Well it's been months in the making, but can you tell whose boss now? We could watch this all day!
Well it's been months in the making, but can you tell whose boss now? We could watch this all day!
Quebec is planning on strengthening its French Language Charter, also known as Bill 101. Simon Jolin-Barrette, the province's minister in charge of the French language, announced Tuesday afternoon that he will table a bill to modify the law in order to better protect, valorize and promote the French language in Quebec, at the next legislative session. "I want to reaffirm that the French language must be the only common language for Quebecers," Jolin-Barrette said at a news conference, expressing concern that the language is in decline in workplaces and certain municipalities. The announcement comes as a series of recent news stories about the state of French in Montreal from Quebecor media is putting pressure on the government to act. "All the indicators say there is a decline of French in Quebec, particularly in Montreal," Jolin-Barrette said Tuesday, citing a report from Quebec's French-language watchdog, L'office québécois de la langue française, from September, that showed a decline in the use of French in the workplace."I think it's urgent to act about that situation," Jolin-Barrette said. The bill will include measures specific to the City of Montreal, which has been a point of concern for Jolin-Barrette in recent months, as well as ways to ensure French is the language used to integrate immigrants to Quebec. It's possible the bill could also affect CEGEPs in the province, where Jolin-Barrette says the normal language of study should be French, but government officials say a final decision has not been made on the matter. In an attempt to reassure anglophones, Jolin-Barrette insisted the Quebec government would continue to respect English-language institutions "The bill that we will table will not affect the rights of the English-speaking community," Jolin-Barrette said. He also said the bill would not affect the ability of Indigenous people to maintain their languages. The idea of strengthening Bill 101 has support from parties in the National Assembly.When asked about the subject at a news conference Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will review the province's bill and do whatever it can to protect French in Quebec and everywhere in Canada. "As a government, we have always been focused on protecting French, and the protection of official language minorities across the country," Trudeau said.
Premier François Legault has tightened the rules of his "moral contract" with Quebecers, asking the public to limit themselves to two gatherings between Dec. 24 and 27.Legault said last week that people could meet in groups of at most 10 — if they quarantine themselves for a week before and a week after Christmas. On Tuesday, Legault said people can only do that twice."Public health authorities told us that we have to limit ourselves to two gatherings," Legault said Tuesday.Legault also said shopping should be done seven days beforehand, if possible.He added, as well, that Quebecers should "refrain from travelling outside Quebec" during the holidays to avoid returning with the virus.Gatherings will only be allowed over the holidays if the number of daily cases and hospitalizations remains stable, said Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director.Arruda said, ideally, he would like to see a decrease in the daily numbers before the holiday season, given that an increase in transmission is expected over Christmas.The province's case count has stubbornly remained above 1,000 for several weeks. On Tuesday, the province reported 1,124 cases and 45 deaths.
Children under the age of five are amazing sponges for information. Ask any childhood researcher, or any parent who has told a story to another adult, only to have a child bring it up at an inopportune moment. But that sponge-like nature, if encouraged and nurtured, means a child has the opportunity to grow into their best self, and have the tools and capabilities that will allow them to succeed in whichever way they see fit. “We know that the child’s first experiences with language and culture come from within his own family, and within early childhood settings.” says Josée Latulippe, manager of Collège Boréal’s Centre d’innovation sociale pour l’enfant et la famille (CISEF – Child and family social innovation centre). It is for this reason that the FrancoFUN program was created by the Association francophone à l’éducation des services à l’enfance de l’Ontario (AFÉSEO – Francophone association for early childhood education) as a way to ensure that early childhood educators are not just offered the chance to enhance early French-language learning for children, but to ensure that they can view their classroom through the Francophone lens, and build identity as well as skill set. “Identity building is vital, “Latulippe said. “Because studies show that it is a key mechanism to ensure the vitality of minority-language communities and prepare young children to be educated in French when they enter elementary school.” And it is this “continuum of language,” as Latulippe calls it, that ensures language and cultural identity survives. As children here in Sudbury, both Anglophone and Francophone, have the ability to enjoy their education in French from childhood to post-secondary, it ensures that a culture and language that could be considered already marginalized is one that will last the test of time, regardless of the surrounding majority. The FrancoFUN program focused not just on providing language to students, but also the cultural identity behind the Franco-Ontarien legacy. It is a specific culture, with a specific dialect — headed to ‘camp’ anyone — and stories and history all its own. And it is one that, if shared, can enrich a child’s ability to learn a language, and bring together a community that is consistently working to preserve its cultural identity. And now that the FrancoFUN program has been in place for some time, helping Early Childhood Educators find ways to continually incorporate cultural, historical, language-based, and just plain fun aspects of the Franco-Ontarien peoples, they are now ready to measure the success, and share their methods with others. “We are always reflecting,” said Latulippe, and notes the questions they continually ask: “How can I better my program? How can I make it more accessible? Do we have a welcoming structure in place to welcome families that are French and English?” For it is not just fully Francophone families that can benefit from this type of study, and action. If you would like your child to speak French, but your home is mixed-language, or perhaps somewhat disconnected to the culture, then this type of programming will not only offer you the opportunity to increase your child’s chances of success, as Latulippe notes that research shows language learning is greatly helped by immersion into the culture of the language, not just the words. And this is especially true for parents who would like their children to speak French, but do not do so themselves. Simply by building a bridge between your home and the school, said Latulippe, you can enrich your child’s language learning without knowing a word yourself. With a program like FrancoFUN, you can learn about the culture as well. “It doesn’t mean you need to take French classes,” Latulippe said. “You just need to support the culture in your home. It’s because we are all the first educators.” And now, as the program has raised awareness among early childhood educators about their role in encouraging Francophone identity in their classrooms, it’s time to find out how the tools are working. From now until March of 2021, a survey of the educators and their thoughts and feeling about the program will be gathered, and shared amongst interested parties. “We are hoping we will have a tool to promote culture and language identity within Early Childhood settings,” said Latulippe, “which can then be shared within the community, with teachers at the college, and with the Franco-Ontarien culture really.” And it is this tool that Latulippe hopes will encourage not just French-language learning across Ontario, but also an understanding of the unique and beautiful qualities that make a culture, and a portrait of those who have come before, and those who will come after. Because the loss of any culture is a horrific idea; but the loss of folklore, of La Nuit sur l'étang, of ‘Notre Place’, of CANO, and of tourtière and tarte au sucre, is much too tragic to imagine. Jenny Lamothe is a Local Journalism Reporter at Sudbury.com, covering issues in the Black, immigrant and Francophone communities. She is also a freelance writer and voice actor. Contact her through her website, JennyLamothe.com.Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Nonobstant la récession provoquée par la COVID-19, la ville de Laval maintient sa cote de crédit. La firme de notation financière S&P; Global Ratings vient en effet de lui renouveler la cote «AA» avec une perspective stable, indique l’administration Demers par voie de communiqué, le 24 novembre. Dans un rapport publié quatre jours plus tôt, l’agence «confirme que la structure économique dynamique et diversifiée ainsi que les rigoureuses pratiques de gestion financière de la Ville sont des facteurs favorables au maintien de la cote», résument les autorités municipales. Rappelons qu’il y a à peine un mois, la Ville anticipait clôturer l’année 2020 avec un surplus de 29 M$, une projection basée sur une mise à jour budgétaire au 31 août dernier. «Cette cote, qui témoigne de la qualité de notre gestion, permet de positionner avantageusement Laval afin de poursuivre la réalisation de projets et d’investissements nécessaires aux besoins de sa population croissante», a réagi le maire Marc Demers. Celui-ci a profité de l’occasion pour rappeler l’engagement de son administration «à maintenir l’attractivité de la ville et à la propulser vers une reprise économique robuste en 2021». À cet égard, une récente étude économique de Desjardins prévoit que le produit intérieur brut (PIB) bondirait de 7,3 % à Laval, l’an prochain, comparativement à 6,3 % à l’échelle de la province, sous réserve que le virus demeure sous contrôle. Enfin, pour la Municipalité, la cote de crédit qui lui est attribuée démontre qu’elle «possède la capacité de respecter ses engagements tout en s’assurant que le niveau de sa dette demeure prévisible et sous contrôle».Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
The University of British Columbia has launched an investigation after more than 100 entry-level math students were accused of cheating on their midterm exam several days ago.The investigation became public after an ominous note from the students' professor was posted online late Monday. It was also circulated to students directly."I am extremely disappointed to tell you that there were over 100 cases of cheating," said the note, a screenshot of which was posted to the UBC Reddit thread."If confirmed, the students involved will receive a 0% for the course (not just the midterm) and I will recommend their expulsion from UBC."The note is signed "Mike." The CBC has not been able to verify the UBC professor's identity. However, the university has said it's investigating allegations of widespread cheating in one section of the math department involving entry-level math students.There are more than 1,500 students currently enrolled in Math 100 at UBC, split up into classes of about 250. The class is being held entirely online this semester, due to the pandemic. Midterms are run online as well.Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs, confirmed the university is investigating allegations of widespread cheating. He said it is too early to be able to provide details on how the students might have been cheating or how they were caught."Those details, I'm sure, will come clear in the investigative process," he said by phone on Tuesday.Ramsay said the professor's note was first sent to students, then posted online.Test monitoring toolsMany schools across the country, including UBC, have been using online software extensions to help detect and discourage cheating since classes went virtual. One test-proctoring tool, called Proctorio, monitors students for suspicious behaviour while they're writing a virtual exam.UBC faculty can offer an alternative, like a final project, to replace exams if they are overly concerned about cheating, but exams can't always be replaced."In some instances, it is necessary to use ... software like Proctorio to ensure academic integrity," Ramsey said. "Incidents of academic misconduct themselves are very uncommon, very rare at the university," added Ramsey, who has been with the school since 2014. "I have not seen allegations of this nature in my time at UBC but, again, they are, at this point, allegations."Investigations into academic misconduct begin with a professor reporting their concerns to the dean's office. That office can either dismiss complaints, give students a warning or pass the case along to the President's Advisory Committee on Student Discipline for potential punishment. Penalties can range from a formal warning to being expelled from the university.Since investigations are complex and take time, Ramsey said, it's too soon to gauge whether there has been an overall increase in cheating since classes and exams began moving fully online in the spring."If the students are disciplined, we will get a sense as to those numbers in the coming months. At this point, it's just too early to say," he said.
LONDON — A book that looks at The Beatles from a playful kaleidoscope of angles won Britain’s leading nonfiction literary award on Tuesday.Craig Brown’s “One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time” was named winner of the 50,000-pound ($66,000) Baillie Gifford Prize at a virtual ceremony in London.Brown’s “composite biography” juxtaposes the stories of John, Paul, George and Ringo with relatives, partners, artists, imitators, hangers-on and others drawn into their orbit.Broadcaster Martha Kearney, who chaired the judging panel, said Brown’s “joyous, irreverent, insightful celebration” of the Fab Four was “a shaft of light piercing the deep gloom of 2020.”“Who would have thought that a book about The Beatles could seem so fresh?” she said.The award recognizes English-language books in current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.Brown beat a shortlist that included Sudhir Hazareesingh’s Haitian revolution history “Black Spartacus,” Matthew Cobb’s “The Idea of the Brain” and Christina Lamb’s book about women and war “Our Bodies, Their Battlefield.”The other finalists were Amy Stanley’s “Stranger in the Shogun’s City,” about a woman’s life in 19th-century Japan, and “The Haunting of Alma Fielding” by Kate Summerscale, a fact-based story of apparently supernatural events.The Associated Press
Volker Gerdts, a leading vaccine researcher at the University of Saskatchewan, says Canada should focus on manufacturing vaccines domestically to better prepare for future events.
Difficile d’imaginer l’histoire des Laurentides sans le ski. Mais il est tout aussi difficile d’imaginer l’histoire du ski au pays… sans les Laurentides. Survol de leur évolution, avec l’aide de Nancy Belhumeur, conservatrice du Musée du ski des Laurentides. Notre histoire commence en 1905. Cette année-là, quatre membres du Montreal Ski Club, fondé l’année précédente, skient de Sainte-Agathe à Shawbridge (aujourd’hui Prévost) : un parcours de 34 km! C’est la première randonnée de ski documentée dans la région. À l’époque, le ski est surtout un sport pratiqué par la bourgeoisie anglophone. Il faut alors importer ses skis d’Europe, et donc par bateau! On skie surtout en ville, mais le P’tit Train du Nord et le train de la colonisation de Montfort (aujourd’hui le Corridor aérobique) donnent accès à l’immensité naturelle des Laurentides. Tranquillement, des sentiers sont tracés et des collines sont aménagées par les skieurs. Quelques entrepreneurs ouvrent des gîtes pour héberger les randonneurs, bien que la plupart dorment encore chez des habitants. On pratique alors un mélange de ski de fond et de randonnée. On descend peu de pentes puisque, avant, il faut les monter soi-même! En 1927, le Canadien Pacifique (CP) et le Canadien National (CN) mettent en service des trains de neige, face à la demande grandissante des touristes. Les skieurs peuvent alors prendre le train avec leurs skis, plutôt que les enregistrer avec les bagages à l’arrière. Le remonte-pente, c’est comme la poutine. On sait que c’est une invention québécoise, mais plusieurs se disputent l’honneur de l’avoir inventer. Entre 1928 et 1931, Moïse Paquette, un garagiste francophone de Sainte-Agathe, et Alex Foster, un anglophone de Shawbridge, inventent tous deux le remonte-pente à câble. L’idée est simple. On prend un camion, on enlève l’un des pneus et on attache un long câble sur la roue, qui est relié à une poulie en haut de la côte. Les skieurs s’accrochent au câble et sont tirés en haut, sans effort. Ils peuvent ainsi réaliser plusieurs descentes, dans une même journée! Le ski alpin rencontre une popularité fulgurante. Les skieurs débarquent de Montréal par milliers durant les weekends d’hiver. L’économie de la région se transforme, passant de l’exploitation forestière au tourisme et à la villégiature. Le développement des centres de ski s’accélère, pour satisfaire la demande des skieurs qui cherchent cantine, hébergement, équipement, alors que d’autres sites de ski plus informels sont délaissés. On installe aussi des canons à neige pour allonger la saison et de l’éclairage sur les pistes pour allonger les journées. À partir des années 50 et 60, le ski devient de plus en plus accessible. Il est enfin possible de trouver des manuels de ski en français! Au lieu d’importer des moniteurs de ski d’Europe, on commence à les former ici. La route 11 (maintenant la 117) permet de se rendre aux pentes en voiture, mais le trafic grandissant, surtout les fins de semaine, oblige le gouvernement de Duplessis à construire l’autoroute des Laurentides (la 15), première autoroute de la province! Elle atteindra d’abord Saint-Jérôme en 1959, puis rejoindra progressivement Saint-Sauveur dans les années 60, et enfin Sainte-Adèle dans les années 70. L’aspect compétitif du ski prend aussi de l’ampleur, alors que Lucile Wheeler, de Saint-Jovite, devient la première athlète canadienne à remporter une médaille en ski aux Jeux olympiques de 1956. Elle ne sera pas la dernière. Aujourd’hui, le ski fait partie intégrante du tissu social et économique des Laurentides. Le Musée du ski des Laurentides, fondé en 1982, tente d’en préserver la mémoire avec une vaste collection d’artéfacts et de documents. Toutefois, une part considérable de l’histoire du ski dans la région réside encore dans les souvenirs de ses habitants. Chaque nouveau don d’équipement ou de photo au musée permet de mieux documenter cette époque charnière. Le musée a même une carte interactive des sites de ski, réalisé par Pierre Dumas, ingénieur de Sainte-Adèle aujourd’hui décédé. À l’aide de cartes, de listes, d’articles de journaux, d’entrevues et de visites in situ, son travail de moine a permis de retracer plus de 600 sites de ski, historiques et en activité, à travers le Québec. Et pourtant Nancy Belhumeur, conservatrice du musée, raconte comment, encore récemment, une dame de la région a découvert un vieux remonte-pente dans sa cour. Peut-être que dans votre grenier, dans les albums photo de vos grands-parents ou même dans votre cour se trouvent des morceaux oubliés de notre histoire. Un de ces soirs froids d’hiver, profitez-en peut-être pour jouer à l’archéologue! Vous prenez le train de Montréal le matin. Vous descendez où bon vous semble, quelque part dans les Laurentides, sur le bord du chemin de fer. Vous montez une colline durant la journée, pour pique-niquer et prendre une photo au sommet. Puis vous profitez d’une (seule) descente. Vous retournez ensuite au chemin de fer, pour héler un train qui passe et retourner chez vous avant la fin de la journée. Et si vous manquez le train, un habitant acceptera sûrement de vous accueillir à sa table et de vous héberger pour la nuit!Simon Cordeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
When COVID-19 first appeared, people and governments across the globe reacted with alarm. Action was swift.In Alberta, businesses shuttered as the government imposed restrictions. People mostly stayed inside. Premier Jason Kenney said it was a generational challenge his government would rise to meet. But restrictions were loosened as the weather warmed. The most dire predictions didn't come to pass, and barbecues or drinks with friends seemed less risky. People held parties and their neighbours thought: why not me? Disinformation spread and, with it, doubt about the dangers of the virus and the actions of the government. But warnings were everywhere: Second wave. The fight isn't over. Be prepared.Many listened, but too many did not. Alberta's government said the economy couldn't take another hit and it was up to individuals to stem the tide. It delayed and equivocated. When the weather cooled, the virus was soon spreading more than ever. Now the talk was exponential growth and warnings of overwhelmed hospitals.As Kenney prepares to make an announcement on COVID this afternoon, he has so far stuck with personal responsibility as the key to fighting the outbreak.He and his government have pointed fingers at individuals for not obeying official recommendations, but now people are pointing back, laying blame at the feet of the government. Laying blame, however, is no easy thing.Personal responsibility and the role of the government aren't easily disentangled. Why individuals and the government have behaved as they have goes to the heart of who Albertans are — or at least who they perceive themselves to be. It begins with the ways that people, in general, deal with crises. The psychology of a pandemicThere's a common view of the world that assumes people panic when confronted with danger — causing more harm than the threat itself — but that's not often the case. Social psychologists have shown the greater risk is underestimating danger and not reacting in time. We also tend to believe the worst will happen to others, not us. Add misinformation to the mix and none of this should come as a surprise. "I've done an awful lot of reading about the Great Mortality, black plague, and about the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918," said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta. "And I would just say that every single thing that has happened could have been predicted by reading a history book."People in the past, like today, reacted to an invisible, existential threat by embracing conspiracy theories or unlikely cures while ignoring medical advice. Many denied the problem. Add social media, and the spread of misinformation is even more damaging and difficult to control. It creates deep divisions when cohesion is key to beating back the virus. Collective action problemThere are times when 51 per cent is enough. If enough people do the right thing, everyone will be swept along by their good deeds. A virus — especially an airborne one — doesn't work that way. We are in a classic collective action problem where almost universal buy-in is required. We all have to keep distance, wear masks, wash our hands, limit social interactions or just stay home. If we don't all do it, the virus spreads. Saxinger thinks the province has reached the ceiling on what independent co-operation can do.Compounding the problem is the perception of risk. Research shows that individuals are more likely to make moral decisions when ambiguity about risks is reduced.Prof. Leslie Francis, who works in the faculties of law, medicine and philosophy at the University of Utah, says the vast majority of people understand not to put other people at risk by, say, speeding down a residential road at 100 km/h. But people might not see COVID-19 the same way."What we see going on right now is that many people deny that COVID exists, or they think it's not going to make people very sick, or they think that it won't make them very sick, maybe they'll even be asymptomatic," she said."But they don't realize that, for example, in my own state right now, the estimate is that one in 73 people right now is actively contagious."Alberta's political cultureWe judge our behaviour and the behaviours of others based on what we observe, but also on how we perceive our own political culture and what it will allow. In Alberta, a lot of it might be built on myth.Political science Prof. Jared Wesley of the University of Alberta asks participants about the province in his ongoing study of politics and culture. He gets them to sketch out their typical Albertan and then asks what that Albertan would do in certain situations. The Albertan — here nicknamed "Joe" — is always male, often a farmer, a libertarian conservative. Wesley's point is to narrow in on what people believe the political culture to be — what is acceptable and what is possible.In the pandemic, Joe reacts in a specific way."They will tell you, like you see in the media everywhere, they'll tell you all Albertans will never stand for mask mandates because it's an infringement on their freedoms," said Wesley.That sort of statement comes from people across the political spectrum, not just those who agree with their typical Albertan. That shapes the way we think about the world and can shape our own behaviour. We make moral decisions based on how we think others might perceive us. If people think broader society doesn't want to have its freedoms restricted — even in minor ways like donning a mask — they are less likely to be strict about virus-beating behaviours and less likely to feel judged for their laxity. This despite a majority not agreeing with their "typical" Albertan. "Do a survey like we just did three or four weeks ago: Albertans are massively in favour of heavier restrictions," said Wesley. "You ask them on an individual basis, would you like to see a provincewide mask mandate, doesn't matter if they're rural areas. Absolutely, it's the right thing to do. They going to push for it? No, because they don't think that the rest of the province would accept it."At some point that tide could turn. There are more voices calling for government to impose more severe restrictions, including a complete lockdown, in order to fight surging case counts.The ethics of action are clear, even if the ultimate answers are not. The ethicsFrancis says there's a clear difference between someone who puts themselves in harm's way versus someone who creates "a real risk of harm to other people." Individuals are expected to go about in the world obeying the rules so that a free society can operate in a mostly free way. Social norms keep most of us from hurting one another, but there is never a full participation rate. Murders, assaults and more happen on a regular basis. So there are laws. Even the most stringent libertarians agree there is a role for the state to some protections. Francis argues that we should view restrictions around COVID-19 in the same light."I think a lot of people are treating this as some kind of unusual interference with liberty," Francis said about pandemic responses. "And my point is, it's actually much more like when people are thinking through some of the most standard kinds of interferences with liberty."Yet despite the ethical obligations to protect citizens, the decision to impose restrictions across a society is no small thing.Some see the delay in implementing more restrictions as cruel — akin to saying the economy is as important as human life.Certainly the belief that Alberta's political culture would not allow a lockdown plays a role in politicians' decisions. But governments also have to consider how their decisions might affect broader society. Lives and livelihoods can be lost due to a cratered economy. Not every individual can simply choose to stay home. Many calling for a sharp lockdown have salaries, home offices or the security to stay isolated. And race, class and gender mix to create a set of ethical and moral traps many can't escape."There has to also be an economic solution for those whose lives are going to be torn apart by this," Melissa Caouette, a political strategist with the Canadian Strategy Group, said on the CBC's West of Centre podcast. As cases and hospitalizations rise, there comes a point when political calculation isn't relevant, and protecting the health of Albertans and its health-care system becomes a priority.Every decision can have a profound impact on Albertans. The hesitance of the government to shut things down as the pandemic spreads out of control, however, should come as no surprise. The Alberta government"This government is refreshingly transparent and completely doctrinaire when it comes to all elements of public policy," Wesley says of the United Conservative Party's approach. "So if you want to know where this government was heading, you need to look no further than the 2018 UCP statement of principles."Wesley calls it Neoliberalism 101 — a political philosophy that makes no room for collective action problems. "From a political science standpoint, that's almost like the ideal of what we expect of responsible party actors, is that they have a set of principles, we know what they stand for, they're being transparent about it," he said. "And we know when they're confronted with things that are out of the ordinary, are not part of their policy platform, we know how they're going to react."In short, they'll react like Joe Alberta would want them to.That policy consistency is tied directly to the founding leader of the UCP, Kenney. A principled conservative to some, an ideologue to others, he tends to stake his position and stick to it. It doesn't help that he was elected on a commitment to get the economy back on track and the budget balanced — a near impossibility given COVID spending and the languishing price of oil. The focus is, and has been, on trying to preserve and repair a battered economy. Kenney wants to avoid more business closures and loss of jobs. He does not want to spend more money.There's also a documented combativeness to Kenney and his government that hasn't abated during the pandemic, including battles with doctors, nurses and public servants. The ensuing division inhibits any chance that collective action could be effective against the pandemic. It seems the government won't abandon its ideological mores until, as Wesley calls them, a substantial "accumulation of anomalies" attacks the tenets of that foundation.It seems plenty of individuals feel the same. With more cases, more deaths, fewer ICU beds and more calls for action as the government resists, the situation is ripe for blaming the government no matter the culprit in our collective failures. Laying blameEvery catastrophe eventually leads to the need for answers: Who is responsible? Who or what could have prevented this? Things are getting out of control in Alberta, with contact tracers overwhelmed and community spread in full bloom. Recent restrictions on fitness classes and earlier last calls have had no impact to date as 1,000-plus new cases a day becomes the norm. For a while, it appeared things were under control. As cases rose, most people were not vocally critical.Then doctors started writing letters with hundreds of their colleagues' signatures calling for circuit-breaker lockdowns. The chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency called for the same. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi wished for more, but told citizens not to wait for the province to do what was needed. Social media was flooded with calls for restrictions.Cases soared, as did hospitalizations. There are more deaths and likely many more to come.The government continued to resist, but looks prepared to act — in some way — on Tuesday afternoon.Critics have said the government has failed to provide clarity across the province on what is expected and even failed to model the baselines of good behaviour. Research has shown that people tend to lay more blame when an intentional harm has occurred, but that those in power can be judged harshly even if causality is ambiguous or indirect. Polls have shown that Albertans are dissatisfied with the performance of their government, including a recent poll by ThinkHQ that suggested the majority of Albertans don't think recent government restrictions went far enough. But it can't all be put at the feet of the government. No one told Albertans to celebrate birthdays with friends and family. There was no public health recommendation to drink until closing time on Saturday night.Frustration, however, is mounting. So too is evidence that something more drastic needs to take place."I say that it's never too late to do something that's useful," said Saxinger, the infectious disease specialist from the U of A. "But earlier action is very clearly, and in a very data-driven way, the best way to handle something that has exponential growth — acting before it becomes a problem, because you act after it becomes a problem and you're already on your way to a much, much bigger problem."What is happeningOn Nov. 20, Alberta announced 1,155 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. That number has grown every day since, giving Alberta the highest number of active cases of all the provinces. Hinshaw has said ICU beds set aside for the pandemic are nearing capacity, but that more resources could be freed up. Those resources would come at a cost to those seeking treatment for other reasons. Decisions will soon have to be made within hospitals about who has the best chance of survival and therefore gets a bed and treatment. Some of the dire predictions that were elaborately presented in Alberta's first wave are coming into focus.On Monday, Hinshaw admitted defeat in terms of the government's already limited contact tracing and, in an attempt to catch up, was giving up on contacting thousands of those linked to high-priority settings such as hospitals, schools and continuing care homes. She also said she'd be making recommendations to a cabinet huddle after her announcement. The government response is expected to be announced Tuesday afternoon. Francis, speaking from Utah without any knowledge of Alberta's situation, said the way to minimize the impact on businesses while protecting the health of the public is to act swiftly and comprehensively if restrictions are imposed. "One wishes that business closures were very short-lived," she said. "Unfortunately, we've made some mistakes, we've done it halfway, and so we've let community spread really get out of control.... You don't treat a rapidly growing tumour by cutting out 20 per cent of it. And unfortunately, a sort of tepid approach to infection control has done exactly that."So, with the surgery delayed, that incision will only have to go deeper.
Canada welcomes the choice of John Kerry as new U.S. climate envoy but will press Washington not to cancel permits for an oil pipeline he opposes, Ottawa's ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday. President-elect Joe Biden this week announced Kerry would be his climate czar, a cabinet-level position. Kerry played an important role in crafting the Paris Agreement on climate but President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the treaty.
PARIS — Restorers at Paris’ fire-damaged Notre Dame cathedral have completed key preliminary work by successfully removing all the perilous roof scaffolding, officials said Tuesday. The removal of the 200 tons of scaffolding was considered dangerous, with some experts fearing that it could cause more of the Gothic monument to fall down. It was thought that the scaffolding might have melded to the cathedral in the blaze, and be keeping it in place. When the Notre Dame fire broke out on April 15 last year destroying the spire, the cathedral was already under restoration. The scaffolding previously installed resisted collapse, “but was deformed by the heat of the fire” Notre Dame restoration officials said in a communique. The Associated Press
Rochelle Pokeda is having to do things a little bit differently with her home-based business — Norwex with Rochelle — in the fall of 2020. Ordinarily, she’d be busy filling her orders at various pre-Christmas craft fairs. But the COVID-19 pandemic and associated health orders have closed the doors on such events for now. Without that income to help her cover the costs of her own Christmas celebrations, Pokeda has had to think outside the box — so she has rented space at Sahali Mall, with her final two days being Dec. 4 and Dec. 5. “We are going to sell our products so people can come in, look, touch, feel, and get away from the computers and have a little bit of that human interaction,” Pokeda said of her cleaning and personal-care household products. She is teaming up with another home-based business — Daunte Tropics with Dawn, which creates glass block designs as well as one-of-a-kind silk floral home decor — in the pop-up store endeavour. But Pokeda is also using her pop-up store to help raise money for the local Salvation Army. She is donating 10 per cent of every sale over $100 to the Salvation Army's Adopt-A-Family program. Pokeda is also accepting gifts and cash donations for the families in the program. She hopes to be able to support a number of families through the Sally Ann program. “I would love to be able to have the fun of doing the shopping myself, but I also understand that it may not look like that this year,” she said. “I’m talking with Kelly [Capt. Kelly Fifield of the Salvation Army] and we’ll figure out how best it’s going to suit them and the families.”Todd Sullivan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
A big-box pet store has plans to jump into Liverpool, eyeing opportunity in a county that has been without a pet shop for the past eight years. Pet Valu has confirmed it’s going to open a retail outlet in the town. “Pet Valu is really excited to be opening a store in Liverpool in mid-2021,” Katherine Clark, a spokesperson for the pet store chain, said in an email. Liverpool’s last pet store, Kameko’s Cove & Aquatics, closed in February, 2012 after five years in business. The store sold tropical fish, reptiles and other small pets, along with pet supplies. Pet Valu’s Liverpool plans include the construction of a new 4,000 square-foot building, which will be located beside the Dollarama Store on Queens Place Drive. One of Canada’s largest pet specialty retail chains with 1,200 stores in North America, Pet Valu Canada Inc. started in Toronto in 1976. It currently has 11 stores in Nova Scotia.Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
With millions dining at home for safety and a swing to the spicier side in the U.S. in recent years Cholula, the hot sauce with the distinctive wooden cap and a cult following, has become a very valuable brand.McCormick & Co., the spice maker that dominates U.S. grocery shelves, said Tuesday that it was buying Cholula for $800 million from L Catteron, a private equity firm.McCormick made a notable tilt toward the hot sauce shelf three years ago when it acquired Frank’s RedHot, the preferred fuel in Buffalo wing recipes, as part of its $4.2 billion acquisition of Reckitt Benckiser’s food business.“The sauce with the little wooden cap is, like Frank’s RedHot, well-known to ‘chilli-heads’ around the globe but its appeal is much wider,” said Dean Best, food editor of Global Data.The acquisition arrives with the pandemic warping how America and the rest of the world eats, meaning largely at home. There was evidence of that trend in recent regulatory filings from McCormick, a company in Hunt Valley, Maryland with a valuation of close to $25 billion.McCormick said in September that revenue surged 8% during the third quarter as people replaced the contents of outdated spice racks, or started one for the first time.And hot sauce is increasingly part of the pantry mix.The volume of hot sauce produced for North America has risen in each of the past five years by an average of 4.7%, to 127.5 tons in 2020, according to the data service Euromonitor. That production is expected to rise by 16% within the next five years, according to the group.“Hot sauce is an attractive, high-growth category and, as an iconic premium brand, Cholula is outpacing category growth," said McCormick Chairman and CEO Lawrence Kurzius in prepared remarks Tuesday.Cholula has made its own adaptations during the pandemic to get the sauce to its cult followers.Earlier this month the company teamed up with simplehuman to create a touch-free Cholula dispenser for restaurants or other places that serve the hot sauce, allowing those eating out to bring the heat in relative safety.Shares of McCormick, which have hit an all time high this year, rose almost 2% Tuesday.Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press
Le Centre de dépannage des Nord-Côtiers, organisme desservant le secteur ouest de la Haute-Côte-Nord, ne peut organiser son traditionnel souper- spaghetti cette année pour amasser des fonds pour la campagne de financement des paniers de Noël. Il doit alors se tourner vers d’autres moyens de financement, dont une campagne de dons virtuelle. « Nous invitons la population à convertir le montant traditionnellement destiné à l’achat d’un ou plusieurs billets pour le souper-spaghetti en don de charité via la plateforme Facebook créée pour l’occasion », explique Nathalie Beaudoin, directrice générale. Un objectif de 5 000 $ a été fixé pour cette campagne en ligne, alors que le souper-bénéfice amassait 12 000 $. « Le manque à gagner devrait être comblé par les dons d’organismes comme les Lions et Desjardins », dévoile la directrice. Au moment d'écrire ces lignes, une somme de 1 790 $ avait été récoltée sur la plateforme web. De plus, la journée du 5 décembre, de 11 h à 14 h, sera consacrée à ramasser des denrées et dons en argent dans les rues des villages du secteur ouest. « Nos bénévoles seront sur place et les automobilistes n’auront qu’à tendre la main pour donner soit des denrées non périssables ou de l’argent », confirme Mme Beaudoin, qui est toujours à la recherche de bénévoles pour cette journée cruciale. Pour obtenir un panier de Noël, les familles doivent obligatoirement en faire la demande. Le formulaire d’inscription est disponible à la friperie, par courriel et messenger. Une preuve de revenus, une preuve de résidence et au besoin, une lettre explicative doivent être jointes au formulaire. Selon Nathalie Beaudoin, la demande devrait être plus forte qu’à l’habitude avec la précarité qu’a engendrée la pandémie de la COVID-19. « Nous espérons pouvoir faire 50 paniers comme l’an dernier, selon les dons que nous aurons reçus », conclut-elle.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
WINDSOR, Ont. — The mayor of Windsor, Ont., has apologized for breaking COVID-19 rules when dining out with seven other people last week. Mayor Drew Dilkens made a statement to Windsor city council on Monday, saying he made an "unfortunate error" that should not have occurred. Windsor was in the yellow tier of Ontario's COVID-19 restrictions system last week. That tier permits only six people to dine together while inside a restaurant. “As mayor, there is responsibility for me to lead by example and showcase to all in our region that we need to follow all restrictions and guidelines to the letter," Dilkens said. Dilkens noted to city council that although he was not fined or issued a bylaw ticket, he will donate $750 – the typical fine for such an infraction – to the Windsor Goodfellows. The Windsor Goodfellows provides local families with assistance and support, including through a food bank, school breakfast programs, and a children’s footwear program. Dilkens also said that Gordon Orr, the chief executive officer of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, will be making an equivalent donation to an organization that works with children and youth facing mental health concerns. Windsor-Essex Region moved to the heightened orange zone of Ontario's COVID-19 restriction system on Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. The Canadian Press
Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore oil regulator says it expects the “best available science” will be followed when determining the environmental impact of drilling in a fragile Atlantic marine refuge. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) made the comments in response to questions about its decision to accept a bid from BP Canada to explore part of a marine refuge called the Northeast Newfoundland Slope for drilling. WWF-Canada has criticized the move, saying it puts biodiversity in the area at risk, given that the marine refuge contains corals and sponges that other marine life use as spawning grounds and that are easily damaged. The group has called for oil and gas exploration and drilling in marine refuges to be banned. The regulator said in a statement that it was operating under federal government policy. The federal Liberal government has allowed marine refuges to remain open to exploratory drilling, on a case-by-case basis, while declaring in 2019 that another, separate conservation category called “marine protected areas” would be off-limits to fossil fuel activity. For refuges, oil and gas exploration “can continue,” confirmed a spokesperson for the C-NLOPB, provided that the fisheries minister “is satisfied that risks to conservation objectives of those areas will be effectively avoided or mitigated.” Any proposed oil and gas activity in the refuge would still be scrutinized through the government’s various environmental review processes, the regulator argued, as well as under the Fisheries Act. “It is expected these review processes will provide effective means to thoroughly assess, avoid and mitigate any impacts based on the best available science,” the regulator said. Exploratory drilling is done when an energy company needs more data to determine the worthiness of setting up a more permanent drilling operation. It often involves examining rock samples in the area. BP Canada has said it is too early to discuss plans for its slice of the marine refuge. But if it does move forward, it won’t have to go through a separate environmental assessment to carry out exploratory drilling. That’s because Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson created a new regulation earlier this year that exempts exploratory drilling in the Atlantic east of Newfoundland from federal impact assessments. The controversial exemption was made based on the fact that a large, “regional assessment” of exploratory drilling had already been done. Environmental law charity Ecojustice, on behalf of WWF-Canada, Ecology Action Centre and the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, has said that assessment was “flawed” and launched a legal challenge. The exemption only applies to exploratory drilling — permanent offshore oil and gas projects “will continue to be subject to project-specific assessments,” the government said. It also said any exploratory drilling must “conform to the rigorous environmental and consultation conditions” outlined in the minister's new regulations. That includes conducting an investigation of the seabed to see if there are any corals or sponges or “any other environmentally sensitive features” around each of the proposed sites for underwater oil wells. If corals and sponges are there, the company must take measures to avoid them; things such as “moving the anchors or wells on the seafloor” or “redirecting the discharge of drill cuttings.” Since the drilling area is in a refuge, the regulations say the company must also hand over another plan to the department and the regulator that outlines the effects of drilling on conservation objectives. That plan should also include any planned mitigation measures, how those measures will be monitored to make sure they're working and a strategy to keep everyone in the loop as new information comes in. “Exploratory drilling programs are short-term projects and the environmental effects of these programs are well understood,” the C-NLOPB said. Ecology Action Centre senior marine co-ordinator Jordy Thomson said the rules surrounding drilling in a marine refuge also serve to highlight a quirk in the Liberal government’s conservation plans. The government has made conservation a priority, protecting 13.81 per cent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas and promising to boost this to 25 per cent by 2025. That protected territory includes both marine protected areas, where oil and gas is off-limits, as well as marine refuges, where it is allowed. Even if drilling permits are handed out to energy firms, the marine refuges are still counted toward the conservation target, up until the point at which “oil and gas extraction begins.” “Under this approach, marine refuges become these ever-receding jigsaw puzzles with questionable conservation value,” Thomson said. “The federal government and the C-NLOPB need to put a halt to oil and gas development in all protected marine areas.” Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National ObserverCarl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
CALGARY — The Alberta Court of Appeal has refused to throw out one of the convictions against a man who was found guilty of killing a father and his two-year-old daughter as well as a senior.Derek Saretzky's lawyer, Balfour Der, had argued that his client's first-degree murder conviction in the death of Hanne Meketech, 69, in September 2015 should be overturned because Saretzky's rights were breached when police improperly took his confession.Saretzky was also convicted of first-degree murder in the slayings of Terry Blanchette, who was 27, and his daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette.Saretzky, 27, was in custody when he confessed Meketech's killing to an RCMP officer who visited him at a correctional centre.Der said Saretzky should never have been convicted in the woman's death since the confession came without a lawyer present and six months after Saretzky admitted to killing Blanchette and the toddler.The Crown argued that at the time of the police interview Saretzky would have been well aware of his right to counsel.The three-justice Appeal Court panel unanimously dismissed the appeal."The appellant was not under arrest and the trial judge found he had not been detained," wrote Justice Peter Martin on behalf of the court."Those findings were well supported by the evidence and are entitled to deference. I agree with his conclusion that on considering all of the circumstances of this case, the appellant's confession would not have been excluded."Meketech's body was found in her home in Coleman, Alta., on Sept. 9, 2015. She had been struck in the head and stabbed in the neck. During the trial, the jury was shown videotaped confessions in which Saretzky told police it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to kill Meketech, who was a friend of his grandparents, because he didn't think anyone cared about her. Five days later, Blanchette's body was discovered in his home in Blairmore, Alta. His daughter was missing, which sparked an Amber Alert and an extensive search in the Crowsnest Pass area of southwestern Alberta.Court heard Saretzky was "an aspiring serial killer" at the time of the attacks. He had few close friends and possessed numerous books on serial killers and serial killings.Saretzky was sentenced in 2017 to three consecutive life sentences, which means he is ineligible for parole until he has served 75 years in prison.The Court of Appeal still has to schedule and hear an appeal of the sentence.This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 24, 2020.— Follow @BillGraveland on TwitterBill Graveland, The Canadian Press
A fire at Freeman Lumber in Greenfield, Queens County, November 20 destroyed a piece of equipment, but further damage was prevented thanks to a quick response by the Greenfield, Liverpool, and North Queens fire departments. Firefighters were called out at 10:30 a.m. and remained on the scene for about two hours. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. There were no injuries at the scene and neither EHS nor RCMP responded. In total, 28 firefighters were at the scene. Meanwhile, the Tri-District Fire Department was on stand-by in Greenfield, Port Medway Fire Department stood by in Liverpool, and the Mill Village Fire Department traveled to Port Medway in case it was needed.Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
The new Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) council has agreed to pay $1,765 to former councillor Susan MacLeod, for personal legal fees she chalked up in 2019. However, taxpayers are not being told why she incurred the expense. The decision to pay MacLeod’s legal fees was announced in council on November 10, following an in-camera meeting at which the issue was discussed. When asked about the motion concerning the repayment, which was read by councillor Ralph Gidney, RQM’s new mayor Darlene Norman commented that a municipal policy “ensures that appointed officials are protected in cases of civic or criminal action as a result of his or her performance of their duties. “Councillors are treated as a staff member in legal matters, and because it was an in-camera item, our comments are basically what that motion stated.” RQM’s policy number 21.03, to which the mayor referred, states at length: “The mayor and every councillor of the Region of Queens Municipality and their heirs and legal representatives of such person, in the absence of any dishonesty on the part of such person, shall be indemnified by the Region of Queens Municipality against, and it shall be the duty of the council, out of the funds of the Region of Queens Municipality, to pay all costs, losses and expense, including any amount paid to settle an action or claim to satisfy a judgment that such mayor or councillor may incur or become liable to pay in respect of any claim made against such person in any civil, criminal or administrative action or proceeding to which such person is made a party by reason of being a mayor or councillor of the Region of Queens Municipality whether the Region of Queens Municipality is a claimant or party to such action or proceeding or otherwise.” However, Norman would not explain to what legal issue the expense related, nor is the expense listed in the former councillor’s list of expenses posted on the municipality’s website, along with other council members’ expenses. The mayor declined to comment any further on the issue. “In-camera items have to remain in-camera and, as such, it remains so,” she said. However, while the purpose of the meeting was indicated on the agenda as a “personnel matter,” under Nova Scotia’s Municipal Government Act (MGA) councillors are not employees of the municipality and employees cannot be councillors. “Councillors are elected officials and not considered to be ‘personnel’ or staff of the municipality,” Krista Higdon, a spokesperson for the provincial Department of Municipal Affairs, said in an email. “Council must determine whether it is appropriate to go into a closed session (in camera) based on the requirements in section 22 of the Municipal Government Act,” she added. Nonetheless, Heather Cook, RQM’s communications coordinator, maintained that, from the municipality’s perspective, all councillors are considered to be employees. “Council members are on the municipal payroll and are considered employees of the municipality, and discussion of the item was subject to being held in-camera,” she said in an email. When it was suggested that taxpayers might be curious as to why the council is footing the legal bill of a former councillor, Mayor Norman noted, “it is a matter of past council.” She reiterated, “it was respecting, according to our policy, a matter in relation to that person’s duties or role as a councillor and that follows the policy.”Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin