HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Friday a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar seemed "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Gulf front against Iran. The United States and Kuwait have worked to end the dispute, during which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017.
Police have issued a Canada-wide warrant for a high-risk offender who is at large and suspected to be in the Calgary area.Police say Louis Henry Bear, 42, failed to return to his halfway house Wednesday.Bear has a lengthy history that includes convictions for attempted murder, weapons, forcible confinement, criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving.He is described as five feet five inches tall and about 170 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.Bear was previously convicted in the hit-and run deaths of Grant Liu, 26, and Brian Suh, 29, both of Calgary. The two men were standing beside parked cars outside the Whiskey nightclub on Aug. 4, 2007, when Bear ran into them with a stolen vehicle.Police ask that anyone who does spot Bear should not approach him but call police immediately.Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to contact police at 403-266-1234 or provide the tip anonymously through Crime Stoppers.
A Regina teen has been digitally building the Queen City, block by block.Nicholas Fuzesy, 16, is part of the "Build the Earth" project in the incredibly popular video game Minecraft, in whichplayers can "mine" 3D objects in the game world to create new environments.The Build the Earth project started in March, with the goal of recreating the entire planet in the video game. Its relies on a modification that can track Google Earth data and put it into the Minecraft world, including streets and building outlines.Builders have to apply to be added to the server and then can pick a region to create. They'll eventually be merged together to create the entire world in Minecraft.For his application, Fuzesy created the Hill Towers. He was accepted immediately. "I didn't think many people would be working on Regina," said Fuzesy. "I wanted to sort of do it on my own."He's starting the job of creating the Minecraft version of Regina with the 12 blocks around Victoria Park. He's already created some of the city's most iconic buildings, like the Canada Life building, Blessed Sacrament and Hotel Saskatchewan.His favourite so far is the SaskPower tower on Victoria Avenue.The Grade 11 student, who attends Miller Comprehensive High School, said he first got into the game watching people play on YouTube. He decided to try it himself in 2014 and was hooked because of its versatility, he says.The game can be played online alone or with friends, in survival mode (where players have to battle computer-controlled characters while collecting resources and building structures) or in creative mode (where players can freely build with unlimited tiles and no real threats).At first, Fuzesy was joined by eight other builders from around the world working on creating Regina in the game world. But a system update wiped out their work, and Fuzesy was the only one who decided to start the city over again. He said it's rewarding work, because he sees it as a digital archive."It's surprising to look at what you've created and it's surprising to look at all the detail, and to mentally map it and say, 'Oh, … that's the building I've seen countless times in Regina," he said."And it's nice to be able to look at that and think that, like, you did it and and you're the person behind that."So far, Fuzesy said he's probably spent about 50 hours on the project. He's conscious of the time he spends on his computer, but his parents don't discourage his work on the project, because they see it as educational. "They weren't really surprised," he said. "I get passionate about something, and then I go for it."He's looking forward to creating other recognizable landmarks in the downtown area as part of the first leg of his project, including the public library and the Globe Theatre. "That location is sort of like the heart of Regina," Fuzesy said. "I feel like people [who] are joining the project would feel inspired to keep going because there's a significant portion of it done."He aims to finish the area around the park within a year, but is hoping for help completing the rest of the city."I estimate it'll take about 100,000 hours to finish the entire city.… And obviously I can't do that myself," he said."But if 100 people joined, it could maybe be done in, like, two years."Fuzesy hopes Regina residents will one day be able to find their street, their house and their favourite store in the digital world. As for whether Fuzesy sees this translating into a career in architecture, engineering or computer science when he graduates, he said he is considering coding — but is actually leaning more toward writing.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.There are 396,270 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 396,270 confirmed cases (69,255 active, 314,608 resolved, 12,407 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,495 new cases Thursday from 86,875 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,168.There were 82 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 608 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,739,689 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (29 active, 307 resolved, four deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 420 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13 new cases. 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 63,583 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.17 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. 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 61,621 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,343 confirmed cases (119 active, 1,159 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 11 new cases Thursday from 1,300 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.85 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 86 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 12.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 150,559 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 520 confirmed cases (111 active, 402 resolved, seven deaths).There were six new cases Thursday from 1,179 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.51 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 55 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 103,791 tests completed._ Quebec: 146,532 confirmed cases (13,198 active, 126,179 resolved, 7,155 deaths).There were 1,470 new cases Thursday from 11,594 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,638 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,377.There were 30 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 208 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 84.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,215,810 tests completed._ Ontario: 121,746 confirmed cases (14,795 active, 103,239 resolved, 3,712 deaths).There were 1,824 new cases Thursday from 51,144 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,769.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,197,157 tests completed._ Manitoba: 17,751 confirmed cases (9,130 active, 8,268 resolved, 353 deaths).There were 367 new cases Thursday from 2,804 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,463 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 352.There were 11 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.91 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.78 per 100,000 people. There have been 354,449 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 9,244 confirmed cases (4,017 active, 5,173 resolved, 54 deaths).There were 262 new cases Thursday from 1,696 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,882 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 269.There was one new reported death Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 265,300 tests completed._ Alberta: 63,023 confirmed cases (17,743 active, 44,705 resolved, 575 deaths).There were 1,854 new cases Thursday from 8,049 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,145 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,592.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,495,622 tests completed._ British Columbia: 35,422 confirmed cases (10,013 active, 24,928 resolved, 481 deaths).There were 694 new cases Thursday from 7,929 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,449 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778.There were 12 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 815,367 tests completed._ Yukon: 50 confirmed cases (20 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 89 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 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 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,488 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 48 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 6,482 tests completed._ Nunavut: 198 confirmed cases (75 active, 123 resolved, zero deaths).There were five new cases Thursday from 39 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,384 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Author James McBride and editor Chris Jackson were among those honoured Thursday night by the Center for Fiction.McBride and Showtime received an On Screen Award for the acclaimed adaptation of his prize-winning historical novel “The Good Lord Bird,” which starred Ethan Hawke as the radical 19th century abolitionist John Brown. Jackson, whose authors range from Ta-Nehisi Coates to Bryan Stevenson, was given the Medal for Editorial Excellence Award. Jackson runs the One World imprint of Penguin Random House.The Center for Fiction awarded its First Novel Prize to Raven Leilani for “Lustre,” the story of a young Black woman's affair with a married, middle-aged white man. Finalists included this year's Booker Prize winner, Douglas Stuart's “Shuggie Bain.”The Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Calgary police are cracking down on anti-mask rally organizers and others who disregard public health rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Christa Dao reports, CPS have issued dozens of tickets since enhanced measures were introduced.
Growing up in Aurora, Keenan Hull says he experienced little racism in his youth – but there came a point where the tide began to turn. “I didn’t see any aggressive racism until I got older, turning into a Black man instead of a Black boy,” he said. “It was more microaggressions and [people] would just have those assumptions about me.” He saw those assumptions manifest themselves in many ways, including systemic, and it is that lived experience he has brought to the table as a member of Aurora’s recently established Anti-Racism and Anti-Black Racism Task Force, which convened for the first time last Wednesday night. “My goal [on the Task Force] is to make sure that people like me will be able to just live in Aurora and surrounding areas without having any fear of persecution from other people in the community that should be protecting us,” he told the group. Mr. Hull, who was one of the co-organizers of this spring’s Solidarity Walk following the death of George Floyd, outlined his goals near the start of the November 25 meeting where he and his fellow Task Force members began the process of hammering their goals and priorities. Although a list is still a work in progress, their initial message was clear: action rather than education is key to making a difference. Aurora’s Anti-Racism and Anti-Black Racism Task Force represents a cross-section of the community. Chaired by Noor El-Dassouki, joining her and Mr. Hull at the table are Tricia Wright, Phiona Durrant, Mark Lewis, Mae Khamissa and, representing Council, Councillor Harold Kim, who brought the idea to Council alongside Mayor Tom Mrakas. Like Mr. Hull, Ms. El-Dassouki grew up in Aurora. As a Muslim Arab woman, she told the Task Force she has experienced her “fair share of racism and discrimination” over the years, but she also recognizes “a lot of the privileges” in her life. “I acknowledge the fact I am not the target of anti-Black racism or anti-Indigenous racism and I think it is really important to centre those experiences, especially Black and Indigenous people, in experiencing racism because their lives are the ones who have been most affected and most at risk because of systemic racism,” she said. “I would like to see some real action and some actionable change, especially in the institutional racism of Aurora [in that] I hope we can work to kind of look at policies and practices that are embedded in institutions and understand how they are designed in a way that is inherently biased and racist. [It] might not be intentional, necessarily, but that is the way systems are designed in this country and a lot of areas around the world.” “The more effective way of bringing about change is to increase the implementation of anti-racist actions as opposed to just raising awareness of diversity and anti-racism and all of those items.” Added Ms. Durant: “From a leadership perspective, our community knows how our leaders feel about racism, about any form of discrimination, anything that makes anyone feel less than. As long as we know where they stand, it is easier for us to know how to move forward.” A native of Markham, Mr. Lewis says he experienced systemic racism every day as he watched his parents, teachers with the Toronto District School Board, “navigate racist constructs within our community and the education system while trying to provide a high quality of life for me and my siblings.” He moved to Aurora 17 years ago, choosing this community to raise his family as it reminded him of “Markham of the 1980s.” “I was not disappointed,” he said. “Like any fast-growing municipality, I watched Aurora’s growth drive more diversity among residents in our Town, which challenges the community to respond to growing racism, which has to be dealt with by both residents and business owners. For me, the biggest challenge as a father and a resident in Aurora is a little heartbreaking that my daughter is still experiencing the same [type and level] of racism that I experienced when I was her age so many years ago. It is time for us to make a positive impact and make Aurora a great place for all of us to raise our families.” Ms. Wright has lived in Aurora for 17 years as well, having come to Canada in her teens from a country where Black people are the majority. “If I did experience racism [in Canada], I didn’t take it that way, it was more that they didn’t like me because of something else because that isn’t necessarily what I grew up with,” she shared. “I think my goal on this would be to really continue to sort of raise the awareness. I think the more people know, the less they become afraid of something, with lack of knowledge and lack of information there is huge fear. Bringing topics and displaying different cultures, I think that will be a huge part of breaking down any barriers.” While the Task Force is just getting off the ground, several directions are being explored. In addition to Council’s recent efforts on workplace diversity within the municipal structure, Mr. Lewis suggested more can be done to examine diversity “within the construct of Aurora itself…ensuring the diversity of its suppliers in all aspects of the Town’s business.” Members also pointed out there should be a concerted effort to ensure Indigenous voices are also represented at the table after this integral group was not represented amongst the applicants who came forward, as well as to clarify their mandate. “I see a distinction between anti-racism and diversity and inclusion-related work,” said El-Dassouki. “I think there is a little bit of a distinction to me and I think it would be important for us as a group to have a common understanding and identify kind of common goals around those terminologies to guide our work going forward.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Senior Health Canada officials said Thursday they could be just days away from approving a COVID-19 vaccine as many provinces reported increasing hospitalizations and Quebec cancelled plans to allow gatherings over the Christmas holidays.Chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said final documents from the American drugmaker Pfizer are expected Friday. They are to include which production lots of the vaccine will be shipped to Canada and when. Sharma wouldn't put an exact date on approval or delivery, but said once the "key information" is delivered from Pfizer, she will be able to tell Canadians the news they have been longing to hear.Moderna's vaccine is expected to receive approval soon after. The supply will initially be limited to about three million people. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Thursday they are targeting priority groups that will most benefit from an earlier vaccine while reducing the spread of the virus.“In a country as geographically large and diverse as ours, we are facing some logistical complexities,” he said, including reaching remote communities and co-ordinating between various levels of government.The Canadian Armed Forces received formal orders last week to start planning for the distribution of COVID-19 in the most ambitious and complex vaccine rollout in the country’s history. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading the country's distribution effort, said the speed, scope and scale of this plan makes it unique. A planning directive for Operation Vector includes preparations on vaccine-storage facilities and notes the possibility of flying doses on short notice from Spain, Germany and the U.S.Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals and front-line workers during the second wave of the pandemic as they prepare for upcoming distribution of the vaccine. Premier Francois Legault announced Quebec will no longer go forward with a plan to permit multi-household gatherings of up to 10 people over four days during the holidays. Hospitalizations declined slightly in that province to 737, but the number of people in the intensive care unit remained unchanged at 99 on Thursday.Legault said it was not realistic to think the numbers will go down sufficiently by Christmas.Ontario reported 666 people were in hospital Thursday with COVID-19, with 195 in intensive care — a 34 per cent increase from the week before. There were 1,824 new cases and 14 more deaths due to the virus.Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said there is a team working with the federal government on vaccine distribution. “It’s still early day. We are going to start this process as soon as we can to make strides," he said. "Everything we do is a step in the right direction.”The seven-day rolling average of new cases nationally is 6,044.The Prairie provinces have been a hot spot for COVID-19 in recent weeks. Saskatchewan and Alberta recently brought in more restrictions, with the latter making a request to Ottawa and the Canadian Red Cross for field hospitals to help with the surge.Alberta recorded 1,854 new infections Thursday — a new daily record. There were 511 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 97 in intensive care.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the contact tracing system is struggling under the volume of new cases.Manitoba reported 367 new infections and 12 additional deaths. Premier Brian Pallister called for more clarity in Ottawa's vaccination rollout, specifically when it comes to how doses will distributed on First Nations.The premier also expressed frustration with people who still don't believe the novel coronavirus is a threat, even though more than 250 Manitobans died from the virus in November alone."If you don't think that COVID's real right now, you're an idiot," Pallister said.Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, announced 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 12 additional deaths as she outlined the early details of the province's plan for immunization.Seniors in long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized, she said, but more details on the plan won't come out until next week.Henry said health-care workers are tired from the pandemic and it's important to get through the next few months before vaccines are available."We know that our long-term care homes, in particular, are most vulnerable, and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Mia RabsonKelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
A 94-year-old man is the first Aurora resident to lose their battle with COVID-19 since June 9. The man was a resident of Chartwell Park Place, which is currently in an active outbreak situation. An active outbreak at the Yonge Street residence, formerly Park Place Manor, was first reported by York Region Public Health on November 11 with two cases among its caregiver complement of 40. By press time this week, there were 11 confirmed cases of the virus among the 65 residents and 4 among caregivers and staff. Aurora, as of December 1, has seen a total of 371 cases of the virus, 27 of which remain active. 328 cases are now marked as resolved with the late Chartwell Park Place resident bringing fatalities to 16. His death was the first of an Aurora resident in this second wave of the virus, the day after the Region logged a record of new cases in a single day: 251 on Sunday, November 29. The last victim, an 85-year-old woman who was a resident of Chartwell Aurora lost the battle after a long hospitalization. “Our cases in York Region had been plateauing until the weekend when we saw quite a jump in the numbers of cases and we don’t know exactly what is responsible for this jump and we’re investigating,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health, in his weekly update on Monday. The latest death comes as York Region cracks down on gatherings as new cases of the virus continue to rise. In the lead-up to – and aftermath of – Black Friday, York Region conducted a COVID-19 enforcement blitz, which resulted more than 1,000 visits to businesses across York Region to monitor compliance with public safety measures resulting from York being moved into Ontario’s Red (“Control”) Zone. Throughout the weekend, officers from York’s COVID-19 task force focused on malls, big box stores, restaurants, fitness centres and other public spaces to ensure public health measures were being followed. One Aurora business, Xclusive Fades on Yonge Street near Wellington, faces charges under the Reopening Ontario Act. “Most businesses across York Region are adhering to COVID-19 safety measures and protocols, however there is an increasing number of complaints from the public about overcrowding in malls, big box and retail stores,” said the Region. “Businesses failing to keep their customers and employees safe by not adhering to the mandated COVID-19 safety measures will be subject to fines. Repeat offenders could face temporary closure.” Added Dr. Kurji: “York Regional Council had made the commitment of enforcement of the guidelines on York Region residents as well as businesses. As a result, we have the COVID-19 enforcement task force that has been very busy over the weekend having laid some 32 charges following 867 inspections as well as 1,151 compliance education activities. Fines can be laid even under the Reopening Ontario Safe Act or can be laid under the Health Promotion and Protection Act. The latter can be as many as $25,000 for a corporation. “When it comes to people coming to York Region from the lockdown zones, the Province generally advises them not to move from one zone to another. We in York Region have incidence rates that are similar to those of Toronto’s, although Peel’s incidence rates are higher. Therefore, we have taken the position that whilst people are supposed to stay home and only come out for essential shopping, if they do come here we want to make sure that everybody is kept safe. As a result, over the weekend previously, we had issued a Section 22 order requiring malls and retail outlets to ensure appropriate physical distancing and line management. By doing so, we have strived to keep people safe. However, with the holiday shopping season being here, we urge you first to stay home as much as possible, only to go out for essential trips, see if you can actually get your shopping done online from the local stores. If you can’t and you have to visit one of the stores, please visit them at off-peak hours and try and minimize the time you would spend at the malls or in stores and observe the directional arrows in the stores as well as the physical distancing requirement of two metres or more.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
A fellow councillor's negative opinions about staff and peers are indicative of confrontational and unnecessary hostility, says complainant. Coun. Jon Main told MidlandToday people are missing the point by focusing on Bill Gordon's 'snowflake comment' that was part of a series of communications and dialogue shared with the integrity commissioner. Main said he just rolled his eyes at Gordon's 'lame and corny' snowball comment directed at him. "At the end of the day, we were discussing an issue we both agreed on," he added. And even though it did happen earlier in the year, Main said he wasn't 'sitting' on information or gathering evidence to present to the integrity commissioner. "We went in communication with the integrity commissioner in summer," he said. "The complaint would have been filed in the middle of summer and we've been discussing it this fall." Providing context to the dialogue, Main said it was a back-and-forth exchange about responding to the pandemic and what council and the town were going to do. It was spurred by a warning from him, cautioning Gordon to be careful about communicating to all of council. "We're not supposed to be discussing issues with each other over email because of closed door policies and all," said Main. "We were talking about what's the best way of bringing information forward. It was a simple exchange of information and it kind of spiralled and clearly crosses a line." But he said he would like to bring attention to the fact that it's part of a larger pattern of disrespectful of conduct from councillor to councillor. And a second matter of concern: disrespect in council and staff relations. It's indicative of a personality, confrontational and unnecessary hostility. "This isn't a Main vs. Gordon issue," said Main. "This is really a Gordon vs. code of conduct issue." And, he added, it certainly isn't (that) he, Coun. Jim Downer, and Deputy Mayor Mike Ross are out to get Gordon. "There's no animosity between us," said Main. "We're really just trying to work with our colleague to make him step up his game so we don't see these code of conduct lapses and issues." Another key point that he said residents need to realize is that of undue influence on town staff. "I don't have any instances of that happening before," Main said, talking about the one set of circumstances quoted in the report. "I think this incident is quite important to review to make sure we follow the rules around council roles and responsibilities and staff responsibilities and make sure we don't cross the wires." Main said prior to lodging the complaint, he had approach Gordon peer about his communication style. "From my communication, I've said it in the nicest way possible to soften his approach and offered constructive criticism on how to go about raising issues and who to contact (for town-related matters)," said Main. "Those suggestions and advice have not been heeded or appreciated." Ross played to a similar tune. "Coun. Main reached out to Coun. Gordon and was pretty much told to go away and (Gordon said), 'I'll do politics my way and you do it yours way,'" he said in a conversation with MidlandToday. "I give Coun. Main credit for doing that. I was surprised by Coun. Gordon's response." Ross added that in his opinion, Gordon could be one of the best councillors the town has. "But unfortunately, he doesn't want to follow the rules," he said. "I have no idea why not. Maybe he's upset due to the fact that council of the day took him to court around the Midland Police Services Board. I would hope that isn't it, but he's said it in the past that it was his motivation to get on council." And it's not a question of Ross against Gordon, said the deputy mayor. "It's the code of conduct we all agreed to follow," he elaborated. "Unfortunately, things have happened that it's not been followed or adhered to. We all want to work together." And where there are no conversations between the two included in the report, Ross said, he felt he had to back up his colleagues. Addressing Gordon's suspicions around monetary sanctions, Main said, that wasn't up to him alone, adding he wasn't thinking of going that route anyway. "I think people need to understand what a reprimand is," he said. "Financial sanction isn't the end-all and be-all of the integrity commissioner's report. The reprimand is really the only tool that council now has to censure somebody for misconduct. "We're not looking to recall somebody or have anyone impeached or a special election called. This is basically saying we all agreed to this certain set of rules and we want to make sure everyone follows it. We are paid to agree or to disagree. The community expects us to work collaboratively and put all differences aside." Ross was in the same corner. "I'm not looking to push for monetary sanctions," he said. "I just want him to realize he's breaking the rules that were set out for all of us to follow. Be respectful to others, that's all I'm looking for. It breaks my heart that it came to this." The code of conduct, Ross said, are rules all elected officials agreed to follow. But why even have a code of conduct then? To that, Ross said he didn't have an answer. "I try go the other way and avoid being on social media," he added. "I do not want to be in a position that anything like this would happen. I don't want to be engaged with constituents there. If you want to talk to me, give me a call. I conduct town business that way. I think social media and the rest of it is so easy to get away with comments people won't say to you to your face." Both said they want the matter to end on a hopeful note with all of council working together on common goals for the betterment of the town. The matter will be discussed at council's Wednesday meeting.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
WASHINGTON — A former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering an email during the Russia investigation “made a grievous mistake” but should be spared prison time and given probation instead, his attorneys said in a sentencing memorandum Thursday.Kevin Clinesmith admitted in August to having altered an email that was being used in support of an FBI application to monitor the communications of a former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Clinesmith's lawyers said that although he believed the information he wrote was accurate, he knowingly doctored the email by stating that Page was “not a source” for the CIA.“By altering a colleague’s email, he cut a corner in a job that required far better of him. He failed to live up to the FBI’s and his own high standards of conduct,” his lawyers wrote. “And he committed a crime.”They said it was “an aberration in a life otherwise characterized by hard work, determination, and dedication to the service of others.”Clinesmith was charged as part of U.S. Attorney John Durham's investigation into the 2016 probe of Russian election interference and possible ties to Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The Justice Department disclosed this week that Attorney General William Barr had appointed Durham as special counsel, a manoeuvr designed to ensure that he is not fired by the incoming Biden administration before he completes his work.The prosecution is the only one brought by Durham despite Trump's claims of sweeping misconduct inside the FBI and intelligence community, and the allegations against him do not implicate anyone else at the bureau.The sentencing range for Clinesminth is zero to 6 months in prison. In their own sentencing memorandum, Durham and his prosecutors requested a sentence between the middle and high end of those guidelines.“As a licensed attorney and an officer of the Court, the defendant took an oath, was bound by professional and ethical obligations, and should have been well-aware of this duty of candour,” Durham's team wrote.They also said it was “plausible” that Clinesmith's political views affected his behaviour, noting that he had written the phrase “Viva le resistance” to an FBI colleague the day after the 2016 election.The case involving Clinesmith concerns applications that the FBI submitted to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to eavesdrop on Page, a former national security adviser to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, on suspicion that Page was a Russian agent. At the time, the FBI was investigating whether the campaign had co-ordinated with Russia to tip the election, and Page's past contacts with Russians was a concern for the FBI.The handling of those applications has been the subject of scrutiny. A Justice Department inspector general's report last year that detailed Clinesmith's conduct also noted significant errors and omissions in each of the four applications. Page last week sued multiple FBI officials, including Clinesmith, over the warrant applications.In 2017, as the FBI was seeking to renew its surveillance of Page, an agent working on the case instructed Clinesmith to ask the CIA whether Page had ever been a source for the intelligence agency. Page had been saying in media interviews that he had previously assisted U.S. intelligence agencies, and the FBI was trying to determine if those statements were true.Any relationship Page had had with the CIA could have been important to disclose to the surveillance court to the extent that it could have helped explain contacts Page had with Russians, including whether they were done at the behest of the U.S government.“While Kevin cannot remember precisely how he arrived at his incorrect understanding,” the lawyers wrote, Clinesmith was under the impression that Page was a subsource, rather than a direct source, for the CIA.He altered an email he had received from the CIA, inserting the words “and not a source” to reflect his understanding of Page's relationship with the agency, and forwarded it to the FBI colleague involved in the case, his lawyers said.In fact, Page had been an “operational contact” for the CIA between 2008 and 2013, meaning someone who provides information to the agency acquired as part of ordinary activities but is not tasked with doing so.Clinesmith's lawyers say he never intended to deceive anyone, noting that he had also sent the original CIA email, unaltered and in its entirety, to an FBI case agent involved in preparing the warrant application._____Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAPEric Tucker, The Associated Press
Researchers in a study on maternal overdose have found that having a child apprehended made a mother 55 per cent more likely to have an unintended non-fatal drug overdose. For Indigenous women, the odds of reporting an unintended overdose are double — when compared to non-Indigenous women who had not lost custody of their children. “I would say that I was saddened by these findings but not surprised,” says Brittany Bingham, a co-author of the report and member of the shíshálh Nation. The findings, published this fall in the International Journal of Drug Policy, are the result of two studies conducted between 2010-2018, in which more than 1,000 women from across Canada participated. Bingham is the Director of Indigenous Research at the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She says that the impacts of ongoing colonization on Indigenous women mean they experience more barriers to keeping their kids than their non-Indigenous peers. “We seem to find in this research that unfortunately many of the Indigenous women are facing additional barriers and harder circumstances,” Bingham says. According to data published by the Ministry of Children and Family Development, 67 per cent of children in government care are Indigenous, even though Indigenous youth under 15 make up just 10 per cent of the province’s total population under 15. It’s been reported that there are more Indigenous children in care today than there were at the height of the residential school system, which operated between the 1830s and 1996. Meaghan Thumath, first author of the report and assistant professor at the UBC School of Nursing, says the impact of having a child removed can cause women with underlying substance use disorders to relapse. It’s also important for those who create policy for the child welfare system to consider the impact of child apprehension on mothers, she says. “Child reunification is an essential service,” she said in a press release on Nov. 19. “Denying a mother access to their children can result in profound grief and loss, exacerbating substance use and increasing risk of overdose.” Thumath was motivated to study the effects of child apprehension after working with pregnant women and new mothers as a street nurse and at the Sheway Pregnancy Outreach Program, in downtown Vancouver, she says. “Many of the women I worked with would work extremely hard, do everything they could to convince the system that they were ready to parent,” says Thumath. “We [as support staff] would all think that things were going very well,” she says, and that they would get to keep their kids. “[But] they would come back empty handed.” Bingham says that the child welfare system and other colonial institutions have disrupted the matriarchal structure of many Indigenous communities. Child separation, she says, is creating a “huge void” in communities’ knowledge sharing systems, which they are trying to reclaim. “Indigenous women continue to move through these situations where it’s been one thing after another put in their way from this colonial agenda,” says Bingham. “Somehow Indigenous women continue to be strong and survive.” These instances of separation and their resulting health issues create a “ripple effect” in families and communities, says Bingham. A policy brief from the Centre states that “Indigenous People’s child custody removal is deeply embedded in ongoing racist policies and colonial history of forced family separation and genocide.” This legacy includes the lasting impacts of residential schools and the 60’s Scoop. Given Canada’s historical record of systematically removing Indigenous children from their families the threat of child apprehension still affects Indigenous mothers to this day. “The threat of child apprehension is causing Indigenous women to feel a constant sense of surveillance,” says Bingham. “That creates trauma in and of itself.” The report recommends that social workers and health care staff receive training in overdose prevention, cultural safety and trauma-informed practice to support family reunification. “Urgent action is needed that decolonizes and overhauls child welfare systems to make space for Indigenous self-determination and community responses,” said Bingham in a press release from UBC. Thumath says that the research shows two things. The first is that the Canadian child welfare system needs to change dramatically. The second is that Indigenous mothers need to be provided with much more support in the event that their children are taken from them. “In the short term while we work on transforming the child welfare system, we also have to immediately support women who have had their children removed,” says Thumath. “It should be absolutely a last resort, but if they have to be removed we need to wrap supports around that woman right away.” The report itself calls for immediate large scale systemic change of the child welfare system. Among the urgent recommendations it makes, it states that “large scale systemic transformation, Indigenous self-determination and decolonizing approaches are essential to support Indigenous women’s rights as mothers.” It also states that the number one reason for child apprehension in British Columbia is poverty. Sophie Pierre, one of the co-authors of the report is the former chief of ʔAq̓ am, a member band of the Ktunaxa Nation. She says that in her experience, it isn’t enough to simply shift child welfare jurisdiction to Indigenous communities because the system itself doesn’t change in that process. “We need to turn our thinking away from funding solutions that have proven to not work,” says Pierre. “We need to invest in families…[ so we] don’t have one generation always creating fodder for the next generation.” Pierre says that today’s funding models focus on putting “band-aids” over problems rather than investing in supporting families so they can keep their kids. She says that she is both hopeful about the change that is to come, and frustrated with how these issues are being handled. “You’re talking about lives,” says Pierre. “I don’t want to be talking about programs and formulas when you’re talking about babies and mothers.”Bayleigh Marelj, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
The Aurora Farmers’ Market had a late start this spring due to uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but did they ever make up for lost time. As the Market wound down on Hallowe’en, they were looking back on a season of firsts – and some impressive numbers. Last year, the Aurora Farmers’ Market, which runs each Saturday morning from May through October, welcomed 13,493 visitors to Town Park. This year, they logged a staggering 18,306. “At the beginning of each Market day, I would get my team of volunteers together – we had 32 volunteers that helped us over the course of 24 Market days – and say, ‘This is probably going to be the last day that we’re allowed to be running, so make it a good one,’” recalls Market Manager Anna Kroeplin. “Every week we had tally sheets at the dedicated entrance (on Larmont Street) and at Wells Street as well, and we would count every single person in and out at 15-minute increments. “At the beginning, we were only allowed 32 people in and we had 13 vendors. Once the Market Board started talking more and more to Public Health and Farmers’ Markets Ontario, restrictions were lifted and they based it on our square footage of where customers would actually be.” It turned out to be a winning system this year, and one other municipalities looked to when trying to get their own markets up off the ground. “In March, there was a state of emergency and then in April they closed the schools and businesses, but it was incredibly important that the Government deemed Farmers’ Markets essential services,” says Ms. Kroeplin. “That was able to help the Board pre-plan and be ready. They got in touch with York Region Public Health, the Town of Aurora and Farmers’ Markets Ontario to get all of their approvals – and they did so we could set up on May 23. We were only a couple of weeks out of our normal season to start. I was so pleased that the Farmers’ Market was deemed safe. We actually had so many people come and we had about 99 per cent of people wear masks. It was mandatory for vendors to wear their masks or face shields, but everybody wore masks and felt so comfortable and safe there. “What really surprised me and blew me away is that other towns got in touch with us and either their staff or their market managers came to the Market after the first three weeks because we had built some great reputation that they wanted to model the Market after them. The biggest one was the City of Toronto.” Having that “incredible exposure” to new customers really helped the Aurora Farmers’ Market reach such impressive numbers, with each customer being respectful of one another and exercising patience while waiting in line to get in. Helping them to pass the time before they could get in to buy their fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods and artisan crafts were space markers drawn out on the pavement in chalk to not only promote social distance but put smiles on faces. Volunteers drew smiley faces instead of simple circles more than two metres apart. Once things were deemed safe enough to allow students in to volunteer and collect their community service hours, these markers started to get a bit crafty. “We started with 13 adult volunteers because of the health risk at the beginning of the season,” says Ms. Kroeplin. “We weren’t comfortable having students there until we started proving our safety measures were incredibly important. [In the end] we had 19 students come to get their hours an they came from Aurora, Pickering, Sutton, and it was just crazy because there weren’t a lot of opportunities for these kids to earn heir hours. What I found interesting this year is the majority of the time parents would come with their child the first day they were on shift and I would make sure they had my phone number and the parents felt safe leaving their kids there. In all, they earned a total of 939 hours.” Although the Aurora Farmers’ Market’s outdoor season has come to a close, there will still be a few more chances to meet market vendors in the lead-up to the holiday season. On December 5 and 12, many Market favourites will be on hand for the Town’s annual Christmas Market, which will be held at Town Park for the first time this year, a perfect opportunity to shop local as the holiday season approaches. “A lot of Towns didn’t support their markets, so they stayed closed or they did not open long,” says Cathy Williams, Board Chair for the Aurora Farmers Market. “Aurora supported us, made sure things went well for us, gave us volunteers from their staff, and they wanted us to open, which was just really good. When our numbers started going up and we had lineups and the vendors were coming to us to say they were sold out, I thought, ‘You know what? This is going to work.’ “I would like to thank the Town for being so supportive. I would like to thank the volunteers for being so wonderful and for helping out so much – and the Board of the Market for working so hard to get it open, for Public Health being behind us, and for the people of Aurora for coming out and supporting us.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
Clayton Dixon has always had a sweet tooth – with a particular penchant for the sometimes creamy, sometimes dark, always satisfying confections that come out of traditional chocolateries. It was a love he balanced for many years with a career in finance, but, as he approached his 50th birthday, he decided it was now or never to live his dream and bring his sugary vision to the masses, starting in Aurora. Mr. Dixon, a resident of Whitchurch-Stouffville recently opened Chocolate & Company, a chocolate and gelato shop on Yonge Street and Brookland, which operates on the simple philosophy of “quality, decadence, all made on site.” “We wanted something better than what we could find,” says Dixon. “After doing cooking classes in my early 20s, I started playing around about 12 years ago, taking what I thought I could do a bit more seriously. I started practicing, built a little hobby kitchen in the basement and went from there.” From the basement, he decided he wanted to build something for the ground-up. But what? He knew what he had in mind: a chocolate that was more than a chocolate; a chocolate that was a dessert unto itself. At first, he envisioned an industrial kitchen to make his hand-made chocolate which would then, in turn, be sold to restaurants and retail shops. But, as he approached his milestone birthday, he decided he wanted to bring his dream confections directly to customers. “Welcome to my midlife crisis,” he joked, opening his door to The Auroran on Friday morning. “I wanted to sell to restaurants, but it just didn’t fit with what I wanted. I wanted a retail storefront because it would give me much more feedback from customers on what they really want. I take the approach almost like a two-bite brownie; two bites for a really luxurious dessert, something you can have with coffee or a glass of wine. It is not a pastry, but pure chocolate.” The ingredients, he says, are the best of the best. Although he does not roast his cocoa beans himself, he sources his chocolate – the obvious starting point – from Belgium and France. Then come the flourishes: pure hazelnut paste for the nutty confections, real raspberries, mango and more if you like your chocolate on the fruiter side of things, and hand-blended milk and dark chocolates for the perfect flavour balance. “I strive for something different, that extra level of decadence,” he says, noting that he and his daughter are often engaged in a battle over milk and dark chocolate, with his daughter a big fan of the former and dad veering more towards the dark side. “Now that I have opened to the retail market, I am bringing more milk chocolate into my recipes, so my daughter is happier!” As we get closer and closer to the holiday season, particularly during this challenging time, businesses and advocates are doubling down on their efforts to underscore the importance of shopping local. Chocolate & Company is no exception as they offer an array of flavours to suit every taste, with boxes of as few as two treats to as many as 27. “There’s a very strong Support Local base now because of COVID, but I think Support Local has been going on for quite some time, just extra-focused right now,” says Dixon. “People have [asked me] about starting a business at a tough time, but it is the whole Magic 8-Ball thing. I’m not really reinventing the wheel here, but I just figure the first six months are going to be tough anyway, and I am focused…on the store. It was meant to be and I kept being pulled in this direction. “I want to take the level of quality as high as I can take it. That is very important to me.” For more information, visit www.chocolateandcompany.ca.Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
VICTORIA — Seniors in British Columbia's long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized against COVID-19 starting in the first week of January with two vaccines, the province's top doctor says.Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna will be the first to be rolled out after approval by Health Canada.However, Henry said only about six million doses are expected to be available across Canada until March."So we won't be able to broadly achieve what we call community immunity or herd immunity, but that will come," she saidAt least two other companies, including AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, are in the process of submitting data to Health Canada and regulatory agencies around the world in hopes of getting approval for their vaccines. "Those ones we hope will be available sometime in the second quarter of 2021," Henry said."We hope to have everybody done by September of next year," she said of the province's efforts through "Operation Immunize.""By the end of the year, anybody who wants vaccine in B.C. and in Canada should have it available to them and should be immunized."Henry said B.C. health officials worked with their federal counterparts Thursday on ways to facilitate the delivery of vaccines as they anticipated various challenges that could come up in the immunization process.More details will be provided about the province's vaccine plan next week, Henry said.She reported 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, for a total of 35,422 infections in the province.There have been 12 more deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in B.C. to 481.Henry noted health-care workers are tired from the pandemic as everyone deals with an "anxiety-provoking time," but that it's important to stay "100 per cent committed" to getting through the next few months before vaccines are available."We know that our long-term care homes in particular are most vulnerable and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said.Henry has banned all indoor and outdoor sports teams for adults, saying a team in the province's Interior recently tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Alberta."What we have seen in the past few weeks to months is that 10 to 15 per cent of cases have been related to physical fitness and sports activities," she said, an estimate based on cases that have been linked.Most transmissions of COVID-19 among adult involved in sports have been through social activities related to the gatherings, Henry said.— By Camille Bains in VancouverThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Federal Liberals are accusing the Conservatives of thumbing their noses at a looming court deadline by filibustering a bill to expand access to medical assistance in dying.Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez made the accusation Thursday as Bill C-7 inched closer to passing the House of Commons.MPs voted 213-103 to accept the bill as amended by the Commons justice committee. Only Conservatives, including leader Erin O'Toole, voted against it.However, 16 Conservatives joined Liberal, Bloc Quebecois, New Democrat, Green and Independent MPs in support of the committee's report on the bill.The government had hoped to have a final vote on the bill last Monday, in order to give the Senate time to deal with it before the court-imposed Dec. 18 deadline.It is now at least a week behind schedule due to Conservatives talking out the clock during debate on the committee report.Shortly after Thursday's vote, Rodriguez announced that final debate on the bill will begin Friday. If the Conservatives allow debate to wrap up Friday, that would pave the way for a final vote on Monday, leaving just two weeks for the Senate to consider the bill before the deadline.However, the Conservatives have shown no sign so far of letting the bill come to a final vote that quickly.Indeed, O'Toole shrugged off the deadline earlier Thursday, contending that "protecting the most vulnerable is more important than a court's timeline."The bill is meant to bring the law into compliance with a Quebec Superior Court ruling last fall which struck down a provision allowing assisted dying only for Canadians whose natural death was reasonably foreseeable.It would make it easier for those near death to receive an assisted death but would set up more restrictive conditions for those not near death.The court ruling was prompted by individuals with disabilities fighting for their right to end their suffering with medical help. But disability rights groups have condemned the bill, contending that it sends a message that the lives of people with disabilities are not worth living.O'Toole and most of his MPs have echoed the concerns of those groups, arguing that the bill does not provide adequate safeguards to protect vulnerable individuals from being pressured — either directly or indirectly by a lack of disability supports — into ending their lives prematurely.Rodriguez has not so far threatened to impose closure to cut off debate on the bill. He listed Thursday a number of other bills the government would like to move on next week "if the Conservatives stop filibustering" C-7 — implying that progress on them will be impeded if the filibuster continues."We're in this position because our Conservative friends are continuing to block the adoption of this important bill," Rodriguez told the Commons."I have the impression that they don't care about the deadline imposed by the Superior Court of Quebec, which is quite regrettable."Conservative House leader Gerard Deltell countered that it's the government's own fault if the court deadline is missed. He argued that it would have had 25 additional days to debate C-7 had Prime Minister Justin Trudeau not prorogued Parliament in August for six weeks.Two amendments proposed by the Conservatives were defeated Thursday. One would have restored the required 10-day reflection period, which the bill proposes dropping for people who are near death. The other would have increased the proposed 90-day period for assessing requests for assisted dying from individuals not near death to 120 days.While the NDP is supporting the bill, two New Democrats wrote Thursday to Justice Minister David Lametti and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough with a proposal they argued would help calm the fears of disability rights groups.Daniel Blaikie and Randall Garrison proposed a $2,200-per-month benefit for people with disabilities who currently qualify for federal or provincial income support."Swift action on this proposal would be a sign to Canadians with disabilities that your government will not put them in the impossible position they rightly fear: having to choose either a life of poverty and suffering or a premature death," they wrote.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
RED DEER, Alta. — Closing arguments have wrapped up in the trial of a former Mountie accused of sexually assaulting an RCMP colleague.Jason Tress is charged with one count of sexual assault over a March 1, 2012, allegation in Faust, Alta., where he was stationed at the time. The complainant has testified that she was assaulted by Tress at her residence during a party for a fellow RCMP officer.Defence lawyer Maurice Collard focused on the credibility of the woman, who still works as an RCMP constable.Collard told the court in Red Deer, Alta., that she gave numerous versions of what happened and didn't remember very specific details.Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou dismissed Collard's suggestion that the complainant is not credible."This woman is a young woman, became intoxicated in her own house amongst friends and was put to bed by people who she believed were her friends," Papadatou told the court Thursday. "And a colleague took advantage of her."Earlier this week, the woman testified that she initially didn't want to make waves so she didn't press for an investigation at the time. She told court she decided to report what happened years later after hearing that Tress, 34, had been charged with sexual assault and other offences involving women in Red Deer.Court of Queen's Bench Justice Nathan Whitling is expected to hand down his ruling on Friday. (rdnewsNOW) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020 The Canadian Press
A local trustee has been chosen as the vice-president of the provincial school board association. At last week’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Saskatchewan School Board Association (SSBA), Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board trustee Jaimie Smith-Windsor was elected vice president. Smith-Windsor was recently re-elected to her fourth term as a rural trustee and was gratified to be elected by the association. “It’s very humbling and a very exciting opportunity to be entrusted to represent 27 school boards in Saskatchewan. I think we have got a long tradition in this province of providing a local voice in education and being able to represent the trustees and boards that are democratically elected is a real honour,” Smith-Windsor said. She she served two terms as the Central Constituency representative on the executive where she represents Saskatchewan Rivers, the North East School Division (NESD), Horizon School Division, North West School Division, Prairie Spirit School Division and Living Sky School Division. She explained that the COVID-19 pandemic offers challenges and opportunities for boards of education. “There is going to be the opportunity to innovate and do some really creative things. And I think boards are doing this at a local level. I think there is also going to be challenges in the areas of staff and student’s mental health and addressing some of the inequities that existed before the pandemic. Almost certainly there is going to be fiscal challenges. But I know that boards are going to continue to put the needs of their communities first and that is the power of a local voice,” Smith Windsor explained. She sees the role of the association as another voice for education in the province. “I think the SSBA is another strong platform to help the public connect to that idea that education does belong to communities. It is a real opportunity to have someone who is local to sit on the provincial executive in that role,” she said Shawn Davidson was returned as president for another term. “I have worked with Shawn for two terms now, we have been through a number of significant changes in education over the last four years and I am confident in his leadership and our ability to work together on behalf of boards,” she said. Smith-Windsor explained that she was the only nominee to come forward and was acclaimed to the position. With Sask. Rivers she has served on the Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change, Board Development committee Employee Bargaining Committees, as well as a number of ad hoc Board committees such as the recent election committee. “The local Board of Education appreciates Trustee Smith-Windsor’s strong voice, is proud of her election to the position of Vice President and looks forward to her continued advocacy for education and for students,” the division said in a release. Other SSBA officials elected were Davidson and Smith-Windsor, Catholic Constituency representative Jerome Niezgoda, Central Constituency representative Christine Grandin, CSF constituency representative Elizabeth Perrault, Indigenous Constituency representative Kimberly Greyeyes, Northern Constituency representative Nathan Favel, Southern Constituency representative Janet Kotylak and Urban Constituency representative Donna Banks. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the AGM was held virtually this year. Smith-Windsor explained it was a total shift from having 227 trustees, directors, SSBA staff and others all in one room having a lively engaged meeting. “We do all of our voting on paper ballots collected in ice cream pails. And this time it was a complete shift to an online platform and electronic voting connecting to all of those people across the entire province through electronic means,” Smith-Windsor said. “It was quite an event to train for and to pull off and I think it went relatively well,” she explained. Each year the school divisions in the province have an opportunity to bring forward motions that are of interest to the AGM. The Saskatchewan Rivers board discussed these in meetings that took place before the AGM. “If there is agreement to take that to the provincial assembly then that goes forward to the provincial assembly and all of the boards have an opportunity to vote on that. If those resolutions pass than they become the work of the SSBA executive that essentially feeds forward into our work for the future years,” she said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald