WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The annual publishing convention and trade show known as BookExpo, a decades-old tradition where guest speakers have ranged from Bill Clinton to Margaret Atwood, may be coming to an end. ReedPop, which has managed BookExpo for a quarter century, announced Tuesday that effectively immediately it was “retiring” the event, along with the fan-based BookCon and merchandise-based UnBound. Any future for the convention depends on the wishes of the book community. As in other industries, publishers have debated the necessity of holding BookExpo when much of the business once conducted there has moved online. BookExpo used to be rotated around the country, from Los Angeles to Chicago to Washington, D.C., but it was held almost exclusively in recent years in Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center. New York publishers looked to reduce costs, including cutting back sharply on how much space they purchased on the convention floor. Earlier this year, BookExpo and BookCon were held virtually because of the coronavirus. The status for next year's show was already in doubt. "The pandemic arrived at a time in the life cycle of BookExpo and BookCon where we were already examining the restructure of our events to best meet our community’s need," Reed event director Jennifer Martin said in a statement. "This has led us to make the difficult decision to retire the events in their current formats, as we take the necessary time to evaluate the best way to move forward and rebuild our events that will better serve the industry and reach more people than we were able to before. We remain committed to serving the book community and look forward to sharing more information in the future.” Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle, who has praised BookExpo as a chance for the industry to gather under one roof, said in a statement that he hoped such occasions would happen again. “Among the many traditions we greatly missed this year was having an industry event that brings together booksellers, authors and publishers," he said. "In this virtual world, Penguin Random House is continuously investing in innovative ways to connect our community members with one another, and we look forward to working with our industry partners to explore a newly imagined event where we all can come together to celebrate books and their essential role in our society and culture.” Booksellers have been meeting annually since the early 20th century, although the modern convention dates back to 1947 and the founding of the American Booksellers Association Convention and Trade Show. The ABA, the trade group for independent owners, served as host until the mid-1990s, when tensions with the superstore chain Barnes & Noble and some publishers led to legal action and to the association's selling the show to Reed. Usually held in late spring, BookExpo was once a prime venue for upcoming books to “break out,” and for publishers to place orders with booksellers and bring in top authors to meet with store officials, agents, librarians and journalists. At a given convention, a dais might be shared by Atwood, William Styron and Margaret Thatcher, or by Bill Murray and Julia Child. At a 2006 luncheon in Washington, speakers included Amy Sedaris and John Updike, whose elegy for all the Manhattan bookstores now closed so moved the audience that few remembered what was said by the third featured author, a first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. But over the past few years, visiting authors lacked the star power of previous guests, and attendance fell to the point where sizable parts of the Javits centre floor were empty. In 2018, when Michelle Obama was looking to promote the fall release of her memoir “Becoming,” she didn't come to BookExpo, but instead addressed the convention of the American Library Association. And this year highlighted doubts over whether an in-person gathering raises sales: The market has remained stable despite the pandemic and the convention being held online. Meanwhile, other industry meetings continue, including regional shows and the increasingly popular Winter Institute, managed by the American Booksellers Association. The Winter Institute will be held virtually in February 2021. "The retirement of BookExpo feels like the end of an era," ABA CEO Allison K. Hill told the AP, adding that the need for booksellers to gather was as strong as ever. "ABA is exploring new ways to bring booksellers, publishers, and authors together in the future. For now, we’ll keep bringing everyone together virtually.” Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
FRANKFURT — The OPEC oil producers' cartel was to push ahead with a new round of discussions Tuesday about how much to pump next year as countries wrestled over whether to extend the production cuts that have been supporting prices depressed by the pandemic.Members adjourned a videoconference after a first day of deliberations Monday ended without an agreement. They also put off from Tuesday to Thursday a meeting with non-OPEC oil producers like Russia, who have been co-ordinating their actions with the cartel in recent years to increase their influence.Oil producing countries face a difficult situation. The pandemic has sapped demand for fuel across the economy, which induced them to cut back production this year to keep prices from sagging even more than they have. Yet the lower production means less revenue for governments that depend on oil sales to fill state coffers.And the outlook for demand is mixed across the globe; economies in the U.S. and Europe have been disrupted by a second upsurge in coronavirus infections, while activity and travel in China have rebounded more strongly.Oil traded 19 cents lower at $45.15 per barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That is off from $63 at the start of 2020.The sag in demand has been reflected in lower prices to consumers for auto fuel in the U.S. Gasoline prices at the pump dipped well below $2 per gallon in many parts of the country in May as the pandemic took hold, and have remained flat after a mild rebound. The U.S. average was $2.12 as of Nov. 30, down 45 cents from the same week a year earlier but little changed from this summer, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.Analysts at UniCredit bank said the oil producing countries were likely to agree to extend this year's production cuts of about 7.7 million barrels a day.“In our view, the delay should not be a concern and we still expect the current curbs to be extended into the first quarter of 2021,” they said, adding that it is not unusual for OPEC meetings to last longer than scheduled and virtual discussions slow the negotiation process.“Moreover, both Saudi Arabia and Russia – the two leaders of the group – favour an extension of the cuts and this should be enough to square the circle and finalize the deal on Thursday.” Saudi Arabia tends to take a leadership role within OPEC, while Russia is the biggest non-OPEC country to co-ordinate with the cartel.David McHugh, The Associated Press
Regina police have charged a 17-year old girl who allegedly stole a vehicle with a four-year-old child inside.Officers were called to the 2100 block of Albert Street around 8:17 p.m. CST on Nov. 21 for a report of a stolen vehicle, according police.Police were told a 31-year-old woman had given three young women a ride in her car while her child was also in the vehicle.Police said the driver stopped and got out of the vehicle briefly, at which point one of the passengers got in the driver's seat and started driving away. When the mother tried to stop her, the driver allegedly tried to hit her with the car.The suspect left the four-year-old on a street a few minutes later, police said. Two people found the child and called police.Officers identified the suspect and learned she had fled to Calgary. A warrant was issued for her arrest on Nov. 24. She was arrested by Calgary police for an unrelated matter.The suspect, who can't be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was brought back to Regina on Monday and charged with offences including abduction of a child under 14-years-old, assault with a weapon (vehicle) and auto theft.
Budget talks will continue but Southgate council has provided its feedback on major projects proposed for next year. While council can only approve the budget for the next year, members are presented with 10-year forecasts so they can look ahead at what’s coming. These are only projections. Projects sometimes get delayed for reasons beyond the control of the municipality, or moved forward if there is a good grant opportunity. The project funding doesn’t only come from the same year’s taxation. Projects are also financed by development charges, township reserves, transfers from other levels and in some cases by loans or grants. PLANS FOR TOWNSHIP FACILITIES ARE COMPLEX A big discussion is planned on facilities. Staff had originally proposed construction of a new multi-use facility in 2021. That has been delayed by more pressing needs for increased staff space due to COVID-19. Still, questions remain about that facility and its timing, whether any money will be dedicated to the Olde Town Hall pending proposals from private parties in the upcoming Request for Proposal. Right now, the building department is now operating out of the library, and council is meeting virtually. Discussions will include whether the council should return to the chambers or leave the space to allow more room for staff at the Hopeville office. Other facilities needing to expand are the fire station and Dundalk depot. In the past, the CAO has mentioned putting the Dundalk works and the township building departments in Dundalk, as the county has plans (no date yet decided) to move its sand dome out of town. In general discussion of the capital projects, councillors raised questions about costs expected from growth, especially in Dundalk. The CAO said that new development helps keep rates down. Instead, right now, the force that is a pressure on taxes is the need to keep roads and bridges in good condition, he said. LIBRARY The library anticipates an expenditure of $40,000 to expand the collection, for furnishings and to go to an infrastructure reserve in 2028. FIRE About $725,000 is budgeted in 2021 with the main expense being adding a new rescue/pumper/tanker. In 2022, about $300,000 for an expansion of one bay is forecast. ROADS The proposed roads budget is $3.7 million. That includes various construction projects as well as a plow truck, a loader and a one-tonne truck replacement. At an earlier discussion on Nov. 17, public works manager Jim Ellis asked council to consider whether it wanted to continue having staff work with outside contractors on infrastructure projects. Many paving projects are planned. The 2019 road conditions study found that about one-third of the hard-top roads in Southgate have a condition rating of 5 or less, meaning they need replacement of surfacing and are past asphalt maintenance strategies. Mr. Ellis posed the possibility of turning sections of low-traffic roads back to gravel to save money on roads needing re-construction. He said while 50 to 200 vehicles per day would be typical in that category of road, some sections had an average of seven vehicles per day, with the maximum of 35 in one day in a two-week study. So while a section of road like that might pop up closer to the top of the list for repairs, he said, it might be more worthwhile to put the money into a more-travelled road from slightly lower on the list. About $40,000 is anticipated to be spent on downtown improvements. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
Consumer advocates are protesting a move by the Trump administration that they say will make it harder for the government to punish airlines that treat passengers unfairly.On the Friday during a four-day Thanksgiving weekend, the Transportation Department made final its proposal for defining unfair and deceptive practices by airlines.The rule deems that airline policies – around things like how ticket prices are advertised – are unfair only if they cause unavoidable and “substantial injury” that isn’t offset by some benefit. That is a high bar, in the view of consumer advocates.In addition, the rule lets airlines request a hearing before the department issues new regulations.Charlie Leocha, a travel consumer advocate, said the agency's rule could clear the way for airlines to go to court and overturn regulations that require them to advertise the full cost of tickets and to give passengers a chance to return to the gate if planes are stuck on the ground for hours.Under the new rule, “airlines can do anything they want in terms of passenger protection with no worries,” he said. “This is not good for consumers, and it is a big win for airlines.”The Transportation Department said it received 224 comments, with about 180 of them filed by individuals who argued that the proposal weakens consumer protection. The two Democrats on the Federal Trade Commission also criticized the proposal — commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter wrote that the rule “will seriously hamper the Department’s ability to fulfil its statutory mission of protecting aviation consumers.”The rule was praised by Airlines for America, the main trade group for big U.S. airlines, which argued that current regulations can be arbitrary.“This reform is a critical step forward in ensuring a data-driven regulatory process, which will produce widespread and lasting benefits for air travellers, airlines and the economy,” the group said in a statement.The Transportation Department, led by Trump-nominated Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, acknowledged drafting the rule in response to a request from the airline trade group and a 2017 Trump executive order that urged agencies to reduce regulations.The Transportation Department will soon will be under new leadership after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. Consumer advocates believe the Biden administration will be more pro-consumer. However, even if Biden’s people want to reverse last week’s decision, now they will have to go through a long rule-making process to do so.The airlines have chafed for years under an Obama administration rule that requires them to use the all-in price — including any mandatory taxes and fees — when advertising airfares. The carriers say that's unfair because retailers and other businesses can usually advertise prices before taxes and fees.If the Biden administration is unable to reverse last week's rule, “it's likely consumers will find shopping for flights to become more confusing and frustrating,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst with Atmosphere Research Group in San Francisco.___David Koenig can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriterDavid Koenig, The Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Roger Mandle, an internationally renowned art scholar and the former longtime president of the Rhode Island School of Design, has died, RISD said Tuesday. He was 79.Mandle died over the weekend, the school said in a statement, without elaborating. A cause of death was not given.Mandle served as president of RISD from 1993 to 2008. He was credited with helping modernize the school, one of America's most prestigious four-year art colleges, and quadrupling its endowment to over $400 million. He previously served as deputy director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.A former member of the National Council on the Arts appointed by former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Mandle helped shape and guide the U.S. art and design agenda.“My mission, my vision, is to contribute to our humanity and quality of life and to make Providence and the Rhode Island School of Design a globally recognized centre of art, design and right-brained thinking,” he once said.From 2008 to 2012, Mandle was executive director of the Qatar Museums Authority, overseeing more than a dozen museums, including the Museum of Islamic Art, the Qatar Natural History Museum and the National Museum of Qatar.Later, he launched a consulting firm dedicated to assisting museums and universities in strategic planning, board and senior staff development and mentoring, and advice during important transitions.He was a former director of the Toledo Museum of Art, a former associate director of the Minneapolis Institute of Art and a member of the Ohio Arts Council.“The American arts and higher education communities have lost a giant," Democratic U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in a statement, calling Mandle “an extraordinary man and a great civic leader.”“His influence on generations of artists and others whose lives were made better through the arts will live on,” RISD President Rosanne Somerson said in a statement.Mandle is survived by his wife, the abstract painter and acclaimed mixed media artist Gayle Wells Mandle; son Luke Mandle; daughter Julia Mandle; and five grandchildren.Funeral arrangements were incomplete Tuesday.William J. Kole, The Associated Press
Prior to the pandemic, Artem Polyvyanny used to choose where he wanted to live and work pretty much on a whim. “Africa was going to be a place I wanted to go but it’s mostly closed, Asia is almost completely closed too,” says the 34-year-old from Toronto. He had settled on going to Europe to see friends, but had to change plans recently as countries there began to implement new COVID-19 lockdowns.He now finds himself in Mexico, a destination that came about through a process of elimination.“I can’t go to many of the places I want to go.”Canadians living the digital nomad lifestyle say remote work in foreign countries has become cheaper as a result of the pandemic, but the freedom to go where they wish has been heavily limited. Digital nomads, who often freelance or work remotely full-time, are accustomed to a lifestyle where they can pick and choose where they’d like to live. However, travel restrictions are one of the biggest changes they’ve had to come to terms with.Polyvyanny says what he loses in choice, he’s getting back in value as the price of housing and flights has dropped dramatically as regular tourist traffic plummets across the world. He snagged a one-way ticket from Toronto to Playa del Carmen for only $170, and was able to negotiate prices while picking a place to stay.Vanessa Perez, a freelance marketing consultant from Montreal, says she was used to working abroad for seven months every year prior to the pandemic.This year, she worked in Paris for only one month in September. She made the choice to travel to Western Europe because she felt governments there were more serious about implementing safety measures for COVID-19.It’s not a typical destination for digital nomads, who usually opt for cheaper regions like Southeast Asia where they have the added benefit of a favourable currency exchange rate. Perez, who previously lived in Columbia and El Salvador, says it was worth the extra cost to continue the nomadic lifestyle.Now back in Montreal, Perez says she’s planning to work abroad in February, but is careful about committing.“I can’t buy a ticket now for February because I don’t know how things will even turn out in December,” she says, adding that insurance coverage and visa restrictions are a constant concern.“It’s day to day, week to week to see what will be the next step.”For Canadians, Mexico has proven to be a convenient destination where a visa is easy to come by.Lisa Shiller, a Torontonian who currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, said she’s able to live in the country with a six-month tourist visa that she received on arrival.She said renewing her visa is as simple as leaving the country and coming back again, which is much cheaper during the pandemic because of lower living costs.“Mexico has this stance where it’s like, ‘yes, come here, bring your dollars, spend your money,’” said Shiller, who has lived in Mexico throughout the pandemic, only returning home once after seven months to renew her visa.But she said the lifestyle isn’t quite the same, as she's avoiding air travel and can't explore the country like she had planned to. The silver lining is that she’ll save more money and can still travel by vehicle. Polyvyanny, who returned to Toronto at the start of the pandemic, says he decided to go back to Mexico because he felt it wasn’t worth spending so much to live in Canada’s largest city when most events are cancelled and city life is disrupted.“Pretty much all of the good things about Toronto were taken away,” he says.“There’s no reason to pay a premium on everything if I’m not able to enjoy this city.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press
CHARLOTTETOWN - Sukhmeen Caur is concerned about the impact India's farm reforms will have on its farmers, she said. "It's harming people," she said. "Because of these laws, there's going to be no food on the table." Caur, who's originally from Punjab, India, was one of about 10 to 15 people demonstrating by the Charlottetown cenotaph on Nov. 30 - many of whom were members of P.E.I.'s Sikh community. They were raising awareness and showing their support for the Punjab and Haryana farmers protesting a series of laws imposed by India's government in September. The farmers believe their livelihood will be affected by the reformed laws, and when about 300,000 attempted to march into the city of Delhi last week they were met with police barricades, tear gas, and water cannons, demonstrator Manpreet Singh said. "They were stopped forcefully," he said. "They were beaten, they were harassed." Singh, who's also from Punjab, said farming is a primary source of income for India. While the goal of the reforms was to give more control to farmers, the farmer's main concern with them is that a minimum price for what their crops can sell for is no longer guaranteed or regulated, potentially giving corporations more control and profit. For example, one Indian farmer reported selling his wheat crop for 7 rupees per kilogram, after which the buying corporation processed and sold it for 150 rupees per kilogram, Singh said. "They're not treated like people. They're treated like animals," he said. While rising tensions have resulted in a meeting to be called between some of the country's farm unions and the Indian government on Dec. 3, the Charlottetown demonstration was to oppose the police and government's violent response to the protests for showcasing a lack of democracy, Singh said. "I have my right of speech in this country," he said. "But in my country right now, it is not trying to listen to the farmers." Caur added that accurate news coverage on the protests out of the country is difficult to find due to social media censorship, so the Charlottetown demonstration was to inform Islanders of what was going on. "I am here, I should also know what's going on here," she said. "(And) they should know what's going on in India." While only a maximum of 20 people was permitted to gather at the Nov. 30 demonstration due to COVID-19 protocol, Caur noted a larger rally may be held in the near future pending the Chief Public Health Office's approval. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
Ontario is reporting 1,707 new cases of COVID-19 today, and seven new deaths due to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 727 new cases are in Toronto, 373 in Peel Region, and 168 cases in York Region. The province also reported 299 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 253 among students. Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 737 out of Ontario's 4,828 publicly funded schools. In the province's long-term care homes, 743 residents currently have COVID-19 and six new deaths have been reported today. The province says 109 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
Wallaceburg residents got into the Christmas spirit last week with a nighttime market and a Santa food drive by. On Thursday night, the line up to get into the parking lot on James Street was so long, organizers of a night time Christmas Market had to extend its hours to ensure everyone got their chance to support local and do some holiday shopping. The Wallaceburg Christmas Market is an annual event which looked a little different during the pandemic. Normally the entire street is shut down and stores have an open house, but this year it was moved to the parking lot so organizers could control the flow of foot traffic. “It’s been a lovely night with steady customers so much to see and do,” said Kelsey Nydam of the Wallaceburg BIA, who was organizing the event for her first time ever. An hour before the event ended, there were approximately 1,000 residents who had come to the market, and vendors said their stands were running low on products. “Especially this year, markets are important to small communities. For so many local businesses and artisans, it’s been really difficult. When you look at other large corporations who had a record year, it kind of does feel a little unfair. These people are the heart and soul of communities. So it's just really important to support locals.” The Wallaceburg community also supported those in need on Saturday with a food drive by. Kids were lining up on the streets waiting to see Santa Claus – who left his sleigh in the North Pole and opted for a bright red truck – drive by as his helpers picked up food. All the toys and non-perishable food items collected were donated to the local Salvation Army and the St. Vincent de Paul food bank. “It was a very, very successful turnout and we are honestly so overwhelmed with food and toys that came through the doors,” said co-organizer Jay DeBuck, who also owns the Stubby Goat. The idea came about when DeBuck found out there was no Santa Claus parade happening this year because of the pandemic. He wanted to give his daughter a memorable experience on her first Christmas. DeBuck asked resident Mike Salisbury what they could do instead, and the latter decided it would be best to host a parade while collecting food and toys. DeBuck was the one who decided to bring the parade to the people by going through all of Wallaceburg’s subdivisions. The process took five hours with the help of Wallaceburg’s local radio station who broadcast throughout the day, informing residents where Santa would be heading next. One resident, Heather Little Blake said her mom, who has been involved with the local food banks for many decades, claims it is the most collected in 30 years. More than 2,000 pounds of food was collected, an amazing feat especially considering it took place only a week after The Gift, DeBuck said.Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
The Fort McKay Métis Group is planning to break ground on a solar farm as early as next year, making it the second project of its kind in the Wood Buffalo region. Ron Quintal, chair of the group and president of the Fort McKay Métis Nation, said the groundbreaking ceremony is expected to be held sometime in spring 2021. At the same time, the company is looking at larger solar projects closer to Edmonton that could be finalized within the next two years. Details such as costs and size of the solar farms are being finalized. The projects do not represent a switch away from the group's work in the oilsands, but a response to growing demands for renewable energy sources. “You can’t have success in green energy by just shutting out the rest of the energy sector,” said Quintal in a Monday interview. “For our community to be able to build these green projects, we’re going to have to use monies raised from the energy industry.” The McKay Métis Group is also negotiating other equity projects, such as stakes in the proposed Alaska to Alberta railway and the Trans Mountain expansion. Last week, the company appointed Crystal Young as its new CEO. Part of her role will be directing these new green energy projects. For Young, Indigenous-led energy companies should be the ones leading the way in renewable energy development. “Indigenous-led companies understand the importance of giving back to communities,” she said in an interview. “We all have the same vision.” Locally, a new solar farm in Fort Chipewyan is the most recent example of an Indigenous-led energy company pursuing green energy projects. The project, completed by Three Nations Energy, will provide 25 per cent of Fort Chipewyan’s energy annually. The solar farm is designed to cut greenhouse gas emission by 2,170 tonnes and save up to 800,000 litres of diesel fuel annually. Suncor, Canada’s second largest oilsands producer, has also tapped into the renewable energy sector by investing in four wind power farms across Canada. For Quintal, renewable energy and oil are energy sources that are complimentary, rather than adversarial. He also hopes the energy needs of oilsands projects will be met with future green energy sources. Quintal says this will bring operational cost savings that could be invested elsewhere. “I think that’s a win-win for everybody,” he said. email@example.comSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
Fines totalling more than $180,000 were issued to people accused of breaking Manitoba's COVID-19 rules in the last week, the province said Tuesday.Of the 100 tickets issued, nearly half were for not following various public health orders. In total, 20 per cent of the tickets were related to gatherings larger than five people, Premier Brian Pallister said at a news conference on COVID-19 enforcement."It's critical right now that we don't gather with people outside of our households, and we need the full participation of all Manitobans in order for these strict public health measures work," he said at a news conference.In addition, 22 fines worth $5,000 each were issued to businesses, for various offences. Of those businesses, Springs Church in Winnipeg was given four fines totalling $20,000 related to a large drive-in service held last weekend contrary to public health orders, according to data from the province.One person was also fined $1,296 over that service. Enforcement officers are still investigating and are expecting to hand out more tickets."There will be consequences for those who disregard public health orders," he said. "It's incredibly disappointing that anyone would blatantly disregard public health orders in place to protect Manitobans."The Superstore in Brandon, Man., was also fined twice, and now owes $10,000, the province says.In addition, 23 tickets worth $298 each were issued to people for not wearing a mask in indoor public places. The remaining seven were band bylaw tickets issued by Manitoba First Nations Police Service.In all, a total of $181,574 in fines was issued from Nov. 23 to 29, up from $126,082 a week earlier.The Church of God in Sarto, Man., near the city of Steinbach, was fined $5,000, and six people were given individual tickets of $1,296, after the church tried to hold a large drive-in service on Sunday. They were blocked by RCMP officers, which led to more than 100 cars lining the highway trying to get into the church's parking lot.Pallister said 30 tickets have also been issued to people who took part in a large demonstration in Steinbach on Nov. 14. Officers are investigating and are expecting to hand out additional tickets, he said.Pallister says if repeat offenders don't get the message, the province could find other ways to get people to stay home, including tougher fines. "The fact is, if you take $1,000 out of somebody's pocket, then that better be a deterrent. And if it isn't, $5000 will be," he said."And if it's a store and it does it again, you can close them. So the fact of the matter is we've got more serious steps we could take if we need to. I just obviously hope and pray we don't have to take those next steps."WATCH | Pallister's message to COVID-19 rule breakers:Asked about municipalities that aren't enforcing COVID-19 restrictions, Pallister said that if they won't do it, the province will. "We'll be enforcing in municipalities just as we did this past weekend, whether they have municipal officials there or not," he said."So I would emphasize to people who think that they can get away with something in one RM because there's nobody from the RM enforcing, that there are other people who are certainly willing to do that and are."The update comes after Manitoba hit a record high for COVID-19 hospitalizations on Monday with 342 people in hospital, 43 of them in intensive care units.On Tuesday, Manitoba reported a record 16 deaths in one day, as the province added 283 new cases to its total.Last week, Pallister said the province had issued close to 100 tickets from Nov. 16 to 22, totalling $126,082. It was a significant increase from the week before, when Pallister announced the province was hiring a private security firm to help crack down on COVID-19 rule breakers.Meanwhile, RCMP said they have issued 21 fines between Nov. 21 and Nov. 27.Of those, eight were issued for hosting a gathering, five were for failing to self-isolate, four were for having guests from outside of a household, three were for failing to wear a mask and one was for attending a large gathering, according to a news release issued Tuesday.Officers also gave 49 verbal warnings during this time, RCMP say.Since April, Manitoba RCMP have issued 188 warnings and 99 fines.WATCH | Update on COVID-19 enforcement measures:
Some nurses who left their jobs at Health PEI to take positions with Veterans Affairs Canada asked for, but were denied, a secondment from their provincial jobs, according to the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay.That's from the latest in a series of letters between MacAulay and P.E.I. Health Minister James Aylward. Aylward wrote to MacAulay in October, expressing concern about a hiring campaign by VAC by which the federal department had lured away at that time, according to Aylward's numbers, 25 registered nurses, two social workers and one psychologist from Health PEI.Health PEI said this week that the number of nurses who have left for VAC has now reached 32.As part of its effort to clear up a backlog of tens of thousands of disability claims, a spokesperson for VAC told CBC the department has hired 125 nurses across Canada, including 55 on P.E.I. Overall the federal department plans to hire 300 temporary staff and aims to clear up the backlog by March 2022. However the Parliamentary Budget Office says the job will require more staffing and an extra year to complete."Given the size of our province and corresponding size of the nursing workforce within our health-care system, this recruitment campaign has had a significant negative impact on our health human resources," Aylward wrote to MacAulay in the first of two letters the health minister tabled in the P.E.I. Legislature.Aylward went on to say some long-term care facilities also lost positions, and were operating with "a skeleton staff."Aylward told MacAulay it was "counterproductive" for a federal department to be taking nurses from provincial health care while Ottawa was at the same time sending additional resources to the provinces to help them deal with COVID-19.> I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada. — Lawrence MacAulay"The number of nurses that have migrated from our system to your department has left a potential significant nursing gap should we experience a second wave resulting in a critical situation," Aylward wrote in a followup letter dated Nov. 17.In that letter, Aylward asked about the possibility of Health PEI receiving some of the nurses back from VAC on secondment.Nurses denied requests for leave, says MacAulayBut in response, MacAulay said some of the nurses hired by VAC had asked for a secondment working the other way around: they had asked Health PEI to be allowed to temporarily leave their provincial positions to help VAC clear up the backlog, but that request was denied."My department offered this option for consideration at the time of the recruitment campaign, recognizing the pressures that all health systems were facing," MacAulay wrote to Aylward."I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada."MacAulay said the positions are only temporary, and that he'd instructed his department "to be as helpful as possible on this matter." He said VAC is "willing to assist the province with its pandemic response should the current situation change."Nurses in search of 'work-life balance': unionMona O'Shea, the head of the P.E.I. Nurses' Union, said she found it "interesting" Aylward reached out to MacAulay over the nursing shortage. She said the province was already facing a significant number of nursing vacancies even before VAC started recruiting.She said Aylward might have done better to take his concerns to the union. She said nurses are looking for "better work-life balance," and are being denied requests for "temporary leave of absence for education, for movement within the system, vacation, being called back to work when on vacation."O'Shea said nurses are feeling "undervalued, not appreciated and always being asked to do more with less."More from CBC P.E.I.
Si la voiture électrique est bien partie pour devenir le moyen de locomotion du futur proche, être un « électromobiliste » n’est toutefois pas une sinécure dans l’Est-du-Québec en 2020. Nicolas Falcimaigne en sait quelque chose : propriétaire d’une Chevrolet Spark 2015, soit un des véhicules les plus abordables sur le marché, il dispose d’une autonomie qui ne dépasse pas les 100 km. Lorsqu’il est en déplacement, ce résident de Trois-Pistoles est donc dépendant des bornes de recharge éparpillées sur le territoire, plus précisément des bornes rapides qui lui permettent de recharger sa batterie en une vingtaine de minutes (contre plusieurs heures pour les bornes classiques). Or, il lui arrive régulièrement de tomber sur une borne qui ne fonctionne pas bien, ce qui a des conséquences importantes pour lui : « Depuis trois ans, ça m’est arrivé plusieurs fois, même en hiver, de devoir passer une soirée à Rimouski avec les enfants, voire d’y dormir, parce que la borne rapide était défectueuse… » En ce mois de novembre, l’unique borne rapide de Rimouski a même eu un problème pendant plus d’une semaine : elle fonctionnait à débit réduit. « Il a fallu une heure à ma conjointe pour charger sa Nissan Leaf de 15 à 89 %, contre 20 minutes normalement », explique M. Falcimaigne. Face à ces impondérables, difficile de planifier des déplacements sur de longues distances. « Les bornes rapides, c’est pour les trajets interurbains, rappelle celui qui est aussi propriétaire du Caveau des Trois Pistoles. Les bornes lentes, c’est pour quand on reste dans sa propre ville : on se branche pendant qu’on se promène ou qu’on va au magasin, juste pour entretenir la charge. » M. Falcimaigne regrette que le grand public ne fasse pas la différence entre ces deux types de bornes, ce qui mène parfois à des incompréhensions. « À Trois-Pistoles, il y a eu des travaux à la station-service où se situe la borne rapide, ce qui a bloqué son accès. J’ai parlé au contracteur, il m’a répondu d’aller à la borne de l’aréna (qui n’est pas rapide). Il ne comprenait pas que la borne rapide représente une étape indispensable d’un trajet. » La plupart des propriétaires de voiture électrique ne peuvent pas se permettre d’en sauter une, étant donné la faible autonomie dont ils disposent. Doubler les prises Mais la contrariété majeure pour les électromobilistes est l’absence de redondance de bornes de recharge rapide dans l’Est-du-Québec. En d’autres termes, il y a la plupart du temps la place pour brancher une seule voiture. Si elle est prise par quelqu’un d’autre, il faut attendre patiemment son tour, parfois plus d’une heure s’il s’agit d’un véhicule à grande autonomie. Hydro-Québec est en train d’installer des bornes rapides doubles dans six sites du Bas-Saint-Laurent (Saint-Pascal, Rivière-du-Loup, Le Bic, Rimouski, Pohénégamook et Causapscal) et trois de Gaspésie (Cap-Chat, Rivière-au-Renard et Carleton-sur-Mer, en plus d’une borne simple à Murdochville). Ces stations qui font partie du réseau Circuit électrique devraient toutes être opérationnelles d’ici février, dit le porte-parole Louis-Olivier Batty. « Dans notre stratégie de déploiement, c’est clair qu’on favorise une distance de 50 à 80 km entre chaque station de recharge », précise-t-il. Deux bornes rapides ont aussi été inaugurées à Mont-Joli. Cet été, l’achalandage des bornes rapides a augmenté de 53 % au Bas-Saint-Laurent et en Gaspésie, contre 40 % pour l’ensemble du Québec. Ces nouvelles zones de recharge sont donc bienvenues. Reste que certaines zones seront encore mal desservies : par exemple, entre Cap-Chat et Rivière-au-Renard (presque 200 km), on ne trouvera que des bornes simples – à Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, Mont-Louis et Grande-Vallée. Louis-Olivier Batty conseille aux électromobilistes d’utiliser le planificateur de trajet du Circuit électrique, qui permet d’optimiser ses arrêts et ses recharges en fonction de l’achalandage des bornes, pour gagner du temps. Mieux localiser les bornes Si le réseau va finir par se compléter, la localisation de certaines bornes fait cependant sourciller Nicolas Falcimaigne. Par exemple, les deux qui vont être inaugurées à Rimouski sont situées dans une station-service en face du parc Beauséjour, alors que « la nouvelle tendance, c’est de les mettre près de l’autoroute, et non pas dans des centres-villes. Ce n’est pas du tourisme qu’on fait, on se déplace! » Le choix des sites se fait en considérant plusieurs paramètres, répond Louis-Olivier Batty. « On veut que ce soit le plus près des axes routiers, pour ne pas que les gens aient à faire un grand détour, mais on veut aussi qu’il y ait des services à côté. » Des ententes doivent être prises avec des commerçants, qui réservent une place de stationnement et permettent aux électromobilistes l’accès aux toilettes. Mais là encore, il y a loin de la coupe aux lèvres : toujours à Rimouski, à la borne rapide située près de l’accueil touristique, on n’a pas accès à des toilettes dès que ce dernier est fermé. « Plusieurs bornes sont mal situées, surtout pour le soir, confirme un autre propriétaire de véhicule électrique de Trois-Pistoles, Éric Dubois. Il y a clairement un enjeu d’urbanisme. Le choix des lieux où sont installées les bornes devrait revenir aux municipalités. » En attendant, des acteurs privés ont bien compris qu’il y avait beaucoup à gagner en fournissant de l’électricité : IGA va installer une centaine de bornes électriques rapides devant ses magasins, dont quatre dans l’Est-du-Québec.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
Nonfiction1\. A Promised Land by Barack Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio)2\. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, narrated by the author (Random House Audio)3\. Unf—k Your Brain by Faith G. Harper, PhD LPC-S ACS ACN, narrated by the author (Blackstone Audio, Inc. )4\. The Art of War by Sun Tzu, performed by Aidan Gillen (Audible Studios)5\. Atomic Habits by James Clear, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio)6\. Mind Power Mixtape by Common, performed by the author (Audible Originals)7\. Smokey Robinson: Grateful and Blessed by Smokey Robinson, performed by the author (Audible Originals)8\. Habits for Happiness by Dr. Tim Sharp, performed by the author (Audible Original)9\. Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio)10\. Be Calm by Jill P. Weber, PhD, narrated by Bernadette Dunne (Blackstone Audio, Inc.)Fiction1\. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton (Random House Audio)2\. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, narrated by Amy Landon (Blackstone Audio, Inc.)3\. The Awakening by Nora Roberts, narrated by Barrie Kreinik (Macmillan Audio)4\. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Kate Reading & Michael Kramer (Macmillan Audio)5\. Dead Acre by Rhett C. Bruno & Jaime Castle, performed by Roger Clark (Audible Originals)6\. 1984 by George Orwell, narrated by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio, Inc.)7\. The Weirdies by Michael Buckley, performed by Kate Winslet (Audible Originals)8\. A Christmas Carol: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry by Charles Dickens, performed by Tim Curry (Audible Studios)9\. Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle & Stephen Fry - introductions, performed by Stephen Fry (Audible Studios)10\. American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (A Full Cast Production) by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Ron McLarty, Daniel Oreskes & full cast (HarperAudio)The Associated Press
Nova Scotia's office of the auditor general has provided the most detailed and comprehensive picture yet of the impacts of COVID- 19 on the province's spending, and the McNeil government's attempts to cushion the pandemic's economic blow on Nova Scotians and their businesses.According to auditors, the government has spent $580 million in response to the virus, which was first detected in Nova Scotia on March 15.Acting auditor general Terry Spicer noted Tuesday's report was not a formal audit of the spending, rather it was intended to inform Nova Scotians about how the virus has affected provincial finances."It's all about providing Nova Scotians with information on the financial impacts of COVID, and they are significant," he told CBC News. "What we're hoping to do with this would be just to provide and inform Nova Scotians of the various impacts that this has, both on spending and on the revenue side."In terms of revenue, the report noted what Finance Minister Karen Casey reported on July 29 — a $532-million decrease from the budget she presented in February.Coupled with the extra spending as a result of COVID and other increases, the province reported a $852.9-million deficit in the July fiscal update. Another update is scheduled before the end of this month.In terms of extra costs, not surprisingly it's the Department of Health and Wellness that has shouldered the biggest share, racking up a total of $340.3 million in extra spending. Nearly half of that money, $154.7 million, has gone to pay for hospital operations, including extra wages, the purchase of additional personal protective equipment and supplies, and to compensate facilities for revenue declines from lost parking fees and food sales.Another $81 million has gone toward the essential health-care workers program, which provided a $2,000 bonus to front-line staff. The federal government funded $71 million of that program.Other significant expenses include: * $53.6 million to pay doctors for virtual visits * $35.1 million in capital projects * $21.9 million in equipment purchases, including ventilators In the report, the auditor general's office noted that the finance and Treasury Board budget recorded an additional expense of $120 million in the 2019-20 budget. Almost all that extra COVID spending was in the form of a one-time payment to Dalhousie University to administer relief programs on behalf of the province.Because the auditor general's office did not conduct a formal audit, Spicer said he could not express an opinion on whether handing the job over to Dalhousie was the proper thing to do, nor could he express an opinion on the work done by the university.Spicer said that would have to await a formal audit currently underway by his office."We're going to be looking at the controls around the protection of these assets and the money, and are they going to the people that they were intended and the companies that they were intended to go to," he said. "It's going to be a much more focused, in-depth look at the spending."The Education Department is next highest spending department when it comes to COVID mitigation. It spent an extra $65.1 million, primarily on the department's back-to-school reopening plan and child-care centre grants. The McNeil government paid $35.5 million to keep child-care centres afloat between March and September.The Department of Business developed four programs this past year to help struggling businesses, costing a total of $46.3 million. Almost all of that money, $37.9 million, went to capital projects which were already on the books, including work on the Halifax boardwalk, the COVE wharf in Dartmouth as well as improvements at Peggys Cove.The department also compensated two Crown corporations, the Halifax Convention Centre and Develop Nova Scotia, to the tune of $4.2 million for lost revenue.The department responsible for taking care of vulnerable Nova Scotians spent an extra $10 million in increased supports for families receiving government assistance, including a one-time payment of $50 in March to individuals on income assistance.The report also notes $228 million in infrastructure stimulus spending "to create jobs, improve infrastructure and get the economy moving again." The auditor general's office did not detail that spending.The government has repeatedly refused to provide a list of those projects. Premier Stephen McNeil has told Nova Scotians who want to know to search it out on the provincial government's tender web page.The report also noted the absence of a COVID-19 recovery plan."We're not suggesting that there should be as yet, but we think it's a fair question for Nova Scotians to ask government when they'll be providing a recovery plan and what looks like going forward," said Spicer.MORE TOP STORIES
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Tuesday that they were working on determining how to prioritize who gets the COVID-19 vaccine first in the province, saying they were setting up a task force that would include a bioethicist to help in the process. She said the most vulnerable residents and health care workers are top of mind.
