With Chris St. Clair.
With Chris St. Clair.
Arthouse darling Xavier Dolan is shifting to the small screen with a TV drama for Quebecor Content. Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau says Dolan's small screen debut will be a miniseries based on the Michel Marc Bouchard play, «La Nuit où Laurier Gaudreault s'est réveillé.» Péladeau tweeted the news Tuesday morning in French, saying Dolan will write, direct and appear in the series, titled "The Night Logan Woke Up" in English. He says it will air on Videotron's subscription channel, Club illico. It's produced in association with CANAL+ which will broadcast the series in France, while StudioCanal will distribute the series internationally. The project reunites Dolan with dark material from Bouchard, whose play "Tom at the Farm" was adapted by Dolan and Bouchard as a film in 2015. The miniseries is based on Bouchard's 2019 story about a woman who is forced to confront family dysfunction when she returns to her hometown upon the death of her mother. Dolan posted a brief acknowledgment on Instagram saying only: "Back to work. 'La nuit où Laurier Gaudreault s’est réveillé,' coming to you in 2022." The cast includes Julie Le Breton, Magalie Lépine-Blondeau, Éric Bruneau and Patrick Hivon, along with Dolan and Julianne Côté. Club illico says shooting is set to begin in March. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. The Canadian Press
Fred VanVleet did a pre-draft workout for one particular NBA team, who didn't know who he was when he showed up. He shot alone on a side basket with no coaches rebounding the ball. Nobody gave him a ride back to the airport."Those types of things will never leave me and I will never forget any of those moments," VanVleet said. Four years after he went undrafted -- deciding that day to bet on himself if no-one else would -- VanVleet marvelled at how far he'd come."It’s funny to see things come full-circle but that’s what makes this journey that much more special, because of how I had to do it and how fast it turned around for me," he said.The Toronto Raptors made that turn around official Tuesday, signing the guard to a four-year deal reported to be worth US$85 million. The 26-year-old from Rockford, Ill., who joined the Raptors as a free agent in 2016, said he had wanted to stay in Toronto. The Raptors made no secret that his re-signing was their No. 1 off-season priority.Still, VanVleet was surprised how smoothly it all went."It was almost like so straightforward that it made me question it a little bit, like it can't be this easy, you know what I mean?" he said.He opened his press conference by thanking the Raptors organization, his family and even "you ugly media people on the other side of this Zoom call who have treated me pretty good in my first four years."He grinned and asked reporters not to go hard on him now that he has "this nice big contract." The six-foot, 195-pound VanVleet averaged career highs of 17.6 points, 6.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 35.7 minutes in 54 games (all starts) last season. Fondly known as "Steady Freddy," he's grown into one of the team's most popular and dependable players. Paired with all-star Kyle Lowry, the duo make for one of the formidable back courts in the league.Asked if Lowry provided any advice for free agency, VanVleet said he veteran guard is always offering advice."Everybody I spoke to that had been through it just said enjoy it and go with your gut and just try to appreciate the moment and don't fumble the bag," he said.VanVleet spoke to reporters on a Zoom call in front of a black and white backdrop with his BOY (Bet on Yourself) brand logo. "That’s the fun part for me, seeing how this following is kind of growing and. . . watching everybody try to pretend to be underdogs and adopt the bet on yourself thing. It’s becoming mainstream now, which is hilarious to me," VanVleet said.The guard said it means a lot to have paved the way for other players who've been overlooked who found inspiration in his story. "There are guys getting drafted now that I know for a fact wouldn’t have gotten drafted in my class or before my class, just because teams are looking at it like they don’t want to miss out on the next Fred VanVleet, or this kid can be Fred or better than Fred or whatever the case may be," he said.Getting VanVleet signed was good news for a Raptors team that saw centres Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol leave. Toronto rebounded by signing Aron Baynes and Alex Len and re-signing Canadian Chris Boucher to a two-year contract.Due to COVID-19 and Canada's travel restrictions, the Raptors will play at least the first part of the season in Tampa, Fla.VanVleet, who hasn't been back in Canada since the league initially shut down on March 11, said he'd love to be coming back to Toronto. "Toronto has turned into my second home. Obviously we miss the city, but I think we've got to be excited about what's ahead of us," he said. "I can't not be excited about it. We were in Florida for a while with the bubble in Orlando, and right back there in Tampa, so hopefully it's a good experience."VanVleet said he planned to enjoy the moment, exhale finally after the free agency stress, then get ready to for camp which opens Dec. 1. The season tips off Dec. 22.Having achieved so much in such a short time, where does he go from here?"The crazy part is, I've pretty much done everything I ever wanted to do already . . . everything that's on the checklist."It's really just the beginning of the next chapter . . . now I feel like I'm on a level playing field and I've made it, and I've got both feet inside the door, and I'm in the room and now it's time to really take off and go to another level." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
SILVER SPRING, Md. — RadioShack, a fixture at the mall for decades, has been pulled from brink of death, again.It's the most prized name in the basket of brands that entrepreneur investors Alex Mehr and Tai Lopez have scooped up since the coronavirus pandemic bowled over the U.S. retail sector and sent a number of chains into bankruptcy protection.Mehr and Lopez plan to make RadioShack a competitive again, this time online, rather than on street corners or in malls. However, unlike RadioShack's glory years, it's Amazon's world now.The big question is: How much value does the RadioShack brand have when the prized target audience of millennials or Gen Z have likely never owned a radio, let alone stepped inside a store?“It’s a very thin line between being iconic and being dead,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys Inc., a marketing and research consultancy. “Being iconic a lot of the time just means people have a memory of it. I’m not sure that just remembering something is leverageable enough to be able to convert something into success.”Success is something that's been in RadioShack's rear-view mirror for quite some time. The company, which would celebrate its 100th birthday in 2021, appeared to be on top of the tech world in the pre-personal computer days of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the place kids and hobbyist would go to buy radios, walkie-talkies and all the parts to fix them, or even build them themselves.Somewhere along the way, “The Shack” got lost. Unable to capitalize on the PC boom that began in the mid-eighties, it also found itself largely on the outside of the portable device revolution of the aughts and drifting toward irrelevancy. It booked its last profit in 2011. After store redesigns and other changes failed to draw customers, the Fort-Worth, Texas company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2015 and then again two years later.Mehr and Lopez have no designs on rebuilding the brick-and-mortar RadioShack empire. But they say there is a path back to profitability, and it all starts with the name.“We bought the raw material to build a big business," Mehr said. "Brand means trust. And the brand is very, very strong. I have quantifiable data that the brand is very strong.”Mehr said REV's formula for measuring public opinion of a brand differs significantly from the way other experts value such things, including their own polling and analysis of how the company might work in a specific “ecosystem."The plan, in short, is to build a vast online marketplace on top of the RadioShack brand. Trust in that name will get consumers to the site, where the quality and variety of merchandise will dictate whether or not shoppers click the “Buy” button, they say.Since it was founded in 2019 REV has been in the hunt for other names that could once be described as “household.” It's snapped up Pier1, Dressbarn and Modell's, also turning them into online-first businesses.Other bankrupt retailers have found a second life online. The overhead is low and there are people who remain loyal to the brand, even after the store lights go out. But they are typically much reduced affairs. American Apparel, which went bankrupt and closed all its stores a few years ago, now sells hoodies and sweatpants online. Toys R Us, which closed its doors two years ago, opened a couple of small stores and it has a website. However, the Toys R Us site redirects those who want toys to Amazon.com.REV says that its much leaner RadioShack will sell from its own website and an Amazon storefront. RadioShack was the place to go for batteries, phone chargers and headphones. Those are products that Amazon sells under its own brand name in vast quantities.And therein lies REV's Sisyphean challenge. Megachains like Walmart and Target have been able to slow Amazon's encroachment, but Amazon is the ultimate disrupter. It has upended industries from tech and grocery, to global shipping.If Amazon is the biggest threat to some of America's largest corporations, what are the prospects for a relic from the 1980s?“Amazon is the Death Star,” said Allen Adamson, co-founder of the marketing strategy firm Metaforce. “They have everything and it’s easy and fast. There’s no need to go to your corner RadioShack to find something, or even to RadioShack online.”Yet Mehr doesn't look at Amazon as a competitor. Rather, he said, it's another channel where RadioShack can sell its products.“It’s like a big mall with a lot of traffic,” Mehr said. “So I think of Amazon as a partner, and I’ve done that in other brands, too. So this is yet another distribution channel for us.”REV bought RadioShack from General Wireless Operations Inc. for an undisclosed amount this year. The former owners have retained a minority stake, betting on the social media marketing expertise of Mehr and Lopez.The new owners say they hope to have RadioShack.com open for business by the end of the month. About 400 RadioShack locations remain open, but operate independently from the REV-owned parent company.Matt Ott, The Associated Press
The province has been asked to improve lighting conditions around the Baldonnel railway overpass. Electoral director Karen Goodings says residents are concerned the section of highway is too dark at night, making it dangerous for drivers. Such a fix would have to be a joint project between the Ministry of Transportation and CN Rail, Goodings said, both of which the regional district approached for potential solutions earlier this year. In a Sept. 8 response, ministry officials said the section of highway is classified as an "undivided, rural highway," which are typically not fully illuminated. The ministry said requests for extra lighting would have to go through its regional engineering group, and that the request has been added for its review. "The reason why the corner is 'darker' is the motorist moving from a illuminated area into an unilluminated segment and the adjustment time for the eyes gives the perception of extra darkness," wrote Florian Kund, bridge area manager for the North Peace. "From my experience it is very hard to get the engineering support and warrants for extra and new illumination, as there are some very firm engineering guidelines that govern when and were luminaries are warranted." In the meantime, the ministry's contractor was told to install more reflective markers on the overhead to highlight structure edges, Kund wrote. Email reporter Tom Summer at email@example.com.Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
SALT LAKE CITY — Deep in the Mars-like landscape of Utah's red-rock desert lies a mystery: A gleaming metal monolith in one of the most remote parts of the state. The smooth, tall structure was found during a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah, officials said Monday. A crew from the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources spotted the gleaming object from the air Nov. 18 and landed to check it out during a break from their work. They found the three-sided stainless-steel object is about as tall as two men put together. But they discovered no clues about who might have driven it into the ground among the undulating red rocks or why. “This thing is not from another world,” said Lt. Nick Street of the Utah Highway Patrol, part of the Department of Public Safety. Still, it's clear that it took some planning and work to construct the 10- to 12-foot (3- to 4-meter) monolith and embed it in the rock. The exact location is so remote that officials are not revealing it publicly, worried that people might get lost or stranded trying to find it and need to be rescued. The monolith evokes the one that appears in the Stanley Kubrick movie “2001: A Space Odyssey." Because it’s on federal public land, it’s illegal to place art objects without authorization. Bureau of Land Management officials are investigating how long it's been there, who might have created it and whether to remove it. Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
Canada welcomes the choice of John Kerry as new U.S. climate envoy but will press Washington not to cancel permits for an oil pipeline he opposes, Ottawa's ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday. President-elect Joe Biden this week announced Kerry would be his climate czar, a cabinet-level position. Kerry played an important role in crafting the Paris Agreement on climate but President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the treaty.
Unlimited internet packages will be available to residents in seven northern communities starting Dec. 1, after the CRTC gave the North's telecommunications giant the green light on Tuesday.Northwestel applied for unlimited internet packages for a handful of communities across the North in October with hopes of offering them to residents by early November. However, the CRTC delayed approval, saying it needed more time to consider the company's application.On Tuesday, a post on the CRTC's website showed the commission had approved Northwestel's proposal on an interim basis."The Commission considers it appropriate to approve the application on an interim basis prior to reviewing the whole record, in order to address customers' increased Internet data needs and alleviate their increased Internet usage costs in the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic," the website says."The Commission will address its final determination regarding the unlimited Internet data packages and rates that are under consideration in the application, and any related issues if necessary, in a subsequent order that will be based on the complete record."The seven northern communities are: * Whitehorse. * Carcross, Yukon. * Yellowknife. * Hay River, N.W.T. * Fort Smith, N.W.T. * Norman Wells, N.W.T. * Fort Nelson, B.C.Northwestel said in a news release it will start taking orders from customers wanting to upgrade their internet packages on Dec. 1, when they become available."It's great to be able to bring new unlimited options to many customers in time for a holiday season, especially with so many of us sticking close to home," said Tammy April, Northwestel's vice-president of consumer markets, in a statement.
France will start easing its COVID-19 lockdown this weekend so that by Christmas, shops, theatres and cinemas will reopen and people will be able to spend the holiday with their families, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday. In a televised address to the nation, Macron said the worst of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in France was over, but that restaurants, cafes and bars would have to stay shut until Jan. 20 to avoid triggering a third wave. "We must do everything to avoid a third wave, do everything to avoid a third lockdown," Macron said.
Quebec is planning on strengthening its French Language Charter, also known as Bill 101. Simon Jolin-Barrette, the province's minister in charge of the French language, announced Tuesday afternoon that he will table a bill to modify the law in order to better protect, valorize and promote the French language in Quebec, at the next legislative session. "I want to reaffirm that the French language must be the only common language for Quebecers," Jolin-Barrette said at a news conference, expressing concern that the language is in decline in workplaces and certain municipalities. The announcement comes as a series of recent news stories about the state of French in Montreal from Quebecor media is putting pressure on the government to act. "All the indicators say there is a decline of French in Quebec, particularly in Montreal," Jolin-Barrette said Tuesday, citing a report from Quebec's French-language watchdog, L'office québécois de la langue française, from September, that showed a decline in the use of French in the workplace."I think it's urgent to act about that situation," Jolin-Barrette said. The bill will include measures specific to the City of Montreal, which has been a point of concern for Jolin-Barrette in recent months, as well as ways to ensure French is the language used to integrate immigrants to Quebec. It's possible the bill could also affect CEGEPs in the province, where Jolin-Barrette says the normal language of study should be French, but government officials say a final decision has not been made on the matter. In an attempt to reassure anglophones, Jolin-Barrette insisted the Quebec government would continue to respect English-language institutions "The bill that we will table will not affect the rights of the English-speaking community," Jolin-Barrette said. He also said the bill would not affect the ability of Indigenous people to maintain their languages. The idea of strengthening Bill 101 has support from parties in the National Assembly.When asked about the subject at a news conference Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will review the province's bill and do whatever it can to protect French in Quebec and everywhere in Canada. "As a government, we have always been focused on protecting French, and the protection of official language minorities across the country," Trudeau said.
The majority of those who took part in recent engagement sessions with the Northwest Territories government on its self-isolation hubs are in favour of seeing the government spend less for the centres.That's according to a report, initiated by the territory's COVID-19 secretariat, that gives a summary of input received about the hubs — and payment for stays there — from Indigenous governments, community governments and business interests between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3, says a government news release.Currently, travellers entering or returning to the N.W.T. must isolate at hubs in Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River, or Inuvik. According to the report, isolation centres represent "more than half of the GNWT's [Government of the Northwest Territories] costs for implementing the public health orders" of the chief public health office.When the government asked respondents whether the territory should continue to pay for all isolation centre stays, including discretionary travel, the bulk of feedback was in support of reducing the costs.However the report also noted there was "valuable discussion about how to do so in a way that's fair and equitable to all residents.""The results show there are differing points of view about self-isolating at home in smaller communities," it says in the news release."Most of feedback was in support of reducing isolation centre costs to taxpayers."According to the report, there were representatives from Indigenous governments and community governments who said they did not support the government continuing to pay for any stays at the isolation centres.There were also some business stakeholders who said they don't want personal or discretionary travel to be covered by the territory, and people who travel voluntarily should have more options to isolate at home to help reduce those costs.Some of the comments the government received from those who want the territory to stop paying for the hubs, according to the report, say the territory "should not be paying for people's holidays," and that it should "only pay if it is needed after absolutely necessary travel (e.g. medical)."More comments included in the report say "all other travel needs to be discouraged," and "if the GNWT continues this way it should also consider providing financial support to help offset these mandatory costs for businesses."Among the comments from those who say the territory should stop paying, with considerations, were around the discussion of defining discretionary travel. One comment says there "needs to be clear distinction between what is considered not necessary and what is considered compassionate (e.g.: funerals, graduation ceremonies etc.)."Meanwhile, those in favour of the territory continuing to pay for the hubs raised the argument about whether some individuals have the capacity to self-isolate at home in their communities — at no cost — or whether they would be required to pay isolation centre costs out of pocket."Causes unfairness for communities that cannot have people self-isolate. They will have to pay for staying at isolation centres while others can self-isolate at home," one comment reads. Another says it "causes unfairness for certain people who cannot self-isolate at home (personal circumstances). They will have to pay for staying at isolation centres while others will not."Another comment suggested the government negotiate for lower costs.The government says the report is one of "many tools" that informs the office of the chief public health officer, including to either change or adapt public health orders regarding where mandated self-isolation can take place. As well, it says it will help the government "make better informed decisions" about changes to policy in terms of controlling costs at isolation centres.It noted that the report only reflects the concerns and views of those who took part in it.The discussions were based on a paper provided to stakeholders in advance of the engagement surveys."Our government is committed to carrying out meaningful dialogue with stakeholders, including Indigenous leaders, community governments, and the business community," said Premier Caroline Cochrane in a statement."It's important we hear, value and learn from different perspectives as we make decisions. A coordinated and collaborative approach to making public health order decisions will allow the GNWT to determine how best to assist each unique community when it comes to carrying them out."
Volker Gerdts, a leading vaccine researcher at the University of Saskatchewan, says Canada should focus on manufacturing vaccines domestically to better prepare for future events.
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald With the winter months closing in, a pair of groups were at Galt Gardens to raise awareness for the homeless situation in Lethbridge on Saturday afternoon. Members of Kindness To Others and Community Giving Back To Community were at Galt Gardens handing out sandwiches to the homeless and raising awareness for a drop-in centre for those in need. “Today we are with some members of the community,” said Alvin Mills, a peer support worker with Bringing Home The Spirit in Standoff. “We want to feed the at-risk and vulnerable who struggle here in the city. We also want to bring to light what they go through and what they are going to be going through when the weather gets cold. I do see a real need for a drop-in facility here in the city. During the day they have nowhere to go and a lot of them are getting sick being out in the elements. “Then with the opioid crisis it enhances things. With the outreach service we started with Bringing Home The Spirit, we have been able to work in partnership with Alpha House, Alberta Health Services, Streets Alive and the Watch Program.” Mills said Saturday’s initiative was a street-level approach to reaching those who need help. “This is just the first step and sometimes they’ll follow through. Sometimes you just have to show that you care and you have to have that feeling of empathy regardless of the choices that they make. They should still be afforded that same dignity.” Mills said a shelter has been opened in Standoff. “They’ve stepped up in a big way opening up that shelter. So that’s another way of how we can get the ones struggling here in Lethbridge back out there.” In July, the Province of Alberta announced a capital investment to support the construction of two recovery communities in southern Alberta, one of them a 75-bed recovery community on the Blood Reserve in Standoff. “We have to fill those beds, especially with the weather getting colder,” said Mills. “This is the first step in recovery and we have to start filling up those beds.” On the Blood Reserve, Kainai Wellness manager Roger Prairie Chicken noted some concerning numbers. “What is happening within the reserve is basically the opiate process is still creating a lot of problems and deaths within the families on the reserve,” he said. “We are averaging about 12 DOAs a month and I would say 70 or 80 per cent of that is drug-related deaths and the age process is roughly 30 years and up. If you go back in time when this started, I would say, in 2018 and 2019, I believe we’ve had 46 or 47 each year, average DOAs. In 2019 and 2020 we went up to 118 deaths. That was when opioids really peaked out. “Now we are at a stage where we have had 99 deaths in the last fiscal year, but again the numbers are still really high. I would say almost 85 per cent of that is alcohol- and prescription-related DOAs.” Prairie Chicken said the numbers need to be shared by the public. “It has to start from the grassroots in the family situations, educating them and moving them forward,” he said. “You can’t resolve it with Band-Aid solutions and Band-Ad processes. These people are humans and they need help with their addictions. It’s an illness and it must be understood that way.” Over the weekend, Blood Tribe Police Service issued a warning about of a highly concentrated batch of drugs. BTPS and Blood Tribe EMS responded to an alarming amount of overdoses over 24 hours. Since noon Friday there were 15 overdoses that police and EMS have attended. There was been one death that is not considered suspicious, an autopsy will determine cause of death. On Saturday afternoon Prairie Chicken commended Mills for his work with the street people. “These are our people from the Blood Tribe and different areas and our hearts and our prayers go out to the families.” Follow @DWoodardHerald on TwitterDale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
EDMONTON — Alberta Fish and Wildlife says two men have been fined $22,000 for the illegal killing of a grizzly bear that also led to an assault.Officers say in a statement that they received a report about the death of the bear on Nov. 5, 2018.The person who reported the killing also reported being assaulted and threatened.Officers say it all took place at a random hunting camp in the Indian Graves area in southern Alberta.An investigation determined that two days earlier the grizzly bear had been feeding at a meat pole, where the two men had hung deer carcasses they had hunted.The investigation found that the men decided to shoot the grizzly when it returned later that evening."When the other campers asked why the shot was fired, the suspects told them that it was just a warning shot," said the statement on the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Facebook page."The following morning, the witness who reported the incident to fish and wildlife officers found a dead grizzly near the meat pole site."The witness collected evidence from a trail camera and took photos of the bear and vehicles at camp.Officers said the men assaulted the witness when they saw him taking the photos and tried to force him to give up his cellphone password by threatening him with an axe."The other campers intervened and convinced the suspects to return his cellphone and let the witness go," said the statement. "Other campers from nearby camps also witnessed the assault."Officers went to the scene and interviewed the suspects — one of whom confessed to his involvement in killing the grizzly and showed officers where the carcass had been dumped.The officers collected evidence at the scene and said they found no grounds for self defence.Jeffrey Edison Hambrook pleaded guilty in January to hunting out of season, assault and uttering threats. Gary Edgar Gilson pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of wildlife, theft under $5,000 and uttering threats.Both men were given a one-year conditional sentence and a three-year hunting suspension.They were fined a total of $22,000 for killing the bear and for unlawful possession of wildlife.Grizzly bears are listed as threatened in Alberta.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Anxiety-ridden and overworked health-care workers say they feel abandoned in their increasingly desperate struggle to cope with COVID-19, a new small-scale study suggests. Interviews with nurses, personal support workers and others in hospitals and long-term care homes suggest chronic stress and burnout are common, but fear of reprisals is stopping them from speaking out. "The knowledge that they are at increased risk of infection due to lack of protection has resulted in anger, frustration, fear, and a sense of violation that may have long-lasting implications," the paper states. The study, in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, was done by James Brophy and Margaret Keith, academic researchers affiliated with the University of Windsor and noted occupational hygienists. Health-care workers in Canada have contracted the novel coronavirus in far higher numbers relative to the general public, comprising almost one-in-five confirmed cases, according to a previous study. To date, COVID-19 has sickened close to 9,000 front-line health-care workers and killed 16. Only 10 workers — nurses, personal support workers and other staff — agreed to be interviewed for the qualitative study. Others refused to take part for fear of being disciplined or fired, they said. Despite the handful of interview subjects, the authors said their peer-reviewed findings reflect other larger-scale research and surveys, and its findings are valid. Those interviewed said they still lack personal protective equipment despite the very real risks of contracting COVID or spreading it — risks apparent from the early days of the pandemic. Some said they were warned by supervisors not to wear N95 protection, even if they had their own, Keith said. Others spoke of the constant grief and trauma they endure when patients or residents die, a situation only getting worse as new cases soar. "Words on the page cannot convey the level of emotion we heard in the voices of the health-care workers we interviewed," Brophy said. "We did not expect to hear the degree of anger and desperation that came out." The vast majority of the front-line health-care workers are women, many racialized, Keith said. Many are part-time and vulnerable to job loss. "Health-care workers are desperately in need of protection from COVID and from their often back-breaking and soul-crushing working conditions," Keith said. "But the authoritarian and hierarchical nature of health-care work contributes to (their) risks and adverse mental-health impacts." Despite the issues, the workers said the provincial government had let them down by failing to take action to deal with their health or labour concerns. Chronic understaffing and failing to keep them safe, the authors said, means the workers can't do their jobs effectively, putting everyone at risk. "Health-care workers health and well-being are being sacrificed," Keith said. "We all need to pay attention to their pleas." There was no immediate response to the qualitative study from the provincial government, but Health Minister Christine Elliott praised the "tireless efforts" of front-line health-care workers during an announcement on Tuesday about the roll-out of rapid tests. Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, said front-line staff in close contact with COVID-infected people still have no ready access to proper respirators. The Ministry of Labour has also rejected all 253 work refusals as valid. "This explains why people feel sacrificed and why they feel exploited and violated," Hurley said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020 Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Premier François Legault has tightened the rules of his "moral contract" with Quebecers, asking the public to limit themselves to two gatherings between Dec. 24 and 27.Legault said last week that people could meet in groups of at most 10 — if they quarantine themselves for a week before and a week after Christmas. On Tuesday, Legault said people can only do that twice."Public health authorities told us that we have to limit ourselves to two gatherings," Legault said Tuesday.Legault also said shopping should be done seven days beforehand, if possible.He added, as well, that Quebecers should "refrain from travelling outside Quebec" during the holidays to avoid returning with the virus.Gatherings will only be allowed over the holidays if the number of daily cases and hospitalizations remains stable, said Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director.Arruda said, ideally, he would like to see a decrease in the daily numbers before the holiday season, given that an increase in transmission is expected over Christmas.The province's case count has stubbornly remained above 1,000 for several weeks. On Tuesday, the province reported 1,124 cases and 45 deaths.
New restrictions meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 are being introduced in the Halifax region — the current epicentre of Nova Scotia's outbreak.The restrictions apply to western and central parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality, from Hubbards to Porters Lake. It also includes the communities of Enfield and Mount Uniacke to the north of Halifax, which are part of Hants County (see full map here).They come into effect midnight Wednesday and will continue for at least two weeks until midnight Dec. 9.Here's a guide to what can remain open and what has to close under the new restrictions:What's open * Public schools, with the exception of those where cases have been identified. * After-school programs. * Child care. * Hairstylists, estheticians and nail salons, except for procedures that cannot be done while a patron is masked. * Grocery stores, but they must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent of capacity. * Retail stores, but they must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent of capacity. * Liquor stores, including distilleries, wineries and breweries, but they must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent of capacity. * Pharmacies, but they must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent of capacity. * Restaurants and coffee shops for takeout or delivery only. * Hotel restaurants for hotel guests only.What's closed * Restaurant dining rooms, bars and nightclubs. * Gyms, recreational facilities. * Libraries. * Museums and art galleries. * Casinos. * Distilleries, wineries and breweries for in-house tastings — retail sales are allowed. * Sporting facilities for both practices and games, recreational and professional. * Faith activities, events and gatheringsOther guidelines and limitations * The gathering limit in public is five, or up to the number of members of an immediate family in a household. * Mandatory masking now applies to common areas in multi-unit residential buildings, such as apartments and condos. * No visitors in long-term care facilities, except volunteers and designated caregivers — this applies provincewide. * Non-essential travel into and out of the restricted region of HRM is discouraged. * Non-essential travel to other Atlantic provinces is also discouraged.MORE TOP STORIES
LONDON — A book that looks at The Beatles from a playful kaleidoscope of angles won Britain’s leading nonfiction literary award on Tuesday.Craig Brown’s “One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time” was named winner of the 50,000-pound ($66,000) Baillie Gifford Prize at a virtual ceremony in London.Brown’s “composite biography” juxtaposes the stories of John, Paul, George and Ringo with relatives, partners, artists, imitators, hangers-on and others drawn into their orbit.Broadcaster Martha Kearney, who chaired the judging panel, said Brown’s “joyous, irreverent, insightful celebration” of the Fab Four was “a shaft of light piercing the deep gloom of 2020.”“Who would have thought that a book about The Beatles could seem so fresh?” she said.The award recognizes English-language books in current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.Brown beat a shortlist that included Sudhir Hazareesingh’s Haitian revolution history “Black Spartacus,” Matthew Cobb’s “The Idea of the Brain” and Christina Lamb’s book about women and war “Our Bodies, Their Battlefield.”The other finalists were Amy Stanley’s “Stranger in the Shogun’s City,” about a woman’s life in 19th-century Japan, and “The Haunting of Alma Fielding” by Kate Summerscale, a fact-based story of apparently supernatural events.The Associated Press
The fourth annual Liverpool shopping promotion is just around the corner. Formerly known as Downtown for the Holidays, this year’s occasion is called Christmas in Liverpool – Holiday Shopping Event. It takes place December 5. The first three years of the promotion focused on getting people to the downtown — Liverpool’s Main Street. This year, organizer Heather Kelly decided to encompass all of Liverpool. More than 25 town retailers have signed on to participate in the event so far. “Myself and Brian Fralic, when we were councilors of RQM, started this about four years ago to get people downtown,” said Kelly, who is the former deputy mayor of the Region of Queens Municipality. “The retailers love it and I think the shoppers do as well.” Participating businesses will have special promotions. Shoppers will be invited to fill out a ballot to be entered for the chance to win a $200 “Shop Local” gift certificate. “A lot of people go into businesses and fill out their ballot and leave. But I think that is all right. I just hope they take a bit of time at least and look around and see what the stores have to offer,” said Kelly. Retailers will have red flags identifying their participation in the event.Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
CALGARY — The Alberta Court of Appeal has refused to throw out one of the convictions against a man who was found guilty of killing a father and his two-year-old daughter as well as a senior.Derek Saretzky's lawyer, Balfour Der, had argued that his client's first-degree murder conviction in the death of Hanne Meketech, 69, in September 2015 should be overturned because Saretzky's rights were breached when police improperly took his confession.Saretzky was also convicted of first-degree murder in the slayings of Terry Blanchette, who was 27, and his daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette.Saretzky, 27, was in custody when he confessed Meketech's killing to an RCMP officer who visited him at a correctional centre.Der said Saretzky should never have been convicted in the woman's death since the confession came without a lawyer present and six months after Saretzky admitted to killing Blanchette and the toddler.The Crown argued that at the time of the police interview Saretzky would have been well aware of his right to counsel.The three-justice Appeal Court panel unanimously dismissed the appeal."The appellant was not under arrest and the trial judge found he had not been detained," wrote Justice Peter Martin on behalf of the court."Those findings were well supported by the evidence and are entitled to deference. I agree with his conclusion that on considering all of the circumstances of this case, the appellant's confession would not have been excluded."Meketech's body was found in her home in Coleman, Alta., on Sept. 9, 2015. She had been struck in the head and stabbed in the neck. During the trial, the jury was shown videotaped confessions in which Saretzky told police it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to kill Meketech, who was a friend of his grandparents, because he didn't think anyone cared about her. Five days later, Blanchette's body was discovered in his home in Blairmore, Alta. His daughter was missing, which sparked an Amber Alert and an extensive search in the Crowsnest Pass area of southwestern Alberta.Court heard Saretzky was "an aspiring serial killer" at the time of the attacks. He had few close friends and possessed numerous books on serial killers and serial killings.Saretzky was sentenced in 2017 to three consecutive life sentences, which means he is ineligible for parole until he has served 75 years in prison.The Court of Appeal still has to schedule and hear an appeal of the sentence.This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 24, 2020.— Follow @BillGraveland on TwitterBill Graveland, The Canadian Press
When COVID-19 first appeared, people and governments across the globe reacted with alarm. Action was swift.In Alberta, businesses shuttered as the government imposed restrictions. People mostly stayed inside. Premier Jason Kenney said it was a generational challenge his government would rise to meet. But restrictions were loosened as the weather warmed. The most dire predictions didn't come to pass, and barbecues or drinks with friends seemed less risky. People held parties and their neighbours thought: why not me? Disinformation spread and, with it, doubt about the dangers of the virus and the actions of the government. But warnings were everywhere: Second wave. The fight isn't over. Be prepared.Many listened, but too many did not. Alberta's government said the economy couldn't take another hit and it was up to individuals to stem the tide. It delayed and equivocated. When the weather cooled, the virus was soon spreading more than ever. Now the talk was exponential growth and warnings of overwhelmed hospitals.As Kenney prepares to make an announcement on COVID this afternoon, he has so far stuck with personal responsibility as the key to fighting the outbreak.He and his government have pointed fingers at individuals for not obeying official recommendations, but now people are pointing back, laying blame at the feet of the government. Laying blame, however, is no easy thing.Personal responsibility and the role of the government aren't easily disentangled. Why individuals and the government have behaved as they have goes to the heart of who Albertans are — or at least who they perceive themselves to be. It begins with the ways that people, in general, deal with crises. The psychology of a pandemicThere's a common view of the world that assumes people panic when confronted with danger — causing more harm than the threat itself — but that's not often the case. Social psychologists have shown the greater risk is underestimating danger and not reacting in time. We also tend to believe the worst will happen to others, not us. Add misinformation to the mix and none of this should come as a surprise. "I've done an awful lot of reading about the Great Mortality, black plague, and about the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918," said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta. "And I would just say that every single thing that has happened could have been predicted by reading a history book."People in the past, like today, reacted to an invisible, existential threat by embracing conspiracy theories or unlikely cures while ignoring medical advice. Many denied the problem. Add social media, and the spread of misinformation is even more damaging and difficult to control. It creates deep divisions when cohesion is key to beating back the virus. Collective action problemThere are times when 51 per cent is enough. If enough people do the right thing, everyone will be swept along by their good deeds. A virus — especially an airborne one — doesn't work that way. We are in a classic collective action problem where almost universal buy-in is required. We all have to keep distance, wear masks, wash our hands, limit social interactions or just stay home. If we don't all do it, the virus spreads. Saxinger thinks the province has reached the ceiling on what independent co-operation can do.Compounding the problem is the perception of risk. Research shows that individuals are more likely to make moral decisions when ambiguity about risks is reduced.Prof. Leslie Francis, who works in the faculties of law, medicine and philosophy at the University of Utah, says the vast majority of people understand not to put other people at risk by, say, speeding down a residential road at 100 km/h. But people might not see COVID-19 the same way."What we see going on right now is that many people deny that COVID exists, or they think it's not going to make people very sick, or they think that it won't make them very sick, maybe they'll even be asymptomatic," she said."But they don't realize that, for example, in my own state right now, the estimate is that one in 73 people right now is actively contagious."Alberta's political cultureWe judge our behaviour and the behaviours of others based on what we observe, but also on how we perceive our own political culture and what it will allow. In Alberta, a lot of it might be built on myth.Political science Prof. Jared Wesley of the University of Alberta asks participants about the province in his ongoing study of politics and culture. He gets them to sketch out their typical Albertan and then asks what that Albertan would do in certain situations. The Albertan — here nicknamed "Joe" — is always male, often a farmer, a libertarian conservative. Wesley's point is to narrow in on what people believe the political culture to be — what is acceptable and what is possible.In the pandemic, Joe reacts in a specific way."They will tell you, like you see in the media everywhere, they'll tell you all Albertans will never stand for mask mandates because it's an infringement on their freedoms," said Wesley.That sort of statement comes from people across the political spectrum, not just those who agree with their typical Albertan. That shapes the way we think about the world and can shape our own behaviour. We make moral decisions based on how we think others might perceive us. If people think broader society doesn't want to have its freedoms restricted — even in minor ways like donning a mask — they are less likely to be strict about virus-beating behaviours and less likely to feel judged for their laxity. This despite a majority not agreeing with their "typical" Albertan. "Do a survey like we just did three or four weeks ago: Albertans are massively in favour of heavier restrictions," said Wesley. "You ask them on an individual basis, would you like to see a provincewide mask mandate, doesn't matter if they're rural areas. Absolutely, it's the right thing to do. They going to push for it? No, because they don't think that the rest of the province would accept it."At some point that tide could turn. There are more voices calling for government to impose more severe restrictions, including a complete lockdown, in order to fight surging case counts.The ethics of action are clear, even if the ultimate answers are not. The ethicsFrancis says there's a clear difference between someone who puts themselves in harm's way versus someone who creates "a real risk of harm to other people." Individuals are expected to go about in the world obeying the rules so that a free society can operate in a mostly free way. Social norms keep most of us from hurting one another, but there is never a full participation rate. Murders, assaults and more happen on a regular basis. So there are laws. Even the most stringent libertarians agree there is a role for the state to some protections. Francis argues that we should view restrictions around COVID-19 in the same light."I think a lot of people are treating this as some kind of unusual interference with liberty," Francis said about pandemic responses. "And my point is, it's actually much more like when people are thinking through some of the most standard kinds of interferences with liberty."Yet despite the ethical obligations to protect citizens, the decision to impose restrictions across a society is no small thing.Some see the delay in implementing more restrictions as cruel — akin to saying the economy is as important as human life.Certainly the belief that Alberta's political culture would not allow a lockdown plays a role in politicians' decisions. But governments also have to consider how their decisions might affect broader society. Lives and livelihoods can be lost due to a cratered economy. Not every individual can simply choose to stay home. Many calling for a sharp lockdown have salaries, home offices or the security to stay isolated. And race, class and gender mix to create a set of ethical and moral traps many can't escape."There has to also be an economic solution for those whose lives are going to be torn apart by this," Melissa Caouette, a political strategist with the Canadian Strategy Group, said on the CBC's West of Centre podcast. As cases and hospitalizations rise, there comes a point when political calculation isn't relevant, and protecting the health of Albertans and its health-care system becomes a priority.Every decision can have a profound impact on Albertans. The hesitance of the government to shut things down as the pandemic spreads out of control, however, should come as no surprise. The Alberta government"This government is refreshingly transparent and completely doctrinaire when it comes to all elements of public policy," Wesley says of the United Conservative Party's approach. "So if you want to know where this government was heading, you need to look no further than the 2018 UCP statement of principles."Wesley calls it Neoliberalism 101 — a political philosophy that makes no room for collective action problems. "From a political science standpoint, that's almost like the ideal of what we expect of responsible party actors, is that they have a set of principles, we know what they stand for, they're being transparent about it," he said. "And we know when they're confronted with things that are out of the ordinary, are not part of their policy platform, we know how they're going to react."In short, they'll react like Joe Alberta would want them to.That policy consistency is tied directly to the founding leader of the UCP, Kenney. A principled conservative to some, an ideologue to others, he tends to stake his position and stick to it. It doesn't help that he was elected on a commitment to get the economy back on track and the budget balanced — a near impossibility given COVID spending and the languishing price of oil. The focus is, and has been, on trying to preserve and repair a battered economy. Kenney wants to avoid more business closures and loss of jobs. He does not want to spend more money.There's also a documented combativeness to Kenney and his government that hasn't abated during the pandemic, including battles with doctors, nurses and public servants. The ensuing division inhibits any chance that collective action could be effective against the pandemic. It seems the government won't abandon its ideological mores until, as Wesley calls them, a substantial "accumulation of anomalies" attacks the tenets of that foundation.It seems plenty of individuals feel the same. With more cases, more deaths, fewer ICU beds and more calls for action as the government resists, the situation is ripe for blaming the government no matter the culprit in our collective failures. Laying blameEvery catastrophe eventually leads to the need for answers: Who is responsible? Who or what could have prevented this? Things are getting out of control in Alberta, with contact tracers overwhelmed and community spread in full bloom. Recent restrictions on fitness classes and earlier last calls have had no impact to date as 1,000-plus new cases a day becomes the norm. For a while, it appeared things were under control. As cases rose, most people were not vocally critical.Then doctors started writing letters with hundreds of their colleagues' signatures calling for circuit-breaker lockdowns. The chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency called for the same. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi wished for more, but told citizens not to wait for the province to do what was needed. Social media was flooded with calls for restrictions.Cases soared, as did hospitalizations. There are more deaths and likely many more to come.The government continued to resist, but looks prepared to act — in some way — on Tuesday afternoon.Critics have said the government has failed to provide clarity across the province on what is expected and even failed to model the baselines of good behaviour. Research has shown that people tend to lay more blame when an intentional harm has occurred, but that those in power can be judged harshly even if causality is ambiguous or indirect. Polls have shown that Albertans are dissatisfied with the performance of their government, including a recent poll by ThinkHQ that suggested the majority of Albertans don't think recent government restrictions went far enough. But it can't all be put at the feet of the government. No one told Albertans to celebrate birthdays with friends and family. There was no public health recommendation to drink until closing time on Saturday night.Frustration, however, is mounting. So too is evidence that something more drastic needs to take place."I say that it's never too late to do something that's useful," said Saxinger, the infectious disease specialist from the U of A. "But earlier action is very clearly, and in a very data-driven way, the best way to handle something that has exponential growth — acting before it becomes a problem, because you act after it becomes a problem and you're already on your way to a much, much bigger problem."What is happeningOn Nov. 20, Alberta announced 1,155 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. That number has grown every day since, giving Alberta the highest number of active cases of all the provinces. Hinshaw has said ICU beds set aside for the pandemic are nearing capacity, but that more resources could be freed up. Those resources would come at a cost to those seeking treatment for other reasons. Decisions will soon have to be made within hospitals about who has the best chance of survival and therefore gets a bed and treatment. Some of the dire predictions that were elaborately presented in Alberta's first wave are coming into focus.On Monday, Hinshaw admitted defeat in terms of the government's already limited contact tracing and, in an attempt to catch up, was giving up on contacting thousands of those linked to high-priority settings such as hospitals, schools and continuing care homes. She also said she'd be making recommendations to a cabinet huddle after her announcement. The government response is expected to be announced Tuesday afternoon. Francis, speaking from Utah without any knowledge of Alberta's situation, said the way to minimize the impact on businesses while protecting the health of the public is to act swiftly and comprehensively if restrictions are imposed. "One wishes that business closures were very short-lived," she said. "Unfortunately, we've made some mistakes, we've done it halfway, and so we've let community spread really get out of control.... You don't treat a rapidly growing tumour by cutting out 20 per cent of it. And unfortunately, a sort of tepid approach to infection control has done exactly that."So, with the surgery delayed, that incision will only have to go deeper.