Bailey tries to fit her favorite sticks through a gate, but sometimes you must leave your sticks behind in order to go on! @laughing_bailey
Bailey tries to fit her favorite sticks through a gate, but sometimes you must leave your sticks behind in order to go on! @laughing_bailey
Edward Blake Rudkowski was a member of Nunatsiavut, and before that the Labrador Inuit Association, for 34 years. He ran successfully to represent Labrador Inuit living outside the land claim as an ordinary member in 2017, was re-elected in 2018 and was named the Speaker of the Nunatsiavut Assembly, the legislative branch of the Inuit government. That was, until Nov. 20, when Blake Rudkowski was told he was no longer a member of Nunatsiavut, his status as a beneficiary was revoked and he could no longer hold the political office he had been elected to. Blake Rudkowski told SaltWire Network he was told he didn’t meet the eligibility requirements and was just over 17 per cent Inuit. According to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, there are a number of requirements that can lead to a person being a beneficiary, including that a person is one-quarter Inuit, is a descendant of someone who settled permanently in the land claim area prior to 1940 with no Inuit ancestry or is adopted by a beneficiary. “To be clear, they didn’t tell me I wasn’t Inuit,” he said. “They said I wasn’t Inuit enough.” He says he would like to know what formula they use to come up with that determination, and what factors were taken into account to determine it. He’d also like to know why that number matters more than what was determined when he was first accepted as a member of the Labrador Inuit Association 34 years ago. His status as a beneficiary of Nunatsiavut had been challenged two years ago and he’d been going through the process ever since. “Immediately after the election, literally the day after, there were two challenges to my membership eligibility,” he said. “I’d been dealing with this behind the scenes since then.” He said the two people who challenged his membership were political rivals — one a person he had beaten in an election and another a former politician — and the timing of it seemed curious to him. “It felt like membership was being used as a tool of political retribution,” he said. Having Nunatsiavut beneficiary status challenged is like coming in as a new applicant and is a daunting task that, successful or not, can take up a lot of time. In 2013 an amendment was made to the Nunatsiavut Beneficiaries Enrolment Act that allows any member to challenge the membership of another. Blake Rudkowski said this allows people to try to use membership as a tool to try to harm their enemies. “What this does is it allows someone who is a malcontent or has a beef with someone else a vehicle to exact some sort of retribution. At minimum, even if it's not successful, it can cause someone a significant amount of mental anguish.” What this has created, Blake Rudkowski said, is a climate where some people are afraid to speak up about issues they have with the government for fear they may have their rights as a beneficiary stripped away, or at the very least have it challenged. When he was in government, it appeared there were an increasing number of memberships being challenged, he said, to the point where people were asking whether a full review was underway. He said he also heard complaints that the process was inconsistent, which he believes to be the case. “You have a lot of cases where it’s one brother in, one sister out, one cousin in, one cousin out, so there’s an inconsistency across the board which speaks to the fact that maybe there’s a problem with the process. That’s been a long-standing critique of many beneficiaries, there’s an inconsistent application of the rules.” Blake Rudkowski said he doesn’t know what steps he’ll take next, and while it appears his career as a politician in Nunatsiavut has come to an end it won’t be the last time people see him the political arena. The Nunatsiavut Government put out a statement Monday about Blake Rudkowski’s removal, saying he was removed from the government once his eligibility as a beneficiary had been revoked. “First Minister Tyler Edmunds reminds beneficiaries of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement that the Nunatsiavut Government plays no role whatsoever in determining the membership of any individual,” the statement read. “The beneficiary enrolment process is independent from the Nunatsiavut Government.” SaltWire asked to speak to someone with the Nunatsiavut Government about the requirements and the process, but an interview was not available before deadline.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Australia’s prime minister said Monday that a Chinese official’s tweet showing a fake image of an Australian soldier appearing to slit a child’s throat was “truly repugnant” and merits an apology.China said there would be no apology.The incident is further souring already tense relations between the two nations. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was seeking an apology from the Chinese government after Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, posted the graphic image that shows a grinning soldier holding a bloodied knife to the throat of a veiled child, who is holding a lamb.Zhao wrote a caption with the tweet saying: “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable.”He was referring to a disturbing report by Australia’s military earlier this month which found evidence that elite Australian troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghan prisoners, farmers and civilians during the conflict in Afghanistan. It recommended that 19 soldiers be referred to federal police for criminal investigation.Asked about the issue at a daily briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying cast blame on the Australian side.“What Australia should do is to reflect deeply, bring the perpetrators to justice, make a formal apology to the Afghan people, and solemnly promise to the international community that they will never commit such terrible crimes again,” Hua said.Morrison said Zhao's tweet was “utterly outrageous” and a terrible slur against Australia's military.It “is truly repugnant. It is deeply offensive to every Australian, every Australian who has served in that uniform,” he told reporters in Canberra. “The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes.”Morrison said his government had contacted Twitter asking it to take the post down. The post had a warning tag on it by Monday afternoon but could still be viewed. Zhao's account comes with a Twitter label stating that it's a Chinese government account.Despite China blocking Twitter and other U.S. social media platforms within the county, Chinese diplomats and state media have established a strong presence on them.Zhao was criticized by the U.S. in March after tweeting a conspiracy theory that U.S. soldiers may have brought the coronavirus to China. He is considered a leading representative of China’s high-pitched new strain of assertive foreign relations.Morrison acknowledged there were tensions between China and Australia.“But this is not how you deal with them," he said. “Australia has patiently sought to address the tensions that exist in our relationship in a mature way, in a responsible way, by seeking engagement at both leader and ministerial level.”The rift between the two nations has grown since the Australian government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. China has since imposed tariffs and other restrictions on a number of Australian exports.Nick Perry, The Associated Press
Six new cases of COVID-19 were reported in New Brunswick on Monday.The new cases, which bring the total number of active cases to 120, are:Moncton region (Zone 1): * Two cases, 20 to 29.Saint John region (Zone 2) * one individual 20 to 29; and * one individual 30 to 39.Bathurst region (Zone 6) * One individual 40 to 49.All of these people are self-isolating and their cases are under investigation.The province has conducted 1,305 COVID-19 tests since this time Sunday, bringing the total number of tests to 125,188.So far, New Brunswick has had 501 cases during the pandemic and seven deaths.Outbreak at Dieppe adult residential facility is overPublic Health has declared the COVID-19 outbreak at Oasis Residence, an adult residential facility in Dieppe, officially over.An outbreak was declared at Oasis Residence, which has 66 residents and 38 employees, on Nov. 19 following a confirmed COVID-19 case there. The outbreak never grew larger than that one case.All staff and residents of the Oasis were retested several times to confirm the end of the outbreak, which has been officially declared over by Dr. Mariane Pâquet, regional medical officer of health, Public Health said Monday.1 confirmed case at Moncton schoolAnother school announced a positive COVID-19 test as the province recorded 18 new cases over the weekend.Anglophone School District East told parents on Sunday that a case has turned up at Harrison Trimble High School in Moncton.It's the first Moncton-area school to report a COVID-19 case. Eleven New Brunswick schools have had cases this year, six of them this month.In a letter to parents, the district did not say whether the case was a student or staff member at the school."We are working with Public Health officials to identify any students and school personnel who may have been in contact with the case," wrote district superintendent Gregg Ingersoll.Nursing homes increase restrictionsNursing homes in the province's three orange zones are now starting to restrict visitors, hoping to reduce the risk of an outbreak at a home.With increasing COVID-19 cases in the province, the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes says stress levels among staff and residents are increasing."The last 10 months have been incredibly challenging for homes right across the province, needing to adapt very quickly to, you know, very rapidly evolving information," said Jodi Hall, the executive director of the association. "But overall, the homes really have done an amazing job and have done everything that they can to support the residents," Much of the province is the yellow phase of recovery, but recent cases in the Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton health regions have been pushed those zones back to the orange phase, where there are more restrictions on gatherings. As a result, nursing homes have had to adopt restrictions as well. Fredericton's York Care Centre, for instance, has barred normal visitors from the facility until the region goes back into yellow.Some outsiders are still being let in, including members of the designated care program, which sees residents linked with one family member who can come in to assist with care on a set schedule.Still, Lori McDonald, the centre's vice-president of care and research services, said those designated caregivers have to be aware of increased COVID-19 protocols."We've developed an orientation program that each of these caregivers would have to go through before they're allowed access as a caregiver," said McDonald. "And during those orientation time frames we teach them the importance of staying safe when you're outside our facility."Out of the centre's 218 residents, only 50 have a designated caregiver, but McDonald expects that number will increase as regular visiting is no longer allowed.Hall said a lot of work has gone into preparing for possible outbreaks at nursing homes, and how to avoid them, and she expects more lessons will become apparent when the pandemic is over."I think when this is done we will be sitting down and doing a very intense debrief for all that we have learned," she said. "And I think there are some aspects of infection control and even how long-term care facilities are designed for the future that will have a lasting impact."Travel restrictions and spot checksNow that the Atlantic bubble is gone, the province is reminding people about the rules for entering the province.New Brunswick now requires people coming into the province from elsewhere in Atlantic Canada to register with the travel registration program.The online program will collect the information and the province will determine if that person can enter and whether self-isolation is required.Those exempt from self-isolating include people who live in one province but have to travel daily to work or go to school in another.Jacques Babin, the executive director of the Department of Justice and Public Safety's inspection and enforcement branch, said people travelling like this can apply for regular traveller passes that are good for several weeks. These people are expected to travel to work or school and back only."The expectation is that they go directly to work and return home with no stops," said Babin.Non-frequent travel that is allowed includes travel for medical appointments, travel for custody arrangements and some compassionate travel approved by Public Health.And while the province isn't resuming the border checkpoints seen earlier in the pandemic, people still have to register and may get caught if they don't."We intend to do some spot checks to make sure that people that are entering are registering as required," said Babin. "If not, they can be turned around to return to Nova Scotia or there's also penalties available."Potential public exposure warnings for Fredericton, Saint John, MonctonNew Brunswick Public Health has warned of the following possible exposures to COVID-19 in Moncton and Saint John, including gyms, stores, bars, restaurants and on flights.Anyone who visited these places during the identified times should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.Anyone who develops any COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and take the self-assessment online to schedule a test.Fredericton area * The Snooty Fox on Nov. 18 and 19, 66 Regent St., between 8:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. * GoodLife Fitness Fredericton on Nov. 18 at 1174 Prospect St. between 10:20 a.m. and 11:20 a.m. Nov. 19 between 1:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. * The YMCA of Fredericton on Nov. 17 at 570 York St. throughout the evening. Saint John area * Vito's Restaurant on Nov. 16, 111 Hampton Rd., Rothesay, between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. * Cora Breakfast and Lunch on Nov. 16 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (39 King St., Saint John). * Goodlife Fitness McAllister Place on Nov. 16 between noon and 1 p.m. and on Nov. 18 between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (519 Westmorland Rd., Saint John). * NBCC Grandview campus on Nov. 16, 17, and 18 between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (950 Grandview Ave., Saint John). * Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio on Nov. 19 between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. (47 Clark Rd., Rothesay) * Big Tide Brewing Company at 47 Princess St. on Nov. 16, between 12:30 to 2 p.m. * Java Moose at 84 Prince William St. Nov. 16, between 2 to 2:30 p.m.Flights into Saint John:Public Health identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18 while on the following flights: * Air Canada Flight 8421 on Nov. 17 and 18 from Kelowna to Vancouver, arrived at 8 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 314 on Nov. 17 and 18 from Vancouver to Montreal, arrived at 07:11 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 8792 on Nov. 17 and 18, from Montreal to Saint John arrived at 9:22 p.m.Moncton * RD Maclean Co. Ltd. on Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at 200 St. George St., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. * GoodLife Fitness on Nov. 21 at 555 Dieppe Blvd, Dieppe, between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. * Keg Steakhouse and Bar at 576 Main St. on Nov. 17, between 7:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.Flights into Moncton: * Air Canada Flight 178 on Nov. 19 from Edmonton to Toronto, arrived at 5:58 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 404 on Nov. 19 from Toronto to Montreal, arrived at 10:16 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 8902 on Nov. 19 from Montreal to Moncton, arrived at 4:17 p.m.What to do if you have a symptomPeople concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: * A fever above 38 C. * A new cough or worsening chronic cough. * Sore throat. * Runny nose. * Headache. * New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. * Difficulty breathing.In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.People with one of those symptoms should: * Stay at home. * Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. * Describe symptoms and travel history. * Follow instructions.
Three student cohorts at two schools in the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board have been dismissed due to COVID-19 cases.The board said in a statement Sunday that two cohorts — or 41 students — at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Elementary School, along with one 26-student cohort at St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School in River Canard, are impacted.There are two cases at Mount Carmel and one at St. Joseph. Board officials said they learned of the cases on Sunday afternoon and told parents not to send the affected students to class for Monday."We have been working with the health unit by providing lists of students and staff who may have been directly affected.The health unit is contacting any individuals, both students and staff, who may have been affected, and will give directions for them to follow," a spokesperson for the board said in a statement.There are 13 active cases of COVID-19 within the school board, including seven at W.J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School, which remains closed.Meanwhile, in the Greater Essex County District School Board, there have been 75 total cases as of Monday. This includes 49 cases at F.W. Begley, which was shut down as well.There are also three cases in the Lambton Kent district school board and four in the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.
Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent are expected to see a "multi-day snowfall event" that could last from Monday until Wednesday and bring up to 20 centimetres of snow, according to Environment Canada. Rain mixed with snow are expected for the regions Monday, Environment Canada said in a statement issued around 5 a.m. By Monday afternoon, the rain is expected to change to snow, with five to 10 centimetres of snow possible by Tuesday morning. An additional five to 10 centimetres are also possible for Tuesday into Wednesday morning. "Motorists should be prepared for winter driving conditions," Environment Canada said. In the statement, Environment Canada said that strong northwesterly winds, gusting around 70 kilometres per hour, are possible Monday night and Tuesday, specifically near Lake Huron.Flood watch in effectDue to the strong winds, the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) issued a flood watch Monday for the Lake St. Clair shoreline from Belle River to Tilbury North in the Town of Lakeshore and for the western shoreline of Pelee Island in Lake Erie. By Monday afternoon winds are expected to reach speeds higher than 40 kilometres per hour, with some gusts more than 60 km/hr, the statement reads. These conditions could last until Tuesday. Based on these wind speeds, ERCA said in its watch statement that there is the potential for near-shore erosion with wave overtopping and spray along the Lake St. Clair shoreline, specifically between Belle River and Lighthouse Cove in the Town of Lakeshore. Some areas might experience breakwall damage and could erode the western shoreline of Pelee Island. More from CBC Windsor
BANGKOK — Five leaders of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement reported to police Monday to acknowledge charges that they defamed the king, the most serious of many offences of which they stand accused.The five are part of the student-led movement that for several months has been campaigning for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic and the monarchy be reformed to make it more accountable.The demand about the monarchy is the most radical and controversial, because by tradition the institution has been considered untouchable, the bedrock element of Thai nationalism. It is considered taboo to publicly criticize the monarch, and insulting or defaming key royals is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under a lese majeste law known as Article 112.The protest movement has nevertheless emphasized reform of the monarchy as a key demand, and made it the theme of several of its protest rallies, which have attracted thousands of people. They believe the king holds too much power in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy."When people criticize the monarchy and they listen, people will consider them open-minded. But if they use 112 to shut our mouths, not only Thai people but also the world will know they are afraid of the truth,” Parit Chiwarak said to reporters ahead of reporting to police. “This won’t stop our movement. On the contrary, it will make more people join us.”Article 112 is controversial, because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint, so it in the past had been used as a weapon in political vendettas. But it had not been employed for the past three years, after King Maha Vajiralongkorn informed the government that he did not wish to see it used. The king has not publicly commented on the law since then.But after a protest last week included crude chants and graffiti that could be considered derogatory of the king, Prayuth declared that the protesters had gone too far and could now expect to be prosecuted for their actions, including with charges under Article 112. While protest leaders have faced dozens of charges over the past few months, they have generally been freed on bail, and none have yet come to trial.Despite Prayuth’s threat, protest leaders have continued to include strong criticisms of the monarchy at rallies.The other four who reported Monday to Bangkok’s Chana Songkhram police station were Arnon Nampha, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong Jadnok and Patiphan Luecha. Patiphan, a traditional folk singer also known as Patiwat Saraiyaem, served 2 1/2 years in prison after being arrested under Article 112 in 2014.Most of the protest leaders face multiple charges already, ranging from blocking traffic to sedition, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison.Anon, a lawyer, said he was indifferent about being charged under Article 112, because it is an “unjust law.”“If we speak the truth and they stop us with 112, it reflects how abnormal this law and this country are,” he said.Also reporting to police Monday were Benjamaporn Nivas and Lopnaphat Wangsit, leaders of the mockingly self-named Bad Students group of secondary school students, which seeks major reforms in education and supports the broader aims of the pro-democracy movement as well.They are accused of violating a state of emergency decree that was briefly in effect in October by taking part in a rally in central Bangkok.___Associated Press journalists Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul and Grant Peck contributed to this report.Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-female senior communications team at his White House, reflecting his stated desire to build out a diverse White House team as well as what’s expected to be a return to a more traditional press operation. Biden campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield will serve as Biden’s White House communications director. Jen Psaki, a longtime Democratic spokeswoman, will be his press secretary. Four of the seven top communications roles at the White House will be filled by women of colour, and it’s the first time the entire senior White House communications team will be entirely female. President Donald Trump upended the ways in which his administration communicated with the press. In contrast with administrations past, Trump’s communications team held few press briefings, and those that did occur were often combative affairs riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods. Trump himself sometimes served as his own press secretary, taking questions from the media, and he often bypassed the White House press corps entirely by dialing into his favourite Fox News shows. In a statement announcing the White House communications team, Biden said: “Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a President, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House.” He added: “These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better.” Bedingfield and Psaki are veterans of the Obama administration. Bedingfield served as communications director for Biden while he was vice-president, and Psaki was a White House communications director and a spokesperson at the State Department. Others joining the White House communications staff are: — Karine Jean Pierre, who was Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris’ chief of staff, will serve as a principal deputy press secretary for the president-elect. She’s another Obama administration alum, having served as a regional political director for the White House office of political affairs. — Pili Tobar, who was communications director for coalitions on Biden’s campaign, will be his deputy White House communications director. She most recently was deputy director for America’s Voice, an immigration reform advocacy group, and was a press staffer for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Three Biden campaign senior advisers are being appointed to top communications roles: — Ashley Etienne, a former communications director for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will serve as Harris’ communications director. — Symone Sanders, another senior adviser on the Biden campaign, will be Harris’ senior adviser and chief spokesperson. — Elizabeth Alexander, who served as the former vice-president’s press secretary and his communications director while he was a U.S. senator from Delaware, will serve as Jill Biden’s communications director. After his campaign went virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden faced some of his own criticism for not being accessible to reporters. But near the end of the campaign, he answered questions from the press more frequently, and his transition team has held weekly briefings since he was elected president. The choice of a number of Obama administration veterans — many with deep relationships with the Washington press corps — also suggests a return to a more congenial relationship with the press. ___ Taylor reported from Washington. Alexandra Jaffe And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens.Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths. Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. Across the Atlantic, British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.Moderna created its shots with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and already had a hint they were working, but said it got the final needed results over the weekend that suggest the vaccine is more than 94% effective.Of 196 COVID-19 cases so far in its huge U.S. study, 185 were trial participants who received the placebo and 11 who got the real vaccine. The only people who got severely ill — 30 participants, including one who died — had received dummy shots, said Dr. Tal Zaks, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company's chief medical officer.When he learned the results, “I allowed myself to cry for the first time,” Zaks told The Associated Press. “We have already, just in the trial, have already saved lives. Just imagine the impact then multiplied to the people who can get this vaccine.”Moderna said the shots’ effectiveness and a good safety record so far — with only temporary, flu-like side effects — mean they meet requirements set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use before the final-stage testing is complete. The European Medicines Agency, Europe’s version of FDA, has signalled it also is open to faster, emergency clearance.WHAT COMES NEXTThe FDA has pledged that before it decides to roll out any COVID-19 vaccines, its scientific advisers will publicly debate whether there’s enough evidence behind each candidate.First up on Dec. 10, Pfizer and BioNTech will present data suggesting their vaccine candidate is 95% effective. Moderna said its turn at this “science court” is expected exactly a week later, on Dec. 17.RATIONING INITIAL DOSESIf the FDA allows emergency use, Moderna expects to have 20 million doses ready for the U.S. by year’s end. Recipients will need two doses, so that’s enough for 10 million people.Pfizer expects to have 50 million doses globally in December. Half of them — or enough for 12.5 million people — are earmarked for the U.S.This week, a different panel of U.S. experts, established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will meet to decide how initial supplies will be given out. They're expected to reserve scarce first doses for health care workers and, if the shots work well enough in the frail elderly, for residents of long-term care facilities. As more vaccine gradually becomes available in coming months, other essential workers and people at highest risk from the coronavirus would get in line. But enough for the general population isn't expected until at least spring.Outside the U.S., Zaks said significant supplies from Moderna would be available later, “in the first quarter” of next year.“Obviously we are doing everything in our power to increase the capacity and accelerate the timelines,” he said.Both Moderna's and Pfizer's vaccines are made with the same technology, using a piece of genetic code for the “spike” protein that studs the virus. That messenger RNA, or mRNA, instructs the body to make some harmless spike protein, training immune cells to recognize it if the real virus eventually comes along.ASTRAZENECA CONFUSIONAstraZeneca last week announced confusing early results of its vaccine candidate from research in Britain and BrazilThat vaccine appears 62% effective when tested as originally intended, with recipients given two full doses. But because of a manufacturing error, a small number of volunteers got a lower first dose — and AstraZeneca said in that group, the vaccine appeared to be 90% effective.Experts say it’s unclear why the lower-dose approach would work better and that it may just be a statistical quirk.A larger U.S. study of the AstraZeneca candidate still is underway that should eventually give the FDA a better picture of how well it works. The FDA has said any COVID-19 vaccine would have to be at least 50% effective.Meanwhile Britain’s government will have to decide whether its U.K. data is sufficient for an early rollout there.STILL IN THE PIPELINEJohnson & Johnson also is in final-stage testing in the U.S. and several other countries to see if its vaccine candidate could work with just one dose.Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines work by using harmless cold viruses to carry the spike protein gene into the body and prime the immune system.The different technologies have ramifications for how easily different vaccines could be distributed globally. The AstraZeneca shots won't require freezer storage like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.Candidates made with still other technologies are in late-stage testing, too. Another U.S. company, Novavax Inc., announced Monday that it has finished enrolling 15,000 people in a late-stage study in Britain and plans to begin recruiting even more volunteers for final testing in the U.S. and Mexico “in the coming weeks.”Vaccines made by three Chinese companies and a Russian candidate also are being tested in thousands of people in countries around the world.____The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press
Police have shut down a north-end Halifax intersection to investigate the discovery of a dead body in the bushes outside a wine and beer store.In a news release sent around 7:30 a.m. Monday, Halifax Regional Police advised of a "traffic disruption" at the intersection of Lady Hammond Drive and Robie Street, "due to an ongoing police matter."About 30 minutes later, the police force issued an update, saying they were still on the scene "for what was reported as a deceased person outside and near the intersection."Police said the investigation is in the early stages and offered no other details.As of the time of the last police update, traffic was being detoured around the scene.MORE TOP STORIES
TOKYO — A brightly burning meteor was seen plunging from the sky in wide areas of Japan, capturing attention on television and social media. The meteor glowed strongly as it rapidly descended through the Earth's atmosphere on Sunday. Many people in western Japan reported on social media seeing the rare sight. NHK public television said its cameras in the central prefectures of Aichi, Mie and elsewhere captured the fireball in the southern sky. A camera at Nagoya port showed the meteor shining as brightly as a full moon as it neared the Earth, the Asahi newspaper reported. Some experts said small fragments of the meteorite might have reached the ground. The Associated Press
For Diane Melanson, the wait for medicare coverage in New Brunswick has been long and complicated.Melanson, 75, said confusion over her citizenship status is holding up approval of her coverage. And as a result, she and her family have had to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills for surgery she had after breaking her hip last winter."The next morning after the operation, the doctor was at the foot of my bed with my fiancé here and asking him for his money, so medicare didn't cover it," Melanson said. That's when Melanson's niece Susan Belliveau stepped in and paid the bills, which added up to nearly $7,000."I would have paid anything in order for my aunt to be OK," Belliveau said.Melanson was born in Minto in 1945 and lived there until her family moved to the U.S. when she was 15. In 1969 she became a naturalized U.S. citizen, and because of the laws at the time, she unknowingly lost her Canadian citizenship. "I thought once you were born in a country, you're in, you're in," Melanson said. "If I'm Canadian, I'm a Canadian. I became a naturalized American but I didn't denounce my Canadian citizenship."But in 2009, that legislation was changed under Bill C-37, and Melanson's Canadian citizenship was restored and corrected so that technically, she had never lost it at all. But Melanson, who moved back to Minto almost three years ago, said medicare is requiring proof of citizenship before it will cover her. Belliveau has been helping her through the process. "In February, when she applied for her medicare," said Belliveau, "they asked for all of her documentation … and when they found the naturalization papers, they sent a letter saying, 'We can't give you (coverage) until you prove that you are a Canadian citizen.'"Belliveau said they then sent in Melanson's birth certificate, but it wasn't accepted as proof. Medicare said it still required further proof of citizenship. But with the help of a patient advocate, Melanson did receive a temporary medicare card in March, which helped cover about a third of her medical bills.Don Chapman also lost his citizenship as a child when his family moved from Vancouver to the U.S. He's been advocating for citizenship rights for decades."This woman falls in the cracks, not so much as 'Is she a citizen?' as to interpretation, and somebody in the province is not understanding the federal legislation," he said. Belliveau said she has been in touch with medicare several times since February but still hasn't been able to secure full coverage. In early November, Immigration and Citizenship Canada wrote a letter confirming Melanson's citizenship. That letter was sent to medicare but still Melanson and Belliveau have not heard about Melanson's status. "It's kind of hard on the nerves," said Melanson. "It tears at you after a while."Melanson's temporary coverage is set to expire Dec. 7.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania state senator abruptly left a West Wing meeting with President Donald Trump after being informed he had tested positive for the coronavirus, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press.Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano had gone to the White House last Wednesday with like-minded Republican state lawmakers shortly after a four-hour-plus public meeting that Mastriano helped host in Gettysburg — maskless — to discuss efforts to overturn president-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.Trump told Mastriano that White House medical personnel would take care of him, his son and his son’s friend, who were also there for the Oval Office meeting and tested positive. The meeting continued after Mastriano and the others left, the person said.The person spoke to the AP on Sunday on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private session because the matter is politically sensitive.Positive coronavirus cases are surging across the United States and the nation's top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. may see “surge upon surge” in the coming weeks. The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 200,000 for the first time Friday.Everyone who will be in close proximity to the president must take a rapid test. Trump was himself hospitalized in October after he contracted the virus. Dozens of White House staffers and others close to the president have also tested positive, including the first lady and two of the president’s sons.All participants in Wednesday's meeting took COVID-19 tests, but the positive results were not announced until they were in the West Wing of the White House, the person said.“The president instantly called the White House doctor in and he took them back to, I guess, the medical place,” the person said. The meeting with Trump was to strategize about efforts regarding the election, the person said.After Mastriano and the others left, the discussion with Trump continued for about a half-hour. Mastriano did not return to the meeting.Mastriano sought the meeting of the Pennsylvania Senate Republican Policy Committee earlier Wednesday that drew Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, a second Trump lawyer, several witnesses and a crowd of onlookers. Only a few of them were masked.The committee let Giuliani and others, for several hours, air their beliefs that there had been problems with how the Pennsylvania vote was conducted and counted. All claims were baseless; no evidence was presented to support any of the allegations they made.Trump even participated, calling from the White House while one of his lawyers held a phone up to a microphone. He reiterated the same unfounded claims of fraud he's been tweeting about for weeks.Those beliefs have persisted despite Trump losing repeatedly in state and federal courts, including a Philadelphia-based federal appeals court's decision Friday that said the Trump campaign’s "claims have no merit," and a state Supreme Court decision Saturday that threw out a legal challenge to the election and effort to stop certification of its results.Mastriano, a conservative from a rural district in central Pennsylvania and outspoken Trump supporter, did not return several messages left Sunday seeking comment.Republican state Sen. Dave Argall, who chairs the policy committee, declined Sunday in a text message to discuss Mastriano’s medical condition and the White House visit.“I’ve received some conflicting information that I’m trying to resolve,” Argall said in the text. “It’s my understanding a Senate statement later today will help us all to understand this better.”Argall said he would not talk publicly about the matter “until I know more.”Senate Republican spokeswoman Kate Flessner declined comment, describing it as a personnel matter.The person with knowledge of the White House visit said several people rode in a large van from Gettysburg, where the policy committee met in a hotel, to the White House. Mastriano, his son and his son’s friend drove in another vehicle.It's not clear why Mastriano's son and his friend accompanied the state senator to the meeting, which the person said was also attended by Trump and the president's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who tested positive in early November.Mastriano has aggressively opposed policies under the administration of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and keep people safe.He has led rallies where he advocated to reopen businesses despite the risk of infection and he has repeatedly and sharply denounced Wolf’s orders. Mastriano also spoke to a few thousand Trump supporters who gathered outside the Capitol on Nov. 7, hours after Democrat Joe Biden’s national win became evident.___Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press
SURREY, B.C. — Surrey RCMP say a man is dead following a shooting in Fleetwood Sunday evening. They say officers responded to a shooting call around 7:40 p.m. in front of a shopping complex at the corner of 152 Street and Fraser Highway. They say paramedics also attended and provided aid to a wounded man, but he died at the scene. Investigators say the victim is known to police and that they believe he was targeted. No names or suspect information was immediately released. The Mounties say they're assisting the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team with the case and are asking anyone who witnessed the incident or has pertinent video surveillance or dash-cam video to contact them. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
Recently, Caroline Arsenault watched parcels being stolen in her own neighbourhood — and didn't even realize. "I happened to see a couple of people walking by the window where I sit for my work and then rapidly walk back toward the street and I didn't think anything of it really," said Arsenault. She later found her husband attempting to contact the police after observing the same people also pace up and down their driveway. He got suspicious. He was right. "He found Amazon packages in our green bin," she said.The thieves had taken two packages. One was emptied of its contents while the other was left torn open with the stuff still inside.Arsenault's North End Halifax neighbourhood had just been hit by a porch pirate. It's not just happening in Halifax."The porch pirate has been a little busier this year unfortunately and now a third of Canadians stated in 2020 that they have been victims of a package theft," FedEx spokesperson James Anderson told CBC News.FedEx has published a survey of 1,500 Canadians this holiday season and found that one in three online shoppers say they have experienced package theft in 2020, up from one in four in 2019. It also found that three in 10 are worried about their online purchases being stolen when delivered. Jon Hamilton, spokesperson for Canada Post, said they haven't seen a noticeable increase in complaints about packages being stolen, but cautioned that doesn't mean it's not a threat. He also noted that many people are now working at home and are able to get their parcel as soon as it is delivered.In other parts of the country, such as Toronto, where lockdown restrictions are more prevalent, more people are able to stay at home to receive their deliveries. In Nova Scotia many businesses and schools remain open in the province so some people are frequently not home and cannot receive their packages.Arsenault posted about the porch bandit on social media and was surprised by the reaction."I had quite a few neighbours chime in and say that they too had found open and empty boxes in their driveway or thrown somewhere it didn't really belong." After Arsenault's neighbour reported the incident to the police, Arsenault herself received a follow up call. "The police confirmed this is something that they see quite a bit of. It's something that we should all be mindful of if we're expecting to receive packages when we might not be available to answer the door or pick them up quickly," she said.Halifax Regional Police have not yet responded to a request for an interview. FedEx, along with Canada Post, DHL courier service, UPS, Amazon Canada and Purolator all offer tracking information online, which FedEx's James Anderson said is one of the primary ways to keep your package safe."We give package recipients digital tools to use at your disposal," said Anderson. "If you got a tracking number you can get a notification sent to you when you expect those packages to arrive so you can stay on top of it."Bob Mann, acting chair of the neighbourhood watch in Wilmot, Annapolis County, N.S., said there are more low-tech ways to protect your deliveries. He said you can try asking a neighbour to pick it up or leave the radio on. Mann said one of his favourite home safety tools is photosensitive lights."If you don't have one yourself, take note," said Mann, who has been with his neighbourhood watch since its creation in 1995. "They light up probably half of my driveway ... at dusk the bulbs will come on and they'll go off in the morning." Cpl. Lisa Croteau of the RCMP said package theft doesn't appear to be a big issue at this time, but that could change, so she does have some advice. "Have a different method to pick it up. Instead of dropping it off on your front porch, if you could go to a different location to pick up the package that would be a little safer."Arsenault said she wanted to make people aware of the incident but she also understands the situation."We know there are probably more packages being delivered at this time of year. Holidays are coming up and times are hard for people so we know this is something that happens," said Arsenault.MORE TOP STORIES
For years Kaavan was living in substandard conditions at a Islamabad zoo. After a public outcry and campaigning by the US singer Cher. Kaavan, considered the world’s ‘loneliest elephant’ has finally moved from Pakistan to Cambodia.View on euronews
NEW YORK — On Dec. 31, China reported a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown origin to the World Health Organization. By Jan. 31, WHO declared an outbreak of a novel coronavirus a global health emergency. Come March 11, the world was facing down the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents sat children down to explain what a pandemic is. Related terms usually restricted to medicine and science stormed into everyday conversation. Over time, we were pandemic baking and pandemic dating and rescuing pandemic puppies from shelters. All of which led Dictionary.com on Monday to declare “pandemic” its 2020 word of the year. Searches on the site for the word spiked more than 13,500% on March 11, senior research editor John Kelly told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of the announcement. “That's massive, but even more telling is how high it has sustained significant search volumes throughout the entire year. Month over month, it was over 1,000% higher than usual. For about half the year, it was in the top 10% of all our lookups.” Another dictionary, Merriam-Webster, also selected pandemic as its word of the year earlier Monday. Kelly said pandemic beat out routine lookups usually intended to sort more mundane matters, such as the differences between “to, two and too.” “That's significant,” Kelly emphasized. “It seems maybe a little bit obvious, and that's fair to say, but think about life before the pandemic. Things like pandemic fashion would have made no sense. The pandemic as an event created a new language for a new normal.” Lexicographers often factor out routine lookups when evaluating word trends. The pandemic, Kelly said, made us all worthy of watercooler chatter with Dr. Anthony Fauci as our knowledge grew about aerosols, contact tracing, social distancing and herd immunity, along with the intricacies of therapeutic drugs, tests and vaccines that can help save lives. “These were all part of a new shared vocabulary we needed to stay safe and informed. It's incredible,” said Kelly, who works with a team of lexicographers to come up with words of the year based primarily on site traffic. Asymptomatic, furlough, non-essential, hydroxychloroquine and a host of other pandemic-related words saw massive increases in lookups as well. Jennifer Steeves-Kiss, chief executive officer of Dictionary.com, said one key ingredient in the hunt for the site's word of the year is sustained interest over time. Pandemic met that standard. “This has affected families, our work, the economy,” she said. “It really became the logical choice. It's become the context through which we've had dialogue all through 2020. It's the through line for discourse.” The word pandemic has roots in Latin and the Greek pandemos, meaning “common, public.” Breaking it down further, “pan” means “all” and “demos” means “people.” As evidenced in a medical text by a Dutch-born physician, Gideon Harvey, pandemic entered English in the 1660s in the medical sense, Kelly said. He noted that “demos” is also the basis for the word democracy. A pandemic is defined by Dictionary.com as a disease “prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world; epidemic over a large area.” Its broader sense, as evidenced in its roots, can be used thusly: “A pandemic fear of atomic war.” Dictionary.com also noted other worthy search trends beyond the pandemic. After the May 25 death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, words around racial justice experienced spikes, including fascism, anti-fascism, defund and white fragility. “There was no way for us to leave that out of the conversation this year,” Kelly said. Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
TC Energy Corp's sale of a C$1 billion ($769 million) stake in Keystone XL (KXL) to a Canadian indigenous group is the result of over three years of pressure from a tiny Saskatchewan First Nation that demanded part ownership of the long-delayed oil pipeline, rather than short-term payments for allowing it to be built through its lands. Natural Law Energy's (NLE) planned investment was billed by TC as the biggest-ever indigenous investment in an oil project, highlighting how some communities are seeking to share in the industry's profits while others oppose it. Adding indigenous support may help efforts by Canada and TC to convince U.S. President-elect Joe Biden not to revoke the permit of the $8-billion Keystone XL when he takes office as he has promised.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is putting a call out for Islanders to find their old phones and consider donating them. The phones would go to clients of the My Place Housing First program, run by the CMHA. Some of the clients of the program had told staff that securing a reliable cellphone was a challenge for them, said Tessa Rogers, a housing support worker with the CMHA.The program works with those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, trying to get them into more secure and stable housing situations. "A big part of this is weekly meetings with our clients, getting them into stable housing, but then also connecting them with different resources in the community and, you know, potential employers, things like that," she said."In order to do this effectively, it's very beneficial typically if they have a cellphone, just so you can reach them easily." The organization sometimes has trouble contacting clients, having to call neighbours or friends to get in touch with them, said Rogers. "Some of our clients have reported to us, you know, it's very challenging to book my appointments with you folks, book my appointments with my doctor, various community resources, just because they don't have that reliable communication tool," she said. Keeping connectedAny phone can be donated, said Rogers. Anything from an old brick, all the way up to the latest and greatest — it just needs to hold a charge and not have a shattered screen, she said. "Some of them are looking for something that they can just, you know, quickly answer and have a phone conversation," Rogers said. > Our goal is to meet clients where they are and, you know, connect them to those community resources. — Tessa Rogers, CMHA"And then some of our other clients are looking for something that's more up to date that they can use their social media on and maybe play games to reduce some isolation." The ability to use the internet is important, not only for reducing isolation in the time of COVID-19, but also to be able to access resources if public health measures tighten in the province. "If something does come up with the second wave, and having to shut down, this would allow those clients to still, you know, utilize those resources, whether it be Zoom meetings, Skype, anything like that," she said. Always a needRogers said they've had a number of people already reach out and offer to donate phones. All of the phones will be cleaned, sanitized, and staff will ensure that no data is left on them before passing them on. When the client gets that phone, if the phone gets a plan and how it's paid for is decided on a case-by-case basis, said Rogers. "Our goal is to meet clients where they are and, you know, connect them to those community resources. So a few of our clients are already connected with those resources. Some have it within their budget already. If not, it might look like us advocating for them," she said. "Some of our clients might not even necessarily want a phone plan and just want a phone that they can use with Wi-Fi. So it's really just meeting that client where they are and kind of assessing their needs and working with them to meet that goal." Rogers said there's no set number of phones they're looking for, because they constantly have new clients and there's always a need. More from CBC P.E.I.
Peel Regional Police are forecasting a $16.7 million increase in spending for 2021, the bulk of which will service a spike in salaries and benefits, and the addition of 27 officers. The budget, presented at a police board meeting Friday, calls for $462.5 million in total spending in 2021, a 3.8 per cent increase or a $316 per capita bump in the annual tax levy. The spending increase comes at a time when police services across Canada and south of the border have seen outcry over police violence and systemic anti-Black racism lead to calls to defund police in favour of non-police alternatives and community programs. Peel police will spend $5.2 million on hiring the 27 new officers, while other salary and benefits costs will eat up another $11.4 million of the increase. After it was endorsed by the board Friday, the budget will now go to Peel Regional Council for final review and approval in early 2021. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who is on the seven-member Peel Police Services Board, lauded police Chief Nishan Duraiappah for seeking to reallocate millions of dollars toward areas of public concern. “Thank you for putting emphasis on areas that are a concern to the community, whether it’s street racing, mental health, whether it’s human trafficking,” Brown said. The service says it saw more than $2 million in unforeseen costs this year as a result of the pandemic. It will draw on reserve funds to cover any COVID-related shortfalls. Looking ahead, Peel police is also calling for $597 million in capital upgrades –– to be funded from capital reserve funds –– it says will be needed over the next decade. It includes an anticipated $307 million for land and new facilities, $153 million for information and technology advancements, and $76 million for vehicles. At the board meeting Friday, Duraiappah also discussed a summary of the year’s crime trends: Gun crime and homicides trending down Peel is seeing a decline in gang and gun activity so far this year, and is also tracking a decrease in homicides, Duraiappah told the police board Friday. Nevertheless, he dubbed the service’s Project Siphon, which ended with more than 800 charges against 88 people earlier this month, the “largest in the service’s history.” The arrests led to what police say is the dismantling of a prominent Peel-area gang, the seizure of dozens of guns and arrests over three homicides and one attempted murder. So far this year, Peel police have seized 363 firearms, Duraiappah said, noting that “91 per cent of the handguns seized that are traceable came from the United States,” up from the 74 per cent in 2019. “We do have a plan to bolster our gang response,” Duraiappah said. “We know a dedicated gang team is one we need for the new year.” But intimate partner violence is still common So far this year, police have responded to 90 shootings and 14 homicides, five of which were linked to intimate partner violence. That continues a trend that also saw more than a third of the region’s 34 homicides last year linked to intimate partner-related disputes. “It’s still the top three calls that we have each day,” the chief said. “We need to turn the dial on this,” he said, adding that it’s a priority to lower the number of repeat offenders. This year, the service is averaging about 50 calls a day for intimate partner disputes and in response, Duraiappah said the service has created a dedicated intimate partner and family unit with 48 officers who will soon start working out of a hub dedicated to those calls. Rethinking mental health crisis calls Peel’s three dedicated Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Teams responded to 1,700 calls between their introduction in January and October, with only 22 per cent of those calls ending in someone being apprehended, a report to the board said. But police field about 16 daily calls for mental health distress, and the bulk of those calls still land in police hands, Duraiappah said. “We know it’s understaffed,” he said, adding that the rapid response teams can’t respond to that volume of demand — “they do about a third of them, so two-thirds are still being done by uniformed officers.” “Our goal is to have eight on the rapid response team,” he added. Under existing provincial law, only police have the power to apprehend a person experiencing a mental health crisis and take them for treatment. A near-record year for traffic deaths So far this year, Peel has seen a significant increase in vehicle-related deaths, at 38, up from 23 all of last year. Since 2010, only two full years have recorded more motor vehicle-related fatalities: 41 in 2018 and 40 in 2016. “We’re sadly at one of the highest levels of fatal motor vehicle collisions this region has ever seen,” the chief said. The chief also mentioned a troubling bump in stunt driving charges. Police laid 719 charges for stunt driving, to date, up from 332 over the same time frame in 2019.Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
This column is an opinion from Max Fawcett, a freelance writer and the former editor of Alberta Oil magazine.Political courage seems to be in short supply these days, whether it's Republicans in the United States refusing to acknowledge the reality of Donald Trump's election defeat or provincial leaders here in Canada avoiding the more stringent measures that are needed to flatten the latest COVID-19 curve.But when it comes to political cowardice, few acts can top the decision by Calgary's city council to punt on a proposed reduction to residential speed limits — one that would almost certainly save lives and money.Rather than doing the obvious (something that Edmonton's city council voted 9-3 in favour of), council will revisit the issue in February, when they'll decide whether to put it to the public in a plebiscite in the fall. Holding a plebiscite on something like reducing speed limits in residential neighbourhoods is a bit like asking voters to cast a ballot on whether puppies are adorable or babies smell good.According to a report from the City of Calgary, reducing the speed limit in residential neighbourhoods from 50 km/h to 40 km/h would prevent approximately 300 collisions a year, as well as avoid $8 million in societal costs that range from property damage and hospital bills to loss of work due to injury.And none of these figures can account for the cost of losing a loved one — say, a young child — in an accident that didn't have to happen.You might think, given these realities, that a plebiscite would be a waste of everyone's time. Politicians are elected to make decisions and they don't come much easier than this one.But what if seeking the consent of Calgarians isn't really the point of the plebiscite?Weaponizing direct democracyAfter all, as University of Alberta political science professor Jared Wesley argued in a recent Alberta Views dialogue with Ted Morton, direct democracy is often weaponized for entirely undemocratic purposes."At best," he wrote, "referendums allow elected officials to shirk their responsibility to negotiate and define the common good. At worst, they allow politicians to manipulate the public to achieve much narrower partisan, regional or ideological ends."But even if Calgary city council finds its courage in February and actually votes on the proposed reduction to residential speed limits, next fall's municipal election could still have an assortment of plebiscites on provincial matters, such as an Alberta police force and the province's place in the federal equalization program.Some local officials are already sounding the alarm about the impact that those plebiscites could have on municipal elections across the province."It would just drown us out," said Barry Morishita, the mayor of Brooks and the President of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, in a June 2020 CBC story. "There is no other way to put it."That doesn't seem like an accident. After all, for a government that seems to view everything through the lens of combat, and which has found its most effective opposition coming from municipal leaders, particularly the ones in major cities like Edmonton and Calgary, this seems like a logical fight to pick.While directly attacking those leaders could potentially backfire, encouraging people to turn out and vote against federal government programs — even ones they don't completely understand — seems far more likely to succeed.And being able to pursue this political agenda under the guise of supporting direct democracy does have a certain Machiavellian brilliance to it. Then again, Machiavelli would warn about the risk of being hoisted by your own petard.While holding provincial plebiscites in a municipal election may serve the UCP's near-term political interests, that format may not be nearly as constructive when it comes to the looming conversation about potential new revenue measures.Finance Minister Travis Toews has repeatedly indicated that, once his government is done cutting costs and slashing the salaries of doctors, nurses, and other public servants, it will turn its attention to the revenue side of the equation — and potentially a provincial sales tax."I think it will be important to review the province's revenue structure to determine if it's the appropriate, the most efficient structure that we can have," he said during a recent appearance at an Edmonton Chamber of Commerce event.But as Jason Kenney said in a letter to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation earlier this year, any move to implement a sales tax will have to be approved by the voters in a plebiscite."As long as I am premier," he wrote, "Albertans will have the final say through a fair referendum vote on whether a hypothetical sales tax should be introduced."And given how enthusiastically conservatives have salted that particular political field in the past, it's hard to imagine anything ever growing there — even if the province suddenly needs that harvest to survive. The problem with plebiscitesIndeed, even in a comparatively pro-tax place like Metro Vancouver, a 2015 plebiscite that asked voters whether they'd be willing to pay an additional 0.5 per cent sales tax to fund new transit infrastructure failed miserably.Despite having the backing of a large group of local mayors and the tepid support of both provincial parties, the "No" side won convincingly, carrying 61.7 per cent of the vote to the "Yes" side's 38.4 per cent. Therein lies the problem with plebiscites, and the politicians that turn to them most enthusiastically.Yes, they allow elected officials to avoid having to make certain decisions on the public's behalf, especially ones that might not be immediately popular. But they also box those same politicians into a much smaller political space, one where they've set an expectation that anything even vaguely controversial will get put directly to voters. For some elected officials, constraining the range of a given government's policy space and ambition might be a good thing. But for a public that is contending with everything from climate change to the economic fallout from COVID-19, to say nothing of a failing state to our south, those sorts of constraints could do far more harm than good in the future. Right now, we need leaders who are willing to actually lead — and take the political risks that come with that.When Calgarians go to the polls next fall, they should remember that. And if there are pointless plebiscites about things like residential speed limits on the ballot, maybe they'll serve as a useful (and unintentional) reminder to that effect.This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read our FAQ.