Two years after candidate Doug Ford promised to lower electricity rates by 12 per cent if elected, Ontario consumers are about to start paying more for power. As Seán O’Shea reports, the higher costs will show up on bills in November.
Two years after candidate Doug Ford promised to lower electricity rates by 12 per cent if elected, Ontario consumers are about to start paying more for power. As Seán O’Shea reports, the higher costs will show up on bills in November.
Recent developments: * Ottawa has 29 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one more death.What's the latest?Ottawa has 29 of Ontario's 1,746 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and one more person's death of COVID-19.Ontario has announced another pandemic education payment for families for things such as technology, school supplies and developmental resources.Families can apply to receive $200 for each child under 12, or $250 for a child or youth under 21 with special needs.The federal government will release its long-awaited fiscal update at 4 p.m. ET.How many cases are there?As of Monday, 8,487 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 344 known active cases, 7,768 cases now considered resolved and 375 people who have died of COVID-19.Public health officials have reported more than 13,900 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 12,500 resolved cases.Ninety people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 80 in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do?Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Ontario says this will apply through December's holidays, with people who live away from home such as post-secondary students asked to reduce close contacts for 10 to 14 days before going back.Quebec has shared what it will take to have at most two small holiday gatherings next month. Rules won't be loosened until mid-January at the earliest.Travel from one region to another is discouraged throughout the Outaouais.Ontario says people shouldn't travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.Ottawa is currently in the orange zone of Ontario's five-colour pandemic scale, which allows organized gatherings and restaurants, gyms and theatres to bring people inside.Three other eastern Ontario health units are under yellow zone restrictions: * The Eastern Ontario Health Unit. * Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health. * Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.That means restaurant hours, table limits and rules around capacity fall somewhere between those in place in Ottawa and the rest of eastern Ontario, which is currently green, the lowest level.In Gatineau and the surrounding area, which is one of Quebec's red zones, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential.There is no indoor dining at restaurants and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.The rest of western Quebec is orange, which allows private gatherings of up to six people and organized ones up to 25 — more in seated venues.What about schools?There have been about 200 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.Ottawa has nine permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.Kingston's test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area's other site is in Napanee.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test site visiting smaller communities.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.In western Quebec:Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne has had its most known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic this month, with 22 and counting in its Ontario portion and more on the American side of the border. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel.Akwesasne schools and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre are temporarily closed to in-person learning. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte reported its first confirmed case this month.People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.For more information
The European Union hopes Joseph Biden's incoming administration will clarify the U.S. position on digital taxation within two months of taking office, a French Finance Ministry source said on Monday. The EU is considering going ahead with a bloc-wide tax on digital services offered by companies such as Google and Amazon if a global deal to rewrite rules for cross-border taxation is not reached by mid 2021. Efforts at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to update the rules for the era of digital commerce stalled this year.
A decision of the Halifax and West Community Council to turn down a commercial development in Hatchet Lake has been appealed to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.The owners of Hatchet Lake Plaza Ltd. applied to build a fast-food outlet along with a gas bar and convenience store on Prospect Road. The zoning allows for a restaurant and drive-thru but the owner needs municipal approval for a service station.Local residents have raised several concerns."We're on well water here and I know they keep trying to reassure us that there will be no danger to groundwater,'' said Beverley Volsky, who lives next door to the proposed development. "But I don't want to take the chance."Other submissions sent to a public hearing on Sept. 24 talked about noise, odours and increased traffic.A petition opposed to the project with 578 names was also submitted to the community council meeting. A number of residents questioned the need for another gas station."There's an Irving and a Petro-Canada less than five minutes from our location," said Volsky."I don't need a convenience store right behind my house. We have several along Prospect Road."HRM staff say there are no rules limiting the number of service stations within a particular area. They recommended approval of the proposed development, but the community council decided against it.According to minutes of the meeting, councillors said the proposal "does not reasonably carry out the intent of the Municipal Planning Strategy."They cited the potential environmental impact and the proximity to residential properties. Community council members also noted opposition from the community.Peter Rogers, the lawyer for the property owner, said his client decided to appeal because he believes the development is consistent with the planning rules in place at the time."Cases like this are supposed to be decided not by popularity or petitions of citizens," said Rogers. "They are supposed to be decided by the Municipal Planning Strategy itself."The UARB will hear arguments in the appeal on Wednesday.MORE TOP STORIES
It was during one of the early planning sessions for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics that Chief Gibby Jacob heard a provincial government official talking about the Callahan Valley, which would eventually host cross-country skiing and ski jumping during the Games.Jacob, who participated in the bidding process for the Olympics and was a member of the Games organizing committee board, finally put up his hand."I asked who the hell is this Callahan and how the hell did he get his name on our lands," the Squamish Nation hereditary chief said with a chuckle. "They all looked at each other. I said find out and let us know."It turns out the Callahan Valley, located near Whistler, B.C., was named after one of the early surveyors in the region."That was the start of our big push to get our names back on places," said Jacob.Indigenous groups had a voice in organizing and hosting the 2010 Games. But Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart has suggested any movement to bring another Games to the city should be headed by Indigenous leaders.In early November, Vancouver city council voted to postpone a decision on whether it wants to explore making a bid. City staff are expected to present a report to council in early 2021.Stewart has said one of his conditions for supporting a bid is that the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh — the three Indigenous First Nations whose traditional territory includes Vancouver — head the Olympic bid committee."I have talked to the Nations about this and there's interest there," the Vancouver Sun reported Stewart saying in a state-of-the-city address to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.Emails to Stewart's office asking to explain the mayor's proposal were not immediately answered.Khelsilem, a councillor with the Squamish Nation Council, isn't aware of any formal talks about leading a bid."We haven't had any formal discussion about it," he said. "We haven't made any formal decision about whether we want or don't want. And we haven't had any formal discussions with our neighbouring nations."Representatives of the Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh did not respond to interview requests.Khelsilem said before any decision is made, the pros and cons of hosting an Olympics must be weighed."The reality is that something like hosting an Olympics requires a significant amount of investment and support from both the federal and provincial governments," he said. "While there are a number of reported advantages, there's also a number of drawbacks."I think a lot of that workflow needs to be figured out, especially in the context of the challenges that we're going to face over the next decade and the challenges that we're facing on a number of fronts."Furthermore, Jacob said: "there's a lot to be gained by being involved [in a bid] for our people.""I don't think that our nations, given what we have as far as leadership resources and how fast they seem to change, would be able to take things right from scratch to completion," he said.Creating a common agendaWith 15 of the venues used for the 2010 Olympics built on First Nation traditional territories, Indigenous support was crucial for the Games success. The Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Lil'Wat nations formed The Four Host First Nations, a non-profit organization with the goals of uniting Canada's Indigenous people and encouraging inclusion across the country."I think it created a common agenda," said Jacob. "By doing that and achieving what we set out, it was totally outstanding."I think it showed leadership that the four separate First nations could work together for a common purpose and get benefits from it."WATCH | President of 2010 Games says Vancouver should bid for 2030:Involvement in the Games raised awareness of Indigenous issues across Canada, he said."When we first started out, we were pretty invisible in our own territories," said Jacob.Indigenous groups did "fairly well in compensation for the use of our lands," he said. The Olympics also led to traditional Indigenous names being returned to locations and landmarks plus recognition of First Nation arts and culture.John Furlong, who was head of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), is part of the group looking at the 2030 Games. He said any bid would be impossible without Indigenous participation."I see no scenario at all in which First Nations are not involved," he said. "They were a difference maker in 2010."First Nations are in multiple new business since 2010. My instincts tell me they will be keenly interested in being involved again."
The provincial government has barely made a dent in adopting a sweeping series of recommendations coming out of the Muskrat Falls inquiry, and one of the consequences could be another blunder with the new adult mental health and addictions facility in St. John's, says an outspoken critic.Meanwhile, the minister leading the effort to implement the instructions of Justice Richard LeBlanc says his recommendations will be adopted "across the board."But with the province still in the grips of a global pandemic, converting those recommendations into government policy will take longer than expected, said Andrew Parsons, Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology."I would be more worried about whether we do it, or not, rather than how fast we can do it, because the goal is to do these recommendations," Parsons said.Of the 17 recommendations, only three have been implemented, though none of the seven "key" recommendations have been adopted.Being built in a flood plainA critic of the over-budget, long-delayed project, and whose many warnings have become reality, is not happy about the progress, and the government's use of the pandemic as an excuse."Not every public official or minister is engaged in the pandemic. It doesn't appear to have effected their announcement of all kinds of new programs spending money we don't have. Must be an election coming," said Ron Penney, one of the earliest and most outspoken opponents of the Nalcor-led Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.In fact, Penney, who chairs the Muskrat Falls Concerned Citizens Committee, said the province could be stumbling into another problem with the new mental health and addictions facility in St. John's, which will replace the Waterford Hospital.The $330 million hospital is being constructed through a public-private partnership and will be located adjacent to the Health Sciences Centre, on a flood plain.The No. 1 recommendation from Justice LeBlanc is that the province hire an independent external expert to review any public project with a budget of $50 million or more.If that were the case with the new mental health facility, it would never had been approved for the current location, said Penney, a former St. John's city manager."If anybody independent had looked at that decision, no doubt they would have changed because it's in a flood plain, and the province does that mapping for the flood plain, and it's just totally an unsuitable location for the Waterford Hospital," he said.In the past, government officials have said two new berms will protect the site from flooding.And in a statement, an official with the Department of Transportation and Works said "contracts were awarded to independent financial and procurement, fairness, and technical advisors prior to the start of the project."Meanwhile, the final report from the public inquiry investigating the Muskrat Falls project was released in early March, more than two years after the commission of inquiry was established by former premier Dwight Ball.The report included some scorching criticism of former Nalcor leaders like Ed Martin, whom LeBlanc said took "unprincipled steps" to get the project approved. And LeBlanc also criticized senior politicians and bureaucrats for failing to keep a close watch on what one insider called a runaway train.The report, entitled "Muskrat Falls: A Misguided Project," also included 17 recommendations by Justice LeBlanc to ensure the series of missteps that allowed what Dwight Ball once described as the "biggest economic mistake in Newfoundland and Labrador's history" would not be repeated.LeBlanc's recommendations are aimed at, among other things, ensuring major public projects undergo unfettered scrutiny by independent external experts, that the Department of Finance oversee the financing negotiations and cost control of any large project, and that the public utilities board carry out a review whenever there's a possibility electricity ratepayers may be affected.LeBlanc also called for changes to ensure public servants can "speak truth to politicians" in order to provide "complete and objective advice," and advised that legislative changes be made to ensure public bodies like Nalcor cannot withhold information from senior politicians and bureaucrats on the grounds of legal privilege or commercial sensitivity.LeBlanc advised that some of his recommendations should be adopted in as little as six months.But just days after the report was released, it was quickly overshadowed by the growing presence of a worldwide pandemic, and unprecedented societal upheaval in Newfoundland and Labrador as much of the province was shut down in order to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.During a recent fall session, the legislature was consumed by the financial and public health crises griping the province, with the priority on adopting a budget. And for months, a majority of public servants were working from home."So no, I don't think we're as far ahead as we'd like to be. But at the same time it's not sitting on a shelf," said Parsons, adding that an implementation committee that he chairs has been