MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin finished a recount of its presidential results on Sunday, confirming Democrat Joe Biden's victory over President Donald Trump in the key battleground state. Trump vowed to challenge the outcome in court even before the recount concluded.Dane County was the second and last county to finish its recount, reporting a 45-vote gain for Trump. Milwaukee County, the state's other big and overwhelmingly liberal county targeted in a recount that Trump paid $3 million for, reported its results Friday, a 132-vote gain for Biden.Taken together, the two counties barely budged Biden's winning margin of about 20,600 votes, giving the winner a net gain of 87 votes.“As we have said, the recount only served to reaffirm Joe Biden’s victory in Wisconsin," Danielle Melfi, who led Biden's campaign in Wisconsin, said in a statement to The Associated Press.Trump campaign spokeswoman Jenna Ellis said in a statement that the Wisconsin recounts have “revealed serious issues” about whether the ballots were legal, but she offered no specific details to validate her claim.“As we have said from the very beginning, we want every legal vote, and only legal votes to be counted, and we will continue to uphold our promise to the American people to fight for a free and fair election,” Ellis said.With no precedent for overturning a result as large as Biden's, Trump was widely expected to head to court once the recount was finished. His campaign challenged thousands of absentee ballots during the recount, and even before it was complete, Trump tweeted that he would sue.“The Wisconsin recount is not about finding mistakes in the count, it is about finding people who have voted illegally, and that case will be brought after the recount is over, on Monday or Tuesday,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “We have found many illegal votes. Stay tuned!”The deadline to certify the vote is Tuesday. Certification is done by the Democratic chair of the Wisconsin Election Commission, which is bipartisan.The Wisconsin Voters Alliance, a conservative group, has already filed a lawsuit against state election officials seeking to block certification of the results. It makes many of the claims Trump is expected to make. Gov. Tony Evers’ attorneys have asked the state Supreme Court to dismiss the suit. Evers, a Democrat, said the complaint is a “mishmash of legal distortions” that uses factual misrepresentations in an attempt to take voting rights away from millions of Wisconsin residents.Another suit filed over the weekend by Wisconsin resident Dean Mueller argues that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted.Trump’s attorneys have complained about absentee ballots where voters identified themselves as “indefinitely confined,” allowing them to cast an absentee ballot without showing a photo ID; ballots that have a certification envelope with two different ink colours, indicating a poll worker may have helped complete it; and absentee ballots that don’t have a separate written record for its request, such as in-person absentee ballots.Election officials in the two counties counted those ballots during the recount, but marked them as exhibits at the request of the Trump campaign.Trump’s campaign has already failed elsewhere in court without proof of widespread fraud, which experts widely agree doesn’t exist. Trump legal challenges have failed in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania.The Associated Press
TORONTO — Eighteen students and a staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 at an east-end Toronto elementary school. A spokesman for the Toronto District School Board says the staff and students at Thorncliffe Park Public School were tested for the virus as part of a new pilot project. Ryan Bird says 14 classes have been asked to self-isolate, but the school will remain open. In a letter to parents sent Sunday night, the school principal says that's because four per cent of the school tested positive, compared to a 16 per cent positivity rate in the broader Thorncliffe Park community. He says he understands the cases are worrisome, but notes the school is actively monitoring the situation and communicating with Toronto Public Health. The Ontario government announced Thursday that it was introducing voluntary testing for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff at schools in regions with high infection rates. The expanded testing will be provided for four weeks in schools in Toronto, Peel and York regions, and Ottawa. Those who show symptoms or have been exposed to a COVID-19 case should continue to stay home and get tested at an assessment centre, the province said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Tougher COVID-19 restrictions are taking effect today in five Ontario regions in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. The provincial government announced last week it would move Windsor-Essex into the red alert level of its tiered framework, the strictest level short of a lockdown. In that level, indoor dining at restaurants and bars is capped at 10 customers, while social gatherings must have fewer than five people indoors and 25 outdoors. Meanwhile, Halidimand-Norfolk is shifting to the orange level, and three other regions -- Hastings Prince Edward, Lambton and Northwestern -- are going into the yellow level. The province says the regions will stay in their new categories for at least 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, before a change is considered. Officials say they continue to monitor public health data weekly to see if any other regions require additional intervention. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A new report on food bank use across Ontario shows there was a surge in demand for those services when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the province over the winter. The latest study released today by Feed Ontario says the number of people accessing food banks had already gone up over the previous year when the global health crisis began, which exacerbated existing issues. The organization included a special analysis of the impact of the pandemic alongside its usual report on annual food bank use, which gathers data from 130 member food banks and 1,100 affiliate agencies. The annual report looks at data from April 2019 to this April, while the pandemic analysis covers data from 71 members and 339 affiliates between March 17 — when Ontario declared a health emergency — and September. It says all food banks reported a significant increase in the number of first-time users in the first four months of the pandemic. And 20 per cent of food banks surveyed reported seeing a "continued surge" in the number of people accessing their services on an ongoing basis — an increase of five to 54 per cent — even beyond that period. Government intervention in the form of income support programs or eviction bans helped reduce the demand for food banks in many regions later in the pandemic, the report says, as did the emergence of community initiatives such as meal programs. "What this means is that lowered numbers are not always representative of a decrease in need, but rather a redistribution of community support services that fall outside of our network’s data collection and surveying," the organization says in the report. It also notes that some people, notably seniors, were too afraid to leave their homes to access community services, which may have contributed to the decrease in demand. Food banks in Burlington, Cornwall, Kanata, Orillia and Windsor surveyed close to 200 or their visitors in September and found each said the pandemic had made the challenges they already faced much more difficult, the report says. "Many survey respondents reported incurring increased debt to help pay for monthly necessities, as well as choosing to go without food in order to pay the bills," the document says. "Perhaps most staggering is that one out of two survey respondents reported that they are worried about facing eviction or defaulting on their mortgage in the coming months." The number of people accessing Ontario's food banks between April 1, 2019 and March 31st of this year went up more than five per cent compared with the previous year, to 537,575, according to the report. Feed Ontario says its data shows the primary drivers of continued growth in food bank use are inadequate social supports, precarious employment and a lack of affordable housing. More than 65 per cent of food bank users in the last year listed social assistance programs such as Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program as their primary source of income, the report says. Food banks continued to see a rise in the number of employed adults using their services, with an eight per cent increase in the last year and a 44 per cent increase over the last four, it says. "This continuing trend is largely the result of a rise in casual, contract, and part-time employment, which makes it difficult for wageworkers to secure sufficient income each month, changes to Ontario’s labour laws, including the removal of paid sick days, and the inadequate support and accessibility of worker support programs," the document says. The report says more than 86 per cent of food bank users in the last year were living in rental units or social housing and spent most of their income on rent. What's more, food banks have seen a 27 per cent increase in the last year in the number of users living in precarious housing such as emergency shelters or staying with friends and family, the report says. The organization does not collect data on race but acknowledged racialized communities face systemic hurdles as well. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
Kawartha Dairy announced on Sunday that it is recalling some of its ice cream products due to the possible presence of pieces of metal, a release from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said.The recalled products from the Ontario dairy include the company's chocolate chip cookie dough and mint chip ice cream, flavours sold in 1.5-litre and 11.4-litre containers.People who purchased these products should throw them out or return them to where they were purchased, the CFIA release said. The company, which is based out of Bobcaygeon, Ont., triggered the recall, the agency added.The products are sold in Ontario.The CFIA also announced that it is conducting a food safety investigation into the dairy. "If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings," it said in the release. "The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing the recalled products from the marketplace."There have been no reported injuries associated with consuming these products, the agency said.
Steeles Avenue is the border between Toronto and York Region, two communities under different COVID-19 restrictions — including non-essential, in-store shopping.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden fractured his right foot while playing with one of his dogs, an injury discovered in a scan Sunday and that will likely require him to wear a boot for several weeks, his doctor said.Biden suffered the injury on Saturday and visited an orthopedist in Newark, Delaware, on Sunday afternoon, his office said.“Initial x-rays did not show any obvious fracture,” but medical staff ordered a more detailed CT scan, his doctor, Kevin O’Connor, said in a statement. The subsequent scan found tiny fractures of two small bones in the middle of his right foot, O’Connor said.“It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks,” O’Connor said.Fractures are a concern generally as people age, but Biden’s appears to be a relatively mild one based on his doctor’s statement and the planned treatment. At 78 he will be the oldest president when he’s inaugurated in January; he often dismissed questions about his age during the campaign.Reporters covering the president-elect were not afforded the opportunity to see Biden enter the doctor's office Sunday, despite multiple requests. Leaving the doctor's office to head to an imaging centre for his CT scan, Biden was visibly limping, though he walked without a crutch or other aid.Biden sustained the injury playing with Major, one of the Bidens’ two dogs. They adopted Major in 2018, and acquired their first dog, Champ, after the 2008 election. The Bidens have said they’ll be bringing their dogs to the White House and also plan to get a cat.Last December he released a doctor's report that disclosed he takes a statin to keep his cholesterol at healthy levels, but his doctor described him as “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.”___Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be? Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster on Monday announced “pandemic” as its 2020 word of the year. “That probably isn't a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press. “Often the big news story has a technical word that's associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It's probably the word by which we'll refer to this period in the future,” he said. The word took on urgent specificity in March, when the coronavirus crisis was designated a pandemic, but it started to trend up on Merriam-Webster.com as early January and again in February when the first U.S. deaths and outbreaks on cruise ships occurred. On March 11, when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, lookups on the site for pandemic spiked hugely. Site interest for the word has remained significantly high through the year, Sokolowski said. By huge, Sokolowski means searches for pandemic on March 11 were 115,806% higher than lookups experienced on the same date last year. Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for people or population. The latter is the same root of “democracy,” Sokolowski noted. The word pandemic dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “universal” and more specifically to disease in a medical text in the 1660s, he said. That was after the plagues of the Middle Ages, Sokolowski said. He attributes the lookup traffic for pandemic not entirely to searchers who didn't know what it meant but also to those on the hunt for more detail, or for inspiration or comfort. “We see that the word love is looked up around Valentine's Day and the word cornucopia is looked up at Thanksgiving,” Sokolowski said. “We see a word like surreal spiking when a moment of national tragedy or shock occurs. It's the idea of dictionaries being the beginning of putting your thoughts in order.” Merriam-Webster acted quickly in March to add and update entries on its site for words related to the pandemic. While “coronavirus” had been in the dictionary for decades, “COVID-19” was coined in February. Thirty-four days later, Merriam-Webster had it up online, along with a couple dozen other entries that were revised to reflect the health emergency. “That's the shortest period of time we've ever seen a word go from coinage to entry,” Sokolowski said. “The word had this urgency.” Coronavirus was among runners up for word of the year as it jumped into the mainstream. Quarantine, asymptomatic, mamba, kraken, defund, antebellum, irregardless, icon, schadenfreude and malarkey were also runners up based on lookup spikes around specific events. Particularly interesting to word nerds like Sokolowski, a lexicographer, is quarantine. With Italian roots, it was used during the Black Death of the 1300s for the period of time a new ship coming into port would have to wait outside a city to prevent disease. The “quar” in quarantine derives from 40, for the 40 days required. Spikes for mamba occurred after the January death of Kobe Bryant, whose nickname was the Black Mamba. A mass of lookups occurred for kraken in July after Seattle's new National Hockey League franchise chose the mythical sea monster as its name, urged along by fans. Country group Lady Antebellum's name change to Lady A drove dictionary interest in June, while malarkey got a boost from President-elect Joe Biden, who's fond of using the word. Icon was front and centre in headlines after the deaths of U.S. Rep. John Lewis and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The Merriam-Webster site has about 40 million unique monthly users and about 100 million monthly page views. Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
Alberta reported 1,608 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths on Saturday.The total number of active cases in Alberta grew to 15,692, according to the province. There are 435 people in the hospital and 95 in intensive care. According to the province there is a "brief delay in a death being reported to Alberta Health or in a death being confirmed post-mortem as having COVID-19 as a contributing cause".The nine deaths brings the provincial total to 533. Five of which are linked to the outbreak at the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre in Edmonton. They include a man and woman, both in their 80s who died on Nov. 25. They had underlying conditions along with COVID-19. A man in his 70s who died on Nov. 26 who also had underlying conditions. Another man and woman in their 90s who died on Nov. 27 also had one or more additional conditions.The remaining deaths include a man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at Westlock Continuing Care Centre in North Zone. The province did not confirm if he had underlying conditions. Another man in his 90s in south zone who died on Nov. 28 also with underlying conditions. Another man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Laurel Heights Retirement Residence in Edmonton Zone who died on Nov. 28, and a man in his 80s who died on Nov. 29 due to the outbreak at Clifton Manor in Calgary Zone. The province could not confirm underlying conditions for either. A regional breakdown of cases as of Saturday shows the impact of COVID-19 in different parts of the province: * Calgary zone: 5,756 active cases * South zone: 642 active cases * Edmonton zone: 7,230 active cases * North zone: 857 active cases * Central zone: 1,101 active cases * Unknown: 106 active casesThe majority of people in the hospital and ICU are from the Edmonton zone. There are 222 people hospitalized in Edmonton and 50 in intensive care. In comparison, Calgary has 138 people in hospital and 33 in intensive care. The remaining zones' hospitalizations are in double digits.
TORONTO — Tessa Virtue doesn't feel the same sense of exhilaration or rush of adrenaline as she did standing at centre-ice after a gold-medal performance.At least not on that scale or of that magnitude. And that's okay. "There are so many things that are making me really content and joyful that were just impossible to experience as an athlete in training," Virtue said. "So, there's sort of something offsetting that where I might not be getting that adrenaline rush, there's so much that I feel passionate about and new goals that I'm striving for - which is both scary and exhilarating."Virtue and Scott Moir were among the 114 athletes, artists, scholars and community leaders named to the Order of Canada on Friday. They're the most decorated ice dancers in history, capturing five Olympic medals, including a pair of ice dance gold in 2010 and 2018.Virtue is swamped with school work these days as part of Queens University's Executive MBA program - one of the new pursuits that's pushed her out of her comfort zone.She's typed out frantic text messages to retired Paralympic swimmer Ben Huot - who graduated from Queens' EMBA program - saying, "Have I made a mistake? What am I doing?" she laughed. "(Huot) been so wonderfully supportive. "But I am so happy I did it. And it's an extraordinary cohort, everyone is so impressive and has accomplished such wonderful things and in such diverse spheres, and so the conversations are so exhilarating, and especially right now, I'm so grateful to have the chance to sort of expand my mind."Virtue spent the first few months of the pandemic living in North Vancouver with boyfriend and Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly. The power couple joined Arkells frontman on an Instagram live stream back in March. They appeared virtually on the Great Kitchen Party: Home Edition a month later.The couple is back living in Toronto now, and recently purchased a puppy they named Zoe.Virtue and Moir's captivating free dance to music from "Moulin Rouge" in Pyeongchang will endure as one of the greatest Olympic figure skating performances ever. Just one of the numerous YouTube streams has over 1.3 million views.But Virtue has barely watched it."I've seen parts of it here and there. And I love the feeling that it evokes in me," she said. "I'm still so proud of that moment of course. But I can't decide if it feels like it was yesterday or honestly if I feel just a few lifetimes away from it. So, it's like that disconnect, right, where I kind of hold onto the feeling that we had when the program ended. "And when we reflect together, so much of our sporting life just seems so fresh that I'm sure there hasn't been enough time for perspective, right?"Virtue and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., competed for two decades. Earning Order of Canada honours, she said, was an honour that had her reflecting on their early days."This is not something we would have ever known to even dream for. We weren't seven and nine (years old) cruising around the ice together talking about this, it seemed unfathomable," she said. "And yet, we watched so many of our friends and peers along the way receive this incredible honour. I just feel humbled, and just so, so honoured."Virtue talked by telephone Sunday before appearing virtually on Hayley Wickenheiser's "WickFest: Female Hockey Festival," calling a few minutes early to ensure she wouldn't have to duck out too soon. Olympic athletes, both active and retired, have been front and centre in the battle against the global pandemic. Wickenheiser, of course, teamed up with actor Ryan Reynolds and others for "Conquer COVID-19," an initiative that delivered much-needed personal protective equipment to hospitals. Numerous other athletes have hosted virtual practices, information sessions, etc. for Canadian kids."It can be underestimated, I guess, what that kind of mentorship or connection with an athlete does," Virtue said. "I think about those kids watching the next Olympics and how invested they'll be and it's pretty neat to share that."The international figure skating schedule has been a bust since last March when COVID-19 forced cancellation of the world championships in Montreal.Keegan Messing is the only Canadian to have competed so far this season (Skate America). Skate Canada International was scrapped, and if Stockholm, Sweden does manage to host the world championships in March - organizers want to host it in a "bubble" - there's no guarantee Canada will even go because of lack of preparation, quarantine restrictions, etc."I think there's a caveat to everything in that it offers great perspective. You realize just how seemingly insignificant ice dance can be or skating," Virtue said. "But at the same time, in their relative spheres, and as far as their goals and pursuits go, it's huge to miss out on one competition, let alone a season. "I think just changing that benchmark of knowing when to prepare for something, how a peak, how to maximize your time, the unknown, the uncertainty, like so many people are facing, must be really challenging. And my heart goes out to (the skaters)."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
Deaths from malaria due to disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic to services designed to tackle the mosquito-borne disease will far exceed those killed by COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organization warned on Monday. More than 409,000 people globally - most of them babies in the poorest parts of Africa - were killed by malaria last year, the WHO said in its latest global malaria report, and COVID-19 will almost certainly make that toll higher in 2020. "Our estimates are that depending on the level of service disruption (due to COVID-19) ... there could be an excess of malaria deaths of somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000 in sub-Saharan Africa, most of them in young children," Pedro Alsonso, director of the WHO's malaria programme, told reporters.
BANGKOK — Thailand’s indefatigable pro-democracy activists took to Bangkok's streets again Sunday, this time to protest the army as they push forward with their campaign for sweeping reforms, including to the nation's monarchy.Around 800 protesters marched to the base of the 11th Infantry Regiment, which is closely associated with the country’s royal palace. Their number grew to well over 1,000 as they settled in for speeches by protest leaders.An advance group of protesters had already pulled away two decrepit buses that had been used to block the entrance to the base and removed strands of razor wire. A large contingent of riot police, several rows deep, stood their ground in front of the gate but no violence was reported by the end of the rally.The protesters believe that the army undermines democracy in Thailand, and that King Maha Vajiralongkorn wields too much power and influence in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy.The student-led protesters for months now have been demanding reforms to make the monarchy more accountable, even though criticism of the institution has long been considered taboo and comments judged defamatory of the king and key royals are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.“People should be able to criticize the king. People should be able to inspect what he does. In this way, people will respect and love him more,” said activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who served seven years in prison for defaming the monarchy and is facing criminal charges in connection with this year’s protests.The protesters also want Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down and the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic.As the army chief in 2014, Prayuth led a coup ousting an elected government. His military junta oversaw the rewriting of the constitution, which shifted power from elected politicians to unelected bodies, and he was returned to power after elections held under the new rules last year.Prayuth faces a legal challenge on Wednesday, when the constitutional Court is to rule on whether he illegally stayed in army housing after he retired from the military at the end of September 2014. If found guilty, he could be forced out of the prime minister's post. Protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak urged the crowd to rally outside the court on the day of the verdict.The site of Sunday's protest was symbolic for several reasons.Last year, the 11th Infantry Regiment was shifted from the army’s chain of command and made part of the Royal Security Command, answerable directly to the king. The action was one of several denounced by protesters as an example of the palace taking powers that should not be allowed under constitutional rule.Although it was a bloodless army revolt in 1932 that ended the absolute monarchy and installed constitutional rule, the military and the palace have been closely allied for decades. By promoting and defending the royal institution, the army lays claim to being the protector of the nation, while the palace can count on the army to put down any threats to its position of privilege.There have been 20 military coups since 1932, the most recent ones in 2006 and 2014. Because it is based in Bangkok, the 11th Infantry Regiment has been a key player in coups, or opposing them, according to the prevailing political climate.While most coups are bloodless, the army has not hesitated to use force to crush threats to the established order.In 2010, more than 90 people were killed and almost 2,000 injured during nine weeks of protests that saw part of central Bangkok occupied by protesters who were eventually cleared out by the army. Prayuth, then a senior army general, was involved in the crackdown.In announcing plans for Sunday’s protest, a group from Bangkok’s Thammasat University explained on Twitter that the regiment was targeted “because this unit suppressed people in 2010 and it was the main force for the previous coups.”Near the end of the rally, protesters threw red paint in the direction of the army base — some splattering on shields held by the police — to symbolize the 2010 bloodshed.___Associated Press journalist Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul contributed to this report.Grant Peck, The Associated Press
A state crew that buzzed through the wilderness, counting bighorn sheep from a helicopter, found the alien-looking object on Nov. 18 and touched off international sci-fi speculation, harkening to the classic Stanley Kubrick 1968 film, "2001: A Space Odyssey." In the Kubrick movie, an alien monolith is a recurring symbol that appears to play a role in the development of human evolution. Neither the federal Bureau of Land Management nor the state's Department of Public Safety said they had any idea.
OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole accused the Liberal government Sunday of putting too much emphasis on partnering with a Chinese company for a COVID-19 vaccine in what turned out to be a failed deal. O'Toole said the Trudeau government only turned its attention to pre-ordering tens of millions of vaccine doses from companies such as Pfizer and Moderna in August when its collaboration between the National Research Council and Chinese vaccine-maker CanSino finally collapsed after months of delays. The Council had issued CanSino a licence to use a Canadian biological product as part of a COVID-19 vaccine. CanSino was supposed to provide samples of the vaccine for clinical trials at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University, but the Chinese government blocked the shipments. "I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China," O'Toole said at a morning news conference. "If you look at the timeline, that's when Canada started getting serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options," he added, saying he was concerned that "the Trudeau government was willing to almost double down on partnering with China" earlier in the pandemic. The government announced its major vaccine purchases in August after it confirmed the CanSino partnership had fallen through. At the time, it said its decision had come after careful consultations with its vaccine task force of health experts. The CanSino partnership with Dalhousie predated the deep freeze in Canada-China relations that occurred after the People's Republic imprisoned two Canadian men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in apparent retaliation for the RCMP's arrest of Chinese high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou nearly two years ago on an American extradition warrant. This past week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a firestorm when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated for COVID-19 because the first doses off the production lines will be used in the countries where they are made. As questions grew about the CanSino deal, Trudeau continued to defend his government's vaccine procurement policy, which he says has secured multiple options for the country. Trudeau also appointed a Canadian Forces general to lead the logistics of an eventual vaccine rollout with the Public Health Agency of Canada. The chairman of American vaccine maker Moderna told the CBC on Sunday that Canada is near the front of the line to receive 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it pre-ordered. Noubar Afeyan was asked on CBC's Rosemary Barton Live whether the fact that Canada committed to pre-purchase its doses before other jurisdictions means it will get its supply first. Afeyan confirmed that was the case. "The people who are willing to move early on with even less proof of the efficacy have assured the amount of supply they were willing to sign up to," he said. O'Toole said with Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland poised to deliver the government's long-awaited fiscal update on Monday, the Liberals need to do two things to spur economic recovery: offer a better plan on how it will rollout vaccines for Canadians and step up the distribution of rapid tests. "There can't be a full economy, a growing economy, people working, people being productive without the tools to keep that happening in a pandemic. Those two tools are rapid tests, and a vaccine." Freeland's fall economic statement is expected to give a full accounting of the government’s record spending on programs to combat the pandemic. In July, the deficit was forecast to be at a record $343.2 billion but some estimates say it could easily top $400 billion. The government could announce new spending such as taking steps towards a national child-care system, and relief for battered industries such as travel and restaurants that will face an uphill struggle to recover from the pandemic. NDP finance critic Peter Julien sent Freeland a three-page letter urging her to take action on a variety of fronts to help struggling Canadian families during the pandemic. They included taking concrete action on establishing a national pharmacare plan to help Canadians pay for soaring prescription drug costs, and establish a national day-care strategy to help women who have been disproportionately hindered by the pandemic. Julien also urged Freeland to help Indigenous communities and abandon the government's plans to pay for the Trans-Mountain Pipeline and ramp up its fight against climate change. Green party Leader Annamie Paul called on Freeland to deliver "a positive vision for a green recovery" to accelerate Canada's transition to a carbon-neutral economy. "We are optimistic that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be widely available next year and so we must be prepared for what comes next," Paul said in a statement. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
A group of Quebec artists are coming together to perform a benefit in honour of Joyce Echequan — an Atikamekw woman who shared a live video of abuse she faced from Joliette hospital staff hours before her death.The concert, called Waskapitan, was pre-recorded in Joliette last week and will be made available online as of Thursday Dec. 3.The lineup includes Elisapie, Ariane Moffatt, Florent Vollant, Patrick Watson, Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, Richard Séguin, Dominique Fils-Aimé, Richard Desjardins, Boucar Diouf and Patrice Robitaille.While the event is being released on demand for free, all funds raised through donations will go to the Lanaudière Native Friendship Centre."Waskapitan in Atikamekw means 'let's come together' and I think we need that more than ever," said Elisapie, who is co-organizing the event.She said this is an opportunity to raise money for expanded services at the Friendship Centre, showcase Indigenous culture and, most of all, pay respect to Echequan's memory."It really shook everybody, it really shook me as a mother, as a human being, as a woman," she told CBC.Jennifer Brazeau, director of the Lanaudière Native Friendship Centre, said that artists have a unique power to reach out and bring people together."We believe this is one of the vectors of change that we can implant after the tragedy to look toward how we can rebuild our communities," she said.She's also hoping the message will reach beyond her local community."We didn't want the issue to be solely the responsibility of Joliette. The events happened here in Joliette [but] this is an issue across the country."The concert will feature both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists including some collaborations, added Elisapie."There will be times when there will be a real musical sharing of cultures. That's what we really wanted to highlight. We have to learn to be closer, to be curious, to be there for each other," she said.The show will be available online from December 3 to January 3.
Officials in southern Ontario fined businesses, charged anti-maskers and busted at least one massive party over the weekend as the province recorded another 1,708 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The enforcement in York, Hamilton and Peel came after a week that saw record-setting viral case counts and the introduction of more stringent public health measures in some regions. In Mississauga, Ont., a part of Peel Region which is currently under lockdown, police said authorities had broken up a party with 60 attendees at a short-term rental unit. "It's a tough time for everyone," Deputy Chief Marc Andrews of the Peel Regional Police tweeted. "These antics help no one." He said bylaw officers issued 27 fines of $880, and three Part 3 summons to the hosts, who he said could face at least $10,000 in fines if convicted. In York Region, officials continued an enforcement blitz at businesses to make sure they were following public health protocols for the province's "red" zones. The rules limit indoor dining to 10 customers at a time with physical distancing in place. Gyms, meanwhile, can only have 10 patrons inside at once, while 25 people can attend outdoor classes. Officers inspected 256 businesses on Sunday and issued charges at 16, a news release said. An L.A. Fitness location in East Gwillimbury, Ont., and the Trio Sportsplex in Vaughan, Ont., are among those facing charges. Authorities have inspected 867 businesses since Friday, laid 32 charges and completed 1,151 "compliance education activities," the release said. Farther west, Hamilton Police announced they had charged three men -- aged 26, 48 and 72 -- at a "Hugs over Masks" protest in the city's downtown area on Sunday. Police said 35 people attended the event, exceeding the maximum number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings. "Prior to the event, Hamilton Police identified the organizer and informed him that the planned gathering would breach offences under the Reopening Ontario Act and leave him open to charges, police said in a written statement. "The organizer went ahead with the event." All three men -- one of whom police said was the organizer -- were charged under the Act, and would face a fine of at least $10,000 if convicted. The charges came as the province logged 24 new deaths linked to COVID-19 on Sunday. Of the new cases reported on Sunday, 503 came from Peel Region and 463 were identified in Toronto, Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet. Those are the only two regions under the "lockdown" phase of the province's tiered, colour-coded pandemic response framework. She said another 185 were in York Region, which is at the red alert level, the next most stringent under the provincial system. The province said nearly 54,000 tests were completed since the last daily update, and 1,443 cases are newly considered resolved. The numbers came a day before more stringent COVID-19 measures were set to take effect in five Ontario regions. Windsor-Essex will be moved to the red level, Haldimand-Norfolk to orange, and three others -- Hastings Prince Edward, Lambton and Northwestern -- to yellow. Provincial data released on Thursday suggested case counts were flattening somewhat, but Ontario recorded its highest number of daily infections the next day, at 1,855. Officials have said it could take up to two weeks after new restrictions are imposed to see any improvements. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Somehow, there are even more Christmas movies on the way.
VICTORIA — The British Columbia cabinet minister appointed to lead the province's COVID-19 pandemic recovery says he plans to mount a large team effort from inside and outside of government to spur economic success.Ravi Kahlon, a former Canadian Olympian in field hockey, said he will look to involve ministries, businesses, communities and workers in an effort to provide immediate help to struggling businesses and steer towards a post-pandemic future focused on innovation."We have to have everyone working together," he said in a recent interview."You look at how businesses have worked together with government to deliver pieces during the pandemic," said Kahlon. "That's the same mentality we're going to need when we get out. We can put critical pieces in place, incentives and supports, so that we can bounce back at a rate which most people in B.C. expect."Premier John Horgan appointed Kahlon as jobs, economic recovery and innovation minister last week, saying he piled enormous responsibilities onto the two-term New Democrat from suburban Vancouver and expected results.Horgan appointed his cabinet following last month's election where the NDP won a majority government, capturing 57 of 87 seats.Kahlon, 41, who previously served as a parliamentary secretary in the forests ministry and led the reintroduction of B.C.'s Human Rights Commission, said he will consult broadly on the recovery."My view with everything is the government doesn't have a monopoly on good ideas," he said. "There are good ideas in the community. There are good ideas in the business community, good ideas from local elected officials." Horgan issued mandate letters to the ministers and parliamentary secretaries stating the government's overall goals: people first, clean environment, Indigenous reconciliation, equity and anti-racism, health and strong economy.He also provided each of the 37 ministers, ministers of state and parliamentary secretaries with individual mandate goals. Among the goals for ministers are: free transit for children 12 years old and younger, drop the seven per cent provincial sales tax on e-bikes and consider public condominium insurance if the issue of skyrocketing rates is not resolved by 2021.Horgan asked Kahlon to "deliver initiatives that will directly support small businesses and build an inclusive economic recovery across B.C."Prof. Tom Koch, a medical geographer at the University of B.C. who specializes in mapping diseases, said Horgan's cabinet should spend more time fighting today's pandemic than looking to a recovery."The priority of looking forward to me is a little premature," he said. "It has to be done ... but the question immediately is what are we doing about hospitals and about hospital capacity and what are we doing about trying to rein in those areas where accelerators are occurring."B.C.'s most recent COVID-19 infection report saw a record daily high of 911 cases Friday, while the death toll is nearing 400 people.Koch said economic recovery should play a part in Horgan's cabinet and government direction, but at this time when cases are surging, the premier appears to be saying, "do we basically want to start planning the victory parade in the second quarter."Kahlon said he expects businesses, communities, governments and people to work together to battle the pandemic."I think the pandemic is going to push societies to a place where innovation will be critical and I think we're well-positioned in B.C. to be not only leaders in Canada but I think world leaders."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
SALT LAKE CITY — A mysterious silver monolith that was placed in the Utah desert has disappeared less than 10 days after it was spotted by wildlife biologists performing a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep, federal officials and witnesses said. “We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the ‘monolith’ has been removed from Bureau of Land Management public lands by an unknown party,” on Nov. 27, BLM spokesperson Kimberly Finch said in a statement. The agency did not remove the structure, she said. The Utah Department of Public Safety said biologists spotted the monolith on Nov. 18, a report that garnered international attention. It was about 11 feet (3.4 metres) tall with sides that appeared to be made of stainless steel. While Utah officials did not say specifically where the monolith was located, people soon found it on satellite images dating back to 2016 and determined its GPS co-ordinates, prompting people to hike into the area. Reporters with The Salt Lake Tribune hiked to the spot on Saturday and confirmed that it was gone. Spencer Owen of Salt Lake City said he saw the monolith Friday afternoon and camped in the region overnight, but as he hiked to the area again on Saturday people passing him on the trail warned him it was gone, the Tribune reported. When he arrived at the spot, all that was left was a triangular piece of metal covering a triangular-shaped hole in the rocks. “I was really bummed,” said Owen, who posted a video on his Instagram. “It was so pretty and shiny. I wanted to go see it again.” Riccardo Marino and his girlfriend Sierra Van Meter were travelling from Colorado to California on Friday and decided to stop and see the object after finding the GPS co-ordinates online. “This was just a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we couldn't miss out,” Marino told KUTV. On the way, they passed a long-bed truck with a large object in the back and he said he joked “oh look, there's the Utah monolith right there,” he said. When they arrived at the spot, it was gone. Steve Adams said he left Helper, in central Utah, at 7 a.m. Saturday to drive to the area. When he arrived and asked someone for directions he was told the tower was gone. He and some friends made the hike anyway. “It was pretty disappointing,” he told the Tribune. “We were really excited to go down and have an adventure to see it. It feels like it was everybody’s and then it was nobody’s. It’s gone.” Riccardo Marino The Associated Press
A slew of travel restrictions and rules meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be extended into January, the federal government said Sunday, as case counts continued to rise steadily across the country.In a statement, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the measures would be in effect until Jan. 21, 2021 for travellers entering Canada from a country other than the United States.The rules were first imposed near the start of the global outbreak."We have introduced a number of policies to keep Canadians safe but must remain flexible and adapt to the evolving COVID-19 situation," Blair said in a statement.The ministers said restrictions for visitors crossing the border from the U.S. are currently in place until Dec. 21, but may be extended. Among the new rules is a requirement for anyone entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days.But the ministers also said they're looking to make it possible for "high-performance, amateur sporting organizations" to hold major international events on Canadian soil.They said the successful applicants would need to present a public health plan as well as show they've secured the support of provincial and territorial governments and health authorities.The Department of Canadian Heritage will issue authorizations in consultation with the Health Agency of Canada, the ministers said.The announcement comes as COVID-19 case counts continued to mount, though at levels slightly below the record-setting daily tallies seen in several regions in recent weeks.Public health officials in Quebec reported 1,395 new cases on Sunday, while Ontario recorded 1,708 new infections -- pushing the provincial totals since the pandemic began to 141,038 and 114,746, respectively.Cases also have gone up steadily in Atlantic Canada, with New Brunswick reporting 14 new diagnoses on Sunday and Newfoundland and Labrador recording four additional infections.Public health officials in Nova Scotia logged 10 new cases, all in the province's central zone, which includes Halifax.Manitoba reported 365 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and 11 new deaths -- almost all of which were linked to outbreaks in care homes. Health officials said nine of the 11 deaths were people in their 80s and 90s, one was a man in his 60s and one was a man in his 70s.The case count in Nunavut also rose by 13, while Saskatchewan reported 351 new infections. Alberta reported its second highest number of new COVID-19 cases, logging 1,608, with nine more deaths. Canada's top public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said the highest rate of infection is among people aged 80 and over, while more outbreaks are happening in long-term care homes."Cases are increasing among older adults," Tam said in a statement.Both Quebec and Manitoba reported new, significant outbreaks at such facilities.A Montreal public health agency on Sunday transferred 20 residents of a long-term care home to two local hospitals after a COVID-19 outbreak drew widespread concern this week.Officials said 30 residents had tested positive for COVID-19 at Maimonides Geriatric Centre. Ten residents there have died during the pandemic’s second wave, according to the latest Quebec Health Department data.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.The Canadian Press