Two deer fighting and smashing antlers together while nearby doe and young buck watch.
Two deer fighting and smashing antlers together while nearby doe and young buck watch.
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
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 30, 2020 Police seized $75,000 in drugs and a loaded handgun after officers searched a Springwater home Oct. 29. Huronia West OPP officers executed an early morning search warrant in connection with an ongoing investigation. About 500 grams of cocaine and 7,000 Percocet pills were found in the house along with a “large” amount of cash. Three Springwater Township men and two Barrie women, all in their 20s, are charged with numerous firearm and drug trafficking offences. The three male suspects were held for bail court in Barrie. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 10, 2020 Simcoe County’s municipally-funded airports continue to operate during the pandemic, but fewer planes have touched down this year, creating a financial pinch. The Lake Simcoe Regional Airport is weathering COVID-19 thanks to cross-border commercial air traffic. The airport, which is owned by the County of Simcoe and the City of Barrie, benefits from having Border Services agents on site. But like many regional airports across the country, fewer passenger jets are using the runways at the Oro-Medonte airport. Huronia Airport in Tiny Township, which receives one-third of its funding from Tiny, Midland and Penetanguishene, saw a sharp reduction in plane traffic since COVID-19 appeared. “One hit we took this year is fewer landing fees for commercial flights,” airport manager Adam Rigden said. “Normally we will get jets in here for a few months from the States, and none of that has happened. We’ve had virtually no jet traffic in here this year, at all.” As an essential service, the small airport must stay open around the clock for emergency use by the OPP and the Ornge air ambulance. Rigden said the small operation, which only has two full-time employees, isn’t eligible for any government emergency COVID-19 funding to offset loses. Several regional airport associations are lobbying the federal government for financial aid to help small airports survive the pandemic. The Regional Community Airports of Canada (RCAC) accuses the federal government of bailing out large airports in major cities while ignoring regional airports. “Canada’s smaller airports have carried the financial burden of maintaining their runways, air terminals and emergency services without access to any previous or current financial aid,” the group said in a media release. The RCAC recommends: • Regional airports receive federal COVID assistance programs, such as emergency wage subsidy, debit relief and loans programs, and rent subsidy regardless of the ownership model. • Stabilizing the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy for airports to not less than 75 per cent for 2021 to protect the employment capabilities of these airports. Simcoe County Warden George Cornell told Simcoe.com the county is working with the area’s Conservative MPs to put pressure on the Liberal government. “We appreciate the value of small airports, the role they play in our economy,” Cornell said. “We know our MPPs and MPs are supportive of our airports, and we continue to work with them to ensure our businesses across all sectors are receiving the support they require during this outbreak.” Earlier this year, Cornell credited MPs Doug Shipley and John Brassard with ensuring Border Services agents remained at the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport. Meanwhile, the Huronia Airport is operating on a tight budget and could use financial support as the pandemic continues, Rigden said. The airport was expecting a boost this year by adding a restaurant that would have been operated by Georgian College co-op students. But the pandemic put a quick end to those plans, because the terminal has been shut down to the public.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 26, 2020 When a single mother was struggling to afford a bed for her and her kids, Mike the Mattress Guy stepped up. Owner Mike Rudkins dropped off bunk beds for the children and a queen-size bed for Mom. That’s the kind of charitable gesture that helped Rudkins and his wife, Krista, earn the provincial Small Businesses, Big Hearts Award. The Barrie entrepreneur also helps the community by offering free delivery for donations to the Barrie Food Bank or the Women’s and Children’s Shelter of Barrie. Last May, Small Business Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria created the award, which was designed to recognize businesses that help their community during COVID-19. Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin presented the award at the Barrie store. “Mike the Mattress Guy helped our community by donating services, resources and time to help others so that the vulnerable can be in a better position to rebound from the economic challenges brought on by COVID-19,” she said in a media release. If you know a small business that has stepped up to help the community, send their story to firstname.lastname@example.org Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall was sworn in to the House of Representatives on Thursday. Hall won a runoff election to briefly fill the seat in Congress of the late civil rights legend John Lewis. (Dec. 3)
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 8, 2020 Barrie has been downgraded from green to yellow under Ontario’s new colour-coded system for pandemic protection measures after seven new COVID-19 cases were reported in the city Nov. 6. Under the new system, areas with the lowest case counts, positivity rates and community transmission are in a green category, with the most permissive rules. Red is the “control” level and means returning to modified Stage 2 restrictions, as are seen in Toronto. Barrie was moved to yellow based on an increase in weekly cases, the speed at which the virus is spreading and how much capacity there is at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s intensive-care unit. Five of the seven new cases are due to workplace transmissions, one is still under investigation and the other is due to close contact. The cases involve people aged 18 to 64. There are currently about 157 active cases in the Simcoe-Muskoka district, with 50 deaths since the pandemic began. Six people are in hospital with COVID-19. This is what Barrie’s yellow rating means: • Gatherings are still limited to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, but the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit strongly advises that people only have close contact with their direct household. • Workplace screening questions must take place. • Face coverings are required in all indoor public spaces, at workplaces and where physical distancing is not possible. • City restaurants and bars have additional restrictions, including closing at midnight, only selling liquor between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., requiring contact information for all seated patrons, limiting seating to six people per table and limiting the volume of music so people don’t have to shout to hear each other. • Non-essential travel should be restricted and outings limited as much as possible. • Monitor for symptoms and stay home if you are sick. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get tested. The yellow code is known as the “protect level” and means a local health unit will enforce upgraded restrictions for businesses and organizations that remain open. Health units at this level are required to have a weekly rate of 10 to 39.9 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of one to 2.5 per cent.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 23, 2020 Simcoe County first responders, including dozens of police officers, lined bridges over Hwy. 400 Nov. 23 to salute Const. Marc Hovingh, who died following a shoot out on Manitoulin Island last week. Hovingh died Nov. 19 after an incident that also caused the death of a civilian. Hovingh's body was taken to Toronto for an autopsy and transported back to Manitoulin Island in a hearse, accompanied by two police cruisers. The OPP encouraged supporters to follow the procession’s live Twitter feed. “Because we’re in this pandemic, we’re on lockdown, we’re in a different situation here right now,” Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said. “There’s not a lot of opportunity for paying of respects and for gatherings.” Hovingh was one of the officers who responded to a call about an “unwanted man’’ on a property in Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island. According to the Special Investigations Unit – Ontario’s police watchdog – Hovingh and civilian Gary Brohman died in hospital after exchanging gunfire. Hovingh was a 28-year veteran of the force. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Fueled by hatred, misogyny and transphobia, there is still a lot of gender-based violence says the Violence Is Preventable Committee in Williams Lake. This year’s Purple Ribbon Campaign is well-underway and aims to raise awareness on this very topic which has been occurring in situations where it was previously unheard of or with people nobody would have ever expected. This is due, in large part, to increased stress, according to Women’s Contact Society family law advocate Kelsey Borgfjord. “2020 has been an exceptional year for stress due to the once-in-a-lifetime event of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “Early on, everyone was panicking due to the fear surrounding the unknown which has since morphed into stress and exhaustion as we enter nearly nine months since the state of emergency was declared.” Because of the novel coronavirus, there have been a lot of extra challenges for everyone. “For anyone in a stressful relationship, be it at home, at work, or in the schools, the uncertainty and changes in the way we are supposed to behave when in public can cause additional tension that turns into violence,” noted committee chair Tamara Garreau. To help support and increase awareness of this phenomenon, Garreau encourages everyone to support the campaign, which runs in Williams Lake from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10, by wearing a purple ribbon, noticing the banners, starting discussions on the topic and speaking out when one sees bullying or gender-based slurs. As the pandemic presses on, Borgfjord believes it is more important than ever to not only bring awareness to this cause but also mental wellness. “Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help,” she said, listing the Women’s Contact Society, Cariboo Friendship Society, Canadian Mental Health, Three Corners Health Services Society, RCMP Victim Services, Aboriginal Victim Services and Crisis Line as valuable resources.Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
During questioning in the P.E.I. Legislature Wednesday about the province's nurse shortage, Health Minister James Aylward said Health PEI is recruiting using several methods — including working with Quebec to bring in French-speaking nurses. The opposition parties were grilling Aylward during question period about how he plans to deal with an ongoing shortage of nurses, especially in light of revelations this week that Veterans Affairs Canada had recently hired away 32 nurses from Health PEI. "We're working closely right now with Quebec as well, because Quebec goes to France every year to recruit upwards of 300 nurses," Aylward said in response to a question from Liberal Robert Henderson.Aylward said France graduates thousands of new nurses every year. "What we're looking at is bringing in 20 to 30 French-speaking nurses into the province so we can support facilities such as Chez Nous and other areas here that require bilingual-speaking nurses," Aylward said. In November, Le Chez-Nous seniors' home in Wellington said it had been unable to open its new long-term care wing because it can't find nurses to work there. Dozens of vacanciesWhen pressed about dozens of other nursing vacancies listed on the province's website, Aylward said Health PEI recently hired 20 nursing graduates, and has had expressions of interest from some of next year's graduating class.He added that there are currently 14 internationally educated nurses about a year away from graduating from a bridge program to bring them in line with P.E.I.'s hiring requirements, and there are "robust" nursing recruitment efforts going on in Alberta, where the province is letting health-care staff go, including nurses.Aylward added that the nursing shortage is a national problem, and previous governments "should have seen this coming."'We're at the breaking point'Green MLA Trish Altass circled back to the issue of DVA hiring away nurses from Health PEI. Those nurses are working on clearing up a backlog of tens of thousands of veterans' disability claims. "Many of those nurses asked for a leave to pursue a new short-term opportunity and were denied, so they quit," she said. "Why didn't you grant these nurses leave?"Aylward said that was a decision made by Health PEI, which he called a "standalone operation." He added he is working with P.E.I. MP Lawrence MacAulay, the federal minister of veterans affairs, on an agreement that would allow some of those nurses to be seconded back to Health PEI if the Island experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases.Altass wanted to know if Aylward was investigating why the nurses chose to leave in the first place, mentioning other provinces had offered health-care professionals bonuses and extra vacation when COVID-19 cases were low. The P.E.I. Nurses' Union said Monday nurses are looking for "better work-life balance" and are feeling "undervalued, not appreciated and always being asked to do more with less."Aylward replied he has instructed Health PEI's human resources department to conduct exit interviews with the nurses.Henderson said he is worried long-term care homes on the Island may have to close because they don't have enough staff to operate safely. "Staff are saying that we're at the breaking point ... where facilities may have to close, especially long-term care, where they cannot provide a safe work environment for their residents or for their staff." More from CBC P.E.I.
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 27, 2020 A Barrie man who drove his truck into his best friend in a fit of jealousy faces a sentencing hearing Dec. 4. Isidoro Pacheco pleaded guilty Sept. 14 to dangerous driving causing bodily harm. The court heard Pacheco had suspected his wife and friend were having an affair during the summer of 2018. On Sept. 18, Pacheco’s pickup truck struck his estranged friend while he was helping his wife pack up her belongings on Pacheco’s Baker Crescent driveway. The court heard Pacheco’s truck jumped the curb as he returned home early from work at about 11:30 a.m. to see his ex-friend carrying “something” from the house. “At about that same moment, his truck veered left, jumped the curb and drove diagonally across a driveway, a boulevard, a sidewalk, and his next-door-neighbour’s front lawn,” a court document states. “It struck (the victim), causing him to fly through the air and make a hard landing, face down, some distance away.” Although Pacheco pleaded guilty, he testified that he did not intend to run over his former friend. Pacheco told the court he lost control of his truck when he stuck his head out the window to get a better look at the “person” he saw at his front door. But Justice Cary Boswell ruled the evidence showed the crash was intentional. “I do not believe or accept Mr. Pacheco’s version of events leading up to the collision,” Boswell said in a written decision. “Indeed, I consider his account impossible to accept.” After the collision, Pacheco’s wife knelt beside the victim and said, “Oh my God, you’ve killed (him).” When Barrie police officers arrived, they found Pacheco hiding under a pool cover in the backyard holding a steak knife. He was arrested without incident. Barrie police were also at Pacheco’s home the night before the crash, when officers told him to stop throwing his wife’s belongings onto the front lawn. The case resumes Dec. 4 in Barrie Superior Court of Justice. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 29, 2020 Is Barrie fitness club owner Christy Toms worried Simcoe County may follow York Region and shutdown gyms as the second wave of COVID-19 takes hold? The owner of HotBod Fitness in the city’s south end says she doesn’t dwell on the thought, but it does cross her mind. “I’m thinking it won’t happen, but you don’t know,” Toms told Simcoe.com. “Last time, I never thought that would happen in my entire life. So, when it went from two weeks to four months, that was a long time. You do get worried about a shutdown.” Toms, who opened HotBod more than six years ago, offered online classes during the shutdown and is taking advantage of Stage 3 openings announced in July. But there’s no guarantee her business would survive a second shutdown. “I’ve planned ahead in case,” she said. “But would we survive it? I don’t know, but I’m hoping we would.” HotBod was on a roll before provincewide COVID-19 restrictions closed gyms in the spring. “Last year was the best year we ever had. We’re probably down about 50 per cent revenue from what I was pre-COVID-19, which is frustrating to say the least, but you just kind of keep moving forward.” HotBod has gone from “cramming” 30 participants in a fitness class to limits of 15, and has put several COVID-19 safety measures in place. Face masks are essential at all times, except when a member is working out in their own space and is two metres away from others. Toms said she decided to go even further by checking temperatures and asking symptom-screening questions before members enter. “People want to be safe for the most part,” she said. “I think people are just happy to work out and be safe at the same time.” Toms said she could take advantage of a new rent subsidy announced by the federal government and has accepted a $40,000 government loan. But she is hoping she won’t have to dip into that safety net. “At least that’s there if I have to use it. No one likes to use a loan when they’ve been in business for a while.”Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
The Town of Bay Roberts will be getting a new fire truck. Council unanimously accepted a tender on a new vehicle during the November 24 public meeting. The Town had received two bids, one from Metalfab Ltd,. at a cost of $344,328 and the other from Micmac Fire & Safety Source Ltd., at $299,248 (both prices are quotes before HST). Director of Protective Services Justin Parsons and Fire Chief Doug Mercer recommended that council approved Micmac Fire & Safety Source’s bid. Councillor Geoff Seymour inquired about the expected delivery time on the new vehicle, and Mayor Philip Wood said that he believed it would be delivered by next fall. The company building the truck is based out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Le gouvernement du Québec est finalement revenu sur sa décision initiale et interdira les rassemblements à Noël. Cette décision est prise en raison de la propagation du virus de la COVID-19. «Ce n'est pas réaliste de penser que nous allons réussir à réduire la progression du virus de façon satisfaisante d'ici Noël», a mentionné le premier ministre François Legault lors du point de presse tenu le 3 décembre. Il a ajouté qu'il comptait sur le «sens des responsabilités» des Québécois pour respecter la décision annoncée. Des amendes pourront être remises à ceux qui contreviendraient à cette interdiction. Les mesures annoncées en novembre, telles que l'enseignement à distance dans les jours qui précéderont et suivront le congé des Fêtes, ainsi que la réduction des activités des employeurs pendant cette période, seront maintenues. M. Legault souhaite que la province soit dans ses «meilleures dispositions possibles pour janvier afin de briser la vague». «On focalise beaucoup sur Noël et les rassemblements, mais je pense qu'on doit se pencher sur ce qui se passe dès maintenant, note Dr Horacio Arruda, directeur national de santé publique. Les chiffres sont assez alarmants pour qu'on doive appliquer les consignes à vigueur. Si on attend pour le confinement de Noël, on ne fera pas les gains nécessaires. Il faut que les cas baissent au maximum pour épargner notre système de santé.» Rappelons que le «contrat moral» proposé le 19 novembre permettait aux familles de se réunir lors de deux rassemblements du 24 au 27 décembre. Celui-ci était toutefois conditionnel à l'évolution de la pandémie et à la hausse des hospitalisations liées à la COVID-19. Avec un bilan de 11 823 personnes testées positives à la COVID-19, Laval a connu une hausse de 135 cas en 24 heures. Le total de décès depuis le début de la pandémie augmente à 728. Le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de Laval cumule également 10 298 guérisons, ce qui signifie qu’il y a désormais 797 cas actifs confirmés (-37) sur le territoire lavallois. Parmi les personnes touchées, 26 sont hospitalisées, dont 8 aux soins intensifs. 26 employés de l’organisation de santé sont toujours absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Cinq résidences privées pour aînés (RPA) de Laval sont présentement touchées par la COVID-19. Voici la liste complète de celles-ci : Par ailleurs, le Jardin des Saules a été placé dans la catégorie des RPA en situation critique en raison du taux d'infection. Au Québec, le bilan est maintenant de 146 532 cas et 7155 décès. Au total, 737 personnes sont toujours hospitalisées, dont 99 aux soins intensifs.Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 24, 2020 OPP detectives have charged a 19-year-old Severn Township man with first-degree murder in the death of 34-year-old Derek Simmerson of Orillia. Police arrested Justice Snache at about 11 a.m. Nov. 22. Simmerson was found lying on Coldwater Road near Emily Street with serious injuries Nov. 19. He was taken to Soldiers' Memorial Hospital at about 8:30 p.m., where he died. Police say the man was found by a member of the public. When paramedics arrived, he was suffering from serious trauma. The accused has been held for a bail hearing and is set to appear in Barrie court Nov. 23. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
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
The Town of Bay Bulls has approved mil rate increases for residents and business operators as part of its 2021 budget, but Mayor Harold Mullowney says very few people should actually see a hike in what they pay. The new tax structure, along with the municipal budget, was approved during a special meeting of council called for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, November 30. The Town gave several hours notice on its Facebook page that it would be tabling the budget. Residential property is up from 4.25 mils to 4.5 mils, while commercial property tax has increased from 14.0 mils to 14.75 mils. All business-related mil rates increased by half a mil. Annual fees, including the controversial home-based business tax of $450 which was applied earlier this year to residents who felt they ought to be thought of as crafters and hobbyists instead of businesses, as well as permits remain largely unchanged. The Operation of a Business permit has dropped from $250 to $50. Mayor Harold Mullowney said the mil rate increases were necessary, but remains optimistic residents and business operators will not see a big impact on their tax bills. “The (property value) assessments this year are lower this year then they were last year,” said the mayor. “Every where, you have your property assessments done. And this year, those assessments came in lower. So, we have to make up the same amount of revenue every year because our own source revenue is mandated by the province per capita. We can’t let that drop. So, when our assessed values drop, if the mil rates stay the same, then our source revenue would drop. My plan was to make sure that everybody would be pretty well the same as they paid last year, especially during this difficult COVID year. So, what had to happen, was we had to bump up the mil rate across the board. I’m thinking 80 to 90 percent of residents should see their tax bill very close to what they paid last year.” He reckoned that, because the assessed values have gone down, even with the mil rate increase, the town will bring in roughly the same amount of tax revenue as last year. As for property values, Mulowney said it is closely related to the general ‘boom-and-bust’ of the economy. “Everyone, I think, across the province, has seen a small decrease in their assessed values this year,” said Mullowney. “Everyone is seeing a bit of an increase (in mil rates). But we tried to do it as fair and equitable as possible, without hitting any one group or sector overly hard. So, the game plan, when we sat down and put together this budget, was to try to keep our income from all sources very close to what it was last year. With that said, I think we’ve been fairly successful in doing that.” As to the sudden revision of the agenda to include the budget and tax structure Monday night, Mulowney said it was a matter of finding the right date and time that worked for everyone, which proved to be a challenge. The Irish Loop Post requested a copy of the budget document approved for submission by council during the November 30 meeting, but Town Manager Jennifer Aspell said it would only be provided once it has been signed and submitted to the Department of Municipal Affairs for review. Meanwhile, Mullowney said despite the troubles of 2020, he is content with the budget drafted by council. “We didn’t see any big increases for any of the residents. If we can keep 80-90 percent of the residents pretty well in the same ballpark of taxes as they paid last year, that’s a good news story, I think. Ovbiously, there will be some who have seen an increase they’re not happy with,” he said. “But then again, who likes paying taxes? None of us. And at the end of the day, we’re trying to be as fair and equitable as possible, while trying to bring in the amount of money needed to run the town effectively.”Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
FRANKFURT — OPEC and allied countries including Russia agreed Thursday to increase oil production by 500,000 barrels a day from January and said they would meet monthly to decide further output levels, gingerly adding more crude to a global economy still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.The decision followed days of wrangling over whether to increase output early next year at all after the pandemic sapped demand for energy and clouded the outlook for the industry.The OPEC members and a group of allies had made deep cuts in production last year to support prices as the pandemic sharply reduced demand for fuel. Analysts said simply extending the 7.7 million barrels per day in cuts was the course preferred by Saudi Arabia, which takes a leadership role among member countries, and also by Russia, the biggest of the non-members who have been co-operating with OPEC.But they faced pushback from countries including the United Arab Emirates, which opposed the extension and wanted countries that had overproduced their quotas to make compensatory cuts.Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said that participants agreed that 2 million barrels a day needed to return to the market “at some point” but that any increase would be gradual. The monthly meetings could decide in either direction, up or down, he said.Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman alluded to hopes that the recent wave of lockdown restrictions on businesses “are not hampering demand as in the first wave” but cautioned that “the jury is still out” and that “we need to be cautious” about ramping up production.He said that at the monthly meetings “we could tweak upward, we could tweak downward, we could stay put... We elected to take the cautious approach."Oil producing countries face a dilemma: producing more increases their revenues but could send prices lower, especially given still-weak demand and uncertain prospects for the speed and timing of a post-pandemic economic recovery.Energy forecasters around the world, including those employed by OPEC, have been lowering their forecasts about how much oil will be needed. Airline travel, for example, has been dramatically reduced, and is not expected to rebound for several years.The U.S. benchmark for oil traded at $45.74 per barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 46 cents on the day. That is down from around $63 at the start of 2020. Gasoline prices for U.S. motorists have fallen during the pandemic to below $2 in some parts of the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration; the national average was $2.12 as of Nov. 30.A barrel of benchmark crude in the U.S. had been selling for around $40 for months, well below what most producers need to break even. It has risen in the past week but current prices still leave many oil producers struggling. In the past week, oil giants Exxon and Chevron both slashed their capital expenditure budgets for the coming year.Stewart Glickman, energy equity analyst at CFRA Research, said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in many nations meant the original oil producing countries' plan - to raise production by some 1.9 million barrels per day from January - "might have sent crude prices tumbling further."He said crude inventories would be watched in coming months to see whether the “modest” production boost of 500,000 barrels per day is absorbed by markets or "whether oil demand remains too weak to sustain pricing” despite promising news regarding vaccine development.___AP Business Writer Cathy Bussewitz contributed from New York.David McHugh, The Associated Press
The Town of Bay Roberts has voted to keep a right hand turn only sign after a lengthy discussion on traffic snarls along the main stretch of highway. A report prepared by Director of Protective Service Justin Parsons outlined several of the concerns, along with potential remedies, and was read during the October 13 meeting. That report was prepared following a vote of council in August. At that time, council had voted to keep the right turn only sign at least until they had more information. “The intersection of Country Road and CB Highway near Powell’s Supermarket is a heavy traffic area with multiple entrances, exits, and businesses. This entices many drivers to cut through Powell’s parking lot to catch the traffic lights. Although this practise is not against the law it has been brought to our attention numerous times u the owner of the business that cutting through the parking lot may lead to a collision. Supermarket shoppers have to be very careful of through traffic while both walking to and from their vehicles along with parking and exiting the lot,” the report reads. “On the contrary, we understand that many drivers use the thoroughfare though the parking lot to use the traffic light as it is a much safer option than attempting to make a left-hand turn at Country Road and CB Highway,” the report continues. The report also noted that, due to a right turn only sign where Sawdust Road meets the Conception Bay Highway, drivers on Sawdust Road who need to travel north often use Country Road, causing further congestion in the already troubled area. The report also noted that council has received many speeding concerns on Country Road, which is a residential road but connects to LT Stick Drive and, by extension, the Veterans Memorial Highway. The report recommended possible remedies to the traffic snarls: remove the right turn only sign from Sawdust Road and Conception Bay Highway (the report noted that businesses all along Conception Bay Highway permit left hand turns, making the Sawdust Road an outlier); install a set of traffic lights at the intersection of Sawdust Road; and, if and when traffic lights are installed at the Sawdust intersection, block access to Country Road from Conception Highway. Mayor Phillip Wood noted that installing new traffic lights would be a budget item, and that blocking access from Country Road, in addition to be being dependent on installing the traffic lights, “would need more thought and discussion,” so that the first recommendation, regarding removing the right turn only sign, was the only recommendation that council could act on at the moment. Several members of council noted, as per the report, that there are plenty of left hand turns along Conception Bay Highway already. “So, there should be a no left hand turn on either on them if that’s the case,’ said councillor Geoff Seymour. “It should be a blanket across, either no left hand turns for everyone, or no restrictions for everyone,” agreed Chief Administration Officer Nigel Black. The motion was made and seconded, although Seymour argued that getting rid of the sign was a “step backward” “Left turns along that stretch are dangerous. Every accident out there is a left hand coming off one side or the other. Removing it is a step backward. I think we’re on the right track making it right turns only.” Councillor Dean Franey noted that a set of lights will need to be installed at some point in the future. Mayor Wood and Councillor Franey were in favor of removing the sign, but the remainder of council voted to keep the sign in place. The motion was made to file the report away for consideration during budget process time. Council had voted previously during an August meeting to keep the sign up at least until they had received more information.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News