Republican strategist Michael DuHaime and Democratic strategist Christy Setzer react to Trump prematurely declaring victory, Biden's statement and the potential for a possible vote recount.
Republican strategist Michael DuHaime and Democratic strategist Christy Setzer react to Trump prematurely declaring victory, Biden's statement and the potential for a possible vote recount.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Chatham-Kent Police have charged the organizer of a weekend rally against COVID-19 restrictions that drew a crowd of more than 100 people. A 32-year-old Wallaceburg woman accused of organizing a “Freedom Group” rally in Chatham over the weekend was issued a Provincial Offences Act Summons for failing to comply with a continued section 7.0.2 order as per Ontario Regulation 364/20, of the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020, section 10.1(1). If she is convicted, the fine for the offence is at least $10,000 and up to $100,000. It could also include a sentence of up to one year in jail. According to police, the number of protesters exceeded the limit for an outdoor gathering, set at 25 people. Police said a person convicted of this offence is liable to a fine of not less than $10,000 and not more than $100,000 and could be imprisoned for up to one year. A few days before the Chatham protest, Chatham-Kent Police Chief Gary Conn warned police would be taking a “zero-tolerance” approach to COVID-19 rule-breakers. According to Conn, Chatham-Kent citizens have had ample time to learn the health and safety measures they’re expected to follow; therefore, violations would no longer be tolerated. “During these difficult and challenging times, those jeopardizing public safety and contradicting the law will be held accountable to the courts,” said Conn. “The law is clear and requires responsible action.” “My understanding is that they did not respect the guidelines that were followed, and there are consequences for that,” said Don Shropshire, Chief Administrative Officer for Chatham-Kent. “It’s not like we’re out to try and get people. We’re trying to educate in advance and trying to get people to take reasonable precautions, so we don’t have activities that are going to encourage the spread of COVID.” Mayor Darrin Canniff said he isn’t just concerned with anti-mask protests. He said he is also concerned with any situation, such as upcoming Christmas gatherings, that could “escalate the spread of COVID.” Despite rules clearly laid out and charges having been laid, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health still can’t predict what people will do. “But there seems to be a polarized view that some people are adopting that (they’re) denying the very existence of this pandemic,” said Dr. David Colby. “I don’t really understand that way of thinking.” Charges have been laid against organizers of similar rallies that have been taking place across the province recently, including one that drew about 200 people to Victoria Park in London on the weekend. The accused is set to appear in court on Jan. 6, 2021, to answer to the charge.Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
Ce sont 20 nouveaux cas qui s’ajoutent au bilan du Bas-Saint-Laurent selon le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux régional, portant le total à 772 cas. Celui-ci déplore également un 17e décès sur le territoire. Le CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent a fourni la répartition des 34 cas pour les 48 dernières heures, dont les 14 cas de la journée de jeudi, et les 20 nouveaux cas actuels. Kamouraska78Rivière-du-Loup191 (+1)Témiscouata51 (+5)Les Basques11Rimouski-Neigette219 (+14)La Mitis32 (+3)La Matanie162 (+9)La Matapédia25 (+1)Inconnu3 (+1)Bas-Saint-Laurent772 (+34)En date du 27 novembre à 10 h, le CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent compte 600 cas rétablis au Bas-Saint-Laurent. Un nouveau décès a été enregistré, pour un total de 17 décès liés au virus. Il n’y a aucune hospitalisation en cours. Enfin, 799 dépistages ont été réalisés le jeudi. Le décès a été confirmé à la Résidence des Sages de Matane. Le résidence enregistre un total de 30 cas, dont 15 résidences et 15 travailleurs, et 3 décès. 10 usagers et 3 travailleurs sont rétablis. Quant au CHSLD de Matane, ce sont 4 résidents et 1 travailleur qui ont reçu un résultat positif à la COVID-19. Au total, il y a 20 cas, dont 14 (+4) résidents et 6 (+1) travailleurs. Finalement, il y aurait un nouveau cas à une unité de l’Hôpital de Rimouski, et la situation est stable à la Résidence Les Bâtisseurs de Matane.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
A forensic psychiatrist testified in court Monday about whether Alek Minassian's autism could be a reason to find him not criminally responsible for the deaths of 10 people in the Toronto van attack, a potential finding the autism community is concerned could stigmatize their members.
