England has been ordered into a new national lockdown until at least mid-February to reduce the spread of a more virulent variant of coronavirus, as the country ramps up its vaccinations by rolling out the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
England has been ordered into a new national lockdown until at least mid-February to reduce the spread of a more virulent variant of coronavirus, as the country ramps up its vaccinations by rolling out the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
DALTON, Ga. — With mounting desperation, Donald Trump declared Monday night he would “fight like hell” to hold on to the presidency and appealed to Republican lawmakers to reverse his election loss to Joe Biden when they convene this week to confirm the Electoral College vote.Electoral voters won by President-elect Biden are "not gonna take this White House!” he shouted as supporters cheered at an outdoor rally in Georgia. Trump's announced purpose for the trip was to boost Republican Senate candidates in Tuesday's runoff election, but he spent much of his speech complaining bitterly about his election loss — which he insists he won “by a lot.”Earlier, in Washington, he pressed Republican lawmakers to formally object Wednesday at a joint session of Congress that is to confirm Biden's victory in the Electoral College, itself a confirmation of Biden's nationwide victory Nov. 3.Though he got nothing but cheers Monday night, Trump's attempt to overturn the presidential election i s splitting the Republican Party. Some GOP lawmakers backing him are rushing ahead, despite an outpouring of condemnation from current and former party officials warning the effort is undermining Americans’ faith in democracy. All 10 living former defence secretaries wrote in an op-ed that "the time for questioning the results has passed."It’s unclear the extent to which GOP leaders in Congress will be able to control Wednesday’s joint session, which could drag into the night, though the challenges to the election are all but certain to fail. Trump himself is whipping up crowds for a Wednesday rally near the White House.Vice-President Mike Pence, who is under pressure to tip the results for Trump, will be closely watched as he presides in a ceremonial role over Wednesday’s joint session.“I promise you this: On Wednesday, we’ll have our day in Congress,” Pence said while himself campaigning in Georgia ahead of Tuesday’s runoff elections that will determine control of the Senate.Trump said in Georgia: “I hope that our great vice-president comes through for us. He’s a great guy. Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.” He added, “No, Mike is a great guy.”One of the Georgia Republicans in Tuesday's runoff — Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who faces Democrat Raphael Warnock — told the crowd she will join senators formally objecting to Biden’s win. The other Republican seeking reelection, David Perdue, who is running against Democrat Jon Ossoff, will not be eligible to vote.Trump repeated numerous times his claims of election fraud, which have been rejected by election officials — Republican as well as Democratic in state after state — and courts up to the U.S. Supreme Court. His former attorney general, William Barr, also has said there is no evidence of fraud that could change the election outcome.The congressional effort to keep Trump in office is being led by Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, along with rank-and-file House members, some on the party's fringe.“Just got off the phone with @realDonaldTrump,” tweeted newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who is aligned with a conspiracy group backing Trump.“He wants you to call your Rep & Senators TODAY, ALL DAY!" she tweeted Monday. "Don’t let Republicans be the Surrender Caucus!” She later joined the president on Air Force One as he travelled to Georgia.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has tried to prevent his party from engaging in this battle, which could help define the GOP in the post-Trump era. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Trump ally, has declined to say much publicly on it.Both Hawley and Cruz are potential 2024 presidential contenders, vying for Trump's base of supporters.Biden, speaking at a drive-in rally in Atlanta, said Trump “spends more time whining and complaining” than he does working on solving the coronavirus pandemic. He added dismissively, “I don’t know why he still wants the job — he doesn’t want to do the work.”During the day Monday, more current and former GOP officials rebuked the effort to upend the election.Former three-term Sen. John Danforth of Missouri said in a stinging statement, “Lending credence to Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen is a highly destructive attack." He said, "It is the opposite of conservative; it is radical."Two current Republican senators, Rob Portman of Ohio and Mike Lee of Utah, joined the growing number who now oppose the legislators' challenge.Portman said in a statement, “I cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters.”At the Dalton rally, Trump noted he was a “little angry” at Lee, but expressed hope that the senator would change his mind. “We need his vote,” Trump said.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the giant lobbying organization and virtual embodiment of the business establishment, said the electoral vote challenge “undermines our democracy and the rule of law and will only result in further division across our nation.”So far, Trump has enlisted support from a dozen Republican senators and up to 100 House Republicans to challenge Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win.With Biden set to be inaugurated Jan. 20, Trump is intensifying efforts to prevent the traditional transfer of power. On a call disclosed Sunday, he can be heard pressuring Georgia officials to “find” him more votes from the Nov. 3 election he lost in that state.The challenge to the presidential election is on a scale unseen since the aftermath of the Civil War, though the typically routine process of confirming Electoral College votes has been hit with brief objections before. In 2017, several House Democrats challenged Trump’s win, but Biden, who presided at the time as the vice-president, swiftly dismissed them to assert Trump’s victory.States run their own elections, and Congress has been loath to interfere.“The 2020 election is over,” said a statement Sunday from a bipartisan group of 10 senators, including Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Mitt Romney of Utah.A range of Republican officials — including Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland; Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House GOP leader; and former House Speaker Paul Ryan — have criticized the GOP efforts to overturn the election.Hawley defended his actions in a lengthy email over the weekend to colleagues, saying his Missouri constituents have been “loud and clear” in insisting Biden's defeat of Trump was unfair.Cruz's coalition of 11 Republican senators vows to reject the Electoral College tallies unless Congress launches a commission to immediately conduct an audit of the election results. Congress is unlikely to agree to that.The group, which presented no new evidence of election problems, includes Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.__Associated Press writers Bill Barrow in Atlanta, Steve LeBlanc in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri, Alan Fram in Washington and Tali Arbel of the Technology Team contributed.Lisa Mascaro, Mary Clare Jalonick And Kevin Freking, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — Housing values in British Columbia's Lower Mainland have been "resilient" through the COVID-19 pandemic with assessment notices showing moderate increases in property valuations. BC Assessment says more than one million homeowners in the province can expect notices in the mail in the next few days that evaluate their property as of July 1, 2020. Deputy assessor Bryan Murao says the strength of the market contrasts with last spring, when sales and listings came to a temporary standstill because of the pandemic.Most areas had single-digit price increases with the exception of Vancouver and Squamish, which saw an average boost of 10 per cent for single-family homes. BC Assessment produces independent evaluations that are used by municipalities for property tax purposes, but Murao says an increase in an assessment doesn't always mean a rise in taxes. The agency says the commercial and industrial markets have been more varied with both increases and decreases, depending on the sector. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
Minister of Health Tyler Shandro issued a statement Monday following the passing of a health care worker in Alberta from COVID-19. Shandro extended his condolences to the person’s family, friends, loved ones and colleagues at this difficult time. “I’m deeply saddened to hear that an Alberta health-care worker has passed away as a result of COVID-19,” Shandro said in the statement. Shandro said the tragedy of the loss will be felt across the system and by those who were cared for by the individual that lost their life “Health-care workers are doing all they can to protect the people they care for, their co-workers, and themselves. The dedication and remarkable commitment I’ve witnessed from health-care workers throughout the pandemic has never wavered – you have stepped up for this province in a time of need. “Their service will not be forgotten.”Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
Family members spoke out in support of the model who pretended to be Spanish.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Florida legislator wants President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club fined and closed temporarily for hosting a New Year's Eve party where few of the 500 guests wore masks as they sang, shouted and danced indoors for hours in possible violation of local coronavirus ordinances.Democratic state Rep. Omari Hardy filed a complaint with Palm Beach County, urging it to take action against Mar-a-Lago, writing “as far as I know, the law still applies to the President and his businesses.” The county ordinance says indoor businesses must require patrons and employees to wear masks when they are not eating or drinking. The maximum fine for a first violation is $250.Hardy, who represents a nearby district that is predominately African American, said he was “furious” when he saw photos and videos of the $1,000-per-person party posted on social media. They show patrons packed together on the dance floor as rapper Vanilla Ice, Beach Boys co-founder Mike Love and singer Taylor Dayne performed. He said the partygoers’ actions endangered the club’s staff and the local community.“My constituents have been disproportionately affected by every aspect of this virus — medically, educationally and economically,” said Hardy, adding he wore a mask at his wedding a month ago and hasn't hugged his mother in 10 months. "But these out-of-towners for one night couldn’t wear a mask. It is offensive and disrespectful.” More than 22,000 Floridians have died of COVID-19.Todd Bonlarron, the county's assistant administrator, said Monday he has forwarded Hardy's complaint to the county's COVID education team, which will investigate and could impose punishment. He said Mar-a-Lago will be treated just like any other business and a decision should be made shortly. He said he is not aware of any previous complaints against the club.Trump had been scheduled to attend Thursday night's party, but he left Mar-a-Lago a few hours before it began as he spent the weekend trying to overturn his election defeat to President-elect Joe Biden. His sons Don Jr. and Eric attended along with his attorney Rudy Giuliani, Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is one of the president’s staunchest supporters.“This is amazing. Vanilla Ice is playing the Mar-a-Lago New Years Eve party. As a child of the 90s you can’t fathom how awesome that is,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote on a Facebook post that included a video of the party. The video showed tightly packed attendees bouncing and singing along as the rapper performed his decades-old hit, “Ice Ice Baby.”Mar-a-Lago managing director Bernd Lembcke and the Trump Organization did not return calls Monday seeking comment.Last month, a Mar-a-Lago neighbour filed a complaint with the Town of Palm Beach challenging Trump's possible move to Mar-a-Lago after he leaves office this month. When the town agreed in 1993 to convert the private residence into a club, his attorney said he would no longer live there. The town has not announced any decision on that complaint.Terry Spencer, The Associated Press
With extensive COVID protocols in place, Marmot Basin has had a steady flow of skiers and snowboarders since opening Nov. 12. "We had a good opening day and a good opening weekend," said Brian Rode, vice president. "People have been cooped up, skiers were looking forward to getting outside, doing what they love. Skiers and snowboarders are very passionate about their sport. We saw a lot of returning seasons pass (holders)." Although the number of skiers and snowboarders is down this season, Rode said he's happy with the amount of people. This season’s busiest day so far saw 3,200 visitors on Dec. 28, compared to the 3,400-3,500 per day in 2019 from Dec. 28-30. “By and large, people are loving it," Rode added. The weather has also proven co-operative. On Jan. 3, Marmot Basin reported in a social media post that 29 cm of fresh snow fell in 24 hours. Marmot staff have worked since last spring to make this winter's time at the ski hill as safe as possible. "Our goal is to, first and foremost, make sure we have measures in place to protect people's health, wellbeing and safety, so you can have the very best experience possible," Rode said. "It has taken a lot of work for staff to prepare to get open for the winter so we could welcome guests in the most safe way possible. We've got signage everywhere, to physically distance, to wear masks and to wash hands and sanitize hands. They're in all chalets in multiple places: the rental shop, food and beverage areas, the ski lift, every entry door." He said masks are mandatory everywhere “except when you're sliding downhill.” This includes all lift lines, indoor spaces and chairlifts. Rode noted, with the layout at Marmot Basin, people can go to and from their vehicles as often as they want. "Ski on the slopes, ski back to your vehicle, have lunch, go out again." he said. Skiers and snowboarders are reminded to be mindful of social distancing. "You're not permitted to socialize in the parking lot with people who aren't in your household, as per Alberta Health Services guidelines,” Rode said. On several days, the parking lots had reached capacity with Marmot Basin alerting the public in a social media post on Dec. 29 that it had begun to turn vehicles around back to Jasper. People are advised to come early to secure a spot. With new health measures in place since Dec. 8, seating in restaurants and the cafeteria was reduced to 15-per-cent capacity. Now there's only one entrance to the Caribou Chalet cafeteria. "Come into the entrance, you're greeted by a host who is behind plexiglass," Rode said. "They assign a table, give you a menu, you go pick up your food. When you're done, you go out an exit. We sanitize tables and chairs after each customer. It works very well." About 20 tents, each 10 x 10 feet and with a fire bowl inside, are in place at the base and mid-mountain, so folks can dine and socialize outdoors in their respective household groups. Even with all the reminders in place for people to physically distance, Rode acknowledged how some individuals do get too close together. "We're always asking people to spread out,” he said. “We don't have to ask people to wear masks. They've been very compliant." In addition to masks, ski and snowboarding gear — jackets, helmets, gloves — are added protection too. Rode said in the lift lines, where it may look as if folks are bunching up, "rather than cramming, they're spreading themselves up the hill." He asked everyone to "wear a mask, distance yourself from others and wash or sanitize your hands frequently.”Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
A transport truck driver is charged with having an insecure load after telephone poles fell off his truck, Monday, at the intersection of Highway 17, Highway 94 and Centennial Crescent in East Ferris. Ontario Provincial Police are at the scene overseeing the removal of the poles, which fell off as the truck driver was turning from Centennial Crescent onto Highway 17 to head west. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
President Donald Trump will travel to Georgia Monday night to rally for U.S. Senate candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Republicans need just one victory between Perdue and Loeffler, both seeking second terms, to maintain Senate control. (Jan. 4)
EDMONTON — Premier Jason Kenney has cracked down on members of his government's caucus and on staff who travelled out of the country during the holidays after he told Albertans to stay home. Political analysts say Kenney’s credibility and moral authority as a leader during the COVID-19 crisis remains profoundly damaged despite the move. In a Facebook post Monday, Kenney said he had accepted the resignation of Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard and had asked his chief of staff, Jamie Huckabay, to step down. Other backbench members of his United Conservative caucus who travelled to sunnier climes despite government guidelines to avoid non-essential foreign travel were also stripped of responsibilities. Jeremy Nixon is no longer parliamentary secretary for civil society and Jason Stephan is out at Treasury Board. Tanya Fir, Pat Rehn and Tany Yao lost their legislature committee responsibilities. Kenney said he had listened to an angry public in recent days and acted. “By travelling abroad over the holidays, these individuals demonstrated extremely poor judgment,” Kenney wrote. “Albertans have every right to expect that people in positions of public trust be held to a higher standard of conduct during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Kenney had said at a news conference on New Year's Day that he would not sanction the travellers because what they were doing was within the rules, albeit unseemly given the government was asking Albertans to avoid travel and social gatherings. Allard was part of Kenney’s COVID-19 pandemic steering committee. She had been promoted to cabinet from the backbenches four months ago. She said last week that she went with her husband and daughter to Hawaii over Christmas as part of an annual family tradition that has spanned 17 years. She said in hindsight it was insensitive and that she regretted it. The drumbeats of anger from the public — through letters, calls and social media posts — rose through the weekend. Allard was nicknamed “Aloha Allard.” Angry constituents redecorated the outside of her Grande Prairie constituency office with leis and other Hawaiian accents. All politicians sanctioned have since expressed varying degrees of penitence on social media posts. In the coming days, Kenney’s government has promised to revisit lockdown rules imposed in early December to try to stem the spread of COVID-19, including a ban on social gatherings. Alberta was a national leader in the first wave, but cases surged to dangerous levels in the fall. The numbers forced the government to double-bunk intensive care patients and to begin assembling a field tent hospital on the University of Alberta campus. Add to that the rollout of vaccinations in Alberta has been slower than promised. Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Kenney owes Albertans a better explanation than a social media post. She said the multiple vacations reflect a carefree ethos that starts with the premier. "They really don't get how serious (COVID-19) is. They really don't get how significant the (health) measures need to be. And they don't get how it impacts real people," said Notley. "If this premier thinks this written statement is all there is to it, then he's sorely misinformed." Political scientists Duane Bratt and Jared Wesley, and Calgary-based pollster Janet Brown said Kenney’s challenge now is whether he has the moral authority and credibility to lead the health crisis. “It (the announcement) is a bit of too little too late,” said Bratt, who is with Mount Royal University in Calgary. “It illustrates the power of public opinion, because this isn't something (Kenney) wanted to do, and, in fact, argued against doing three days ago.” Wesley, with the University of Alberta, said Kenney “applied the bandage, but is it actually going to stop the bleeding?” “My greater worry is his ability to handle the pandemic. He’s lost a lot of credibility in the eyes of people across the political spectrum when it comes to speaking to public health orders.” Brown added: “So many of (Kenney’s) own staff and his own government decided the directives from the chief medical officer of health didn’t apply to them, so in a strong sense he has lost the moral authority to lead on this file. “And this is why it’s so concerning, because we’re in a critical stage when it comes to hospitalizations and ICUs.” Transportation Minister Ric McIver will handle Allard’s portfolio on an interim basis. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, saying he failed to ask government members not to travel, has accepted the resignation of his highways minister for going to California over the holidays while people were urged to stay home.Moe said Joe Hargrave will remain in the Saskatchewan Party caucus as the legislature member for Prince Albert Carlton."I should have been more clear with all of our caucus on ensuring that we were not travelling when we're asking the people of the province to do so much," Moe said during a news conference Monday in Saskatoon.Hargrave said in a statement last week that he had travelled to Palm Springs during the COVID-19 pandemic to sell a vacation home and move back his belongings.County tax records show a US$489,000 furnished property, located in a gated community with a golf course and a pool, as belonging to Joseph Hargrave.He initially said the trip was to attend to personal business and that the premier knew about it beforehand. Hargrave apologized for a lapse in judgment and, at first, Moe's office said the minister would stay in cabinet.The pair spoke again on Monday during which they "came to a mutual agreement that a resignation would be the best way forward," Moe said.All 48 Saskatchewan Party members have since been instructed not to leave the province except on urgent government business or to attend to an emergency. Any travel will have to be approved, Moe said. Nobody else, including political staff, left the country for the holidays, he added. He defended an earlier trip to Palm Springs by Corrections Minister Christine Tell to visit an ill relative, because it occurred when the COVID-19 situation wasn't as severe.Hargrave's resignation came hours after the Opposition NDP pointed to a real estate listing that called into question his characterization of the trip as essential.The listing circulated by the NDP showed the home was put up for sale on Boxing Day and that an offer was accepted Dec. 27. A government spokesperson said Hargrave left Saskatchewan on Dec. 22."It's irrelevant," Moe said in response to the discrepancy. "The issue here is the perception, as we said, that we have a different set of rules for governing members versus the broader population."The NDP accused Hargrave of lying and providing a "flimsy excuse" and a "bogus story" for not abiding by provincial and federal recommendations to avoid non-essential travel to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.Leader Ryan Meili said Hargrave only exited cabinet because of public pressure and suggested Moe demonstrated a lack of leadership."He shows no real understanding of the anger his government's arrogance has caused. We all know none of this would have happened if they hadn't been caught," Meili said in a statement. Moe said Hargrave will be replaced in cabinet by Fred Bradshaw, member of the legislature for Carrot River Valley. The government has said Hargrave is to return to Saskatchewan when his two-week quarantine in California expires on Tuesday. Once back in Canada, he will have to isolate for another 14 days.In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney said Monday he had accepted the resignation of his municipal affairs minister and asked his chief of staff to step down after they took holiday trips during the pandemic. Several other United Conservative Party members of the legislature were also disciplined for their out-of-country vacations.Last week, Rod Phillips resigned as Ontario's finance minister after it was revealed he vacationed in the Caribbean.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021.Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
ATLANTA — For more than four years, President Donald Trump has dominated the Republican Party and the whole of American politics. Now Georgia gets to decide what comes next.Two Senate runoffs on Tuesday, just 15 days before Trump leaves office, will not only determine which party controls the Senate but offer the first clues about how long Trump can maintain his grip on the nation’s politics once he's out of the White House.Democrats are looking to prove that President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Georgia and nationally was not just a Trump backlash, but a lasting shift for a once-solidly Republican state. Their candidates, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, have pushed to solidify Democratic gains among young voters in urban areas and younger suburbanites around Atlanta, along with strong Black turnout.For Republicans, who’ve watched David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler run as Trump loyalists, the question is how long embracing the president's disruptive politics — even indulging his demands that elections officials defy the law to overturn his defeat — can deliver victories in battlegrounds.“The party has a real choice to make on where we go from here,” said Michael McNeely, a former Georgia Republican vice chairman. “Either candidates or those already in office are going to say, hey, we’re going to move beyond the Trump presidency or we’re going to continue to take our lead from President Trump, or former President Trump.”Republicans need to win just one of the two seats to maintain Senate control. Democrats need a sweep for a 50-50 split that would make Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, as the Senate’s presiding officer, the tie-breaking vote.The stakes are high enough that Biden and Trump staged dueling rallies hours apart Monday. In Atlanta, Biden celebrated his Georgia win and urged his supporters to “make your voices heard again.” Trump answered in the north Georgia city of Dalton, where late into the night the president recycled his false claims of election fraud that his own attorney general said didn't happen.In echoing Trump and his grievances, Loeffler, an appointee in her first campaign, and Perdue, who’s trying to win a second term after his first expired Sunday, chose a strategy that worked for several of their GOP colleagues who won hotly contested races in November.Trump fueled Republican turnout, especially in rural areas and small towns, that overwhelmed Democrats in states less diverse than Georgia. If the trend holds for Perdue or Loeffler, Republicans would owe their majority in large measure to Trump's success in drawing out voters who had previously tuned out.But Democratic victories would leave Republicans to reckon more directly with Trump’s rise and fall. The worst-case scenario for Republicans would be Ossoff and Warnock capitalizing again in Atlanta suburbs, while watching rural and small-town turnout drop from November, when Trump was on the ballot.Those growing, diversifying suburbs, which not long ago ensured statewide GOP victories, have trended toward Democrats in the Trump era not just in Georgia, but in metro areas such as Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix.Trump has shown since November that he has no intention of going quietly. He’s repeatedly denied defeat and in a telephone call over the weekend to Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, demanded that he “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory.That call, a recording of which was obtained by The Associated Press, demonstrates what Perdue and Loeffler have faced — and chosen to embrace. Both are wealthy business figures who came to politics from the centre-right faction of the U.S. establishment, rather than the more populist throng that propelled Trump. But Perdue and Loeffler have defined their Washington tenures by how closely they align with a president who remade Republicanism in his image.“I stood by the president 100% of the time. I’m proud to do that,” Loeffler said in one of her closing interviews on Fox News.As Trump railed in November about election fraud, Perdue and Loeffler called for Raffensperger to resign. Raffensperger instead presided over multiple counts that left Biden as the winner in Georgia by about 12,000 votes out of 5 million cast. The senators also never defended Gov. Brian Kemp as Trump belittled him as “incompetent” and called for his resignation, less than three years after the president endorsed Kemp in a contentious GOP primary.Plenty of Georgia Republicans embrace Trump’s imprint, at least publicly.“Trump got a whole lot of people off the bench,” said former U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, a Trump ally, in a recent interview. “He appealed to disenfranchised, disaffected voters. With him gone, it’s a different ballgame and that’s what Republicans, starting with David and Kelly, are trying to replicate.”Trump received about 385,000 more votes in Georgia than he did four years ago. It was part of a national uptick to 74 million votes, the second-highest presidential popular vote total in history. Biden, though, set the record with 81 million, and his Georgia total was about 600,000 ahead of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 mark.The president's brand is even more risk-and-reward in Georgia because of how the two parties' votes are distributed: Democratic-trending metro areas are growing while rural pockets and small towns — Trump’s core — mostly are not. The suburbs between are shifting as they become less white and as younger white Georgians, whether native or transplant, trend less conservative.Linda Graham, a 52-year-old Republican, explained the landscape as she greeted canvassers last month from the conservative Americans for Prosperity. “Absolutely four Republican votes in this house,” she said, including her young adult children casting absentee ballots. But as she looked around her cul-de-sac, she named the more recent arrivals with much younger children still at home.“I love ‘em, but they’re Democrats,” Graham said. “They're not old enough for it to have affected their money, I guess,” she mused.Early vote turnout is adding to GOP concerns. Three million voters have already cast ballots, a record showing for a Georgia runoff. Total early vote for the general election was 3.6 million.According to Ryan Anderson, a nonpartisan data analyst in Atlanta, early turnout in Democratic congressional districts outpaces Republican districts when compared to the November election. There are still at least 300,000 absentee ballots outstanding.Only three of Georgia’s 14 House districts have hit 80% of the fall early vote total. But all three are Democratic districts, and they include the two most concentrated Democratic districts, the 4th and 5th in the metro Atlanta core.The lowest-performing Democratic district has a 74.8% mark compared to November, but that's still higher than five of Georgia's eight Republican districts. And in one of Republicans’ two most concentrated districts, early turnout is only 69.2% of what it was in the general election.Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
Experts in amphibians and reptiles hope a new designation will raise awareness of these creatures in the Thousand Islands region. Rich in snake, frog, and turtle species, the Thousand Islands region including Thousand Islands National Park has been declared an Important Amphibian and Reptile Area (IMPARA) by the Canadian Herpetological Society (CHS). The designation takes years of study but this one was also delayed by COVID-19. "The IMPARA committee of the CHS received the first inquiry and draft of this nomination nearly three years ago. It is the product of a thorough assessment process, review by the committee, and revisions by authors," said Dr. Stephen Hecnar, professor at the department of biology at Lakehead University and director at large with CHS. The region was designated in late December 2019, said Hecnar. The final draft and announcement was originally to be made during the spring of 2020 for public celebration, but was postponed with the onset of the pandemic. "Although designation as an IMPARA does not provide legal protection, it draws awareness with the public and nationally of an area's importance for amphibians and reptiles," said Hecnar, adding that this helps in future efforts to protect these areas and conserve species of concern. This new IMPARA covers the area where the Frontenac Arch intersects with the St. Lawrence River Valley, and is framed by the St. Lawrence River, Charleston Lake and the Gananoque River. With all these large bodies of water fed by smaller lakes and streams, the area provides a dynamic range of wetlands that support a number of rare and at-risk species of snakes, lizards, frogs and turtles including the Five-lined skink, Spotted Turtle, and Western Chorus Frog and the Gray Ratsnake, one of the largest snakes in Canada. The area's unique combination of features makes the Thousand Islands ecosystem a hotspot for biodiversity, with 10 species of snakes and lizards, five species of turtles, 10 species of frogs and toads and six species of salamanders. Many of these species are classified as "at risk" due to habitat loss and human activity. "It's the great diversity of species in the area that make it an IMPARA. This area has approximately half of all the species found in Ontario," said David Seburn, a freshwater turtle specialist with the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Together, these species perform a very important ecosystem function, keeping insect and rodent populations in check and cleaning up dead fish and animals along shorelines, said Seburn. "The Thousand Islands ecosystem is the jewel of the crown of Eastern Ontario, because of the diversity of the geography – pine forest, open rock habitat, wetlands and waterways," he added. Sadly the area is also crisscrossed by roads which, along with habitat loss, are the biggest threats to reptiles and amphibians. "We know that within a few hundred meters of any big roads you get lower diversity, and some of that might have to do with the constant low frequency vibrations from traffic, that reptiles and amphibians perceive as large predators," said Hecnar, adding that research is still ongoing into the effects of low frequency vibration on the creatures. One solution that has proven to be effective is building culverts and fences that direct wildlife under roads; even animal overpasses have proven effective at reducing the harm from roads and heavy traffic, said Hecnar. According to the CHS, the Thousand Islands region is made up of 33 per cent forest cover, 20 per cent cropland, 14 per cent pasture, 10 per cent wetlands, 22 per cent open water, and one percent urban development. It joins the boreal forest of the Canadian Shield to the forests of the Adirondack Mountains in the southeast and includes two important migration corridors for flora and fauna. Federal and provincial parks, conservation authorities, universities and land trusts protect approximately 10 per cent of the land within the Thousand Islands IMPARA area. Thousand Islands National Park's reptile and amphibian recovery and education (RARE) program helps protect turtles, as well as the Western Chorus Frog, the Grey Ratsnake, skinks and salamanders.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
An annual snow sculpture contest in Attawapiskat has been bringing families together for decades. The event, sponsored by Attawapiskat First Nation, took place in late December with 24 family households showing off their creativity and carving skills. The traditional activity has been happening in the community for many years, said Coun. Jack Linklater Jr. He recalled how as a young boy he used to help out his brothers or watched his family do snow sculptures. “It feels pretty exciting and brings some kind of joy to community members especially with this COVID time,” he said. “This year has been difficult for everyone, especially trying to go about our annual contest or annual activities. The unique thing about this is the whole family got involved with their snow sculptures … There’s nothing really to do with COVID time right now and it’s a good thing to get together.” Contestants had about 1.5 weeks to create a sculpture. Usually, participants wait for two or three days for snow to harden up before starting to carve it, Linklater Jr. said. The biggest sculpture this year was a 10-foot gnome made by Willie Lazarus. The judging took place Dec. 29 by five randomly chosen judges. They had to do their evaluations separately in order to avoid close contact with others due to safety regulations, Linklater Jr. said. “We try to pick people who aren’t from here like paramedics, NAPS or teachers or maybe someone from another community,” he said. The sculptures were evaluated based on their creativity, presentation appearance, effort and overall expression. The first place went to George Koostachin whose sculpture depicted three polar bears ice fishing. David Linklater, who carved a dog sled team and a person ice fishing, got the second place, followed by Peter Kataquapit who carved five snowy owls. The rest top 10 winners include Nancy Tookate, Joseph Louttit and Olivia Noah, April Edwards, Diane Kamalatisit, Fletcher Kioke, Willie Lazarus and Linda Loutitt. People typically leave their sculptures up all winter long, Linklater Jr. told TimminsToday. The response from community members has also been positive, he added. “(People) say all of them should be winners. The snow sculptures are very detailed and they’d like to see this happen again every year,” he said. “It is a pretty good turnout this year, a lot of good feedback.”Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
VICTORIA — Thousands of workers who would normally return to their jobs at industrial projects in northern British Columbia after the holiday break are spending more time at home in an effort to ease the strain on the region's health-care system.The risk of continued spread of COVID-19 has prompted the province's top doctor to limit the number of workers allowed to return to five major industrial projects in the region over the next two months.Dr. Bonnie Henry's health order posted last week said many of the workers are housed in camps and close contact between large numbers of people living or working together is tied to the increased spread of COVID-19. "The risk of an outbreak of COVID-19 arising from the mass return of large numbers of workers to worksites and industrial camps associated with the projects constitutes a health hazard under the Public Health Act," the order says.The directive from Henry covers two projects in Kitimat on B.C.'s north coast: LNG Canada's construction of its liquefied natural gas export terminal and the twinning of a water tunnel that feeds Rio Tinto's aluminum smelter. Henry's order also includes construction on the Site C dam near Fort St. John, and the Coastal GasLink and Trans Mountain pipelines.The Northern Health Authority has confirmed just over 2,000 cases of COVID-19 so far, including nearly 600 that remain active and 27 deaths.An outbreak of COVID-19 at two Coastal GasLink workforce accommodation sites declared on Dec. 19 includes six active infections among 53 confirmed cases. Northern Health said it's working with the company and the prime contractor at the two worksites to ensure enhanced infection prevention and control measures are being followed.Northern Health said in a recent statement that all 56 employees at LNG Canada's worksite in Kitimat have recovered from COVID-19 after testing positive in November. A second and unrelated outbreak last month sickened 16 staff who have since recovered.There have been 30 cases of COVID-19 confirmed at the Site C work camp including three active infections, according to BC Hydro, the public utility that is building the massive hydroelectric dam on the Peace River. Henry's order limits the number of staff allowed to return to work at each of the five projects and outlines steps the employers must take before more are allowed, including submitting restart plans for review by health officials.Under the order, the 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline is permitted a baseline of 400 workers until Feb. 1, after which 600 more may return provided the company's phased restart plan is approved."Over the coming days, we will be reviewing the impacts of the order with our contractors and putting together the best path forward possible for our project," Coastal GasLink said in a statement posted online.The order allows 400 workers to join a baseline of 450 people at LNG Canada's Kitimat site by Wednesday, with 250 more allowed by Jan. 20.Henry's order enables LNG Canada to continue with "seasonally critical" work, a company spokesperson said in an email. The Site C dam is permitted 400 workers to start, with 400 more allowed to arrive by Thursday, plus 300 more by Jan. 21.A statement from BC Hydro said the order doesn't affect people working on the project who live locally or those working at "off-dam" sites."While these changes will have a further impact on our overall project schedule and cost, we understand the rationale for the order and will continue to put the health and safety of our employees, workers and the nearby communities first," the statement read.The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project stretching from the Edmonton area to Burnaby, B.C., includes a site in the Northern Health region where 150 workers are allowed back as of Monday. The order permits 450 more workers to arrive after Feb. 1.A spokesperson for Trans Mountain said in an email the order applies to one work camp near Valemount and the company is reviewing the order's impact on the workforce and schedule for the project.There have been "a number" of positive and presumed cases associated with the pipeline project since the start of the pandemic, while health and safety protocols have helped to prevent outbreaks, the statement said.Rio Tinto's Kemano tunnel project was allowed a baseline of 160 workers plus 120 more as of last Friday, with no further increases until February.Representatives for Rio Tinto did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Henry's orders.— By Brenna Owen in Vancouver. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021.___This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A Twitter post by NDP MP Charlie Angus on Israel's vaccination policy has kicked up a storm of social media controversy.The online post links to a Jan. 3 article in The Guardian newspaper that highlights how Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza are not among the beneficiaries of Israel's rapid rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, whereas Jewish settlements are."This is appalling," Angus wrote, capping off the tweet with the words, "apartheidstate."The post Sunday sparked more than 1,000 likes, but also backlash, including from Liberal MP Ya'ara Saks.Saks, who represents Toronto's York Centre riding, which includes a sizable Jewish community, said in a reply that the Palestinian Authority is largely responsible for the medical care of its citizens under the Oslo Accords. The article states the authority has not officially asked for help from Israel, she noted."Health care is actually cooperatively managed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to serve all residents of the West Bank. His post did not productively or constructively contribute to any conversation on the issue," Saks said of Angus's tweet in an email to The Canadian Press.Israel has led the world in per-capita inoculations, but which shoulders receive the shots remains a controversial issue.So far, virtually none of the 2.7 million Palestinian residents of the West Bank have received any of the more than 150,000 doses Israel administers daily, the article says.Michael Bueckert, vice-president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, says Israel is an occupying power and therefore responsible for the health of the local population under the fourth Geneva Convention.Bueckert called Israel's vaccination program "impressive," but said Palestinians' exclusion from it constitutes a "massive hole" in the plan.He said he was encouraged to see a parliamentarian highlight the issue.In an email, Shimon Koffler Fogel, head of the Toronto-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, called the tweet a "dog whistle" that has "no place in Canadian politics."The recriminations did not end there.Jewish advocacy group B'nai Brith Canada tweeted Monday that Angus and fellow New Democrat Leah Gazan — who also posted a link to the story — were "tweeting inaccurate information demonizing Israel," and called their posts "shameful."Angus posted a follow-up statement Monday evening, saying B'nai Brith had reached out to him and accused him of "promoting 'anti-Semitic conspiracy theories' by releasing this tweet.""As a parliamentarian involved at the international stage on addressing the crisis of online conspiracy theories I was shocked by the accusation," he said, adding that he rejects it."If B’nai Brith objects to the tone or the facts presented in the Guardian article the appropriate channel is to contact the editor of the Guardian."Several hours after his Sunday post, Angus retweeted one from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum commemorating a victim of the Holocaust, as he does each day.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Bracing for possible violence, the nation's capital has mobilized the National Guard ahead of planned protests by President Donald Trump's supporters in connection with the congressional vote expected Wednesday to affirm Joe Biden's election victory.Trump's supporters are planning to rally Tuesday and Wednesday, seeking to bolster the president's unproven claims of widespread voter fraud. “There are people intent on coming to our city armed,” D.C. Acting Police Chief Robert Contee said Monday.A pro-Trump rally in December ended in violence as hundreds of Trump supporters, wearing the signature black and yellow of the Proud Boys faction, sought out confrontations with a collective of local activists attempting to bar them from Black Lives Matter Plaza, an area near the White House.On Monday, Metropolitan Police Department officers arrested the leader of the Proud Boys, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 36, after he arrived in Washington ahead of this week's protests. Tarrio was accused of burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was torn down from a historic Black church in downtown Washington during the December protests.A warrant had been issued for Tarrio's arrest for destruction of property, police said. He was also facing a weapons charges after officers found him with two high-capacity firearm magazines when he was arrested, a police spokesman said.Trump has repeatedly encouraged this week's protests and hinted that he may get personally involved. Over the weekend, he retweeted a promotion for the rally with the message, “I will be there. Historic Day!”At a November rally, which drew about 15,000 people, Trump staged a limousine drive-by past cheering crowds in Freedom Plaza, on the city's iconic Pennsylvania Avenue. And at the December rally, which drew smaller numbers but a larger contingent of Proud Boys, Trump’s helicopter flew low over cheering crowds on the National Mall.The protests coincide with Wednesday's congressional vote expected to certify the Electoral College results, which Trump continues to dispute,Election officials from both political parties, governors in key battleground states and Trump's former attorney general, William Barr, have said there was no widespread fraud in the election. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two rejected by the Supreme Court.Now with downtown D.C. businesses boarding up their windows, Mayor Muriel Bowser has requested a limited National Guard deployment to help bolster the Metropolitan Police Department. During a press conference on Monday, Bowser asked that local area residents stay away from downtown D.C., and avoid confrontations with anyone who is “looking for a fight.” But, she warned, “we will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city.”According to a U.S. defence official, Bowser put in a request on New Year’s Eve to have Guard members on the streets from Tuesday to Thursday to help with the protests. The official said the additional forces will be used for traffic control and other assistance but they will not be armed or wearing body armour. Congress is meeting this week to certify the Electoral College results, and Trump has refused to concede while whipping up support for protests.Some 340 D.C. National Guard members will be activated, with about 115 on duty in the streets at any given time, said the defence official, who provided details on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The official said Guard members will be used to set up traffic control points around the city and to stand with district police officers at all the city’s Metro stops. Contee said Guard troops will also be used for some crowd management.“Some of our intelligence certainly suggests there will be increased crowd sizes,” said Contee.D.C. police have posted signs throughout downtown warning that carrying any sort of firearm is illegal and Contee asked area residents to warn authorities of anyone who might be armed.Because D.C. does not have a governor, the designated commander of the city’s National Guard is Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. Any D.C. requests for Guard deployments have to be approved by him.The defence official said that there will be no active duty military troops in the city, and the U.S. military will not be providing any aircraft or intelligence. The D.C. Guard will provide specialized teams that will be prepared to respond to any chemical or biological incident. But the official said there will be no D.C. Guard members on the National Mall or at the U.S. Capitol.At previous pro-Trump protests, police have sealed off Black Lives Matter Plaza itself, but the confrontations merely spilled out to the surrounding streets. Contee on Monday said sealing the area again was “a very real possibility” but said that decision would depend on the circumstances.“We know that historically over the last few demonstrations that BLM plaza has been a focal point," Contee said. "We want to make sure that that is not an issue.”The National Park Service has received three separate applications for pro-Trump protests on Tuesday or Wednesday, with estimated maximum attendance at around 15,000 people, said Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst. On Monday, a stage was being assembled for one of the protests on The Ellipse, just south of the White House.Organizers plan to rally on Tuesday evening at Freedom Plaza and again all day Wednesday on the Ellipse, including a 1 p.m. Wednesday march to the Capitol. Expected attendees include high-level Trump supporters like Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Republican strategist Roger Stone, a longtime Trump devotee whose three-year prison sentence was commuted by Trump. Stone was convicted of repeatedly lying to Congress during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.During the Dec. 12 pro-Trump protests, at least two local Black churches had Black Lives Matter banners torn down and set ablaze. Contee said the hate-crimes investigation into those incidents was still ongoing and that his officers would be out in force around area churches to prevent similar incidents.“We will be increasing out visibility around the churches in the area,” he said.On Monday the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court against the Proud Boys and Tarrio on behalf on one of the vandalized churches, Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church.“We will not allow white supremacist violence to go unchecked by the laws of the land," Rev. William H Lamar IV, pastor of Metropolitan AME, said in a statement.___Associated Press writers Elana Schor, Michael Kunzelman and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.Ashraf Khalil And Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is urging residents to keep following COVID-19 rules, despite growing outrage over some provincial politicians and staff ignoring advice not to travel.Several Alberta legislature members, including Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard, have admitted they travelled out of the country over the holidays. Allard resigned Monday and others have been stripped of responsibilities.Iveson said Monday that many Edmontonians are justifiably angry about the non-essential travel.But he said it's not an excuse to flout the public-health rules — even out of frustration.Iveson noted that Edmonton is the hardest hit city in the province and COVID-19 is still a "clear and present danger," lives are at risk and the health-care system is under enormous pressure.He urged all Edmontonians to continue taking the pandemic seriously to limit the spread of COVID-19."I, like most of you, stayed home this holiday season," he wrote in a Twitter post. "I did not gather with family and friends and followed … public health directives."I commend Edmontonians who did the same — your sacrifices and diligence have made a difference to case counts. Thank you for your leadership and civic-mindedness."The latest case data released by the province Monday shows Edmonton has had 45,312 COVID-19 cases. Of those, 5,983 infections were active and 488 people were in hospital. A total of 607 people in the Edmonton region have died due to COVID-19.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021.The Canadian Press
After no deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday there were two deaths reported on Monday in the province. The deaths were in the 70 to 79 age group in the North East and in the 80-years-old and over age group in the Far North East zone. The number of deaths in the province has grown to 160. The North East zone includes communities such as Melfort, Nipawin and Tisdale. There were 286 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Monday. This was the highest number reported since Dec. 10, 2020. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported 63 new cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 347 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 105 active cases and North Central 3 has 100 active cases. There was one case with pending information added to the North Central zone. The North Central zone is second in the Active Case Breakdown with 552 active cases. Regina is now reporting the most and Saskatoon is now third. Two previously reported cases with pending residence information have been found to be out-of-province residents and removed from the counts. There are currently 180 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 145 reported as receiving in patient care there are 30 in North Central. Of the 35 people reported as being in intensive care there are five in North Central. The current seven-day average is 209, or 17.2 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 16,367 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 3,027 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 13,180 after 96 more recoveries were reported. The total numbers of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 16,367 of those 4,062 cases are from the North area (1,501 north west, 2,030 north central and 531 north east). As of Jan. 4, a total of 4,013 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine have been provided to health care workers in Regina as part of the initial pilot and in Saskatoon as part of Phase 1. Starting this week, Pfizer vaccinations will begin in Prince Albert and Moderna vaccinations will begin in the Far North West and Far North Central zones for eligible health care staff as well as long term and personal care home residents, according to the COVID-19 immunization prioritization. There were 1,485 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Jan 3. As of today there have been 435,642 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
A British Columbia judge says a polyamorous father is not breaching the province's COVID-19 health orders by sharing his Squamish apartment with a new partner who is also living with her husband in Vancouver.In a decision released just before Christmas, the B.C. Supreme Court said the man can still have visits from his two young children despite his ex-wife's fears that his new partner's open marriage might expose them to the coronavirus.Justice Nigel Kent said the province's public health orders would be challenging for anyone to decipher — even without the extra romantic complications."The messaging accompanying these orders, and indeed the language of the orders themselves, is fraught with inconsistency and ambiguity," Kent wrote."It is not surprising that reasonable people can disagree about their interpretation and application in any given circumstance."What does 'living on their own' mean?The couple are named in the decision, but CBC News has chosen not to identify them because part of the ruling deals with the way in which the subject of the father's new lifestyle is introduced to the children — a four-year-old daughter and six-year-old son.The mother withheld the children from the father's regular parenting time beginning on Dec. 7 because she believed the time he spent with his new partner "breached the rules of social engagement established by the COVID-19 public health orders."B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has issued orders defining such terms as "private residence" and "vacation accommodation."The rules say occupants of either shouldn't have people who don't live with them come to visit or stay, unless they live alone — in which case they can be visited by up to two people with whom they regularly interact.But as Kent noted, the orders do not "define the concept of 'living on their own' or 'regular interaction.'"The judge was asked to parse Henry's edicts to answer a number of key questions:Does a parent who has two small children still count as someone "living on their own" for the purposes of socializing with others?And can a polyamorous woman with a husband at one primary residence become an "occupant" of another alongside her lover?Mother learned of relationship in March 2020Kent said confusion around the COVID-19 rules was "graphically demonstrated" by B.C. Premier John Horgan, who publicly announced plans to spend Christmas at home with his wife, son and daughter-in-law before "it was pointed out to him that such a gathering was actually a breach of one or more of the public health orders currently in force."The father began dating his new partner in November 2019 after meeting her and her husband at a local polyamory support group."They consider their partnership to be as strong and as important to them as any monogamous relationship would be, although they are both free to date others if they wish," Kent wrote in his decision."However, [the father] swears none of the three people involved [he, his new partner and her husband] are dating anyone else at this time and they 'do not plan to do so during the health restrictions currently imposed due to the COVID pandemic.'"The children's mother learned of the relationship in March 2020. She didn't like it then, but things came to a head with the public health orders issued in November."She has a husband who she lives with. I am not okay with that exposure. He comes with his own risks. So does she!!!!," the mother wrote in an email to the father."Both of them have more than 'household' contacts. That isn't okay for the kids or me.... And she is not part of your household. A household are the people you live with. They don't live with others."Courts have been flooded by challengesMinus the multiple lovers, Vancouver family lawyer Leisha Murphy said Kent's ruling speaks to issues her clients have been grappling with since the beginning of the pandemic.She said the initial lockdown saw no specific mention in the orders for children to be able to move from residence to residence in split families.Courts were flooded by challenges from parents worried that their exes were breaking the rules.Murphy said the threat of a deadly virus heightens the central question underlying most child custody disputes: "Is that other parent taking the precautions needed to keep everyone safe? Are they taking unnecessary risks?" She said judges have had to weigh the risk of moving from household to household against the potential harm to children of being denied access to a regular caregiver."We're in month 10," Murphy said."There's a bit of an acceptance that this could go on for some time and we need to be able to live."New partner allowed to travel between housesThe mother claims the father paints her as a "crazy, scorned woman with control issues." He says she disparages his new partner "in the rudest possible terms."Kent found that the father's new lover had a key fob to his Squamish residence, where she kept clothes, toiletries and cookware. She's in the process of getting a parking spot."In short, she is living in the father's apartment when she is not living at her home in Vancouver," the judge said."In these unique circumstances, while she has a 'private residence' in Vancouver, the new partner is also 'an individual who occupies vacation accommodation' when she spends time with the father in Squamish and she is thus an 'occupant' of his apartment for the purposes of the [orders]."The bottom line, the court said, is the new partner can travel between residences — and men — without breaking any rules.Kent also found there was no evidence that the father, his new partner and her husband were acting recklessly.The judge ordered that the shared parenting regime should resume immediately. He also said the father should be given visits to compensate for the time he missed in the past month.Kent did agree, however, that the mother should be consulted before the children were introduced to either the father's new partner or the "concept of polyamory."
TORONTO — Telefilm Canada says an investigation into allegations made against one of its employees has "concluded that no harassment, discrimination or misconduct had occurred, pursuant to applicable law."The federal agency announced the investigation by a third-party firm in July, after allegations surfaced on social media about the conduct of Dan Lyon, who was Telefilm's regional feature film executive for Ontario and Nunavut.Telefilm now confirms to The Canadian Press that the subject of the investigation was Lyon and that he is no longer one of its employees, noting he left at the end of 2020. The Crown corporation also said it has "put into place an improved, streamlined complaints procedure, and has adjusted internal practices in the Project Financing team to ensure more equitable and transparent decision-making."The organization didn't provide any more details.As part of his role, Lyon approved financing for projects with budgets under $2.5 million. He had been with the agency for 15 years.Lyon told The Canadian Press he could not comment on the investigation but did say his departure at Telefilm comes amid an illness in his family that requires his attention for a few months. The film financier and promoter said he needs a flexible schedule and plans to continue his writing, executive producing and charitable activities.In the summer, Canadian writer-director Pavan Moondi posted a series of tweets criticizing Lyon's "opaqueness" in his decision-making at Telefilm and called for him to step down.Responding to Moondi's tweets, writer Melissa D'Agostino alleged that Lyon made a sexually inappropriate comment to her at a party while offering her a meeting at Telefilm to talk about one of her screenplays.D'Agostino declined to comment on the investigation findings Monday.Telefilm says the investigation into Lyon was conducted by a third party, the consulting firm Le Cabinet RH, in conjunction with independent intercultural specialist Dr. Myrna Lashley.Their findings are "based on a thorough interview and analysis processes," Telefilm said Monday in a statement.The organization said it was unable to provide further details "due to privacy and confidentiality concerns."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021.Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press