Thick snow flurries fall into a suburban neighbourhood.
Thick snow flurries fall into a suburban neighbourhood.
New details are emerging about a violent incident at a maximum security prison involving two convicts from Nova Scotia.The incident happened Sept. 26 at the Atlantic Institution in Renous, N.B., and involved Jimmy Melvin Jr. and Joshua Preeper.An interim publication ban imposed by a Nova Scotia judge has prevented some details of the incident from being reported.But, at a hearing Friday morning in Halifax, Melvin's lawyer agreed to narrow the scope of the ban to allow details to be released. Ray Kuszelewski now only objects to the broadcast of security video from the prison.Justice Peter Roskinski of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court has reserved his decision on if the video will be made public.N.B. RCMP still investigatingKuszewleski objected to the video being released because he expects Melvin to be charged in relation to the prison incident and broadcast of the video could prejudice his client's right to a fair trial. CBC News opposed the publication ban, leading to Friday's hearing. New Brunswick RCMP told CBC News last week that they are still investigating the confrontation and no charges have been laid.Part of CBC's objection to the publication ban is that without actual charges, or even a trial date, everything about this matter at this point is hypothetical.Nova Scotia Crown attorneys presented details of the confrontation to Rosinski as part of their attempt to have Melvin declared a dangerous offender and locked up indefinitely.Awaiting sentencingMelvin is awaiting sentencing for a conviction on a charge of attempted murder. The judge is expected to rule on that application early in the new year.At a hearing last month, prison staff testified about the events of Sept. 26.They told of how Melvin, Preeper and a third Nova Scotia convict, Morgan McNeil, were in a "rec yard" at the prison, which they described as an outdoor area surrounded by a chain-link fence, topped with razor wire.The guards said men are allowed into the yards for two hours a day for fresh air and exercise.The guards testified that Melvin allegedly attacked Preeper, knocking him to the ground. The guards said Melvin repeatedly stomped on Preeper's head and kicked his prone body before they were able to separate the two.One of the people who responded after the attack said Preeper was bleeding from the head, one of his eyes was swollen shut and he was breathing, but not responding.Serious injuriesA doctor who saw Preeper when he was taken to a nearby hospital said he had life-threatening injuries, including bleeding on the brain. Dr. Camille Haddad testified that Preeper was comatose and he wouldn't speculate on how long he would take to recover from the attack.The guards said Melvin and Preeper had been interacting at the prison for two weeks prior to this incident without any issues.Joshua Preeper and his brother, Dustan, are each serving life sentences for the murder of Melissa Dawn Peacock in 2011. The brothers admitted to stabbing the 20-year-old woman, then dousing her body in gasoline and setting it on fire.At a dangerous offender hearing last month, the Crown said Melvin has 25 separate convictions for offences dating back to 1995.MORE TOP STORIES
When Stéphanie Chouinard and her husband, Sean, were looking to buy their first home in Toronto this year, they discussed how kids would fit into the picture — searching for a home near a French school, but also one that offered enough space. The couple had been living in a one-bedroom rental, and despite saving, recognized that some areas were out of reach. Their search narrowed in on East York, but even there, Chouinard said any “livable” houses or townhouses they saw were north of $800,000. So a federal program offering help to first-time home buyers, which capped purchase prices at around $505,000, wasn’t an option. “When we saw that program, we knew right away that this wasn’t going to be helping us at all,” said Chouinard. While their combined income was enough for a family-sized home — and high enough to also render them ineligible for the incentive — Chouinard believes the federal rules may have excluded other young families who were looking to have children in their first homes. “If you have a family or are planning to have a family in the near future, that program will very likely not be of much use to you,” she said. And though a federal economic update this week outlined changes to the program to come for Toronto in the spring, Chouinard believes families looking for something beyond a modest apartment will still be “very, very limited.” The federal program offers a shared-equity mortgage through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to reduce the amount that first-time buyers need to save for a down payment and lower monthly mortgage costs. Ottawa pays either five or 10 per cent of the price, and homeowners later pay back that same percentage of the home’s updated value. In its first year, fewer than 10,000 mortgages across Canada were approved through the program — despite a three-year goal of helping 100,000 families. Alberta and Quebec have seen the most uptake: from Feb. 1 to Sept. 1 this year, there were 712 mortgages approved and accepted in Edmonton, 378 in Calgary, and 55 in Airdrie, Alta., but just one in Vancouver, six in Victoria and 16 in Toronto. From Sept. 1, 2019 to Feb. 1, there were more than 4.5 times as many approved and accepted mortgages in Calgary than there were across the Greater Toronto Area. Montreal saw nearly seven times as many approved and accepted mortgages as the GTA in that time. The government has recognized since at least the last election that changes were likely needed for Canada’s hottest markets, and said this week they were coming in spring. Households earning up to $150,000 instead of $120,000 will soon qualify in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria, and their purchases can total 4.5 times their income, instead of only four times. “It’s not going to get you a three-bedroom downtown or anything, but it’s more aligned with the Toronto housing market,” said Heather Tremain, CEO of the non-profit developer Options for Homes. She sees the changes as positive, but she urged Ottawa to dig deeper into why some may have resisted using it in its first year, including the fact it effectively requires the buyer to pay mortgage insurance, by keeping down payments below 20 per cent. Tremain believes some first-time buyers may have balked at that extra monthly cost, and pursued other options to try to reach that 20 per cent mark instead. She said she’d also heard concerns from lenders about the government sharing any home value appreciation. Paul Taylor, president and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada, echoed those concerns and added that some buyers may also struggle with the very idea of co-owning their homes. Though he believes the changes coming in the spring are a “net positive,” he also questioned whether the incentive would be as successful as the feds had projected. When asked by the Star about the first-year numbers for the program and several of the concerns in this story, a federal department of finance official reiterated in an email the rule changes planned for spring 2021. They would “make homeownership more affordable,” they wrote. Both Tremain and Ken Bowman of Meridian Credit Union backed the incremental approach that Ottawa seemed to be taking. “I don’t think frenetic change on something as important as a housing strategy is particularly inspiring,” Bowman said. Both speculated that the pandemic may have hindered uptake in 2020. But UBC professor Paul Kershaw, founder of the research and advocacy group Generation Squeeze, believes a fundamental shift is needed to address the challenges that first-time buyers face in big cities. While he believes the strategy is “well thought-out,” he urged more attention to the root causes of unaffordability. He pointed to a Generation Squeeze report last year, which found that it took a typical 25- to 34-year-old in the GTA 21 years to save up a 20 per cent payment for an average-priced home. If first-time buyers were getting older in the city, Kershaw said others may find themselves in the same situation as Chouinard. “They need to have enough space in that home so that they’re not using closets as a nursery,” he said. Diana Petramala, a senior economist with Ryerson University, said even with the updated rules, new buyers looking near downtown Toronto would be limited mostly to one-bedroom units, or older two-bedrooms. Buying a townhouse might be more possible, she said, in the outskirts — areas like Durham or Simcoe. While Chouinard and her husband were ultimately able to purchase a first home with three bedrooms within the city, it took a combined household income well above the cutoff for federal help and renting into their 30s to do so. Chouinard said a friend of hers recently left the city after nearly a decade, feeling it just wasn’t affordable; she suspects others are in the same boat. “It does eat away at the attractiveness of Toronto as a city for young professionals,” she said. Victoria Gibson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
The University of Northern British Columbia is denying a former employee's claim that she was wrongfully dismissed because she blew the whistle on alleged improper conduct by the university's upper management. In a response filed November 19 at the Prince George courthouse, UNBC says Heather Sanford was let go as the university secretary on March 13 to help deal with a $3.5 million budget shortfall at the university. UNBC says Sanford's position was being covered through "soft funding" and because of that, the position was being held on a "term basis" through a series of contracts, the last of which was set to expire at the end of June. In a statement of claim filed in October, Sanford says had been dismissed because she had "blown the whistle" on how various matters related to the Board of Governors were handled, notably a salary increase for UNBC's then-president Daniel Weeks and terms of separation for then-vice president of finance Barb Daigle. "The Plaintiff essentially claims that her employment was terminated because she was critical of how UNBC discharged its administrative and governance functions," UNBC says. "That claim is false and the Defendant puts the Plaintiff to the strict proof of each of her allegations and the reasons therefore." As university secretary, Sanford says she was responsible for "ensuring the effective and efficient operation of UNBC's administrative and academic governing bodies." But in the response, UNBC suggests Sanford's authority was limited to "advisory only." "It (her position) has no gatekeeping or oversight function and is not charged with vetting or approving any governance issues. The Office has no decision making authority with respect to any governance issues." UNBC goes on to say it acted in accordance with advice provided by the Public Sector Employers Council with respect to Weeks' salary increase and with legal advice with respect to making public the terms of separation reached with Daigle when she left in January. However, while UNBC says Sanford was let go on a "without cause basis," it also notes that interim president Geoff Payne found Sanford "came across as confrontational," and wanted her to be "more collaborative which is better aligned with how universities generally approach decision making." But with her contract about to expire at the end of June, and with Sanford on stress leave by that time, UNBC says Payne determined it would be unfair to engage her with respect to her communication style and that she was still remunerated to the end of her contract, despite ending her employment early. The claim also notes that Sanford is married to Dan Ryan, who during his time as UNBC's interim provost and vice president academic, filled in as acting president when then-president Daniel Weeks was absent. Given her husband's role, it would have been inappropriate for Sanford to sit in on closed Board of Governors meetings when issues related to the president were discussed, UNBC says. When Weeks went on medical leave in January 2020, it was Payne, not Ryan, who took over as interim president. Ryan, meanwhile, resigned from his position in August and went on research leave. UNBC also disputes Sanford's claim that she was excluded from a review of governance at the university. While Sanford maintained the review should have been carried out by her office, UNBC says she was interviewed by a third party, consultant Harriet Lewis, who was put in charge of the review while former UNBC president Charles Jago was named a supporting advisor. Sanford's "observations were included in the external review report."Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
Three Windsor-Essex hospitals have issued a strong warning over the current surge in COVID-19 cases — and what could happen if the trend continues.In a joint statement, they pleaded with the public to continue to do their part to prevent the spread of the virus."The scenario that our Windsor-Essex region residents have seen on TV taking place in other jurisdictions around the world, where hospital resources are stretched beyond capacity, is showing signs of occurring in our area of the province," chief executives from Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, Windsor Regional Hospital and Erie Shores Healthcare said Friday.Recent COVID-19 outbreaks at Hôtel-Dieu Grace and Windsor Regional risk "significant reductions" in bed capacity, while use of beds is already above 100 per cent, they said."As hospital bed capacity deteriorates, clinical teams will have no option other than to cancel scheduled surgeries and other procedures to ensure we have bed space available for emergency and other urgent cases," they stated.There are currently 27 people in hospital with COVID-19 and seven in ICU, according to the Windsor-Essex County Public Health Unit (WECHU). "There is definitely a lot of pressure on the health-care system in the region and also across Southwestern Ontario, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with WECHU, said Friday.The health unit announced 65 new cases on Friday, bringing the active case total to 424.21 outbreaks in Windsor-EssexDr. Ahmed said there's also record number of outbreaks in the region — 21 across workplaces, long-term care homes and other institutions."We have never had that many outbreaks, clearly indicating that we need to do more," Dr. Ahmed said.As of the most recent data, which Dr. Ahmed presented on Friday, Windsor's seven-day average test positivity rate is 4.3 per cent -- the fourth highest in the province behind Toronto, Peel and York regions.Analysis of the presence of the virus wastewater suggests rates of infection exceed the number of known cases, Ahmed said.Not moving to lockdown Despite the rising cases, the province did not announce a lockdown for Windsor-Essex on Friday, meaning the region remains in the red "control" zone of COVID-19 restrictions in place since Monday.Dr. Ahmed said earlier on Friday that he didn't anticipate a lockdown would be announced, though earlier in the week he said the region is at risk of heightened restrictions."We would like to see the results of us in the red zone first before we move on to any criteria at this time," he said.Snapshot of the pandemic in Windsor-EssexSince the pandemic started, 3,864 cases have been diagnosed in Windsor-Essex, 3,358 of which have been resolved.Eighty-two people have lost their lives to COVID-19, including 56 death in longterm care and retirement homes.Of the 65 cases announced across the region Friday , five are close contacts of a confirmed case, two were community acquired, 58 are still under investigation. Twenty-seven people are in hospital, with seven in the intensive care unit.There are 21 outbreaks in the community, including eight at workplaces. * Three in Leamington's agriculture sector. * One in Lakeshore's health care and social assistance sector. * One in a Leamington place of worship. * One in Leamington's finance and insurance sector. * One in Windsor's manufacturing sector. * One in Kingsville's manufacturing sectorTwo community outbreaks are still active: one at Victoria Manor Supportive Living in Windsor and another at Riverplace Residence in Windsor. There are three school outbreaks: Corpus Christi Catholic Middle School - Central Park Athletics Campus, Frank W. Begley Public School and W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School. The latter two schools have been closed for two weeks. Officials are working on a reopening plan for both schools.There are outbreaks at six long-term care and retirement homes: * Chartwell St. Clair Beach in Tecumseh with one resident case. * Village of Aspen Lake in Tecumseh with one staff case. * Leamington Mennonite in Leamington with two staff cases. * Chartwell Royal Oak Residence in Kingsville with two staff cases. * Riverside place in Windsor with 17 resident cases and three staff cases. * Iler Lodge in Essex with 18 resident cases and three staff cases.
