Do you believe we should have more rules for minority governments? How do minority governments operate? Are there any rules surrounding how minority governments operate?
Yahoo Canada spoke to Elections Canada about some of the common mistakes voters make and what happens if you accidentally mark your ballot wrong.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened social media companies with new regulation or even shuttering after Twitter moved a day earlier to add fact checks to two of his tweets.The president can’t unilaterally regulate or close the companies, which would require action by Congress or the Federal Communications Commission. But that didn't stop Trump from angrily issuing a strong warning.Claiming tech giants “silence conservative voices,” Trump tweeted, “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”And he repeated his unsubstantiated claim — which sparked his latest showdown with Silicon Valley — that expanding mail-in voting “would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots.”Trump and his campaign angrily lashed out Tuesday after Twitter added a warning phrase to two Trump tweets that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted that “mail boxes will be robbed,” among other things. Under the tweets, there is now a link reading “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” that guides users to a Twitter “moments” page with fact checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.Trump replied on Twitter, accusing the platform of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and insisting that “as president, I will not allow this to happen.” His 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said Twitter’s “clear political bias” had led the campaign to pull “all our advertising from Twitter months ago.” Twitter has banned all political advertising since last November.Trump did not explain his threat Wednesday, and the call to expand regulation appeared to fly in the face of long-held conservative principles on deregulation.But some Trump allies, who have alleged bias on the part of tech companies, have questioned whether platforms like Twitter and Facebook should continue to enjoy liability protections as “platforms” under federal law — or be treated more like publishers, which could face lawsuits over content.The protections have been credited with allowing the unfettered growth of the internet for more than two decades, but now some Trump allies are advocating that social media companies face more scrutiny.“Big tech gets a huge handout from the federal government," Republican Sen. Josh Hawley told Fox News. “They get this special immunity, this special immunity from suits and from liability that’s worth billions of dollars to them every year. Why are they getting subsidized by federal taxpayers to censor conservatives, to censor people critical of China.”Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Deadlocked over the next big coronavirus relief bill, Congress is shifting its attention to a more modest overhaul of small-business aid in hopes of helping employers reopen shops and survive the pandemic.Bipartisan legislation that would give small employers more time to take advantage of federal subsidies for payroll and other costs is expected to pass the House this week, as lawmakers return to Washington for an abbreviated two-day session.Yet absent from the agenda is formal talks between congressional leaders on the next phase of the federal coronavirus response. Democrats have already pushed a $3 trillion-plus measure through the House, but negotiations with the GOP-controlled Senate and White House have yet to begin.“We can’t keep propping up the economy forever,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday in Lexington. It was one of his first public appearances in his home state of Kentucky since mid-March because of the pandemic.“The ultimate solution is to begin to get back to normal,” he said. “There are three things that are essential to have full normalcy — testing, treatment and vaccine.”Senate Republicans are divided on the next steps and wary of another sprawling negotiation where Democrats and the White House call the shots. They are also split on a central element — how much aid to provide state and local governments and other coronavirus response after earlier relief bills totalled almost $3 trillion.Even as they hit “pause” on a larger bill, Republicans are enthusiastic about improving the Paycheck Protection Program, which was established in March under the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill and was replenished last month. All told, Congress has provided about $660 billion for the program.Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a key architect of the aid, said in an interview that the program has shifted from one that was intended to keep paychecks flowing during the shutdown to a bridge to help businesses pay workers as they reopen — in many cases, at less than full capacity.“It’s taken on a different level of importance now,” Rubio said. “The program has evolved from simply keeping people from getting unemployed to actually helping rehire people as these businesses open up but the cash flow lags.”The House bill would provide a 24-week window to spend PPP funds and would eliminate a requirement that 75% of the forgivable loans be used for payroll costs. The goal is to give businesses more flexibility to pay rent and other overhead costs such as installing protective equipment.Under the original program, businesses are required to spend their loan money within the eight-week window to have their loans forgiven. That deadline is fast approaching. Without forgiveness, they would face a debt burden that, for many, would be hard to bear in a struggling economy.But the eight-week window has created a problem, particularly for restaurants. Under the law, they were required to rehire all their laid-off workers despite being closed or limited to takeout and delivery. Many restaurant owners feared that they would use up their loan money before being allowed to reopen, or reopening with reduced revenue because of social distancing requirements.The House's return to Washington for voting Wednesday comes after Senate Republicans — who are on recess after spending the past three weeks in Washington — have been knocking the decision by top Democrats to largely stay out of session during the pandemic.House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s office announced it was filing a lawsuit Tuesday against the new system of proxy voting. Approved by House Democrats earlier this month, the first-of-its-kind rules change will be in practice this week as dozens of lawmakers sign up to have another vote on their behalf so they can avoid travel to Washington. Republicans call it unconstitutional.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the lawsuit a “sad stunt” as the nation's virus-related death toll approaches 100,000.It appears the House could be out of session for much of June as well. The House, which has more than four times as many members as the 100-person Senate, is operating under the Capitol physician’s guidance, as Washington, D.C., remains under stay-home orders.Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said there isn't much legislation ready for floor votes, and committees are just beginning to write must-pass legislation like agency budget bills, the annual defence policy measure and a major reauthorization of water projects.Hoyer said political messaging bills, usually a feature of election years, are likely to take a back seat for now, as voting in the House has become an arduous and time-consuming process because of social distancing rules.In the meantime, Democrats are focused on touting the more than $3 trillion measure that they passed earlier this month, a more than 1,800-page measure crafted in response to Pelosi's admonition that they “go big” in the response.Republicans and the White House have dismissed the bill as a liberal wish list, but they have yet to coalesce around an alternative despite acknowledging the need for more legislative action.One idea gaining steam among Republicans — pushed by Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio — would deliver a bonus to unemployed people who return to their jobs. It's discussed as a replacement for the $600 per week supplemental unemployment benefit that expires July 31.“It’s something we’re looking at very carefully,” said White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow. He called the jobless aid “a major disincentive to go back to work.”___Associated Press writers Joyce Rosenberg in New York and Bruce Schreiner in Lexington, Ky., contributed to this report.Andrew Taylor And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
HONG KONG — Casino tycoon Stanley Ho, whose business empire dominated the Portuguese gambling enclave of Macao for decades, died Tuesday in Hong Kong at age 98.Considered the father of modern gambling in China, Ho’s long and eventful life tracked the ebb and flow of southern China’s fortunes. After a swashbuckling start as a kerosene trader, he ended up as Macau’s richest person, a lavish spender and debonair ballroom dancer.A family statement said he died peacefully in his sleep, but did not give a cause of death.Of mixed Chinese and European heritage, Ho fathered 17 children with four women, an extended family that engaged in high-profile squabbles over his legacy during his later years.Ho had stakes in businesses running everything from the ferries and helicopters connecting Hong Kong and Macao to department stores, hotels, Macao’s airport and its horse-racing tracks.But he said he avoided the gambling floor.“I don’t gamble at all. I don’t have the patience,” Ho told The Associated Press in a rare interview in 2001. “Don’t expect to make money in gambling. It’s a house game. It’s for the house.”Ho was born on Nov. 25, 1921, into the Hotung family, one of Hong Kong’s wealthiest and most powerful. When he was 13, his father abandoned the family after being wiped out by a stock market crash during the Great Depression.Ho's studies at Hong Kong University were interrupted by World War II. Fluent in English and Chinese, he was working as a telephone operator for British forces when the colony fell to Japan. He boarded a boat for neutral Macao, joining refugees from mainland China in the dying fishing port.“I had to throw away my uniform and run to Macao as a refugee,” Ho said in the 2001 interview.During the war, Ho said he ran nighttime smuggling and trading trips up the Pearl River Delta, on one occasion surviving a pirate attack.Eventually, he secured a four-decade monopoly on casinos in Macao, using that home advantage to build an empire that still dominated the industry for years after the local gaming market opened to foreign companies in 2002.“Macao treated me so well. I went there with 10 dollars in my pocket and became a millionaire before the age of 20,” Ho said.In 1948, Ho married Clementina Leitao, daughter of a prominent lawyer in Macao with ties to Portugal and to Macao high society, connections that may have helped him win the casino monopoly in 1962. About the same time, Ho married Lucina Laam under a Qing dynasty code allowing men to take multiple wives that Hong Kong outlawed in 1971.Ho fathered children with two other women, Ina Chan and Angela Leong, whom he also referred to as his “wives.” Ho reportedly met Chan, a nurse, when she was hired to care for Leitao, who died in 2004.He met Leong, a dancer and former ballroom dancing instructor, through his love of the tango and the cha-cha,Portugal transferred control of its colony Macao to China in 1999 and Ho’s monopoly ended in 2002. That brought in foreign rivals including Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts Ltd. and MGM Resorts International, spurring a building boom that transformed the sleepy, seedy former colonial outpost into a glitzy gambling powerhouse frequented by high-rolling mainland Chinese.The new players brought slick offerings to compete with SJM’s nearly two dozen no-frills casinos, but Ho's group waited years to build its own lavish megaresort.SJM's market share in Macao dropped to 14% in 2019 from the more than 30% share it held a decade earlier.Ho shrugged off allegations of ties to organized crime, such as a 2010 report by the New Jersey gaming commission that accused him of letting Chinese criminal gangs, or triads, prosper inside his casinos during the 1990s.Ho occasionally made news with extravagant gestures such as paying $8.9 million in 2007 for a bronze horse head looted by French troops from China’s imperial palace 150 years earlier so he could donate it to a Chinese museum. He also twice bid a record $330,000 for truffles at charity auctions.In 2009, Ho had brain surgery after reportedly falling at home. He spent seven months in the hospital and was rarely seen in public afterward, usually in a wheelchair.Ho is survived by three of his wives and 16 children — his eldest son, Robert, died in a car crash in Portugal in 1981.Daughter Pansy is co-chair of rival MGM’s Macao casino business. His son Lawrence runs another competitor, Melco. Another daughter, Josie, is an actress and singer.In 2011, a very public feud erupted over control of his multibillion-dollar stake in Macao casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd.Ho disputed a supposed transfer of his entire stake to five of his children and one of his wives, calling it a “robbery” contrary to his desire to divide the fortune equally among various family members.The dispute eventually was settled after several lawsuits, and Ho transferred most of his SJM shares to family members while officially remaining chairman until he retired at age 96. He had left the same job at his Hong Kong conglomerate Shun Tak Holdings just a year earlier.Ho was low key and quiet spoken in person, but proud of his role in transforming Macao from a decaying backwater deluged with refugees into the glittering destination is it today.“In those days, the Portuguese said Stanley Ho was a dreamer. I have fulfilled all my promises,” Ho said in 2001. “I feel rather proud in having succeeded.”___Chan, who reported from Hong Kong for The Associated Press for seven years, is now based in London.Zen Soo And Kelvin Chan, The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says any confusion about the temporary nature of rural emergency room closures during the novel coronavirus pandemic is on him.The provincial health authority announced Tuesday that at least one of the 12 ERs would be reopening in mid-June. Most of the others are to follow over the next four to six weeks. The authority said the initial suspension of emergency services and acute-care admissions at the hospitals was to ensure there would be enough capacity if there was a surge of COVID-19 cases.The decision confused and concerned some residents and local leaders, because the number of infections in the southern half of the province where the facilities are located remains low.Of Saskatchewan's 634 total cases, 77 are considered active, mainly in the north. No new infections were reported Tuesday."I don't think it's that we have not foreseen or in any way thought that this would not be a sensitive decision," Moe said of the closures during the day's briefing."This was a very challenging decision."Some locals have worried about the lack of access to emergency care in their communities, but Moe also acknowledged there has been unease that the temporary closures could become permanent. "I can see in hindsight that there is at times confusion ... the onus is on me to communicate better that these are not being considered for permanent closures."Health Minister Jim Reiter says the temporary shuttering of rural emergency services was part of a readiness plan from the health authority, which was released publicly weeks ago.He noted the plan characterized the closures as temporary, and "mistakenly, I guess, we thought that would be enough."Despite concerns over how the decision was communicated, Moe stood by the move. He said the closures were necessary to prepare for a potential spread of COVID-19 and to train staff.Also on Tuesday, the government announced that it plans to present a budget next month, when some MLAs return to the legislature.The government and Opposition NDP have agreed to meet for a 14-day sitting starting June 15. Finance Minister Donna Harpauer is to table the 2020-21 budget that day.Ten MLAs from the governing Saskatchewan Party and five from the NDP will be permitted in the assembly to comply with physical distancing made necessary by the COVID-19 health crisis.Moe previously said the government had no legislative business to attend to other than passing a budget ahead of a provincial election slated for the fall.The NDP has been pressing the government to present the budget, since it only released spending estimates in March — on the same day the legislature was closed over COVID-19 concerns.It was reported Tuesday that an eighth person had died from COVID-19 and one more death was under investigation.The resident was in their 50s and was from the province's far north, which has been dealing with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2020Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
For the first time, Twitter has flagged some of President Donald Trump's tweets with a fact-check warning.On Tuesday, Twitter added a warning phrase to two Trump tweets that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted that “mail boxes will be robbed,” among other things. Under the tweets, there is now a link reading “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” that guides users to a Twitter “moments” page with fact checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.The move comes after years in which Twitter has declined to apply its community guidelines and other rules of the road to the 45th U.S. president. It’s too soon to tell whether this action represents a turning point for Twitter in its treatment of Trump. But the warning labels suggest that the president has finally crossed a line that the company was not willing to move for him.THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.President Donald Trump is again pushing the limits of Twitter's attempts to deal with national leaders who spread misinformation and engage in personal abuse, this time with a barrage of baseless tweets suggesting that a television host he has feuded with committed murder.Twitter, which has tried to devise penalties for such situations, has so far done nothing about Trump's tweets.The husband of a woman who died by accident two decades ago in an office of then-GOP Rep. Joe Scarborough is demanding that Twitter remove the president’s tweets suggesting Scarborough, now a fierce Trump critic, killed her.“My request is simple: Please delete these tweets,” Timothy J. Klausutis wrote to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.The body of Lori Kaye Klausutis, 28, was found in Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach, Florida, congressional office on July 20, 2001. Trump has repeatedly tried to implicate Scarborough, a host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, in the death even though Scarborough was in Washington, not Florida, at the time.It's the latest instance in which the president has blown past Twitter's half-hearted attempts to enforce rules intended to promote civility and “healthy” conversation on its most prominent user. Trump frequently amplifies misinformation, spreads abuse and uses his pulpit to attack private citizens and public figures alike, but has never faced Twitter sanctions on his account.Klausutis wrote in his letter that he has struggled to move on with his life due to the ongoing “bile and misinformation” spread about his wife on the platform, most recently by Trump. His wife continues to be the subject of conspiracy theories 20 years after her death.Klausutis said in the letter, sent last week, that his wife had an undiagnosed heart condition, fell and hit her head on her desk at work. He called her death “the single most painful thing that I have ever had to deal with" and said he feels a marital obligation to protect her memory amid “a constant barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo and conspiracy theories since the day she died.”Trump's tweets violate Twitter’s community rules and terms of service, he said. “An ordinary user like me would be banished,” he wrote.At Tuesday’s White House briefing, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeatedly refused to say why Trump was pressing the unfounded allegations or whether he would stop tweeting about them. Instead, she focused on remarks that Scarborough made about the case that she said were inappropriate and flippant.Dorsey did not reply directly to Klausutis' letter and has not taken any action on the president's tweets. In a statement, Twitter said it was "deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family.”But the company didn't say it would do anything about Trump's tweets and didn't even mention them directly, although it did reference vague plans for future policy changes. “We’ve been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward, and we hope to have those changes in place shortly,” Twitter said.The proposed changes include labeling false or misleading tweets as such, with fact checks “crowdsourced” from Twitter. It recently started labeling such tweets when they are about COVID-19 and is looking to expand more broadly.But the company hasn't said when this tool would be available. Based on history, it's also not clear if these strictures would apply to Trump and other world leaders.Over the weekend, the president also sent out tweets calling into question the legality of mail-in-ballots. The storm of tweets followed the president’s Facebook and Twitter posts last week that wrongly claimed Michigan’s secretary of ptate mailed ballots to 7.7 million registered voters. Trump later deleted the tweet and posted an edited version that still threatened to hold up federal funds.These are the sorts of tweets that Twitter, if it wanted to, could remove or at least label under its policy against sharing “false or misleading information intended to intimidate or dissuade people from participating in an election or other civic process.”It has not done so. And it's not clear if Trump's team deleted the Michigan tweet on its own volition or if it was warned by Twitter that it would take action on it if it was not changed. Twitter is in ongoing contact with the White House.In general, Twitter has taken a hands-off approach to political leaders, contending that publishing controversial tweets from politicians helps hold them accountable and encourages discussion. Last year, it said it would consider slapping warning labels on some tweets by world leaders, noting that such individuals rules “aren’t entirely” above the rules.Nearly a year after announcing it, Twitter has yet to use such labels.There is no mystery to the death of Lori Klausutis. Medical officials ruled that the aide, who had a heart condition and told friends hours earlier that she wasn’t feeling well, had fainted and hit her head. Foul play was not suspected.Trump, however tweeted this month: “When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so. Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!”He echoed that “cold case” allegation in a new tweet on Tuesday,Trump also has asked via Twitter if NBC would fire the political talk show host based on the “unsolved mystery” years ago in Florida. “Investigate!” he tweeted in 2017.Scarborough has urged the president to stop his baseless attacks.___AP Technology Writer Mae Anderson contributed to this story from New York.Dino Hazell And Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Deadlocked over the next big coronavirus relief bill, Congress is shifting its attention to a more modest overhaul of small business aid in hopes of helping employers reopen shops and survive the pandemic.Bipartisan legislation that would give small employers more time to take advantage of federal subsidies for payroll and other costs is expected to pass the House this week, as lawmakers return to Washington for an abbreviated two-day session.Yet absent from the agenda is formal talks between congressional leaders on the next “phase” of the federal coronavirus response. Democrats have already pushed a $3 trillion-plus measure through the House, but negotiations with the GOP-controlled Senate and White House have yet to begin.“We can’t keep propping up the economy forever,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday in Lexington. It was one of his first public appearances in his home state of Kentucky since mid-March due to the pandemic.“The ultimate solution is to begin to get back to normal,” he said. “There are three things that are essential to have full normalcy — testing, treatment and vaccine.”Senate Republicans are divided on the next steps and wary of another sprawling negotiation where Democrats and the White House call the shots. They are also split on a central element — how much aid to provide state and local governments and other coronavirus response after earlier relief bills totalled almost $3 trillion.Even as they hit “pause” on a larger bill, Republicans are enthusiastic about improving The Paycheck Protection Program, which was established in March under the $2 trillion CARES Act and was replenished last month. All told, Congress has provided about $660 billion for the program,Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a key architect of the aid, said in an interview that the program has shifted from one that was intended to keep paychecks flowing during the shutdown to a bridge to help businesses pay workers as they reopen — in many cases, at less than full capacity.“It’s taken on a different level of importance now,” Rubio said. “The program has evolved from simply keeping people from getting unemployed to actually helping rehire people as these businesses open up but the cash flow lags.”The House bill would provide a 24-week window to spend PPP funds and would eliminate a requirement that 75% of the forgivable loans be used for payroll costs. The goal is to give business more flexibility to pay rent and other overhead costs such as installing protective equipment.Under the original program, businesses are required to spend their loan money within the eight-week window to have their loans forgiven. That deadline is fast approaching. Without forgiveness, they would face a debt burden that, for many, would be hard to bear in a struggling economy.But the eight-week window has created a dilemma, particularly for restaurants. Under the law, they were required to rehire all their laid-off workers despite being closed or limited to takeout and delivery. Many restaurant owners feared that they would use up their loan money before being allowed to reopen, or re-opening with reduced revenue due to social distancing requirements.The House's return to Washington for voting Wednesday comes after Senate Republicans — who are on recess after spending the past three weeks in Washington — have been knocking the decision by top Democrats to largely stay out of session during the pandemic.House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office announced it was filing a lawsuit Tuesday against the new system of proxy voting. Approved by House Democrats earlier this month, the first-of-its-kind rules change will be in practice this week as dozens of lawmakers sign up to have another vote on their behalf so they can avoid travel to Washington. Republicans call it unconstitutional.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the lawsuit a “sad stunt” as the nation's virus-related death toll approaches 100,000.It appears the House could be out of session for much of June as well. The House, which has more than four times as many members as the 100-person Senate, is operating under the Capitol physician’s guidance, as Washington, D.C., remains under stay-home orders.Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said there isn't much legislation ready for floor votes, and committees are just beginning to write must-pass legislation like agency budget bills, the annual defence policy measure and a major reauthorization of water projects.Hoyer said political messaging bills, usually a feature of election years, are likely to take a backseat for now, as voting in the House has become an arduous and time-consuming process because of social distancing rules.In the meantime, Democrats are focused on touting the more than $3 trillion measure that they passed earlier this month, a more than 1,800-page measure crafted in response to Pelosi's admonition that they “go big” in the response.Republicans and the White House have dismissed the bill as a liberal wish-list, but they have yet to coalesce around an alternative despite acknowledging the need for more legislative action.One idea gaining steam among Republicans — pushed by Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio — would deliver a bonus to unemployed people who return to their jobs. It's discussed as a replacement for the $600 per week supplemental unemployment benefit that expires July 31.“It’s something we’re looking at very carefully,” said White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow. He called the jobless aid “a major disincentive to go back to work.”___Associated Press writers Joyce Rosenberg in New York and Bruce Schreiner in Lexington, Ky., contributed.Andrew Taylor And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Many Medicare recipients could pay less for insulin next year under a deal President Donald Trump announced Tuesday in a pivot to pocketbook issues important in November's election.“I hope the seniors are going to remember it,” Trump said at a Rose Garden ceremony, joined by executives from insurance and drug companies, along with seniors and advocates for people with diabetes.The deal comes as Trump tries to woo older voters critical to his reelection prospects.Medicare recipients who pick a drug plan offering the new insulin benefit would pay a maximum of $35 a month starting next year, a savings estimated at $446 annually. Fluctuating cost-sharing amounts that are common now would be replaced by a manageable sum.The insulin benefit will be voluntary, so during open enrolment this fall Medicare enrollees who are interested must make sure to pick an insurance plan that provides it. Most people with Medicare will have access to them.Administration officials are hoping the announcement will provide a respite from the grim drumbeat of coronavirus pandemic news.Stable copays for insulin are the result of an agreement shepherded by the administration between insulin manufacturers and major insurers, Medicare chief Seema Verma told The Associated Press. The three major suppliers, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, were all involved.“It was a delicate negotiation,” Verma said. Drugmakers and insurers have been at odds in recent years, blaming one another for high prices. “I do think this is a big step.”The cost of insulin is one the biggest worries for consumers generally concerned about high prices for brand name drugs. Millions of people with diabetes use insulin to keep their blood sugars within normal ranges and stave off complications that can include heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and amputations. People with diabetes also suffer worse outcomes from COVID-19.An AP-NORC poll this month found warning signs for Trump with older voters. Fifty-four per cent of adults 60 and older said they disapproved of how Trump is handling his job as president, while 45% approved.On Tuesday, Trump tried to suggest former President Barack Obama was responsible for high drug prices. And he took a dig at former Vice-President Joe Biden, who's running to deny him a second term. “Sleepy Joe can't do this,” Trump said.The president last week told Republican senators at a Capitol Hill meeting he still wants to pass a bill this year to lower drug costs, saying “I think you have to do it,” according to a summary from an attendee. Bipartisan legislation to limit price increases and reduce costs for older people with high drug bills is pending in the Senate.But the fate of any drug pricing bill seems to rest with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has a much more ambitious plan for Medicare to negotiate prices for the costliest drugs, not just insulin. Pelosi would use expected savings to provide vision, dental and hearing coverage for older adults. Most Republicans oppose that approach as an expansion of government price-setting.Although the White House and Pelosi's office were in conversations last year about action on drug prices, the relationship between the two leaders has been tense and angry for months.White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway told AP the administration can't wait for the Democratic-controlled House on drug prices. “Waiting for them to act is very perilous,” Conway said.Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said 1,750 insurance plans that offer drug coverage to Medicare recipients have agreed to provide insulin for a maximum copay of $35 a month next year. It will be available through “enhanced” plans that may cost more per month but offer additional benefits such as reduced cost-sharing on certain drugs. The cap on copays is expected to lead to a small increase in premiums.Importantly for patients, the new benefit would cover a range of insulin products, including pen and vial forms for rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting and long-acting versions.One out of three people with Medicare have diabetes, and more than 3 million use insulin. At list prices, the drug can cost more than $5,000 a year. Although insured patients don't pay that, they do notice rising copays that are based on the full cost. People who can't afford their insulin may try to cope by reducing their doses, a dangerous calculation that can put their lives in jeopardy.Medicare's prescription drug benefit is offered by private insurers, either as a stand-alone “Part D” drug plan added to traditional Medicare, or as part of a managed care plan under Medicare Advantage. The taxpayer-subsidized private plans are closely regulated by the government, but by law Medicare is barred from negotiating drug prices — something Democrats including Biden want to change.Insurers and drugmakers welcomed the announcement. The industry group America's Health Insurance Plans called it an “excellent example of public-private partnerships where everyone wins.” The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said it's pleased to see the administration focused on lowering out-of-pocket costs for patients.Medicare estimates that about 6 in 10 beneficiaries are already in prescription drug plans that will offer the new insulin benefit. Those whose plans don't offer the new option can switch during open enrolment season, which starts Oct. 15. Medicare's online plan finder will help beneficiaries find plans that cap insulin copays.The insulin benefit will be available in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Participation is voluntary for insurers and Medicare recipients alike.___Associated Press writer Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report.Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press
There's been an online surge in disinformation and misinformation linked to the COVID-19 pandemic in recent weeks, along with cyber attacks on hospitals, says the head of one of the world's tech giants.Speaking at an event with Canadian Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc this morning, Microsoft president Brad Smith said his company has seen a recent shift in the pattern of online attacks and efforts to spread false rumours and lies about the pandemic."Interestingly, for a few weeks, we saw a bit of a reduction in nation state attacks as they too had to shift people to home," he said."But in the last six weeks, in April and May, we've seen a resurgence. And we're seeing a resurgence in part playing on people's fears and uncertainties around COVID 19. We're seeing a rise in misinformation and disinformation around COVID-19 and its causes and its effects."Smith said his firm is also "seeing an increase in cyber attacks against hospitals."Hospitals under threatIn March, at the outset of the pandemic, Canada's Communications Security Establishment warned that health organizations could face an elevated risk of cyber attacks and attempts to steal their intellectual property.Smith said he is part of a group that is calling on governments to protect hospitals from cyber attacks as they would protect them during a military conflict.With a national election looming in the United States this year, Smith said the threat of election interference is very real."If anything, we're seeing more countries act with more sophistication to undermine the importance of democracy in the future," he said.Jan Neutze, head of Microsoft's cybersecurity and democracy team, said the number of countries trying to affect events in other countries by spreading disinformation has also increased."The kinds of actors who are using the disinformation playbook in this pandemic certainly is not limited to just one particular nation state or one actor alone," Neutze said. "There are several countries who, I think, have studied what has been used by some countries in the past and are now very effectively applying this playbook as we're in this pandemic environment."The rise of 'deep fakes'The company is reporting seeing "phishing" attempts related to COVID-19 — attempts to trick people into giving up personal financial information — and the deployment of "deep fake" technology to manipulate videos in order to spread misinformation."In the disinformation space we are seeing new types of approaches that are used sometimes by nation-state actors, often times also by domestic actors, when we look at the creation of malicious synthetic media, otherwise known as deep fake technology," said Neutze.LeBlanc announced this morning that the Canadian government will be working with Microsoft and the Washington, D.C-based Alliance for Securing Democracy to prevent election interference."We come together to ensure that the internet remains an effective democratic tool, that it is resilient in the face of threats posed by malicious actors and that it serves as a place of secure communication and reliable information sharing," LeBlanc said.Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at email@example.com
EDMONTON — Alberta politicians are going back to the legislature this week with a plan to sit until late July and pass 10 bills, while physical distancing and dealing with COVID-19.Government house leader Jason Nixon said Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative cabinet ministers are to deliver an update on the pandemic in the house Wednesday and take Opposition questions on the government's handling of the crisis.Later this week, the government is to introduce bills that would set maximum timelines on decisions for oil and gas projects, expand the scope of a fund for victims of crime, and expand parental prerogatives in a child's education.Nixon said house will continue to observe rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as limiting the number of politicians needed to pass legislation.Government news conferences are still being done exclusively online."I'm looking forward to the chamber opening tomorrow and us returning to some semblance of normal inside the legislature," Nixon said Tuesday.One bill follows through on a UCP election promise to speed up reviews for energy projects."This legislation …. will enable the government to set maximum timelines for the Alberta Energy Regulator to review applications and make decisions in an efficient and timely manner while ensuring environmental protections and public safety," said Nixon.The UCP, citing research from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, has said well-licensing times range from 79 to 220 days in Alberta — twice the length for similar approvals in Saskatchewan and four times the wait in other oil jurisdictions such as Texas.Nixon said another bill will aim to fulfil another election commitment "to affirm parents have the primary responsibility for education of their children."Nixon declined to be more specific on what that will address, but the party promised during the campaign to expand alternative programs in public schools and maintain funding for independent schools and home-schoolers.NDP house leader Heather Sweet said the government should be fixing public education before embarking on new reforms. She noted the province laid off thousands of support staff, including substitute teachers and educational assistants, after schools closed and moved to online learning in March."What this government needs to do is reinstate our educational assistants (and) make sure we have enough teachers in our classrooms to meet the needs of students before they start looking at making changes to the public education system," said Sweet.During the session, the government is also to keep moving on its rollout of an economic recovery plan as COVID-19 infections continue to flatten.Barber shops, hair salons, retailers and restaurants have been allowed to reopen, subject to health restrictions, and movie theatres, spas and personal care services could be allowed to resume services June 19.Outdoor gatherings remain restricted to no more than 50 people and indoor gatherings to 15.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2020Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The COVID-19 pandemic is similar to an election campaign in the way it is providing opportunities for malicious actors to spread misinformation, say Canada's partners in a new effort to ensure democratic integrity.Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc announced Tuesday Canada is teaming up with tech giant Microsoft and the Alliance for Securing Democracy on countering election meddling as part of the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace.The government says the surge of dubious information and cyberthreats emerging in the context of COVID-19 highlights the need to act.The Paris Call flowed from the Internet Governance Forum held at UNESCO and the Paris Peace Forum in November 2018 and encourages international collaboration to address new cyberspace threats to citizens and institutions.Canada will work with Microsoft and the U.S.-based alliance on one of the Paris Call's nine fundamental principles that aims to "strengthen our capacity to prevent malign interference by foreign actors aimed at undermining electoral processes through malicious cyberactivities."During an online discussion after the announcement, Microsoft president Brad Smith said the company detected fewer state-sponsored online attacks at the beginning of the pandemic, followed by an increase in the last six weeks."We're seeing a resurgence, in part, playing on people's fears and uncertainties around COVID-19," he said. "We're seeing a rise in misinformation and disinformation around COVID-19 and its causes and its effects."The pandemic has spawned an infodemic — the proliferation of fake information about the novel coronavirus, said alliance director Laura Rosenberger.People have questions about COVID-19 and they're searching for information but sometimes governments and other responsible agencies don't have immediate answers, she said."It provides a great opportunity for those malicious actors to come in and just fill the information space with conspiracy theories, with false information, with things that are aimed at manipulating people," she said."That really polluted information environment actually makes it easier for malicious actors to come in and try to manipulate conversation aimed at other parts of society, other democratic institutions."The problem of election interference is not going away and, if anything, more countries are acting with increasing sophistication, Smith said."Our understanding of the problem has gotten better," he said. "Our defences are stronger as a result."But as defences get better, the digital attacks also become more elaborate."We're seeing more types of attacks, we're seeing a greater range of targets. And there are some days when it even feels like there are one or two more governments getting in on this," Smith said."So unfortunately the challenge in many ways is as great or greater than it was, even though I think we are in a better position to defend against this."Rosenberger said she is not naive enough to think the project on electoral integrity can solve everything."But I do think that building these kinds of collaborative fora, where we can really sit down as equal partners at a table and be able to work through different kinds of approaches and solutions is a really important start."This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2020.—Follow @JimBronskill on TwitterJim Bronskill , The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is sending out another batch of $200 cheques to help people deal with the economic consequences of COVID-19.The money is to go to more than 23,000 people who live with disabilities and are on social assistance. It aims to help cover extra costs such as prescription drugs and grocery deliveries."Manitobans living with disabilities may be facing additional costs in adjusting to the realities of daily life during this public health emergency, and, for many of them, it is extremely difficult to cover additional costs," Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday.The one-time payments are to be mailed out in early June, just a few weeks after similar $200 cheques were sent to every senior in the province, regardless of income.Those cheques were accompanied by a letter signed by Pallister, who indicated the new payments will also have his name attached."Who else would sign it?" Pallister said."Those who are receiving the payment deserve it, and I think that the premier of the province owes it to let people know that he believes that."Make Poverty History, a Winnipeg-based poverty rights group, said the one-time payment is not enough."We know everyone on (social assistance) and living in poverty is suffering, and everybody needs support, and that can't just be a one-time cheque," group chairman Michael Barkman wrote in an email.The Opposition New Democrats also called for higher payments and said Pallister is politicizing the program by attaching letters with his signature."I'd offer my best efforts to craft a letter of my own to include if they wanted to give me that honour," NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.Pallister said the cheques are not a political move, because the next election isn't scheduled until 2023."I would say it's a pretty weak case to say we're doing it for politics when the next election is years away."Manitoba health officials announced there were no new COVID-19 cases Tuesday for the fourth straight day. With most of the 292 people infected having recovered, the number of active cases was down to 16. Seven people have died since the pandemic began.Pallister offered his support for a proposed national program that would ensure workers received 10 paid sick days during the pandemic. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday the program would require talks with the provinces.Pallister said Manitoba is willing to put up money, although he provided no specifics."We don't need to discourage people from staying home when they're sick. We need to encourage them to do that ... and during this pandemic, it's critical that we do everything we can to help people do the right thing."This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2020Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Life comes at you fast.In the 2016 territorial election, Sandy Silver was the young, freewheeling third party leader with nothing to lose. The incumbent Yukon Party, in its third term in power, had alienated large segments of the electorate and Darrell Pasloski's government was running out of gas.Parties that have been in power for three terms and 14 years typically do not enjoy a high re-election rate. The NDP, though the Official Opposition heading to the 2016 campaign, had seemingly reached its ceiling under former leader Liz Hanson.Silver's Liberals cruised to a convincing win, taking 11 of 19 seats, though it was far from a landslide. The Liberals captured 39 per cent of the vote to the Yukon Party's 33.Fast forward to now, and the Yukon's political landscape looks a little different. Pasloski stepped down as Yukon Party leader after losing his Mountainview seat, and later decamped for the greener pastures of corporate boards and lobbying firms.Hanson would later step down as NDP leader, giving way to Kate White, the only other New Democrat MLA to keep her seat after the party's 2016 drubbing.With 34-year-old Currie Dixon's election as leader over the weekend, the Yukon Party now sports the kind of fresh face it hasn't had in a while. Still, as a former cabinet minister and director of the party's 2016 campaign, Dixon is far from a neophyte.Suddenly Silver's the old guardBut all of a sudden, Silver finds himself the oldest party leader and his government under concerted fire from both the left and the right.The Liberals have not taken criticism well, even before being handed the unenviable task of managing the government's response to COVID-19. In Question Period they were fond of blaming whatever problem on the Yukon Party, or, failing that, emitting an ink cloud of non-answers.The pandemic, at least at first, bought the Liberals some good will from the opposition parties. Clearly, such an unprecedented public emergency was going to disrupt business as usual. The Yukon Party and NDP agreed to let the spring budget pass the house without the usual debate.Ever since, the three parties have been locked in a dispute over how to give the budget some after-the-fact scrutiny. The government pulled the plug on budget hearings planned for May. A push for a house committee to examine some of the orders-in-council the government passed to deal with the pandemic has gone nowhere.The crisis brought some consensus: the opposition parties have remained largely silent on many of the economic measures the government has brought forward. Some of those measures, such as wage and rent subsidies, are more traditionally the domain of the NDP.The Liberals also tacked left on the environment, stealing the NDP's thunder on climate change and tabling an ambitious package of reforms aimed at cutting the Yukon's carbon emissions.Liberals face fire from both sidesThanks to Ottawa's longstanding, generous fiscal patronage of the territorial governments, the Yukon Party, when it was in power, was largely able to avoid the harsh austerity that other right-of-centre governments have adopted, either by choice or necessity. (Although the Liberals have a point when they note that it was the Yukon Party that drew heavily on the territory's financial assets to maintain balanced budgets.)Dixon spent much of his leadership campaign talking about the need for the Yukon Party to attract new supporters by taking issues like mental health and early childhood education — not exactly conservative meat-and-potatoes stuff — more seriously.Back in 2016, Silver expertly wielded his party's location in the political centre, pledging to adopt ideas from the left or the right, without concern for ideology.But power is an ideology of its own and retaining it tends to become the primary focus for most governments.By the time the next election rolls around, no more than a year and a half from now, Silver may find himself squeezed from both sides. Residing in the political centre may not be quite the sweet spot it once was.
NEW CASTLE, Del. — Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in more than two months on Monday as he marked Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a veterans park near his Delaware home.Since abruptly cancelling a March 10 rally in Cleveland at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has waged much of his campaign from his home in Wilmington. When Biden emerged on Monday, he wore a face mask, in contrast to President Donald Trump, who has refused to cover his face in public as health officials suggest.Biden and his wife, Jill, laid a wreath of white flowers tied with a white bow, and bowed their heads in silence at the park. He saluted. “Never forget the sacrifices that these men and women made," he said after. “Never, ever, forget.”“I feel great to be out here," Biden told reporters, his words muffled through his black cloth mask. His visit to the park was unannounced, and there was no crowd waiting for him.Biden briefly greeted a county official and another man, both wearing face masks and standing a few feet away. Biden also yelled to a larger group standing nearby, “Thank you for your service.” His campaign says Biden has gone to the park for Memorial Day often in the past, though services were cancelled Monday amid the pandemic.Though low-key, the appearance was a milestone in a presidential campaign that has largely been frozen by the coronavirus outbreak. While the feasibility of traditional events such as rallies and the presidential conventions are in doubt, Biden’s emergence suggests he won’t spend the nearly five months that remain until the election entirely at home.Trump, eager to project a country coming to life even as the pandemic's death toll approached 100,000, presided over back-to-back events at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and Fort McHenry in Baltimore.After a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington, Trump mourned the fallen in remarks at the Baltimore historic site and praised the contribution of service members “on the front lines of our war against this terrible virus.”The coronavirus has upended virtually all aspects of American life and changed the terms of the election. Trump’s argument that he deserves another term in office because of the strong economy has evaporated as unemployment rises to levels not seen since the Great Depression.As a longtime senator and former vice-president, Biden is trying to position himself as someone with the experience and empathy to lead the country out of a crisis. Trump counters that he is the leader who can preside over an economic rebound later this year or in 2021.Biden has adjusted to the coronavirus era by building a television studio in his home, which he’s used to make appearances on news programs, late-night shows and virtual campaign events. Some of those efforts have been marred by technical glitches and other awkward moments.Some Democratic strategists have openly worried that Biden is ceding too much ground to Trump by staying home. The president himself has knocked Biden for essentially campaigning from his basement.Biden’s advisers say they plan to return to normal campaign activities at some point, including travel to battleground states. But they’re in no hurry, preferring to defer to the advice of health experts and authorities’ stay-at-home and social distancing recommendations.At 77, Biden is among the nation’s senior population thought to be especially vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus — though so is Trump, who turns 74 next month.“We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said recently, adding that the campaign would hold more traditional activities “when safety allows, and we will not do that a day sooner.”Trump has not resumed the large rallies that were the hallmark of his 2016 campaign and presidency but has begun travelling outside Washington in recent weeks. He visited a facility producing face masks in Arizona and a Ford plant in Michigan that has been converted to produce medical and protective equipment.Trump even played golf at his club in Virginia over the weekend, hoping that others will follow his lead and return to some semblance of normal life and gradually help revive an economy in free fall.It was the president’s first trip to one of his money-making properties since March 8, when he visited his private golf club in West Palm Beach. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, and Trump followed with the national emergency declaration two days later.Biden’s campaign wasted little time producing an online video offering blurry, faraway footage of Trump on the golf course, imposed over images evoking the virus ravaging the nation as the number of Americans dead from the pandemic rose. The video concluded by proclaiming: “The death toll is still rising. The president is playing golf.”Trump is travelling to Florida on Wednesday to watch U.S. astronauts blast into orbit.___Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”Will Weissert, The Associated Press
EDMONTON — Alberta's United Conservative Party says it is applying for the federal wage subsidy program during the COVID-19 pandemic while the Opposition NDP says it is holding off.UCP spokesman Evan Menzies said Monday it is the best option for its workers with the locked-down economy leading to a reduction in fundraising opportunities."We have lost fundraising events in our 2020 calendar due to the restrictions on gatherings," Menzies said in a statement."Rather than fire staff, we plan to apply for the temporary federal program, like thousands of other business and non-profits have across the country, to help maintain our eight staff and the families that rely on them."The alternative was laying off staff and putting those individuals on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)/Employment Insurance."NDP provincial secretary Brandon Stevens said the NDP has eight staffers."Our team has worked hard since mid-March to make sure that our fundraising respects the very real health and economic anxieties of Albertans," Stevens said in a statement Monday. "To date, we have met our fundraising goals and have not had to apply for the federal wage subsidy or the federal rental assistance program."We continue to closely monitor our fundraising so that, if needed, we can make adjustments to keep staff employed and maintain our operations."Alberta's United Conservatives, led by Jason Kenney, won the provincial election in the spring of 2019, but finished the year with a $2.3-million deficit and net liabilities of $1.1 million.The NDP, the only other party with members in the legislature, recorded a surplus of almost $750,000 in 2019 with net liabilities of close to $377,000.In Manitoba, the governing Progressive Conservatives and the Opposition NDP say they have not applied for the benefit.In Saskatchewan neither the governing Saskatchewan Party nor the Opposition New Democrats are taking the subsidy.Federally, the Liberals, Conservatives, the NDP and the Green party have all applied for the subsidy.The Bloc Quebecois did not apply, saying the subsidy is designed to rescue those facing bankruptcy.Under the $73-billion program, Ottawa will cover 75 per cent of wages — up to $847 per week, per employee — for companies and organizations that have seen revenues from January and February decline by 15 per cent in March, or 30 per cent in April and May.The program was initially intended to apply to payrolls between March 15 and June 6, but has now been extended to the end of August.Political parties as non-profit entities are eligible to apply.In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn't answer repeated questions Monday about why his party needed to access that support.Instead, Trudeau spoke broadly about the aim of the program to support families and workers through the pandemic crisis.Alberta is continuing to see flat or declining caseload numbers.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, reported 19 new cases Monday, bringing the total active cases to 762. There are 45 people in hospital with COVID-19, five of whom are in intensive care.Hinshaw reported three more deaths, bringing that total to 138.Also Monday, Calgary and Brooks were allowed to join the rest of the province by opening restaurants, barber shops and hair salons. Reopenings in those two cities were delayed by comparatively higher case numbers.The next phase of the relaunch is set for June 19, when spas, movie theatres and other businesses could reopen.Hinshaw said if the cases continue to decline, they could discuss an earlier relaunch date."That's really up to all of us together to keep those numbers low," Hinshaw said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
About 20 people gathered outside Government House in Fredericton on Monday morning to protest against the city's plans to take down about 120 metres of eastern white cedar hedges that run along the walking trail. Jeff Trail, deputy chief administrative officer for the City of Fredericton, said staff have already removed about one-third of the hedge because of safety concerns.The area is often used by people who are homeless and set up tents along the hedge, which provides privacy and added protection during the summer months. There are no tents there now, and the city doesn't want their return."Removing the hedge improves the sight lines," Trail said. "There's an area there that was hidden from both Woodstock Road and even the driveway into the back of the Victoria Health Centre … it provides lots of opportunity for doing things out of sight."Safety concernsUntil January, between 20 and 30 tents were up between the hedge and the trail running along the St. John River, Trail said.Cleanup crews found 1,000 needles in one tent, and hundreds of used syringes in and around the hedge, which he said was being used as a bathroom.The city has already removed about 40 metres of the hedge between Government House and the Victoria Health Centre and plans to remove the rest in the fall. Corinne Hersey, who teaches at St. Thomas University, was one of the people protesting the decision on Monday morning. She said there needs to be a larger discussion before the remaining hedges are also removed. "We do know that there was a lot of garbage and needles, so I understand the concern, but the way that it's done, to just remove them, not tell anybody what's being done, then to have no place for people to go except to create another tent city isn't the answer," said Hersey, who plans to run for mayor in the next municipal election.Migratory birdsLast week, Andrea Francis went to work at the Victoria Health Centre and said she was devastated to find one of the hedges had been taken down. Later that day, she saw city workers starting to take down another hedge, so she went out and stood in the way of their equipment. Francis was concerned about migratory birds that live in the hedge."I'm an animal lover and environmentalist, lover of nature," she said. "I really care about retaining what green spaces we have left in Fredericton."Francis wants the city to bring in a wildlife expert to check the hedges for birds living there. She also wants the city to consult and listen to residents.Trail said the city is holding off on removing the rest of the hedge because of concerns that birds may be nesting there, but the rest of the removal will happen in early fall. Trail said public consultation isn't usually required for work such as this.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal leadership election committee says it will restart the process to naming a new leader of the party.That process will officially resume on June 8, "assuming there are no impediments to doing so," the election committee said in an emailed statement Monday afternoon.It said it will give notice a week before then, so that candidates can be prepared. Many details that come along with restarting the leadership race, including when virtual voting will happen, are still being worked out.The contest began in February when Premier Dwight Ball announced he was stepping down. It was halted March 23, as the province moved into a public health emergency — forcing many businesses and institutions to close their doors, and leaving tens of thousands of people either out of work or working from home.John Abbott, who along with Andrew Furey is seeking the job, said earlier this month that he believed the party should wait until the province moved into Alert Level 3 of its plan to resume activity with COVID-19 — which is June 8, as long as the number of COVID-19 cases remains manageable from the perspective of public health officials. Abbott served under former premier Danny Williams as deputy minister of health, and again under outgoing Premier Ball after the Liberals dominated the 2015 election. Abbout was later removed from his role in the health portfolio and shifted into an advisory role, a move he believes was due to controversial comments he made two years ago about too many nurses taking too much sick leave and about how doctors could be more efficient. Furey was the first contender to enter the race. He is an orthopedic surgeon and founder of humanitarian group Team Broken Earth, and politics run in his family. His father, George Furey, is the Speaker of the Senate. George's brother, Andrew's uncle, is Chuck Furey, a former cabinet minister. The party had ordered Furey and Abbott to cease any campaigning indefinitely, and any violation of the terms of the suspension could result in discipline, including disqualification from the contest. Abbott had been served a written reprimand for violating supplementary rules, which prohibit leadership candidates from "campaign-related media commentary until such time as the leadership election resumes," after sending a press release commenting on when the race should continue. Neither candidate is permitted to accept any donations during the suspension, and are prohibited from doing any interviews that have any political overtones.Both teams were also ordered to make their campaign social media accounts inactive, and remove any campaign themes or messages from their personal social media accounts.Voter registration is suspended until further notice as well. 'No reset'The Liberal Party convention to choose Ball's successor had originally been scheduled for last Saturday, May 9. The race, however, was indefinitely postponed because of concerns that campaigning would be too risky during the public health emergency. While there seemed to be an online swell of support for Health Minister John Haggie — who along with Ball and Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, takes centre stage for the daily COVID-19 briefings — to be allowed to enter the leadership race, party president John Allan said the nomination process would not reopen. "Unequivocally no," Allan told CBC News in early May. "There will be no reset."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced multiple questions Monday on why his party applied for a federal wage subsidy program for organizations facing economic hardship due to COVID-19.The Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and the Greens have all applied for the program, which sees the government cover up to 75 per cent of a worker's salary, to a maximum of $847 a week per employee.The program is meant for companies that have suffered major losses of revenue as a result of the pandemic, though it also covers non-profits and charities.Trudeau didn't answer repeated questions about why his party needed to access that support, speaking only broadly about the aim of the program."We know families across the country depend on the jobs that they do to pay groceries, pay for the rent. That's why we put in place a wage subsidy that is available to small businesses, large business, non-profits and charities to be able to support people who might otherwise be laid off," he said. "This is going to be an important part of the economy bouncing back."To be eligible, a company or organization must have seen its revenues from January and February decline by 15 per cent in March or 30 per cent in April and May.In the first three months of 2020, the Conservatives raised around $3.8 million, the Liberals around $2.8 million and the NDP around $964,000.The donations were down from the last non-election year, and all three have said they've dropped further since the COVID-19 pandemic began shutting down the country in mid- to late March.At the same times, costs continue to be incurred.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Monday they didn't want their staff to lose their jobs."It was a simple decision when we saw loss of revenue at the party level and workers potentially being laid off, losing their jobs and having to go onto other programs like the CERB," he said of his party's choice to apply for the program."This is exactly what the wage subsidy is for, to ensure that workers remain connected to their jobs and we believe that's important."Singh said the NDP will be topping up their staff salaries so their paycheques remain unchanged.The Conservatives have said they applied as well to account for the higher costs incurred by the switch to off-site work.The party also has a leadership contest under way.Three out of the four contenders — Leslyn Lewis, Peter MacKay and Erin O'Toole — have spoken out against the decision by the party to apply for the subsidy program.O'Toole has said if he wins, the party won't take the subsidy and will over time repay the amount collected.Currently, the subsidy runs out on Aug. 29. The vote for Conservative leadership ends on Aug. 21, with the winner expected to be announced a few days later.Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, whose party did not apply, called the decision to do so, by the Liberals and Conservatives in particular, unacceptable.The programs were designed to help people facing bankruptcy, he said."This is funding the next campaign for the Liberals and the Conservatives," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020.The Canadian Press
Pandemic or no pandemic, political parties receive taxpayer subsidies worth tens of millions of dollars every year — a sum that will rise in 2020 when the four national parties receive the emergency wage subsidy to make up for a shortfall in donations.The COVID-19 outbreak has had a significant impact on parties' ability to raise money — which explains why the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and Greens have all applied for the federal government's wage subsidy program. The program pays out up to 75 per cent of an employee's pre-pandemic salary.The parties collectively employ 200 people, so that subsidy will cost the treasury about $670,000 per month.There's no doubt that parties are hard up for cash, as are many businesses and organizations in Canada. An analysis of fundraising in March and how it compared to previous years suggests the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP might have missed out on as much as $2 million in contributions in that month alone.Those parties applying for or already receiving the wage subsidy were denounced today by Yves-François Blanchet, the leader of the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc has not applied for the subsidy."Programs that were created to avoid the bankruptcy of businesses and individuals serve today to finance the two richest parties in Canada," he said."It's deeply unacceptable. The Liberals don't need it. The Conservatives don't need it."Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked repeatedly on Monday about the Liberals receiving the subsidy. He said only that the subsidy is an important program meant to shield businesses and non-profits from being forced to lay off employees.The decision also is causing some consternation among Conservative leadership candidates.Ontario MP Erin O'Toole was the first to voice his opposition to his party's decision to take the subsidy, pledging that if he is elected leader he will pay that money back over time.Watch: Trudeau questioned on why most political parties are receiving COVID relief funds:"Canadians have sacrificed enough," O'Toole said in an email to supporters. (He also pointed out that if an election were called, he would prioritize defeating the Liberals over paying back the subsidy.)Toronto candidate Leslyn Lewis released a statement expressing her "disappointment" with the party's decision.Former cabinet minister Peter MacKay also said that he opposed the party taking the subsidy, arguing that "our party ended direct taxpayer subsidization of political parties."Parties receive millions in subsidies alreadyFrom 2004 to 2015, political parties received a direct subsidy for every vote they received in the most recent election. That subsidy was phased out by the Conservatives under Stephen Harper.But indirect subsidization of political parties continues. The most significant is the tax credit donors receive for their contributions — 75 per cent of the first $400, 50 per cent for the next tranche up to $750, and 33.5 per cent for the remainder, up to $1,625.According to the Department of Finance, this credit has cost $145 million since 2016, or roughly $29 million every year.But that isn't even the only source of public funding for parties. They also receive lucrative reimbursements for their election expenses. These reimbursements are worth 50 per cent of eligible expenses for national parties that receive at least two per cent of the vote, and 60 per cent for individual candidates who obtain at least 10 per cent of the vote in their constituency.The reimbursement to parties for the 2015 federal election (the last for which data is available) totalled $60.7 million, while another $42.7 million was paid out to individual candidates.This election expense reimbursement adds another level of subsidy to the contribution tax credit.A $400 donation will net the contributor $300 in tax credits. If the party then spends that money during an election campaign, it will receive another $200 in reimbursements — that $400 donation has been turned into a $500 subsidy. And if the party spends their reimbursement on another election, it can receive another $100 ... and so on and so on.In the end, the wage subsidy will be far less costly than the other subsidies from which parties already benefit.Certainly, political parties serve an important function in democracy — and they are employers, like any other organization. Like many non-profits, they can do a lot of good work.Nevertheless, the propriety of parties receiving subsidies from programs that they themselves have designed or supported in Parliament can be debated.But the wage subsidy is just one of many ways in which parties have awarded themselves sources of taxpayer funding. Whether those sources are direct or indirect, the money all comes from the same place.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas is asking French authorities to backpedal on their decision to end the football season prematurely amid the coronavirus pandemic.The men’s league was cancelled four weeks ago with 10 rounds remaining, Paris Saint-Germain declared champion, and Lyon finished outside the European places in seventh.In a letter on Monday to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu, Aulas argued the premature conclusion of the season will have catastrophic consequences for French clubs, which could face losses of “700 to 900" million euros ($760 million to $980 million).Alongside Amiens and Toulouse — the two clubs demoted to the second division — Lyon took action against the league decision but their case was thrown out last week by a Paris administrative court. Lyon now wants France's highest administrative court, the Council of State, to issue a ruling on the matter.In the letter, Aulas said the fact that the French league was the only one among the seven biggest European leagues to opt for an early end should convince authorities to reconsider their move.In Europe, the Dutch and Belgian leagues have also ended their 2019-20 seasons early.Aulas has argued for the French league to be given a chance to be completed by late August with a temporary playoff system, but with PSG staying the champion given its large lead before play was stopped.“The Bundesliga resumed matches on May 16, Spain will resume matches on June 8. Italy, Russia and Portugal have resumed collective training and England is working on a resumption after June 19," Aulas wrote. “How can France not be downgraded very quickly and see its professional football devalued?"On June 2, the French government is expected to make further announcements related to France's lockdown exit strategy.“Many developments and hopes are expected on this date, so that France can gradually regain a good dynamic," Aulas said. “Could we imagine that June 2 is also a great opportunity to rectify the mistake concerning French football and to allow, with a health protocol used everywhere, to give the starting point for a gradual resumption of training (in June) and, why not, a resumption of the 2019-2020 season over the months of July or August?"Lyon, meanwhile, still hopes to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League after beating Italian champion Juventus 1-0 in the first leg of their round of 16 match on Feb. 26. The return leg in Turin was suspended.___More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsBy Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press
Without guaranteed and affordable internet access, Lekan Olawoye fears some Canadians could be left behind economically as the pandemic's physical distancing measures remain in place for months to come."It's absolutely imperative that right now, in 2020 ... people have access to this, especially when you are thinking about historically underrepresented groups, like black professionals," said Olawoye, the outspoken founder of the Black Professionals In Tech Network."If you want a job, you need to be able to do webinars and live interviews."The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted renewed calls for widespread affordable internet and wireless services. Alongside calls for a guaranteed basic income, some are calling for guaranteed universal, affordable internet access."We are seeing now that with this crisis there are cracks, largely around affordability" said John Lawford, executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. "And then there are other divides, rural divides."'Essential to living'In April, Lawford, the anti-poverty organization ACORN Canada and the National Pensioners Federation called on the federal government, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission and the country's internet and wireless providers to provide unlimited home internet access and targeted cell plans for low-income users. The organizations are also calling for a moratorium on price hikes."You need the internet and wireless to connect you to society," Lawford said. "It has now become an essential to living."The groups called on the federal government to mandate that telecommunications companies offer unlimited home internet to all, at no extra cost, over the next several months. They also called for a doubling of cell phone data caps at no additional charge.For seniors and other low-income Canadians, they called for free internet and a $30 cell phone calling and data plan.Lawford said he still hasn't heard anything back from the Liberals about their request.In a statement, Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains said through a spokesperson that his team remains in contact with telecommunications and internet providers to ensure Canadians remain connected."Our government will continue to work to make sure Canadians can stay connected to their families and workplaces during this difficult time," said Alexander Jagric, the minister's acting press secretary. The statement did not say what the government is doing about internet and cell rates. However, the Liberals campaigned in the last election on reducing cell phone rates by 25 per cent. Life without internetRay Noyes understands what it's like to live without the internet or a cell phone. During the pandemic, the 64-year-old has been confined to his Ottawa bachelor apartment with only a radio and his landline. On his $1,200 a month provincial disability payment, he can't afford cable, home internet or a cell phone."It's very frustrating for me," Noyes said. "I don't have access to the kind of information, the kind of entertainment that people with the internet have."Telecommunication companies have promoted and defended the affordability of their services during the pandemic. Many, including the Big 3 — Rogers, Bell and Telus — have offered relief to customers, according to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association."Beginning in March, our members introduced a number of measures to help Canadians during this difficult time," the organization's president and CEO Rob Ghiz said in a statement. "These include waiving of certain fees and offering flexible payment options to those facing financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic."MP: Get rid of overage chargesMPs urged telecommunications companies to continue offering these incentives to Canadians when executives from several firms appeared virtually before a House of Commons committee earlier this month. Toronto Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith pointed out that Rogers, Telus and other telecommunications companies are "still profitable" after waiving fees during the pandemic. He suggested that companies eliminate these fees for good, calling them a tax on the poor."I appreciate that you have waived overage fees in the course of this pandemic. It seems the right thing to do, though, on the other side of this pandemic as well," Erskine-Smith said."It seems to me that if you're still profitable while waiving them, and if it is principally borne by poor people, overage fees are, in many respects, just a tax on poor Canadians."Erskine-Smith pointed to studies that show low-income Canadians suffer the brunt of these fees.
The former leader of the B.C. Green Party lashed out at his former caucus members over Twitter on Saturday, saying they were not prepared to topple the government when he was.Andrew Weaver left the B.C. Green Party in January to sit as an independent MLA in the legislature. He made the announcement in October and said he would not run in the next election.He said at the time that sitting as an independent would allow him to balance politics with some health issues, but he remained committed to the stability of B.C.'s minority government.Since 2017, the Greens and the NDP have had an agreement to support one another in a minority government. On Saturday though, Weaver was critical of the two MLAs he previously sat with in caucus.He commented on a tweet from Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau, who is vying for the party's leadership, about B.C. adopting a four-day work week.Weaver said the idea was "kooky," and then further in the comments wrote that both Furstenau and interim leader Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, "were afraid to stand up to the B.C. NDP" over LNG development in the province."I was ready to go to election, but in my opinion, they were more interested in re-election than they were about standing up for @BCGreen principles," he wrote on Twitter.In October 2018, the LNG Canada project, a $40-billion liquefied natural gas project in northern B.C., was approved. At the time, B.C. Premier John Horgan said the announcement was a "great day" for the province.Weaver said the announcement was a "profound disappointment," and that his party would not support the LNG legislation that would be required. He said the project would prevent the province from meeting climate change targets.Also on Twitter on Saturday night, Weaver seemed to indicate that under his leadership the B.C. Greens were more centrist, but had since swung left.'Surprised'Olsen responded to the tweets with a statement on Sunday that said the party was "surprised" to see Weaver make the claim."The B.C. Greens strongly opposed LNG and made this very clear," it said. "We voted 14 times in the house against the legislation, but the B.C. NDP and the B.C. Liberals both voted together to bring LNG to B.C."In an interview on CBC's The Early Edition Monday morning, Olsen reiterated that the Green Party used "every tool in its toolbox" to try to stop the legislation, which he said allows for "a massive tax subsidy" for LNG Canada."I can't remember a bill in the history of the province that has had so many votes," said Olsen, adding there was no opportunity for the Green Party to bring down the government on this issue.Olsen said the party's focus now is the health of British Columbians, the impact of the pandemic and advancing a green economic recovery.Moe Sihota, former president of the B.C. NDP, said the Green Party could have put forward a vote of non-confidence and tried to topple the government over the LNG issue, but did not. But Sihota says focusing on that issue is "looking at the tree and not the forest." He believes the former Green leader is more concerned about what Weaver sees as "the shift from a moderate party that he led to a more marginal one." "Andrew sees that the party as drifting toward irrelevance because of more extreme positions and the change in its membership that, as he puts it, has become more radical," said Sihota on The Early Edition Monday.Olsen disputed that claim, saying: "That is just not true." Weaver has yet to respond to requests to explain the reasoning behind his current criticisms.
The union backing Canada's public employees is launching a nationwide effort to transform long-term care into a publicly funded, universal health care system in the midst of a pandemic it says has exacerbated problems in facilities across the country and led to the deaths of thousands of residents.The Canadian Union of Public Employees — which represents 65,000 long-term care nurses, aides and dietary, cleaning and administrative staff — is ramping up previous calls to overhaul Canada's system in a new campaign intended to educate the public and capture the attention of federal politicians."Right now, long-term care in Canada is a patchwork system with no national standards," said CUPE national secretary-treasurer Charles Fleury in a news release. "It's time to fix that."The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately hit long-term care facilities across Canada, with approximately 80 per cent of deaths related to the disease occurring in seniors' homes. Some employees are dealing with shortages of protective equipment and low wages, while others have contracted the disease themselves. The Canadian Armed Forces has also sent more than 1,250 personnel to assist seniors' homes in Quebec and Ontario, which have experienced significant outbreaks.The crisis has prompted federal and provincial politicians alike to confront the state of elder care in Canada.In April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country was "failing" its older population, while Ontario Premier Doug Ford called Canada's existing system "broken."WATCH | Trudeau on federally regulating long-term care:Members pushing for national standards of careCUPE is planning to ask its members working in care homes to send their appeals directly to the federal government and hopes to target the prime minister and individual MPs through a letter-writing campaign.The impetus behind effort is the union's belief that improving elder care will be top of mind for voters in the next federal election.In a letter addressed to Trudeau and other federal party leaders last week, CUPE National president Mark Hancock called for long-term care to be regulated under the Canada Health Act, the federal legislation responsible for publicly funded health care insurance. The union also implored leaders to set aside dedicated funding to the provinces and territories through the Canada Health Transfer and wants to see the implementation of national standards of care. Long-term care is a provincial responsibility, and the majority of facilities are public, non-profit or a mix of the two. Less than 40 per cent of residences are privately owned, which operate on a for-profit basis.Eliminating the for-profit ownership of homes is another element of CUPE's strategy."We believe long-term care should be a core, publicly delivered health care service, like visiting a family doctor or staying in a hospital, in part because the profit motive negatively impacts working conditions and quality of care," the union said in a statement to CBC News. "Valuing profitability of care over quality of care is what got us into this situation."For-profits not the problem, private home owner saysBut the pandemic caught all types of residences off guard, said Paul Arbec, the vice president of the association representing Quebec's private long-term care residences.Arbec, who also leads a health care group that owns 16 private care centres across Quebec, said the lack of testing in his province and reduced access to protective equipment was largely responsible for the outbreaks that have devastated some of Quebec's facilities.He also rejected the notion that residences built on for-profit models result in lesser conditions for residents and staff. "Profit is made on the real estate and room and board side of things and does not in any way hinder direct care to the residents," Arbec said.However, he added that he was not opposed to private homes receiving subsidies, stating that both models work better in tandem."Having private partners in a public system has managed to keep the public system as efficient as possible, as there remains a healthy competition," Arbec said.CUPE plans to launch its campaign Monday.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has a new pitch to voters for this fall: Trust me.As the economy faces a once-in-a-century recession, with more than 38 million people out of work, Trump is increasingly talking up a future recovery that probably won't materialize until after the November election. He's asking voters to look past the pain being felt across the nation and give him another four-year term on the promise of an economic comeback in 2021.“It’s a transition to greatness,” Trump says over and over, predicting a burgeoning economy come the fall. “You’re going to see some great numbers in the fourth quarter, and you’re going to end up doing a great year next year."His chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, echoes the wait-until-next-year sentiment, holding out hope for a “big bang 2021.”It's a delayed-reward tactic Trump was using long before the global pandemic gut-punched the country. He has turned to it with new urgency as the coronavirus has robbed him of the booming economy that was to be the core of his reelection message.Trump had already pledged to finally release a Republican health care plan after the polls closed — despite having served more than three years in office — along with a postelection tax cut and a “Phase 2” trade deal with China.Now, Trump is making the case to voters that if he helped bolster the economy once, he can do it again.“We built the greatest economy in the world," Trump says frequently. "I’ll do it a second time.”It's not just next year that will be a mystery to voters on Election Day. Trump and his team have been talking up the fourth quarter — October through December — but economic reports on that period won't be released until 2021. Preliminary figures for the third quarter will be released Oct. 29, days before the Nov. 3 election. And unemployment could still be in double-digit territory by Election Day, top White House economist Kevin Hassett said Sunday.“You're going to be starting at a number in the 20s and working your way down,” Hassett told CNN's “State of the Union.” “And so, of course, you could still not be back to full employment by September or October.”Still, Trump and his campaign are hoping they can convince the public that Trump, not Democrat Joe Biden, is the candidate who can turn things around, even as they push the recovery timeline into next year.“The president has a clear record of building the economy to unprecedented heights before it was artificially interrupted by the coronavirus, and they know he will build it a second time,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh.Economists, however, warn that the “snap back” Trump's advisers have been talking up is unlikely, given the severity of the recession. It will take years for the economy to recover, according to the Congressional Budget Office.Polling data suggests Trump has some work to do to persuade Americans that all will be well next year.Americans are split on whether they think the economy will improve (41%) or worsen (40%) over the coming year, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.Their opinions differ based on their politics. A majority of Republicans (62%) think the economy will get better in the coming year, while a majority of Democrats (56%) think it will get worse.The poll finds that only 49% of Americans now approve of how Trump is handling the economy, compared with 56% in March, though the numbers remain split largely on party lines.While a majority of Americans in households that lost a job do think it’s at least probable that the job will return, 70% now describe the state of the nation’s economy as poor, versus just 29% who say it’s good — down from 67% in January.Trump has been encouraging states to begin easing restrictions and reopening their economies. But that doesn't necessarily mean jobs will return. While most of those who say they got a haircut at least monthly before the outbreak or shopped regularly in person for nonessential items would definitely or probably do so in the next few weeks if they were allowed, Americans may be wary to return to life as normal.Only about half of those who did so at least monthly before the outbreak say they’d travel, go to bars and restaurants, use public transportation, or exercise at a gym or studio. Just 42% of those who went to concerts, movies, or theatre or sporting events at least monthly say they’d do so in the next few weeks if they could.Still, the poll shows that 66% of Americans continue to say that their personal financial situation is good — a number that has remained steady since before the outbreak began. Americans are also more likely to expect their personal finances to improve than worsen in the next year, 37% to 17%.In the end, that's what is going to matter most, said Michael Steel, a Republican political strategist.“This election will turn on facts more than messages," he said. "The president is placing a bet by reopening the economy before public health officials believe it is safe. If the economy recovers sharply and infection rates remain steady or go down, then voters will reward his boldness, but if we continue to see massive unemployment and a spike in new infections and deaths, all the political wordsmithery the world will offer won’t help him.”___AP Director of Public Opinion Research Emily Swanson contributed to this report.Jill Colvin And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press