Alberta and the Wood Buffalo region continues to see active COVID-19 cases. Provincially, 1,609 more cases were confirmed on Sunday bring the total of confirmed cases to 56,444. In Fort McMurray, there were 10 new cases, bringing the active total to 198. Wood Buffalo's rural communities sawone new case, bringing the total to 24 active cases. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw addressed the deaths of nine Albertans from her Twitter account on Sunday. “While we may be physically separated from each other, I strongly encourage you to reach out to your friends and family and stay connected virtually," she wrote. "We are all in this together — so please reach out to a loved one if you need to.” There were 838 recovered cases in Alberta on Sunday bringing the total recovered cases to 40,219 in the province. In Wood Buffalo, 600 people have recovered, with 520 of those cases in Fort McMurray. Two people have died locally, with the last death reported on Nov. 15. Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Monday he is relieved after an association of Quebec booksellers apologized for removing an online list of his reading recommendations.Legault shared some of his favourite books during a Facebook live video last week as part of a campaign by the Association des libraires du Quebec to promote Quebec literature during the COVID-19 pandemic.While Legault's video remained online, the association said it removed posts detailing the premier's book list on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter on Friday after receiving "a flood of comments.""My intention was never to hurt anyone or censor anything because that goes against the fundamental values of the association and our commitment to freedom of expression,” the group’s director, Katherine Fafard, said in a statement Monday.Fafard, who apologized for what she said was an error, did not say which of Legault’s recommendations drew the comments.A spokesman for the premier, Ewan Sauves, said the association received complaints about one of the titles Legault selected but did not confirm which book it was.The premier's list of 11 books included "Kukum" by Michel Jean, Dany Laferriere's "L'enigme du retour," and "L'empire du politiquement correct" by Mathieu Bock-Cote, a conservative author and columnist. On Sunday, Bock-Cote, whose book title translates as "The Empire of Political Correctness," accused the association of censorship for removing the premier's selections.Legault addressed the controversy Monday afternoon, saying in a Facebook post that he was at first angered and saddened by the decision but was relieved to see his list was back online."We cannot accept a handful of radical activists trampling on our freedom of expression to defend their diktats. That goes way too far," Legault wrote."The beauty of books is that there is room for all voices. Reading transports us to points of view that are sometimes far from our own, but always enrich us. It makes me sad to know that people in Quebec would like to take that away from us," he added.Legault also encouraged people to support Quebec authors, saying that was "the best response we can offer those who want to silence them."Ruba Ghazal, a member of the Quebec legislature with the left-of-centre Quebec Solidaire party, welcomed the association's decision to republish Legault's book list."It's a positive thing that the (premier) shares his readings with us and that we can debate them honestly and openly," Ghazal tweeted. She also suggested that if Legault "enjoys reading intellectuals," he should next pick up Mark Fortier's Melancolies Identitaires, a book that critiques Bock-Cote's work.The Association des libraires du Quebec has 134 members, primarily independent book shops.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Jillian Kestler-D'Amours, The Canadian Press
Montreal police say they'll step up their presence in the northeast of the city after four shootings in a five-hour span Sunday that left at least three people injured."Police officers from different units will be more visible on the ground to reassure the population while others carry out priority investigations to identify those responsible," the force said in a statement Monday. "These events underscore the importance of continuing to work on the gun violence that troubles our communities and undermines our sense of security."Police said no arrests had been made in connection with the attacks, which spanned roughly five hours beginning with a report of gunshots in Montreal North on Sunday evening around 5:30 p.m.Police found no victim but there was evidence of gunfire and shell casings near a parked car, and shortly afterwards a man in his 20s showed up in a hospital in serious condition requiring emergency surgery.About 9:30 p.m., first responders found a man in his 50s who was shot while parking his car at his home in the Riviere-des-Prairies district and was rushed to hospital.Just 10 minutes later, shots rang out in the parking lot of an apartment in the same neighbourhood, with a bullet striking a car that had at least one person in it before a suspect fled the scene.And at about 10:20 p.m., a man on his balcony was struck by bullet fired from ground level, leading to a man in his 20s being transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.Police said they would meet with residents in the area soon to discuss measures to better secure neighbourhoods.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
CALGARY — An environmental law group has lost its bid to pause Alberta's inquiry into where critics of its oil and gas industry get their funding. Ecojustice sought an injunction in the summer to suspend the inquiry until there is a ruling on whether it is legal. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Karen Horner dismissed the application with costs on Friday. “The court’s decision, while disappointing, won’t stop Ecojustice from continuing to challenge the Kenney government’s inquiry into ‘anti-Alberta’ activities and expose it for the sham that it is," executive director Devon Page said in a statement Monday. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative government contend foreign interests have long been bankrolling campaigns against fossil fuel development. In 2019, forensic accountant Steve Allan was tapped to lead the $2.5-million inquiry. Allan's report was initially due in July, but after two extensions and a $1-million budget increase, it is now expected by Jan. 31. Energy Minister Sonya Savage must publish the final report within 90 days of receiving it. “The Government of Alberta is pleased to see the courts strike down a nuisance injunction application by Ecojustice designed to slow down the Public Inquiry into Foreign Funded Campaigns," Alberta Energy spokesman Kavi Bal said in a statement. Ecojustice filed a lawsuit last November alleging the inquiry is politically motivated, biased and outside provincial jurisdiction. "Its purpose really was to shut up opponents to Alberta oil and gas and it was something that was driven directly by the premier," Page said in an interview Monday. Ecojustice wanted Allan's work paused because if his findings were to be released before a court ruled on the lawsuit, environmental groups could suffer reputational harm in the meantime. Horner said in her decision that Ecojustice had to prove there is a serious issue to be tried, it would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction isn't granted and it would suffer greater harm than its opponent if the injunction is refused. The judge ruled Ecojustice satisfied the first test but failed the other two. "Mr. Page suggests that a risk of harm exists in the 'possibility' of being called to respond to the inquiry that may have no legal foundation. However, I am not convinced that a mere 'possibility' amounts to evidence of irreparable harm that is both clear and not speculative," Horner wrote. "The allegations of improper purpose, bias, and lack of jurisdiction are issues to be examined and resolved in the upcoming judicial review." The lawsuit was scheduled to be heard in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic put in on hold. Page said December or early-February hearing dates are now being discussed. Page, who has criticized the inquiry for its lack of transparency, said he's recently heard from groups who have received letters from Allan requesting clarification on publicly available tax information. "It just makes us more confused about what's going on." One Nov. 6 letter to a group, whose name had been removed because Page did not have their permission to publicize it, requested written or oral responses by Dec. 4. "Basically it looks like (Allan is) on a fishing expedition to get the information that he's had 18 months to accumulate," said Page. "So what's he been doing?" This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 30, 2020. Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
Brock will extend its upcoming holiday break by delaying the start of the winter term by one week. Classes will start on Jan. 11. An announcement was made Monday in a letter from Lynn Wells, provost and vice-president academic, who said the decision comes after two weeks of consultations with students, staff and faculty members. The extension of the holiday break will require changes to the academic calendar. The winter term will now end on April 9. Exams will take place April 13 to 23. The exam period for the winter term will be shortened by two days. The spring/summer term will start as scheduled and the dates for reading week will also remain the same. The calls for change also came at the hands of four Brock students — Celeste Lynette, Emma Allan, Riley Monaghan and Jack Allan. Lynette created an online petition urging the university to consider the change. “Due to the pandemic, this school year has been undoubtedly challenging and tolling on university students and our mental health,” said Lynette. “We, the students of Brock University, are asking for an extension to our winter break like many other Canadian universities have granted their students.” The petition garnered nearly 6,000 supporters. Leaders of Brock’s graduate and undergraduate student organizations welcomed the decision. “The partnership between student associations and the University remains strong, collaborative and results-oriented,” said Christopher Yendt, president of Brock’s graduate students’ association. “We are excited that this student-centred approach has resulted in meaningful action to address some of the challenges students are facing.” Students’ union president Asad Jalib also applauded the move. “The leadership at Brock University continues to demonstrate that it is receptive to student needs and in touch with the student body,” said Jalib. Said Wells: “We have heard from many students, staff and faculty members that this extension will provide valuable time to rest and, in many cases, to catch up and better prepare for the winter term. “For those who are travelling or who are coming to Brock from abroad, this extra time will facilitate the completion of the mandatory self-isolation period,” she added. Niagara College had already planned to have a three-week holiday break. “Under the college’s existing schedule, fall term classes end Dec. 18, and winter term classes begin on Jan. 11,” said corporate communications manager Michael Wales “This provides students with a three-week break between terms, which we hope will give them the opportunity for a safe and restful holiday season before resuming their studies.” Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
For over five years, the owner of Runway Bridal, Brooke Miller, had been dreaming of a new space for the ever-growing bridal business. Last Thursday, Mayor Mitch Panciuk, Belleville Chamber of Commerce CEO Jill Raycroft, Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis, Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith representative David Joyce and Executive Director of the Belleville Downtown District BIA Marijo Cuerrier congratulated Miller on her new expanded boutique located at 282 Front Street. Working closely with a contractor and the property owners at 282 Front Street, Miller transformed her vision of the perfect bridal boutique into reality. “The new store is more aligned with our brand,” said Miller. “It’s warm yet modern and elegant. It also gives me a chance to grow the business further.” The new space for Runway Bridal features over 2,000 square feet of shopping space that will allow for exciting opportunities and events in the future. The new boutique also has large private changing rooms and plenty of Instagram worthy backdrops. “Moving your business is scary at any time, but I’m happy I did it, there will never truly be a perfect time” said Miller. “With COVID restrictions we could only have one appointment at our old location. With this beautiful new space, we can double our capacity, and when the pandemic settles, even more clients at one time.” Runway Bridal provides individual and unforgettable service in the locally owned boutique, showcasing some of the most sought-after exclusive wedding dresses in the area. From veils and jewelry to bridesmaids’ dresses, tuxedos, prom dresses, Runway Bridal offers the complete formal wear experience. Runway Bridal is a full-service bridal boutique that offers clients a fun and exciting experience. The boutique has drawn attention from brides seeking the perfect dress across the country. Runway Bridal has begun planning for wedding and prom seasons for 2021 and encourage residents interested in visiting the boutique to schedule an appointment online at www.runwaybridal.ca or call 613-966-0122.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
OTTAWA — Key elements from the federal government's fiscal update, delivered by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Monday afternoon:A boatload of borrowing. The federal deficit is sailing toward $381.6 billion this year, but could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks, according to the fall economic statement. A big reason for that eye-popping sum is the total cost of Ottawa's response to COVID-19, which amounts to $490.7 billion. That also means more than $8 out of every $10 in federal and provincial support comes from the capital, down from $9 out of every $10 from the July fiscal snapshot.The "Netflix tax." For the first time, Netflix and other foreign streaming giants such as Amazon and Apple TV+ will be subject to sales tax in Canada, according to the fiscal update. The government says GST/HST will apply to all companies that provide digital services — which means Netflix and Airbnb would charge sales tax on subscriptions and reservations north of the border. While the European Union moved to tax digital platforms two years ago, Freeland said Canada is prepared to act "unilaterally if necessary."Work-from-home tax break. Employees working from home with "modest expenses" in 2020 can claim up to $400, based on time spent at the dining-room desk. Canadians can make the claim "without the need to track detailed expenses," and the tax man "will generally not request" confirmation from employers, the economic statement says.Increasing fiscal-stabilization payments. Responding to a call from provinces whose finances have taken a beating, the Liberals say they will increase the maximum payment under a program designed to help provincial governments deal with temporary economic shocks. The cap will go from $60 per resident, set in 1987, to $170 per person and increase with economic growth.Support the troops. The government is also proposing to sign off on an additional $600,000 to top up the Veterans Emergency Fund that would ensure more financial support for veterans whose well-being is at risk "due to an urgent and unexpected situation."All the wage. For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of company payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March. The Trudeau government had previously extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to the summer, while the adapted business-rent subsidy — revised from a less popular iteration that hinged on landlord participation — was slated only to continue through the end of the year.Clean water for Indigenous communities. The government is pledging to invest $1.5 billion in 2020-21 to work toward lifting all long-term drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities, and $114 million each year after. The Liberals have maintained a years-long pledge to lift all outstanding boil-water advisories for Indigenous residents by March 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that about 95 advisories had been lifted since the party came to power in 2015, but more than 60 remained the last time figures were updated before the pandemic.A $100-billion stimulus. The government plans to spend between $70 billion and $100 billion over the next three years to stimulate the economic recovery from COVID-19. The boon amounts to between three and four per cent of GDP, and will tilt toward a "greener, more innovative" bounce-back, though the details are to be determined.Get retrofit. Ottawa is aiming to dole out $2.6 billion over seven years to help homeowners make their digs more efficient, starting in 2020-21. The cash, channelled through Natural Resources Canada, would take the form of up to 700,000 grants of $5,000 or less to help with projects that could range from energy-efficient heating to solar-panel installations. The upcoming plan, with eligibility retroactive to December 2020, fulfils a Liberal election promise from last year.Cash for families. Looking to boost temporary support for parents, the Liberals plan to provide up to $1,200 per child under six years old for low- and middle-income families that are entitled to the Canada Child Benefit, starting next year. The bump marks an increase of nearly 20 per cent above the benefit's current maximum payment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, at Strathmore High School, the show must go on. The school’s students are putting on a production of A Miracle Worker, a three-act play by William Gibson based on the autobiography of Hellen Keller, a deaf-blind author, activist and lecturer. The production started in September, but rehearsals did not start until October, explained teacher Deanne Bertsch. “It’s been a pretty fast rehearsal process for these guys, especially because it’s a double cast,” said Bertsch, referring to how two groups of actors are each performing separate shows for the production. “So, we’re double rehearsing everything, just to give more students a chance to be in the play.” A Miracle Worker is a personal story for Bertsch, as her grandfather, an ophthalmologist, was once Keller’s eye doctor in New York. “She (Keller) was always a huge hero for him,” said Bertsch. “He had all her books beside his bed, and he loves telling his grandkids that story of how he knew Helen Keller. “I just think this is a wonderful story about love, and because I’m a teacher, I love the story of Annie Sullivan and how she never gave up on Helen – it’s inspiring.” Last semester, the school’s performance of High School Musical was shut down due to COVID-19, so the students have been happy and grateful to be back on and around the stage, said Bertsch. “We’re really excited to be able to do this.” The rehearsals are being filmed in case the production is shut down again. But for now, they are planning five performances, nightly from Dec. 6 to 9 at 7 p.m., and a daytime performance for the school on Dec. 9, with the two casts alternating performances. Some of the students are jumping between roles in each production, such as Elise Marleau, who is playing Keller in one of the shows, during which she said she gets to act “absolutely insane,” and multiple minor characters in the other. “It’s really hectic,” said Marleau. “But I really like playing Helen, especially during the table scene because you throw food at people. It’s so weird to be playing someone with no lines, yet I’m acting their life.” As one of the stage managers, Sara Morse has quite a few tasks at hand. “Usually we just go over the blocking and make sure the actors are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and their movements are correct (and) making sure that their lines are good,” she said. While it is Morse’s first time as manager, she is no stranger to the stage, having played the witch in last year’s production of A Witch in the Wardrobe. “It’s cool to be stage manager to see other aspects of how theatre works,” she added. The main difference brought by the pandemic is the students having to wear masks, clear plastic coverings that sit over the students’ mouths. Wearing masks through the production has brought some difficulties, said Morse. “It’s been tough – when it comes to food, we can’t really feed them and it messes with the sound of your voice a bit,” she said. Playing the characters gave the students perspective into the life of Keller and the others in her story. “Anne Sullivan is really stubborn,” said Jordyn Shawcross, who plays the teacher instrumental in developing Keller’s ability to communicate. “She really had to be with Keller and all of these people telling her couldn’t do it – but she taught the unteachable.” Shawcross is “incredibly grateful” to participate in the play despite the pandemic. “I’ve always wanted to be in a play and COVID took a lot from me, so it was the one thing we still got to do,” she said. “Despite everything, we still get to do it, and I’m thankful for Miss Bertsch trudging through all of this and still doing it with us.”Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Saskatchewan now has the third-highest rate of cases in Canada, behind the two other prairie provinces Manitoba and Alberta. Saskatchewan reported 325 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases of COVID-19 in the province was 307 per 100,000 population as of Sunday. The province reported two more deaths due to COVID-19.The two residents who died after testing positive for COVID-19 lived in the south central and south east zones. Both individuals were in the 80 and up age category. A total of 47 deaths have been reported in the province since the beginning of the pandemic.Of the 8,564 total reported cases in Saskatchewan, 3,879 are considered active. A total of 4,638 people have recovered to date, with 49 recovered on Monday. Saskatoon is the hot spot with 125 new cases announced Monday. Of the other new cases, nine are located in the far north west, 14 in the far north east, 23 in the north west, 27 in the north central, nine in the north east, one in the central west, 10 in the central east, 62 in Regina 22 in the south west eight in the south central and 13 in the south east zones.Two of the new cases have pending locations.There are currently 123 people in hospital due to COVID-19, 100 of whom are receiving general impatient care. One patient is in the far north west, eight are in the north west, eight are in the north central, three are in the north east, 33 are in Saskatoon, one is in the central east, 26 are in Regina, one is in the south west, one is in the south central and 18 are in the south east zones.Twenty-three people are in intensive care, with three in the north central, 14 in Saskatoon and six in Regina.Cut down on contactsThe province is asking Saskatchewan residents to keep their contacts low. Based on the current confirmed cases, public health estimates that there are more than 6,600 reported contacts requiring follow-up in the province. According to the province, a close contact is anyone that you have spent 15 minutes or more with, within the two metres of physical distancing. The province also notes: * You should be able to count your close contacts on one hand. * Your close contacts should be the members of your immediate household who you eat with, hug and see without requiring a mask. * Although not close contacts, the province asks residents to consider all their weekly contacts whether in the classroom or at the workplace.
IQALUIT, Nunavut — Nunavut is to start lifting a two-week lockdown on Wednesday as more people infected with COVID-19 recover. The lockdown that shuttered all schools and non-essential businesses was put in place on Nov. 18 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus that first appeared in the territory early this month.Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory's chief public health officer, said Monday that 73 people had recovered from COVID-19 and 108 cases remained active. There were also four new cases, bringing Nunavut's total to 181.No one who contracted COVID-19 in Nunavut has been hospitalized. Patterson said that's partly because more than half of the infections have been in residents under the age of 40.Only Arviat, which had 86 active cases, will remain in lockdown for at least another two weeks, said Paterson. Travel to the community will still be restricted."Until we can be absolutely certain that there is no community transmission of COVID-19 in Arviat, restrictions will remain in effect for that community," Patterson told a news conference. Arviat is experiencing "an infectious disease outbreak in crowded housing," so cases might continue to rise for a bit longer, he added."There is a chance that it will continue to spread for a little bit even within the houses that we've identified." There were still eight active cases in Rankin Inlet and 14 in Whale Cove, but Patterson said there has been no community transmission in either community, so restrictions can be eased. "We've identified all the houses that have cases of COVID-19 and all recent transmission in those two communities has been related to the people living in those houses," he said. "The risk of it spreading elsewhere is small and less than the harms associated with the very strict measures that are in place."Arviat, Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove are all coastal communities in the Kivalliq region on the western edge of Hudson Bay and have borne the brunt of the outbreak.Schools will be allowed to open in both Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove, but elementary school students will attend three days a week and high school students will attend two days weekly on staggered schedules. Government offices and all businesses will be allowed to open, but physical distancing will have to be maintained.Travel to and from Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet will also be allowed starting Wednesday, but Patterson said his office still strongly advises against non-essential travel.Outdoor gatherings in the two communities will be restricted to 50 people, while gatherings in homes will have to stick to household members plus 10 others. Arenas have to remain closed, as well as hair salons and barber shops. Restaurants can only be open for takeout. Gyms will only be able to offer space for solo workouts.In communities with no COVID-19 cases, students will attend school two to three days a week on staggered schedules.Restaurants will be allowed to open at half capacity. Businesses will be able to operate as long as people maintain physical distancing. Outdoor gatherings will be restricted to 50 people and gatherings in homes will be limited to the household plus 15 people. Arenas and personal services will also be able to resume.Patterson warned that if another outbreak were to occur, restrictions would be reintroduced. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
Despite a "significant outbreak" of COVID-19 at the Calgary Remand Centre, there are reports of inmates being triple-bunked, according to defence lawyers sounding the alarm on conditions at the northwest facility. During her afternoon update, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw identified 41 cases at CRC, up from just three last Tuesday.According to a report prepared last week, the CRC has capacity for 34 infected inmates.The CRC is now on total lockdown. Inmates who are mid-trial — including one murder trial — are not allowed to leave the CRC for court and even CCTV appearances have been cancelled. CRC is a secure holding facility for those awaiting trial or a bail hearing. Many, if not all, of the inmates there have not been convicted of the charges they are facing. "It's grossly negligent," said Tom Engel, an Edmonton defence lawyer and president of the Canadian Prison Law Association."It's disturbing to hear about a client triple-bunking and someone tests positive, and they just leave them in that situation. I don't know how they could think this is appropriate."Engel called it a "significant outbreak" taking place in several units. Hinshaw said AHS is working to ensure strict protocols are maintained with aggressive testing underway.Masks are just now being provided to inmates. Previously, only those leaving the facility would have access to a mask.Defence lawyer Chad Haggerty says he has a client who is triple-bunked with new protocols only allowing inmates allowed to leave their cells for 1.5 to 2 hours a day.Alberta Health Services has previously stated provincial facilities are complying with COVID-19 safety protocols but some inmates say that's not the case. "I keep hearing from prisoners that what the government and AHS are saying about compliance with COVID protocols in Alberta jails is just completely false."New transfers to the Calgary Remand Centre spend 14 days on a quarantine unit. If they develop symptoms, they're moved to an isolation unit.The director of the Calgary Remand Centre was scheduled to meet with the Health Ministry Monday afternoon.
OTTAWA — Advocates of stricter gun control are urging the Trudeau government to get on with promised reforms, saying they are months overdue. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has pledged new measures, including a buyback of recently outlawed firearms, tougher storage provisions and steps to control handguns. Heidi Rathjen, coordinator of the group PolySeSouvient, told an online news conference Monday that several months later there are no signs of progress on legislation. "We urge minister Blair to return to the gun file with force and to aim to meet his commitments without delay." The plea came days before the Dec. 6 anniversary of the shootings of 14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique, which Rathjen witnessed as a student. The federal government outlawed a wide range of firearms by cabinet order in May, including the one used at Polytechnique, saying the guns were designed for the battlefield, not hunting or sport shooting. The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons, meaning they can no longer be legally used, sold or imported. The measure has met with stiff criticism from some firearms owners and the federal Conservatives, who question the value of the ban. Blair has promised to follow the move with legislative changes to further tighten restrictions on firearms. “There is more to do, and we’re committed to doing it," Blair's spokeswoman, Mary-Liz Power, said Monday. "We will introduce legislation designed to deliver on the promises that we made to Canadians in the last election." PolySeSouvient wants to see the new prohibitions on assault-style guns, brought in through regulation, embedded into law to complete the ban and render it permanent — something the Liberal government has signalled it will do. It also wants the Liberals to legislate a system of pre-authorization for guns to ensure only new models inspected and authorized by the RCMP can enter the Canadian market. Blair has said the coming legislation will create a new evergreen framework for classification of firearms to ensure federal intentions can’t be easily overridden. But also on Monday, Blair announced a three-year delay in setting regulations for "marking" guns so they can be traced to registered owners if they're seized in connection with crimes. Those rules were due to kick in Tuesday after years of previous delays. His department said that without clear record-keeping requirements for some guns, it isn't sure how to to connect markings to owners. But it said it's committed to a marking system nonetheless, if not right away. "The government will not reintroduce the long-gun registry," the announcement concluded. Eyeing the next wave of federal legislation, PolySeSouvient also wants the government to: — Limit firearm magazines to five bullets to reduce the damage a mass shooter can do; — Give police officers easier access to commercial sales record data to help detect bulk gun purchases; — Invest significant efforts and resources in strengthening the screening and monitoring of gun-licence applicants and licensed owners; — End the importation and manufacture of handguns. The Trudeau government plans to empower provinces and cities to take steps to manage the storage and use of handguns within their individual jurisdictions, given that they have different needs and concerns. PolySeSouvient has counselled the government to avoid off-loading handgun restrictions onto municipalities, saying local bans are generally ineffective, as the patchwork of local and state laws in the United States shows. According to the RCMP the number of restricted firearms — predominantly handguns — registered to individuals or businesses rose to 1,057,418 last year from 983,792 in 2018. Claire Smith and Ken Price, whose daughter survived a Toronto shooting in July 2018, pressed Monday for a ban on the private ownership of handguns. "It's been over two years since our daughter was shot," Price said during the news conference. "And from our perspective, there has been zero legislative progress on handguns and the situation keeps getting worse." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
Tensions are rising in Lambton Shores as a contentious plan to tackle gypsy moths goes before council Tuesday, a report one community group is blasting as a “do-nothing” approach. After Port Franks and the surrounding area were ravaged by an outbreak of the invasive insects this summer, some residents mobilized into the Gypsy Moth Citizens Action Group, pushing for a municipally-led insecticide spray to combat the infestation. Romayne Smith-Fullerton, a spokesperson for the group which represents about 4,000 residents in more than 12 subdivisions, says that option was never properly considered by staff and is urging them to reconsider. “(The report) did not investigate, compare or evaluate the merits of a municipally-led spray programme against a privately-organized effort,” she said. “(It) provided council with inadequate information because it assumed one path forward.” The gypsy moth report – originally sent to council Nov. 10 – includes recommendations like creating a webpage to advise residents of resources to combat gypsy moths, and not objecting to any spraying on private properties adjacent to municipal property. Council voted 5-4 to defer the report until Dec. 1, citing the need for more public feedback. But Smith-Fullerton is calling into question the municipality’s openness on the issue. She said her request to present to council on behalf of the citizen’s group was denied without sound reasoning. Both Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber and Clerk Stephanie Troyer-Boyd cited COVID-19 safety restrictions as the reason why public presentations are disallowed. At the beginning of the pandemic, many municipalities, including Lambton Shores, amended their procedure bylaws to switch to electronic meetings; including a caveat that public presentations could be denied. But Lambton Shores’ council has been meeting in person since the fall, with the procedure bylaw stating, “the Mayor or Clerk may deny delegations to council during an electronic meeting.” Troyer-Boyd did not respond to a request to clarify if the policy had been extended to in-person meetings. Meanwhile, a transit presentation is on the Dec. 1 agenda. Weber said the presenter is a staff member, adding some presentations have been allowed at past meetings for statutory or Planning Act matters. “COVID is a bit of a convenient excuse to stifle democracy,” Smith-Fullerton said, adding she’s filed a complaint with the Ontario Ombudsman. “I deserve an explanation,” she said. “They’re not playing by the rules as far as I can see. There are inconsistencies in their policy.” Council previously waved the restriction in July, allowing Smith-Fullerton to present virtually on the gypsy moth issue. A written delegation from the citizens' group has been accepted for Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s very weird to feel like this is a matter that is clearly of high public interest … And yet, the person who is the spokesperson for thousands of people right across this municipality, they’re not interested in me speaking to them,” Smith-Fullerton said. “(The group) certainly have put in letters and their position and presentation has been distributed through the agenda,” Weber said. The hot-button issue and report have drawn a swarm of response from the community, with dozens of letters sent to council as correspondence — there are more than 300 pages' worth — with the vast majority advocating for an aerial spray or greater assistance from the municipality. “We need council to develop an all-encompassing bylaw that permits the municipality to treat all the infested trees. Anything less will be unsatisfactory and a waste of money,” writes Port Franks resident David Hilliard. “We call on the municipality … to take immediate and effective action to address the gypsy moth threat before damage is done to our environment and tourism economy,” says a letter from the Grand Bend and Area Chamber of Commerce. Five letters attached as correspondence to the agenda oppose a municipally-led aerial spray, a view shared by the mayor. “I believe this should be a private property matter,” Weber said. Lambton Shores chief administrator, Kevin Williams, who drafted the report, did not answer questions emailed to him by The Free Press about the subject. “Let’s see what happens at Council" Tuesday night, he said. He previously said no environmental assessment on the extent of defoliation caused by the insects was ordered, nor was an egg mass assessment. Widespread spraying of a bacteria — bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki, referred to as Btk, — to control caterpillar pests has been the route taken in other municipalities in the past, including Sarnia and Pelham, as well as in parts of big cities such as Toronto and Hamilton. Many residents say it’s vital the municipality takes a lead in combatting the caterpillars as they pose serious threats to personal health and Port Frank’s diverse tree canopy. MaxMartin@postmedia.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Madi Muggridge was 13 when she first reached out to a suicide hotline. After searching online for somewhere to turn, she found a chat-based crisis service and sent a note asking for help. Several hours passed with no response. “I sat there for three hours with the (screen) in front of me, and no one ever got on,” Muggridge said. “It really disappointed me, and I felt more alone than when I even started trying to contact them.” Muggridge’s sense of helplessness quickly grew. She wrote a suicide note the next day for her parents and left the house. It was only after a loved one reached out in time that she turned back home. “My family was able to get me help, but I know not everyone has that support system,” she said. Six years later, Muggridge, now 19 and living in London, Ont., is working towards ensuring every Canadian has support to turn to when they need it. Inspired by a U.S. decision in July to create a three-digit national suicide hotline, Muggridge quickly launched a Change.org campaign asking Canadian lawmakers to do the same. But she is also calling on politicians to take it a step further and implement a national dispatch service for people experiencing a mental health crisis that is separate from police and 911 services, citing incidents where people were harmed or killed by police during wellness checks. Now, members of the federal Conservative Party are listening, and have called on the prime minister to implement a 988 hotline in Canada. But the political will towards making the line a reality does not include the emergency dispatch service Muggridge hopes for — at least not yet. Todd Doherty, the MP for Cariboo-Prince George and the special adviser on mental health and wellness to Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, began the conversation in the House of Commons by tabling a motion in October calling for the creation of a 988 line. He said it would be similar to the 10-digit line currently run by Crisis Services Canada, but it would be a streamlined, three-digit line that would be easier for people in crisis to remember. Muggridge, however, sees that as only a start, and hopes the line will evolve to also offer dispatch services separate from police to those in crisis. “If some day they were able to make it a number that is more of an emergency line for mental health, where people can come to you, that would be the best overall outcome,” she said. Muggridge’s petition, which launched in July and has garnered almost 30,000 signatures, said a three-digit number separate from 911 ensures “individuals will instead be met with the people who are most adequately trained to help them,” like medical and mental health professionals. The petition also mentions people in crisis have been “killed or harmed after police are called for a mental health emergency,” and that risk is especially high for those who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour. “I feel 911 is overwhelmed with so many mental health emergencies, and I also feel like they’re not always the most equipped to deal with them,” Muggridge told the Star. Police forces in Canada, such as the Toronto Police Service and the York Regional Police Service, have Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams that include social workers and nurses to assist officers during a mental health crisis call. Toronto police’s team responded to more than 6,400 calls in 2019, according to police. But calls persist in Toronto and elsewhere to implement mental health crisis services that are entirely separate from police, particularly following the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, an Afro-Indigenous Toronto woman who died in May after police were called to her apartment for a mental health issue. Currently, the U.S. line, which was approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act for a 2022 rollout, does not include dispatch services. It will also not replace the national, 10-digit suicide hotline and will instead work alongside it. The American line will cost around $570 million (U.S.) in its first year, according to a report by the FCC. Almost half of that amount will be a one-time fee to replace the phone infrastructure necessary to implement the line across the United States. In an interview with the Star, Doherty lauded the U.S. decision as a game-changer and one that should be followed swiftly and harmoniously in Canada. “We want to try to remove every barrier possible for those that are seeking help,” Doherty said, adding it’s especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, where calls to national suicide hotlines in Canada increased over 200 per cent. “This is a non-partisan issue,” Doherty said, adding it is about saving lives. Since tabling his motion, Doherty has contacted Muggridge and shared her petition online to signal growing support for a 988 line. He has also brought up the idea several times in the House of Commons while his motion awaits debate, asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Health Minister Patty Hajdu to commit to implementing the line. John Barlow, the Conservative MP for Foothills, on Thursday also called on the government to set up the 988 system in Canada, citing a growing suicide and opioid overdose crisis in Alberta. Hajdu responded on the floor and said she is “very interested” in the idea of a hotline, though she called on Barlow to encourage Alberta to reverse its decision of closing a safe consumption site in the province, “which is making it harder for people who use opioids to stay alive.” Absent from any discourse on the political floor, however, is Muggridge’s call to develop a nationwide dispatch line for those in a mental health crisis. Doherty said he had no problem with the idea of implementing a dispatch line separate from police. But the focus at the moment, he added, is to implement a national suicide prevention hotline that is easily accessible. “We know an abundance of calls for RCMP or police or fire and paramedics are in response to mental health crisis calls, and sometimes they’re not the ones that are the most equipped,” Doherty said. But what the final iteration of the three-digit line will look like, he added, is to be determined by others, including government and national mental associations. “I think the critical first step right now is getting the minister to agree that we need to bring that simple three-digit number,” he said. Muggridge, who is currently focused on following her passion of becoming an animal protection officer, said she is thankful there is political will behind implementing a more easily accessible national crisis line after her disappointing experience of reaching out for help. Though she reiterated that a three-digit crisis line is only the first step, and she hopes her calls to implement a mental health emergency dispatch line separate from police will not be drowned out. “I’m hoping it starts with the crisis line,” Muggridge said, a step that she said may force politicians to reimagine what responses to mental health crises could look like in the future. If you are thinking of suicide or know someone who is, there is help. Resources are available online at crisisservicescanada.ca or you can connect to the national suicide prevention helpline at 1-833-456-4566, or the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868. Nadine Yousif is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering mental health. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Follow her on Twitter: @nadineyousif_ Nadine Yousif, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
VICTORIA — The B.C. government has launched a new land registry that it says will help combat money laundering and make the real estate market more transparent. Beginning Monday, any corporation, trustee or partnership that buys land in B.C. must disclose the interest holders of that land through the Land Owner Transparency Registry.Existing registered land owners have one year to register and disclose their interest holders. The government says in a news release the information provided may be used by tax and law authorities to investigate and crack down on illegal activity. It says the registry was formed after an expert panel on real estate said the disclosure of beneficial ownership is the "single most important measure" that can be taken to address money laundering.The panel's 2019 report estimated that $7.4 billion was laundered through B.C. in 2018, including $5 billion through real estate. "British Columbians expect that when they buy a home, they are entering a housing market based on fairness. But for decades, that didn't happen when they were in competition with fraudsters flush with illicit cash," Finance Minister Selina Robinson said in a news release. "This first-of-its-kind registry will help return transparency and moderation to housing markets throughout B.C."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press