CENTRE WELLINGTON – A heritage study in Centre Wellington has identified 18 areas of importance and recommends prioritizing urban areas for further study. At a special committee of the whole meeting on Monday, a Cultural Heritage Landscape (CHL) study draft report was presented to Centre Wellington council. Mariana Iglesias, senior planner with the township, said with recent development pressures in the township they’ve found the need to protect larger areas that are historically and culturally significant. These areas are called CHLs, which the presentation to council identifies as a grouping of heritage features such as buildings, structures, spaces, views, archaeological sites or natural elements valued together. This study was commissioned as a starting point to identify the most significant CHLs in collaboration with the public, Indigenous groups and stakeholders. Annie Veilleux, consultant from Archaeological Services Inc., said the township is known as a scenic area with the Grand River being the backbone of influencing development in the township. “The significant CHLs are spread out throughout the township but are concentrated on the Grand River corridor,” Veilleux said. The study further identified higher priority areas that are more likely to have adjacent development, risk of altering heritage attributes or with more economic and tourism benefits. The report prioritizes the following urban areas for technical studies: Veilleux said CHLs in rural areas tend to be more stable. Also, those owned and managed by the Grand River Conservation Area have existing regulations and protections. These lower priority areas include: Council was very receptive to this report with councillor Kirk McElwain saying it should be part of the local school curriculum. He asked if a CHL designation provides any additional protection and noted that GRCA properties could be threatened by recent proposed changes to conservation authority mandates. Veilleux clarified that this report does not give protections to the CHLs but provides recommended priority areas for further study. “Following this study, the township may take on additional technical studies that are CHL specific and those studies would have the opportunity to develop protection measures for these places,” Veilleux said, adding that these measures could come from the heritage, planning, zoning. The CHL study is open for comments from the public until Jan. 29 where it will be later finalized and approved by council. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
Regina– On Nov. 19, the Ministry of Health released updated modelling information which provided four possible forecasts of what could happen in the coming months as COVID-19 spread across Saskatchewan. Several slides referenced Nov. 29 as part of a 14-day forecast. So what actually happened? Generally speaking, even with regularly climbing daily case counts in Saskatchewan, reality has been much less harsh than those models were predicting. While Saskatchewan has continued to show exponential growth in its 7-day average new case count, reality turned out to be much lower than the projected forecast. The “14 Day Forecast of Lab Confirmed Cases (to Nov. 29, 2020)” slide shows a band of possibilities, with a “50 per cent Forecasted Value” line, the “Upper Credibility Interval (97.5 per cent),” and the “Lower Credibility Interval (2.5 per cent).” The chart also says “*Interpret with caution.” The forecasted 50 per cent value was roughly 1,400 cases per day on Nov. 29, with the upper number coming in around 2,100 and the lower number at 660. In actuality, Saskatchewan’s new case count on Nov. 29 was 351, one of its highest days, but its 7-day average on that day was 250 cases per day. Three days earlier the average case count of 243 cases per day exceeded the 240 case per day level – a doubling from 120 average cases per day reached 16 days earlier on Nov. 10. Saskatchewan had been seeing a doubling of average cases per day roughly every 14 days since Oct. 10. Similarly, the “14 Day Forecast of Acute Hospital Admissions (to Nov. 29, 2020)” was also substantially off the mark. It’s 50 per cent forecast line came in at 90 new admissions per day, with the high mark at 130 and the low mark at 40. The daily COVID-19 updates from the province do not speak of new admissions per day, but rather provide how many people are in hospital, overall new cases, recoveries and deaths. So while the total number of people in hospital may increase by eight, as it did on Nov. 30, there will be churn within the number for people recovering and going home, and new admissions coming in. Thus, in reality, on Nov. 30, Saskatchewan had 123 people in total hospitalized throughout the province, the highest level to date. That was an increase from 115 the day before. On Nov. 30, the 325 new cases also came with were 49 recoveries. There were two deaths reported on Nov. 30, and 23 people were in intensive care. Manitoba and North Dakota compared With 325 new cases announced on Nov. 30, Saskatchewan’s 7-day average is now 262.9 cases per day. That number shows a continuing growth pattern, but perhaps not as sharply as the previous two months had been, and it may no longer be on the same exponential curve that it had been on from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15. In comparison, Manitoba has remained relatively flat since Nov. 13, when its 7-day average case count hit 400.4. Since then there have been fluctuations in the daily count, but the average has remained in a narrow band between 371.6 and 422.7 average cases per day. On Nov. 30, Manitoba’s 7-day average was 392.4 cases per day. Prior to mid-November, Manitoba had been undergoing exponential growth at a rate almost exactly the same as Saskatchewan, but roughly 16 to 18 days ahead of Saskatchewan’s curve. By Dec. 1, that had stretched to 30 days, as Saskatchewan’s growth rate slowed and Manitoba’s flattened out. North Dakota, which received national headlines as one of the worst affected states in the union, has not only flattened its curve, but bent it substantially down in the last two weeks of November. North Dakota, too, had been seeing exponential growth of new COVID-19 cases for the two months leading up to mid-November, albeit at a lower rate of growth than either Saskatchewan or Manitoba. Its overall numbers were much higher, however. North Dakota’s 7-day average crested on Nov. 18, at 1,415.7 average cases per day. Its highest individual case count for a day was 2,278 on Nov. 14. But in the two weeks since, that 7-day average case count made a steady decline, falling to 1035.7 by Nov. 27, and 848.1 on Nov. 30. On an individual day bases, Nov. 30 was the best day North Dakota had seen in over a month, with 598 new cases. The last time the state had a number in the 500s, it was Oct. 26, at 527. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury