sense of community and Christmas spirit that might otherwise be hard to come by in 2020. “People are not able to travel, and what's happened with us is the increase in shopping online, but people are coming in and shipping packages to loved ones,” Weston explained. “They're not able to travel and see their loved ones this holiday season so we really wanted to share some of the Christmas spirit from a Canadian lens. Purolator does support small businesses and entrepreneurs, but this is a different evolution of that. We just really wanted to showcase these new artists.” As part of Purolator's partnership with Michaels craft stores, the companies are also holding a Design-A-Box Sweepstakes. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the Michaels website in order to download a box template they can then design, photograph and submit for the chance to win a $1,000 Michaels gift card and free shipping with Purolator for a year. Hunter has been doing his work professionally for the past six years, and in the near future he's also looking at moving out of Toronto to be a little bit closer to home, and begin producing more items in his line of houseware products. He noted the opportunity to be a part of Purolator's holiday campaign helped to confirm in his mind that pursuing the career path he did was a good choice and hopefully help to spread awareness of Indigenous artists even further abroad. “It makes me feel like I'm on the right path and I did choose a good career in graphic design,” he said. “To have [the art] put on these boxes in such a public way, it means a lot and I'm so thrilled just to be a part of the project, but then to have this kind of message of like 'hey, we're Indigenous people, we haven't gone anywhere, we're still here' I think it's great to illuminate the path for people to ask questions.” For more information on Purolator's holiday boxes visit their website and to take part in the Design-A-Box sweepstakes, visit the Michael's website. For more information on Patrick Hunter and his artwork, visit his website at patrickhunter.ca or follow him on Instagram @patrickhunter_artKen Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
Regina– Ambulance fees are going down for Saskatchewan senior citizens, the fulfillment of a Saskatchewan Party campaign promise in this past fall’s election. Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley said in a ministerial statement in the Legislature on Dec. 2, “Starting on December 14, our government will further support Saskatchewan seniors aged 65 and older by reducing their ambulance fees from $275 per trip to $135 per trip. “That is a reduction of more than 50 per cent. In addition, seniors will now receive full coverage for all inter-facility transfers between hospitals health centres, integrated health centres, mental health and addiction centres, and special care homes. As we know seniors tend to need ambulance services more frequently and that many seniors live on fixed incomes. Seniors will receive financial relief through this reduction in their personal health care costs for the service. Having the ability to discharge or transfer patients to a facility closer to their home community, without concern about their ability to pay, will improve patient flow between our health care centres. “This investment by our government is expected to cost $2.2 million for this fiscal year and $6.6 million annually. These costs were accounted for and the Minister of Finance’s recently released mid year update. Our government values seniors in this province. We're working to provide them with quality, affordable health care.” To be eligible for SCAAP coverage, patients must be age 65 or over, hold a valid Saskatchewan health card and not have insured coverage by any other government service such as Health Canada, Workers Compensation (WCB) or Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), according to a government release. In response, New Democratic Party Seniors Critic Matt Love said, “Certainly, we welcome any effort to make life more affordable for seniors, particularly those who might be ill and in need of an ambulance. We recognize this as a small step in the right direction. But ultimately, this is a drop in the bucket towards reforming the most unsupported and expensive ambulance system in the country. “Eliminating fees for seniors being transferred between health facilities makes sense. But what this government should be doing is eliminating interhospital transfer fees entirely. No other province in the country charges patients to transfer them within the health system. This issue was identified by this government's first EMS (emergency medical services) review in 2008, and again, the review conducted in 2018. We know the community paramedicine program has been successful in keeping seniors in their homes and out of the hospital. And we wonder why these changes do not expand access to these services? We also know there's been a long-standing practice of excluding First Nations seniors from provincial senior subsidy programs, and anticipate hearing whether these benefits will be extended to First Nations as well. Today's announcement does nothing to address the long-standing issues of short staffing in long term care much more as needed, including minimum care standards,” Love concluded.Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
TORONTO — As a pediatrician with extensive experience working with marginalized groups, Anna Banerji believed herself more than equipped to advocate for her Inuk son when he began to display signs of deep depression.She recalls taking him to hospital and pleading with mental-health experts for help, but says her concerns were dismissed. Less than two weeks later in September 2018, Nathan killed himself.Banerji acknowledges many factors led to her son's death, but believes the health-care system failed to recognize specific racial, social and cultural aspects that contributed to his suicide.It's a blind spot she ascribes broadly to mainstream health-care, and had been one of the reasons she founded the biennial Indigenous Health Conference in 2014.The fourth edition launches Thursday as a three-day digital gathering focused on youth mental health, and will be dedicated to Nathan. Banerji says Indigenous-led solutions are key as the pandemic exacerbates mental health struggles, and especially as fresh accounts of racism in health-care this year repeat calls for change. "We see this all across Canada — Joyce Echaquan recorded it so we have documentation of her dying while they're calling her names," said Banerji, referencing the hospital death in September of an Atikamekw woman from Manawan in central Quebec."Joyce is one example, but there are so many examples that don't get documented and that's why it's really important that we document that because Joyce's story or my son's story are not unique."Speakers include Nunavut singer Susan Aglukark who will discuss child sexual abuse and its links to colonization, and Michèle Audette, commissioner of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, who will talk about systemic discrimination.Of course, youth will take centre stage. Youth panel moderator Joshua Stribbell, program coordinator of the Ottawa-based service provider Tungasuvvingat Inuit, says he's impressed with the topics younger participants plan to raise: a comparison of Indigenous and colonial approaches to mental health and a look at inter-generational determinants of health and resilience."What I love about them coming up with those two learning objectives is it's youth refusing ... to just talk about (being) youth," says the 30-year-old Stribbell, based in Toronto and a friend of Nathan's."Because no Indigenous youth is just Indigenous youth — they're part of a community and that community has intergenerational things that are continuing to happen and are always happening (and) they understand that they (are not) alone, that they heal together as a community."There is no shortage of troubling incidents to fuel discussion.While the spread of COVID-19 has highlighted and deepened racial disparities in health-care and social supports, it's also revealed the benefits of Indigenous-led public health measures that resulted in far fewer infections in many communities, Toronto doctors Allison Crawford and Lisa Richardson argued in an article for the CMAJ in September."At its foundation, Indigenous public health must be self-determined: adapted for the needs of specific nations and grounded in local Indigenous language, culture and ways of knowing; developed, implemented and led by Indigenous Peoples," they write.Such instances are rare. Earlier this week, former Saskatchewan judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond released a damning report detailing widespread systemic racism in British Columbia's health-care system, including extensive profiling of patients based on stereotypes about addictions.Banerji believes much the same can be said of health-care systems across the country, and "that's exactly why we do this conference.""We need to address some of those issues and try to educate people on the fact that this is real and it impacts people's lives, and can result in high rates of morbidity and mortality," says Banerji, an associate professor at the University of Toronto's Temerty Faculty of Medicine.In the case of her son, Banerji laments that experts appeared to discount the possible impact of tumultuous events in his young life. Nathan left Baffin Island as a baby when Banerji was asked by an adoptions official she knew through her work in the Arctic to adopt him and raise him in Toronto.Keen to keep Nathan connected to his culture and relatives in Clyde River, Banerji (who is of South Asian descent) brought him back several times to visit his parents, siblings, and grandparents. He was very proud of his culture, but Banerji says he grew disillusioned as he became aware of fractures in his birth family and social and economic problems in the community. As he approached his teen years, she says Nathan was shattered by news of his 14-year-old brother's death by suicide.She says these experiences all likely played a role in Nathan’s mental health and should have been given more weight."It's not overt discrimination, it's a lack of information. It's the omission where they just didn't understand inter-generational trauma that contributed to his death," says Banerji.Malcolm Ranta, executive director of the Ilisaqsivik Society, says an Inuit-focused approach makes an incredible difference in the health outcomes of the Baffin communities he serves.The Clyde River non-profit created a counsellor training program about 13 years ago to offer support in Inuktitut from locals who could better understand local issues. He says the program was accredited three years ago and he now hears regularly from residents thankful they can get help in Inuktitut from someone who better understands their pain."Three years ago if there was a suicide in a community the government would send in one white southern social worker or nurse to go be there to support that community for a period of time. Now, we can send in a team of four Inuit counsellors," says Ranta, participating as a delegate at this year's conference."We want Inuit to be part of the systems that impact their lives. Because we know there's going to be better health outcomes."Demand is "huge" he says, pointing to 26 crisis response calls in 2019. In February, he says Ilisaqsivik is launching a 28-day addiction treatment camp that will allow residents to avoid having to go south, such as to Toronto or Calgary, for care. Banerji says these are the solutions that can help address gaps in care across the country. Even as a physician and university professor, she says she still could not find adequate help for her son."The system failed even me with an Indigenous child," says Banerji."I can imagine how the system continues to fail Indigenous people that may not be in that position or may not be as well-resourced or may not be in a position of power as someone like me."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Leave the snow boots, parkas and glove warmers in the closet, the 2021 Sundance Film Festival is coming down from the mountain and straight to your living room.Organizers on Wednesday said that this year they will premiere over 70 films on a custom online platform during the seven day event. There will also be some socially distanced screening opportunities around the country. The festival, which is normally held in Park City, Utah, has been preparing for various scenarios for months as the pandemic has raged on.Festival director Tabitha Jackson said that this model, “Gives us the opportunity to reach new audiences, safely, where they are.”Over the course of the festival, feature films will premiere throughout the day at a dedicated time followed by a live Q&A. Ticketholders will have a three-hour window to watch. Second screenings will be available for 24 hours two days later. The rollout, organizers said, is designed to “preserve the energy of a Festival.”There will also be limited screenings at venues across the county, including Birmingham, Alabama’s Sidewalk Drive-In, Pasadena, California’s Rose Bowl, Denver's Sie Film Center and Columbus, Ohio’s Gateway Film Center.“At the heart of all this is a belief in the power of coming together, and the desire to preserve what makes a festival unique -- a collaborative spirit, a collective energy, and a celebration of the art, artists, and ideas that leave us changed,” Jackson said.The 2021 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 28 through February 3, and tickets will be available for purchase for the general public beginning Jan. 7. The 2021 slate will be revealed in the coming weeks.Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The Liberals have officially started the clock toward a key vote that will determine the fate of billions of dollars in new pandemic-related aid — and the minority government.The federal government introduced a bill in the House of Commons Wednesday that would enact spending measures proposed in this week's fall economic statement.The Liberals will make passage of the legislation a confidence vote, meaning the minority government could fall and trigger an election if it doesn't garner the necessary support.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said his party would carefully read the bill to make sure it does what the government claims.Monday's update outlined just over $25 billion in new spending to top up and expand existing programs and create new, targeted support for hard-hit industries.The Liberals are also promising $1,200 per child under six for families earning up to $120,000, and $600 for families earning over that amount. The first payment is supposed to happen right after the bill passes, but the government is only suggesting it needs to introduce the legislation, not pass it, before MPs go on a winter break, Poilievre said."The government needs to tell us how it plans to make that payment if it doesn't have the legislation passed," he said after a morning caucus meeting.The economic statement also noted the deficit was on track to hit $381.6 billion this fiscal year, but warned the figure could close in on $400 billion if public health restrictions are extended or expanded in the coming weeks.The federal debt is set to push past $1.2 trillion, with more on the way in the coming years before accounting for the government's proposed three-year stimulus fund the Liberals say will be between $70 billion and $100 billion.Credit rating agency DBRS Morningstar, in an analysis Wednesday, said the cost of extra spending and debt could be worth it to avoid long-term scarring to the economy, which could take the form of people permanently out of jobs and more businesses closing for good.The agency added that the government will have to "recalibrate public finances" to keep deficits from becoming permanent. That won't be easy with a long list of policy promises, the agency said, pointing to a national child-care system, reform of the employment insurance system, green infrastructure spending and demands from provinces for increased health-care transfers."Given the medium-term fiscal outlook, there is limited space to fund sizable increases in permanent spending in a sustainable way without also raising revenues," the report said. "The government will face difficult fiscal (and political) choices as it prepares the 2021 Budget."A majority of MPs in the House of Commons on Wednesday backed a Bloc Quebecois motion that called on the federal government to increase its share of health-care spending before the end of the year.The vote isn’t binding on the government.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.The Canadian Press
Les récréations, transitions et cours d’éducation physique ne seront plus jamais vécus de la même manière à l’École Arc-en-ciel de Sainte-Monique! Celle-ci vient de transformer une simple cour d’école en un gymnase à ciel ouvert. Car l’école Arc-en-ciel s’est dotée il y a quelques mois d’une toute nouvelle cour asphaltée et a décidé de la décorer de jeux éducatifs, ludiques et sportifs de grande qualité peints à même sa surface. Le résultat: une cour d’école colorée et multi-usage que les enfants de la maternelle et du primaire peuvent maintenant salir et parcourir sans retenue. Et surtout, y jouer à plus soif au basket-ball, au hockey, au ballon quatre-coins, au ballon chasseur, en plus d’exercer et de développer leurs habiletés motrices sur différents parcours. «Ça s’est fait la semaine avant que les élèves rentrent». Et le résultat fait un effet bœuf! Le projet connaît déjà un tel succès que d’autres écoles du Centre de services scolaire de la Riveraine cherchent à l’imiter, nous dit Stéphane Grimard, directeur des écoles Arc-en-ciel, des Arbrisseaux et de la Croisée au Centre de services scolaire de la Riveraine. «C’est une première sur notre territoire et ça fait l’envie de plusieurs écoles. J’ai des collègues qui me disent "tu nous as créé toute une demande!"». M. Grimard affirme qu’il n’hésitera pas à partager ses contacts… M. Grimard avait fait refaire l’asphalte de la cour d’école l’an dernier. Mais il la trouvait un peu vide de jeux. Et en surfant sur internet, «je suis tombé sur des compagnies qui faisaient ce type de travail. J’ai trouvé ça fantastique. On a identifié en équipe-école ce qu’on voulait comme jeux et on est allé de l’avant». M. Grimard demande aussi conseil à sa professeure d’éducation physique. «Tous ces espaces sont intégrés au plaisir et à l’éducation des jeunes lors des transitions, lors de leur présence au service de garde et durant le cours d’éducation physique», ajoute M. Grimard. Il fallait maintenant trouver les sous. En fait 6500$, asphalte non inclus bien sûr! L’équipe-école se met en branle. Le public répond présent. L’école reçoit des dons privés de plusieurs parents, de l’argent du Grand Défi Pierre-Lavoie, de la pharmacie Jean-Coutu de Nicolet, de l’Unité régionale des loisirs et des sports Centre-du-Québec, de la Course Esprit Saint, des Autobus Aston et des Viandes Rheintal. L’entrepreneur est embauché. Si les premières neiges ont déjà recouvert une partie du terrain de jeu de la cour de l’École Arc-en-ciel, les nombreux redoux en révèlent encore les contours et redonnent espoir aux enfants de pouvoir y jouer de nouveau même avant les fontes du printemps. La cour est évidemment déneigée pendant l’hiver. La cour de l’école est aussi accessible à l’ensemble de la communauté en l’absence des élèves de l’école, tient à souligner la direction de l'Arc-en-ciel. Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
The number of continuing care facilities in Alberta with COVID-19 outbreaks of two or more cases has more than tripled in three weeks, causing advocates to sound the alarm.In three weeks, the total number of active COVID-19 cases in Alberta care homes has shot to 123 from 40.As of Wednesday morning, 351 residents of long-term care facilities or supportive/home living sites have died of COVID in the province since the pandemic began, according to the government.That's 64 per cent of the 551 reported COVID deaths in Alberta."It's very challenging and quite frankly it's a situation in our province of our own making," said Mike Conroy, CEO of the Brenda Strafford Foundation, which runs a number of Calgary care homes.At one of them, Clifton Manor in southeast Calgary, an ongoing outbreak has led to 74 COVID-19 cases and three deaths.For months, Conroy has been calling for dedicated contact tracing and testing at Alberta continuing care facilities.The care homes that he's in charge of conduct asymptomatic testing every three days during an outbreak.And as recently as last week, Conroy had to wait three days for a batch of swab results — eight of which came back positive."My expectation, and I've been trying to secure a commitment, is that we should get those results in 24 hours, because it's information … the sooner we have the results, the sooner we can take action," he said.Staffing shortages more dire than in springStaffing is another major challenge for care homes as they battle through the second wave, said Lorraine Venturato, a nursing professor at the University of Calgary. "It's kind of coming in like a tsunami and there hasn't been as much attention being focused on continuing care as there was in the first wave and yet the situation is probably more dire now," she said.Venturato said continuing care centres may need to look to other industries — perhaps recruiting laid-off restaurant workers — for help with non-medical jobs."Meals need to be delivered to rooms if a site's in lockdown, so they may need extra people in the kitchen, extra people for delivery, extra people for cleaning," she said.20 hospitals also battle outbreaksCurrently, 20 Alberta hospitals are also now battling COVID-19 outbreaks.According to information published by Alberta Health Services, there are more than 190 COVID cases connected to active hospital outbreaks right now, and at least 20 deaths have been linked to the outbreaks.Hospitals across the province are working to dedicate 2,200 beds for COVID patients, as they did last spring, Premier Jason Kenney said in the legislature on Monday. At Tuesday afternoon's provincial update, Alberta reported 1,307 new cases, with a provincial positivity rate of 8.4 per cent. Alberta has reported more than 1,000 cases a day for nearly two weeks, and ICU and hospital numbers continue to hit record highs.The total number of active cases was 16,628, an increase of 174 from the day before.Conroy adds to calls for 'circuit-breaker' style lockdownFor his part, Conroy says the province's restrictions aren't working and he thinks it's time for a so-called "circuit-breaker" style lockdown.A circuit breaker lockdown is a short period of more stringent restrictions with a defined end point where non-essential services are shut down in order to reduce spread, allowing the system to catch up to the number of cases.Kenney's UCP have fielded repeated calls from doctors and others for a circuit-breaker lockdown in past weeks.Among them, the Alberta government has received letters from groups of hundreds of physicians and three major health-care unions in the province urging the government to institute a "circuit-breaker" targeted lockdown.The retiring head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, Tom Sampson, also called for up to a 28-day "circuit breaker" lockdown, adding it should happen now to salvage the holiday season.
Great Enlightenment Buddist Institute Monks at the campus in Heatherdale received more requests for food box donations this month than ever before. “They really pulled through,” said Venerable Dan about the group of monks who spearheaded the project. Enough funds were raised to offer 332 food boxes compared to the usual 200. Venerable Dan said the monks were unsure if they would be able to roll out so many boxes, each filled with 10 of their signature puffy rolls, an assortment of dried goods and organic vegetables. To raise funds they got creative. On top of fresh baked buns, they sold homemade apple sauce and eloquently decorated pen holders to support the initiative. In the end the group was able to bake about 1,000 extra fresh rolls and provide a full box to each Islander who requested one. Venerable Dan noticed more people seemed to reach out this year because they were impacted by the pandemic. He also saw more young people and single families requesting food boxes. The monks have been donating and delivering food boxes for about two years now. They try to offer food boxes every one or two months through the winter as Islanders seem to struggle a bit more this time of year. Venerable Dan said the group is looking to offer more food boxes this December. Anyone looking to request a box should fill out an application which will be posted on the Facebook page ‘About Monks’ in December. Venerable Dan said, after delivering so many this month, some additional funds or donations will be needed to support the December deliveries. The monks were unsure if they would be able to go ahead with the project at all this year as they have, for the most part, been in a form of lockdown following strict policies to mitigate possible spread of COVID-19 within their residences. Thanks to about 40 local volunteers they were able to organize the initiative without breaking their contact and isolation policies. Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
Chinese spacecraft lands on the moon to bring back lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s, the government announced. (Dec. 2)
MULGRAVE – “This year with COVID, people have been struggling lately, some people have lost their jobs in the community. It is a tough time for everyone. I figured why not change it up to help the people in our community,” Town of Mulgrave Recreation Director Heather Brennan told The Journal regarding the new spin they put on its annual Festival of the Trees. This year, instead of dressing a tree to the nines, festival participants were asked to build a tree, or any Christmas-themed art piece, out of non-perishable food items to be donated later to the recently created food pantry. First, second and third-place winners will be selected through online voting. For residents not online, they can cast ballots at the town office. While a prize will be awarded, Brennan said, “Everybody is a winner.” The response to the competition was greater than Brennan had expected with 10 entries and a great amount of food donated to the food pantry. “I am pleasantly surprised by how many people have done it and the amount of food taken in has surpassed what I thought,” she said. Participants taking part in the festival include local businesses Mulgrave Machine Works and DSM, along with the Town of Mulgrave, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 37 Mulgrave, Mulgrave Heritage Centre, Atlantic Association of CBDCs and several groups of friends. Along with the food used in the displays, Brennan said community members have been dropping off food at the Mulgrave Memorial Centre, where the Festive of Trees is set up in the hallway, for the food pantry. The food pantry is an initiative of the Mulgrave Medical Centre Board that got off the ground this past summer. Board chair Al England told The Journal that the project has been a “greatsuccess to date; a lot of people are supporting it financially and with goods.” The pantry consists of a locker and a cooler constantly restocked with food. It is being moved from the medical centre to the vestibule in the Superport building where the East Coast Credit Union has an ATM. “They were gracious enough to allow us to use that space and we are very thankful and appreciative of that,” said England, adding that the location was temporary for the winter months and the pantry would return to the medical centre, when weather allowed. England said of the pantry project, “It has been an excellent project and it has been well received. We are grateful that it is being supported in the manor that it is and hopefully it is providing some help and assistance to those that really need the help at this time of year.”Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
COVID-19. Le gouvernement du Québec emboîte le pas au gouvernement fédéral et annonce que, à l'instar de la taxe sur les produits et services (TPS), la taxe de vente du Québec (TVQ) sera éliminée temporairement sur les achats de masques et d'écrans faciaux. «Nous travaillons de concert avec le gouvernement fédéral pour offrir aux citoyens et aux entreprises tout le soutien nécessaire en cette période de crise. La détaxation temporaire des masques et des écrans faciaux s'inscrit dans cette volonté», souligne Eric Girard, ministre des Finances. La détaxation de ces produits essentiels dans le contexte de la pandémie figure dans l'énoncé économique fédéral du 30 novembre 2020. Une modification sera apportée au régime de la TVQ afin d'y intégrer cette mesure, qui sera applicable à compter de la même date que la mesure fédérale. Par ailleurs, le ministère des Finances du Québec analyse actuellement d'autres propositions législatives présentées par la ministre des Finances du Canada. Les décisions d'harmonisation à leur égard seront annoncées ultérieurement. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
NEW YORK — The dramatic conclusion to “The Undoing,” HBO's whodunit starring Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman, proved how it's still possible to bring people together in today's fragmented television world.Three million people tuned in Sunday to find out who really killed the girlfriend of Grant's adulterous character in one of three showings on HBO and on the streaming service HBO Max, the Nielsen company said.That's likely to be a fraction of who eventually sees it, given how television is consumed today. The premiere of the six-episode series was seen by 1.4 million people the night it first aired, and by now has been seen by 9 million and counting.“It's a good example of how you can still have a water-cooler hit,” said Casey Bloys, HBO Programming president. “I will always point to good acting, writing and directing. It was a good story.”It was the most-watched night for HBO since the finale of “Big Little Lies” last year, which also featured Kidman and creator David E. Kelley.HBO also said it was the first time in network history that each episode of a series was seen by more people than the previous one, a powerful signal of how people were drawn into the mystery.“The Undoing” has generated more conversation on social media than any other new scripted television series this year, Nielsen said. Coupled with the streaming-only series “The Flight Attendant,” HBO Max had its biggest week since the service was launched.“The Undoing” was always designed as a limited series, but it attracted the type of interest that would make any television executive naturally wonder if the story could be extended in some way.“I don't know,” Bloys said. “I do think these things are lightning in a bottle. It could always be difficult to try that again.”But he pointed to the network's productive relationship with Kidman and Kelley.“We'll find something great to do,” he said. “Who knows what it will be?”In other ratings news, CNN finished November with its most-watched month in the network's 40-year history, showing growth in the aftermath of the election compared to rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC.NBC was the top-rated broadcast network in prime time for Thanksgiving week, averaging 3.64 million viewers. CBS had 3.55 million, ABC had 2.4 million, Fox had 1.6 million, Ion Television had 930,000, Univision had 890,000 and Telemundo had 530,000.ESPN was the most-watched cable network, averaging 2.95 million viewers. Hallmark hit 2.53 million, Fox News Channel had 2 million, MSNBC had 1.59 million and CNN had 1.41 million.ABC's “World News Tonight” led the evening news ratings race with an average of 9.5 million viewers. NBC's “Nightly News” had 8.8 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.3 million.For the week of Nov. 23-29, the 20 most-watched programs in prime time, their networks and viewerships:1\. NFL Football: Chicago at Green Bay, NBC, 16.48 million.2\. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 13.78 million.3\. “NFL Pregame” (Sunday), NBC, 13.32 million.4\. NFL Football: L.A. Rams at Tampa Bay, ESPN, 13.14 million.5\. “The Masked Singer,” Fox, 11.42 million.6\. “NFL Post-Game” (Sunday), Fox, 11.11 million.7\. “Football Night in America” (Sunday, 7:55 p.m.) NBC, 10.78 million.8\. “NCIS,” CBS, 10.16 million.9\. “FBI,” CBS, 8.4 million.10\. “Football Night in America” (Sunday, 7:30 p.m.), NBC, 7.38 million.11\. “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 7.08 million.12\. “The Voice” (Tuesday) NBC, 7.07 million.13\. “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 6.42 million.14\. “Monday Night Kickoff,” ESPN, 6.22 million.15\. “I Can See Your Voice,” Fox, 6.07 million.16\. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 5.66 million.17\. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 5.46 million.18\. “Bob Hearts Abishola,” CBS, 4.9 million.19\. “Bull,” CBS, 4.68 million.20\. “The Bachelorette,” ABC, 4.49 million.David Bauder, The Associated Press
Saint-Luc-de-Vincennes – La campagne de financement participatif «Priorité des Chenaux» a connu un vif succès, alors qu'elle a atteint 129% de son objectif, fixé à l'origine à 20 000$. Ce sont au final plus de 22 940$ qui ont été récoltés en soutenant les entreprises et artisans locaux de la MRC à l'approche du temps des Fêtes. En plus d'encourager l'achat local, cette campagne avait aussi comme but d'offrir un appui financier aux organismes de première ligne qui se voient imposer d'imposants défis à quelques semaines de Noël. Ainsi, grâce à «Priorité des Chenaux», les centres d'action bénévole de la Moraine et des Riverains recevront chacun 5 000$, argent qui sera utilisé pour confectionner des paniers de Noël et mettre en place de l'aide alimentaire pour des familles démunies du territoire. Il s'agit là d'un exemple concret de la solidarité qui prévaut dans la MRC de Mékinac selon les organisateurs de l'initiative.Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
In an unusual year, it's more important than ever to celebrate the people who go above and beyond to help others. That was the message at the small ceremony that officially bestowed Fort Frances' citizen of the year Gabby Hanzuk with her recognition and plaque. The ceremony was held outside at the Rainy Lake Square in downtown Fort Frances due to restrictions on gathering indoors, allowing Hanzuk and some of her friends and supporters the ability and space to safely gather to celebrate the honour. Mayor June Caul was on hand to say a few words and to present Hanzuk with her plaque. Like she did when Hanzuk was announced as the recipient for this year's award, Caul began proceedings by reading from the nomination letter written by Dale Gill that was submitted to the Citizen of the Year committee for consideration. In the letter, Gill pointed to Hanzuk's decades of support of local initiatives like the Special Olympics, Meals on Wheels and Voyageur's Lions Club, among others, as deserving of recognition by the town. “Gabby is also on the board at volunteer bureau, and has volunteered in past to do the taxes for the low income,” Gill's letter read. “She also is a valuable volunteer at the Family Centre. Though Gabby's position for Meals on Wheels is a paid position, I feel that what she does there goes way above and beyond pay. She makes sure that our seniors who can't cook for themselves get a healthy meal every night, even if she has to deliver them by herself, not to mention every one of them get a Christmas goodie bag from her every Christmas. Along the Christmas line, Gabby has volunteered for the Community Christmas dinner for many years.” Speaking to the small gathering at the ceremony, Caul agreed with Gill's letter and acknowledged the work that Hanzuk does for the vulnerable populations in town. “If we didn't have volunteers like you to look after the less fortunate especially, there would be a lot less of a place for them to live here,” she said. “Not very many people have a heart as big as yours, that's for sure. So on behalf of the Town of Fort Frances, it's my pleasure to present this plaque to Gabby Hanzuk, Citizen of the Year 2020 in recognition of tremendous volunteer services to our community.” For all that she does in the community, Gabby stressed that she's still only one person and receives plenty of help from other volunteers and organizations in the region. “June mentioned it, she's been around with me a lot and so has my girlfriend Roz,” Hanzuk said. “Everybody, all the groups and all the places I've gone to and helped out, there's a lot of people that do it. I just happen to be the mouthy one, the one aggressive enough to just say, 'this is what's going to happen, we're going to do this.' You've got to love what you do because it's hard work. Sometimes it's hard work and dedication is key and there's a lot of that in this community. There are so many people that are amazing.” In addition to the people Hanzuk volunteers with, she also acknowledged the many individuals she's met while volunteering. She noted that they also make the work worth doing, though it can occasionally be difficult for reasons one might not expect. “You cannot put a price on all the wonderful people you get to meet and love and care about,” Hanzuk said, speaking particularly about her work with the Special Olympics. “There's also sad times too, when we lose one or two. I know a lot of our athletes are gone now that started in the beginning with us. I've danced at their weddings, some of them, and unfortunately have gone to funerals, but in the end you're a better person for knowing them all.” Caul shared some of her own experiences working with Hanzuk in different capacities, and said the dedication she displays in all the different ways she volunteers makes her more than deserving of the annual award. “For having done what she's done for over 30 years, the stamina it takes and doing stuff when she's not feeling well, she's still out there working as hard as she can,” Caul said. “I've been involved with the Christmas dinner for I believe 25 years now. She was there when I started working there, so she's been involved with that for a very long time. The volunteer bureau mentioned in the nomination, she's been a godsend to that board as well, because she's so giving, her heart is just so big and wonderful and she certainly deserves every accolade she ever gets.” Of the award itself, Hanzuk said she felt overwhelmed when she was told about the decision, as well as honoured by being recognized. “Disbelieving a little bit, but happy nonetheless,” Hanzuk said about being told she had been named Citizen of the Year. “The funny thing is when they called me I didn't say anything because I couldn't believe it. That's probably one of the first times that I was speechless. Anybody who knows me, they know. 'Oh my god, she didn't say something?'” A separate ceremony is being planned for Ray Calder, the other individual who was given special recognition at last week's council meeting for the volunteer work he did during the early COVID-19 pandemicKen Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times