meeting regularly.Parsons expects many of the recommendations that involve legislative changes will be adopted during next spring's sitting of the House of Assembly.And he said some recommendations involving access to information laws will be examined by retired chief justice David Orsborn, who is leading a statutory review of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which is expected to be completed next year."There's urgency here, but at the same time, I'm a true believer in doing the proper analysis to make sure it's right, because sometimes these quick decisions are what got us into trouble in the first place." The three recommendations that have been adopted include: * a joint Nalcor-Newfoundland Power Inc. effort to review the reliability of the power grid in the Muskrat Falls era; * A review of whether recommendations made by the Joint Review Panel were being followed. This relates largely to methylmercury concerns in Labrador; * And minutes of cabinet meetings are now much more detailed than they were years ago whenever politicians discussed Muskrat Falls.Penney said that's not good enough."I'm disappointed, but I guess not surprised," said Penney.So what does LeBlanc think about what's happened since the release of his report?He's not saying, and directed questions to lawyer Barry Learmonth, who served as commission co-counsel during the inquiry.Learmonth said it was part of Justice LeBlanc's mandate to deliver recommendations, and whether and when they are adopted is up to the government."They're not binding," said Learmonth.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
France to double police on coastline patrols as part of the new deal with Britain to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Channel.View on euronews
It's hard enough having to battle COVID-19 on a daily basis without having to debunk myths and misinformation, too.Saskatoon ICU specialist Dr. Hassan Masri said it makes health care professionals' jobs harder because the misinformation is actually causing physical harm.Masri, who is also an associate professor of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, has been vocal on social media and said he feels a personal responsibility to debunk myths, misinformation and pseudoscience."People get their information from Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and sometimes from people they trust," Masri told CBC's Samantha Maciag. "If they see so-and-so spreading such information because they trust them on a personal level, they may elect to trust the misinformation they're spreading. "That's where I feel that there is a personal responsibility as a physician, but also personal responsibility as someone with a platform, specifically on Facebook."Tests are specifically for COVID-19One of the common myths circulating is that testing cannot differentiate between COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses but Masri said that the tests are specifically for COVID-19."We know that if you are positive for COVID, you will be negative for all the rest of them," he said.Masri said misinformation makes people distrust the health system. "There is consequences and ripple effects that go downstream — in terms of you not trusting the hospital, in terms of you not trusting the physician, in terms of you not taking things seriously — and is just a brutal ripple effect that we obviously are suffering from," he said. "It also makes it sound like it is not a big deal, and that is just another flu or another virus. And it makes you not take things seriously, makes you doubt whether you need to distance or limit your bubble."Patients know it's not a mythBeing in the ICU dealing with very ill patients, Masri said the people he deals with daily aren't in denial about the virus. They know it is real and deadly."I do receive messages from families who left the hospital or families whose loved ones are in the hospital ... who state they feel very lucky that their loved ones have left the hospital and have done well."But he said colleagues have had to deal face-to-face with people who think COVID-19 is a hoax or are anti-maskersMasri said he believes the vast majority of people in the province believe in science, in their officials and in their health care workers.But sometimes a small minority can be a lot louder than the number that it represents. "The problem when it comes to COVID-19 is that without the collective effort, it is really hard to get this under control. And so even though it's a minority, it can be a very damaging one because it does not allow us to have a really good control on the disease."A battle with COVID-19He said the best way to talk with anti-maskers or COVID-19 deniers is through respectful dialogue."I genuinely believe that they are good, decent human beings and that they're my neighbours and my fellow citizens in the city. What I say to them is, first of all, this is not a battle between me and you. This is a battle between COVID-19 and you and I."He said people have to trust the opinion of professionals, whether that is a physician or your mechanic."I think it's really important to establish respect and rapport with those individuals and try to educate them," he said. "I genuinely care about them and their families and their loved ones, and I want them to be just as safe as my own family."Masri said the most unfortunate thing to have happened was having COVID-19 and masks be made into a political issue in the U.S."It doesn't matter if you're NDP or Liberal or Conservative or right or left or moderate, libertarian," Masri said. "COVID-19 does not care about your political affiliation. And genuinely speaking, I don't care about anyone's political affiliation. This is a disease. I treat it like I treat diabetes. We don't treat diabetes differently if you're on the right or on the left. ... If you're Conservative or Liberal or NDP, we treat it the same."Masri said treating patients with COVID-19 is especially tough because they can't have loved ones around them."When people are sick, they really rely on their families and loved ones for support. Prior to COVID, we know that when people get sick and their loved ones come, you see life back in their eyes. You see fight back in their bodies," he said."It's really hard to see someone sick and someone having a hard time breathing or on life support and not being able to have their wife hold their hand, not being able to see their daughter and son and hold their hand, not being able to even offer condolences or break bad news in person seems very cruel to me."Those are moments that make Masri frustrated with anyone who doesn't take the virus seriously."It's because I recognize that you're not taking this seriously puts me in a position where I have to go and talk to this individual in the room who's alone for many, many, many days. And people have to be behind the window seeing their loved one. It is something where we are very much used to and trained to see very difficult things. But this is something I just don't like. It is very frustrating."Difficult for health care workersThe physical and emotional toll is also being felt by all the health professionals."At the end of the day, health care workers are human beings," Masri said. "When we leave the hospital, we have the same worries. We worry about traffic. We worry about our kids."They also feel the need to protect their own families from exposure."I consider myself someone who's high risk because I'm around COVID patients all the time. And so we avoid seeing our friends and families and therefore we lose a lot of our support system."But Masri said they also support each other.For example, he said a nurse posted online that she was available if anybody needed a virtual hug or a good cry."We are a big, giant family, and we rely on each other for a lot of that support."What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania state senator abruptly left a West Wing meeting with President Donald Trump after being informed he had tested positive for the coronavirus, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano had gone to the White House last Wednesday with like-minded Republican state lawmakers shortly after a four-hour-plus public meeting that Mastriano helped host in Gettysburg — maskless — to discuss efforts to overturn president-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Trump told Mastriano that White House medical personnel would take care of him, his son and his son’s friend, who were also there for the Oval Office meeting and tested positive. The meeting continued after Mastriano and the others left, the person said. The person spoke to the AP on Sunday on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private session because the matter is politically sensitive. Positive coronavirus cases are surging across the United States and the nation's top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. may see “surge upon surge” in the coming weeks. The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 200,000 for the first time Friday. Everyone who will be in close proximity to the president must take a rapid test. Trump was himself hospitalized in October after he contracted the virus. Dozens of White House staffers and others close to the president have also tested positive, including the first lady and two of the president’s sons. All participants in Wednesday's meeting took COVID-19 tests, but the positive results were not announced until they were in the West Wing of the White House, the person said. “The president instantly called the White House doctor in and he took them back to, I guess, the medical place,” the person said. The meeting with Trump was to strategize about efforts regarding the election, the person said. After Mastriano and the others left, the discussion with Trump continued for about a half-hour. Mastriano did not return to the meeting. Mastriano sought the meeting of the Pennsylvania Senate Republican Policy Committee earlier Wednesday that drew Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, a second Trump lawyer, several witnesses and a crowd of onlookers. Only a few of them were masked. The committee let Giuliani and others, for several hours, air their beliefs that there had been problems with how the Pennsylvania vote was conducted and counted. All claims were baseless; no evidence was presented to support any of the allegations they made. Trump even participated, calling from the White House while one of his lawyers held a phone up to a microphone. He reiterated the same unfounded claims of fraud he's been tweeting about for weeks. Those beliefs have persisted despite Trump losing repeatedly in state and federal courts, including a Philadelphia-based federal appeals court's decision Friday that said the Trump campaign’s "claims have no merit," and a state Supreme Court decision Saturday that threw out a legal challenge to the election and effort to stop certification of its results. Mastriano, a conservative from a rural district in central Pennsylvania and outspoken Trump supporter, did not return several messages left Sunday seeking comment. Republican state Sen. Dave Argall, who chairs the policy committee, declined Sunday in a text message to discuss Mastriano’s medical condition and the White House visit. “I’ve received some conflicting information that I’m trying to resolve,” Argall said in the text. “It’s my understanding a Senate statement later today will help us all to understand this better.” Argall said he would not talk publicly about the matter “until I know more.” Senate Republican spokeswoman Kate Flessner declined comment, describing it as a personnel matter. The person with knowledge of the White House visit said several people rode in a large van from Gettysburg, where the policy committee met in a hotel, to the White House. Mastriano, his son and his son’s friend drove in another vehicle. It's not clear why Mastriano's son and his friend accompanied the state senator to the meeting, which the person said was also attended by Trump and the president's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who tested positive in early November. Mastriano has aggressively opposed policies under the administration of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and keep people safe. He has led rallies where he advocated to reopen businesses despite the risk of infection and he has repeatedly and sharply denounced Wolf’s orders. Mastriano also spoke to a few thousand Trump supporters who gathered outside the Capitol on Nov. 7, hours after Democrat Joe Biden’s national win became evident. ___ Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report. Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press
SURREY, B.C. — Surrey RCMP say a man is dead following a shooting in Fleetwood Sunday evening.They say officers responded to a shooting call around 7:40 p.m. in front of a shopping complex at the corner of 152 Street and Fraser Highway.They say paramedics also attended and provided aid to a wounded man, but he died at the scene.Investigators say the victim is known to police and that they believe he was targeted.No names or suspect information was immediately released.The Mounties say they're assisting the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team with the case and are asking anyone who witnessed the incident or has pertinent video surveillance or dash-cam video to contact them.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The coronavirus vaccine inching toward approval in the U.S. is desperately anticipated by weary Americans longing for a path back to normal life. But criminals are waiting, too, ready to use that desperation to their advantage, federal investigators say. Homeland Security investigators are working with Pfizer, Moderna and dozens of other drug companies racing to complete and distribute the vaccine and treatments for the virus. The goal: to prepare for the scams that are coming, especially after the mess of criminal activity this year with phoney personal protective equipment, false cures and extortion schemes. “We're all very excited about the potential vaccine and treatments,” said Steve Francis, assistant director for global trade investigations with Homeland Security Investigations. “But I also caution against these criminal organizations and individuals that will try to exploit the American public." No vaccine has yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has approved the first treatment for COVID-19, the antiviral drug remdesivir. With vaccines and treatments both, it has warned about the potential for fraud. “The FDA is particularly concerned that these deceptive and misleading products might cause Americans to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm,” the agency said in a recent statement. The drug companies are to have safeguards and brand-protection features in place to help avoid fraud, but that may not be available until the second generation of vaccine because everything is operated on such an emergency basis, said Karen Gardner, chief marketing officer at SIPCA North America, a company that works as a bridge between the government, businesses and consumers. She said that makes it more important to educate health care providers on what the real thing looks like. “When you have anything in high demand and limited supply, there is going to be fraud,” she said. Desperation will drive people around normal channels. Meanwhile, investigators are learning about how the vaccine will be packaged and getting the message out to field agents, creating a mass database of information from more than 200 companies, so they can be prepared to spot fakes and crack down on dangerous fraud. They are monitoring tens of thousands of false websites and looking for evidence of fake cures sold online. Earlier this year as cases exploded, hospitals and governments grew short on masks, gloves and other protective gear. Scams grew, too. Tricksters preyed on unwitting citizens to hand over money for goods they'd never receive. Homeland Security Investigations started using its 7,000 agents in tandem with border, FDA and FBI officials to investigate scams, seize phoney products and arrest hundreds of people. The effort is headquartered at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a government watchdog aimed at enforcement of its international trade laws and combating intellectual property theft. The agency has already analyzed more than 70,900 websites suspected as being involved in some type of COVID-19 fraud. Millions of fake or unapproved personal protective equipment products and antiviral pharmaceuticals were seized. Homeland Security Investigations made more than 1,600 seizures of products worth more than $27 million and made more than 185 arrests. Home test kits, for example, were only recently made available to the public in the past few weeks. But investigators seized tens of thousands of fake kits in the months before. On the dark web, scammers were selling domain names like “coronaprevention.org," attractive to counterfeiters. In the U.S. alone, more than 1,000 fake websites a day have been removed during the pandemic. A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases have topped 13 million in the U.S. and many cities have started restricting movement again as the country heads into winter. The pandemic has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide, more than 266,000 of them in the U.S., according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. But Francis and other investigators are worried that desperation will make Americans more susceptible. If the FDA allows emergency use of a vaccine, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year. Gen. Gus Perna, in charge of the government’s efforts to distribute the vaccine, said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” the government was prepared to distribute the vaccine within 24 hours of approval. There’s a stockpile of the prospective vaccine itself plus kits of needles, syringes and alcohol swabs needed to give the dose. The secret stash is watched by armed guards. “We have taken extraordinary precaution in this area,” he said. "It’s such a commodity to us, we’re taking the full steps to make sure that the vaccine’s secure.” Who is first in line has yet to be decided. But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the hope is that enough doses are available by the end of January to vaccinate adults over age 65, who are at the highest risk from the coronavirus, and health care workers. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-diseases expert, said it may take until spring or summer before anyone who is not high risk and wants a shot can get one. States already are gearing up for what is expected to be the biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history. First the shots have to arrive where they’re needed, and Pfizer’s must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures — around minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 70 degrees Celsius. Moderna’s vaccine also starts off frozen, but the company said it can be thawed and kept in a regular refrigerator for 30 days, easing that concern. Governments in other countries and the World Health Organization, which aims to buy doses for poor nations, will have to decide separately if and when vaccines should be rolled out broadly. Meanwhile, Homeland Security investigators and others are trying to send the message now to the public before the vaccines are approved and begin distribution. They say people should only get a vaccine from an approved medical provider. They shouldn't respond to calls seeking personal information. And they shouldn't click on social media posts purporting to sell cures. “If it sounds too good to be true, it is," Francis said. Colleen Long, The Associated Press
A Newfoundland and Labrador company is using a new online campaign to call for a provincial anti-bullying task force and updated bullying statistics across the country.Samantha Gerbeau founded Newfoundcare in 2004, and wanted to create an anti-bullying campaign as an educational tool for people in the province. When she began researching bullying statistics, she says she was surprised by what she saw."I found Bullying Canada … and unfortunately the last set of research that's there is from 2012," she said earlier this month."There's a fair amount for school-age children and bullying, but when it comes to adults and bullying there's not a lot. There's one line for workplace bullying … and there's one line for cyber bullying."In an effort to help push for updated bullying statistics, Gerbeau created the BullyBeKind campaign. The campaign took place over the course of November, offering people a platform to share stories, publicly or privately."A lot of people, what they have been doing is getting in touch with me privately, and I create the stories to share online for the public to view and see to hopefully gain some research out of those aspects," she said.Gerbeau believes one reason for a lack of updated bullying statistics could be because few incidents are reported, both in schools and the workplace.In a statement to CBC News, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District said all bullying complaints are investigated by school staff, but are not documented unless found to be valid.The district also uses online tools to track bullying instances and note behavioural trends or issues with individual students.Better first contact points neededBeyond social media, the campaign will end with a workshop outlining what a provincial anti-bullying task force would look like. Gerbeau said a task force could help establish better first points of contact for those facing bullying and help grow support networks by getting local support groups on board."They are the first point of contact for a lot of people who are dealing with bullying, yet they're not under one umbrella," she said."I think with their expert advice as well as experience, they are the best people to be speaking with in regards to how do we prevent bullying, and how do we overcome the bullying aspect that happens to victims and provide them with the necessary support.… Those sort of things have to be explored."> The sooner that one can get the help that they need, the better the outcome for that person. \- John DinnSeveral community organizations, including the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Canadian Mental Health Association, will be taking part in the workshop on Monday.John Dinn, workplace mental health coordinator of the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association, believes in the idea of a task force, as bullying can have an effect on people's mental health."Some cases, bullying over an extended period of time can lead to people experiencing PTSD, anxiety, depression, burnout," Dinn said."In some cases, unfortunately, it can cause people to have thoughts of suicide depending on the situation they're in."According to statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association, 45 per cent of Canadians targeted by bullying suffer from mental health problems, while 40 per cent say they have experienced bullying in the workplace at least once."Targets can endure bullying for almost two years before they finally come to the point of filing the complaint," Dinn said."The sooner that one can get the help that they need, the better the outcome for that person," he added. "It's basically letting the victim know that they're not alone out there, that help is available in their situation."Ahead of the workshop, Gerbeau said she hopes to potentially present the idea to the provincial government."An umbrella is the main goal for the anti-bullying task force, in that it would house all the aspects of bullying for Newfoundland and Labrador." she said. "Then, for instance, to explore the idea of a 1-800 number perhaps for the public to call in order to receive support or intervention. Also, education. If they feel like they are a bully, if they feel like perhaps maybe I am bullying, they can privately correspond with this anti-bullying task force."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Wong was still in her mother's womb when the Chinese government reclaimed control over Hong Kong from the British in the summer of 1997. For her 23rd birthday this year, Wong posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing a pastel-striped paper hat trimmed with pink pompoms. On a recent day, Wong spun a gold ring on her finger in continuous circles as she spoke quietly about the past year of her life.
The P.E.I. Council of People With Disabilities is urging Islanders to avoid making assumptions about those not wearing masks in public places."They don't know that person's history, their experiences, and they do not know what health conditions they may be living with at this current time," said Marcia Carroll, the organization's executive director."Understand that your reality is not everybody's reality."On Nov. 20, masks became mandatory inside all public places on P.E.I. However, there are exceptions to the rule for children under the age of two and those who cannot wear one for medical reasons.> People who are going to comply will comply. And the people who can't comply should be treated with the same respect. — Marcia CarrollBut according to Carroll, those medical reasons aren't always apparent."If you saw somebody in a wheelchair or somebody using a white cane ... and they were not following a health directive, you might not confront them because their disability is visible," said Carroll."But for somebody who has an invisible disability, again, they still have a disability."'It's public shaming'Carroll said singling those people out over not being able to wear a mask not only leads to social isolation, it can also be extremely stressful."It's a way of shaming and it's public shaming. And quite frankly, it's a little bit of bullying," she said."People who are going to comply will comply. And the people who can't comply should be treated with the same respect."For now, Carroll said she recommends people keep their judgment to themselves and if you can wear a mask, wear it."Wearing masks does not just protect yourself, it protects other people. That also includes the people who can't wear masks," she said. And for those who have already experienced being called out for not wearing a mask, Carroll also has a message: "I'm sorry.""Your health is your own personal business." she said. "You have to make decisions that best suit you and best allow you to navigate your world in a free and dignified way."So just step back, mind your own business and go forward."More from CBC P.E.I.
Students returned to Charlottetown Rural High School on Monday morning for the first time since they found out one of their peers had tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.Norbert Carpenter, acting director of the Public Schools Branch, spoke with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin about how that day went.Santa Claus began a series of drive-by tours of Charlottetown Monday night, accompanied by bright lights and sirens. The emergency operations centre is back up at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown in preparation for more COVID-19 cases.A Montague couple has adapted to ensure the weekly free meal offered at a local church is still on the table during the pandemic.Despite the pandemic, P.E.I. restaurants offering takeout and delivery registered some growth in September, according to Statistics Canada restaurant sales data.The P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities is cautioning Islanders about making assumptions regarding people who don't wear masks.P.E.I. has seen a total of 72 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Nova Scotia reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, giving the province a total of 138 active cases.New Brunswick reported six new cases, bringing its number of active cases to 120.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens.Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths. Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. Across the Atlantic, British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.Moderna created its shots with the U.S. National Institutes of Health and already had a hint they were working, but said it got the final needed results over the weekend that suggest the vaccine is more than 94% effective.Of 196 COVID-19 cases so far in its huge U.S. study, 185 were trial participants who received the placebo and 11 who got the real vaccine. The only people who got severely ill — 30 participants, including one who died — had received dummy shots, said Dr. Tal Zaks, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company's chief medical officer.When he learned the results, “I allowed myself to cry for the first time,” Zaks told The Associated Press. “We have already, just in the trial, have already saved lives. Just imagine the impact then multiplied to the people who can get this vaccine.”Moderna said the shots’ effectiveness and a good safety record so far — with only temporary, flu-like side effects — mean they meet requirements set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use before the final-stage testing is complete. The European Medicines Agency, Europe’s version of FDA, has signalled it also is open to faster, emergency clearance.WHAT COMES NEXTThe FDA has pledged that before it decides to roll out any COVID-19 vaccines, its scientific advisers will publicly debate whether there’s enough evidence behind each candidate.First up on Dec. 10, Pfizer and BioNTech will present data suggesting their vaccine candidate is 95% effective. Moderna said its turn at this “science court” is expected exactly a week later, on Dec. 17.RATIONING INITIAL DOSESIf the FDA allows emergency use, Moderna expects to have 20 million doses ready for the U.S. by year’s end. Recipients will need two doses, so that’s enough for 10 million people.Pfizer expects to have 50 million doses globally in December. Half of them — or enough for 12.5 million people — are earmarked for the U.S.This week, a different panel of U.S. experts, established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will meet to decide how initial supplies will be given out. They're expected to reserve scarce first doses for health care workers and, if the shots work well enough in the frail elderly, for residents of long-term care facilities. As more vaccine gradually becomes available in coming months, other essential workers and people at highest risk from the coronavirus would get in line. But enough for the general population isn't expected until at least spring.Outside the U.S., Zaks said significant supplies from Moderna would be available later, “in the first quarter” of next year.“Obviously we are doing everything in our power to increase the capacity and accelerate the timelines,” he said.Both Moderna's and Pfizer's vaccines are made with the same technology, using a piece of genetic code for the “spike” protein that studs the virus. That messenger RNA, or mRNA, instructs the body to make some harmless spike protein, training immune cells to recognize it if the real virus eventually comes along.ASTRAZENECA CONFUSIONAstraZeneca last week announced confusing early results of its vaccine candidate from research in Britain and BrazilThat vaccine appears 62% effective when tested as originally intended, with recipients given two full doses. But because of a manufacturing error, a small number of volunteers got a lower first dose — and AstraZeneca said in that group, the vaccine appeared to be 90% effective.Experts say it’s unclear why the lower-dose approach would work better and that it may just be a statistical quirk.A larger U.S. study of the AstraZeneca candidate still is underway that should eventually give the FDA a better picture of how well it works. The FDA has said any COVID-19 vaccine would have to be at least 50% effective.Meanwhile Britain’s government will have to decide whether its U.K. data is sufficient for an early rollout there.STILL IN THE PIPELINEJohnson & Johnson also is in final-stage testing in the U.S. and several other countries to see if its vaccine candidate could work with just one dose.Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines work by using harmless cold viruses to carry the spike protein gene into the body and prime the immune system.The different technologies have ramifications for how easily different vaccines could be distributed globally. The AstraZeneca shots won't require freezer storage like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.Candidates made with still other technologies are in late-stage testing, too. Another U.S. company, Novavax Inc., announced Monday that it has finished enrolling 15,000 people in a late-stage study in Britain and plans to begin recruiting even more volunteers for final testing in the U.S. and Mexico “in the coming weeks.”Vaccines made by three Chinese companies and a Russian candidate also are being tested in thousands of people in countries around the world.____The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Lauran Neergaard, The Associated Press
A prominent Canadian forecaster says the country's residents could experience everything from winter wonderlands to spring-like spells in the months ahead. The Weather Network says cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures off the coast of South America, also known as "La Niña," will create a strong jet stream separating warm southern air masses from their colder northern counterparts. Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott says this means most Canadians can brace for a wildly variable winter with major departures from seasonal norms. In British Columbia and the Prairies, for instance, Scott says forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels and temperatures below seasonal norms. He says major swings in both temperatures and precipitation levels are on tap for Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, with stretches of both extreme cold and unusually mild air forecast alongside a mix of storms and dry spells.Scott says Newfoundland and Labrador and northern Canada are slated to buck the trend, with the eastern-most province set to experience a more typical winter while colder than average conditions are expected across all three territories. But Scott said the long-term patterns may not be evident at first, since the December forecast is calling for conditions that defy the overall forecasts. In broad strokes, he predicted an overall milder month for western Canada with more wintry conditions likely in Ontario and points east. "It's going to be quite a winter," Scott said in a telephone interview. "A lot of extremes within the given regions. And if you're talking to your friends or family back east or out west, you're probably going to have a very different experience from week to week as the weather changes across the country."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
Brothers Lou and Joe Mikail have found a way to go ahead with their annual turkey giveaway this year. The pandemic threatened to cancel it, but they've decided that instead of having people line up, they will do a drive-through event this year."We've been inundated with calls from individuals who basically rely on what we do each year. And this gets them through the holiday season," Joe said.He and Lou pondered how they can continue the annual event and still be risk-averse."We talked to the city and ... the city has approved us doing a drive-by for the turkey giveaway. And the city was generous enough to allow us to use the festival plaza," Joe said, adding that Windsor Police will be providing assistance with traffic control."So we'll have distancing, but we'll still be able to continue and offer the meals to the people that we've been doing for the past 15 years," Joe said.500 meal packages to be given awayFor the individuals who don't have a car and can't arrange a ride, the brother said they're setting up a system to deliver whatever packages remain from the event to people's homes from a safe distance.Lou added that it's been a difficult year for the community and they didn't want to disappoint those in need."The need is probably twice as much as it usually is in the previous years," he said.The family will be giving away 500 meal packages, made up of a large turkey, corn, potatoes and other trimmings.Each meal package costs about $70 and feeds about 12 people, according to the brothers.This year marks the 16th year the brothers have been running their giveaway.The giveaway will take place on Dec. 18 at 9 a.m. at the festival plaza.
Recently, Caroline Arsenault watched parcels being stolen in her own neighbourhood — and didn't even realize. "I happened to see a couple of people walking by the window where I sit for my work and then rapidly walk back toward the street and I didn't think anything of it really," said Arsenault. She later found her husband attempting to contact the police after observing the same people also pace up and down their driveway. He got suspicious. He was right. "He found Amazon packages in our green bin," she said.The thieves had taken two packages. One was emptied of its contents while the other was left torn open with the stuff still inside.Arsenault's North End Halifax neighbourhood had just been hit by a porch pirate. It's not just happening in Halifax."The porch pirate has been a little busier this year unfortunately and now a third of Canadians stated in 2020 that they have been victims of a package theft," FedEx spokesperson James Anderson told CBC News.FedEx has published a survey of 1,500 Canadians this holiday season and found that one in three online shoppers say they have experienced package theft in 2020, up from one in four in 2019. It also found that three in 10 are worried about their online purchases being stolen when delivered. Jon Hamilton, spokesperson for Canada Post, said they haven't seen a noticeable increase in complaints about packages being stolen, but cautioned that doesn't mean it's not a threat. He also noted that many people are now working at home and are able to get their parcel as soon as it is delivered.In other parts of the country, such as Toronto, where lockdown restrictions are more prevalent, more people are able to stay at home to receive their deliveries. In Nova Scotia many businesses and schools remain open in the province so some people are frequently not home and cannot receive their packages.Arsenault posted about the porch bandit on social media and was surprised by the reaction."I had quite a few neighbours chime in and say that they too had found open and empty boxes in their driveway or thrown somewhere it didn't really belong." After Arsenault's neighbour reported the incident to the police, Arsenault herself received a follow up call. "The police confirmed this is something that they see quite a bit of. It's something that we should all be mindful of if we're expecting to receive packages when we might not be available to answer the door or pick them up quickly," she said.Halifax Regional Police have not yet responded to a request for an interview. FedEx, along with Canada Post, DHL courier service, UPS, Amazon Canada and Purolator all offer tracking information online, which FedEx's James Anderson said is one of the primary ways to keep your package safe."We give package recipients digital tools to use at your disposal," said Anderson. "If you got a tracking number you can get a notification sent to you when you expect those packages to arrive so you can stay on top of it."Bob Mann, acting chair of the neighbourhood watch in Wilmot, Annapolis County, N.S., said there are more low-tech ways to protect your deliveries. He said you can try asking a neighbour to pick it up or leave the radio on. Mann said one of his favourite home safety tools is photosensitive lights."If you don't have one yourself, take note," said Mann, who has been with his neighbourhood watch since its creation in 1995. "They light up probably half of my driveway ... at dusk the bulbs will come on and they'll go off in the morning." Cpl. Lisa Croteau of the RCMP said package theft doesn't appear to be a big issue at this time, but that could change, so she does have some advice. "Have a different method to pick it up. Instead of dropping it off on your front porch, if you could go to a different location to pick up the package that would be a little safer."Arsenault said she wanted to make people aware of the incident but she also understands the situation."We know there are probably more packages being delivered at this time of year. Holidays are coming up and times are hard for people so we know this is something that happens," said Arsenault.MORE TOP STORIES
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Russia came under renewed pressure Monday to explain the nerve agent attack on opposition figure Alexei Navalny as the annual meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog got underway amid measures aimed at reining in the spread of coronavirus.Navalny fell ill on Aug. 20 during a domestic flight in Russia, and was flown to Germany for treatment two days later. His allies accused the Kremlin of poisoning its fiercest opponent. Tests carried out by labs in Germany, France and Sweden and by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons established that Navalny was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.The organization's director-general, Fernando Arias, told Monday's meeting that according to the Chemical Weapons Convention, “the poisoning of an individual through the use of a nerve agent is a use of a chemical weapon.”A group of 56 nations issued a statement as the start of the annual meeting of the OPCW's member states urging Moscow to disclose “in a swift and transparent manner the circumstances of this chemical weapons attack.”Russia, which denies involvement in Navalny's poisoning, reacted bullishly in its written statement to the conference.“Instead of trying to look into what had happened, Germany and its allies resorted to megaphone diplomacy, unleashed a mass disinformation campaign against Russia and started to demand some ‘independent international investigation’ under the auspices of the OPCW,” Moscow's statement said.In October, Moscow asked for OPCW experts to visit Russia to provide “technical assistance” in its investigations. Arias said talks are underway to define “all the legal, technical, operational and logistical parameters in order for this visit to take place.”The European Union has imposed sanctions on six Russian officials and a state research institute over the poisoning. Moscow responded earlier this month by announcing that it had adopted sanctions against a number of German and French officials.The OPCW's annual meeting has been broken into two parts amid the coronavirus pandemic. Two days of talks this week will focus on approving the proposed 71.74 million euro ($86 million) annual budget for 2021. The second half of the meeting will take place next year.Mike Corder, The Associated Press
BANGKOK — Five leaders of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement reported to police Monday to acknowledge charges that they defamed the king, the most serious of many offences of which they stand accused. The five are part of the student-led movement that for several months has been campaigning for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic and the monarchy be reformed to make it more accountable. The demand about the monarchy is the most radical and controversial, because by tradition the institution has been considered untouchable, the bedrock element of Thai nationalism. It is considered taboo to publicly criticize the monarch, and insulting or defaming key royals is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under a lese majeste law known as Article 112. The protest movement has nevertheless emphasized reform of the monarchy as a key demand, and made it the theme of several of its protest rallies, which have attracted thousands of people. They believe the king holds too much power in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy. "When people criticize the monarchy and they listen, people will consider them open-minded. But if they use 112 to shut our mouths, not only Thai people but also the world will know they are afraid of the truth,” Parit Chiwarak said to reporters ahead of reporting to police. “This won’t stop our movement. On the contrary, it will make more people join us.” Article 112 is controversial, because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint, so it in the past had been used as a weapon in political vendettas. But it had not been employed for the past three years, after King Maha Vajiralongkorn informed the government that he did not wish to see it used. The king has not publicly commented on the law since then. But after a protest last week included crude chants and graffiti that could be considered derogatory of the king, Prayuth declared that the protesters had gone too far and could now expect to be prosecuted for their actions, including with charges under Article 112. While protest leaders have faced dozens of charges over the past few months, they have generally been freed on bail, and none have yet come to trial. Despite Prayuth’s threat, protest leaders have continued to include strong criticisms of the monarchy at rallies. The other four who reported Monday to Bangkok’s Chana Songkhram police station were Arnon Nampha, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong Jadnok and Patiphan Luecha. Patiphan, a traditional folk singer also known as Patiwat Saraiyaem, served 2 1/2 years in prison after being arrested under Article 112 in 2014. Most of the protest leaders face multiple charges already, ranging from blocking traffic to sedition, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison. Anon, a lawyer, said he was indifferent about being charged under Article 112, because it is an “unjust law.” “If we speak the truth and they stop us with 112, it reflects how abnormal this law and this country are,” he said. Also reporting to police Monday were Benjamaporn Nivas and Lopnaphat Wangsit, leaders of the mockingly self-named Bad Students group of secondary school students, which seeks major reforms in education and supports the broader aims of the pro-democracy movement as well. They are accused of violating a state of emergency decree that was briefly in effect in October by taking part in a rally in central Bangkok. ___ Associated Press journalists Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul and Grant Peck contributed to this report. Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press