Toads are masters at camouflage with their colour and texture allowing them to mimic the forest floor where they live. But what they do for the ecosystem is something you should definitely know about!
Toads are masters at camouflage with their colour and texture allowing them to mimic the forest floor where they live. But what they do for the ecosystem is something you should definitely know about!
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s disaster authority and the U.S. Geological Survey say a 5.0 magnitude earthquake has struck Siirt in southeastern Turkey.The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, or AFAD, said Thursday there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the quake that hit at a depth of 20 kilometres (12 miles) at 8:45 a.m. (0545 GMT).Turkey is crisscrossed by fault lines and was hit by two strong tremors this year -- one that hit the western port city of Izmir last month, killing 117 people, and another in Elazig province, killing 41 people.At least 17,000 people died in a powerful earthquake in northwest Turkey in 1999.The Associated Press
A number of projects will be moving forward next year as council has approved the capital portion of the city’s 2021 budget. Building repairs and upgrades, park redevelopments, and new vehicle acquisitions were hot button topics during the hours-long discussion of council’s first budget deliberation meeting. Repairs and upgrades to roads, sidewalks, street lights and traffic lights will also be conducted across the city. In total, the city’s capital budget comes in at $33.59 million. In terms of new vehicles and equipment, the city will be acquiring three new ice resurfacers, in which Councillor Rosemary McConkey questioned why all three needed to be replaced at once. While the life cycle of these vehicles is about 10 years, McConkey notes two of them are only eight years old, adding a staggered approach to acquiring new vehicles would be better. “Having three replaced all at once will put pressure on another council’s budget year down the road,” she says. However, according to city staff, two of the vehicles have multiple issues, which would cost more in the end to fix rather than to replace. “We go through a whole process of identifying total cost to upkeep equipment,” says city staff. “If it’s on the list, it’s costing us too much or there are safety issues related to the units.” A number of other vehicles will be added to the city’s fleet as part of a scheduled replacement program, including a couple of Chevrolet Silverado trucks, two vacuum sweepers, three front mowers, and a pumper, to name a few. A new Hazmat vehicle will be added to Fire Hall 1 to provide Oshawa Fire Services with a fully operational rapid response vehicle, as well as a new vehicle for the assistant deputy chief. Phase 3 of the city’s downtown streetscape redevelopment program is also moving forward, which includes the widening of sidewalks on the north side of King Street West from Simcoe to Prince Streets, “to enhance pedestrian amenities and increase accessibility.” Parks to see improvements this year include Raglan Park, Kingside Park, Crimson Court Park, Deer Valley Park, Conant Park, and Sunnyside Park. Some of the redevelopment in these parks include the replacement of playground equipment, playground resurfacing, the replacement of existing site furnishings, new park pathways, a parking lot and the addition of tree plantings and naturalization areas. As part of the city’s capital budget, council also endorsed a number of anchor and partnership grant requests to community organizations. The city’s Anchor and Partnership Grant programs are part of council’s commitment to work with Oshawa-based, not-for-profit volunteer community organizations that provide beneficial programs and services to the community. Organizations receiving anchor grants this year include Boys and Girls Club of Durham, Friends of Second Marsh, Motor City Car Club, Oshawa Children’s Community Fair, Oshawa Folk Arts Council, Oshawa Rotary Ribfest, Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame, and Santa’s Parade of Lights. Council also approved partnership grant requests for Hearth Place, Bawaajiigewin Aboriginal Community Circle, and Durham Alliance. However, there were a number of organizations that did not receive funding grants in next year’s budget, including Canadian Automotive Museum, Feed the Need in Durham, Oshawa Art Association, Oshawa Firefit, Royal Canadian Legion Branch and the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre. Council’s next budget deliberation meeting is on Friday, Dec. 4 when council will continue with the 2021 operating budget. According to city staff, with the pandemic came several unexpected costs to the city, and as a result, council is looking at a 2.39 per cent tax levy increase for 2021. According to Commissioner of Finance Stephanie Sinnott, this means a $47.88 increase to the city portion of the property taxes for a property assessed at $356,000 – the average assessment by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. Final approval of the 2021 budget is expected on Friday, Dec. 11.Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
The pandemic is preventing Pearl Harbor survivors from attending an annual ceremony remembering victims in the Dec. 7, 1941 attack. WWII veteran Mickey Ganitch, 101, has attended before, but will mark the anniversary this year from California. (Dec. 3)
Regina– When the COVID-19 vaccine comes, Saskatchewan will be ready. That’s according to Minister of Health Paul Merriman, who started the Dec. 2 COVID-19 update talking about upcoming vaccines, the first of which, made by Pfizer, received emergency approval in the United Kingdom on that very day. “Near the start of this pandemic, I remember Premier Moe saying, ‘This is not a sprint. It’s a marathon,’” Merriman said. “That is still true today. And we still have a long way to go in this marathon. Even marathons have a finish line. And now we know where that finish line is. “The finish line is when we have delivered a safe, effective vaccine to a significant number of Saskatchewan residents. That's where life can truly start getting back to normal. “Saskatchewan Health and the SHA (Saskatchewan Health Authority) have already done a lot of work, getting ready to deliver this vaccine. They will have a more detailed presentation on that plan sometime next week. For now, I want everybody to know: We in Saskatchewan are ready to go. “As soon as the federal government is able to start delivering the vaccine to us, we will be ready to deliver that to Saskatchewan people quickly and safely. “This is a huge undertaking involving thousands of healthcare workers, and other support staff, transportation, storage, and many other logistical issues. But let me assure you, we will be ready. Healthcare workers, elderly first Merriman continued, “Premier Moe and I have directed all necessary resources be directed to this effort. Based on the advice of public health officials, we will be prioritizing who will receive it first. There'll be more detail on this presentation next week. But it's no surprise that we expect healthcare workers, and the residents in our long-term care and personal care homes to receive the first vaccines. “We do not yet have an exact timeline on when we will be receiving these vaccines. The federal government is now saying the first deliveries will be early in the new year. Saskatchewan’s per capita share that we should be receiving in the first quarter of 2021 is about 180,000 doses, enough to vaccinate 90,000 people. This is just based on the deliveries from Pfizer and Moderna, who have applied for their vaccine approvals. In the last few days two more companies, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, have also applied to have their vaccines approved. This could result in more vaccines being delivered, even quicker. When that occurs, we will be ready to start receiving the shipments. And we will also be ready to go. “This is how we get back to normal in Saskatchewan. This is how our health system will get back to normal. This is how our economy will get back to normal. This is how our lives will get back to normal. It is quite literally the shot in the arm that Saskatchewan needs. And be ready to deliver that shot in the arm, as soon as the federal government starts getting us that vaccine. Until then, we all have to keep following the public orders and guidelines to protect ourselves and others. Keep physical distancing. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Limit your close contacts and stay home, if you're not feeling well. And follow the other good practices that we know to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It's how we keep ourselves, and those around us safe,” Merriman said. New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili told reporters, “I was concerned that the minister didn't understand his responsibility yesterday. This government should be talking about vaccine readiness and encouraging people to learn about the vaccine and get ready to take it, ready to protect each other. “They failed when it came to masks, getting people ready and promoting that early. They helped create this anti-mask pushback that we see in the in the province, with their mixed messages. They need to be ready and be promoting the COVID-19 vaccine, because it is essential, if we're going to get past this. And we're going to need more than the vaccine. It's not enough to wait to the vaccine and have a terrible December and January, and who knows when we actually get it. We need to act now. But we also need to act now, to get people ready for when the vaccine is here.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
This holiday season is going to look different for everyone, but as COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, seniors across the Durham Region are especially at risk of significant challenges associated with isolation. In years past, Home Instead has lifted the spirits of seniors, making them feel remembered and cherished, with its Be a Santa to a Senior program, in which the community can purchase gifts for seniors. Community members would grab an ornament from Christmas trees located in retailers, purchase a gift and return it to be wrapped and gifted to a senior. However, due to the pandemic, Cathy Dow, owner of Home Instead for Oshawa and the surrounding area, says they had to pivot the program and offer the program in a virtual capacity by partnering with Amazon Business. “Recognizing the program’s importance, and particularly this year, and with the need to keep everyone safe, Home Instead partnered with Amazon for the first time,” she says. “We have still developed great relationships with local non-profits and organizations to facilitate the purchasing and distribution of gifts on the wish list – which is all done virtually.” She says this year’s focus is on older adults who are living in long term care, as most are with restrictions and accessibility is very limited. “It spreads holiday cheer and brightens the lives of our older adults who are alone or financially challenged during this season,” Dow adds, noting through this global pandemic, the feelings of isolation are amplified. “Providing gifts and sense of community… that has always been there and so I think this year particularly will be very comforting to many.” To help a senior this season, members of the community can visit the BeASantatoaSenior.com website and enter their postal code to view wish lists for local seniors on Amazon. A personalized greeting can be included with the gift which will be shipped directly to the senior. Since the program began in 2003, Be a Santa to a Senior has provided approximately 2.1 million gifts and brightened the holiday season for more than 750,000 seniors nationwide. “We need the community’s help more than ever to make sure seniors feel connected this year,” Dow says. “This year we knew we had to find a way to spread holiday cheer to seniors, and we are grateful for the community’s participation.”Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
WASHINGTON — After four years of President Donald Trump serving as his own chief spokesperson and frequently peddling false information and conspiracy theories in the process, successor Joe Biden is pledging to return to a more traditional approach to communicating with Americans.Much of that work will fall to Jen Psaki, Biden's pick for White House press secretary. She's a veteran communications staffer who has worked on many top Democratic campaigns and held leading roles under President Barack Obama, including deputy press secretary and White House communications director, as well as spokesperson for the State Department.She'll assume the role at a critical time, facing a public that's skeptical of messages from institutions and a press corps whose relationship with the White House has been highly strained during the Trump era. Psaki, who turned 42 on Tuesday, is well-known in Washington, but she's not a household name.Yet.“This job becomes one of the most recognizable people representing both the administration and the government writ large,” said Robert Gibbs, a former Obama press secretary. “She’ll be recognized when she travels overseas. She’ll be recognized when she goes to the grocery store.”Trump went through four press secretaries and often preferred to engage directly with the electorate, tweeting at all hours or holding his own press briefings — especially at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Both the president and his media team were frequently at odds with White House reporters while routinely spreading falsehoods.One of Trump's press secretaries, Stephanie Grisham, never held a single briefing during her tenure. His most recent choice, Kayleigh McEnany, has used her sporadic briefings to scold reporters on their choice of questions, lecture them about the content of their stories, and reinforce baseless claims by the president.Biden has promised to restore daily press briefings, and Psaki says she views the core of her new job as seeking to rebuild trust in government, especially during the pandemic.“It’s difficult to imagine now how different this is going to be in a couple of months,” said Stuart Stevens, chief strategist for Republican Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign when Psaki was press secretary for Obama’s reelection campaign.Stevens, a fierce Trump critic, said that after Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, White House communications staffers won’t be “graded upon their willingness to lie for the president.”Former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough remembered Psaki once coming into his office and “pushing back quite strongly” on a policy point, seeking to get “answers that she knew she would be asked about.” He said the exchange simultaneously annoyed and impressed him.“She was not a passive participant who was just taking messaging to pass along,” McDonough said.Still, simply returning to the way things were during the Obama administration is not something all journalists are looking forward to. While its relationship with the press was not as combative as the current administration's, the Obama White House tightly controlled access to information, was obstructionist on many Freedom of Information Act requests and offered aggressive spin on key events.It also used the 1917 Espionage Act in unprecedented ways, prosecuting more people for leaking sensitive information to the public than all previous presidents combined.Harold Holzer, a onetime congressional press secretary and author of the book “The Presidents and the Press," said many White House journalists “were horrified by their treatment in the Obama administration.”“They were being told to consult the White House website for answers to their questions, Obama never showed up ... unless it was to go give a cupcake on someone’s birthday, he didn’t answer FOIA requests,” Holzer said.Psaki has already led calls with reporters to discuss the progress of Biden's transition to the White House, though those haven't come daily. Biden, meanwhile, has held only two formal press conferences since Election Day. Trump went weeks after his victory in 2016 without convening a press conference, but his team did provide daily updates by phone to reporters.Holzer noted that Biden “is friendly, but he’s guarded and he'll be more protective.”Presidential press corps combativeness long predates Trump and Obama.John Adams signed a sedition law prohibiting “malicious writing” about the president and executive branch. Abraham Lincoln imprisoned editors during the Civil War, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt admonished a journalist to go to the corner and wear a dunce cap. Early in Bill Clinton’s term, the corridor between the briefing room and the press secretary’s office was closed to journalists — causing an uproar among their ranks and a reversal of the policy.“It’s happened before. It’s just that it wasn’t on social media,” Holzer said.A native of Stamford, Connecticut, and a graduate of William & Mary, Psaki is part of an all-female senior communications team for the Biden White House. She declined an interview request through a Biden transition team spokesperson.McDonough recalled recruiting Psaki back to the White House from the State Department on the president’s behalf in 2015 — and her saying that she was having a family and that nothing would keep her from achieving that goal.“I’ll never forget having that conversation with her and how insistent she was,” McDonough said.Psaki and her husband, Gregory Mecher, have two children, ages 2 and 5.Gibbs worked closely with Psaki in the Obama press office and said she has a good relationship with Biden and with reporters, excels at message planning and can be "calm inside a building that, even on the best day of the administration, is a bit chaotic.”“You get calls at 2 in the morning from the Situation Room, you’re up early reading news,” Gibbs said of the post Psaki is taking on. “You have to be ready to react to what you know is going to happen and what you have no idea’s going to happen. And that really doesn’t turn off from the moment you start the job until the moment you finish it.”Current and former colleagues say Psaki is careful to take care of those around her, even people she far outranks. A 2008 Obama communications intern recalled Psaki providing an air mattress to use for the summer after a housing mix-up.Biden aides say that the president-elect decided on Psaki because she ran point for the Obama press office on the economy, especially stimulus spending — an issue that then-Vice-President Biden, and the man he's tapped as his administration's first chief of staff, Ron Klain, were leading voices on. That’s important since Biden has promised to spend billions creating green jobs and making infrastructure improvements to better combat climate change and to reduce economic inequality while reviving the post-pandemic economy.Psaki also has extensive foreign policy experience from her time at the State Department. That, combined with her White House years, makes her among the most practically experienced people to take on the role of press secretary while giving her deep knowledge of key issues, aides say.Psaki is also remembered for some tense exchanges with journalists during State Department press briefings. Videos of some of those have now begun to resurface in Russia. State media there is often critical of U.S. political figures but in the past singled out Psaki, turning her last name into a verb, “Psaking,” meant to denote making mistakes while speaking publicly.Still, Stevens, the Romney 2012 top strategist, said any media dust-ups will be grounded in a public and political reality that evaporated during the Trump era.“I’m sure she’s going to have a lot of fights with reporters, and reporters are going to have frustrations. And that’s how it should be,” he said. “But they will be people living in the same universe. They’re not going to be debating about whether gravity’s a reasonable phenomenon.”Will Weissert, The Associated Press
Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter is urging the province to take a look at the evidence-based data for COVID-19 to help save local communities from further hardship. In just a matter of days, Durham Region was moved from the Orange zone to the Red zone of the provincial framework for fighting and stopping the spread of the virus. Carter says this means there’s been a lot of significant changes in regards to public gatherings and how retail locations have operated. He’s urging the community to continue to follow the advice of the health care professionals and continue to “stay apart, mark up, lather up, and if you can work from home stay at home.” “That’s one of the ways we can stop the spread.” Carter is also calling for the community to support local. “If there’s a way that we can support local, like I always say, ‘Oshawa loves local,’ let’s find a way of supporting our local economy,” he says. Carter is also calling on the province to consider the “true data” and where the spread is coming from, when making decisions in regards to moving the different regions to different stages. “Our retailers, our service industry, our local economy has done an incredible job in investing in PPE and making sure they’ve taken all the right steps to make sure that your safety, your well-being, is their number one priority,” Carter continues. He says any decisions the province makes impacts communities locally, adding the province needs to take into consideration where the spreads are happening and take a look at the data, and make a decision based upon that. “The province must take a close look at the region’s COVID-19 active case numbers to identify the sources of transmission,” he says. “It is critical the data be used to make sector-specific restrictions and to determine if local restrictions – especially those that are having a huge impact on our restaurants and local businesses – can be reduced.” The City of Oshawa continues to post updates to its webpage. Visit www.oshawa.ca/coronavirus for the latest updates on changes to services and programs, as well as frequently asked questions and resources.Courtney Bachar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Oshawa Express
Do “self-cleaning” elevator buttons really work?Without rigorous independent studies, experts say it’s hard to verify claims of “self-cleaning” or “antiviral" surfaces that have popped up during the pandemic.But they also say you shouldn’t worry too much about how well such features really work.COVID-19 is an airborne disease. Research suggests it would be difficult to catch the virus from surfaces like an elevator button.“You get it through what you breathe, not through what you touch,” said Emanuel Goldman, who studies viruses at Rutgers University.Studies showing the virus can survive several hours on plastic or metal surfaces do not mimic real-life conditions, said Dr. Dean Winslow, an infectious disease specialist at Stanford Health Care.Companies are selling antibacterial and antiviral elevator button or door handle covers. But building or office managers looking to protect employees or tenants would be better off buying hand-sanitizing stations instead, Winslow said.And anyone wanting to avoid the virus should continue taking regular public health precautions: mask-wearing, social distancing and avoiding indoor events, bars, dining and gyms.Routine hand washing is also recommended, whether there's a pandemic or not, Goldman said.___The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org.Read previous Viral Questions:Are dining tents a safe way to eat out during the pandemic?Do masks with antiviral coating offer more protection?Will social distancing weaken my immune system?The Associated Press
Two Rohingya told Reuters their names appeared on lists compiled by government-appointed local leaders without their consent, while aid workers said officials used threats and enticements to pressure people into going. Mohammad Shamsud Douza, the deputy Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees, said the relocation was voluntary. Police escorted the first group of 1,000 refugees in buses from Ukhiya in Cox's Bazar for the journey to Chittagong port and then on to Bhasan Char – a flood-prone Bay of Bengal island that emerged from the sea 20 years ago.
Guillaume Carlier, un jeune cinéaste francophone de Calgary, nous amène sur les traces de jardins japonais en Alberta et en Colombie-Britannique, symboles de résilience de la population nippono-canadienne déportée durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Borrowed from Nature, un documentaire qui vient de sortir en partenariat avec Radio-Canada, à Vancouver. La première fois que Guillaume Carlier a posé son regard sur le jardin japonais de New Denver, en Colombie-Britannique, il n’était alors qu’un enfant. En dépit de son jeune âge, il avait déjà entendu parler de l’histoire douloureuse relatant la déportation de la population nippono-canadienne durant la Seconde Guerre. « Depuis que je suis jeune, je connaissais ce jardin, mais je ne m’étais jamais demandé qui l’avait créé », explique-t-il, jusqu’à ce qu’il soit parvenu à l’âge adulte et que cette question commence sérieusement à l’interpeller. Plus tard, il apprend que c’est le Canadien-Japonais, Roy Tomomichi Sumi qui l’avait conçu de ses propres mains. Le maître jardinier avait été déporté comme l’environnementaliste canado-japonais David Suzuki dans les camps d’internement durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Roy Tomomichi Sumi est depuis décédé. Aujourd’hui, il est considéré comme une sommité en Alberta et en Colombie-Britannique dans l’art du jardin japonais, et devient le fil d’Ariane du jeune cinéaste francophone qui lui permettra de se plonger dans un chapitre de l’Histoire canadienne aussi douloureux que méconnu. Ces jardins sont des métaphores qui racontent le passé, mais ils sont aussi le moyen de faire la paix avec le présent et d’avancer vers le futur. L’Histoire en héritage L’immigration japonaise a commencé vers 1860 dans la province de la Colombie-Britannique et représentait juste avant le début de la Seconde Guerre mondiale une population de 22 000 personnes. Après l’attaque en 1941 du Japon contre Pearl Harbor, le Canada, allié des États-Unis, décide de prendre des mesures draconiennes. La loi sur les mesures de guerre permet alors des actions de grande envergure comme la confiscation de bateaux, des entreprises, des biens fonciers et finit par transférer vers des camps d’internement la population canado-japonaise . Ces Canadiens d’origine japonaise durent y rester durant toute la Seconde Guerre, n’emmenant avec eux que deux valises et un simple sac. Au vu du contexte historique, « il y avait un fort sentiment anti-asiatique au Canada et aux États-Unis, ils craignaient qu’il y ait de l’espionnage », explique le jeune cinéaste alors qu’ils étaient citoyens canadiens. Un vrai traumatisme pour des gens venus initialement au Canada pour embrasser une vie meilleure, et qui perdirent du jour au lendemain tout ce qu’ils avaient mis si longtemps à bâtir. Une situation injuste qui, à la fin de la guerre, a mis la population nippono-canadienne face à un second choix cornélien : partir vers l’est, ou bien retourner au Japon selon la volonté des autorités canadiennes. Certains décidèrent d’aller en Alberta, notamment du côté de Lethbridge. C’est en 1967 que la petite ville des Prairies accueillera son premier jardin japonais, le jardin de Nikka Yuko. Des jardins et des hommes Transmuter sa peine en un magnifique jardin japonais, c’est la façon dont les rescapés de ces camps ont décidé d’exorciser les mauvais souvenirs. Un signe de réconciliation en somme. « Dans la culture japonaise, c’est très difficile de parler de cette période dans l’histoire du Canada », explique le cinéaste de 31 ans. Ce documentaire a été filmé durant l’été 2020 dans trois de ces jardins japonais : le jardin de Nikka Yuko à Lethbridge, en Alberta, et construit en 1967, le jardin d’Heiwa Teien à New Denver, en Colombie-Britannique, construit en 1994, et le jardin de Nitobe, à Vancouver, situé lui aussi en Colombie-Britannique et construit en 1960. « Ce jardin [de Roy Tomomichi Sumi créé dans les années 1980], est un geste pour tout le monde, c’est aussi pour enseigner aux Canadiens ce qui s’est passé », explique Guillaume Carlier. Le documentaire a pu être livré à Radio-Canada Vancouver en septembre et aura pris un mois de tournage entre les deux provinces pour raviver la mémoire de cette partie de l’histoire, mais aussi « questionner l’identité de la culture canadienne », met de l’avant le cinéaste. Guillaume Carlier et son épouse Gillian McKercher ont sorti ce documentaire avec leur maison de production Kinosum qui signifie littéralement en japonais « on aime les films ». Si le film reste l’exclusivité de Radio-Canada pendant une année, « tous les Canadiens peuvent déjà voir ce documentaire de 45 minutes sur le site de CBC GEM », explique le cinéaste. Le film a déjà été vendu à l’international et sera distribué par la suite en France, au Japon et aux États-Unis.Hélène Lequitte, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
With two old rivals facing off in Ghana's presidential election on Dec. 7 amid familiar economic woes, many voters are paying more attention to a new element in the political mix - the first ever female vice-presidential candidate for a major party. Former education minister Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman hopes that the decision of Ghana's main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to nominate her as its candidate for vice-president will inspire other women to enter politics.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand authorities have approved tech billionaire Sean Parker’s purchase of a one-third stake in film director Peter Jackson’s visual effects studio.Parker needed special permission from the Overseas Investment Office because he isn’t a New Zealand resident and the Weta Digital studio is worth more than 100 million New Zealand dollars ($71 million).In a decision published on its website this week, the office said Parker and his business associates had the relevant experience and were “of good character.” It said Weta Digital was raising money to grow its business.Parker, who co-founded the file-sharing service Napster and is a former president of Facebook, said in June there was a huge, unmet demand for high-quality animated content.“I have been a Weta superfan for the past two decades — I recall my sense of wonder when I first saw the character of Gollum brought to life, and later the surreal feeling of being transported to the alternate reality of Pandora," Parker said, referring to the work Weta did on Jackson's “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and James Cameron's “Avatar."Parker's representative said Wednesday he had no further comment on the purchase.Weta employs about 1,550 people and is based in New Zealand's capital, Wellington. Company records indicate Jackson and collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens own just over two-thirds of the company. Weta will issue new shares for Parker, diluting Jackson's stake.Jackson could not be reached for comment.In June, Weta appointed Parker's business associate Prem Akkaraju as chief executive and said it would begin producing original content for the first time in its 25-year history.In 2016, Parker and Akkaraju founded a video-on-demand startup called Screening Room, which this year relaunched as SR Labs.Nick Perry, The Associated Press
A canvas by Montreal-born artist James Wilson Morrice exceeded expectations with a more than million-dollar sale at the Heffel Fine Art Auction House's virtual live auction Wednesday night.Morrice's impressionist canvas "La plage" sold for more than $1.1 million — more than doubling its highest pre-sale estimate of $500,000.Heffel says Morrice painted the piece around 1898 to 1899, and the work's whereabouts were unknown for more than a century before it hit the Canadian market.Other big-ticket items at the fall sale included seven works by late Quebec artist Jean Paul Riopelle.Riopelle's 1953 canvas "Sans titre'' sold for more than $1.4 million, near the middle of its estimated range of $1.2 million and $1.8 million."La ligne d'eau,'' a large-scale work from Riopelle's "Iceberg'' series, sold for slightly more than its $1.2 million pre-sale price tag.Canadian painter Alex Colville's 1987 "Woman with Revolver'' commanded more than $840,000.Two 1950s paintings by Nanaimo, B.C., artist E.J. Hughes outperformed pre-sale estimates. "Steamer Arriving at Nanaimo" sold for more than $840,000, while "Three Tugboats, Nanaimo Harbour" fetched roughly $600,000.Among the lots that saw the strongest bidding were works by Canada's famed Group of Seven, which marked a century since the collective's founding this year.Lawren Harris' "Sand Lake, Algoma" sold for more than $630,000, while A.Y. Jackson's "Ontario Mining Town, Cobalt" garnered nearly $350,000.A few high-profile lots went unsold, including Frederick Varley's portrait of his muse, "Green and Gold, Portrait of Vera," which was expected to fetch $500,000 and $700,000.Canadian artist Jack Bush's "Blue Stant,'' which was valued between $500,000 and $650,000, also flopped on the auction block.In total, Heffel says Wednesday's auction raked in $15 million. All sums include auction house fees on top of the hammer price.Collectors placed their offers through telephone, absentee and online bidding.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Thursday Dec. 3, 2020.There are 389,775 confirmed cases in Canada.Canada: 389,775 confirmed cases (67,564 active, 309,886 resolved, 12,325 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,307 new cases Wednesday from 79,492 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.9 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 42,309 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,044.There were 114 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 615 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 88. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.79 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,652,814 tests completed.Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (30 active, 306 resolved, four deaths).There was one new case Wednesday from 319 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.31 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 16 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,163 tests completed.Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed cases (four active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Wednesday from 354 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 61,037 tests completed.Nova Scotia: 1,332 confirmed cases (127 active, 1,140 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 17 new cases Wednesday from 2,340 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.73 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 89 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 149,259 tests completed.New Brunswick: 514 confirmed cases (119 active, 388 resolved, seven deaths).There were six new cases Wednesday from 1,062 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.56 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 61 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is nine.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 102,612 tests completed.Quebec: 145,062 confirmed cases (12,740 active, 125,197 resolved, 7,125 deaths).There were 1,514 new cases Wednesday from 9,764 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,632 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,376.There were 41 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 210 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 83.97 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,204,216 tests completed.Ontario: 119,922 confirmed cases (14,526 active, 101,698 resolved, 3,698 deaths).There were 1,723 new cases Wednesday from 42,779 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,039 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,720.There were 35 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 144 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 21. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.39 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,146,013 tests completed.Manitoba: 17,384 confirmed cases (8,970 active, 8,072 resolved, 342 deaths).There were 277 new cases Wednesday from 2,336 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,477 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 354.There were 14 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 86 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 24.97 per 100,000 people. There have been 351,645 tests completed.Saskatchewan: 8,982 confirmed cases (3,970 active, 4,959 resolved, 53 deaths).There were 237 new cases Wednesday from 1,342 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 18 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,935 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 276.There were two new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 16 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.51 per 100,000 people. There have been 263,604 tests completed.Alberta: 61,169 confirmed cases (17,144 active, 43,464 resolved, 561 deaths).There were 1,685 new cases Wednesday from 13,989 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,368 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,481.There were 10 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 61 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.2 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 12.83 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,487,573 tests completed.British Columbia: 34,728 confirmed cases (9,835 active, 24,424 resolved, 469 deaths).There were 834 new cases Wednesday from 5,062 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 16 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,642 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 806.There were 12 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 98 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.28 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.25 per 100,000 people. There have been 807,438 tests completed.Yukon: 49 confirmed cases (19 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).There were two new cases Wednesday from 63 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.2 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,399 tests completed.Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Wednesday from 37 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,434 tests completed.Nunavut: 193 confirmed cases (80 active, 113 resolved, zero deaths).There were 11 new cases Wednesday from 45 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 38 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is five.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,345 tests completed.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
En Abitibi-Témiscamingue comme partout ailleurs au Québec, les personnes immigrantes et les Autochtones font souvent face à des inégalités et à du mépris dans le contexte d’intégration au travail. Cela se reflète dans un écart de leurs revenus et dans un accès limité aux emplois correspondant à leurs compétences, ce qui peut avoir des répercussions sur leur santé mentale. Le président du conseil d’administration de La Mosaïque, association interculturelle d’accueil et d’intégration des personnes immigrantes de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Aimé Pingi, constate que les différences culturelles ont une incidence sur l’ouverture à parler de santé mentale, ce qui peut être particulièrement nuisible en milieu de travail. « Là d’où je viens, parler de santé mentale, c’est un tabou. On va parler de santé mentale uniquement lorsqu’une personne a des comportements extrêmes, alors que la dépression est considérée simplement comme un signe de découragement », dit le Rouynorandien d’origine congolaise. Il a été approché dans le passé par des syndicats de la région pour régler des différends entre employeurs et employés immigrants. « J’ai été appelé à intervenir, car les employeurs trouvaient que certains comportements chez les immigrants étaient “bizarres”, mais en réalité, ces derniers se montraient simplement découragés de devoir franchir des plafonds de verre pour essayer d’avoir des postes qui ne leur étaient pas accessibles », dit M. Pingi. Inaccessibilité aux emplois qualifiés Les nombreuses embûches rencontrées par les immigrants qui tentent d’obtenir un emploi et un revenu correspondant à leurs compétences finissent par avoir une répercussion sur leur stabilité émotionnelle. Selon Statistique Canada, la rémunération des nouveaux arrivants diplômés universitaires représentait 70 % du montant gagné par leurs homologues nés au Canada en 2017. Un rapport de la Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse révèle qu’à compétences et profils égaux, les candidats ayant un nom à consonance canadienne-française ont au moins 60 % plus de chances d’être invités à un entretien d’embauche que les candidats ayant un nom à consonance africaine, arabe ou latino-américaine au Québec. M. Pingi signale qu’en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, la situation n’est pas différente qu’ailleurs dans la province. « J’ai accompagné un immigrant diplômé en biologie qui a été contraint de travailler chez McDonald’s et Tim Hortons. Il était très découragé et il a fini par quitter la province. » Il souligne également le cas d’un homme russe qui avait du mal à se trouver un emploi dans la région après avoir quitté son emploi précédent. « Il était découragé et à un moment donné, il a commencé à développer des problèmes de santé mentale. Les gens jugeaient qu’il avait des comportements “anormaux” et riaient de lui. Personne ne voulait lui donner une lettre de recommandation. C’était un cas difficile à gérer. » Les diplômés touchés davantage M. Pingi précise que les immigrants détenant des diplômes de l’étranger sont notamment défavorisés dans la région. « Il arrive souvent que les postes de gestion et de supervision soient octroyés à de jeunes locaux qui n’ont pas la formation adéquate, au détriment d’immigrants qualifiés qui ne reçoivent même pas d’appel lorsqu’ils postulent pour ces postes. » Selon le ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration, 62 % des 1020 immigrants admis au Québec de 2008 à 2017 avaient au moins 14 ans de scolarité. Du total des personnes immigrantes reçues dans cette période, 61 % provenaient de l’Afrique. Diplômé en sciences chimiques au Congo à son arrivée en 2008, M. Pingi a décroché un poste comme chauffeur de surfaceuse à Saint-Félix-de-Dalquier, près d’Amos, pendant un an, avant d’être embauché comme technicien au contrôle de qualité dans l’usine d’embouteillage d’eau Eska. Il lui aura toutefois fallu quatre ans pour être reconnu par l’Ordre de chimistes du Québec. « J’ai de la chance, car depuis deux ans, je peux travailler au laboratoire de chimie analytique à la Fonderie Horne à Rouyn-Noranda », se réjouit-il. Impliqué à La Mosaïque depuis dix ans, M. Pingi est dévoué à l’intégration des nouveaux arrivants en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. « Nous organisons des activités pour leur offrir des opportunités de réseautage afin qu’ils puissent briser l’isolement, se faire des contacts dans la région et trouver un emploi », explique-t-il. Briser le cycle Une étude de la Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse souligne que la sous-représentation et les relations avec les Autochtones suivent souvent les mêmes tendances que celles en matière de communautés culturelles. « Si le gouvernement ne reconnaît pas l’existence du racisme systémique, ce sera difficile que les gens voient cette problématique », soutient Arlene Laliberté, psychologue algonquine originaire de Témiscamingue. Consultante en bien-être des communautés à la firme LaLouve et membre du Centre de recherche en prévention du suicide (CRISE) à l’Université du Québec à Montréal, Mme Laliberté s’intéresse au suicide en milieu autochtone. Elle offre des services de psychothérapie dans quatre communautés autochtones de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue. « Je suis toujours émerveillée par la force et la résilience de mes clients, et je souligne souvent à ces personnes leur courage pour briser le cycle de discrimination et d’abus. » Mme Laliberté invite ceux qui vivent cette réalité ou qui en sont témoins de joindre leur voix à ceux qui travaillent pour l’inclusivité et la justice sociale.Karla Meza, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 3 ...What we are watching in Canada ...The Liberal government is set to introduce long-awaited legislation today to enshrine the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canadian law.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during the 2019 election campaign to introduce such a bill, developed with Indigenous people, by the end of this year.The bill is expected to echo a private member's bill introduced by former NDP MP Romeo Saganash, which the House of Commons passed two years ago.That bill stalled in the Senate, where Conservative senators argued it could have unintended legal and economic consequences, and then died when Parliament dissolved.The UN declaration, which Canada endorsed in 2010, affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and to their language, culture and traditional lands.It also spells out the need for free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous Peoples on anything that infringes on their lands or rights.\---Also this ...The trial of a teen boy accused of sexually assaulting two fellow students at a renowned Toronto high school is set to continue today.The teen has pleaded not guilty to two counts each of gang sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon in connection with two incidents at St. Michael's College School in the fall of 2018.Earlier this week, court viewed part of a video in which one of the complainants, also a teen boy, told police about an October 2018 incident in the school's locker room.In the video, the complainant recalled hearing a group of students laugh as they held back his arms and sexually assaulted him with a broom handle after football practice.The role of the accused was not specified in the portion of the video played in court, and the complainant did not mention him by name in that part of the footage.More of the video is expected to be shown in today's hearing, which is taking place in court and over video conference.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...Advocates and lawyers anticipate a flurry of clemency action from U.S. President Donald Trump in the coming weeks that could test the limits of presidential pardon power.Trump is said to be considering a slew of pardons and commutations before he leaves office, including potentially members of his family, former aides and even himself. While it is not unusual for presidents to sign controversial pardons on their way out the door, Trump has made clear that he has no qualms about intervening in the cases of friends and allies whom he believes have been treated unfairly, including his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.The list of potential candidates is long and colourful: Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, imprisoned for financial crimes as part of the Russia investigation; George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, just like Flynn; Joseph Maldonado-Passage, a.k.a. “Joe Exotic," who starred in the Netflix series “Tiger King”; and former contractors convicted in a Baghdad firefight that killed more than a dozen civilians, including women and children.Trump, long worried about potential legal exposure after he leaves office, has expressed worry to confidants in recent weeks that he, his family or his business might be targeted by president-elect Joe Biden’s Justice Department, although Biden has made clear he won't be part of any such decisions.Nonetheless, Trump has had informal conversations with allies about how he might be able to protect his family, though he has not taken any steps to do so. His adult children haven't requested pardons nor do they feel they need them, according to people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private matters.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...Nearly 100 world leaders and several dozen ministers are slated to speak at the UN General Assembly’s special session starting Thursday on the response to COVID-19 and the best path to recovery from the pandemic which has claimed 1.5 million lives, shattered economies, and left tens of millions of people unemployed in countries rich and poor.Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said when he took the reins of the 193-member world body in September that it would have been better to hold the high-level meeting in June. Nonetheless, he said Wednesday it "provides a historic moment for us to come together to beat COVID-19.""With news of multiple vaccines on the cusp of approval, and with trillions of dollars flowing into global recovery efforts, the international community has a unique opportunity to do this right," he said. "The world is looking to the UN for leadership. This is a test for multilateralism."When financial markets collapsed and the world faced its last great crisis in 2008, major powers worked together to restore the global economy, but the COVID-19 pandemic has been striking for the opposite response: no leader, no united action to stop the pandemic that has circled the globe.\---On this day in 1970 ...The "October Crisis" ended when British Trade Commissioner James Cross was released by his FLQ kidnappers in Montreal. Cross was seized from his home in October, and another FLQ cell later kidnapped and murdered Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte on Oct. 17. \---In entertainment ...William Shatner, the Canadian who played the iconic commander Capt. James T. Kirk in "Star Trek," has taken to Twitter to urge Alberta use the federal COVID-19 app rather than its own.Shatner writes, “you just need to get Alberta on board,” adding that the province cannot go its own way in a world interconnected by travel.Shatner writes Alberta’s approach is, “bizarre and dangerous,” but also says “what do I know? I’m just an actor.”Premier Jason Kenney’s government has avoided signing onto the federal app, saying it’s not as effective because Alberta’s app is connected to contact tracing rather than simply delivering notifications of close contacts.Alberta’s app has tracked down just a handful of cases in six months, but the government says the program will be more effective as more people sign on.\---ICYMI ...Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams is accusing the City of St. John's of taking Christmas away from the residents of a subdivision he developed on the city's outskirts.Williams says that just as he did last year, he recently installed a 10-metre Christmas tree in the centre of a traffic roundabout in the Galway subdivision, which was developed by his company DewCor.But this year, he says the city took issue with the tree, requiring that he take out an insurance policy and asking him to keep it unlit due to traffic concerns.In a statement emailed Wednesday, city staff in the transportation engineering department say they're open to considering other locations for the tree in Galway that don't interfere with an intersection.Kevin Breen, the St. John's city manager says the tree went up last year without a permit.Meanwhile, the neighbouring city of Mount Pearl has offered to give the tree a proper home with lights, and Williams says the tree will be delivered there within the next two days."All's well that ends well," Williams said in an interview. "It's going to the neighbouring city of Mount Pearl, and to be quite honest with you, if Galway could be part of Mount Pearl, that would be my choice."\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020The Canadian Press
Hong Kong media tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai was denied bail on Thursday on a charge of fraud related to the lease of a building that houses his Apple Daily, an anti-government tabloid. Hong Kong authorities have intensified a crackdown on key opposition figures since Beijing circumvented the territory's legislature and imposed sweeping national security legislation on the global financial centre on June 30. While Lai's fraud charge did not fall under the national security law, it marks the latest crackdown on pro-democracy figures in the former British colony, which was handed back to Beijing in 1997 with a promise of keeping its free-wheeling way of life for 50 years.
Before the Alberta government released its 2020 budget, Environment Minister Jason Nixon sent a confidential briefing to his fellow United Conservative MLAs, informing them that significant changes were in store for provincial parks. "The Government will also be announcing additional proposed long-term changes to the Alberta Park[s] system, including a list of 119 proposed deregulations and 45 proposed divestitures," reads the briefing note, dated Feb. 27. The note described these as "164 underutilized sites" and said the province would look for "alternate management approaches, including sale and/or transfer." It stressed how little these areas were used: "Sites identified for proposed removal are mainly very small and underutilized provincial recreation areas." Premier Jason Kenney said something similar when asked, during a Facebook live question-and-answer session on March 3, about the parks cuts: "We're only talking about small campsites and such that very few people visit on an annual basis." Since then, various groups have been trying to ascertain just how underused the government believes these sites to be, but little to no information has been made public. For two months, CBC News was in communication with the provincial government, seeking data on the camping registrations and revenue among the 164 sites on the list that have campgrounds. The province initially said it was gathering the information and that it would take some time to compile, but then ultimately refused to release it. Data for campsite registrations at 11 sites on the list, however, was recently obtained by another organization, The Council of Canadians, which shared the information with CBC News. The numbers suggest registrations at these sites is almost exactly on par with average registrations across all reservable campsites in the provincial system. Financial records from the remaining sites — those with first-come, first-served campgrounds — still has not been released. Where the data we have came from The Council of Canadians filed a freedom-of-information (FOIP) request in September, asking specifically for campground usage data at the sites on the list. It received a response in November with registration data for the sites with campgrounds that offer pre-registration, but not those with self-registration (also known as first-come, first-served campgrounds). When it heard CBC News had been seeking this info, it shared the data it received. The FOIP response included registration totals for 11 provincial parks and provincial recreation areas that offer individual campsites. (It also included data on group camping reservations, but that has been excluded for the purpose of this analysis.) Some of the sites didn't have data for the full five years because they didn't offer pre-registration in the past. The total number of registrations across these sites increased each year, growing from 13,201 in 2016 to 15,892 last year. Then, in 2020, the camping numbers shot way up. Even though the data didn't yet include a full camping season, there were 25,331 registrations in the year-to-date tally. This sharp increase was seen across the provincial parks system amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and has been attributed to more Albertans exploring local recreation while travel options are limited. Alberta Parks said in September there had been a total of 265,624 reservations so far this year across all sites, compared with 175,128 the year before and 162,238 in 2018. Based on those figures, the 11 sites included in the FOIP data accounted for between nine and 10 per cent of total campsite registrations each year, which is on par for their relative size. There are 809 individual campsites at these 11 locations, which accounts for 9.2 per cent of the 8,774 total, reservable campsites listed by Alberta Parks. Numerous requests The Council of Canadians was not the only group trying to get information like this. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Association (CPAWS) filed a freedom-of-information request of its own in the spring, asking for the criteria the province used to decide which parks and recreation areas to include on the list. The documents it received in July contained no information on visitation. Not all of the 164 parks and provincial recreation areas on the list include campgrounds, but many do. In mid-September, CBC News asked for five years' worth of data on the usage of these campgrounds. Departmental staff with Alberta Parks said it would take some time to gather all the data but they were working on it. They said smaller campgrounds with self-registration (drop boxes where campers leave payments on the honour system) didn't have hard camping numbers, but financial records of the revenue did exist. After seven weeks, Alberta Parks staff sent an email to CBC News that included four years' worth of camping registration data for one provincial park — Gooseberry Lake in central Alberta, near the Saskatchewan border — and one year of financial data for another provincial recreation area — Smoky River South, near Grande Cache. Asked where the rest of the data was, the staff said that's all they were now able to provide. They referred further questions to the press secretary for Alberta Parks, Jess Sinclair. Sinclair did not return phone calls from CBC News seeking an explanation. Financial records for other campgrounds still not public When it comes to the sites on the list that have self-registration campgrounds, usage data has still not been made public, even though the environment minister seemed to recently confirm this data exists. During a "town hall" discussion hosted by the UCP caucus on Facebook Live, Nixon was asked how the government determined which parks are "underutilized" and he said it's something that Alberta Parks staff can track, even at self-registration sites, through revenue. "Not all of the parks in our park system have electronic booking systems, so they don't have the exact records on all the bookings in every campground yet. We're working towards that. But they do know how much income is coming in from sites," Nixon said. Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips, who served as NDP environment minister in the previous government, also says this data exists. "When people go there and they self-register and they pay, that money doesn't go into the clouds," she said. "It goes to the Government of Alberta and that money is properly accounted for." Phillips said this revenue data was used, when she was minister, to make decisions about parks and public-recreation areas based on their usage. She said there's no reason she can think of to withhold this data from the public, other than a political motivation to avoid contradicting the government's initial claim that these sites are "underutilized." "The whole story seems to be crumbling," Phillips said. Changes in messaging The government's public communications about the parks has evolved over time, as it has engaged in a protracted political battle with the Opposition NDP and conservation organizations like CPAWS and the Alberta Environmental Network, which oppose the changes. A big part of that battle has centred around some of the language initially used in official communications and on the Alberta Parks website. Critics seized on the word "sale," for instance, but Nixon has repeatedly insisted the province has no intention to sell any parks land. Use of the word "sale" was "referring to the assets that may be in those areas," he explained in March. Recently, Nixon has also moved away from earlier language used when it comes to the sites being "underutilized." "The conversation we're having is less about whether a site is being fully used," he said during the Facebook Live town hall in November. "The conversation is about the best way to manage sites across our province." The provincial government has noted it already works with partner organizations to operate campgrounds at some sites and it continues to seek more partnerships with municipalities, First Nations and the private sector to take over campgrounds at other sites that are currently operated by Alberta Parks. Nixon has also said sites that lose their status in the parks system will continue to be protected as public land. Katie Morrison with CPAWS says the changes in the government's public-facing language don't amount to a change in policy. "It seems the government keeps changing their messaging to react to Albertans' concerns but without actually changing the plan to address Albertans' concerns," she said. She notes public land protections are not the same as those that come with a provincial park or provincial recreation area designation. She also wonders if the initial decision was actually informed by good data. "I think the fact that we and others have had such trouble getting this information indicates that it probably doesn't — or didn't — exist in a summarized form, which makes me think that they probably didn't use it or didn't have the information available to them at the time of making this decision," she said. Whether it was readily available to the government in February, Phillips said the financial records of the sites Nixon described as "underutilized" do exist and should eventually be made public, through subsequent FOIP requests or other means. She said it's "bizarre" that the province hasn't simply provided this information, to date. "I honestly cannot understand why this government withholds information that they know the public is going to eventually access," Phillips said. Government response CBC News asked the provincial government again on Wednesday about all this, with four specific questions: Why did Alberta Parks staff tell CBC News the department was working, for weeks, to gather up the five years' worth of data that had been requested in mid-September, only to then refuse to release it in November, and refer all questions as to why to the press secretary? The sites in the FOIP documents appear to show registrations that are virtually on par with the system-wide average, relative to the number of sites they have. So why were they included on the list of "164 underutilized sites," as the government initially described? Why was the campsite registration data provided under FOIP to a third party but not to CBC News, when both requests had been made around the same time (mid-September)? Why is the additional information on financial revenue at self-registration sites still not being provided? Sinclair, the press secretary to Nixon, replied with a short statement that didn't answer the questions. "When the decision was made to seek partnerships for some Alberta parks sites under a model that has existed since 1932, a number of considerations, including location, usage, and overall age of facilities were considered," she wrote. "As I've indicated before, these areas will continue to be accessible to Albertans for recreational enjoyment and they will continue to be protected."
Parry Sound-Almaguin hunters say they feel targeted by a federal firearm ban that came into effect in May, but they don’t believe it influenced the recent hunting season. Bruce Hatt, a member of the Parry Sound Hunters and Anglers Association, said that the association supports safe hunting, gun handling and shooting sports. “The regulations that are out (now), do not do anything for safe hunting, they do not do anything for crime — they do not do anything for anybody, honestly,” said Hatt. “The guns they’re banning are as dangerous as the people that are using them.” On May 1, 2020, the federal government prohibited nine types of “assault-style” firearms as well as placed new restrictions on muzzle energy, which determines the damage a bullet can do, and the bore diameter, which is the calibre of gun. “If you’re a safe gun handler, there’s no reason those guns should be banned — there’s no justification for it,” he said. Asked if the new firearms ban had any effect on the recent hunting season, Hatt replied, “No, I don’t think so.” “Most of the guns that were banned are target rifles used for recreational shooting — the guys I hunt with use the same rifles they’ve used for the last 20 years,” he said. However, the pandemic did impact the hunting season, according to Hatt. “We have people from all over the province come to our camp. A lot of people decided not to come; a lot of us stayed in different locations, met in the morning and social distanced in the field, which was easy to do,” he explained. “But it did impact it — there was a lot people that opted out.” In Sundridge, the Eagle Lake Gun Club has been operating for over 60 years and has over 550 members. Peter Turnbull manages membership for the club and has been hunting in Almaguin for years. He said that in the Parry Sound-Muskoka region, the federal gun ban doesn’t have a big impact; however, the issue, according to Turnbull, is it doesn’t target the right group of people. “There’s about 2.3 million people that are lawfully licensed to have firearms — we’re not the problem,” said Turnbull. “We go through extensive training just to be able to have that privilege.” The firearms ban didn’t affect the hunting season in his opinion, as he said not many hunters would consider hunting with the calibre of rifles listed in the prohibition. “For the most part, the AR-15 are .223 calibre, which isn’t suitable for bear hunting or any big game,” he said. “But there are cases in places, especially up in the far north, where people are using stuff like that.” Echoing Hatt’s sentiments regarding the pandemic’s effect on the 2020 hunting season, Turnbull said there were less hunters at his camp. For both Hatt and Turbull, the emphasis is on the safe handling of guns. “We have to go through courses to get firearms, it’s very regulated, it’s very safe,” said Hatt. STORY BEHIND THE STORY: After seeing a release about a recent federal firearms ban, our reporter wanted to find out if hunters in the Parry Sound, Almaguin region found the firearms ban to alter the hunting season. With the pandemic entering the second wave during the hunting season, she thought it was important to find out if hunting had seen a decline. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star