Northumberland Paramedics recently recognized fellow Canadian first responders who were killed in the line of duty. Fallen civilian and military paramedics were honoured at a service hosted Dec. 2 by Northumberland Paramedics. The service kicked off a three-day tour through the county of the Paramedic Memorial Bell, which is a monument recognizing those who have died. “We have gathered on this solemn occasion to recognize the men and women who, while serving as military or civilian paramedics, lost their lives in the line of duty,” said Northumberland Paramedics Chief Susan Brown. “Northumberland Paramedics (is) privileged to host the Paramedic Memorial Bell this week – a tribute to these individuals. By reading each name inscribed on the bell, we bear witness to the ultimate sacrifice made by these first responders while serving their community -- honouring individuals who are gone but never forgotten.” Co-ordinated by the Paramedic Memorial Foundation, the bell travels through communities each year as part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness and funds for the construction of a stationary national monument to memorialize fallen paramedics. The bell sits atop a three-tiered wooden base, where the 51 names of those being honoured are engraved onto small plates, dating as recent as this year and going back to 1980. The Paramedic Memorial Bell is typically part of the Paramedic Memorial Ride tour, which is an inter-provincial cycling journey. With this year’s rides cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have arranged for the bell to travel between paramedic services across Ontario for local ceremonies. The tour started in Windsor in June and will continue moving through eastern Ontario and onwards to Ottawa for a closing ceremony on Parliament Hill. “As this monument makes stops across Ontario on its journey to Ottawa this year, let it be a reminder of the individuals who responded to the call of duty despite significant personal risk,” said county warden Bob Sanderson. “And let us express our gratitude for the paramedics who continue to carry the torch and deliver the vital pre-hospital health care that keeps our community safe, strong and healthy.” The Paramedic Memorial Bell will be received Dec. 4 in several Northumberland communities by local officials. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
LONDON — U.K. regulators went on the offensive Friday to beat back criticism that they rushed their authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine, saying they rigorously analyzed data on safety and effectiveness in the shortest time possible without compromising the thoroughness of their review.The comments from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency came as the Times newspaper reported that the agency’s chief executive, Dr. June Raine, planned to give a series of radio interviews so she could speak directly to people who may be concerned about getting vaccinated.The MHRA reiterated earlier statements that the agency is conducting rolling reviews of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, allowing regulators to speed up the review process by looking at data as it becomes available. The agency gave emergency approval on Wednesday to a vaccine produced by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany-based BioNTech, making Britain the first Western country to authorize a vaccine against the coronavirus.The ability to act more quickly “does not mean steps and the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been bypassed,” the MHRA said. “No vaccine would be authorized for supply in the U.K. unless the expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy are met.”The media blitz comes amid concerns that criticism of the approval process could undermine public confidence in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, leading some individuals to shun shots. Britain plans to begin vaccinating people within the next few days, starting with nursing home residents, caregivers and people over age 80.Britain will initially receive 800,000 doses, enough to vaccinate 400,000 people, so the first shots will go to those who are most at risk of dying from COVID-19 and those who are most likely to spread the coronavirus.America’s top infectious disease expert late Thursday apologized for suggesting that U.K. authorities had rushed their authorization of the vaccine.Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had told U.S. media outlets that U.K. regulators hadn’t acted “as carefully” as the Food and Drug Administration. He later clarified to the BBC that he had meant to say that U.S. authorities do things differently than their British counterparts, not better, but didn't phrase his comments properly.“I do have great faith in both the scientific community and the regulatory community at the U.K., and anyone who knows me and my relationship with that over literally decades, you know that’s the case,” Fauci told the BBC.Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the different approaches of various regulators may be one reason Britain was first to authorize the vaccine.The FDA, for example, goes back to the raw data supplied by drugmakers and reanalyzes it to verify the findings. Virtually no other regulatory agency regularly does this, said Evans, who has worked with regulators in the U.K. and the European Union.In addition, Britain decided to take advantage of EU rules that allow individual countries to allow the emergency use of new products inside their own borders in response to public health emergencies. The EU's European Medicines Agency chose a more time-consuming authorization process that will allow the vaccine to be used in all 27 member nations.While Britain left the European Union on Jan. 31, it remains bound by the bloc’s rules and regulations until the end of December under a transition agreement designed to ease the shock of Brexit.Brexit helped the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency move faster because it is no longer involved in assessing products intended for the entire bloc as are regulators in the remaining EU countries, according to Evans. MHRA therefore had more resources to devote to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and could respond more quickly when new data was submitted, he said.“Consequently, the U.K. has almost undoubtedly had greater capacity to respond to a new application for authorization of a vaccine than any other country,” Evans said.When the MHRA announced its decision on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, chief executive Raine said people should be confident “no corners have been cut.” British experts reviewed more than 1,000 pages of information, including raw data, on safety, quality and effectiveness before deciding to give temporary authorization for use of the vaccine, she said.But European officials reacted sourly to the U.K. decision.The European Medicines Agency, which plans to make its own decision by Dec. 29, issued a statement saying its process was “more appropriate” than Britain’s.Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder was more pointed, suggesting U.K. authorities had acted “without even sufficient basis.”“This will reduce the readiness to get vaccinated rather than increase it, because people expect a safe immunization process,” he said.In his latest comments, Fauci rejected the idea that the U.K. skipped vital steps.The FDA has to move more slowly amid the high degree of skepticism about vaccines in the U.S., Fauci said. Because of this, U.S. regulators are reviewing all of the raw data from Pfizer and BioNTech “in a way that could not possibly have been done any more quickly,” he said.It will take the FDA at least another week to complete its review, but the U.S. and Britain will ultimately end up in the same place, Fauci said.“At the end of the day, it’s going to be safe, it’s going to be effective,” he said. “The people in the U.K. are going to receive it, and they’re going to do really well, and the people in the United States are going to receive it, and we’re going to do pretty well.”___Associated Press Writer Frank Jordans contributed.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
A special committee struck after almost two years' worth of emails from a government account went missing is recommending the province make individual public servants responsible by law for preserving their own records.The province's Special Committee on Government Records Retention is calling on the province to implement a "duty to document" clause in the Archives & Records Act, the legislation that sets out government's responsibilities when it comes to the preservation of documents."A duty to document establishes a positive duty for public servants and officials to create a full, accurate and complete record of important business activities," the committee wrote in its final report to the legislature.Information and privacy commissioners across Canada have been pushing for duty to document legislation in the country for years, as a way to strengthen public access to government documents.In 2017, B.C. became the first province in Canada to implement such a measure.Committee chair Michele Beaton said implementing a similar measure in P.E.I. would "catapult us to being a leader in being transparent regarding government decisions."The committee is also recommending government make more records public via routine disclosure — without requiring they be requested through freedom of information legislation.Committee struck to probe missing emailsIt was as a result of freedom of information requests that the committee came into being.P.E.I.'s former privacy commissioner Karen Rose issued a scathing report in June, after learning that almost two years worth of emails belonging to Brad Mix, a senior bureaucrat with Innovation PEI, had gone missing.The emails had been subject to multiple freedom of information requests. The province didn't tell those requesting the emails — and initially did not tell the privacy commissioner — that the records no longer existed.Failing to disclose that, the commissioner concluded, put government in breach of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. She said failure to properly archive the emails was a breach of the Archives and Records Act.More 'gaps' in government email archivesAs part of its review, the committee was advised by the province's Treasury Board of five more email archives belonging to former bureaucrats and elected officials that contain one or more "gaps."Among those are two former cabinet ministers: Wes Sheridan, former minister of finance; and Allan Campbell, a cabinet minister who became Robert Ghiz's chief of staff in 2011.Both archives were among a list of email accounts P.E.I.'s auditor general asked for in 2015 as part of her investigation of e-gaming, the province's failed attempt to become a regulator for online gambling.The five archives with gaps are in addition to three email accounts the auditor general said in her 2016 report had been improperly deleted. She cited that as a contravention of the Archives and Records Act.A spokesperson for the province's Treasury Board told CBC News that a "preliminary search" of 26 email accounts was conducted in 2015, at the request of the auditor general, and the five in question "appeared to have a gap or gaps in time."However, the spokesperson said that, according to the province's IT department, "a gap does not mean a missing email or emails. A gap may be a variety of things such as a day of inactivity or a time period of inactivity."According to the information provided to the committee, the dates of those gaps were not recorded when they were first discovered in 2015. Commissioner asking for detailsMembers of the committee, when they were advised of the email gaps, decided to take no further action on the matter.But P.E.I.'s new privacy commissioner Denise Doiron has written to the province's deputy minister of finance asking about one of the gap accounts — that belonging to Sheridan.Doiron has asked for the dates of Sheridan's gaps, and noted that when her predecessor asked the department about the possibility of any further missing records while investigating Mix's emails, there was no mention of Sheridan's account."You did not mention the possibility of any gaps in Wes Sheridan's records in your response," Doiron noted in her letter.Didn't delete emails, said MixWhen called to appear before the committee in October, Mix said he "did not do anything to destroy any of my email archives. I did not do anything knowingly to cause the gap that exists in my email archive." P.E.I. is the last province in the country to use the Groupwise email system, which debuted in 1994. The province is in the process of upgrading to Microsoft 365, which is expected to make records management and retention easier.CBC News reached out to Sheridan and Campbell for reaction to the report.Campbell did not respond and Sheridan declined to comment.More from CBC P.E.I.
NEW YORK — A year after a series of concerts in Puerto Rico that ended up being his last because of the pandemic, Daddy Yankee is bringing those performances to YouTube as a Christmas gift to his fans around the globe.“DY2K20,” the digital version of his show “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” will be released in three parts on Yankee's YouTube channel, with the first installment out Friday. The others will drop on Dec. 14 and Dec. 21, respectively.“I wanted to give a Christmas present to all my fans during the pandemic, bring the party to their homes free of charge, bring them joy in such difficult times,” the reggaeton star told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Miami.Yankee, who has stayed mostly out of the spotlight in 2020, said that while the pandemic has hit many very hard, it has also allowed him to do something he hadn't done in three decades: Focus on his health and rest.It's something he had to gradually learn after gaining 40 pounds (almost 20 kilos) during the first months of quarantine.“Maybe because of the anxiety... I started eating and eating and eating and I put on the pounds like never before. I got to weigh 230 pounds (105 kilos) ... But I recovered my normal weight from 10 years ago. That was my focus,” said the “Despacito” and “Gasolina” singer, adding he achieved his goal by watching what he ate and exercising, a lot.“I devoted myself to my health and to something that was unknown to me, which was rest,” he said. “I started to learn how to live with calmness and to appreciate it... And I feel different, I feel in a new phase completely.”Now that he gained some balance in his life, he feels ready to reactivate his career. In addition to “DY2K20,” he has another surprise for his fans: A new music collaboration he will release in the coming days, although he wouldn't provide details yet.For now, he said he was blessed to finally share with the world the footage of a show staged at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot, which involved over 80 people who worked with “great passion, great creativity.” It was well-received, going from two scheduled dates to a full residence, with 12 sold-out shows, or 170,000 tickets.What many don't know is that a technical problem on opening night resulted in a new business opportunity: Massive concerts in the daylight hours, something never seen before on the island.After getting stuck on a platform over the stage, Yankee announced to the audience that he would give them an extra show for free, and it was a matinee. He adjusted the content to make it family friendly, and ended up doing one more that way.Another unique aspect of “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” which featured artists like Ozuna, Wisin & Yandel and Nicky Jam, was the use of holograms to replace those who weren't there to perform live.“I wanted the artists to be gigantic, on people's faces, so the audience could feel that they were in front of them and we achieved that,” Yankee said. “It was a concert that became a residence, like if Las Vegas had moved to Puerto Rico.”___Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner.Sigal Ratner-Arias, The Associated Press
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) says delivering the COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations communities must be a priority once it becomes available. FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said access to the vaccine is a matter of treaty rights."First and foremost … we come from that inherent and treaty right aspect, that Treaty Right to Health," he said. "In there, there's what we call the Medicine Chest Clause. When our ancestors signed treaties in the eighteen and nineteen-hundreds, that guaranteed us health and medicine chest supplies and services."The FSIN has spent the last seven months lobbying the federal government on this topic. Cameron said this is an important way of keeping Indigenous people at the forefront of policy decisions. "Obviously, the priority is that First Nations people are going to be safe and taken care of and live a long, happy, healthy life," he said. FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt has argued that ensuring First Nations communities' priority access to the vaccine will be good public health policy."Our First Nations communities have higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, asthma and other health conditions that put them at an even higher risk of serious complications or even life-threatening problems if they contract COVID-19," he wrote in a news release. "These elders and vulnerable community members must be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccination."Every day they go without this vaccine, their lives and the lives of their [community's] most vulnerable are at exceptional risk."Cameron said has found that federal ministers are receptive to these arguments so far. "I had a conversation with the federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu and the Indigenous Services of Canada Minister Mark Miller last week," he said. "And the comment we got is that they are going to make sure First Nations are a priority when vaccines are available."Cameron said that when the government begins distributing vaccines, the doses intended for Indigenous communities must go directly to the First Nations, not be handled by an intermediary."We need the vaccine directly to us," he said. "We don't need anybody else to deliver it for us - we can do it. We have the capacity, we have the knowledge, we have the manpower, and we're ready. We're ready to deliver once the vaccines become available."As of earlier this week, almost 1,160 cases of COVID-19 and 17 active outbreaks had been reported across First Nations communities in Saskatchewan.
While Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting three new cases of COVID-19, Premier Andrew Furey says a vaccine logistics team is now in place. All of the new cases announced Friday are in the Eastern Health region: a man between 40 and 49, a man between 30 and 39 and a woman between 30 and 39.The first case is travel-related — a worker returning home from Alberta — while exposure source for the latter two cases is under investigation. All of these cases are self-isolating and contact tracing is underway.For Friday's travel-related case, the health department is asking passengers, out of an abundance of caution, who travelled on WestJet Flight 3428 from Halifax to St. John's arriving Thursday, Nov. 26 to call 811 to arrange COVID-19 testing.There have been five recoveries since Thursday's update, lowering the province's active caseload to 27. The total number of recoveries since March is now 312.Newfoundland and Labrador's total number of cases rises to 343, with 63,839 people having been tested, including 312 in the last day.Furey said Newfoundland and Labrador's COVID-19 vaccine team will include Health Minister John Haggie, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Cmdr. David Botting of the Canadian Armed Forces, Indigenous Affairs Minister Lisa Dempster and Municipalities Minister Derek Bennett.The premier said the vaccination will be "highly suggested" but not mandatory."It's a free and democratic society and people have choices and sometimes people don't make the right choices," he said. "Everyone should avail of it when it's available to them."Watch the full Dec. 4 update:Fitzgerald said the province has administered more than 200,000 influenza vaccinations as of Friday, about 40 per cent of the population. But, she said, the focus now on working with the federal government for COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the new year. "There is a wide array of logistics for us to determine, as this is anticipated to be the most complex and ambitious vaccine distribution ever delivered to Canada," she said. "We will provide updates as we learn more." The country is now in preparation mode, with 14 distribution points ready to receive the Pfizer vaccine starting on Dec. 14.Fitzgerald said Newfoundland and Labrador is likely to receive a combination of vaccines, including the Pfizer product in the first run and the Moderna vaccine later. She said both are expected in the first quarter of 2021. Also on Thursday the Department of Health advised rotational workers about an identified COVID-19 outbreak at the Suncor MacKay River oil sands site in Alberta. The department said it was notified about the outbreak by the Public Health Agency of Canada as workers from this province work on the site.These workers, who have returned to Newfoundland and Labrador in the last 14 days, must self-isolate, physically distance away from household members and call 811 to arrange COVID-19 testing. They must also complete the full 14-day self-isolation period, regardless of test result.Haggie repeats apologyIt's been an interesting week when it comes to COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador. There were zero new cases on Thursday, the first day the province didn't have at least one new positive since Nov. 16. This week also saw Haggie face intense scrutiny for his decision to host a fundraising event at at Bally Haly, a golf and country club in the east end of St. John's.The two-hour, $250-per-person reception at Bally Haly came just hours after Haggie spoke at Wednesday's COVID-19 briefing, warning that people considering attending New Year's Eve gatherings were putting themselves "in harm's way."He initially defended the event, but later in the day, changed his tune. However, his apology seemingly centred around the stir it caused, and not for having the event in the first place. "I think hindsight is always 20/20.… For the fuss it caused, it probably wasn't worth it," he told reporters Thursday afternoon. On Friday, Haggie apologized again."I think it's very clear that that decision was unwise," Haggie said. "My concern now is that public confidence in the public health measures and guidelines advanced by the chief medical officer of health may have in some way been shaken or weakened, and that certainly is not, and can not, be justified."Haggie, who said public health guidelines were followed and that 23 people attended in a space that can hold 200 — had the support of Premier Andrew Furey, who said he was OK with it. Others didn't share that opinion. The story prompted hundreds of comments online, with the majority condemning the event. "There was no reason for this fundraiser at this time. I have always been Liberal but I will not condone behaviour such as this exhibited by ministers Haggie and Dempster or any other MHA who is fundraising at such a critical time," Ivy Anthony wrote on twitter. Some defended the health minister. "OMG, people, it was 23 people in a space that can accommodate 250. [Have] none of these complainers been to McDonald's, Costco, Walmart lately?" wrote Karen Saunders Greene on Facebook. Haggie said he read some of those messages and comments."These I've taken to heart. There are lessons that I've learned from this and I've taken those to heart, too," he said. "So one again I want to take this opportunity to repeat that apology."Throughout the pandemic Fitzgerald has preached kindness, compassion and support, specifically in the light of new COVID-19 cases and families of rotational workers. But, she said, the same applies to Haggie's situation. "We're in an enviable position really, when compared to other jurisdictions, and I would like to say that I think the minister is a big part of that," she said. "His willingness to listen to evidence and let the public health science lead the way is an important part of our situation, where we are, where we find ourselves right now."Back in or staying out? Atlantic bubble update next week This week also saw a reopening, of sorts, for the Town of Deer Lake. The town hall and the Hodder Memorial Recreation Centre were shut down as the cases related to a cluster in the town rose. Some businesses ceased operations, too. With an update on the Atlantic bubble expected Monday, Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball was asked whether he agreed with rejoining the bubble for travel among the four Atlantic provinces, on the heels of a cluster in the town. He said there isn't an easy answer to that. "As a mayor of a small town in western Newfoundland and an airport community, I certainly don't want to see the bubble go away. But we have taken some drastic measures ourselves to stop this dreadful virus. We need to do that," he told CBC News. "Whatever decision they make is not going to be easy for us to take, especially as an airport community. That's our lifeline. It's a hard decision" N.L. announced Nov. 23 it was pulling out of the bubble that allowed travel to and from the Atlantic provinces, with no self-isolation required. Furey noted things had changed, including fast-rising case counts in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Now, people coming from the Atlantic provinces are required to self-isolate for 14 days, but they do not need an exemption form. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Northumberland County hopes residents dig a program that provides them with free tree saplings to plant on their properties. Applications for Northumberland County's Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) replacement tree program have reopened following two years of successful EAB replacement tree programs that resulted in the local planting of 24,000 trees. County residents are invited to apply to receive free tree saplings as part of a five-year program subsidized by the county. Residents can apply to receive between 25 to 150 trees to plant on their property in Northumberland. There will be 12,000 trees subsidized through this year's application process on a first-come, first-served basis. Tree species available through the program include various types of oak, maple and pine as well as spruce, birch and tamarack. All successful orders will be available for pickup from Lower Trent Conservation in the spring. This program was developed to replace trees that are being removed as part of Northumberland County's 10-year plan to remove hazardous trees as a precaution to prevent injury or damage. This plan was developed in response to the EAB, an invasive insect that attacks and kills ash trees. For every tree removed as part of the plan, Northumberland County will subsidize about 10 native trees for residents to plant on their property. For more information about the program and to apply to receive free saplings, visit Northumberland.ca/EABprogram. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
The Humboldt Special Olympics Floor Hockey Team took home the Special Olympics Canada Team of the Year Award. TSN hosted the award ceremony on Facebook Live on Dec. 3 with athletes and coaches sending in their thank you videos for the ceremony. The team has been collecting the hardware over the last two years with a bronze medal win during the 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Invitational youth games in Toronto and another bronze win at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay 2020. Floor hockey has been part of the Humboldt Special Olympics sporting list for the last 16 years. Ever since the team lost fellow teammate, Brody Hinz, in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, the team has played to honour him, said Vic Rauter, a TSN announcer, during the ceremony. “Since the loss of their friend and teammate, the Special Olympics Humboldt Broncos floor hockey team have been on a mission to honour those lost and those who were affected.” This award comes on the cusp of two provincial awards in October, another team award for the floor hockey team and a coaching award from coach Brain Reifferscheid. Reifferscheid said the award was unexpected and the coaches and players are pretty happy and proud and excited and humbled by the honour, he said. The provincial award was enough of a surprise for the team to wrap their heads around and celebrate but it was not long after before they were contacted by Special Olympics Canada about their national award. This will be the second year in a row that a Humboldt Special Olympics athlete or team has received a national award from Special Olympics Canada, with Tianna Zimmerman from Englefeld taking home Athlete of the Year during the 2019 award ceremony as well as the provincial honour that same year, just like the floor hockey team. This two year stretch at both the national and provincial level said a lot about the Special Olympics Humboldt, Reifferscheid said. “We've got a group of athletes that are very sports-minded and committed to achieving high goals. It also says something about the Special Olympics Humboldt organization, all the volunteers and coaches and all the sports. Everyone has a piece of contributing to helping athletes be successful.” On behalf of the Humboldt Special Olympics floor hockey team, they are honoured to receive this award, Reifferscheid said.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
AL-QAYYARAH, IRAQ (Reuters) - Tuqqa Abdullah and her Iraqi family have wandered from one displaced people's camp to the next in the past three years, buying time and hoping they will one day be able to go home. Just 14 when her father took the family to the then Islamic State (IS) stronghold of Mosul, she has inherited a legacy that might take generations to overcome. When Iraqi forces captured Mosul in the dying days of the three-year-old IS caliphate in 2017, Abdullah's father and older sons were killed.
Niagara is now home to one of the best young spellers in Canada. Leena Jalees, 14, of St. Catharines took home the gold at this year’s Spelling Bee of Canada national championship, beating out 25 other competitors in the intermediate division (ages 12-14) across the country. Jalees, who has entered the regional competitions on two previous occasions, said this was her first time reaching the national level, after winning Niagara’s competition earlier in November. Jalees said she had always been a good speller, particularly when it came to everyday words, and thought entering a spelling bee would help her expand her spelling abilities when it came to new and unfamiliar words. “I thought it would be fun to learn new words, and become a better speller, and know the tactics of how to break down the words and be able to spell words I have never heard of before. So I decided to do a spelling bee, just to see how well I could do.” Jalees did more than okay. In her first appearance on the national stage, she was crowned the winner in the intermediate division of the Spelling Bee of Canada after correctly spelling the word “taxonomist”. For Jalees, the word was a no-brainier. “When I found out that was the word, I was so relieved because I was already familiar with that word. I already knew how to spell it, so I didn’t have to think about it.” So how does one study for a spelling bee? The competitors were given a manual of 400 words two and a half weeks prior to the competition, but that doesn’t include tiebreaker words, which are entirely new, and come down to the participants' ability to break down the word itself. Jalees said her strategy involves looking at the words as multiple units, and understanding the origin of the word itself. “One of the words was polemicist. I thought it was a medical word, but then when I knew it had to do with politics, then I decided to change the way I spelled it to ending in 'cist'. So I was very grateful I didn’t start spelling it the way I was initially going to.” Jalees, who hopes to one day be an OB/GYN said she hopes to defend her title at next year’s competition, as it may be her last year of eligibility. “I am going to try again next year, and see how well I can do again.” Also representing Niagara at the national championship were Jimmy Zhou, of Niagara Falls, who competed in the junior division (ages 9-11) and Shirley Chen, of St. Catharines, who competed in the primary division (ages 6-8).Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
Après une longue saga, voilà que les communautés innues de Uashat mak Mani-utenam et Matimekush-Lac John ont signé une entente de réconciliation et de collaboration avec la Compagnie minière IOC. Depuis 2010, de nombreuses négociations ont eu lieu entre la minière et les deux communautés. Une poursuite judiciaire avait même été entamée contre IOC. Au cœur du litige se trouvait l’exploitation du Nitassinan (territoire ancestral traditionnel des Innus) qui a été exploité sans le consentement des Innus. L'entente qui a été ratifiée aujourd'hui prévoit notamment que l'entreprise minière fournira des paiements financiers, des avantages en matière d’emploi et des opportunités d’affaires aux communautés innues ainsi qu’une meilleure collaboration sur le plan environnemental. L’entente prévoit également que IOC présente des excuses. Les deux communautés se sont engagées à retirer les poursuites judiciaires qui avaient été intentées contre la compagnie. Cet accord a été baptisé « Ussiniun », ce qui signifie « renouveau » en langue innue. « Cette entente marque le début d’une nouvelle relation avec IOC, basée sur le respect et le partenariat. Les compensations et les retombées pour nos membres nous permettront de prendre encore plus en main le développement de notre communauté. Le respect démontré par IOC nous permettra de tourner la page sur un historique de conflits et de regarder l’avenir avec optimisme », a affirmé le Chef de Uashat mak Mani-utenam. De son côté, le président et chef de la direction de IOC, Clayton Walker, a déclaré : « Cette entente à long terme est une étape importante qui nous permet d'avancer ensemble et de construire des relations solides basées sur le respect, la confiance et les avantages mutuels. Nous nous engageons à travailler en collaboration avec les communautés de Uashat mak Mani-utenam et de Matimekush-Lac John afin de concrétiser les nombreux avantages de cette entente pour toutes les parties concernées. » L'entente qui a été acceptée en août par les deux communautés innues a par la suite été présentée aux membres de chacune des communautés. Un référendum a été effectué dans la communauté de Matimekush-Lac John pour approuver l'entente et l'option du oui l'a emportée à 83%.Vincent Berrouard, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nord-Côtier
COPENHAGEN — Denmark has decided to end all oil and gas activities in the North Sea by 2050 and has cancelled its latest licensing round, saying the country is "now putting an end to the fossil fuel era.”The Danish Parliament voted late Thursday to end offshore gas and oil extraction, which had started in 1972 and made the country the largest producer in the European Union. Non EU-members Norway and Britain are larger producers, with a bigger presence in the North Sea.Denmark is this year estimated to pump a bit over 100,000 barrels of crude oil and oil equivalents a day, according to the government.That is relatively little in a global context. The U.K. produces about ten times that amount while the U.S., the world's largest producer, pumped over 19 million barrels of oil a day last year. Environmental activists nevertheless said the move was significant as it shows the way forward in the fight against climate change.Greenpeace called it “a landmark decision toward the necessary phase-out of fossil fuels.”“This is a huge victory for the climate movement,” said Helene Hagel of Greenpeace Denmark. Wealthy Denmark has “a moral obligation to end the search for new oil to send a clear signal that the world can and must act to meet the Paris Agreement and mitigate the climate crisis."The 2015 landmark Paris climate deal asks both rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns. It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).Denmark has been an early adopter of wind power, with more than a third of its electricity production deriving from wind turbines. They are considered key in the transformation of the energy system and should enable Denmark to no longer be dependent on fossil fuels in 2050 for electricity production.The agreement to end oil and gas extraction means that a planned eighth licensing round and any future tenders have been cancelled and makes 2050 the last year in which to extract fossil fuels in the North Sea.It was backed by both the left-leaning parties as well as the centre-right opposition, suggesting the policy is unlikely to be reversed.“It is incredibly important that we now have a broad majority behind the agreement, so that there is no longer any doubt about the possibilities and conditions in the North Sea,” said Climate Minister Dan Joergensen, a Social Democrat.According to official figures, the move would mean an estimated total loss for Denmark of 13 billion kroner ($2.1 billion). The industry has earned the small Scandinavian country over 500 billion ($81.5 billion) since the 1970s.In October, energy group Total pulled out of the latest tender process leaving only one applicant, Ardent Oil, according to authorities.In June, the Danish Council on Climate Change - an independent body that advises the government - recommended ending any future exploration in the North Sea, saying a continuation would hurt the country’s ambitions as a front-runner on fighting climate change.Jan M. Olsen, The Associated Press
The World Health Organization says the world is close to seeing the end of the COVID-19 pandemic but warned that inequalities in distributing a vaccine and other therapeutics could have deep economic and social consequences. (Dec. 4)
The Congress of Aboriginals Peoples (CAP) is calling on the resignation of Saskatchewan’s Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Christine Tell. More than 100 inmates at Saskatoon Correctional Centre have tested positive for COVID-19. “Minister Tell has fumbled the ball in her role as minster responsible to Saskatchewan correctional facilities,” said National Vice-Chief Kim Beaudin Dec. 3. “This requires leadership with a level of foresight and compassion that is lacking in her public response to COVID-19.” The CAP is also calling on the federal government to intervene in Saskatchewan’s provincial jail system. They want all non-violent inmates to be released immediately. They also want testing of all inmates and staff and measures to ensure infected inmates are given separate living quarters from other inmates. "Our people are now facing a death sentence in Saskatoon Correctional Centre due to Covid-19,” said Beaudin. "These are lives being intentionally put at risk, and is nothing short of a genocidal, colonialist policy.” Saskatchewan’s Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety department was contacted for comment on the situation at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre but have not responded. Earlier this week protesters – concerned for their loved ones inside - picketed in front of the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. A group of Saskatchewan lawyers sent a letter Tuesday to Tell calling for the release of non-violent, low-risk inmates who are elderly and have compromised immune systems. CUPE 1949, the union that represents 130 lawyers and legal staff at Legal Aid Saskatchewan, says the outbreak at Saskatoon Correctional Centre shows the volatility of the situation. “Our jails are overcrowded with vulnerable people who have virtually no means of protecting themselves,” said Julia Quigley, President of CUPE 1949. “Once the virus gets in, our clients are at an incredible risk.” Quigley said the majority of inmates in Saskatchewan are on remand, meaning they haven’t been convicted of any crime. “In essence, these inmates have a bull’s eye on their backs, and yet they are legally innocent,” said Quigley. She said that Saskatchewan remands people at twice the national average and the majority of inmates in Saskatchewan prisons are Indigenous and medically vulnerable to COVID-19. “This virus doesn’t discriminate, but the criminal justice system does. Our Indigenous clients will bear the brunt of the Saskatoon outbreak, and any other outbreaks if we don’t contain it.” “We cleared the jails effectively in the first wave, without any discernible risk to the public. We need to do it again, now,” added Quigley. Noel Busse, director of communications for Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice/Corrections and Policing, however, told the News-Optimist in July that no prisoners were released early from Saskatchewan jails during the COVID-19 pandemic. “No sentenced offenders have been released early as a result of COVID-19,” Busse said about the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic that hit the province. In March, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections and Policing put in measures to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread. They used existing infrastructure and program space in correctional facilities to create additional separation between offenders and staff. They also restricted the movement and placement of offenders within a facility, and provided personal protective equipment to corrections staff and offenders. COVID-19 also prompted the province’s Crown prosecutors to rethink remanding some defendants who were charged but not yet convicted. Some non-violent inmates held on remand in Saskatchewan’s jails were released while waiting for trial. Saskatoon Correctional Centre is a provincial jail run by the province of Saskatchewan. As of Dec. 4 there are no COVID-19 positive cases in the federal penitentiaries in the province, such as the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert, the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon, Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, and Willow Cree Healing Lodge. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Had the ATAC mining access road in the Beaver River watershed been built, it would have constituted a “breach of the honour of the Crown” and betrayed First Nations people, according to a decision document released by the Yukon government after inquiries by The Narwhal. The document provides insight into the territorial government’s Nov. 27 decision to reject the proposed all-access road by Vancouver-based ATAC Resources, a mining exploration company with gold and copper claims in the region. The document also sheds light on concerns raised by the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, on whose territory the claims are located. The rejected road was given a conditional green light by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board in 2017 but was awaiting a final decision from the Yukon government. The new route would have opened access to a 65-kilometre portion of the company’s three mineral claims that form the Rackla gold property and connected Keno City to the Tiger gold deposit, the site of a planned ATAC Resources’ open-pit gold mine. The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun was “strongly opposed” to the project going ahead, the decision document reveals. The document contains a list of concerns raised by the nation, including fears the road would have caused “significant adverse impacts” on treaty rights such as hunting, fishing and trapping in traditional territory. That list also noted concerns the road would have prevented Na-Cho Nyäk Dun citizens from adequately exercising treaty rights in “one of the few remaining wilderness areas in its traditional territory.” The road would have “fundamentally alter[ed] an untouched portion of” the nation’s territory and would have “alienated” citizens from their lands. “Approving the application would permanently impair the process of reconciliation that the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, the Yukon government and Canada have been engaged in for more than 30 years,” the document states. Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn did not return a request for comment. Andrew Carne, ATAC Resources’ vice-president of corporate and project development, told The Narwhal this week that the company is seeking legal counsel on the Yukon government’s decision and that, as a result, there’s little else he can state at this time. “ATAC does not agree with many material aspects of the government’s decision,” Carne said in an email to The Narwhal. In an ATAC Resources’ press release, president and CEO Graham Downs said the road’s cancellation suggests Yukon isn’t open for business. “We are extremely disappointed with and surprised by this decision,” he wrote. The Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society has warned that roads such as the one ATAC Resources’ proposed can fragment wildlife habitat, interrupt migratory patterns and lead to an increase in mining activity and hunting pressure. The Beaver River watershed, northeast of Mayo, is a vast expanse of relatively intact wilderness that’s home to moose, grizzly bears and wolves. According to the Yukon government’s decision document, ATAC Resources’ plan for the road didn’t adequately consider cumulative effects on the region’s ecosystem — particularly on wildlife. Todd Powell, director of mineral resources at the Yukon Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, told The Narwhal the company did not review wildlife impacts “in a meaningful way.” “The bigger the project, the bigger the effects are. In this case, a road into an area like that was going to have fairly significant effects.” The company’s plan to mitigate effects on wildlife “simply didn’t go far enough,” he said. According to ATAC Resources’ draft management plan, mitigation efforts included building the road in the Rankin Creek valley, where fewer wildlife are present, reducing or suspending traffic during calving and rutting and making the route private to prevent hunting. The company also said it would conduct road patrols to further deter hunting. The decision document notes there were baseline data “deficiencies” that would have affected environmental monitoring efforts. In its draft management plan, ATAC noted Lebarge Environmental Services conducted eight aerial and three ground surveys of wildlife between 2010 and 2013 that noted the project area is home to species that are considered of “special concern” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada including woodland caribou, grizzly bear, wolverine, collared pika, horned grebe, rusty blackbird, peregrine falcon and dolly varden. Threatened species that are found in the project area, according to ATAC, include the common nighthawk and the olive-sided flycatcher. Without adequate monitoring, Powell said there was little hope potential impacts could be mitigated in the future, which contributed to the Yukon government pulling the plug on the project. The Beaver River watershed is largely roadless and the ATAC road would have set a new “precedent” for mineral exploration in the territory, the document states. No roads longer than 50 kilometres have been built for operations that, like ATAC Resources’, are purely exploratory over the past decade, the document notes. “Far more typically, existing access routes and new access routes have only been upgraded or constructed once mine development and production has been authorized.” ATAC Resources is not currently operating any mines in the region and is not permitted to. The company is only permitted to conduct exploratory work until 2024, which raised questions about the need for the access road and concerns the company wouldn’t have long enough to successfully build and decommission the road as proposed. “The nearness of the expiration date doesn’t suggest that they would have a reasonable timeframe to get all of that work done,” Powell said. A sub-regional land use plan for the Beaver River watershed was recently launched by the Yukon government and the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation. Work on the plan is set to continue, regardless of the ATAC road cancellation, Powell said. “Everybody recognizes that this is a highly mineralized area with lots of potential,” he said. “The commitment remains in place to finalize [the land use plan] as soon as we can.” Randi Newton, conservation manager with CPAWS Yukon, recently told The Narwhal she hopes that the sub-regional land use plan will be replaced with a much broader plan that encapsulates the entire Beaver River watershed. CPAWS recently released a report that cautioned the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board against approving road projects before land use plans are completed. “Land use planning can take that broader view of how much development is allowable in an area, which areas should we keep remote and free of roads,” Malkolm Boothroyd, the report’s author and campaigns co-ordinator at the Yukon chapter of CPAWS, told The Narwhal in a previous interview. Powell said that while the sub-regional land use plan won’t be scrapped, it could help inform a region-wide plan in the future, so the intention now is to finish what has already been started. Lewis Rifkind, mining analyst at the Yukon Conservation Society, told The Narwhal his organization has been highlighting concerns associated with the ATAC road since its inception. While he questions why it took the Yukon government so long to cancel the project, he’s hopeful environmental protection is coming to the region through land use planning. “It does give us a chance to protect or manage a pretty large-scale landscape,” he said. “Now we can do the planning without having the road dictate certain land uses.”Julien Gignac, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
The Canadian Armed Forces are holding simulations tests of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, with a “series of exercise and run-throughs,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday outside Rideau Cottage. He added that freezers for the future vaccines have been purchased, and dry ice contracts are being negotiated.