The cousin of Antoinette Traboulsi, who was found dead on a beach in Cuba earlier this month, says Global Affairs Canada confirmed an arrest has been made in her death. Traboulsi, a 52-year-old Montrealer who worked at Sacré-Coeur Hospital and had four children, often vacationed in Cuba, which her cousin, Sami Soussa, called her second home.Soussa says the only information he received from Global Affairs was that an arrest had been made and that a suspect is in custody. He says he was given no details about the person's identity. But he says he's received eight messages from people he doesn't know, all pointing to one person they believe is responsible for her death."We're getting hopeful with the situation but at the same time it's not a lot of info for us to cheer and claim victory. But it does give a little light in our days," Soussa said. "The family is pretty happy with this information, but at the same time we're trying to be reasonable until we get the full conviction of the suspect."
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Trump administration on Wednesday effectively killed a contentious proposed mine in Alaska, a gold and copper prospect once envisioned to be nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon and could produce enough waste to fill an NFL stadium nearly 3,900 times — all near the headwaters of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.The Army Corps of Engineers “concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest” and denied a permit to build the Pebble Mine under both the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act, the agency said in a statement.The rejection was a surprise. It's at odds with President Donald Trump’s efforts to encourage energy development in Alaska, including opening up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and other moves nationwide to roll back environmental protections that would benefit oil and gas and other industries.The Corps of Engineers also seemed to signal just a few months ago that after almost two decades of political wrangling, Pebble Mine was on a fast track to approval, a reversal from what many had expected under the Obama administration.But unlike drilling elsewhere in Alaska, the mine proposed for the southwestern Bristol Bay region could have negatively affected the state's billion-dollar fishing industry. Conservationists and even Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., sounded the alarm on the project before the administration changed course again.The CEO of the Pebble Limited Partnership, the mine’s developers, said he was dismayed by the decision, especially after the corps had indicated in an environmental impact statement in July that the mine and fishery could coexist.“One of the real tragedies of this decision is the loss of economic opportunities for people living in the area,” CEO John Shively said in a statement. The environmental review “clearly describes those benefits, and now a politically driven decision has taken away the hope that many had for a better life. This is also a lost opportunity for the state’s future economy.”He said they are considering their next steps, which could include an appeal of the corps’ decision.“Today Bristol Bay’s residents and fishermen celebrate the news that Pebble’s permit has been denied; tomorrow we get back to work,” said Katherine Carscallen, executive director of the group Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay.The group wants Congress to pass laws protecting the region. “We’ve learned the hard way over the last decade that Pebble is not truly dead until protections are finalized,” Carscallen said.In July, the Corps of Engineers released an environmental review that the mine developer saw as laying the groundwork for key federal approvals. The review said that under normal operations, Pebble Mine “would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers and result in long-term changes to the health of the commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay.”However, in August, the corps said it had determined that discharges at the mine site would cause “unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources” and laid out required steps to reduce those effects.Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., which owns Pebble Limited Partnership, said it had submitted a mitigation plan on Nov. 16.Even if the corps had approved the project, there was still no guarantee it would have been built. It would have needed state approval, and President-elect Joe Biden has expressed opposition to the project.Critics saw Pebble Mine as getting a lifeline under the Trump administration. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew restrictions on development that were proposed — but never finalized — under the Obama administration and said it planned to work with the corps to address concerns.However, Trump’s eldest son was among those who voiced opposition earlier this year. After senior Trump campaign adviser Nick Ayers tweeted in August that he hoped the president would direct the EPA to block Pebble Mine, Trump Jr. responded: “As a sportsman who has spent plenty of time in the area I agree 100%. The headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery are too unique and fragile to take any chances with.”The president later said he would “listen to both sides.”“The credit for this victory belongs not to any politician but to Alaskans and Bristol Bay’s Indigenous peoples, as well as to hunters, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts from all across the country who spoke out in opposition to this dangerous and ill-conceived project," said Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League.Alaska’s two Republican U.S. senators, who support oil and gas development and mining, hailed the rejection of the Pebble Mine permit. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the decision affirmed her position that it’s the wrong mine in the wrong place.“It will help ensure the continued protection of an irreplaceable resource — Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon fishery,” she said.Sen. Dan Sullivan said he would remain an advocate for good-paying jobs derived from resource development.“However, given the special nature of the Bristol Bay watershed and the fisheries and subsistence resources downstream, Pebble had to meet a high bar so that we do not trade one resource for another,” he said. “Pebble did not meet that bar.”___Associated Press journalist Becky Bohrer in Juneau contributed to this report.Mark Thiessen, The Associated Press
The City of Toronto will ramp up winter maintenance so residents can spend more time outdoors.Mayor John Tory says the city wants people to stay active despite COVID-19, even in sub-zero temperatures. He says residents can spend time in parks alone or with members of their household during the lockdown.He says there are also 23 toboggan hills, eight new snow loops at golf courses and numerous outdoor ice rinks.The rinks will have a capacity of 25 people to follow provincial pandemic rules. The city will also maintain an extra 60 kilometres of paved trails and pathways."Much as the pandemic makes things different, we're committed to giving people more things to do outside safely," Tory said on Wednesday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.The Canadian Press
Following a lengthy discussion and input from council, the decision to rename the pair of Colonization Roads in Fort Frances has been postponed, for now. A high-visibility item on Monday night’s town council agenda, mayor and council had the opportunity to discuss the movement to rename Colonization Road East and Colonization Road West, following a motion introduced by councillor Doug Judson last week. The impetus for the name change revolves around reports from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and a letter to municipalities from the Ontario Human Rights Council (OHRC). Both call for language pertaining to practices that are considered derogatory or racist, such as the concept of colonization, to be removed from public spaces as an act of reconciliation to Indigenous populations in Canada. A similar motion was introduced and subsequently voted down in 2017. While mayor and council were not against the idea that the names could be changed, it was decided that the town would push the process back, something mayor June Caul recommended and said was partly in response to the exceptional year Fort Frances has seen. “At this time, I believe the diligent way for council to handle this issue at hand would be to table the discussion to a later date, which will give staff an opportunity to plan and full investigate the effects on all residents, businesses and the general public,” she said. “All matters that come to council are investigated by staff, discussed in an executive committee, and then a recommendation is given to council for a decision. This has been a very busy and difficult year as we deal with COVID-19 and a loss of revenue. Now we need to try to develop a balanced budget for 2021, all while trying to determine a tax rate that will not impact our residents any further as COVID-19 continues to affect our community and residents.” While the mayor expressed her concerns surrounding the amount of work that goes into deciding the budget that town staff is already tasked with, she acknowledged that the name change is something that everyone is town should be open to learning about, if not necessarily agreeing with the change itself. “The most important decisions and policies that council should make going forward is to ensure people of all race, colour, religion, gender identity and ancestry be respected,” Caul said. “I hope people would welcome any educational opportunities to learn about the history of unfair and degrading practices not only here in our own community but around world and how those practices bullied and marginalized people for generations and still have an effect on them today. Nothing we do will erase the history of disrespect and abuse inflicted on our Indigenous people, but going forward we should be willing to learn and be understanding and sympathetic. What happened in the past still affects their lives today and will continue to affect people for generations. Our decisions going forward must create a positive outcome for all the people so that our future history does not negatively impact any group.” Councillor Judson addressed council in order to clarify the origins of his motion, and what having a road named “colonization” means to people who are coming to and visiting Fort Frances. “Since 2015, Canadians have been on a swift journey to acknowledge what has been missing in how we understand the words that tell our story,” Judson said. “That year, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its landmark report, which exposed, with evidence, the devastating inter-generational impact that ‘colonization’ has had on Indigenous people.” “When I speak to people in the community, and particularly young people with young families, they tell me that Colonization Road is an obstacle to our progress,” he continued. “When I speak to Indigenous people, they tell me that by avoiding conversations about what colonization stands for it looks like Fort Frances is only interested in the upside of reconciliation, such as economic partnership and joint strategies, without internalizing the facts of our history... While many people who think of colonization envision homesteaders moving to the Rainy River District with grants of free land to start a new life, that depiction fails to account for the toll colonization has taken on those who were already here. The choice to frame historical accounts in this way has, itself, been part of the project of colonization.” Councillor Wendy Judson, who is the only member of council who was serving at the time of the previous name change motion, offered her take on the possible difficulties of continuing with the name change at this point in time, though she continues to be supportive of the initiative. “For those of you who are not aware, I was the one dissenting vote in the last term of council to keep the name unchanged,” she said. “My reasons at the time, which remain the same, are that if we want to be seen as a welcoming and inclusive community, we need to make this change... The one concern I do have about renaming the road is that there are many residents and businesses who will have to go to Service Ontario to have their documentation changed, and in the midst of winter and a pandemic, we could possibly see long lineups outside the Service Ontario building.” While Brunetta said there would be ways to deal with this in the event the name change began, such as bringing a Service Ontario representative to a location like the council chambers to keep people out of the cold and assist with process, she reiterated that she supported the name change, whenever it is finally decided. “Changing the name will not change our past, but can change the future,” she said. “We can change how our community is viewed by visitors and neighbours. This is one small step we can take towards reconciliation. It’s short term pain for long term gain. It’s the right thing to do in my mind. I do agree mayor Caul that this is an issue we all need to really put a lot of thought into. we all take our jobs as councillor very seriously, and I would agree to delaying it or deferring it as you say, so we can get more information going forward.” Councillors Andrew Hallikas, Mike Behan, Rick Wiedenhoeft and John McTaggart all voiced their support of the mayors suggestion of not shutting down the conversation, but instead moving it further down the line in order to give it as much time and consideration as possible. The topic will be sent to the Operations and Facilities Executive Committee and the Planning and Development Executive Committees for a decision on when to bring it back before council. In a statement released following the meeting, Judson called the decision to send the item to committee for consideration a “positive development” though he noted it “does not preclude me or any other council member from bringing a resolution forward to our next meeting, on December 14.” “Obviously, there are a number of opinions on this topic and many people have practical questions,” the statement read. “That’s why I decided to defer a vote on my proposed resolution in order to give councillors more time to confer with their constituents and conduct their own independent research... I am confident that the executive committees can develop a proper timeline and process related to the request to rename Colonization Road.” Judson will also be hosting an online panel titled “Colonization in Context” on his Facebook page beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday night. The event will feature a handful of panelists who will discuss the local history of colonization and “enduring impacts of colonization in the Fort Frances area” according to the event page.Ken Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
The Salvation Army and 93.1 The Border are joining forces again this year for an event that’s a little different than what they’ve done in the past. Following the decision to hold off on their annual “Burst a Bus” program, which generally sees toys collected for the Salvation Army’s Christmas hamper program, the two organizations are going to try out a different way to ensure kids in the area get something new and exciting on Christmas morning. “Last year we had Burst A Bus, but due to the circumstances we’ve had to modify that a little bit,” said Salvation Army corps officer Arthur Heathcote. “The Border has been very inventive in coming up with 93.1 the Border Toy Drive this year. On November 28 they’ll be broadcasting all day asking children and families to come to the Salvation Army at 351 Scott Street and drop off new, unwrapped toys to us.” The 93.1 the Border Toy Drive ill run from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 28, allowing people in town to stop by the Salvation Army and drop off their toys for the organization to distribute. While the season corresponds with the Salvation Army’s Christmas hamper program, Heathcote stressed that the organization is encouraging people with food donations to drop them off sometime other than November 28. “Every family that applies for a hamper, we make sure that each child receives a toy for Christmas,” Heathcote explained. “On [Nov 28] it’s a toy drive: toys, toys, toys.” Heathcote said that throughout the day, the radio station will be holding a special broadcast with hosts David Hannah and Johnathan Price that will feature dignitaries from the Salvation Army, including Heathcote himself. However, the excitement of the day won’t just be limited to what;s on the radio. “On that day we have a very special guest coming to Fort Frances for the first time ever,” he said. “Sally Ann will be making an appearance all day at the Salvation Army. She’ll be waving at families and children from our front plate glass windows as well. She was so excited that the Border was on top of this that she cleared her schedule and is going to come down to Fort Frances and spend the day with us.” The COVID-19 pandemic has forced changes in almost every event that’s usually held in Fort Frances over the course of the year. If a function hasn’t been outright cancelled, like the Fort Frances Bass Tournament, then organizers have had to think outside and around the box to come up with a pandemic-friendly way to hold their events. The 93.1 the Border Toy Drive is functionally similar to the usual Burst a Bus in that it is collecting toys for those in need, and Heathcote said that both events are all about coming together for a good cause. “Every year this community comes through with toys,” Heathcote said. “It’s about letting people know that the community is here for them. It’s about support, and more than anything at this stage of the game, we need to know we’ve got each others back. That’s what the toys do. It’s one thing to be confronted with Christmas looming and wondering how you’re going to get toys for the kids, and just to know that the community cared enough that they came together and made sure that there were toys available for their children makes all the difference in the world.”Ken Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Cargojet Inc. says it is preparing for record levels of online shopping over the holidays as Canadians buy gifts digitally during restrictions at brick-and-mortar stores, and is taking unprecedented measures to try to keep package deliveries on time.The Mississauga-based company says it is hiring additional pilots and staff, and added a new plane to its fleet this month for the second time this year.Cargojet says it has also added flights on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to build up 20 per cent more capacity for packages, a schedule that will continue during the peak shopping season from Black Friday to early January.The air cargo company says that when stores closed for the initial COVID-19 lockdowns in March and April, cargo volumes easily surpassed levels that are usually only seen at the peak of the year — the holiday season. Now, Cargojet is predicting that volume this winter will top the spring, given that thousands of small businesses have opened online stores, and there is another wave of uncertainty around regional lockdowns. Statistics Canada also said this week that online sales are set to hit a record this year in Canada, topping 2019’s tally of $305 billion, after e-commerce doubled from February to May.“This peak is expected to be like none other,” Cargojet said on Wednesday.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX: CJT) The Canadian Press
Government and election officials frequently call on shredding companies to dispose of personal and sensitive documents that are no longer needed.But in a suburban county of Atlanta this week, those routine waste removal appointments were twisted into yet another election misinformation story when social media users falsely claimed shredding trucks were destroying ballots and “evidence of voter fraud.”The unfounded allegations continue to spread online as Georgia officials carry out a machine recount of ballots after certified results showed Joe Biden had a 12,670-vote lead over President Donald Trump. Trump requested the recount, which follows a statewide hand tally.L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who had unsuccessfully sued in an attempt to block the certification of Georgia’s election results, on Tuesday shared a series of videos taken by a Georgia resident. They showed a shredding truck outside the West Park Government Center in Marietta.“Evidence of voter fraud is being destroyed in Cobb County, GA TODAY,” Wood captioned one of his tweets. “Many people, powerful & not so powerful, are going to PRISON.”The real explanation for the truck’s visit was far less scandalous: a routine shredding of county tax documents.The county tax commissioner’s office, which shares a building with the county’s main elections office, has documents shredded twice a month, according to Ross Cavitt, communications director for the county.“No items from Cobb Elections were involved,” Cavitt told The Associated Press in an email.The false claims built on similar rumours from last week, when the same Georgia resident captured photos and video of a truck destroying election-related waste outside the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta and claimed it was evidence of “ballots being shredded.”After Wood amplified those photos and videos on Friday, Cobb County officials refuted the claim, explaining that the shredding company was summoned to destroy non-relevant election materials, as happens after all elections.“Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file,” Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, said in a statement.Some of the photos shared on Friday appeared to show a trash can with a paper labeled “ABSENTEE BALLOT” inside. But Eveler said that was an inner privacy envelope used by voters to seal absentee ballots, and had “no evidentiary value.” County officials will hold on to the actual absentee ballots, as well as the outer envelopes signed by voters, for two years.Wood did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.Despite the county’s responses, Wood’s tweets with the debunked claims continued to receive massive engagement on Wednesday, collectively amassing more than 200,000 retweets. And a separate Facebook user’s post falsely claiming a shredding company was “hired by Democrats” to destroy evidence was viewed nearly 150,000 times.County officials told the AP they have not seen any evidence of fraud or anomalies in vote tabulation in the 2020 election.“People nowadays, they post stuff immediately without asking any questions and without any proper context, and it spreads like wildfire,” Cavitt said of the false claims.Jude Joffe-Block And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press
OTTAWA, Ill. — Canada's watchdog for crime victims is calling on Parliament to overhaul their bill of rights, saying the five-year-old legislation has fallen "far short" of delivering on its promise.Rules meant to amplify victims' voices in the justice system have failed to make them heard following "sporadic" implementation of a regime that needs more teeth, clarity and public awareness, federal ombudsman Heidi Illingworth said in a report Wednesday."The situation of victims of crime has not fundamentally changed since it was passed," she wrote.The previous Conservative government introduced what it called a victims' bill of rights in 2015 that allowed crime victims to get information about offenders in the corrections system and have their views considered when decisions are made about those perpetrators.Illingworth said the legislation should be amended to provide a legal remedy for violations, such as allowing victims to formally challenge authorities on whether their rights have been honoured."There was no right to appeal, there was no right to seek damages," Illingworth said Wednesday in a phone interview.The 2015 statute was an important firs step but "really more of a statement of principles," she added. "It did not give people real rights, because in law you have to be able to have a remedy for rights to be real."The justice system demands heavy lifting from people subjected to a criminal act, including those involved in the 2.2 million crimes reported to police each year."They are expected to report the crime, provide evidence, bear witness, be cross-examined on the stand and relive their traumas over and over again as they tell their truths — yet we provide them with little assistance to do so," Illingworth wrote."Unsupported victims are less likely to come forward. When victims are not treated as full partners in the criminal justice system, the system is less effective."Victims should automatically receive information about their rights, rather than having to ask for it, she said.Up to two-thirds of crime victims do not go to the police, said Irvin Waller, professor emeritus in criminology at the University of Ottawa.Other reforms demanded in the report include a simplified complaint process filtered entirely through the ombudsman's office rather than a patchwork of agencies, more clearly defined obligations for criminal justice officials and more funding to train front-line workers in treating victims with "courtesy, compassion and respect."The ombudsman is also calling for better data collection by courts, prisons and law enforcement agencies to understand police interactions with targeted populations, including Indigenous women and LGBTQ individuals."We know that there’s distrust, and this is especially concerning among communities of colour, racialized communities, Indigenous people. And how survivors of sexual violence are cheated by the justice system has been very, very problematic," Illingworth said.Waller pointed to England and France as models on training guidelines for officials and restitution for victims, respectively. He said up to half of French criminal cases result in restitution payments, access to which should be guaranteed, according to the ombudsman's report.In contrast to Canada, France also grants victims legal "standing" to appeal to courts for review when their rights are not upheld."We are a long, long way behind these countries," Waller said.Illingworth's report further recommends amendments that commit to core funding for community-based restorative justice programs as well as a list of officials who have direct responsibilities to crime victims.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
COVID-19 outbreak at St. Martin school continues to grow. The outbreak was first declared at the elementary school in Smithville on Nov. 19. Two new cases were added on Nov. 23, bringing the total to four. The Niagara Catholic District School Board said there are now nine cases. The school has been in official outbreak status since last Thursday when the second case was confirmed. The first case was confirmed Nov. 13. NCDSB said since that time, the number of new cases at the school as grown to nine; however not all the cases so far have been linked to the outbreak, as their origin has not been determined. Niagara Region Public Health continues to investigate the situation. Two classes at the school will now be required to self-isolate for 14 days a result of the newly reported cases. Public health said they are not recommending St. Martin close at this time, as the virus is not widespread through the school community. Onsite testing will be available at the school on Thursday for staff who have not yet been tested and will be provided by public health. NCDSB said testing for staff at St. Martin is recommended, but not mandatory, while any parents of students who wish to have their children tested should do so at a an approved testing centre in Niagara.Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
When Treyton Middleton found out who was suspected of shooting his stepfather in the street outside their home on Saint John's lower west side, he looked him up on Facebook. On Wednesday afternoon, the jury heard that Middleton, now 19, sent a message to the man that night, threatening to round up some friends and kill him. In fact, when Const. Connor Bodechon arrived at 321 Duke St. West to take photos about an hour after the shooting, Justin Breau's Facebook profile is on the computer screen photographed in Middleton's bedroom. Breau, 37, is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of 42-year-old Mark Shatford. He is accused of shooting Shatford at about 4:25 a.m. on Nov. 17, 2019. Despite numerous surgeries at the Saint John Regional Hospital, Shatford died on Dec. 18. During testimony on Wednesday, Middleton said he awoke to banging and yelling in the early morning hours of Nov. 17, 2019. He peeked out of his bedroom and saw two masked men moving through the second-floor apartment where he lived with Shatford, his mother, three siblings, and his sister's boyfriend. Middleton said he followed the men down the stairs and managed to grab one of them at the front door. He said he threw the man to the ground outside and started punching him. As he continued to fight with the man, he saw his mother and Shatford pass by, heading to a vehicle parked on the street. Middleton said he continued to fight with the man until he heard a gunshot. As he turned, he said, he saw Shatford fall to the ground. He immediately went to Shatford's side. He testified that the man with the gun then pointed it at him and his mother and told them to shut up. Middleton said he tried to grab a large wrench that Shatford had dropped, but his mother wouldn't let him take it. As the vehicle pulled away, Middleton said, he threw the wrench at it but missed. What became of the wrench before police seized it in January remains unclear.Middleton and his mother, Melissa Daley, both testified they don't know how the wrench got back inside the apartment. But pictures taken by Bodechon, who arrived at the scene at 5:50 a.m., appear to show the item on top of the fridge. Bodechon took several pictures inside the home, including the one that show's the computer screen in Middleton's bedroom. "I did that on my own," Middleton said of the Facebook search. "I just wanted to see him."It was under cross-examination by defence lawyer Brian Munro that Middleton was asked about sending a Facebook message to Breau not long after the shooting. Middleton admitted sending a message that he was going to round up some people and kill Breau. He was also asked about his actions immediately after the shooting. Middleton said he went to a "buddy's" place but the person wasn't at home. He was repeatedly asked to name the "buddy" but he refused each time. "I'm not answering it," he insisted, before the jury was led out of the courtroom. After a short time — and some discussion in the absence of the jury and Middleton — the jury was brought back in and cross-examination resumed. Middleton was again asked to name the person and said it was his ex-girlfriend, Bella McCutcheon. He told the court that he called her "buddy" because they were not dating at the time. The trial is scheduled to resume Thursday morning.
VICTORIA — Doctors and nurses are being asked to support British Columbia's safe supply drug program and other substance use measures, as an average of five people a day die from illicit drug overdoses, the B.C. Coroners Service says.There were 162 overdose deaths in B.C. last month, more than double the 75 recorded in October last year.The number of deaths in each health authority is at or near the highest monthly total ever recorded, the coroners service said Wednesday in a news release. Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the supply of street drugs and is disrupting access to harm-reduction services such as supervised injection sites."We encourage clinicians to support those at risk of overdose by prescribing safe supply and reducing the numbers of lives lost to toxic substances," she said in the statement. The coroners service continues to advocate for an accessible, evidence-based and accountable treatment and recovery system for drug users, Lapointe added.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry authorized registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to prescribe pharmaceutical alternatives to street drugs in September.Before that, only doctors and nurse practitioners were able to prescribe drugs, including substitute medications for illicit-drug users.But advocates for drug users say there is still a lack of medical personnel prescribing safe, prescription alternatives to illicit drugs."They're not prescribing to the extent they should be," said Karen Ward, a drug rights advocate and a drug policy and poverty reduction consultant with the City of Vancouver."They need to be prescribing assertively and doing outreach," she said in an interview. Ward said drug users and advocates feel as if the relentless death toll is like an "ongoing tidal wave."She questioned why there is still a lack of prescribing guidelines related to Henry's September order."That was two months ago … why aren't they done? This should have been done that day," Ward said.Leslie McBain, the co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm, said she's devastated by the latest numbers from the coroners service."I don't know if it can get much worse than this for people," she said in an interview. There needs to be more people willing and able to prescribe prescription alternatives to illicit drugs, McBain said, and the provincial government needs to listen to drug users about the type of alternative drugs they want."The drugs being offered to people were not the drugs they were used to or would keep them in a balanced, stable place," she said.October is the fifth month this year that more than 160 people have died and the eighth consecutive month with more than 100 deaths.The latest toxicology testing suggests an increase in the number of cases with extreme concentrations of the opioid fentanyl between April and October compared with previous months, Lapointe said in her statement.Henry echoed Lapointe's concerns, saying the pandemic is having a devastating effect on the overdose crisis."Now more than ever, we must remove the stigma of drug use and remove the shame people feel, which keeps them from seeking help or telling friends and family," she said in a statement on Wednesday.There have been 1,386 deaths from suspected overdoses since January, nearly 400 more deaths than when a public health emergency was declared by the provincial government in April 2016.— By Nick Wells in Vancouver.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.The Canadian Press
It's a demonstrably difficult task to find a comic screen partner worthy of standing opposite Melissa McCarthy, so you have to appreciate “Superintelligence" for throwing in the towel.In it, McCarthy plays Carol Peters, a former Yahoo executive who's chosen, purely for her extreme averageness, by a newly liberated, megalomaniacal artificial intelligence that presents her with a three-day test to prove humanity isn't worth destroying. It's the kind of set-up that would have once presided over by the devil or some demigod, but now that role goes to Alexa.That means that for much of “Superintelligence," a new comedy streaming Thursday on HBO Max, McCarthy is walking around on her own, her only foil a disembodied voice (James Corden's) or an occasional talking screen. That's not as good as McCarthy with either of her best recent on-screen partners — Sandra Bullock ("The Heat"), Richard E. Grant ("Can You Forgive Me?") — but it's not bad. It means McCarthy has the movie if not completely to herself (Corden's cheery warmth still comes through, and Bobby Cannavale winningly plays her love interest) then nearly so. Even though the innocuous “Superintelligence” is on the bland side, it remains hard not to enjoy two hours with McCarthy.The more telling companion of McCarthy's in “Superintelligence” is her husband, the director Ben Falcone. This is their fourth film together with Falcone behind the camera, and it may be the best of the bunch. That, however, isn't saying much considering their run of “Life of the Party" (2018), “The Boss” (2016) and “Tammy” (2014). Those films have their moments, and they're always shot-through with affection for their leading lady. But they're easily the weaker, more forgettable side of McCarthy's filmography.“Superintelligence," written by Steve Mallory, is the most high-concept of their films together, and it's ultimately an excuse to bring apocalyptic stakes to a rom-com plot. Faced with the possible end of the world, Carol resolves to reconnect with an old flame (Cannavale). Their chemistry together is easy and relaxed, if not especially funny. The cast overall feels wasted, especially the supporting performances of Brian Tyree Henry (as a computer scientist), Jean Smart (the president) and Sam Richardson — the talented “Veep” performer who I sincerely hope soon gets his own movie. Like a lot of studio comedies of late, it feels like there's space here for jokes that mostly never quite got filled in.The real romance in “Superintelligence” might not be between any of the characters, but McCarthy and Falcone (who also makes his typical cameo). Their collaborations are uneven but warmhearted, and their movies together feel like an almost sweet sacrifice of quality for the sake of family.“Superintelligence,” a Warner Bros. release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for some suggestive material, language and thematic elements. Running time: 105 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPJake Coyle, The Associated Press
A B.C. mother says she is furious after her daughter and other Grade 6 students were given homework asking them to highlight "positive" stories and facts about Canada's residential school system for Indigenous children.The Abbotsford School District said it is investigating after being made aware of the assignment Wednesday.Krista Macinnis, 31, said her 11-year-old daughter was given the assignment in a class at William A. Fraser Middle School.It directs students to: "Write at least 5+ positive stories/facts from the residential schools from three different websites." Macinnis and her children are First Nations. Her ancestry comes from the Cree and Blackfoot nations. She expressed her disgust in a TikTok video, decrying the "whitewashing [of] the rape of our culture, the theft of our people and the genocide of just everything in general when it comes to First Nations people."WATCH | Macinnis explains why the assignment is so offensive:Residential schools across Canada removed Indigenous children from their families from the 1800s and well into the 1900s, often transporting them far from home, where they weren't allowed to speak their own language and were often physically, emotionally or sexually abused. The system has been blamed for damaging Indigenous traditions and family ties.It is estimated 150,000 youth went through residential schools and that several thousand died in the system.Macinnis said she first saw the assignment when she was making dinner for her family. Her daughter came to her for help with it."I was just appalled by it," she told CBC News. "When I saw it in writing with my own eyes I began to shake uncontrollably. I began to cry. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was in complete shock."Macinnis said she had not yet explained the history and consequences of residential schools to her children.She says she believes kids should learn about the negative impacts of the schools and sees nothing positive about them. 'Not acceptable,' district saysAbbotsford School District superintendent Kevin Godden said the school's principal has apologized to parents for the assignment."We are deeply sorry for any harm caused to the parents, students, families and the Indigenous community at large," Godden said in a statement."Assignments like this are not acceptable. This incident is a disservice to the district's commitment to truth and reconciliation."The district said the assignment is not a reflection of its teaching workforce.It added: "As this is a personnel matter, no further information is available at this time." B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming said the province had contacted the district about the assignment."Any teachings that detract or dismiss the realities of residential schools have no place in our education system," Fleming said in his statement. "It is critically important for students to learn that this past legacy of abuse has created and continue to present a devastating legacy of the multi-generational impacts of residential schools."Macinnis commended the school for reaching out to her but said she wants more than an apology. She wants to see accountability and to make sure students aren't given assignments like this again."I want to know how this slipped through the cracks and was even able to get into the classroom," Macinnis said."There needs to be actions behind these words or else nothing is going to change."
Two men accused of human trafficking appeared in Saskatoon Provincial Court Nov. 24 and Nov. 25. There is now a court ordered ban on publication of the two men’s names. At their first appearance the court placed a publication ban on the identity of the woman who was allegedly being held captive by the two men. One man is a 23-year-old from Kindersley and the other is a 30-year-old from Saskatoon. The Kindersley man is charged with trafficking persons, material benefit from trafficking, two counts of uttering threats, theft under $5,000, breach of a release order, and breach of a conditional sentence order. He was denied bail. The Saskatoon man is charged with trafficking persons, uttering threats, and two counts of breach of a release order. He was granted bail during a show cause hearing in October. The Saskatoon Police Guns and Gang Unit arrested the two men in the 1500 block of Rayner Avenue on July 2. The Guns and Gang Unit became involved after the Saskatoon Police received a report June 29 that a 23-year-old woman was being held at a residence over a period of time. The Saskatoon VICE Human Trafficking Unit assisted police and warrants were issued for the two men. The Saskatoon man is scheduled to appear in Saskatoon Provincial court Dec. 10 to enter a plea and elect how he wants to be tried. The Kindersley man is scheduled to appear in Saskatoon Provincial Court Dec. 9 to enter a plea. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / Battlefords News-OptimistLisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
A charity community fridge was removed in Parkdale this week, despite the high-profile Adamson Barbecue being allowed to continue operations in Etobicoke.
Harris says volunteer efforts at DC Central Kitchen help to feed people and fight loneliness. (Nov. 25)
EDMONTON — Two emergency room doctors say Alberta's increased public health restrictions don't go far enough to deal with rising COVID-19 cases that are already straining hospitals in the province.The government brought in tighter restrictions Tuesday that include a ban on gatherings in people's homes and changes for schools, churches, restaurants and retailers.Dr. Shazma Mithani, who works at two Edmonton hospitals, said she saw first-hand why more restrictions were necessary a day earlier when she arrived for her shift at the Royal Alexandra Hospital."I saw the most COVID patients ever," Mithani said Wednesday in an interview with The Canadian Press. "I didn't even see that many patients that shift because we were so bed-blocked."Some patients, she explained, were taking up emergency department beds because there weren't enough staffed beds available in the ward they needed.Mithani said she saw about 10 or 11 patients that night."Three of them were confirmed COVID and three were presumed COVID ... and one of them I actually had to put a breathing tube in and send to the ICU," she said."It's here. It's just the beginning."Alberta Health reported 1,265 new cases on Wednesday — the seventh consecutive day with numbers above the 1,100 mark. There were 355 patients in hospital, 71 of them in intensive care. Eight more people died, bringing that total to 500.Mithani, who's also a spokeswoman for the emergency medicine section of the Alberta Medical Association, said the rising numbers have been hitting Edmonton particularly hard.There were 175 COVID-19 patients in Edmonton hospitals, with 40 in intensive care. In Calgary, there were 121 infected patients in hospitals and 20 were in intensive care.Dr. Joe Vipond, who works at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary, said he hasn't worked an ER shift in about a week, but noted that he's had COVID-19 patients every day in the last month."I've had two deaths in a month," said Vipond, who added he typically only sees a few deaths a year in the emergency department.Both Vipond and Mithani said they would have liked to see stronger restrictions."We're now at the stage that nothing short of a strong lockdown is going to help," said Vipond. "These middle measures are not going to do it, unfortunately."Mithani said the restrictions simply turn earlier recommendations into rules.The only positive step, she said, was banning indoor gatherings, which she suggested should have happened long ago.Dr. Daniel Gregson, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Calgary, agreed it was good to see recommendations on gatherings turned into actual restrictions."The other thing we've done is moved to mandatory masking from a suggestion to a requirement," he said. "That's a good thing as well."However, Gregson said some areas have been left open to interpretation."They've said 10 (people) for weddings and 10 for funerals, which is good to have an absolute number because people focus on what they can do," he said. "But other settings such as faith-based activities, which can be fairly widely interpreted, are not limited to that 10."That's a concern. A lot of our problems have been in group settings where people are not using appropriate precautions ... and that really translates into transmissions in households."Mithani added that the decisions don't appear to be based on data, since contact tracing has broken down and up to 80 per cent of cases have no information about where they were contracted."I'm really disappointed with the half measures that were put in," she said. "I, 100 per cent, understand there needs to be a balance between the economy and managing this pandemic, but we are now at a point where our health-care system is about to break and that needs to be made the priority right now."Our economy relies on the health of Albertans."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
Staff asked and council granted. Penetanguishene's staffing complement will be slightly more robust next year, after approval for two part-time contract positions to become full-time jobs in 2021. The first one was for the position of junior planner, for which Andrea Betty, director of planning and community development, made a case. "Largely, the report shows the volume and complexity of applications has increased," she said. "It's the primary function of development to process those applications and get development moving through. There's not a second full-time position dedicated to planning. It's a gap in our service for people." As well, Betty said Penetanguishene is the lowest staffed planning department as compared to its neighbours. She also made a case for increasing the current part-time bylaw contract position to full-time. With that in mind, Coun. Jill St. Amant asked if staff had looked into sharing services with other municipalities for the planning or bylaw position. "We have had those discussions with the four North Simcoe municipalities," Betty said. "All three other municipalities are pretty lean in their planning staff complement. They don't have the ability to share their current resources in that department. In the bylaw department, Tiny has a large complement in summer, but there's limited ability for us to share those resources." The third request was from recreation and community services director Sherry Desjardins, who asked for an additional 80 attendant hours weekly to make the recreation centre's reopening successful and an additional 40 hours for the 2021/2022 ice season. "This comes as a followup to a previous report with the reopening of the arena," she said. "We had requested we hire additional facility attendants to assist with additional pieces that need to be completed to be compliant with public health. It's been going well. We don't know where we will be later on in 2021." Coun. George Vadeboncoeur agreed and recommended going beyond the request. "I felt there was the need within the rec. and community services department to add another full-time staff member," he said. "I was prepared to consider eight months and move to 12 months as we move through a two-year period. The rationale is to provide full-time assistance at the arena for scheduling and knowledge transfer as some of our senior employees are looking to retire." Vadeboncoeur said a second rationale behind his move was that that facility staff will end up working for the parks department as the ice season winds up. "There are some maintenance issues at the parks," he said, "and one of the responses I've received is with respect to resource constraint and it's particularly acute when the arena and parks are going at the same time." Desjardins said she appreciated the consideration, however, facility attendants are very limited in what they can do in other places. "What would be really impactful would be a facility operator, but that has a greater financial impact," she noted. Vadeboncoeur said his suggestion to phase in a facility attendant was to soften the effects on the budget. But Carrie Robillard, director of finance/treausrer, said her recommendation wouldn't change even if the position changed. "It would still be recommended out of our service delivery review budget line," she said. "The purpose of that was to obviously increase our service levels and improve them. We have been transferring to a service delivery review reserve for the last couple years, so timing wise, this would be good and funding is available through that route." Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau wanted to know exactly what kind of money was included in that budget item. "We have $166,000 in the budget line," said Robillard. "That doesn't include money transferred in the reserves." In the end, the public representatives went ahead with approving funding for a full-time facility operator.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
A request for the names, addresses and Farm Business Registration (FBR) numbers of Ontario farmers has been withdrawn. According to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), a Freedom of Information request (FOI) asking for potentially sensitive information on farmers in the province has been withdrawn following a period of mediation led by the OFA and supported by their legal counsel. Initially received by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) in June, the FOI request was made by an unknown individual and sought to access a list of Ontario farmers that included the names of their businesses, where they were located and their FBR number, an identifier that’s is issued to any farm businesses in Ontario that make declare a gross farm income of $7,000 or more. An FOI request can be made by members of the public under Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which says “every person has a right of access to a record or a part of a record in the custody or under the control of an institution,” with exceptions. OFA president Keith Currie celebrated the FOI withdrawal, citing concerns around how the information in the FOI could have been misused to harm farm owners’ businesses. “Together, our farm organizations strongly opposed the release of this information as it has the potential to greatly impact the health, safety and security of our farm operations,” Currie said. “We are very pleased to report that the matter has been resolved, the FOI has been dropped and we can move forward with the significant priorities of the Ontario agriculture sector.” While there was no evidence that the names and FBR numbers that stood to be acquired through the FOI were planned to be used maliciously, the OFA and other farm organizations in the province moved quickly to stall the request when it was first made, citing concerns that bad actors could use the information on a large scale, targeting businesses with protests or making their information public to others. Additionally, online sources speculated that the information could be used to create a database like one created in Australia following a similar information request. That database was subsequently used by activists to stage protests around the country. At the time the FOI request was still pending, Rainy River Federation of Agriculture (RRFA) president Lisa Teeple noted that while the request in and of itself wasn’t reason for area farmers to panic, the uncertainty of who was requesting the information and what they intended to use it for caused the most concern. “The original request, we don’t know where it came from,” Teeple explained at the time. “Who was asking for this information? Is it a university study looking to do a study on farm economics? Is it a think-tank group and how they market more to farm businesses? We don’t know. Is it an environmental activist group? That potentially gives a reason for pause, because we are in a business where environmental and animal activists have been known to be destructive. The big thing is ‘who asked for it’? We can’t find that out.” The OFA, Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO and the National Farmers Union–Ontario (NFU-O) collaborated to file a formal appeal against the FOI before the request was withdrawn.Ken Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
La direction de Cascades a annoncé le 25 novembre la fermeture prochaine de son usine située à la jonction des autoroutes 15 et 440. Le 30 juin 2021, les 54 travailleurs à l’emploi de cette usine spécialisée dans la fabrication de serviettes de table destinées au marché hors foyer se retrouveront sans travail. «La COVID-19 a impacté lourdement la fréquentation des restaurants, des hôtels et des édifices publics, des marchés desservis par l'usine de Laval, a déclaré par voie de communiqué Jean-David Tardif, président et chef de l'exploitation de Cascades Groupe Tissu. Cette situation, combinée à des coûts de logistique élevés, nous a incités à déplacer la production vers d'autres sites afin d'optimiser nos opérations, de réduire nos coûts et de créer des synergies.» L'usine lavalloise a une capacité de production annuelle de 1,4 million de caisses. Au cours des prochains mois, le service des ressources humaines de l’entreprise s’emploiera à minimiser l'impact de cette fermeture auprès de ses employés qu’elle tentera de relocaliser dans ses «nombreuses autres unités d'affaires au Québec», fait valoir la direction. Quant à ceux que Cascades ne pourrait replacer ou qui ne souhaiteraient pas être réaffectés à une autre usine, ils seront «accompagnés dans leurs efforts de recherche d'emploi», poursuit la société. Le grand patron de Cascades Groupe Tissu, une division de la papetière québécoise fondée dans les années 1960 par Bernard Lemaire et ses frères, a tenu à saluer «les Cascadeurs de l'usine de Laval pour leur loyauté» tout en formulant le souhait «que le plus grand nombre possible demeure avec l'entreprise».Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval