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
Pat Daly was re-elected chairperson of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board at a meeting Tuesday evening, marking his 34th year as a Hamilton trustee. Daly has served on the HWCDSB since 1986 when he first filled the seat that his late father, Pat Daly Sr., left vacant after his sudden death the year prior. “I don’t know if I ever filled them — they were pretty big shoes. But I’ve always tried to do my best,” Daly previously said of his father. At a meeting Tuesday night, he addressed issues concerning leadership and equity in educational opportunity, indicating a focus on these issues as he enters his next term. “With the increased reality of virtual learning and the ever-increasing influence of technology, I believe we are living in an unprecedented time of challenge but equally, or more so, of opportunity to move forward with laser-like focus to create structures and allocate resources that most directly impact those areas that distinguish publicly funded Catholic schools,” he said. Daly has recommended a full review of the board’s leadership development program to ensure a continued recruitment and selection of “faith-filled visionary leaders,” as well as a re-imagining of administrative portfolios to “better align with current and future trends.” “As researchers have concluded, one of the goals of such restructuring would be to assist leaders to remain closer to the core of teaching and learning where they are most likely to make a difference to students,” he said. Daly was born and raised in Mount Hope. He attended Our Lady of the Assumption in Elfrida and later Bishop Ryan High School in Stoney Creek. “All of my years of school were in our system,” he told The Spectator in a 2014 profile. “I had outstanding principals, teachers and coaches right throughout.” Daly enrolled at McMaster University after graduation but only stayed a year, opting instead to return to his family’s construction company, where he stayed until the mid-1990s before taking over as the Catholic board’s chair. He has also served as president of the Ontario English Catholic Trustees’ Association. Jacob Lorinc, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
As an extreme year for hurricanes, wildfires and heat waves comes to an end, the head of the United Nations challenged world leaders to make 2021 the year that humanity ends its “war on nature” and commits to a future free of planet-warming carbon pollution. With new reports highlighting 2020’s record-breaking weather and growing fossil fuels extraction that triggers global warming, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered yet another urgent appeal to curb climate change. It was tinged with optimism but delivered dire warnings, as the UN gears up for a Dec. 12 virtual climate summit in France on the 5th anniversary of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement. “The state of the planet is broken,” Guterres said in a speech at Columbia University. “Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal.” “Apocalyptic fires and floods, cyclones and hurricanes are increasingly the new normal,” he said. In a report, the World Meteorological Organization said this year is set to end about 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the last half of the 1800s, which scientists use as a baseline for warming caused by heat-trapping gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. Most trapped heat goes into the world’s seas, and ocean temperatures now are at record levels. It also means 2020 will go down as one of the three hottest years on record. “There is at least a one-in-five chance of it temporarily exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2024,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said. The Paris climate accord set a goal of not exceeding 1.5-degree (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming since pre-industrial times. A new analysis by Climate Action Tracker scientists who monitor carbon pollution and pledges to cut them said public commitments to emission cuts, if kept, would limit warming to about 2.6 degrees Celsius (4.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and possibly as low as 2.1 degrees Celsius. Guterres saw hope in promises by more than 100 countries that by mid-century they will not be adding more heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere than trees and technology can remove, along with shorter term pollution cuts. China and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden have pledged net zero carbon emissions. “I firmly believe that 2021 can be a new kind of leap year — the year of a quantum leap towards carbon neutrality,” Guterres said. But he said the two U.N. reports Wednesday “spell out how close we are to climate catastrophe.” When countries spend trillions of dollars to recover from the pandemic-triggered economic slowdown, Guterres said they must to do so in a way that emphasizes clean energy. Nations should stop funding and subsidizing fossil fuels, he said. And countries need to fulfil their Paris promise to spend $100 billion annually to help poorer countries develop cleaner energy. Guterres said there’s no way the world can curb the climate change “without U.S. leadership” and urged students and other Americans to do “everything you can” to get their governments to curb emissions more quickly. One of the new reports found countries would need to cut production of oil, coal and natural gas by 6% each year by 2030 to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Instead, a review of eight major fossil-fuel producing nations showed they plan to increase production by 2% annually. That means twice the amount of carbon-based fuel would come onto the market than feasible to keep the Paris goal within reach. Governments in the Group of 20 major and emerging economies have so far committed more money to prop up fossil fuel sectors than to boost the rollout of renewable energy, the report found. Co-author Ivetta Gerasimchuk of the International Institute for Sustainable Development said investing in oil, coal and gas no longer makes economic sense because renewable energy is becoming cheaper than fossil fuels. But, she said, “We see that instead of governments letting these fossil fuel projects die they resurrect them from the dead.” The WMO’s report found global warming is worsening in all seven key climate indicators, but the problem is increasing human suffering in an already bad year. “In 2020, over 50 million people have been doubly hit: by climate-related disasters (floods, droughts and storms) and the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ the report said. ”Countries in Central America are suffering from the triple-impact of hurricanes Eta and Iota, COVID-19 and pre-existing humanitarian crises.” Among the dozens of extremes the report highlighted: -- A record 30 Atlantic named tropical storms and hurricanes. --Death Valley, California, hit 129.9 degrees (54.4 degrees Celsius), the hottest the world has seen in 80 years. --Record wildfires struck California and Colorado in the western United States, following a major fire season and record heat in Australia. --The Arctic had record wildfires and a prolonged heat wave culminating in a 100-degree mark (38 degrees Celsius) in Siberia in June. --Record low Arctic sea ice was reported for April and August and the yearly minimum, in September, was the second lowest on record. --More than 2,000 people died in record summer rains and flooding in Pakistan and surrounding nations. While these events can’t solely be blamed on climate change, “these are the types of events scientists fear will increase due to climate change,” said Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald, who wasn’t part of the report. “Human activities are at the root of our descent towards chaos,” Guterres said. “But that means human action can solve it.” ___ Follow AP’s climate coverage at https://www.apnews.com/Climate ___ Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears . Follow Frank Jordans on Twitter at @wirereporter . ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Seth Borenstein And Frank Jordans, The Associated Press
Sickle Point is likely to be sold to a private buyer this week, but for those fighting to conserve the undeveloped land in Kaleden, the decades-long fight is far from over. The sale of Sickle Point out of receivership to a private buyer is to be decided by the courts Thursday, but a local community association, the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) are still intent on keeping the environmentally-sensitive land free of development. Sale conditions were dropped last week on the 4.8-acre parcel in Kaleden between the Kettle Valley Rail trail on the west and Skaha Lake on the east. With the sale conditions dropped, a judge has to approve the sale which is reportedly happening Dec. 3. Developers seeking to build on one of few remaining wetland and semi-natural habitats along the western shores of Skaha Lake would face some stiff opposition as they have in the past according to Randy Cranston, chair of the Kaleden Community Association who heads up the Save Sickle Point committee. “My gut would say that given the news media we’ve had, and given the statements from the Penticton Indian Band, if I was thinking of making a sealed bid, I would be thinking really seriously about whether I wanted to do that or not from the point of view of the community concerns and the statements made by the Penticton Indian Band,” Cranston said. “I would be asking the question ‘do I think I would ever get to build on this property?’” In a letter sent to Premier John Horgan in November, the committee asks the provincial government to use the Environment and Land Use Act to stall development to conduct an environmental assessment of the area and suggests the RDOS could expropriate the land. That would be a last resort should the regional district approve that course of action, according to Karla Kozakevich, RDOS board chair. “Expropriation is always an option to local government. It’s not something that the board likes to do. It’s often seen as not a nice thing to do, but we have to look at what’s in the best interest of our citizens and the community and that could be the case,” Kozakevich said. “But once again that would be a board decision. We certainly wouldn’t enter into that lightly. We would want to see if there were other options. If we have the money then we would want to have talks with the new owner and see if we could get somewhere with them that was mutually agreeable.” The RDOS board has recently approved a public consultation process asking area taxpayers whether or not the regional district should borrow the funds to purchase the property, although that process takes time and won’t be completed until February 2021. “We’re sort of in a holding pattern right now. We know that there was an offer made on the property and apparently it goes to a court, to a judge (Dec. 3) is what I’m hearing. Where other bids can go in, sealed bids, to a judge,” Kozakevich said. “We’re not part of this process because we don’t have the funds available at this time. So, we can’t go be a part of that bid without having approval from the electorate to borrow that kind of money.” The public consultation ends on Feb. 8, and after that, should the public approve borrowing money, the RDOS would likely attempt to make an offer to the new owners. “My assumption right now is somebody else other than the current owner will own that property at that time. We don’t know who, obviously, and we don’t know what they will be paying either,” Kozakevich said. “So, whether the board decides to go to that new owner and make them an offer, that’s going to be discussed and a decision of the board — if the public approves the money. It’s all hinging on that.” “We just have to wait and watch and then try and make a decision after Feb. 8 as to how we want to try and move forward on that property.” The Penticton Indian Band has been opposing development in the area for years, and says the band has right and title to the land. The PIB is engaged in discussions with the RDOS on exploring options going forward, according to James Pepper, director of natural resources for the PIB. “This is a title and rights issue from the Penticton Indian Band perspective. PIB Chief and council have been meeting to discuss what all the available options are and ensuring that they’re all followed up on and exhausted,” Pepper said. “The actions the regional district are taking are good, but there’s also actions the band is taking from a title and rights perspective the council is initiating. That’s broader, that’s reaching out to the different government entities and making sure they understand what title and rights means and how it applies in this particular circumstance.” The Save Sickle Point committee, which has fundraised and advocated to keep the area clear of development, is not going anywhere after the sale. “Even if this sale goes through, and there is still the possibility it won’t go through … that doesn’t mean the community is going to lay down and roll over,” Cranston said. He believes developing the property would prove difficult due to it’s proximity to the KVR trail. “There is road access to this property if someone was going to build there, that road access Kettle Valley Railway. That means that construction vehicles and then after that individual homeowner vehicles are going to be driving on the same KVR that thousands of people bike on and hundreds of people walk and run on.”Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
VIENNA — Austria will allow skiing to start on Dec. 24, but will limit the capacity of ski lifts and keep restaurants, bars and hotels largely closed until early January, officials said Wednesday. It also will require many people entering the country over the Christmas period to go into quarantine.Tough lockdown measures took effect Nov. 17 and are due to expire on Sunday. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said a limited curfew that has applied around the clock will be eased, and from Monday will apply only between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.Schools will be reopened next week, except for older students, as will nonessential shops, museums, libraries and some other businesses. But restaurants will remain closed for all but takeout and deliveries, as will bars, and hotels will remain closed except to business travellers.Austria has been hard hit by the resurgence of coronavirus infections in Europe, though its infection rate has declined over recent weeks. It currently is recording 335 new infections per 100,000 residents over seven days, down from around 600 last month — but still more than twice as many as in neighbouring Germany, which is in a milder partial shutdown.Kurz said that progress over recent weeks, and the expectation of more before Christmas, allows “cautious” reopening steps. But he said the tourism and catering sectors won’t start reopening until Jan. 7.That will effectively mean that, over the holiday season, skiing is possible in most cases only on day trips for those Austrian residents who live fairly close to the Alps. Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said there will be mask-wearing and distancing requirements, and the capacity of cable cars will be limited.Kurz said that allowing skiing for locals but keeping the catering sector closed is “absolutely justified.”“Skiing is a sport that takes place in the open air, an individual sport, so epidemiologically it must be assessed differently from catering, where we know that there can time and again be infections,” he said.Kurz added that he, as a resident of eastern Austria, won't benefit but “for a large part of our population it will then be possible to go skiing at least for the day.”France and Germany, which has closed its ski resorts, are pushing for similar measures to be taken in other European countries, like Italy and Spain, for the Christmas season. Ski resorts are already open in neighbouring Switzerland, which has allowed skiing.Kurz rejected suggestions that Austria's limited reopening was a response to pressure from abroad.“We decide according to our infection situation, and our expectation is that we can push down our infections very, very strongly by Christmas,” he said.Austria also plans tougher border controls and quarantine rules in an effort to dissuade people from travelling abroad over the Christmas period. Austrian residents' summer trips to see relatives in the western Balkans, in particular, were blamed as a significant source of the resurgence of infections this fall.The quarantine rules will be imposed by mid-December and will apply “if you're coming from a country that exceeds a certain limit of infections,” Kurz said. Authorities set the limit at 100 new cases per 100,000 residents over 14 days, an infection rate which the vast majority of European countries currently surpass.The requirement will be for new arrivals to go into quarantine for 10 days, which they can cut short by taking a test after five days, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.___Geir Moulson reported from Berlin.Geir Moulson And Philipp Jenne, The Associated Press
Une entreprise dont le siège social est situé à Boucherville, Sysco Grand Montréal, se spécialise dans la vente et la distribution de produits alimentaires dans les restaurants et les hôtels. Son président a décidé d’aider des établissements, notamment en leur remettant près de 20 000 contenants destinés aux plats à emporter et en concluant avec eux de nouvelles ententes de paiement. « Il fallait vraiment envoyer un message pour notre industrie dit Guillaume Dubois, président régional de Sysco Grand Montréal. Sysco, compte des milliers d’établissements comme clients. Bien que sa propre entreprise ait aussi enregistré une baisse du volume de ventes, M. Dubois avoue avoir aidé financièrement plusieurs propriétaires d’établissement. « Il y a des clients avec qui ça fait longtemps qu’on fait affaire qui entrent dans une période financière difficile. On est capables de moduler nos ententes de paiement ou d’apporter un soutien financier qui peut aller jusqu’à offrir des promesses de relations d’affaires dans le futur. » a précisé monsieur Dubois lors d’une entrevue au quotidien La Presse. M. Dubois fait aussi référence aux salles de réception, dont le calendrier d’évènements est vide en ce moment. Celles-ci devront toutefois être prêtes à accueillir de nouveau des mariages et des bals lorsque la crise sera terminée. Et la crise touche évidemment d’autres commerces et producteurs qui ont un lien avec les restaurants. La crise frappe fort et surtout beaucoup de petits commerçants. Sysco a aussi revu certaines ententes et n’exige plus de montant minimum pour livrer de la marchandise à ses clients. Un autre petit coup de pouce qui peut faire une différence. François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
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
Two jurors were dismissed Wednesday afternoon at the second-degree murder trial of Justin Breau. After lengthy legal discussions Wednesday morning, Mr. Justice Thomas Christie told the jury mid-afternoon about his decision to excuse the two. He asked the 11 remaining jurors not to speculate on the reason. The details of the legal process is protected by a publication ban.The judge also told jurors that he would complete his final instructions Thursday morning before turning the case over to them for deliberation. Originally, 14 jurors were selected, but one was dismissed on the first day of the trial, leaving 13 jurors who listened to 22 witnesses over eight days. One of them was going to be randomly selected and dismissed before deliberations began, because the law sets a maximum of 12 jurors. But after Wednesday's dismissals, that's no longer necessary. Under the law, a minimum of 10 jurors is required. Breau, 37, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Mark Shatford. During the trial, Breau admitted shooting 42-year-old Shatford on Nov. 17 of last year, but said he acted in self-defence. The jury heard that a drug deal had been set up via text messages between Breau and Shatford and his fiancée . A scuffle ensued inside the apartment before continuing outside. Both Crown and defence agree that Breau grabbed a shotgun from the vehicle he borrowed from a friend and shot Shatford in the abdomen. Despite several surgeries, Shatford died of his injuries a month later.
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.
Midland Coun. Bill Gordon has found his way onto the 'wall of shame' --- again. This time, the elected official is being brought to the stand for inappropriate decorum, messaging that amounts to abuse, bullying or intimidation, and interfering in the operations of the town, thereby, undermining staff's capability in the field, an integrity commissioner's report found "This is just proving my whole weaponization of the code of conduct argument," Gordon said, adding he wasn't shocked by the move. "They didn't speak to me about any of this. "I'm not arguing any of these things didn't happen. I take full responsibility for it. But taken without context, anything can be found to be insulting and inflammatory." The three complainants this time are Deputy Mayor Mike Ross and councillors Jim Downer and Jon Main. However, in the integrity commissioner's report, which will be discussed at next week's council meeting, only an exchange between Main and Gordon has been mentioned. The report says that in the email exchange with Main, Gordon said, "Please don’t mistake my assertiveness for aggression. I have little to no personal respect for many of you or a couple of our senior team. I come by that honestly and have the bills to prove it. "I have to work with you and have managed to keep most of my contempt for many of you at bay preferring to simply ignore the public attacks on my integrity and carry on with my work despite everything that’s gone on this term." In a second exchange between the two, Gordon calls Main a 'snowflake.' The report says, in a Facebook direct message, Gordon said, "That is far from bullying Jon. Don’t be such a snowflake. The truth may not be a defence in the CoC [Code of Conduct] – which is absurd – but I will do politics my way just as you do it your way. "We are polar opposites it seems. That is actually quite healthy for democracy. As for decorum I think I toe that line with grace and dignity considering the despicable way you treat me. I have no respect for most of you as a result. Should not be a shock to you." Moreover, Gordon has also been accused of interfering with the operational aspects of the town staff's responsibility by asserting 'influence' on a developer responsible for clean up on Taylor Drive. The report details that, on Aug. 28, 2020, the developer emailed Gordon that following their discussion and for the developer to avoid a notice of motion, the developer would undertake grass cutting on the town parkette as a courtesy to the town and Taylor Drive clients/homeowners. Further, the developer also promised, relocation of masonry materials and reduction in the slope of stockpiled sand. In the report, Gordon defends his intervention with the developer as simply availing himself of the process. He denies that he engaged in any threats or intimidation, but merely pointed out that the town might be compelled to draw on the letter of credit to rectify performance issues. In a conversation with MidlandToday, Gordon said he wasn't willing to divulge his entire defence. "I don't want to give a statement because it gives them 'yeah, but...' arguments," he said. "The reason I don't want to do that in this case is because they didn't recommend any monetary sanctions, which I'm kind of shocked about. What I suspect to happen is that the three complainants, especially Jon Main, will be argue for monetary sanctions. I want to let that happen organically." Addressing the snowflake comment, Gordon said, it was during a private Twitter back and forth that occurred in March. "(Main) sat on it all this time and decided to advance it now," he said. "Basically, they were just collecting evidence." Gordon adds that if he had been approached about the issue 'like adults' there would definitely not have been this conflict. "I can only speak for Jon, because I never said this to Mike Ross or Jim Downer," he said. "If he'd contacted me or even during that interaction we had, I would have apologized and told him what I'd actually been meaning to say instead of the word snowflake." Gordon said he uses the word snowflake because it's a quicker way of spelling out someone who is indecisive or can't handle pressure and make decisions. As for interfering with the operational side of the corporation of the Town of Midland, he said, at its core, that's what people expect from their councillors. "They can come to them with whatever their tale of woe is...if they're having an issue with a lack of performance by the town," said Gordon. "Your elected official doesn't have a lot of influence. The only influence, which I promised during my Zoom chat, is that I would bring it forward to council as a notice of motion." And this is where it gets sticky, he added. "I didn't reach out to the developer," said Gordon. "The developer watched my Zoom meeting and called me to say if we do these things, would you bring the notice of motion to council. And why would I, if they were doing what was being asked?" He said he welcomed the integrity commissioner's report and findings and looked forward to speaking to council. "For me, the real tell is which councillors will argue that simply scolding me publicly and putting me on the wall of shame is not enough and they want to see their pound of flesh," Gordon said.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Food blogger Rebecca Coleman has seen a sharp uptick in the number of restaurant businesses approaching her over the last month, and she says it’s all because of TikTok. “These restaurants that are reaching out to me, they have websites, they have Instagram, but very few of them have TikTok,” Coleman says. TikTok is still a new enough social media platform that businesses haven’t yet fully embraced it, she says, but influencers have. “And they’re taking full advantage of that,” says Coleman, who is an Instagram and TikTok food blogger and a full-time instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, where she teaches social media marketing for business. The pandemic led to the shutdown of businesses as well as widespread layoffs affecting the food and beverage industry as a whole. According to a Restaurants Canada survey, Canada’s April food service sales were the lowest in more than two decades. However, when restaurants reopened for business, owners began to turn to influencers to help attract new customers both for in-house and takeout dining. “I think that the potential is limitless,” says Sophia Hu, a Vancouver digital creator who goes by the username sopheats on TikTok and Instagram and has more than 21,000 followers combined. “As more restaurants see the power, the impact and the reach of social media as a new way, new-age marketing, they're going to be using food bloggers and content creators all the time.” Hu says restaurants will favour influencer marketing over conventional methods because it’s more personable, engaging and authentic. “We are real people and we actually love food. We go to the restaurants and we try it. I engage (with) my audience like they're my friends. And I'm just sharing genuinely what I love,” she says. Content creator Ceci, who has around 10,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram and goes by the username purplearchives, says restaurants in Vancouver have adapted well to this style of marketing. After the initial lockdown was lifted and restaurants shifted to a takeout program, she saw they needed help with promotion. Restaurants tried to lure influencers by sending them food packages to taste and review, she explains. “I think the ones that were able to cultivate a good relationship with influencers have been able to do quite well,” she says. In provinces like B.C., where restaurants remain open to in-house dining, restaurateurs have invited influencers and food bloggers to visit, which sends a message they are open for business and operating safely. Influencer marketing is also a relatively low-cost option for business owners with funding constraints. While many food bloggers don’t get paid for their promotions and reviews, they do get to taste the food for free and make content for their audience. For Coleman, who goes by the username findbex on TikTok, it is also an opportunity to build her brand. Promotional videos are an opportunity for content creators to raise awareness around issues and businesses they want to support, she says. To keep her reviews fair, Ceci is upfront with restaurants when they invite her in to talk about their food. “I'm going to write what I think about your food. If I don't like it, I just post about it,” she says. “But I do usually give them feedback, first, if it's really bad.” Although all three content creators began their journey on Instagram, their audiences are now shifting to TikTok. “There’s a place for everything on TikTok,” says Coleman, who has almost 40,000 followers on TikTok and around 4,300 on Instagram. What has made the platform so popular in the past few months? Both Coleman and Ceci attribute TikTok’s wider reach to its share feature. “If I'm on TikTok, and I see a video, and I like that, I can share that video to my Instagram Stories effortlessly,” Coleman says. The application allows users, including restaurants, to send videos across platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, email, Snapchat and Messenger. It also allows them to save the video and react to it by making duets. Hu transitioned to TikTok when she realized she could repurpose content she had already secured for her Instagram and use it to engage in a different way. “It's fast and it's also casual,” she says, adding that unlike Instagram, TikTok does not require high-definition photos or footage. Priya Bhat / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverPriya Bhat, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
OTTAWA — Canada's chief public health officer says the priority list of people who will get vaccinated first against COVID-19 has to be refined because the initial six million doses set to arrive in the first batch will not be enough to cover them all. Health Canada is in the final stages of reviewing the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The regulator anticipates decisions on approving both before the end of December.Vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are also being studied, with no suggestion yet of when those reviews might be done. Canada has contracts for three more vaccines in late-stage clinical trials but has not starting rolling reviews on any of them yet.Dr. Theresa Tam said the variety of vaccines on Canada's docket and the expectation that several will eventually be approved "means we will have more flexibility as time goes on, and more and more vaccines come on board.""We're expecting that in the second quarter, depending on the approvals of the vaccines, we will have different amounts, but that is when the supply will become more and more plentiful," she said Wednesday in a virtual speech at the 2020 Canadian Immunization Conference.Most vaccine makers are just starting to ramp up production now. Initial production lots are much smaller, and are in high demand everywhere in the world.At the moment, Canada is on track to get four million doses from Pfizer and two million from Moderna between January and March. With both vaccines needing two doses to be effective, that's only enough to vaccinate three million people."So we have to do further refinements to these priority groups in order to know exactly how we're going to sequence the delivery of the vaccines," Tam said.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said having to pare down the list is a massive Liberal government failure."There is no clear plan who is going to receive the vaccine," he said Wednesday."The government has not provided these details."The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued a preliminary priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine last month, with four subsets of people based on risk of serious illness or death, and risk of exposure or outbreaks.The list included older Canadians, those with pre-existing conditions like liver and heart disease or diabetes, and people who live in the same household as those people. Long-term care workers, people who live in Indigenous communities, and front-line essential workers such as first responders or grocery store employees are also included.But that list of people is far longer than three million. There are nearly seven million Canadians over the age of 65 alone. Provincial governments will ultimately decide their own priorities but the national list is intended to guide those decisions. Long-term care homes are widely expected to be the highest priority for both workers and residents. In the first wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Canada, more than eight in 10 people who died from COVID-19 were associated with long-term care.The tragedy has continued in the second wave, with outbreaks in hundreds of facilities countrywide, and more residents dying every day. Ontario reported 35 deaths from COVID-19 Wednesday and 22 of them were residents in long-term care.More than 400,000 Canadians live in a long-term care setting or a retirement residence, according to the 2016 Census by Statistics Canada.Approving the vaccines is only the first step in what Tam called one of "the most complex operations ever taken in public health." Getting it to provinces to administer and convincing Canadians to take it could prove to be even more difficult.Tam appealed to the medical experts in the audience to help combat growing rhetoric that COVID-19 vaccines aren't safe. From a petition sponsored by Conservative MP Derek Sloan that warns these vaccines are "effectively human experimentation," to a van driving around Ottawa with a digital display claiming the vaccine "will destroy your DNA" there is evidence of some campaigns to convince Canadians not to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it comes.Tam said disinformation campaigns are not new but "because of the social media and its internet age, we've got even more of a challenge on our hands than anyone else in tackling pandemics of the past." "So it is a significant aspect of the response that we have to deal with," she said.She said the Public Health Agency of Canada is developing a series of webinars about the vaccines, how the regulatory and approval process works, and how the different types of vaccines work, so medical professionals can become influencers in their communities.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
With senior Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema by his side and his wife former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords watching nearby, Arizona Democrat and former astronaut Mark Kelly was sworn into the Senate narrowing Republican control of the chamber. (Dec. 2)
During the course of the regular meeting on Monday the board of education for the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division received an update on the new Cree language Kindergarten program at John Diefenbaker Public School in Prince Albert that began this year. “The teacher and the staff and the administration there are doing just amazing work to be connecting with those young learners and just a great start to that program” director of education Robert Bratvold said. According to Bratvold there was some apprehension about starting the new program from parents about how it work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “They have been encouraging and supportive. We have 15 kids in there who are coming on a regular basis and doing some good things,” Bratvold said. The success in the first year will lead to trying to prepare for eventual growth in the coming years. “We will do some planning around that about how will we grow this Cree language program and what will that look like. So that is one of those plans that is coming up shortly,” Bratvold said. New schools assigned to trustees in Saskatchewan Rivers Each year trustees in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division are assigned clusters of schools, which they will work with for the school year. At the board of education’s regular meeting on Monday the assignments were finalized. Board chair Barry Hollick and administration worked on the assignments before they were brought forward to be finalized Monday. “That’s always exciting because you get a balance because it’s important to have representation from within the ward or subdivision the trustees are elected from. But it is also important to have a broad experience for trustees. When they come to this table they bring perspectives from whence they come but they are representative of the division as a whole. So there is some balance between rural and urban,” director of education Robert Bratvold said. The assigned trustees work closely with School Community Councils (SCCs) and trustees have built relationships with the schools. “Part of that is just the value that SCCs bring and the important role they can play and it’s different at every school but that’s a really important thing in our local governance structure,” he explained. Newly elected trustee Alan Nunn was assigned Meath Park Public School, Princess Margaret Public School and Queen Mary initially but trustee Jaimie Smith-Windsor and Nunn made a trade. Now Nunn will also be working with the SRPSD Distance Learning Centre. Smith-Windsor is now assigned Meath Park, Christopher Lake Public School, Riverside Public School and Spruce Home Public School. The remaining trustees kept their assigned clusters. Trustee Bill Gerow is assigned Big River Public School, Ecole Debden Public School and TD Michel Public School. Trustee Michelle Vickers is assigned Prince Albert Collegiate Institute (PACI), Westview Public School and Wild Rose Public School. New trustee Cher Bloom is assigned Canwood Public School, Shellbrook Elementary Public High School and W.P. Sandin Public High School. Trustee Grant Gustafson has East Central Public School, Ecole Arthur Pechey Public School and Won Ska Public School. Hollick has been assigned Carlton Comprehensive Public High School, Osborne Public School and Vincent Massey Public School. Vice chair Darlene Rowden’s cluster include Birch Hills Public School, Red Wing Public School, St. Louis Public School and West Central Public School. Trustee Arne Lindberg’s cluster includes Arthur Pechey, Wesmor Public High School and W.J. Berezowsky Public High School. Trustee Bill Yeaman has John Diefenbaker Public School, King George Public School, Kinistino Public School and Winding Rivers Colony School. Each cluster is also assigned an alternate in case the trustee is unable to fulfill their duties. “The alternate trustee for those clusters do a lot of work and the trustees do a great job working together and helping each other,” Bratvold said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Daniel Joseph is making quite the first impression at North Carolina State University.The six-foot-three, 265-pound defensive lineman from Brampton, Ont., has a team-high 6.5 sacks (tied for third in ACC) in his first season with the Wolfpack (6-3) and is also tied for the team lead in tackles for a loss (9.5). That far exceeds what Johnson accomplished playing three seasons at Penn State (2.5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for a loss over 32 games).That's certainly impressive for someone who left Canada to attend high school in the U.S. to pursue a NCAA basketball scholarship. And although Joseph's older brother, Faith Ekakitie, and cousin, Ese Mrabure-Ajufo, have both been CFL defensive linemen, Joseph said basketball remains the No. 1 sport in his family."All three of my brothers, I'm pretty sure we all had hoop dreams at one point," Joseph said during a videoconference with Canadian reporters. "We played with a lot of notable guys like Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Ennis, Jamaal Murray . . . the list goes on and on of guys that we were fortunate to be around and play with."Being exposed to that consistently growing up and competing and knowing you have to perform in a group of guys like that has always been beneficial for me. It has allowed me to constantly keep working and keep pushing no matter what the scenario is."Joseph said while he respects the Toronto Raptors for winning the 2019 NBA championship, he's always been a diehard Chicago Bulls fan."My man D-Rose (guard Derrick Rose) is one of the most electric players I've ever got to see play," Joseph said. "I got the opportunity to see him play in Chicago and ever since then, the United Center and the Bulls have been my pick."The Toronto Raptors, I definitely respect them . . . I'm grateful because they brought the trophy home to my city but I ain't a fan."Both Mrabure-Ajufo and Ekakitie were first-round CFL picks by B.C. (No. 5 in 2015) and Winnipeg (first overall in 2017) respectively. But Joseph said he didn't begin playing football until after his junior year at Lake Forest Academy in Illinois."I know for my brother it (transition to football) was more evident because he was a lot bigger and just built like a football player," Joseph said. "For me, it definitely was a less evident transition."Before (playing football) I had high hopes to still pursue and excel in basketball."North Carolina State was among the schools to recruit Joseph out of high school before he ultimately committed to Penn State. But after last season, Joseph had figured he'd done all he could with the Nittany Lions and transferred to the Wolfpack in February as a graduate student.In 2018, North Carolina State had a school-record seven players taken in the NFL draft, including defensive linemen Bradley Chubb (first round, Denver), B.J. Hill (third round, New York Giants), Justin Jones (third round, L.A. Chargers) and Kentavius Street (fourth round, San Francisco)."I just thought my time at Penn State was done," Joseph said. "I thought I'd accomplished some of the things I wanted to accomplish but there were other areas in which I knew I'd not accomplished my goals and dreams."I just knew N.C. State was already a place that had a good history in terms of defensive linemen. I wasn't totally unaware of who NC State was, they also recruited me out of high school and so I was familiar with them."Joseph said his 2020 production is based more upon getting an opportunity to perform rather than anything North Carolina State is doing differently than Penn State."Honestly, I don't think anything has really clicked," he said. "I've always believed in my ability to play the game, I think now I actually get an opportunity to really play and be able to put it on film for the world to see."But increased production hasn't been the only difference this year for Joseph. So has winning as North Carolina State will chase its seventh win Saturday against Georgia Tech (3-5) while Penn State (1-5) faces Rutgers (2-4) having snapped its five-game losing streak."I check in on (Nittany Lions) here and there because I still have guys who play there that I'm close with," Joseph said. "But I don't really keep up with them, I just worry about my own season here. "There's only so much other football you can watch outside of game preparation."While the 2020 season remains first and foremost on Joseph's radar, he will have to address his football future this off-season. He'd like to secure an opportunity in the NFL but he'd also be eligible to return to North Carolina State next year due to the COVID'-19 pandemic.Joseph said he hasn't spoken much with Ekakitie regarding the pro ranks."I don't want to get ahead of myself," he said. "I want to stay in the moment and stay where I am presently and make sure I capitalize on and maximize everything that I can do to get to that point."If I get too carried away thinking about the end goal, people tend to forget the steps needed in order to get to the end goal. I don't want to get too carried away with that."It (Georgia Tech game) is a crucial game in my opinion. It will be our last (regular-season) game and it's an opportunity again to show the world what we're able to do . . . it's another opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press
Four men who were accused of fraud and corruption have been granted a stay of proceedings, after Court of Quebec Judge Joëlle Roy ruled their charter rights had been violated during the investigation.The decision affects four heads of engineering firms (Bernard Poulin, Dany Moreau, Kazimierz Olechnowicz, Normand Brousseau) and Robert Marcil, former director of roads and infrastructure for the City of Montreal.This is a blow to Quebec's anti-corruption unit, known by its French acronym UPAC, which carried out the investigation.In her 12-page decision, Roy echoed her 2019 ruling to grant a stay of proceedings to Frank Zampino, saying that for him and the other five accused, UPAC violated their charter rights when they recorded conversations between them and their lawyers.The five men and Zampino were all arrested by UPAC in September 2017 in connection with an alleged conspiracy that awarded municipal public contracts in exchange for money and political favours.Roy accused UPAC of "flagrant violations of the constitutional rights of the accused" and invalidated the original judge's authorization of the wiretaps.Roy said that she considers the UPAC investigation "flawed" and that "the evidence heard erodes the confidence in the rest of the investigation.""This is not a quick decision, made by a police officer in the heat of the moment. These are concerted, continuous acts involving several levels of decision-making," she wrote.She wrote that this represents one of the most "obvious cases in which a stay of proceedings is required."The Crown prosecutor has 30 days to appeal.
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
Ontario’s Ministry of Education says the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) will not lose nearly $15.2 million due to a student enrolment decline as anticipated, reducing fears of a budget deficit that all but assured cuts to future student programming. Last week, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced a “stabilization fund” for schools facing budget shortfalls due to low student enrolment — something the HWDSB has advocated for in recent weeks. The funding is “to help alleviate some of the impacts of unexpected enrolment declines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic” and would “provide flexibility for school boards to address a range of unanticipated funding issues,” the province said. Though the province did not initially indicate how much of the funding shortfall it would cover, ministry spokesperson Caitlin Clark told The Spectator on Monday that the board would receive the funding it had lost due to enrolment decline. The HWDSB announced in late October that it would lose a whopping $15.2 million from the province’s Grants for Student Needs (GSN) program because it was short 1,756 students from what it had projected last spring. The shortfall was the primary contributor to a budget deficit that board staff have said could amount to $18 million by the end of the year. With the province agreeing to cover the lost $15.2 million, the board will now face a more manageable deficit of roughly $2.8 million. “This funding will positively contribute to the reduction of our budget deficit and mitigate the financial impact of the unexpected enrolment decrease we experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HWDSB chair Alex Johnstone in a statement. “Staff will review these measures and share revised financial statements with trustees.” Early in November, in response to the initial funding shortfall, the HWDSB moved to surplus teachers and curb spending across the board in an effort to reduce its deficit by the end of the fiscal year. A report present at the board’s finance committee suggested the board could find savings by reducing teaching staff, self-contained classes, part-time educational assistants, school budgets, funding for governance and more. The board has not indicated if any of these cuts will be reinstated now that the province has agreed to foot the shortfall. Either way, the board will also be tasked with eliminating the remaining deficit in order to balance the budget by the end of the year — a task that is mandated by the province. Running a school board budget deficit is illegal, according to the Ontario Education Act, though Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government has relaxed the rules during the pandemic to allow school boards to run marginal deficits. The ministry said in October that it would accept budget deficits that comprise no more than two per cent of a board’s entire budget, which for the HWDSB is roughly $11.2 million. With an $18-million deficit, the board would exceed the two per cent threshold by approximately $6.8 million, but with a $2.8 million deficit the board would be well within the province’s limit. Jacob Lorinc, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
The future of health education is here, and it's at Seven Generations Education Institute (SGEI). SGEI campuses in Fort Frances, Kenora and Sioux Lookout are rolling out their brand-new Health Disciplines Simulation Labs in order to provide their students in various programs like nursing, paramedics and support worker with a top of the line and state of the art learning facility. The tools and technologies at their disposal will help to ensure each student hits the ground running when they get a job in their desired field, whether in a hospital or at the helm of an ambulance. In Fort Frances, the simulation lab takes up the entire back half of a classroom, purposely designed to simulate a real hospital setting with lifelike patients to get students comfortable with some of the things they will be doing on the job, according to SGEI Health Disciplines Coordinator Taylor Noble. “It's very unique and it's such a good learning experience for the students,” Noble said of the lab and tools within. “It helps because it gives [students] that ability to try to critically think and decide on the spot, in that moment, but also be in a stable controlled environment where they have that support from an instructor... but also prepares them for a real-life situation in the hospital.” The simulation lab contains three medical-grade hospital beds that each feature a Laerdal mannequin that is designed to be as life-like as possible. Each mannequin has several fully articulated joints and areas on the body that can be swapped out for different wounds or conditions. The lab also has an infant/child mannequin for modified procedures. The mannequins are so advanced that students will be able to check their pulse and blood pressure, listen to their heart and lungs for irregularities and administer mock medication through real syringes and IV needles. Taking things up another notch, the mannequins also have the ability to cough, wheeze and scream at the behest of an instructor who controls all of their functions via a tablet, ensuring the students can hone their skills in a safe but ultra-real environment. “We can monitor the carbon dioxide saturation, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure,” Noble explained. “We can actually connect fake blood concentrate in there, so they can actually inject the needles and get bloodflow back so they know they've hit the veins. Students are able to use the exact same equipment they would have access to in the hospital to practice.” In a room full of impressive and cutting edge tech, however, one item reigns above all. Tucked away in the far corner of the simulation lab is an unassuming white table that hides a staggering secret. The table, called the Anatomage Virtual Dissection Table, is like something out of Star Trek, a futuristic learning tool that turns anatomy lessons from the textbook into a 3D render right at their fingertips. Giving a demonstration, Noble showed how the table, functioning like a human-length iPad, can take a realistic image of a human body, with options to modify body type and gender, and strip off layers of skin, muscle, bone and more to display or highlight different parts of the body, like internal organs, the nervous system or more than 1,500 other systems the table is programmed for. It's a high definition look inside the human body and the level of detail that can be explored, along with some of the options for doing that exploring, might make it a tough sell for the squeamish. Staff at the school are still learning how to use all of the functions of the Anatomage, but even with their current understanding of what it can do, it gives SGEI students the opportunity to see and explore parts of the human body that wouldn't be possible outside of a morgue setting, a donated cadaver or other specialized education materials.“This provides more of that visualization aspect for the students” Noble said. “So for students who learn more visual, hands-on, they can come to this table and they can learn. They can cut, look at all the different organs. Anatomy and physiology is a huge concept, there's just so much content for them to have to learn, so for them to be able to learn not only the muscular-skeletal system but all the nerve pathways, lymphatic system, and so many students go throughout their schooling not actually being able to have that visualization piece, so they have this right at their fingertips to be able to utilize.” The Anatomage table is also fairly unique in the region, with only the SGEI's Kenora and Sioux Lookout campuses being the other two education facilities that have one in northwestern Ontario, according to Noble. Taken as a whole unit, the Health Disciplines Simulation Lab sets SGEI's health programs leaps and bounds apart from other health programs. The ability to practice in a hospital-like setting on “patients” who can give realistic feedback gives students a chance to get comfortable with their skills and knowledge in a safe place, long before ever setting foot in a professional medical building. “It allows Seven Generations Education Institute to enhance that learning experience and to give the most optimal experience, with all the equipment that we have, to make sure it's high functioning for students to be able to really learn,” Noble said. “And again, just to help them use this equipment to build that confidence, to feel comfortable, we tried to have the simulation lab really mimic the healthcare settings with the same types of equipment just to build that confidence and security for when they go into the clinical setting.” Currently SGEI has a cohort of seven students enrolled in its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program here at the Fort Frances campus, but the school will also begin taking applications from students for its Paramedic, Practical Nursing and Personal Support Worker programs “very soon,” according to Noble. Each of those programs are scheduled to begin in September 2021 and will also make use of the simulation lab to enhance their learning. For more information on Seven Generations Education Institute or any of the programs they offer, visit their website at www.7generations.org. Ken Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
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