Several European countries have instituted a second round of COVID-19 lockdowns after surges in cases, and experts say Canada may need to look at how places elsewhere in the world have handled outbreaks to avoid a similar fate.
Several European countries have instituted a second round of COVID-19 lockdowns after surges in cases, and experts say Canada may need to look at how places elsewhere in the world have handled outbreaks to avoid a similar fate.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
The province is hoping a new web page will make it easier for people to buy and ship Island seafood products locally and across Canada. Staff with the Department of Fisheries and Communities have consolidated product and ordering information for companies that sell goods such as lobster, mussels and oysters. Jamie Fox, the minister of fisheries and communities, said having the information all in one place makes the transaction simpler for potential customers. He said about 10 companies are involved so far, which have links on the site princeedwardislandseafood.com."If you want to buy seafood, you better go on to that page and then you'll get to bring up that company and connect immediately to their store virtually or their company and have products shipped for you fresh, in market."Fox said he hopes it will be used locally and also offer access to a taste of home for those who can't get back to the Island because of the pandemic.More from CBC P.E.I.
Students across Alberta started learning from home again Monday and will continue to do so until Jan. 11. In an attempt to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the province forced all students in Grades 7-12 to go back to at-home learning. All students will go on winter break on Dec. 18. In January, in-person classes will resume on Jan. 11 after a week of online learning to begin the New Year. Grade 8 St. Mary’s student Bethany Taylor says online learning is naturally different than in-class learning, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. “I’m still able to communicate with my friends and have a good time,” she said. “Learning online is good for me and I’m able to learn new things and communicate with everyone I need to.” When schools shifted online in March, they did not have much time to plan for the online aspect of learning. Taylor says things seem more structured this time around. “We have to be at a specific meeting at a specific time,” she said. “We have a schedule every day and it’s pretty similar to a normal day at school.” Alexandra Middle School student Rowan Hughson says online learning has its ups and downs. “It’s alright learning online and I don’t mind being at home,” Hughson said. “It’s just confusing sometimes trying to figure out what is going on. “I really like being around other people, so that is really hard at times, too.” The Grade 9 student says things seem much smoother this time around. “This seems much better than the emergency learning we had in March,” Hughson said. “I think they’ve had a lot more time to plan this time around and to listen to feedback from parents and students.” Jackson Harnett is a Grade 8 student at Notre Dame says online learning is a good experience. “I actually do like it – it’s really good,” he said. “I like that you get to work at your own pace and there aren’t as many distractions this way.” Harnett agrees that things are going better this time. “Everyone is showing up to class,” he said. “Things seem a lot more organized.”Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
Statistics from Public Health Ontario (PHO) show the opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are significantly higher than the numbers being reported by Toronto Public Health and some other Southern Ontario locations. For comparison purposes, statistics were compiled in quarterly segments from the end of March 2019, through to the end March of 2020, which was the one-year time period with the latest available information on Emergency Room visits, hospitalizations and opioids-related deaths. In the first quarter of this year, just in the Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) jurisdiction, the rate of opioid deaths was listed at 41.9 per 100,000 population, an increase of 16.7 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 200,424 within the jurisdiction of the Sudbury health unit, which includes the City of Greater Sudbury and several surrounding smaller communities, such as Espanola, Chapleau and on Manitoulin Island. Public Health Ontario said this accounts for 21 deaths in the first three months of this year for the PHSD service area. The Sudbury health unit's own opioid surveillance program reports that from January 2020 to June 2020, opioids have claimed 44 lives. The Sudbury health unit jurisdiction, in the first three months of this year, also had an opioid death rate more than three times higher than the national rate in Canada, which is 12.1 deaths per 100,000 residents. By comparison, for the Toronto Public Health area, the rate of opioid deaths was 11.4 per 100,000 population. It is an increase of 8.6 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 3,090,377. The rate for the last three months of 2019 was 10.5 per 100,000. For the third quarter, the rate was lower at 6.1 deaths per 100,000. The second quarter of 2019 in Toronto, the death rate was 10.5 and in the first quarter the death rate was 11.2 deaths per 100,000. The lower rate was evident in other parts of Southern Ontario. In the jurisdiction of Ottawa Public Health, the rate of opioid deaths was lower at 7.7 per 100,000, the first three months of this year. This was for a population of slightly more than one million. In the Peel region, Peel Public Health reported an even lower fatality rate of 7.6 per 100,000 residents, for a population listed at more than 1.5 million. In the Windsor - Essex County Health Unit, the opioid fatality rate was 15.2 per 100,000 based on a population of roughly 420,000. In the Niagara Public Health Region, the death rate in the first three months this year was reported at 23.1 per 100,000 population for a region of more than 468,000 residents. Back to Northern Ontario, the rates were far higher in general. The Porcupine Health Unit, representing Timmins and several other smaller northern towns, also has a high rate of opioid deaths according to the PHO stats. For the first three months of this year, the death rate attributed to opioids was 32.8 per 100,000 population, three times the Toronto rate. This was for a population of 85,273. Figures for the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) for the first quarter of this year revealed a mortality rate of 28.5 per 100,000 population. This was for a population of nearly 155,000 in the TBDHU jurisdiction. For the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit it was revealed that the rate of opioid deaths was 18.6 per 100,000 population. This was for a region of more than 129,000 residents. The Timiskaming Health Unit, which includes such communities as Kirkland Lake and Temiskaming Shores, the rate was 12.1 per 100,000 for a jurisdiction with a population of more than 33,000 residents. Four deaths occurred in that jurisdiction between March 2019 and March 2020. Further west in the jurisdiction of the Northwestern Health Unit, for communities such as Kenora, Red Lake and Dryden, the mortality rate for the first three months of this year was 9.8 per 100,000, a couple of points lower than Toronto. This was for a population just short of 82,000. A full report on the patterns of opioid-related deaths in Ontario during 2020 the pandemic may be causing some unintended consequences. "In June 2020, Ontario’s Chief Coroner announced a 25 per cent increase in suspected drug-related deaths between March and May 2020, compared to the monthly median reported in 2019. Similar trends have been reported elsewhere in Canada," said the report. "It is expected that this increase in drug-related deaths is being driven by a combination of numerous factors, including an increasingly toxic unregulated (‘street’) drug supply, barriers to access to harm reduction services and treatment, and physical distancing requirements leading to more people using drugs alone."Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Premier Blaine Higgs says he likes the idea of using daylight time year-round and will adopt it if the other Maritime provinces go along. Higgs was responding to Liberal Opposition Leader Roger Melanson, who suggested the idea in a news release Tuesday morning.Ontario has passed legislation to make the change if Quebec and New York State agree to do it."I think it's a golden opportunity for us to do the same thing," Higgs said in an interview. "There are pros and cons of course, but I think stability in this — going to one time zone, a daylight savings time area — would be appropriate."Higgs said he wouldn't proceed until Ontario and Quebec do, and even then it would be contingent on the two other Maritime provinces also going along with it."It would be part of a redefined Atlantic bubble," the premier joked. Higgs said legislation could come in the current session of the legislature."It is something worth considering and worth moving on, actually," he said. "I see no reason not to." Melanson said the idea is catching on quickly, and "we've got to make a decision if we want to be early on with this trend or on the tail end of this trend." Under Melanson's proposal, New Brunswickers would move their clocks ahead by an hour next March and then leave them there, rather than moving them back again next fall.He said there's ample evidence the current twice-a-year change, particularly the "loss" of an hour in the fall, can affect people's health. "When you have to drink an extra coffee when the time changes, it means there's something happening to people's minds and certainly bodies," he says. Strong support in N.B.A recent poll by Halifax-based Narrative Research and the Logit Group found 91 per cent of New Brunswick respondents would support the change, the highest of any province in Canada. But at least one Fredericton parent says the change would be a bad idea that would force young children to walk to school or catch the bus in the dark for a good part of the school year.Rob Hoadley said the city's location in the western part of the Atlantic time zone would see the sun rising around 9 a.m. in the depth of winter.Hoadley has two elementary-school-age children and a third who will soon be school age."We would see almost pitch darkness at this time of year, at that time, when the kids are showing up" at school.Whether they walk to school or catch the bus, he said, "I think that has safety concerns for the kids."The gain of an extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day in winter isn't enough to outweigh that, Hoadley said."Having it set at 6 p.m. doesn't really accomplish anything for me." Asked about more kids walking to school in the dark for a longer part of the winter, Melanson said, "we need to look at the benefits of this and see if it outweighs the inconvenience."There'll be an adjustment, but there'll be an adjustment once. Now we have to have an adjustment twice a year."Melanson said he'd like to see the other Maritime provinces sign on "so we could hopefully do this in a synchronized fashion," but said New Brunswick's decision shouldn't be contingent on a regional agreement.
The daughter of Jennifer Hillier-Penney, the St. Anthony woman who disappeared without a trace four years ago, isn't giving up her fight for justice even as time passes with little closure or a breakthrough in the RCMP investigation. Hillier-Penney was last seen Nov. 30, 2016, at her estranged husband's home, where she spent the night to look after the younger of the couple's two daughters. That teenager woke the next morning to find her mother gone, but personal items like her coat, keys and passport all left behind.On Monday, the fourth anniversary of her mother's disappearance, the couple's eldest daughter, Marina Penney, posted a scathing message on Facebook, writing openly of her and her family's hurt and lashing out at police as well as a person Penney doesn't name but who she believes killed her mother."I'm angry and I'm tired. I'm tired, and we are just full of rage," Penney told CBC News in an interview Monday"Nobody thought this would go on this long."RCMP labelled Hillier-Penney's disappearance as suspicious early on in the case. Documents show police believe she was kidnapped and killed, but no suspects have ever been named.Frustration with policePenney won't put a name to her suspicions of who may have killed her mother, fearing legal repercussions, and says she and her family have kept quiet in efforts to co-operate with the police. "There's a lot of stuff that we do know, that we have been silent about, because ultimately we know that we gotta put a lot of pressure on police to ensure they're doing everything that they can," she said.> I can beg and plead all I want, but I don't think her killer is gonna come clean. \- Marina PenneyBut co-operation has turned to frustration, and Penney said she has in the past dropped out of contact with police. She and her family did meet with officers in August, she said, and was told there would be more legwork done in St. Anthony that she says never happened.Penney says her family is approaching a breaking point."How long do they expect us to be silent when we don't see progress?" she said."There's going to come a time when we are going to tell the world everything we know, without fear of being sued. Because this is what's happening, we're being pushed to our breaking points, and I'm not prepared to go longer without these answers."One family member is not included in these sentiments. Penney said it has been 2½ years since she last spoke to her father, Dean Penney. Hillier-Penney took her estranged husband off her life insurance policy two weeks before she vanished, and friends of hers told CBC's The Fifth Estate in 2018 she feared him.Reluctance to come forwardIn a statement, RCMP said the Hillier-Penney case remains "an active investigation and a priority," although it wouldn't elaborate further in order to protect "the integrity of the investigation."Police also reiterated to CBC News what it has said in the past — that the RCMP "continues to feel there are people who may have information relevant to the investigate who have not come forward."That doesn't come as a surprise to Hillier-Penney's daughter."The people in the town who might know things, aside from the guilty, are living in fear because they know now how easy it is for someone to get away with murder," Penney said.From the beginning, Penney said, police didn't take the case seriously or link it to a possible homicide soon enough."It was neglect. There were mistakes made," she said.In her Facebook post, Penney wrote blisteringly about the person she thinks killed her mom: "I hope one day you're capable of feeling an ounce of guilt and remorse, and I hope that ounce grows. I hope it grows so big it eats you alive."Penney said she realizes that as strong as her feelings may be, they may be futile — but continues to hope the police investigation, entering its fifth year, may finally yield some answers."I can beg and plead all I want, but I don't think her killer is gonna come clean. But I need the cops to do something. They need to do something," she said.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
