With Kim MacDonald.
With Kim MacDonald.
WASHINGTON — Outgoing Attorney General William Barr's decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of the Russia probe ensures his successor won't have an easy transition.The move, which Barr detailed to The Associated Press on Tuesday, could lead to heated confirmation hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's nominee, who hasn't been announced. Senate Republicans will likely use that forum to extract a pledge from the pick to commit to an independent investigation.The pressure on the new attorney general is unlikely to ease once they take office. With the special counsel continuing to work during the early days of the Biden administration, it may be tough for the Justice Department's new leadership to launch investigations of President Donald Trump and his associates without seeming to be swayed by political considerations.Barr elevated U.S. Attorney John Durham to special counsel as Trump continues to propel his claims that the Russia investigation that shadowed his presidency was a “witch hunt.” It's the latest example of efforts by Trump officials to use the final days of his administration to essentially box Biden in by enacting new rules, regulations and orders designed to cement the president's legacy.But the manoeuvring over the special counsel is especially significant because it saddles Democrats with an investigation that they've derided as tainted. Now there's little the new administration can do about it.“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy,” Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.A special counsel can only be dismissed for cause. And as was the case during Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, such probes can sometimes stray from their origins.The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment on the special counsel appointment.But Barr's decision could influence whom the president-elect puts forth as a nominee for attorney general. One leading candidate, Sally Yates, was already viewed skeptically by some Trump-aligned Republicans for her role in the early days of the Russia investigation. Her nomination could face even greater challenges because she's connected to some of the work that Durham is examining.As deputy attorney general, Yates signed off on the first two applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor communications of ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a process that has been among the focuses of the Durham investigation.A Justice Department inspector general report found significant flaws and omissions in the four applications to the court, though it also found no evidence that Yates or any other senior Justice Department officials were aware of the problems.Some Democrats have privately expressed concerns – likely to deepen with Durham’s appointment as a special counsel – that nominating Yates would lead to a messy confirmation process that focuses on the Russia investigation, instead of focusing on reforms and shifting priorities at the Justice Department, people familiar with the matter have said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.Others potentially in the mix for the role include Lisa Monaco, a former homeland security adviser and senior Justice Department official in the Obama administration, and outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who famously prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a Birmingham church in the 1960s.The question for Biden, however, is how to balance top Cabinet picks as he attempts to fulfil his pledge for racial, ethnic and gender diversity. Many of Biden's leading nominees so far have been white, which could work against Yates, Monaco and Jones.Some Black Democrats are attempting to elevate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is Black and led the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Bill Clinton, in discussions about potential attorneys general.Whoever emerges as the nominee will be pressed to demonstrate independence from the new White House after Biden campaigned on a pledge to depoliticize the Justice Department.That could be tough, however, if the future attorney general faces calls for new probes into the Trump administration. Some investigations into Trump have been frozen because of the immunity he enjoys as president. Others swirling around members of his family and associates have been simmering for years.On Tuesday, an unsealed court filing revealed an investigation into a potential plot to solicit political donations in exchange for the president using his pardon power.Barr, for his part, insisted that he was trying to keep politics out of the Durham probe, explaining that is why he delayed announcing the special counsel appointment until a month after the election.“With the election approaching, I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Muller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election,” Barr said in an interview with the AP on Tuesday.“I wanted to have the team, both Durham and his team understand that they be able to finish their work,” Barr said.Durham has already been a huge disappointment for Trump and his allies, and prompted a dispute with Barr over why things weren’t moving faster and why the investigation did not yield major prosecutions in the weeks before the election. The investigation wasn’t expected to result in many more criminal charges, and there has only been one so far — a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to a single charge.But the investigation is worth more politically than practically.A nearly 500-page inspector general report chronicled in great detail the errors and omissions FBI agents made in a series of applications to surveil Page. Declassified documents released by congressional Republicans have raised additional questions while not undercutting the overarching legitimacy of the Russia probe. And the facts of the one criminal case Durham has brought so far, against an FBI lawyer who admitted altering an email, were already mostly laid out in the watchdog report.There’s also been a degree of turmoil within Durham’s ranks as one of the team’s leaders, Nora Dannehy, resigned months ago, a significant departure given the active role she had played.___Miller reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Colleen Long in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
When Jonathan Ferguson found out the Atlantic travel bubble had ended, his plans to spend the holidays with family in Charlottetown went up in the air.The president of Mount Allison University's student union said many of his peers are also waiting to see if travel restrictions continue when exams end on Dec. 12. But many are expecting to stay in Sackville for the holidays."Now with the collapse of the bubble a lot of Maritimers, a lot of Atlantic students are more in favour of the idea of staying, because we know that we have friends around that we might be able to see once we go back to the yellow phase," Ferguson said.Universities across the province have decided to extend school break for the Christmas season, pushing back the start of January classes. With many students expected to leave New Brunswick, the extension is designed to provide enough time to self-isolate after returning.People travelling to Newfoundland and Labrador, or Prince Edward Island are now required to self-isolate for 14 days. Nova Scotia does not require Atlantic Canadian residents to self-isolate. That rule also applies when returning to New Brunswick. That means a student returning home to Prince Edward Island would need to spend 28 days total in isolation.Those requirements prompted several Nova Scotia universities to also make calendar changes.More time to self-isolateMount Allison decided to adjust its academic calendar earlier this term to allow students to have a longer break and time to self-isolate before classes resume for the winter semester. The next term will start on Jan. 18.Ferguson said students have welcomed the change."That was done with out-of-bubble international students particularly in mind, but thankfully it's really forward-thinking planning that was done," he said.About 60 per cent of Mount Allison's more than 2,000 students are from outside the province.The university had a mix of virtual and in-person classes, before the remainder of the fall term went online last week in response to rising COVID-19 cases in the region. Exams will also be held entirely online.The University of New Brunswick will be starting the winter term a week late, on Jan. 11. Classes will also only be online for the first week to allow for students to continue their isolation period.Kathy Wilson, UNB's associate vice-president academic, said students were encouraged to stay for fall reading week because of isolation requirements. Now the longer break will make it easier to head home."It also gave our staff an opportunity for a bit of a reprieve over the holiday time," she said. "Everybody is working really hard."Break from 'virtual fatigue'St. Thomas University is not offering in-person classes this academic year, but also decided to push back the start of the winter term. Classes will resume on Jan. 11 instead of Jan. 6.Ryan Sullivan, the associate vice-president of enrolment management, said the university wanted to offer more of a break from "virtual fatigue" after adapting online learning for the fall."We felt there was an opportunity there to give students and faculty a bit more time between the two semesters," he said.Professors are teaching online, although they are allowed under the yellow phase to organize some optional, in-person activities with physical distancing. The second semester will also be delivered remotely.Sullivan said the longer break will also allow more time to complete self-isolation for students who return home for Christmas. Only about 25 per cent of St. Thomas students are from outside New Brunswick."We have students who are still trying to figure out what their plans are," he said. "I think most, from our general sense of things, are still planning to head home."The University of Moncton is also delaying on-site courses by one week in January, but continuing to deliver classes online starting on Jan. 11. Spokesperson Nathalie Haché said the change was made to allow students and staff to be able to spend time with family for the holidays. Practical courses, which are offered in-person, won't start until Jan. 18, allowing students who need to self-isolate to begin after New Year's Day.'It has created uncertainty'As New Brunswick students prepare to write exams, many are waiting to see how the pandemic will play out in the days ahead.If travel restrictions continue, Ferguson is unsure if he'll return home for the break if it means self-isolating after his return. "I understand that obviously that might not be possible, and we've just kind of got to play it by ear as Maritimers and see how the COVID cases continue," he said.Wilson said some UNB students have decided to stay to avoid isolation. For those who decide to travel, the university will work with them to develop an individualized self-isolation plan."It has created uncertainty. I think we have students who are still perhaps revisiting their plans to go home," she said.Both the Fredericton and Saint John campuses are currently under orange-level restrictions, which includes a single-household bubble.Ferguson said he is hopeful Sackville will return to the yellow phase, as community members often invite students who can't make it home to a holiday meal."We hope that the community will be there to support students that are here alone, and we hope students will support other students that are on their own," he said.
Purolator has teamed up with emerging Canadian artists to help spread a little holiday cheer this year. The shipping company has selected 13 artists from across the country – one from each province and territory – to design a unique and festive shipping box that will be made available at Purolator shipping centres and Michaels craft stores for anyone looking to send a little extra cheer along with their gifts to their friends and families this holiday season. With the country boasting a population of more than 37 million people, choosing one artist from each province and territory in Canada could have proved to be quite daunting, but Patrick Hunter, a Two Spirit Ojibwe artist, said he thinks the online community he has already amassed helped to secure him the spot as Ontario's representative. “I have a pretty nice following of people on Instagram, and I think that's how they reached out when they were trying to find diverse artists to be a part of this project,” Hunter explained. “It was a quick turnaround to get the project off the ground, I think we started in November or the end of October, but with really cool emails like that, 'Purolator wants to work with you on such-and-such,' it's a pretty quick response. I think it took me all of ten seconds to say 'yes, I'm in.'” While he is currently working out of Toronto, Hunter is originally from Red Lake. His art in the Woodland style takes inspiration from his hometown and the work of famed Woodland artist Norval Morrisseau, and he brought the same sensibilities he brings to his painting to the art he was inspired to create for Purolator's box, along with his own wishes for the holiday season. “It's all digital artwork, so you have to know how to use some graphic design-y programs,” Hunter explained. “We were given a template to work within the edges and back and top sides. Why I chose the imagery I chose, which is Ojibwe florals, is because it's a holiday season, it's one of my favourite gifts to give, and one of the best gifts First Nations folks give their friends are beaded moccasins or gloves, so my hope for these boxes is when someone gets a box that they have that feeling of 'oh my god, beautiful box' but then 'what's inside?'” Being chosen by Purolator to be the representative for Ontario also carries added heft for Hunter. Knowing the boxes have the potential to wind up almost anywhere in the world, Hunter said that it was like a personal responsibility to answer Purolator's call for his art. “I'm a First Nations gay man from Red Lake, Ontario,” he explained. “When things like this come along you have an obligation to the people that are coming behind you to try and illuminate the path. So my goal with this is to show other First Nations kids and gay artists can have opportunities like this too and not be afraid of them. As well, to bring some visibility. I don't think First Nations culture is always put in the forefront in a mainstream way and Purolator has done a good job of asking not just me but other diverse people in Canada to come up with box designs.” Laurie Weston is the director of retail for Purolator who was on the team searching for artists to take part in the campaign. She noted that part of trying to find emerging artists to design a box was ensuring they were a good fit for both where they came from and the peoples and cultures they represented. “What's really interesting about this is we actually went grassroots and we scoured social media,” Weston explained. “We went through social media and we narrowed it down to the ones that we felt their artwork represented not only the province but their culture. I think with Patrick, we were so incredibly lucky he wanted to do this with us because I think his floral motif and his indigenous background and what it represents for Ontario is pretty special. So it resonated with us. So that's why we picked him.” In a year when the shipping company expects far more packages to be delivered over the holiday season – Weston said their busy season began in August this year, when it usually starts to pick up in November – the drive to showcase original Canadian art on special holiday boxes was to help spread that sense of community and Christmas spirit that might otherwise be hard to come by in 2020. “People are not able to travel, and what's happened with us is the increase in shopping online, but people are coming in and shipping packages to loved ones,” Weston explained. “They're not able to travel and see their loved ones this holiday season so we really wanted to share some of the Christmas spirit from a Canadian lens. Purolator does support small businesses and entrepreneurs, but this is a different evolution of that. We just really wanted to showcase these new artists.” As part of Purolator's partnership with Michaels craft stores, the companies are also holding a Design-A-Box Sweepstakes. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the Michaels website in order to download a box template they can then design, photograph and submit for the chance to win a $1,000 Michaels gift card and free shipping with Purolator for a year. Hunter has been doing his work professionally for the past six years, and in the near future he's also looking at moving out of Toronto to be a little bit closer to home, and begin producing more items in his line of houseware products. He noted the opportunity to be a part of Purolator's holiday campaign helped to confirm in his mind that pursuing the career path he did was a good choice and hopefully help to spread awareness of Indigenous artists even further abroad. “It makes me feel like I'm on the right path and I did choose a good career in graphic design,” he said. “To have [the art] put on these boxes in such a public way, it means a lot and I'm so thrilled just to be a part of the project, but then to have this kind of message of like 'hey, we're Indigenous people, we haven't gone anywhere, we're still here' I think it's great to illuminate the path for people to ask questions.” For more information on Purolator's holiday boxes visit their website and to take part in the Design-A-Box sweepstakes, visit the Michael's website. For more information on Patrick Hunter and his artwork, visit his website at patrickhunter.ca or follow him on Instagram @patrickhunter_artKen Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
The Dehcho First Nations is bringing back a familiar face to its executive team.Michael Nadli, who served as grand chief during the beginning of the Dehcho Process, was named as the First Nations' new chief negotiator according to a news release on Wednesday.The Dehcho process is a land, resource and self-government project. It began in 1999 and since 2019 has focused on self-government.The Dehcho First Nations call Nadli, a fluent speaker of Dene Zhatié, a "champion for Dene rights.""Michael ... is no stranger to the issues and challenges in negotiations," said Grand Chief Gladys Norwegian in a statement."Through his past roles in leadership and ability to speak our language, he has a strong connection to our culture and elders."Before his new role with Dehcho First Nations, Nadli was "helping build capacity in his home community" with the Deh Gáh Got'ıę First Nation (Fort Providence), the release says.He also served two terms as Deh Cho MLA from 2011 to 2019, was CEO of the Dehcho Land Use Planning Committee from 2007 to 2011, and was grand chief of the Dehcho First Nations from 1997 to 2003.His time in the public spotlight has not been without controversy. Nadli spent time in jail in 2015, when he served eight days of a 45-day sentence after being convicted of assault after breaking his wife's wrist. He had a similar conviction in 2004, when he pleaded guilty to a charge of assault against his spouse and was put on probation."I feel I can be a positive asset to the Dehcho First Nations," Nadli said in a written statement on Wednesday."At a deeper level my work is driven by a passion for justice and fairness. Negotiations is a common day occurrence."
TORONTO — As a pediatrician with extensive experience working with marginalized groups, Anna Banerji believed herself more than equipped to advocate for her Inuk son when he began to display signs of deep depression.She recalls taking him to hospital and pleading with mental-health experts for help, but says her concerns were dismissed. Less than two weeks later in September 2018, Nathan killed himself.Banerji acknowledges many factors led to her son's death, but believes the health-care system failed to recognize specific racial, social and cultural aspects that contributed to his suicide.It's a blind spot she ascribes broadly to mainstream health-care, and had been one of the reasons she founded the biennial Indigenous Health Conference in 2014.The fourth edition launches Thursday as a three-day digital gathering focused on youth mental health, and will be dedicated to Nathan. Banerji says Indigenous-led solutions are key as the pandemic exacerbates mental health struggles, and especially as fresh accounts of racism in health-care this year repeat calls for change. "We see this all across Canada — Joyce Echaquan recorded it so we have documentation of her dying while they're calling her names," said Banerji, referencing the hospital death in September of an Atikamekw woman from Manawan in central Quebec."Joyce is one example, but there are so many examples that don't get documented and that's why it's really important that we document that because Joyce's story or my son's story are not unique."Speakers include Nunavut singer Susan Aglukark who will discuss child sexual abuse and its links to colonization, and Michèle Audette, commissioner of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, who will talk about systemic discrimination.Of course, youth will take centre stage. Youth panel moderator Joshua Stribbell, program coordinator of the Ottawa-based service provider Tungasuvvingat Inuit, says he's impressed with the topics younger participants plan to raise: a comparison of Indigenous and colonial approaches to mental health and a look at inter-generational determinants of health and resilience."What I love about them coming up with those two learning objectives is it's youth refusing ... to just talk about (being) youth," says the 30-year-old Stribbell, based in Toronto and a friend of Nathan's."Because no Indigenous youth is just Indigenous youth — they're part of a community and that community has intergenerational things that are continuing to happen and are always happening (and) they understand that they (are not) alone, that they heal together as a community."There is no shortage of troubling incidents to fuel discussion.While the spread of COVID-19 has highlighted and deepened racial disparities in health-care and social supports, it's also revealed the benefits of Indigenous-led public health measures that resulted in far fewer infections in many communities, Toronto doctors Allison Crawford and Lisa Richardson argued in an article for the CMAJ in September."At its foundation, Indigenous public health must be self-determined: adapted for the needs of specific nations and grounded in local Indigenous language, culture and ways of knowing; developed, implemented and led by Indigenous Peoples," they write.Such instances are rare. Earlier this week, former Saskatchewan judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond released a damning report detailing widespread systemic racism in British Columbia's health-care system, including extensive profiling of patients based on stereotypes about addictions.Banerji believes much the same can be said of health-care systems across the country, and "that's exactly why we do this conference.""We need to address some of those issues and try to educate people on the fact that this is real and it impacts people's lives, and can result in high rates of morbidity and mortality," says Banerji, an associate professor at the University of Toronto's Temerty Faculty of Medicine.In the case of her son, Banerji laments that experts appeared to discount the possible impact of tumultuous events in his young life. Nathan left Baffin Island as a baby when Banerji was asked by an adoptions official she knew through her work in the Arctic to adopt him and raise him in Toronto.Keen to keep Nathan connected to his culture and relatives in Clyde River, Banerji (who is of South Asian descent) brought him back several times to visit his parents, siblings, and grandparents. He was very proud of his culture, but Banerji says he grew disillusioned as he became aware of fractures in his birth family and social and economic problems in the community. As he approached his teen years, she says Nathan was shattered by news of his 14-year-old brother's death by suicide.She says these experiences all likely played a role in Nathan’s mental health and should have been given more weight."It's not overt discrimination, it's a lack of information. It's the omission where they just didn't understand inter-generational trauma that contributed to his death," says Banerji.Malcolm Ranta, executive director of the Ilisaqsivik Society, says an Inuit-focused approach makes an incredible difference in the health outcomes of the Baffin communities he serves.The Clyde River non-profit created a counsellor training program about 13 years ago to offer support in Inuktitut from locals who could better understand local issues. He says the program was accredited three years ago and he now hears regularly from residents thankful they can get help in Inuktitut from someone who better understands their pain."Three years ago if there was a suicide in a community the government would send in one white southern social worker or nurse to go be there to support that community for a period of time. Now, we can send in a team of four Inuit counsellors," says Ranta, participating as a delegate at this year's conference."We want Inuit to be part of the systems that impact their lives. Because we know there's going to be better health outcomes."Demand is "huge" he says, pointing to 26 crisis response calls in 2019. In February, he says Ilisaqsivik is launching a 28-day addiction treatment camp that will allow residents to avoid having to go south, such as to Toronto or Calgary, for care. Banerji says these are the solutions that can help address gaps in care across the country. Even as a physician and university professor, she says she still could not find adequate help for her son."The system failed even me with an Indigenous child," says Banerji."I can imagine how the system continues to fail Indigenous people that may not be in that position or may not be as well-resourced or may not be in a position of power as someone like me."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Leave the snow boots, parkas and glove warmers in the closet, the 2021 Sundance Film Festival is coming down from the mountain and straight to your living room.Organizers on Wednesday said that this year they will premiere over 70 films on a custom online platform during the seven day event. There will also be some socially distanced screening opportunities around the country. The festival, which is normally held in Park City, Utah, has been preparing for various scenarios for months as the pandemic has raged on.Festival director Tabitha Jackson said that this model, “Gives us the opportunity to reach new audiences, safely, where they are.”Over the course of the festival, feature films will premiere throughout the day at a dedicated time followed by a live Q&A. Ticketholders will have a three-hour window to watch. Second screenings will be available for 24 hours two days later. The rollout, organizers said, is designed to “preserve the energy of a Festival.”There will also be limited screenings at venues across the county, including Birmingham, Alabama’s Sidewalk Drive-In, Pasadena, California’s Rose Bowl, Denver's Sie Film Center and Columbus, Ohio’s Gateway Film Center.“At the heart of all this is a belief in the power of coming together, and the desire to preserve what makes a festival unique -- a collaborative spirit, a collective energy, and a celebration of the art, artists, and ideas that leave us changed,” Jackson said.The 2021 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 28 through February 3, and tickets will be available for purchase for the general public beginning Jan. 7. The 2021 slate will be revealed in the coming weeks.Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and New Brunswick reported six as the stream of cases from ongoing outbreaks continued in both provinces. Health officials in Nova Scotia said 16 of the cases identified were in Halifax, including one at St. Margaret's Bay Elementary school that was reported late Tuesday. The other case was in the province's northern health zone and was related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. The province's total number of active cases is 127. In New Brunswick, health officials reported six new cases of COVID-19. The Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton and Edmundston regions each had one case, while there were two in the Bathurst region. There are now 119 active cases in the province. During an online news conference Wednesday, Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill said St. Margaret's Bay Elementary was closed for cleaning and would remain closed on Thursday because of a scheduled professional development day. He said a decision on reopening would be made later this week. "That is yet to be determined because the investigation hasn't been completed," he said. Churchill also said it was likely that students at two schools in Cole Harbour that were closed after cases were identified last week would return to classes on Monday. The minister, who announced a further $14.3 million in funding to help support schools during the pandemic, was asked his thoughts on the fact there have only been five cases identified to date in the school system. He credited good guidance from the provincial public health department and said Nova Scotians have followed that advice. "I think our teachers, principals, support staff, our cleaners, our students should be proud," Churchill told reporters. "It seems at this point that the majority of people are doing their part to make a difference and protect people from the virus." Still, he said talks were ongoing about the possibility of extending the upcoming Christmas break if needed. The money announced for schools on Wednesday is from a federal fund announced in August, and Churchill said it would go toward a range of programs and initiatives to help keep schools safe. He said $3.8 million would be used to boost school water supplies through the purchase of 950 touch-free water-filling stations, while $2.7 million would be used to ensure maintenance and inspections of school ventilation systems. "This is above and beyond the (ventilation) assessments that have been done and the regular assessments," he said. "If any issues crop up, this funding will allow us to deploy resources very quickly to deal with any maintenance issues." Another $1.5 million would be used to purchase additional personal protective equipment such as masks and hand sanitizer for students and staff, while $4.1 million would go toward new online math and literacy programs. Money would also go toward school food programs, including $500,000 to meet increased demand for the existing school healthy eating program, and $1 million to support an emergency food fund that can be accessed if at-home learning is needed. The announcement followed one last month that will see $21.5 million in federal relief money used to purchase 32,000 new computers for students and to upgrade servers and Wi-Fi systems in schools. Meanwhile, one new case of COVID-19 was reported by Newfoundland and Labrador on Wednesday, bringing its number of active cases to 30. Health officials said the case was related to travel and involved a man between 20 and 39 years old in the eastern part of the province. In Prince Edward Island, the government announced that those with lower incomes can now get free face masks at all food bank locations across the province. The province said it had collaborated with the P.E.I. Association of Food Banks to distribute three-ply, non-medical reusable masks Since Nov. 20, non-medical masks or face coverings have been mandatory in all public spaces on the Island. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
MULGRAVE – “This year with COVID, people have been struggling lately, some people have lost their jobs in the community. It is a tough time for everyone. I figured why not change it up to help the people in our community,” Town of Mulgrave Recreation Director Heather Brennan told The Journal regarding the new spin they put on its annual Festival of the Trees. This year, instead of dressing a tree to the nines, festival participants were asked to build a tree, or any Christmas-themed art piece, out of non-perishable food items to be donated later to the recently created food pantry. First, second and third-place winners will be selected through online voting. For residents not online, they can cast ballots at the town office. While a prize will be awarded, Brennan said, “Everybody is a winner.” The response to the competition was greater than Brennan had expected with 10 entries and a great amount of food donated to the food pantry. “I am pleasantly surprised by how many people have done it and the amount of food taken in has surpassed what I thought,” she said. Participants taking part in the festival include local businesses Mulgrave Machine Works and DSM, along with the Town of Mulgrave, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 37 Mulgrave, Mulgrave Heritage Centre, Atlantic Association of CBDCs and several groups of friends. Along with the food used in the displays, Brennan said community members have been dropping off food at the Mulgrave Memorial Centre, where the Festive of Trees is set up in the hallway, for the food pantry. The food pantry is an initiative of the Mulgrave Medical Centre Board that got off the ground this past summer. Board chair Al England told The Journal that the project has been a “greatsuccess to date; a lot of people are supporting it financially and with goods.” The pantry consists of a locker and a cooler constantly restocked with food. It is being moved from the medical centre to the vestibule in the Superport building where the East Coast Credit Union has an ATM. “They were gracious enough to allow us to use that space and we are very thankful and appreciative of that,” said England, adding that the location was temporary for the winter months and the pantry would return to the medical centre, when weather allowed. England said of the pantry project, “It has been an excellent project and it has been well received. We are grateful that it is being supported in the manor that it is and hopefully it is providing some help and assistance to those that really need the help at this time of year.”Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A noontime boom that was heard and felt from southern Ontario to Virginia was likely caused by a disintegrating meteor, according to an organization in western New York that keeps track of such phenomena.Witnesses across the area reported hearing the boom or seeing a fireball in the sky shortly after noon on Wednesday, said Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society in Geneseo. By 5 p.m., the organization had recorded 90 reports of the fireball seen in Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ontario, Pennsylvania and Virginia.Police agencies and fire departments around central New York received 911 calls reporting a boom that shook windows, but clouds prevented sightings in much of the area. Since most reports of the boom were around Syracuse, that's likely where the meteor blew to bits, Lunsford said.On the society's website, an observer in western New York reported the fireball was bright white with shades of yellow. An observer in Hagerstown, Maryland reported a fireball with red and orange sparks, smoke and a persistent train. A report from Welland, Ontario, described a long, bright green train.“Sunny day so it looked like a gold metallic flash against the blue sky,” said a report from Winchester, Virginia.“Astonishing, amazing, still get goosebumps talking about it,” wrote an observer in Port Dover, Ontario. “The train was flaming white, wide and long, no smoke.”“We tend to notice fireballs more at night because they stand out better, but it's not terribly unusual for very bright ones to be noticed during the day. It happens several times a year over populated areas,” said Margaret Campbell-Brown, a member of the Meteor Physics Group at Western University in London, Ontario.All fireballs, which are bright meteors, produce sound waves, sometimes detectable only by sensitive microphones, Campbell-Brown said by email. A large one may produce a thunderlike sonic boom with possible extra bangs from fragmentation, she said.The Associated Press
Island groundwater supply is running strong despite extreme drought and record-low groundwater levels this summer and some dry wells this fall. “We benefit from a really generous groundwater supply,” said Bruce Raymond, manager of the Water and Air Monitoring section of PEI’s Department of Environment and Water. He said it would take a consistent long-term drought for years on end to see a problematic decrease in the Island’s groundwater levels. “It’s a bit of a good news story,” he said. On the other hand Keith Reynolds, with Reynolds Well Drilling in Lower Montague, is seeing more dry wells than usual. “I’ve had about half a dozen calls about wells going dry this fall,” he said. This is more than usual but most of the calls were from clients with older wells. Mr Raymond said older or weak wells going dry this time of year is normal. “In talking to the drillers recently they’ve reported a few have gone dry, but most were weak shallow wells not quite up to standard.” Some old wells are more shallow than the current standard or have other defects that would lead to water not making it to the kitchen sink. A pump placed too high or sediment at the bottom of a well are two of many factors that can cause water stoppages. Mr Raymond said most of the province’s observation wells did show record low groundwater levels this summer. The water table, which varies but can often hold 100 or 200 metres of water, might have lowered by a metre or a few this year depending on the location. The average Island well is 30 to 60 metres deep or deeper again, depending on the location. “Most people have wells that have been drilled well into the water table,” Mr Raymond said. A few meters won’t usually be enough to cause standard wells to go dry. Precipitation for September and October seems to have been fairly normal, according to Environment Canada data. Mr Raymond said a drought as long as it was this year shouldn’t affect groundwater levels. He said, according to a recent study performed by a hydrologist in his department, through climate change, seasonality will change. Considering predicted average precipitation amounts, length of recharge seasons and other factors, groundwater levels and the streams that shoot off from groundwater should stay relatively steady on the Island.Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
NEW YORK — The dramatic conclusion to “The Undoing,” HBO's whodunit starring Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman, proved how it's still possible to bring people together in today's fragmented television world.Three million people tuned in Sunday to find out who really killed the girlfriend of Grant's adulterous character in one of three showings on HBO and on the streaming service HBO Max, the Nielsen company said.That's likely to be a fraction of who eventually sees it, given how television is consumed today. The premiere of the six-episode series was seen by 1.4 million people the night it first aired, and by now has been seen by 9 million and counting.“It's a good example of how you can still have a water-cooler hit,” said Casey Bloys, HBO Programming president. “I will always point to good acting, writing and directing. It was a good story.”It was the most-watched night for HBO since the finale of “Big Little Lies” last year, which also featured Kidman and creator David E. Kelley.HBO also said it was the first time in network history that each episode of a series was seen by more people than the previous one, a powerful signal of how people were drawn into the mystery.“The Undoing” has generated more conversation on social media than any other new scripted television series this year, Nielsen said. Coupled with the streaming-only series “The Flight Attendant,” HBO Max had its biggest week since the service was launched.“The Undoing” was always designed as a limited series, but it attracted the type of interest that would make any television executive naturally wonder if the story could be extended in some way.“I don't know,” Bloys said. “I do think these things are lightning in a bottle. It could always be difficult to try that again.”But he pointed to the network's productive relationship with Kidman and Kelley.“We'll find something great to do,” he said. “Who knows what it will be?”In other ratings news, CNN finished November with its most-watched month in the network's 40-year history, showing growth in the aftermath of the election compared to rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC.NBC was the top-rated broadcast network in prime time for Thanksgiving week, averaging 3.64 million viewers. CBS had 3.55 million, ABC had 2.4 million, Fox had 1.6 million, Ion Television had 930,000, Univision had 890,000 and Telemundo had 530,000.ESPN was the most-watched cable network, averaging 2.95 million viewers. Hallmark hit 2.53 million, Fox News Channel had 2 million, MSNBC had 1.59 million and CNN had 1.41 million.ABC's “World News Tonight” led the evening news ratings race with an average of 9.5 million viewers. NBC's “Nightly News” had 8.8 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.3 million.For the week of Nov. 23-29, the 20 most-watched programs in prime time, their networks and viewerships:1\. NFL Football: Chicago at Green Bay, NBC, 16.48 million.2\. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 13.78 million.3\. “NFL Pregame” (Sunday), NBC, 13.32 million.4\. NFL Football: L.A. Rams at Tampa Bay, ESPN, 13.14 million.5\. “The Masked Singer,” Fox, 11.42 million.6\. “NFL Post-Game” (Sunday), Fox, 11.11 million.7\. “Football Night in America” (Sunday, 7:55 p.m.) NBC, 10.78 million.8\. “NCIS,” CBS, 10.16 million.9\. “FBI,” CBS, 8.4 million.10\. “Football Night in America” (Sunday, 7:30 p.m.), NBC, 7.38 million.11\. “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 7.08 million.12\. “The Voice” (Tuesday) NBC, 7.07 million.13\. “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 6.42 million.14\. “Monday Night Kickoff,” ESPN, 6.22 million.15\. “I Can See Your Voice,” Fox, 6.07 million.16\. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 5.66 million.17\. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 5.46 million.18\. “Bob Hearts Abishola,” CBS, 4.9 million.19\. “Bull,” CBS, 4.68 million.20\. “The Bachelorette,” ABC, 4.49 million.David Bauder, The Associated Press
Ahuntsic-Cartierville - Des éclosions de COVID-19 sont survenues ces dernières semaines dans plusieurs milieux de soins sur le territoire d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville, a appris Journaldesvoisins.com. Au 1er décembre, la Direction régionale de la santé publique de Montréal (DRSP) recensait six éclosions actives dans le réseau de la santé sur le territoire du Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Nord de l’île de Montréal (CIUSSS). Plusieurs éclosions à Sacré-Cœur Le CIUSSS assure que la situation est sous contrôle, mais la situation inquiète le Syndicat des travailleurs et travailleuses (STT) du CIUSSS du NÎM (STT du CIUSSS du NÎM). Le syndicat dit notamment avoir été informé, il y a environ deux semaines, de deux éclosions majeures dans des unités à l’Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal (HSCM). Elle indique par ailleurs que des membres du personnel du Pavillon Albert-Prévost ont également été testés positif à la COVID et ont été retirés du milieu. Le syndicat, qui dit avoir eu vent d’au moins huit éclosions à HSCM et à Albert-Prévost, n’est cependant pas convaincu que les règles sont toujours bien appliquées. Les milieux de soins pour aînés aussi touchés La DRSP rapporte également deux autres éclosions actives dans des milieux de soins pour aînés sur le territoire du CIUSSS du Nord, soit une en CHSLD et une en ressources intermédiaires (RI). Le CIUSSS confirme une éclosion à la RI Grenet (Centre Notre-Dame-des-Anges), qui apparaît sur la liste des établissements sous haute-surveillance du ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. On y rapportait sept cas au 30 novembre, soit 18 % des résidants infectés. Le CHSLD Cartierville est pour sa part sur la liste des établissements sous surveillance du MSSSS, mais l’éclosion qui comptait quatre cas actifs au 29 novembre, semble en voie de se résorber étant donné qu’il ne reste aujourd’hui que deux résidants atteints. La vigilance reste de mise Aucune éclosion n’est rapportée en Résidences pour aînés (RPA), mais deux RPA d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville comptent chacune un cas : la résidence ORA et le Manoir Saint-Joseph. En ce qui concerne les hôpitaux et les CHSLD, même si le problème de la mobilité du personnel entre les installations semble avoir en grande partie été résolu, le STT du CIUSSS du NIM souligne qu’il faut tout de même redoubler de vigilance concernant les mouvements de personnel dans les installations, en particulier lors du recours à du personnel d’agence. Simon Van Vliet, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal des voisins
The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) has dismissed two cohorts of students because of confirmed COVID-19 cases at the two schools.In an email, WECDSB communications coordinator Stephen Fields said that the board dismissed one class of 23 students at St. Pius X Catholic Elementary School in Tecumseh, and another class of 10 at St. Anne Catholic High School in Lakeshore.According to the board's COVID-19 information page, each school has one active case of COVID-19, and both cases are students. Both schools remain open."We learned of these confirmed cases this morning and have notified the affected students that they are not to attend school tomorrow," the email reads."We have been working with the health unit by providing list of students and staff who may have been directly affected. The health unit is contacting any individuals, both students and staff, who may have been affected, and will give directions for them to follow."Earlier on Wednesday, the health unit declared an outbreak in a cohort of students at Corpus Christi Catholic Middle School.The board said it has sent a voice message to both school communities, and that if parents have not been contacted by the health unit, their children may continue to attend school."We want to assure parents that we are cooperating with the health unit and doing everything we can to make sure that we continue to provide safe and healthy learning environments for their children," the email said.
Residents of a Lambton County township dealing with a massive outbreak of gypsy moth caterpillars will be left on their own to fight the tree-destroying critters. Lambton Shores, located along Lake Huron, won’t spray private properties to control the pests next summer but has agreed to take “control measures” on some municipal land. Council voted unanimously to support a contentious gypsy moth action plan Tuesday night, adding a new recommendation that funds be included in the 2021 budget to undertake spraying on municipal land adjacent to private properties. “Where the people are going to spray theirs, we'll spray ours,” said Coun. Jeff Wilcox, who proposed the added recommendation. “It’s a good first step.” Other approved recommendations include creating a webpage to advise residents of resources to tackle gypsy moths, a $10,000 mail-drop to create awareness and not objecting to any spraying on private property. The gypsy moth citizens' action group, a coalition of some 4,000 residents across 12 subdivisions, lambasted the plan, arguing it doesn’t go far enough to protect the region’s trees and environment and calling it a “do-nothing approach.” They were pushing for the municipality to take the lead on a targeted aerial spray, as has been done in other municipalities, such as Sarnia and Pelham, and parts of Toronto and Hamilton. Romayne Smith-Fullerton, a group spokesperson, said their option wasn’t considered and felt the report wasn’t fully discussed at council. “The appearance of (our group) being heard wasn’t even met,” she said. “How many people need to speak up?” Wilcox called the added recommendation a compromise, adding staff will need to monitor how well this approach works next year and adjust for any future outbreaks. “It’s a tough situation . . . I can see why some people would be upset. They have every right to be,” he said. “We’re at least trying to get something done, and at least council now has acknowledged that we are responsible for our property.” The gypsy moth report was originally sent to council Nov. 10, but was deferred until Dec. 1 to receive more public feedback. More than 300 pages of correspondence were submitted to council, most advocating for more municipal involvement in tackling the outbreak. Smith-Fullerton was denied a presentation request to council, with officials citing COVID-19 safety protocols. Lambton Shores’ procedure bylaw disallows public presentations at electronic meetings. Tuesday night, councillors and staff met in person in Thedford. A written delegation was accepted, but not read aloud at the meeting. “I was honestly disappointed that they couldn’t come and speak,” Wilcox said. “I’m a firm believer that we need to listen to the people. In a democracy, you may not get your way, but you need to get your say.” Wilcox said he's submitted a motion for the next council meeting to consider amending the procedure bylaw to allow some form of public delegations at future meetings. In the months leading up to council’s report, many neighbourhoods already had been planning to spray their properties with a bacterium — bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki, referred to as Btk — but said that was their fallback approach. “That is what we are going to have to do because we have no choice,” Smith-Fullerton said. Gypsy moths are an invasive species, the larvae of which can cause rapid defoliation. An environmental assessment on the extent of the damage the insects caused this year was never ordered by the municipality. The 2020 outbreaks were most severe in the Port Franks, Deer Run and Pinery Provincial Park areas of Lambton Shores, a region that’s home to some rare ecosystems, such as oak savanna and pine barren. Many residents said beyond destroying trees, the moth larvae devastated their quality of life this summer, with the sheer volume of caterpillars making it impossible to be outdoors. “It’s like head lice in a public school. It spreads like wildfire,” Smith-Fullerton said. “Why are we not caring about this as a community?” MaxMartin@postmedia.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
WASHINGTON — Arizona Democrat and former astronaut Mark Kelly was sworn into the Senate on Wednesday, narrowing Republican control of the chamber and underscoring his state's shift from red to blue.Kelly, 56, defeated GOP Sen. Martha McSally in last month's election, making her one of only three incumbents to lose. By taking office, he has reduced the Republican edge in the chamber to 52-48.That will have scant impact on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's control over the chamber for the final month of this congressional session. But it sets the stage for two pivotal Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections in Georgia.If Democrats win both, they will command the 50-50 chamber for the new Congress that begins in early January because Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris would cast tie-breaking votes.Kelly cast himself as a problem-solving centrist during his campaign, and his slender 2 percentage point victory over McSally suggests he'll want to be part of Democrats’ moderate wing.In an interview, he praised the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a political maverick whose seat he now holds and whose grave he visited Tuesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in nearby Annapolis, Maryland.He also voiced support for a push by bipartisan congressional moderates to pass a COVID-19 relief bill before Congress adjourns for the year. “I think something should happen now,” he said.Kelly was sworn into office by Vice-President Mike Pence, and both men wore masks and bumped arms in congratulations when the oath was over. Among those watching from the visitors’ gallery were his wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., and Scott Kelly, his twin brother and fellow retired astronaut.Kelly's Arizona colleague, Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, held the Bible on which he took his oath. In what may be a Senate first for such ceremonies, Sinema, known for dramatic fashion, wore a zebra-striped coat and had purple hair, or perhaps a wig.Kelly's Senate arrival marks a political milestone for Arizona, which has two Democratic senators for the first time since January 1953. That is when GOP Sen. Barry Goldwater took office, barely a decade before he became his party’s unsuccessful 1964 presidential candidate.In other evidence of Arizona's political shift, the state backed President-elect Joe Biden last month, the first time a Democratic presidential candidate carried it since 1996.McSally was appointed to her seat in 2019 to replace McCain. Her appointment lasted only until last month's special election was officially certified, which occurred this week. That cleared the way for Kelly to take office and fill the rest of McCain's six-year term, meaning Kelly will face reelection in 2022.Kelly was parachuting into a fractious lame-duck session in which lawmakers and President Donald Trump are so far deadlocked over whether to provide a pre-holiday COVID-19 relief package worth hundreds of billions of dollars. They’re also trying to address year-end budget work and a defence policy bill.In what was one of the country's most expensive Senate races, Kelly raised $89 million. That was second only to the $108 million collected by defeated South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.Republican Cory Gardner of Colorado and Democrat Doug Jones of Alabama were the only other Senate incumbents defeated last month.The son of two police officers, Kelly is a retired astronaut who flew four space missions, including spending time aboard the International Space Station. He was also a Navy pilot who flew combat missions during Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s.Giffords was grievously wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in which six people were killed and a dozen others hurt. She and Kelly became leading figures in unsuccessful efforts to pressure Congress to strengthen gun controls.“Great day, excellent day,” Giffords told reporters afterward.Kelly is the fourth astronaut to be elected to Congress. John Glenn was a Democratic senator from Ohio and Harrison Schmitt was a GOP senator from New Mexico. Republican Jack Swigert was elected to the House from Colorado, but died of cancer before taking office.___AP reporter Jonathan J. Cooper contributed from Phoenix, Arizona..Alan Fram, The Associated Press
There were fewer people present in person as the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board of education met on Monday. The first meeting with the new format came after the division procured some new technology, including Chromebooks and a microphone and camera system to insure a secure remote meeting format. “It worked well. I was quite nervous about how the technology would work but it seemed to be really effective. We will work on it and we will make it smoother, it wasn’t perfect yet,” director of education Robert Bratvold said. The room was cut in half from the setup they had previously used beginning in June. The board moved from the board room to the Seminar Room which made social distancing possible in the larger space. “It’s bigger than the board room for sure,” Bratvold said. He explained that a survey was being sent out on Tuesday to trustees to see if any changes needed to be made. “Last week we had it set in a way and we made some slight adjustments and changes, refinements to it. So it was slightly different today in terms of cameras, but process was a little better,” Bratvold said. He gave credit to the school division’s IT department for the work that they had done to prepare since the board’s last meeting on Nov. 16 in their new form. Trustees Bill Gerow, Arne Lindberg, Alan Nunn, Michelle Vickers, Bill Yeaman and vice chair Darlene Rowden were present. Board chair Barry Hollick, Cher Bloom and Jaimie Smith-Windsor attended the meeting remotely. The idea to create a method for remote meetings was discussed by the board earlier this year. As well, Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change trustees Kelly Lam and Emily Zbaraschuk, attended the meeting remotely. “We had all of the admin council just in their offices so we could have trustees closer. I mean they are still six feet apart but closer,” Bratvold said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
A recent ruling by the East Ferris Integrity Commissioner has left some residents wondering how much financial interest is required before a conflict must be declared. “What would make it significant?” asks Maggie Preston-Coles, referencing the findings of Integrity Commissioner David King last month. Preston-Coles asked King to investigate her allegation that the East Ferris Planning Advisory Committee chairman John O’Rourke should have declared a conflict on a subdivision application March 27, 2019. As King’s report notes, O’Rourke co-owns the Brownstone Kitchen and Bath in North Bay and does installations for the developer of the subdivision in question. The Brownstone lists the developer’s main business, Degagne Carpentry, as one of their “quality partners” and they are in a promotional photo together for a contest giveaway. King found that there was direct interest for O’Rourke but ruled that, because they are not in a financial partnership and Degagne’s customers can choose kitchen and baths from a variety of options, that it was “remote and insignificant.” King’s report noted that O’Rourke has been well involved in the community for three decades as a hockey coach, chairman of a parent-teachers’ association, and volunteer firefighter. “I have lived in East Ferris for over 30 years and would have to declare a conflict on approximately 85 per cent of all applications based on knowing the parties,” he said, as quoted by King in the report. “In fact, the whole committee would also have to declare based on this as well.” Preston-Coles, however, maintains that there’s a difference in knowing someone as a potential customer than actually doing past, present or future business with a residential subdivision developer. Related: East Ferris, LPAT testing teacher's patience Related: East Ferris planning chairman cleared of pecuniary interest allegations by integrity commissioner Related: Letter - East Ferris conducted robust public process in 25-lot subdivision development She said it’s surprising that King would agree there is a direct interest, a conflict, but then dismiss it as “insignificant, remote” without asking exactly how much business is transacted between them. Degagne’s Carpentry, she explains, has developed multiple subdivisions in East Ferris and has numerous individual residential lots listed for sale. King, she said, should have asked how many kitchens and bathrooms Brownstone has installed for Degagne over the years so it’s clear how much pecuniary interest he has or doesn’t have. Phil Koning, who has written several letters to council about public matters, has his own concerns about how East Ferris is handling the issue. Koning made his thoughts public by posting them on a Facebook page he created prior to the last municipal election in 2018, called Elected by You – East Ferris. He was reacting to a media release East Ferris circulated about news coverage about Preston-Coles’ fight against the subdivision and complaints to the Integrity Commissioner. “The municipal response to the report,” Koning wrote, “seemed to indicate the issue of conflict of interest for Mr. O’Rourke has been resolved. Unfortunately, I do not think that is the case.” Koning referenced negative feedback regarding development during a municipal survey in 2019. He said, “The only way to counter the growth of that attitude is to provide clear evidence of unbiased decisions and absence of any conflicts.” He said King’s report substantiated those concerns without quantifying the line municipal representatives must stay within. “This is where Mr. King’s report falls flat, in my view,” Koning wrote, “…it does nothing to dampen the controversy.” By stating that the pecuniary interest is “too remote or insignificant to influence behaviour,” Koning said King left a major question begging to be answered. “I would think the amount of business historically generated by the relationship would be a better indicator of its significance than the structure of it,” he said, referring to King’s assertion that it wasn’t a true partnership and not exclusive between them. Koning also felt King should have looked into the municipality’s boards and committee policy, developed by council, and not be limited by the Municipal Act. He said East Ferris advises members to declare a conflict to avoid the “appearance” of conflict, and it’s clear from King’s report that there was direct pecuniary interest. “There is no discussion of penalty in the policy, but certainly the fact that a municipality’s policy was not followed puts the entire process in jeopardy,” Koning said. The Integrity Commissioner’s report also noted that the planning advisory board doesn’t make final decisions only recommendations. He also said there’s no record of O’Rourke voting on the subdivision plan (a recorded vote wasn’t requested so the minutes don’t reflect who participated in the decision). Koning said the responsibility falls to council to ensure transparency and accountability for all its committees, agencies, boards, and commissions where East Ferris is represented. “Council members are the ones who should be seeking clarification of these apparent omissions in the Commissioner’s report since ultimately they will be held accountable,” he said. East Ferris Mayor Pauline Rochefort, through chief administrative officer/treasurer Jason Trottier, declined to comment when asked about the points raised by Preston-Coles and Koning. O’Rourke said he didn’t want to “stir the pot” by commenting and King didn’t respond to an email query sent Tuesday. Degagne Carpentry wasn’t asked for comment because nobody has alleged any wrong-doing or policy breach by the developer. King noted in his report that he still investigating Preston-Coles other complaint regarding the conduct of council. She said council had a duty to look into her concerns about O’Rourke’s business conflict when she raised it. And she said council and members of the municipal staff have made residents feel their presence and input unwelcome at the meetings. Preston-Coles has also approached the Ontario Ombudsman about the Integrity Commissioner’s investigation and report but feels it may not be worth her time and effort. She said the Ombudsman can only review the process King followed and not his ruling. Preston-Coles said she has enough on her plate preparing for a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal hearing she requested over council’s approval of the 25-lot subdivision plan. LPAT rescinded its acceptance of changes to her application this summer and recently asked East Ferris to put forward a motion to dismiss it entirely. Meanwhile, Preston-Coles is awaiting word about her complaint about lack of communication from the LPAT staffer assigned to her case, which is supposed to come before Friday. 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
Indigenous Services Canada says the government will be unable to meet its goal to lift all boil-water advisories in First Nations communities by March 2021, as promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He says the COVID-19 pandemic posed new challenges but also that First Nations communities need resources, not an Ottawa-imposed deadline.
Great Enlightenment Buddist Institute Monks at the campus in Heatherdale received more requests for food box donations this month than ever before. “They really pulled through,” said Venerable Dan about the group of monks who spearheaded the project. Enough funds were raised to offer 332 food boxes compared to the usual 200. Venerable Dan said the monks were unsure if they would be able to roll out so many boxes, each filled with 10 of their signature puffy rolls, an assortment of dried goods and organic vegetables. To raise funds they got creative. On top of fresh baked buns, they sold homemade apple sauce and eloquently decorated pen holders to support the initiative. In the end the group was able to bake about 1,000 extra fresh rolls and provide a full box to each Islander who requested one. Venerable Dan noticed more people seemed to reach out this year because they were impacted by the pandemic. He also saw more young people and single families requesting food boxes. The monks have been donating and delivering food boxes for about two years now. They try to offer food boxes every one or two months through the winter as Islanders seem to struggle a bit more this time of year. Venerable Dan said the group is looking to offer more food boxes this December. Anyone looking to request a box should fill out an application which will be posted on the Facebook page ‘About Monks’ in December. Venerable Dan said, after delivering so many this month, some additional funds or donations will be needed to support the December deliveries. The monks were unsure if they would be able to go ahead with the project at all this year as they have, for the most part, been in a form of lockdown following strict policies to mitigate possible spread of COVID-19 within their residences. Thanks to about 40 local volunteers they were able to organize the initiative without breaking their contact and isolation policies. Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the priority list for the first COVID-19 vaccines is being refined because there won't be enough doses available in the first round to cover the initial groups recommended.