This clip of a woman cuddling with a cow will brighten your day. Enjoy! Credit: @sleepypigfarm (Instagram)
This clip of a woman cuddling with a cow will brighten your day. Enjoy! Credit: @sleepypigfarm (Instagram)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed the possibility of involving other countries in efforts to maintain a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered ceasefire on Nov. 10 that halted six weeks of clashes in the mountain enclave, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians. Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in the enclave under the ceasefire deal, which locked in Azeri advances.
Faraday Township will be having its council meetings in-person going forward versus virtually by Zoom. Due to some technical issues that prevented the public from hearing much of the Nov. 4 meeting that was broadcast by Zoom and over the telephone, the December council meeting will be open to the public with all COVID-19 restrictions in place. In a motion brought forward by Councillor Carl Tinney and seconded by Councillor Bill Green, the council voted to hold the upcoming council meeting at the Faraday Community Centre on Dec. 2 to allow the public to attend. Dawn Switzer, the clerk and treasurer of Faraday Township, confirmed this change from virtual to in-person meetings. “Due to the technical issues we experienced at the last meeting, council decided that we would have council meetings at the community centre so that the public will be able to attend,” she says. In a posting on their website on Nov. 4, in addition to apologizing for the technical difficulties, the township posted the minutes of the meeting relatively quickly, by Nov. 6. They also informed the public that appointments from the November meeting, specifically Kim Bishop, who had intended to phone in to talk to council about fundraising for QHC North Hastings, had been rescheduled for the next council meeting in December. Switzer says that the community centre is being used for the council meetings as the council chambers at the township office are not large enough to ensure the physical distancing that needs to happen with COVID-19 restrictions. “The community centre permits us to meet these requirements. When the public attends the next meeting, they will be required to fill in the sign-in sheet and answer the questions [the health questions from Hastings Prince Edward Public Health about whether they’re well enough to enter the premises], wear a mask, and sanitizer will be available at the entrance to the community centre,” she says. Switzer says that due to the occurrence of in-person meetings, the ability to participate virtually will not be available. She does note that if the province changes the regulations, they’ll have to reorganize how they will proceed moving forward. The next Faraday Township council meeting will be on Dec. 2 at 9 a.m. and will be open to the public at the Faraday Community Centre. Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA)broke down where people contracted COVID-19 last week in an update posted online Tuesday. “Saskatchewan has high rates of community transmission. Case counts, active outbreak investigations, hospitalizations and deaths continue to increase,” the media release said. As of Nov. 18, the COVID-19 case rate was 104 cases per 100,000 people, which was an increase from 78 the previous week. As of that report Saskatchewan still had the fourth highest case rate in the country behind Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec. Some areas of Canada have higher case rates than areas of the United States. That’s different from the active case count average, which was over 200 as of Tuesday. According to the federal government, the updated active case count per 100,000 population for Saskatchewan is 244 as of Tuesday. The daily test positivity rate was 6.7 per cent, up from 5.9 per cent last week. The test positivity rate is highest in adults age 20 to 39 and lowest in children under 10-years-old. The most likely acquisition source continues to be households and close contacts. The top source for persons who acquire COVID-19 in the community is recreation/recreational facilities such as ice rinks, bingo halls, bowling alleys and casinos with 25 per cent. Gatherings such as weddings, funerals and house parties are second with 17 per cent. Group homes, shelters and outreach programs were third with 14 per cent. Tied for fourth are educational facilities and food service establishments with eight per cent. In educational facilities cases are more likely teachers or staff and test positivity rates for students are higher in the 14-year-old to 19-year-old age range for students. In food service establishments cases are more likely among co-workers. Long term care, retirement and personal care homes are fifth with seven per cent. Fitness centers and transportation and trades (taxi drivers, meat packing facilities) are tied for sixth with six per cent. Nightclubs are seventh with five per cent. Places of worship are eighth with two per cent. The common risk factors in all of these is shared indoor airspace without masking, physical distancing and frequent hand hygiene, the province said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
OTTAWA — One of Canada's most controversial ex-ambassadors to China says he repeatedly tried to improve the living conditions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor after their imprisonment in the People's Republic almost two years ago.John McCallum also said Tuesday he regrets speaking about the October 2019 Canadian election in a meeting with Chinese officials in the months leading up to it.McCallum, the former Liberal cabinet minister who was fired as Canada's envoy to China in January 2019, was testifying at the special House of Commons committee on Canada-China relations.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired McCallum after he made a series of public comments that broke with the government's line following the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor, nine days after Canada's arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou in December 2018 on a U.S. extradition warrant.McCallum said that's when everything changed in Canada's relations with China, and that he has no doubt Kovrig and Spavor would be free right now had Meng not been arrested."From that moment onwards, the top priority of the government and of myself as ambassador was to secure the release of the two Michaels," said McCallum, noting that he has been one of the few people to visit them in prison."On more than one occasion, I tried to convince the Chinese that if they were unable to release Kovrig and Spavor they should at least improve their living conditions. Sadly, as you all know, Canadian efforts in this area have so far been unsuccessful."The committee has been examining Canada's relations with China, which have plummeted to an all-time low since December 2018. That will likely include making recommendations about dealing with Chinese security agents who intimidate Canadians of Chinese descent on Canadian soil.McCallum appeared relaxed over a video link and displayed no ill will to the government that ended his decades-long career as a politician and then a high-level political appointee. MPs from all parties gave McCallum warm respectful greetings, with the Conservative MP Michael Chong telling him he liked an old book he had written.Trudeau appointed his former immigration minister – McCallum was the political architect of the campaign to bring tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to Canada in 2016 – to Beijing as a gesture of how he valued Canada's relations with China."I think I've done some useful things in my career," he said, citing the Syrian refugee effort, serving as Jean Chretien's defence minister when "we said no" to the United States' request to enter the Iraq war in 2003 and helping bestow honorary Canadian citizenship on South Africa's Nelson Mandela. "But I've never claimed to have led an error-free career."McCallum said he had regrets about his part of his meeting with Chinese officials in the summer of 2019, after he lost his ambassadorship. He said he used the opportunity to lobby for the release of Kovrig and Spavor, or at least improve their living conditions."I painted a dark picture of plummeting support for China among Canadians. And I also mentioned as part of this darkness an impending election. Now, in hindsight, I regret having spoken of the election. I don't think it was appropriate,” McCallum recalled.It likely didn’t make any difference, he said, "because at the end of the day, the Chinese refused to release or even improve the living conditions of our two detainees."In July 2019, McCallum told the South China Morning Post that he had warned China's foreign ministry that more harmful actions against Canada would only help what he said was the less-China-friendly Conservative party get elected.Conservative MPs wrote to Canadian Security Intelligence Service director David Vigneault, calling the comments "very disturbing." Then foreign affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said they were "highly inappropriate." McCallum also said that as ambassador, he rejected an unspecified number of Chinese visa applications on the advice of Canadian security agencies but noted at the time that Australia had a bigger problem with Chinese meddling than Canada. That has changed, he said."What happens to Australia today is a guide for what might happen to Canada down the road." Earlier Tuesday, Chong urged Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne to adopt a more consistent approach to getting tough with China.The Conservative foreign affairs critic told Champagne in a separate Commons committee meeting that the government needs to show Canadians how it will deal with growing Chinese intimidation of Canadians within Canada.Champagne replied that Canada has taken a smart and firm approach with China lately that includes speaking out against its ill treatment of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and of ethnic Muslim Uighurs.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Independent businesses in Sun Peaks are bracing for the prospect of a potentially devastating Christmas season, as rapidly changing orders around inter- and intra-provincial travel hold the potential of cutting off visitation from the Lower Mainland, as well as Alberta. Earlier this week, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced recommendations against non-essential and recreational travel throughout the province, in addition to an already standing order against travel to or from the Fraser Valley Health (FVH) or Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) regions. Matthias Schmid, owner of McSporties rental and retail, said the prospect of the Lower Mainland and other regions being cut off for the long-term would have a significant impact on local businesses, many of which reported a strong summer season fuelled by domestic travellers after having had to shutter their businesses in March. “During the summer months Sun Peaks saw a ton of traffic front the Lower Mainland. They were coming to do the VRBOs, they were renting bikes and hiking,” said Schmid. “The Lower Mainland really fed Sun Peaks this summer, so I would say that’s a major artery for us that’s cut off.” During a Wednesday press conference, B.C. Premier John Horgan indicated that British Columians can expect more orders from Henry today. Horgan also called for the federal government to implement restrictions on non-essential travel between the provinces. The conference came on a day that B.C. saw a record high of new COVID-19 cases, with 762 cases announced. Horgan also said the two week order against travel outside of the VCH and FVH regions will be extended for an additional two weeks or more. The original two week order, which covered from Nov. 7 to Nov. 23, stated that travel outside of the region should be limited to essential travel only. British Columbia’s tourism agency, Destination BC, has also invested significant amounts of money promoting domestic tourism within the province. Schmid said the rapidly changing situation has caused significant challenges from a planning perspective, as clients from around B.C. and other provinces face uncertainty about whether or not they will be able to come to the resort. “It’s really hard,” he said. “That’s probably the most challenging thing I’d say, it’s the lack of sort of being able to plan.”Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
EDMONTON — The Alberta government announced Tuesday new restrictions to battle record-high rates of COVID-19 infections in the province. In addition to declaring a public health emergency, the government ordered the following for the next three weeks:— No indoor social gatherings. Funerals and weddings are limited to 10 people, as are outdoor gatherings. Churches are restricted to one-third normal attendance.— Restaurants and bars can remain open. But a maximum of six people from the same household can sit at a table and there must be no movement between tables. People who live alone can meet with two people.\-- Retail stores can remain open at 25 per cent capacity. — At-home learning for students in Grades 7 through 12 starting Monday. Other students are to do their schooling from home starting Dec. 18 before winter break. All students are to resume at-home learning after the break and can return to school Jan . 11.\-- Casinos can remain open at 25 per cent capacity with slot machines only.— The closure of banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, concert venues, community centres, and indoor play places.— A halt on all levels of sport, although exemptions may be considered.— Mandatory masks for indoor workplaces in Edmonton, Calgary and surroundings areas.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.The Canadian Press
Tudor and Cashel Township has a new Finance and Asset Management Committee. During their council meeting on Oct. 6, a motion was brought forth by Councillor Bob Bridger and seconded by Councillor Roy Reeds to direct Nancy Carrol, the clerk and treasurer, to draft a procedural bylaw to create this committee, and in another motion, also brought forth by Bridger and Reeds, directed Carrol to advertise for volunteers to participate in this new committee. Council sees the move as a cost saving measure, which would also draw upon the financial acumen of some of its residents to move forward with its financial and asset management plans. Carrol foresees the first meeting to take place in January 2021. On Oct. 6, during their council meeting, council directed Carrol to draft a procedural bylaw for the creation of a Finance and Asset Management Committee. They also directed Carrol to advertise for volunteers to participate in this new committee. At their next council meeting on Nov. 3, a bylaw to establish the new committee and the procedures governing the committee proceedings were passed with motion 2020-293, brought forward by Reeds and seconded by Bridger. Mayor Libby Clarke says that council felt that having an asset management and financial committee would save money for the township. “Considering we pay approximately $30,000 to have an asset management study done for the township and the firm that does it uses information gathered and provided to them by the township. Because the township has this information first hand, it was felt that if we had an asset management committee this could be done internally and along with other obvious benefits it would definitely be a cost saving factor,” she says. Clarke stresses that council wants to ensure that they have the finances to continue to provide the services that they provide now to their ratepayers and that these services will continue into the future. Carrol explains that finance management and asset management are two processes that are quite connected. She says that the province approved a regulation on municipal asset management planning in late 2017 that set timeframes for adapting the municipalities asset management plan to meet these regulations, and that the township continues to meet them. “The council understands the benefits of a strong asset management and financial plan and they realize that they need to use their asset management plan to ensure that they have the finances to continue to provide the level of services that they do at this time going into the future. Council recognizes that there areratepayers that have a strong background in this field and that their input and assistance through the formation of a committee may help develop the policies and procedures that will guide council in their decision making in the future,” she says. Councillor Noreen Reilly sees the new committee as a value to taxpayers, as it can maintain and update the plan and identify and include all township assets and make it their own. “The township also has a modest surplus that has been built over the last decade. We have buildings, bridges and roads that need investment sooner rather than later and the committee will be key in identifying, prioritizing and presenting the findings to council. One expectation we have for the committee is designating the surplus into categories such as capital, operations, infrastructure, etc.,” she says. Reilly feels that with a township-built Asset Management Plan and a working committee of surplus allocation, the township will remain in good financial health. “I often resist the formation of new committees until it is proven that taxpayers will benefit. I believe this committee will do just that,” she says. Bridger is cautiously optimistic about the new committee, and feels that if it is composed of the right people, it will provide council with options on how best to use township resources to maintain and grow their assets going into the future. “I believe the major impetus in the formation of this committee was due to the growing unrest from a great number of people on how the township spends the tax dollars we receive from our residents,” he says. He mentions two people who have come to council and asked these questions about how their tax dollars are being spent, Pat Schad on Steenburg Lake and Dave Hederson on Jordan Lake. He also mentions that he is friends with both Schad and Hederson. Specifically, he says that Schad’s concerns are with the amount of taxes collected from the residents of South Steenburg Lake Road and what they feel are the lack of services provided in return. Hederson, a retired CFO with McDonald’s Canada, also has those concerns as well as questions about the amount of money Tudor and Cashel has in its reserves and what it is for. Going forward, Bridger would like the township to explore what it would take to encourage people to become full time residents of Tudor and Cashel, to spend their money locally, and perhaps spend some of the township’s reserves to upgrade services to encourage that future growth. “These are just a few of the issues I would hope that this committee could help give council some learned direction going forward, especially if it’s composed of people with a greater knowledge of financial matters than our current council has,” he says. Carrol says that she will be advertising through social media and the township newsletter to assemble the new committee, and she foresees the first meeting being held in January. “If things go very smoothly, we may be able to have an introductory meeting in December, but it would be more so to allow members the opportunity to meet each other and give some input as to where they would like to begin. There have been members of the community reaching out with an interest in the committee and I find this very exciting and hopeful,” she says. “I can see this being a very beneficial committee, with members that are working together for the municipality as a whole.”Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
A woman from Georgia says her family's reunion was saved by a man from British Columbia who drove them to the Alaskan border after they got stranded in a snowstorm and appealed for help. Lynn Marchessault began her trip with her two children, two dogs and a cat on Nov. 10 from Georgia to the Alaska border to join her husband, who serves in the U.S. military. "I had never driven in the snow," she said in an interview on Monday. "It was like a whiteout kind of snowstorm. I wasn't really familiar with that, or even knew what it was called until this day." The family's pickup truck was pulling a U-Haul and did not have the appropriate winter tires to get through the winding, mountainous roads when they stopped at a highway lodge for temporary workers in Pink Mountain, B.C., on Nov. 17. She began looking for someone passing through the area who could drive them when Gary Bath, a Canadian ranger and military veteran, stepped up to the wheel. Marchessault said she and her husband talked to Bath and his family on the phone before they embarked on the rest of their trip. "I felt good about it from the beginning, like I knew these were good people and that it was a good choice to make," she said. Marchessault said her trip was supposed to have taken place about two months ago but it got delayed by COVID-19, adding that she was "naive" about the road conditions. Bath, who lives in Fort St. John, said he wanted to help the family be together for Christmas, and he was doing something nice for fellow service members. "A little bit like Santa Claus in this case," he said with a chuckle. Marchessault said the 1,700-kilometre drive to the Alaskan border near Beaver Creek, Yukon, is "not a road for the faint of heart." "Oh my goodness, beautiful views, amazing views, but some of those parts of the road were a little bit scary for me," she said laughing. "I mean, Gary's just over there driving like a champ, you know, been doing it his whole life. But for me, I was like 'Oh my goodness.' Sometimes I would tell him I have enough anxiety and sweaty palms over here in this seat for the both of us and then he would just kind of chuckle." Bath said the two-day trip was "quite windy and really bumpy" but "not too bad." The two families hope to meet up soon. "I'm so glad that the whole thing was over, but it was so hard to say goodbye to Gary and leave him," Marchessault said. "We really bonded. I think we've become good friends. He's a great and grand guy and his wife is pretty awesome." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. The Canadian Press
HONOLULU — Airbnb and Expedia Group have agreed to provide Honolulu with information that will help the city enforce its laws governing vacation rentals, the companies and the city said Tuesday.Hosts will have to provide the “tax map key" property identification number issued by the state of Hawaii when they list a rental on the vacation rental websites. The hosts will also have to provide a Transient Accommodations Tax identification number for the property.The public will be able to see these numbers on the listings.Listings lacking these numbers numbers will be removed from the websites.Honolulu authorities have long struggled to enforce the city's vacation rental laws, as it's difficult to prove in court when someone is illegally renting a property on a short-term basis.Honolulu has about 800 legal vacation rental and bed-and-breakfast units. But studies have estimated the city has had about 10 times as many illegal ones.“We know there are bad actors out there, and this will help us crack down on them. While this is not a panacea, it’s a step forward,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a statement.Airbnb and Expedia signed separate agreements with Kauai County earlier this year.The Associated Press
Recently there has been an informal change in health directives in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division when a student tests positive for COVID-19. Last weekend Saskatoon Public Schools changed their guidelines where entire classes have to isolate after a single positive case in a class. Saskatchewan Rivers School Division director of education Robert Bratvold explained that they have been following a similar guideline in their division for over a week. “There is some variation but essentially the increase in community cases increased demands on the Health team so much that they cannot do the full contact tracing in a classroom. Now when a case occurs, all the students and staff in that classroom are sent home for isolation,” he explained. For example, when Saskatchewan Rivers announced a series of cases on Sunday each of the classrooms in in Debden Public School, Ecole Arthur Pechey School in Prince Albert, John Diefenbaker Public School and Carlton Comprehensive High School all had affected classrooms isolate. When a case was reported at Carlton on Nov. 2 only close contacts were placed on 14 day isolation. Schools in the division have remained open when a case has been detected in a classroom. There was also an outbreak, which means more than two cases in the same location, declared at the Global Sports Academy in Carlton on Nov.13. Another outbreak in the division was declared at W.P. Sandin School in Shellbrook on Oct. 30. The other active school outbreak is at the Prince Albert Catholic School Division’s Ecole St. Mary High School and was declared on Oct.24. All of these outbreaks are still listed as active by the province. Outbreaks have to declared over by an SHA Medical Health Officer before they can be removed from the list. According to a n SHA release sent out Tuesday, eight per cent of all infections come from educational institutions. Cases are more likely teachers or staff and test positivity is higher in the 14-year-old to 19-year-old age range for students. The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health were not available to comment as to whether isolating whole classrooms is a provincial policy as of deadline. Saskatoon Public Schools has a similar policy. “I cannot speak to the potential that this becomes a provincial practice, but I can foresee that as a possibility in the not too distant future.” The Prince Albert Catholic School Division was also not available for comment before deadline.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
OTTAWA — Consumer rights advocates are criticizing the latest statement on airline refunds from the country's transport regulator, saying it contradicts federal and provincial rules to the detriment of customers.The Canadian Transportation Agency updated its statement on vouchers last week, writing that "the law does not require airlines to include refund provisions" in their passenger contracts — known as tariffs — for flights cancelled due to reasons beyond carriers' control, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.The CTA website post tops up its initial statement on travel credit from March, which suggested refunds are mandatory only if the tariff provides for it in certain cases.However, passenger rights advocates say both statements go against federal and provincial law and legal precedent.An airline's terms of carriage must clearly lay out its policy on matters including "refunds for services purchased but not used ... either as a result of the client’s unwillingness or inability to continue or the air carrier’s inability to provide the service for any reason," according to regulations under the Canada Transportation Act.The same terms and conditions must be "just and reasonable," the Air Transportation Regulations state. In at least four decisions going back to 2004, the CTA has cited the phrase in upholding passengers' right to reimbursement following flight cancellation.A 2013 decision concerning Porter Airlines found that “it is unreasonable for Porter to refuse to refund the fare paid by a passenger because of its cancellation of a flight, even if the cause is an event beyond Porter’s control.""The refund has to be addressed in the tariff. And the tariff has to be just and reasonable," said Gabor Lukacs, founder of the Air Passenger Rights group.Provincial laws also go against the regulator's statement, said Elyse Thériault, a lawyer for Quebec-based advocacy group Option consommateurs."For us, it's nonsense, especially in Quebec. Because the rules in the Civil Code that are speaking about force majeure — act of God — say that if a merchant cannot deliver the service because of a force majeure, then he must give a refund."Provincial law applies to companies regardless of whether they are provincially or federally regulated, Thériault said, citing Supreme Court of Canada precedent."And I’m pretty confident that no province in their contract law and in their consumer protection laws allow a business to take your money without giving you any service."Passenger protection regulations rolled out last year stipulate that, in the event of a cancellation that is within the carrier’s control, airlines must “refund the unused portion of the ticket” if alternate travel arrangements do not suit the customer’s needs.If a flight is cancelled for reasons outside an airline’s control, however, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) only require alternate arrangements, not a refund — though tariffs at multiple airlines when the pandemic hit spelled out passengers’ right to a refund as an alternative."If the CTA is given the necessary authority, we will move quickly to make changes to the APPR to fix this gap in the framework. In the meantime, we encourage airlines to adopt policies providing for refunds if flights are disrupted for reasons outside their control and rebooking options do not meet a passenger's needs," the CTA said in an email."The CTA does not apply provincial law."As for case law, the agency said its past decisions "may have limited relevance in the face of new circumstances," including last year's passenger rights charter.Lukacs argued the new batch of regulations does not nullify older ones that, when paired with previous CTA decisions, amount to a refund requirement.Most Canadian airlines continue to offer travel vouchers rather than reimbursement for flights they cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with WestJet a notable exception since October.Transport Minister Marc Garneau said earlier this month that an aid package now in the works for commercial carriers will hinge on them offering refunds to passengers whose trips were nixed — a long-standing demand by advocates and opposition parties.The pandemic has devastated airlines and the broader tourism industry, with travel restrictions and collapsing demand prompting tens of thousands of airline layoffs and billions of dollars in losses.But customers say they too are in need of funds they believe they are owed.The CTA says it has received more than 10,000 complaints since March. Meanwhile Air Canada garnered more refund complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation than any American carrier in August, the latest month for which statistics are available.Passengers have also filed a handful of proposed class-action lawsuits and three petitions with more than 109,000 signatures that call for customer reimbursement.The CTA said in March that airlines have the right to issue travel credit instead of a refund for cancelled trips in the "current context," though it later clarified that the online statement was "not a binding decision" and that reimbursements depend in part on the contract between airline and passenger. "The statement was issued in extraordinary circumstances and addressed the risk that passengers would be left with nothing in the event of flight cancellations outside of the airline's control," the CTA said Tuesday.It added that complaints remain an avenue for travellers, though as of several weeks ago none of the 10,000-plus filed to the CTA had been handled due to an earlier backlog.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro called the display outside his constituency office "offensive".
As part of IndigiNews’ ongoing look into Indigenous reproductive healthcare access, we are speaking to people about their birth experiences. As the snow started to fall, marking the beginning of the winter solstice, Estella Carmona was on her way to the hospital to give birth to her first daughter, Katiyana. The all-encompassing birthing process would turn into a life-changing spiritual experience that showed Carmona her “true connection to spirit,” she says. Carmona sees her daughter Katiyana, who’s turning seven on Dec. 21, as her greatest teacher. “I knew that I was bringing in sacred life,” says Carmona who is of Sechelt, Stó:lō and Mexican descent, reflecting on the day her daughter was born. Carmona is a member of shíshálh First Nation, which is located along the Sunshine Coast in Sechelt, B.C., and comes from a strong line of matriarchs. She says it’s the strong cultural teachings from the smokehouse that pulled her through two complicated birth experiences. “It showed the strength of spirit,” she says. “I was raised by my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my mom, and [strong moral teachings are] something that we live, we breathe.” She credits her great-grandmother who was a fluent speaker in her language for instilling these teachings in the family. Carmona was living in Stó:lō Territory in 2013 when she was pregnant with her first daughter. Before Katiyana was born owls and hawks started visiting her, she explains. For many Indigenous people, the connection between birds as a kind of messenger is a part of cultural teachings passed down. “An owl started visiting me throughout my pregnancy. They’ve never come into my life beforehand,” says Carmona. “I had four owls visit me and two owls came the night before she was born.” During the delivery, Carmona explains how her cultural teachings helped assist in the birth. “I did tap into sacred energy, our breath, and prayer,” she says. Carmona used a birthing tub at the hospital during her labour. “Having been surrounded by water, she came into this world in a very peaceful way,” she says. However, after her daughter was delivered Carmona says she lost a lot of blood but was not given a blood transfusion. She left the experience wishing she had known her rights. “If I knew my rights, I would have demanded a blood transfusion,” she says. “They took my blood count after she was delivered. They took my blood count the next morning. And they’re like, well, it’s already increasing. So we don’t think you need one.” After suffering from extreme fatigue for six months, navigating being a new mother, working, and being in school, she didn’t realize the severity of the situation until years later. After requesting to see her medical records she says, “I realized this is how women die in childbirth.” Carmona believes a higher power is what pulled her through this experience. “When I say spirit saved my life, I believe that Katiyana chose me as her mother. She chose her father. And those owls visited me throughout,” she says, “it was spirit all the way.” As they left the hospital, she remembers seeing a hawk on the side of the road. “Her spirit is the owl spirit,” Carmona says smiling. “There’s no question about it, she sees truth.” In 2015, Carmona was pregnant with her second child, a daughter named Ivy. Still living in Stó:lō Territory, she returned to give birth at a local hospital. This time, she says, the delivery was excruciating and there were complications with baby Ivy being delivered. According to her medical records, baby Ivy was born face up, blue and limp with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. While Carmona says her mother and mother-in-law knew what was happening, she was unaware of the severity of the situation. “I did not know the severity of the situation being like you just delivered a baby,” she says. The medical records show that baby Ivy was not breathing when she was born, and Carmona says they called a “code pink” signalling an emergency. “She’s a miracle that she survived,” says Carmona. “My belief in the Creator, my belief in the teaching saved us a hundred percent. We had people watching over us.” Reflecting on the experience, Carmona once again wishes she was given more information in the moment. “There was no, how long was she out of breath for, what’s her cognitive ability kind of thing. Like, your daughter could have died,” she says. “It was, she can sit up in her car seat. You’re fine, go home.” For other expecting parents Carmona says that due to the lack of cultural safety, systemic racism and stereotyping of Indigenous women, it’s important to “trust your intuition.” “Whether it’s the doctor, a white midwife, the stereotyping that you receive, whether it’s in the doctor’s appointments, leading up or in the delivering room, having multiple Indigenous family members there, there’s a lot of racism that happens in these experiences,” she says. Many Indigenous Peoples who access the healthcare system in Canada feel the impacts of systemic racism. On June 19, 2020, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond was appointed by Health Minister Adrian Dix to lead an investigation into Indigenous-specific racism in the B.C. health care system. “If I could say anything to a woman who would be giving birth or in this process, trust your intuition, pray for protection and guidance,” says Carmona. With two healthy young girls, now one of the most important things for Carmona is that her kids are raised traditionally so that they too are equipped to navigate the world. “I can say that practicing our cultural teachings benefits new mothers and their babies, that little plant, that little seed,” says Carmona, “Every thought, every feeling that we think our baby experiences and my daughters are very cultural beings.” Our series on reproductive health access is made possible in part with funding from First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Thunderbird Partnership Foundation. Their support does not imply endorsement of or influence over the content produced. Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
The Limerick Friends’ Club hosted another takeout dinner to raise money for a worthwhile local cause. The dinner was held Nov. 14 at the Limerick Community Centre, and people came to pick up their meals from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. According to Jo-Anne Carrol, they served over 60 people, down from the number of patrons who came to the takeout dinner back in September, but not bad either, considering the ongoing pandemic. Proceeds from the dinner went towards the Coe Hill Food Bank, to help out with their Christmas baskets. Even though they weren’t able to attend the dinner on Saturday, Councillor Ingo Weise and his wife Bonnie, who is a member of the Friends’ Club, helped set things up the day before. He acknowledged the impact that the Limerick Friends Club has had in raising money for worthy causes in years past, and how difficult it has been this year with COVID-19. “The Friends’ Club has most recently donated money to Wollaston Township for Halloween candy because the children couldn’t go door to door. These dinners have also provided an important social function in the community where people could get out and meet their neighbours. The roast beef dinner on Nov. 14 was held as a take-out so the social aspect will be missing although the volunteers themselves were finally able to get back together. The township of Limerick gratefully acknowledges the important service the Friends Club and all our volunteers provide to our community.” Dawn Lockhart, the chair of the Limerick Friends’ Club was busy in the kitchen on the evening of Nov. 14, but described the menu when she came out to deliver a few dinners to patron Lawrence Hiltz. “There’s roast beef, mashed potatoes, vegetables, a little bit of horseradish in there too, nice fresh homemade bread, coleslaw and gravy,” she says. “We also have a delicious triple layer cake for dessert and when that runs out, we have four different types of pie; apple, blueberry, strawberry rhubarb and cherry.” Jo-Anne Carrol was also helping out in the kitchen, and described the volunteers’ routine getting everything together. “We started yesterday peeling potatoes and things like that, and then the meat was cooked at 8 a.m. this morning. Then we came back at noon to do the rest. We’re getting to be a well-oiled machine. Our first one [the takeout dinner back in September] was a little delayed, but this one worked out really well. It’s a real learning curve,” she says. The price for this takeaway dinner was $15 for adults, $7 for children aged six years to 12 years, and kids under five years old ate for free. Sharon Boomhour was outside the community centre collecting money for the dinners and accepting donations. All told, they ended up raising around $850. Diane Percy explained that they intended to donate the money in the form of gift cards to the Coe Hill Food Bank’s Christmas baskets. “They put them in the baskets and we’ll be giving them a bunch of gift cards for that. And then we’ll also be donating some money to the seniors’ program for the lunches they serve down in Tudor and Cashel,” she says. The people coming by to pick up their meals seemed to be pleased that they were happening, even if it was takeaway versus an indoor dining experience. Nicolette Mitchell came by to pick up a couple of meals. “I think it’s great. I used to come for all the dinners so I try to make it for these,” she says. Geraldine Woodbank agreed with that sentiment. “Oh, yeah! If you want good cooks, you come here,” she says. Margaret Park comes by for all the dinners, as she lives just up the road from the community centre. “I kind of miss it where everyone’s inside because you get to see people and catch up,” she says. Lucy Leftman also came by and said she used to come for these dinners all the time, though not as much as she used to. “This is kind of nice, the fact that they’ve figured out a way to work around the whole thing [COVID-19],” she says.Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
In SABA’s Nov. 16 news bulletin, Angela Pollak informed everyone that the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation will be pausing the application intake for the Northern Ontario Recovery Grant program worth $25,000 on Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. to process the overwhelming volume of applications they have gotten in. She encouraged anyone with eligible products to apply as soon as possible, as there was no indication if or when the intake may reopen to applications. She stressed that people could apply on their own but that she was available to help out if necessary. So far, Pollak knows of several businesses that have applied for this grant. The NOHFC promotes economic growth across Northern Ontario by giving financial assistance to projects that stimulate recovery, growth, job creation and skilled workforce development. They have invested $193 million in 1,386 projects across the region since June 2018, leveraging over $748 million in investment and creating or sustaining nearly 4,000 jobs. According to John Guerard, the acting executive director of the NOHFC, the NORP has been really successful and consequently the applications have been halted, at least for the time being. The last applications will be accepted by 6 p.m. on Nov. 20. While the application deadline had initially been the end of the year, the huge volume of applications received prompted them to move the deadline forward. Natalie Dumont, with the communication services branch of the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, says the program has been overwhelmingly successful. “The NOHFC received over 1,000 applications in the first month of the program. While we have received applications from a wide range of communities, specific data by community is not currently available,” she says. NORP was launched on Oct. 1 by the provincial government to help support northern companies impacted by COVID-19. Greg Rickford, the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, announced the program on Sept. 28, and pledged his government’s support for business owners, entrepreneurs and workers. “There’s no denying that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on businesses throughout Northern Ontario and that this program will deliver targeted funding so they can continue to serve their communities,” he said at the time of the announcement. NOHFC has already approved and processed hundreds of NORP applications. Due to this influx, the NOHFC is going to focus on processing the outstanding applications after Nov. 20 to get the funding out to the northern business owners who need it. “The Ontario government, through the NOHFC, is committed to moving NORP funding along swiftly so we can continue to promote economic recovery in every region of the north and get our northern economy back on track,” said Guerard in his press release. Guerard also mentioned that new NOHFC programs were coming in January of 2021, making it easier for more businesses to apply and to give them increased support to find market opportunities, address the skilled labour shortage in the north, provide more opportunities for Indigenous people and continue to aid in COVID-19 recovery. Dustin Turner is the northern development advisor with the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines reminds people that the program offers 100 per cent grant funding up to $25,000 for private for profit businesses only, as not for profits and public sector business are not eligible, to reimburse them for costs incurred while adapting their business operations to adhere to public health guidelines to protect their employees and customers. Eligible costs for reimbursement will be retroactive to March 17, 2020 and businesses are permitted to apply for future costs they may incur. Pollak is gratified by the response to the NORP grant funding she’s seen from businesses in South Algonquin Township. “I know of three businesses in South Algonquin who plan to apply. Two of these businesses reached out after the SABA bulletin went out. I also know that Explorers’ Edge picked up the thread about the new deadline and forwarded it to businesses in the area to get the word out to the northern communities in our region on the west side of [Algonquin Park],” she says. ”This is an indication that the SABA bulletin is working from a communication perspective, which I find encouraging.” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
MARCHE. Karl Grondin marche, marche beaucoup même. Attaché politique de jour pour le député Donald Martel, le résident de Gentilly s’aère les idées et tient la forme un pas à la fois le soir et la fin de semaine. «J’ai fait 2500 km de marché depuis janvier. J’en ai plus à pied que ma mère en auto», dit en riant celui qui revient d’une randonnée de 79 km en deux jours. «J’ai fait les six secteurs qui composent la Ville de Bécancour. C’était pour le plaisir, mais en même temps c’était pour la Grande marche de Pierre Lavoie. Ça faisait longtemps que ça me trottait dans la tête de faire une bonne distance dans une journée. Je voulais dépasser le 42 km. J’ai profité de l’occasion», explique Karl Grondin pour qui la marche est devenue une passion suite à un achat bien particulier. «Depuis que j’ai une iWatch, ça me motive. J’ai des objectifs et je les réalise. Habituellement, je marche au minimum 42 km par semaine», souligne Karl Grondin qui s’est payé un grand trip de randonneur cet été en Gaspésie. «J’ai commencé le Sentier international des Appalaches. Au total, c’est un parcours de 650 km. Là, j’ai fait les 150 premiers. C’est la première fois que je faisais une expédition comme ça. Je suis parti seul et je couchais dans des relais. Je me fixe comme objectif de le faire d’ici 4 ans», indique-t-il. D’ici là, Karl Grondin marche… et marche encore!Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The Township of Carlow Mayo had a public meeting on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. so residents could comment on the passing of the township’s draft cannabis bylaw, and the council could answer their questions about the bylaw. Many municipalities have faced illegal cannabis operations doing business within their borders, including Carlow Mayo, one of them being the illegal cannabis operation that was taken down by the OPP on Hartsmere Road in McArthurs Mills on Sept. 15. Mayor Bonnie Adams stressed that with this amended bylaw, it will impose restrictions on where cannabis operations can be permitted within their township, and hopefully curb these illegal cannabis production facilities from starting up in the first place. After taking and answering residents’ questions on the issue, council voted unanimously to adopt this amended bylaw. Adams thanked everyone for coming and explained that the purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for individuals to comment on the draft bylaw and pose any questions they may have before it was passed by council. The bylaw in question is bylaw 26-2020, which is a bylaw to amend the comprehensive zoning bylaw 33-2004, in accordance with Section 34 of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990. “Without the amendments we are proposing, we would have no authority on where and how cannabis operations could be established that are licenced or registered by Health Canada. Please be assured that council does not take this lightly. It’s a major problem for us and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that our municipality is protected from any illegal operations that could occur within our municipality,” she says. Adams mentioned that back on Aug. 14, she had attended a Hastings County Zoom meeting with Councillor Dan Hughey and deputy clerk and treasurer Jenny Snider to discuss this problem. She said their concerns were addressed to MP Derek Sloan, MPP Daryl Kramp, inspector detachment cmdr. Scott Semple from the OPP, insp. Jim Walker from the OPP Organized Crime and Enforcement Bureau, Warden Rick Phillips with Hastings County and Warden Marg Isbester from Lennox Addington. As a result of the meeting, letters were sent to Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and Federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu to ensure that all three levels of government are working in cooperation toward the issue of addressing illegal cannabis operations. Adams explains that in the letters the municipalities suggested some recommendations including; that Health Canada should share information about cannabis certifications with municipalities so they can ensure that certificate holders are compliant with the township’s zoning bylaw, that police forces have the necessary resources to monitor and take action against cannabis operations that conduct their business illegally, that the province provide means to amend legislation to establish a new provincial offence that creates an offence when unlicensed cannabis operations breaking planning and environmental regulations and when they ignore building codes, and that a suggested $100,000 fine be in place to act as a deterrent. If all else fails, the township would like to be able to collect any outstanding fines through municipal property taxes. While there has been no word from Minister Hajdu yet, Adams had heard that Minister Clark had shared these recommendations with Attorney General Doug Downey, solicitor General Sylvia Jones, the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus and the Association of Municipalities of Eastern Ontario Monica Turner. “As you can see, we are not sitting doing nothing with regards to this awful thing that has come into our community,” she says. This amended bylaw only applies to illegal cannabis operations, not those more limited operations for personal and medical use. Industrial hemp production, which is a larger scale growing endeavor, is also not the target of this bylaw. Industrial hemp is a food and fibre non-drug variety of cannabis with a low THC content of less than 0.3 per cent. In 2014, over 100,000 acres of industrial hemp were grown in Canada. If anyone has any concerns that a larger scale operation is not growing industrial hemp, and is instead growing illegal drug cannabis, they should contact the OPP to investigate. Questions from residents had been submitted in advance of the meeting, so that the council could look into them and provide the most detailed answers possible during the meeting. Residents posed questions to council wondering whether the township knows whether Health Canada issues a licence to a particular property for a cannabis operation, and also whether the township can put a limit on the number of cannabis operations within the township. On behalf of council, Adams answered that Health Canada does not forward this information to the township, and that the township is uninformed about licence approval so they have no idea how many cannabis operations there are so cannot put a limit on them so far. Residents also asked council what regulations are being put in place to prevent cannabis operations from being too close to residential properties, and how the safety of the community is being ensured. Adams replied that with the new bylaw, cannabis operations must be in a permitted zone and must meet the required setbacks from sensitive land use, and adhere to other requirements set out in the bylaw. With regard to safety, Adams urged residents that if they have concerns about illegal and criminal activity, to contact the OPP and they will investigate. Questions also arose about how the township would regulate the smell from cannabis operations and the environmental impacts of cannabis operations with respect to water and waste. Adams replied that operations licenced and registered with Health Canada are permitted indoors only and that they must have an air treatment control system for the building or structure. With regard to water supply, cannabis operation owners are required to provide confirmation that there is adequate water supply for daily usage and for fire suppression. Private septic systems or other onsite disposal systems will be necessary to confirm that discharge from the facility can be handled appropriately. If an offsite handling is needed, the owner will provide documentation of agreements with approved waste handlers to the township’s satisfaction. Residents also asked if pre-existing cannabis operations would be taken care of by this new bylaw, and what these cannabis operations might do to local property values. Adams said that the new bylaw would not apply to pre-existing cannabis operations but that the township was working on a new bylaw that would pertain to the nuisance that may come with a cannabis operation, like the odour for example. With regard to property values, Adams said that they can’t forecast real estate values or MPAC assessments and that there are many factors that determine these values. Also asked by residents was how the township would enforce the amendments if licencing information is not given to the township. Adams answered that the amendment to the bylaw would allow the township’s chief building official and bylaw enforcement officer to have more ability to help them enforce the Ontario building code and the township’s zoning bylaw, and that all illegal operations will need to be reported and handled by the OPP. Having no more submitted questions and none from the gallery, Adams thanked everyone present for coming out, for posing their questions and for their comments. “We’re trying to bring this situation to light and to let you know what we’re trying to do to prohibit it and address the concerns,” she says. Adams then brought forth a motion by Hughey and seconded by Councillor Mike Cannon to adopt bylaw 26-2020. Council passed it unanimously and the public meeting was adjourned.Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
NEW YORK — Beyoncé is bringing her Black parade to the Grammys: The pop star’s anthem about Black pride scored multiple nominations Tuesday, making her the leading contender with nine nominations.Beyoncé picked up song and record of the year bids with “Black Parade,” which she released on Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. The song, which reached the Top 40 on the pop charts, is also nominated for best R&B song and best R&B performance.Beyoncé’s “Black Is King” film that highlighted Black art, music, history and fashion is up for best music film while “Brown Skin Girl,” a song dedicated to dark- and brown-skinned women, is nominated for best music video. The singer also earned three nominations for her slick guest appearance on Megan Thee Stallion’s No. 1 hit “Savage.”A winner of 24 Grammys, Beyoncé becomes the second-most nominated act in the history of the awards show with 79 nominations.Beyoncé is only behind her husband Jay-Z and Quincy Jones, who have both earned 80 nominations each. Jay-Z picked up three nominations this year for his contributions to Beyoncé’s songs: He co-wrote “Black Parade" and “Savage," thus earning nominations for song of the year, best R&B song and best rap song. Jay-Z has won 22 Grammys throughout this career.Beyoncé’s domination this year came as a surprise since the singer did not release a new album. Other surprises, well snubs, include pop star the Weeknd being completely shut out and earning zero nominations despite having a No. 1 album, multiple hit singles and winning the coveted Super Bowl halftime performance slot. Luke Combs, who dominated the country charts and set records on streaming services this year, was also surprisingly shut out of nominations.Instead, multiple nominations went to Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Roddy Ricch, who each earned six nominations and followed Beyoncé as the second-most nominated acts.Lipa, who won two Grammys last year, earned bids for album of the year with “Future Nostalgia” as well as song and record of the year for her hit “Don’t Start Now.” Swift, whose last two albums didn’t garner nominations for album of the year, is competing for the top prize with her surprise album “folklore.” If she wins, she would become the first artist to win album of the year three times.Other album of the year nominees include: Post Malone’s multi-hit “Hollywood’s Bleeding”; Coldplay’s “Everyday Life”; HAIM’s sophomore release “Women In Music Pt. III”; Jhené Aiko’s atmospheric R&B project “Chilombo”; English musician Jacob Collier’s multi-genre release “Djesse Vol. 3”; and the deluxe edition of Black Pumas’ self-titled debut album.Tracks competing with Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” and “Savage” for record of the year include DaBaby and Ricch’s “Rockstar,” Malone’s “Circles,” Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now,” Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted,” Black Pumas’ “Colours” and Doja Cat’s “Say So.”“Black Parade,” “Don’t Start Now,” “Everything I Wanted” and “Circles” are also nominated for song of the year — a songwriter’s award — along with Swift’s “cardigan,” Ricch’s “The Box,” JP Saxe and Julia Michaels’ “If the World Was Ending” and H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe,” her protest anthem addressing police brutality.Several songs that emerged following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor were nominated for Grammys, including Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” (best rap song, best rap performance), Anderson .Paak’s “Lockdown” (best melodic rap performance, best music video), Mickey Guyton’s “Black Like Me” (best country solo performance) as well as Beyoncé’s “Black Parade.”“I think it’s meaningful. I think it’s reflective of what’s gone on in our world," Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording’s interim president and CEO, said of multiple protest songs earning nominations this year. “Musicians and artists and writers and producers, they write about what’s going on in their lives. We tend to be fairly emotional people. When there’s things happening, it’s going to come out in our music and our art."Megan Thee Stallion, who released her highly anticipated debut album last week after finding success with hit singles and mixtapes since 2018, scored four nominations including best new artist. She will compete with rapper-singer Doja Cat, pop singer Noah Cyrus, country singer Ingrid Andress, multi-genre DJ-producer Kaytranada, rappers Chika and D Smoke, and indie rocker Phoebe Bridgers, who earned four nominations and helped female acts dominate in the rock categories.Nominees for best rock performance and best rock song include Bridgers, Fiona Apple, HAIM, Grace Potter, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes and Big Thief, led by Adrianne Lenker. Female performers also dominated in best country album, including Andress, Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark and Ashley McBryde. The foursome Little Big Town, which features two female vocalists, round out the five nominees.K-pop kings BTS earned their first-ever Grammy nomination after years of having success on the pop charts. They will compete for best pop duo/group performance with their No. 1 hit, “Dynamite.”Other first-time nominees include the Strokes, Megan Thee Stallion, Michael Kiwanuka, Jay Electronica and Harry Styles, who became the first One Direction member to earn a Grammy nomination.Several acts earned posthumous nominations, including John Prine (best American Roots performance, best American Roots song), Nipsey Hussle (best rap performance), Leonard Cohen (best folk album) Pop Smoke (best rap performance) and songwriter LaShawn Daniels (best gospel performance/song).And A-list entertainers hoping to reach EGOT status are getting a chance to earn their Grammy Award, including Renée Zellweger, who is nominated for best traditional pop vocal album for “Judy” — a performance that won her a second Academy Award — while Meryl Streep is nominated for best spoken word album for “Charlotte’s Web.”Kanye West, who has won 21 Grammys, only scored a single nomination this year — for contemporary Christian music album for “Jesus Is King.” Others who were snubbed include country performers the Chicks and Morgan Wallen, R&B singers Summer Walker, Teyana Taylor, Chris Brown and Brandy, and late rapper Juice WRLD.Songs and albums released between Sept. 1, 2019 and Aug. 31, 2020 were eligible for nominations this year. Winners will be announced at the live show on Jan. 31.Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — The British Columbia Appeal Court should consider the finding of a judge who determined in 1983 that a 17-year-old youth accused of murder had the cognitive abilities of a 10- to 12-year-old child, a defence lawyer says.Thomas Arbogast said the trial judge made that determination after observing Phillip Tallio in court soon after his 22-month-old cousin was killed and hearing audio recordings of a police interrogation."The finding was made that he was intellectually impaired and that is something that this court must give deference to," Arbogast said Tuesday.Court heard that the recordings have gone missing, along with other evidence from the case, and therefore cannot be heard by the panel of three Appeal Court judges now deciding Tallio's fate.Justice S. David Frankel said the trial judge's finding seemed to be based solely on the conclusion of a registered psychologist who met with Tallio and determined the teen didn't understand the consequences of a plea deal.Arbogast said that while the judge confirmed the conclusion of the psychologist hired by Tallio's defence team, he made an independent decision about the teen's intellectual abilities.Several mental health experts have said Tallio did not have the capacity to understand the seriousness of the offence he pleaded guilty to, Arbogast said, adding the teen's "remarkably unusual" behaviour caught the attention of another judge who presided over a preliminary inquiry in Bella Coola in the summer of 1983.Arbogast read from an affidavit by the judge three decades later after he was contacted by Rachel Barsky, another of Tallio's lawyers.Arbogast said the judge saw Tallio sitting at the back of a plane alongside a sheriff or RCMP officer as they returned to Vancouver and that the teen was engrossed in comic books his lawyer had brought for him. "It seemed to me that Phillip Tallio was overwhelmed and he did not comprehend the gravity of his situation," Arbogast read from the affidavit. "I recall discussing this with other members of the court party after arriving in Vancouver."Frankel said there is no indication the judge had any conversations with Tallio."Thirty-three years after the fact he says in an affidavit this is what I recall," he added.Arbogast replied that the important part of the affidavit is the judge's "very clear recollection" of Tallio's behaviour on the aircraft.Tallio has said he found Delavina Mack dead in April 1983 when he went to check on her at a home in the northern community of Bella Coola.He testified last month that he didn't understand what he was signing when he made a plea deal to second-degree murder.His defence team has said he received "ineffective counsel" from his trial lawyer.But the CBC reported that Phillip Rankin testified last month that he explained the plea agreement to the teen, who seemed to grasp that he was admitting to killing Mack."You can't read other people's minds, what they understand or don't understand, but you get an impression," Rankin said. "And the impression I had was that he understood what we were talking about."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The top federal public servant says only a small fraction of the 5,000-plus pages of documents the government has released on the WE Charity affair were blacked out. Privy Council clerk Ian Shugart told the House of Commons finance committee Tuesday that only about one per cent of the documents were redacted to protect cabinet confidences. Less than 2.5 per cent were redacted to black out information on other matters that were not relevant to the committee's investigation into the WE affair, he added. But opposition members of the committee said Shugart's estimates don't jibe with the documents released to them, which New Democrat MP Peter Julian estimated contained some 1,500 pages that were partially or fully blacked out. The clerk acknowledged there may have been other reasons for redactions, including solicitor-client privilege and protection of personal privacy. But he pointed out that he was asked to testify at committee Tuesday specifically on cabinet confidences. Shugart's testimony follows weeks of filibustering by Liberal members of the committee over opposition attempts to denounce the government's handling of the WE documents. The opposition-dominated committee had demanded that the documents be handed over without redactions to the parliamentary law clerk, who would determine what, if anything, needed to be blacked out. Instead, the documents were redacted before being given to the law clerk. Shugart told the committee Tuesday that cabinet confidentiality is a crucial constitutional convention that frees ministers to have full and frank discussions in cabinet while maintaining cabinet solidarity once decisions are made. Notwithstanding the long history of keeping cabinet confidences secret, Shugart said he directed public servants to make an exception in the case of the WE affair. He directed them to be "as transparent as possible" about releasing documents involving the student services grant program at the heart of the affair. And he told them to release documents that touched on matters about which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or his ministers had already spoken publicly. "As a result ... considerable information on the grant that would otherwise have constituted cabinet confidences was provided to the committee," he said. Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre noted that Shugart can be fired by the prime minister and suggested that he and other public servants used "the pretext" of cabinet confidentiality to protect the Liberal government from political embarrassment. But Shugart said he's "completely confident" that public servants carried out his directions fully and in a non-partisan manner. He said he informed Trudeau of the approach he was taking but did not consult him or ministers on specific decisions made about what should be released or blacked out. Shugart made no apologies for ignoring the committee's order that unredacted documents be sent to the law clerk. He argued that the executive branch of government has no authority to delegate its responsibility to protect cabinet confidences to the parliamentary law clerk. The federal ethics commissioner, meanwhile, told the committee that his office has received "tens of thousands" of pages of documents on the WE affair, none of which were redacted to black out cabinet confidences. Mario Dion is investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former finance minister Bill Morneau for possible violations of the Conflict of Interest Act. Both Trudeau and Morneau have close family ties to WE Charity but neither recused themselves from a cabinet decision to pay the charity $43.5 million to administer the now-cancelled student services grant program. "We did receive all the documents we need in order to conduct these two examinations, including cabinet confidences," Dion told the committee. Poilievre found it "very strange" that Dion's office received more documents than the finance committee. But Dion suggested that's because his office asked for more documents than the committee did. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24. 2020. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press