TORONTO — The Oscar-nominated Canadian star of the film "Juno" has come out as transgender.The Halifax-raised Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, made the announcement in a powerful post on social media.The star of the Toronto-shot Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy" says his preferred pronouns are he/they.Page's letter thanks those who have supported him along the journey, and addresses the trauma trans people face from discrimination, hateful acts, and a lack of rights.He says it feels remarkable "to finally love" who he is enough to pursue his "authentic self."And he's been "endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community.""Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society," Page said in Tuesday's post."I also ask for patience. My joy is real, but it is also fragile. The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I'm scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the 'jokes' and of violence." Page said he's not trying to "dampen a moment that is joyous" but wants to address the full picture. "The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences," Page wrote."In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women. To the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all of those with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community: you have blood on your hands."Page concluded the post by saying he loves that he is trans and queer."And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive."Page got an Oscar nomination for playing a pregnant teen in 2007's "Juno," and two Emmy nominations for his reality series "Gaycation," which explores LGBTQ experiences around the world.Page often uses his platform to speak out against injustices and amplify underrepresented voices.In his documentary "There's Something in the Water," which hit Netflix in March, he shines a light on marginalized groups in Nova Scotia affected by what's known as environmental racism.Netflix said Tuesday it was in the process of updating all of the titles the performer and producer is involved with on its service to credit Elliot Page.The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD praised Page for delivering "fantastic characters on-screen" and being "an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people.""Elliot will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. We celebrate him. All trans people deserve to be accepted," said a tweet from GLAAD, which also issued a tip sheet for journalists covering Page's story, to help them write it in a respectful and accurate way. Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, thanked Page for sharing his truth and "shining a bright light on the challenges too many in our community face.""We are proud of you, and we love you. And we will never stop fighting alongside you for change," David posted on Twitter.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
Albertans must begin preparing themselves for a non-traditional Christmas with smaller gatherings, says the province's chief medical officer of health."With the calendar flipping to December today, I know many people across the province are starting to plan for the holiday season," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday at a news conference. "It's been a long, hard year, and I know how important these holidays are to Albertans. But in a year that is anything but typical, how we celebrate won't be typical either." The province reported 10 more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday and 1,307 new cases of the illness.The total number of active cases was 16,628, an increase of 174 from the day before."We don't yet know exactly what restrictions will be in place during the last week of December," Hinshaw said. "Cabinet will make those decisions later on this month.'Celebrate safely'Previous holidays have already led to increases in cases and outbreaks, she said, using Thanksgiving gatherings as an example of accelerated spread."Right now, I am encouraging Albertans to begin preparing for a much different holiday season, and to start thinking of creative ways to celebrate safely," Hinshaw said."This is not going to be the year for in-person office parties. This is not going to be the year for open houses or large dinners with friends and extended family. If you are making holiday plans, it is best to assume that you will still be limiting contact with anyone outside your household as much as possible, and that any large get-togethers will likely need to be virtual."This will be the year for getting together remotely, or having small outdoor activities where everyone can keep their distance. Celebrating virtually, or with members of your own household, pose the lowest risk for spread."WATCH l Dr. Hinshaw says Albertans should prepare to gather remotely during the holidaysHinshaw said the options people might have for the upcoming holidays will depend on what everyone does in the coming days."The actions we take now and over the coming weeks will determine how the virus is spreading when the holidays arrive," she said. "We all have the power to collectively bend the curve, and it will take all of us to do so."Here is the regional breakdown of the province's active cases: * Edmonton zone with 7,552 cases. * Calgary zone with 6,162 cases. * Central zone with 1,249 cases. * North zone with 895 cases. * South zone with 672 cases. * Unknown 98 cases.The turning of the calendar brought to a close the worst month of the pandemic in Alberta, so far.On Nov. 1, there were 6,002 active cases of COVID-19 in the province.By end of day on Nov. 30, the total was 2.7 times higher, with 16,628 cases.On Nov. 1, the province added 610 new cases.On Nov. 30, that number was 2.14 times higher, with 1,307 new cases added.On Nov. 1, Alberta hospitals were treating 143 patients for the illness, including 28 in intensive-care beds.Since that, hospitalizations have more than tripled. On Nov. 30, a total of 479 patients were in hospital, including 97 in ICU beds.By Nov. 1, 327 people in Alberta had died from COVID-19. By Nov. 30, another 224 lives had been added to the toll, bringing the total to 551.The 10 people whose deaths were reported on Tuesday were: * Two men in their 90s and one in his 80s linked to the outbreak at the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre. * A man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at St. Thomas Health Centre in the Edmonton zone. * A woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak at Kainai Continuing Care Centre in the South zone. * A man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at Capital Care Lynnwood in the Edmonton zone. * A woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital in the Edmonton zone. * Two men their 70s linked to the outbreak at Clifton Manor in the Calgary zone. * A woman in her 80s in the Edmonton zone.
MONTREAL — Ottawa's plan to provide aid for the struggling tourism sector was greeted with relief Tuesday, while Canada's airlines awaited word on support for their industry.The Liberal government on Monday announced the rollout of a new program, called the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program, that would provide low-interest loans to struggling businesses in the tourism, hotel and other sectors. The government also announced that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would return to its original rate of 75 per cent.“The [hotel] industry was at a breaking point, and there were some very important measures in the Fall Economic Statement yesterday that will provide a deeper level of support for this industry,” said Susie Grynol, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada.“These programs, assuming they can get rolled out quick enough, will clot some of that bleeding.”Grynol said Ottawa’s measures show that the government had listened to the industry, which is among the hardest-hit by the pandemic’s economic toll. Still, she cautioned that the sector will need more targeted aid down the line, particularly after March, when Ottawa’s increase to the wage subsidy expires.Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council, called the government’s announcement a good first step but said it doesn’t go far enough in addressing airports’ financial situation. Canada’s airports, which rely on fees from airlines and revenue from passenger expenditures inside the terminals, have had to cut expenses and lay off staff as the pandemic drastically reduces traffic.The government’s plan included specific measures for airports, such as rent relief and increased funding for security and capital expenditures like runways. Still, the rent relief measures are limited in scope and some of the industry’s key asks are still missing from the government’s recovery plan, Gooch said.“What we do still want to see is what the federal government’s plans are on [COVID] testing at airports,” Gooch said, adding that having a testing program in place will be critical for the industry if it is to take advantage of an anticipated recovery in demand for travel next summer. Ottawa said it would support regional travel with $206 million through a new initiative overseen by regional development agencies, but was vague about the details of the plan. Absent from the government’s announcement was any help for Canada’s major airlines, which are still struggling amid lack of demand for travel.On Monday, the National Airlines Council of Canada, an industry group that represents the largest airlines, called on the federal government to move quickly in developing a targeted aid package for the companies and to roll out measures like rapid COVID testing at airports that would increase demand for travel.“While other countries around the world moved forward months ago to provide sectoral support for airlines, Canada remains a global outlier and is ostensibly stuck at stage zero on the government planning process,” the group said in a statement.In an interview, Mike McNany, the president and chief executive of the NACC, said he was unsure what was behind the government’s delay, adding that the industry was clear in its communications with Ottawa about what forms of aid it needed.The government hasn’t offered the industry any timeline for distributing aid, he said. A spokeswoman for the federal minister of transport said last week that progress on targeted aid for airlines was ongoing and that it was a top priority.This report by The Canadian Press was first published December 1, 2020.Jon Victor, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Canada's decision to block American imports of certain prescription drugs from north of the border is getting stony silence from the Trump administration — a sign, one expert says, that the U.S. proposal is "dead in the water."The measure, first floated by Donald Trump a year ago as a strategy to help reduce America's staggering drug costs, took effect Monday after the president signed a pre-election executive order in September. On Saturday, however, Health Minister Patty Hajdu parried the effort with just days to spare, prohibiting bulk drug exports if they pose a risk of creating or worsening drug shortages in the Canadian market. The White House referred questions about the new limits to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which has yet to respond to repeated media queries about where Canada's move leaves Trump's plan.That plan was "a desperate act by desperate people at a desperate time," said Dr. Allen Zagoren, a policy administration professor at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Canada represents only two per cent of global drug sales, and gets 68 per cent of its drugs from outside the country, Health Canada said in a news release announcing the export prohibitions. The U.S. market, on the other hand, comprises 44 per cent of pharmaceutical sales around the world. Buying drugs in Canada "was never realistic, ever," Zagoren said. "Even if Canada said, 'Sure,' there's no way — Canada doesn't have enough drugs. But it allowed them to make a promise. And then they could argue, 'Well, Canada won't let us. So it's them, not us.'"Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., said the two countries have been discussing the issue of drug imports for more than a year. In those meetings, Canada has made it clear that given the relatively tiny size of the Canadian market, bulk imports from north of the border simply wouldn’t have the desired effect."We've been saying to them all along: one, we sympathize with your policy concern; two, buying bulk drugs from Canada isn't the solution to your policy concern; and three, above all else, we will always protect the supply of drugs to Canadians," Hillman said.Canada's response is not a blanket export ban, but a "narrow and tailored" measure that applies only to those drugs meant for domestic consumption that are already in short supply or at risk at becoming scarce, she added. Zagoren, who called Trump's proposal "dead in the water," said its failure could prove useful for president-elect Joe Biden's own efforts to address drug costs once he takes over the White House in January. Biden has promised to reduce drug costs, including through imports, and to give the U.S. government insurance program known as Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices — a plan that has the blessing of congressional Democrats. The fact that Trump's proposed solution has failed could provide Biden with helpful leverage in discussions with the all-powerful pharmaceutical industry, which has spent aggressively in its lobbying efforts to head off pricing reforms. "I think it helps the Biden administration, because it sets the stage. The Canadian argument signals to the Biden administration, 'Don't come here for this.' But Biden being the internationalist he is, and a very good friend of Canada, that's not going to happen in the Biden administration anyway." Biden has also promised to expand health insurance coverage to include more Americans, a move that has the potential to broaden the existing U.S. drug market. Much will depend on the outcome of a pair of Senate run-off elections next month in Georgia, where Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock are seeking to unseat Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Should they both succeed, the 100-seat Senate will find itself in an even 50-50 split, giving the tiebreaking vote to Biden's vice-president, Kamala Harris. "It really hinges on the Georgia election as to how far the U.S. government will go with regard to drug prices, and especially on Medicare," Zagoren said. "There'll be a lot of negotiation in the backrooms with regard to pharmaceutical prices going forward. I do think there's going to be an attempt to bring them down, but I don't think it will be on the backs of the Canadians."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
A fourth route for the Town of Orangeville’s transit system will be delayed thanks to a decision to nix the transfer hub plans on Broadway. The route was set to be established in order to serve an area of town that currently does not have transit service. “(It’s) so frustrating,” Coun. Todd Taylor told the Orangeville Banner. “We are losing precious time to serve all of our community.” He added that Veteran’s Way and the west end of town are two examples. “We currently have entire neighbourhoods not served by transit,” said Taylor. The fourth route would allow the transit service to operate on a four-quad system. Each quad would serve a different area of the town and meet with the rest at a central location, allowing riders to transfer to reach their destination. Council reversed their decision on the Broadway hub in a 4-3 vote on Nov. 23, after hearing numerous concerns from businesses in the downtown core and the BIA. Taylor, along with Councillors Lisa Post and Grant Peters, felt that sufficient work had been completed to prove the safety and benefits of a Broadway transfer point, which would have been located between First and John Street. Instead, several members of council would like to see staff investigate the possibility of using the Edelbrock Centre, an idea which was favoured until more recently. “I am disappointed in the decision,” said Taylor. “The Edelbrock site will cost over $300k to implement, while downtown was minimal.” Until council settles on a location, any work on the transit project, which includes the fourth route, has been put on hold. Taylor added that part of the reasoning behind a centralized station is to improve challenges deterring ridership, such as reliability and access to certain parts of town. “Our buses are underutilized today; this is a fact,” said Taylor. “Why would anyone want to ride a bus that is frequently late and does not get you close to a desired location?” Council is scheduled to vote on a motion to revisit the idea of using the Edelbrock Centre at its Dec. 14 meeting.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
Alberta's streak of mild weather is expected to stretch into at least the first few weeks of December, but Environment Canada says the province is in for a colder than normal winter come the new year.The agency's long-range forecast for winter in Western Canada predicts the overall average temperature will be a bit above normal, but that's because it's expected to stay warm in December before a cooler, more seasonal pattern takes over for January and February, says Dan Kulak, a meteorologist with Environment Canada."We are expecting a La Niña this winter to be affecting the weather across Western Canada, which does typically bring the colder and snowier winter, especially after the new year, to the Prairie provinces," he said. La Niña is the opposite of El Niño, which is characterized by warm waters in the tropical Pacific. La Niña is associated with unusually cool ocean temperatures.Kulak said La Niña affects the jet stream, bringing about a greater prevalence of colder air across Western Canada.And while every La Niña season differs, not surprisingly, the farther north you are, the colder it's going to be."In that respect, probably Edmonton will have more cold and Calgary will have more spells of warmer weather with the warm westerlies breaking through, than would the central part of the province."'We might have more periods of snow for Calgary, but overall, it probably will be warmer than Edmonton." Kulak says there's a good chance, at least, that the warm spell will let up in time for there to be some snow on the ground for the holidays."On average, I would suggest that you should expect a white Christmas in southern Alberta," he said.
The emergency department at Fishermen's Memorial Hospital in Lunenburg, N.S., will begin using a new protocol next week whenever the site hits overcapacity near closing time.Under the protocol, which comes into effect Monday, priority will go to the most emergent or urgent health issues. Anyone else will be offered options, including coming back when the department reopens, going to the nearest open emergency department in Bridgewater, or waiting to see a primary-care provider the next day."Safety is our priority. Fishermen's emergency is supposed to close at 10:30 p.m. Our doctors and nurses are frequently working into the wee hours to see patients, and that makes it difficult for them to do their work safely and efficiently," said Dr. John Jenkins, the emergency department's physician leader."This becomes even more problematic when those same nurses and physicians are scheduled to work in the emergency department or a family practice office the next day. We need to prevent burnout."The protocol will be triggered if the number of patients triaged, but not seen, is greater than the number of patients who could be seen before the emergency department shuts its doors for the night.Jenkins said more and more patients have been arriving at the site close to closing time in recent months."I think people had been holding back coming to [the emergency department] during the lockdown and people with chronic conditions got worse," Jenkins said."Many of them were very ill people who just waited a long time to come in because they were fearful of getting COVID."A trickle of additional patients soon "became a flood," said Jenkins, as people became more comfortable going to the hospital during the pandemic.With nurses and doctors often following an evening shift with a day shift, it became an issue of safety."When you're basically awake until almost when the next shift starts, it starts to present some problems with fatigue and burnout or people start to cut back on their shifts," he said.The late-night deluge of visitors to the emergency department has been less of a problem recently and Jenkins said the hope is the new protocol won't have to be triggered very often. It follows similar models to what's used at hospitals in Lower Sackville, Glace Bay and North Sydney.The changes were developed after consultation with clinical leaders, staff, and doctors who provide coverage at the hospital's emergency department.MORE TOP STORIES
Au moment de prendre sa retraite en 2008, Marien Landry, qui travaillait dans le domaine de la métallurgie, songeait à faire du bénévolat dans un pays en voie de développement. Jamais ce Verchèrois n’aurait pu imaginer à quel point son projet allait prendre une telle importance dans sa vie. « J’avais toujours pensé que l’aide humanitaire, c’était pour les docteurs, les infirmières, admet le fondateur de Projet Guatemala qui a gardé, de sa jeunesse, le chaleureux accent des Îles de la Madeleine. J’ai commencé par travailler sur une école au Guatemala. Je croyais qu’une fois construite, ce serait terminé. Finalement, ç’a continué et, à ce jour, nous en avons construit vingt! » Loin de vouloir mettre un frein à ses activités qui le retiennent d’ordinaire en Amérique centrale durant la moitié de l’année, Marien s’est attaqué à d’autres projets humanitaires lors de ses derniers voyages, incluant la construction d'une clinique médicale. « Je pense que j’ai trop de projets pour mon âge, s’amuse le retraité. Je suis vraiment tombé en amour avec les gens du Guatemala, avec les enfants. Plusieurs d’entre eux ont la trisomie 21. Je me suis attaché à eux, et eux se sont attachés à moi. C’est comme ma seconde famille. » S’il croyait retourner au Guatemala en janvier, la pandémie a, comme on peut s’y attendre, mis du sable dans l’engrenage. Si bien qu’il doit aujourd’hui suivre les travaux à distance et amasser des fonds pour financer le projet, sans savoir à quel moment il pourra y remettre les pieds. « Je suis fébrile d’y retourner, avoue Marien Landry. Avant de quitter en mars, j’ai estimé qu’il fallait 9 000 $ pour terminer les travaux. Et puis, je suis aussi parrain là-bas d’une association qui aide les enfants handicapés. C’est quelque chose qui me tient à cœur. On a depuis quelques années des médecins qui viennent gratuitement pour les soigner, redresser leurs pieds. Un physiothérapeute aussi. » C’est d’ailleurs afin de permettre à d’autres médecins de venir s’occuper des enfants que fut mis en branle le projet de clinique qui occupe actuellement les pensées du Montérégien. En attendant son retour dans son pays d’adoption, Marien continue d’amasser des biens qu’il peut envoyer par conteneur en Amérique latine. Une première cargaison a pris la route au cours des dernières semaines et une seconde pourrait bientôt suivre. Mais au-delà des marchandises, sa plus importante quête demeure la collecte de fonds qui pourrait lui permettre de terminer l’important projet qu’il a entrepris. « C’est la raison pour laquelle je travaille ici, sans salaire. J’amasse des heures et, plutôt que de me payer, ceux qui m'emploient remettent de l’argent à l’organisme. » Si M. Landry admet qu’il est difficile de laisser ses parents, toujours vivants, derrière lui quand il part pour de longs séjours, le sentiment de venir en aide à ces enfants lui rappelle pourquoi il s’est engagé. « Quand je quitte le Guatemala, j’ai les larmes aux yeux, admet-il. Ma philosophie, c’est que l’éducation est la base de tout. Ce qui est triste au Guatemala, c’est qu’il n’y a pas d’ouvrage et ceux qui travaillent ont des salaires de crève-faim. Si tu ne veux pas travailler pour 10 $ par jour, il y a une file de personnes qui attendent pour te remplacer. Ils se font exploiter. S’ils ont une instruction, peut-être qu’ils vont décider un jour de faire rentrer un syndicat. J’ai espoir qu’ils s’en sortent, mais ça n’est pas évident. » Pour obtenir plus d’information ou faire un don, visite le site marienlandry.com Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it's not clear what can be done.
A group of B.C. parents is pulling their kids from school for the day on Tuesday to protest the province's back-to-school plan, despite the provincial health officer pointing to low rates of COVID-19 transmission in schools.Parents behind the "BC Student Sick Out" campaign, which has more than 2,500 members on Facebook, say they want classes capped at 15 students, more online learning options and masks mandated in schools. Co-organizer Tara Kurtz, whose two kids are students in the Langley School District, said the event is in support of teachers who don't have the same protection as in other workplaces."Dr. Bonnie Henry likes to push the Swiss cheese model," Kurtz said.That model entails physical distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, minimizing interaction and making spaces safe. "But the only layer of protection being given to schools is to wash your hands. And then we're hearing about districts that are short on funds now for paper towels, for soap."In a statement, the B.C. Ministry of Education said it has earmarked $290 million to buy cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment and hire more staff where needed. Schools have also segmented students and teachers into learning groups to reduce interaction (60 students for elementary and middle schools and 120 students for secondary schools).Middle and secondary school students must wear masks in busy areas, such as hallways and school buses but aren't required to wear them in class.Many exposures, little transmissionProvincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reiterated Monday there has been very little transmission in schools."We've had many exposure events, but they have very rarely resulted in transmission, particularly from children to anyone," she said.A school exposure is when a single person is confirmed positive for COVID-19 and has been in the school during their infectious period. An outbreak in a school setting is when there is ongoing transmission, and public health officials are not clear on the source of the transmission.There have been many exposure events but only a few outbreaks in schools so far.When asked about the protest, Henry said, "I think the parent voices are very important to ensure that's what happening in their school community meets the needs of parents and children."Parents, however, have denounced the province's lack of transparency around cases and school exposures. Some have launched a Facebook page to track exposures in B.C. schools, with more than 1,000 exposures recorded to date.Stephen Hoption Cann, an epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia, said it's normal for parents to be concerned, but cautioned against misinformation on social media. "Government sources are a source of information that's accurate and kept up to date," he said. "If you're depending on social media for your information, there is the possibility of giving inaccurate or slated information, which may not be helpful."It's not clear how many students were pulled from class Tuesday. Several dozen parents on the Facebook page reported keeping their kids at home. Jennifer Beaton, a mother of four school-aged kids in the Langley School District, said she chose not to take part. She disagrees with a mask mandate in schools and says wearing them is difficult for two of her kids, who have autism. "They have to wear it outside their cohort, and to me, that makes more sense than having to wear it all the time," she said. However, Kurtz, the protest co-organizer, said parents simply want safety measures bolstered in schools for teachers."They went to school to become educators," she said. "They did not sign up to put their lives on the line in a pandemic."
Last week, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his top cabinet picks, and selected Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Melanie Mark as the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. Mark holds the distinction of being the first First Nations woman to serve in the B.C. Legislature. She was elected to the riding in 2016 and previously served as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, before being given this new assignment. Mark’s appointment was heralded by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA). “We look forward to working closely with Melanie Mark, the new Minister of Tourism, Arts Culture and Sport to tackle the significant challenges facing the industry, and ultimately moving the sector down the path to economic recovery,” said TOTA President and chief executive officer Glenn Mandziuk. Mandziuk is currently serving as the chair of the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat. The organization is a collaboration between the province’s regional destination management organizations and is giving key input on the province’s tourism recovery plan. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
Nothing about us, without us: the idea that no policy should be decided, by any representative, without the full and direct participation of those affected by that policy. It’s the main issue that Lisa Long has with the Downtown Task Team, a group hand-picked by Mayor Brian Bigger to tackle the myriad social challenges, from drugs and crime to homelessness, facing the city’s downtown core. The task team has been criticized by some social services organizations for excluding groups that actually work with the homeless. “I believe representation from our vulnerable populations should also be made available,” said Long. “The ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’ philosophy that emphasizes people, our vulnerable population, being valued as integral and essential contributors. “It seems fitting, as the (Downtown) BIA has a seat.” If there is representation on the mayor’s team from the business community, Long wonders why the same courtesy hasn’t been extended to organizations that actually work with vulnerable and marginalized downtown populations. Long is the executive director of The Samaritan Centre and, together with partner agencies the Blue Door Soup Kitchen and the Elgin Street Mission, works with individuals facing multiple social barriers including homelessness, food insecurity, poverty, mental health and addictions, in downtown Sudbury. She, like other downtown community service groups, were not invited to be a part of the mayor’s task team. She first heard of its creation in October from Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc. “He asked me why I wasn’t on it,” she said. Long said not only does she want to ensure a more equitable perspective on the team, one that “represents those who call the downtown core their home,” but that the Samaritan Centre would offer valuable insight. “These are our neighbours,” she said. “This is our neighbourhood.” Prior to the pandemic, The Samaritan Centre would receive a daily average of 300-400 people. The pandemic hasn’t changed that. Though they have been forced to change their methods, the Samaritan Centre still offers meal services, showers, laundry and other grooming opportunities, as well as a weekly nurse practitioner clinic – all with COVID-19 restrictions in place. Additionally, Long said that while maintaining all safety protocols, she is consistently interacting with clients who are waiting for services, as well as moving through the downtown to check in and distribute items like granola bars, vitamins, socks, and winter wear. “I have regular, direct contact with the individuals we serve through the Samaritan Centre, and I’m aware of their needs, challenges and stories.” The most recent meeting of the Downtown Task Team took place Nov. 25. In an interview with Sudbury.com, Mayor Brain Bigger said he was pleased with the progress the task team is making, but he does recognize the need for expert advice. The most recent meeting of the task team focused on hearing more from experts. “Our conversation was: how do we engage effectively with the large number of smaller service organizations? They’re working with the people that are experiencing these challenges and crises in the downtown.” He said the focus now is “trying to understand how we can be strategic, and really drive that value for money from the resources that we do have.” He also said there is a misconception in terms of the knowledge that council already possesses. “Many people seem to have this impression that if you’re a member of council, people think we’re completely unaware of what’s happening,” he said. “That’s far from the truth.” He said that because city councillors are interacting with citizens from their wards on a regular basis, “we’re continually involved in trying to resolve challenges in the community, and looking for opportunities to help people navigate and find support.” Mayor Bigger said this is the impetus for a public engagement forum that the city plans to hold “as soon as possible.” He said it will be a chance to hear from those who have a vested interest: community groups, business owners, those with lived experience, and the general public. But as the mayor himself noted, a pandemic-world does make this a challenge. He said it will be “essentially, a listening experience, and an opportunity to hear the ideas and the solutions — to hear about the challenges, about some of the gaps that we might not think of.” Still, despite the criticism the task team can’t really address issues it doesn’t understand, the mayor said he is “proud of what we’ve accomplished.” Long, however, isn’t quite sure it will be enough to shape the view that is required, one that is built upon the idea of nothing about us, without us. “If you look at issues from the perspective of privilege and power, the perspective will be subject to tunnel-vision, and limited in scope and purpose” she said. “If the objective of the Task Force is to install LED lights downtown, then I am sure they will have a measure of success,” said Long. “If they want to gain an understanding of the people and social issues in our downtown, then I think the framework from which they are problem-solving needs to be reconsidered.”Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Windsor West MP Brian Masse, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce president Rakesh Naidu and members of Windsor's aviation community on Tuesday morning called on the federal government to intervene and have Navigation Canada (NAV Canada) remove Windsor International Airport from a list of six airports being studied for possible removal of air traffic controllers."The Minister of Transportation, Marc Garneau, must provide a clear and definitive answer that the future of Windsor's Airport is secure and that air traffic control services will be maintained," said Masse.Masse said he will have a petition to the federal government online that reads, "Remove NAV Canada's decision to consider closure, or reduction of services of the air traffic control tower at the Windsor Airport or explicitly express opposition to any decision or recommendation of this nature.""The minister can simply intervene and he should do that," said Masse in a news conference in front of the airport terminal and control tower.Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmiercyzk recently told CBC News that Garneau did not have the power to tell NAV Canada what to do, and that he and anyone else opposed to losing air traffic controllers here will have their say when NAV Canada consults with stakeholders.But Masse said there should have been clear signals from the government to NAV Canada before this study, adding that he doesn't believe any of the other airports, including in Whitehorse and Regina, should lose air traffic control either."So even if he says [Garneau] technically can't take them off the list at this point in time, he can still go out and publicly say that he's actually against closing the towers and he's not going to approve them," said Masse. "In fact, if NAV Canada actually does eventually recommend closure or reduction of services, the minister then has to do another study and the study then actually comes back again. So we're into the cycle of study after study after study when it is completely unnecessary," he said.Dilkens also said Garneau can certainly have a conversation with NAV Canada officials.The airport has seen a 300 per cent increase in traffic since 2009 and was serving 383,000 passengers in 2019. Dilkens said losing the air traffic controllers jeopardizes future growth and threatens the continuation of commercial air traffic the airport has now."Moving bodies out of a control tower causes issues for the future prosperity of Windsor airport. It will cut this success story off at the knees," said Dilkens, adding he has not heard back from Garneau, to whom he sent a letter asking that the air traffic controllers remain.Commercial pilots also added their voices of concern for safety, considering the high volume of air traffic in and around Detroit.Corporate pilot Dante Albano likened air traffic control to traffic lights, and when they go out the intersection turns into a four-way stop."In a busy air space like this with Detroit so close it gets kinda of crazy up there sometimes," said Albano.Richard Bradwell, manager of the Windsor Flying Club, said loss of air traffic control is the "first step toward" to closing the airport entirely."Our business has been growing. We've been surviving through COVID. This is absolutely the last thing that we need is to see NAV Canada considering closing the tower and doing this sort of damage to our airport," said Bradwell.Essex MP Chris Lewis has also issued a statement calling on Garneau to remove Windsor airport from the study.Masse's petition is expected to go up on his Facebook page and website Wednesday afternoon.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Outgoing North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker on Tuesday announced his bid to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr in 2022, a path the Republican indicated a year ago he'd pursue after his House district shifted to the left during an unscheduled redistricting. The quick entry of Walker, mere days after almost all North Carolina 2020 election results were finalized, may signal an attempt to make other big-name conservatives think hard before entering the race. Those include Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and a North Carolina native. Burr announced years ago that his third six-year term would be his last. “I’m running for the United States Senate because serving others is my life, and I have the experience to fight and to win in Washington," Walker, 51, said in a campaign kickoff video on his website. A favourite of the Republican base, Walker is a Baptist minister who was first elected to Congress in 2014. He rose through the ranks and chaired the conservative Republican Study Committee. He made inroads working with African American lawmakers by working on efforts to promote historically Black colleges and universities. Black residents are featured prominently in his fast-paced four-minute video, recorded in downtown Greensboro. Walker had considered challenging Sen. Thom Tillis in the 2020 Republican primary, particularly after GOP activists aligned with Donald Trump questioned Tillis' allegiance to the president. But Walker declined, and two weeks later Trump endorsed Tillis for reelection. Walker said he had spoken to Trump about challenging Tillis, and that he would focus on winning another term in central North Carolina's 6th Congressional District. That calculus changed in late 2019 when the state legislature redrew all 13 U.S. House districts after judges ruled it was likely the previous map was tainted with extreme partisan bias favouring the GOP. The reworked 6th District made it likely that a Democrat would win the seat and Walker announced last December he wouldn't run for anything in 2020. Walker said in a phone interview Tuesday that Trump had told him previously he would back him in a 2022 Senate run, affirming what a Walker spokesperson said last year. Such an endorsement, if Trump gives it, could winnow the Republican field in North Carolina, where Trump twice earned the state’s electoral votes. His 2020 victory over Joe Biden by 1.3 percentage points, however, was less than half of his victory margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016. But any such commitment to Walker could be threatened if a family member of the president enters the race. A person close to Lara Trump, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss her thinking publicly, told The Associated Press that the president’s daughter-in-law has expressed interest in Burr’s seat in 2022 and is exploring a run. Lara Trump, 38, grew up in Wilmington and went to N.C. State University. She currently lives in New York with husband Eric Trump and their two children. She made frequent North Carolina campaign appearances for her father-in-law in both 2016 and 2020, connecting her to the state's GOP culture. Asked about the possibility of Lara Trump's candidacy, Walker told the AP “it’s not illegal for somebody to move to a state and establish a residence and run.” As for the president's endorsement, Walker said, “ultimately, that’s his call. But we would certainly appreciate the fact that if he was able to stay with that support, it certainly would mean a lot to us." His campaign website shows a photo of Walker with President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence in the Oval Office. Walker's video didn't mention Donald Trump by name but mentioned that his time in Congress included “taking on the swamp.” Walker's goal, he said, was “to be a conservative warrior and a bridge builder for all of our communities. And that’s exactly what we did.” Other Republicans who've said they'd consider Senate bids include former Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. George Holding of Raleigh, who also didn't seek reelection this year due to redistricting. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Erica Smith, who lost to Cal Cunningham in the 2020 primary for the seat held by Tillis, is already running in 2022. Other names in the mix include state Attorney General Josh Stein and Anthony Foxx, a former Charlotte mayor and U.S. transportation secretary. Official candidate filing for the March 2022 primaries begins in December 2021, but clearly candidates will have to gas up their campaign fundraising machines well before. Burr’s retirement will make the first open Senate seat in North Carolina since Democrat John Edwards didn’t run for reelection in 2004, when he instead was the vice-presidential nominee. Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press