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
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
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
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
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
Australia demanded an apology after a senior Chinese official posted a fake image of an Australian soldier holding a knife with blood on it to the throat of an Afghan child, calling it "truly repugnant" and demanding it be taken down. Prime Minister Scott Morrison called a media briefing to condemn the posting of the image, marking another downturn in deteriorating relations between the two countries. The Australian government has asked Twitter to remove the image, posted on Monday by China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on his official Twitter account, Morrison said.
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.
VAL D'OR, Que. — Marshall Lessard scored twice as the Val-d'Or Foreurs beat the Rimouski Oceanic 5-1 in Val-d'Or on Sunday afternoon.The Foreurs raced to a 3-0 lead before Rimouski's William Dumoulin scored in the second period to cut the deficit to two goals. Val d'Or, however, got two more goals to put the game away. In addition to Lessard, Justin Robidas, Marc-Olivier Racine-Roy and Maxence Guenette also scored for Val d'Or. William Blackburn stopped 23 shots for Val-d'Or. Matthew Dunsmoor combined with Raphaël Audet for 26 saves for Rimouski. Val-d'Or outshot Rimouski 31-24.DRAKKAR 4 HUSKIES 0ROUYN-NORANDA, Que. -- The Baie-Comeau Drakkar defeated the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 4-0 in Rouyn-Noranda on Sunday afternoon. Felix Gagnon, Xavier Fortin, Julien Letourneau and Julien Hebert each scored a goal for the Drakkar in the victory.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.The Canadian Press
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 $400 billion. The government could announce new spending such as taking steps towards a national child-care system, and relief for battered industries such as travel and restaurants that will face an uphill struggle to recover from the pandemic. NDP finance critic Peter Julien sent Freeland a three-page letter urging her to take action on a variety of fronts to help struggling Canadian families during the pandemic. They included taking concrete action on establishing a national pharmacare plan to help Canadians pay for soaring prescription drug costs, and establish a national day-care strategy to help women who have been disproportionately hindered by the pandemic. Julien also urged Freeland to help Indigenous communities and abandon the government's plans to pay for the Trans-Mountain Pipeline and ramp up its fight against climate change. Green party Leader Annamie Paul called on Freeland to deliver "a positive vision for a green recovery" to accelerate Canada's transition to a carbon-neutral economy. "We are optimistic that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be widely available next year and so we must be prepared for what comes next," Paul said in a statement. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Sherbrooke - Grande nouvelle pour les serriculteurs : le gouvernement investit 112 M$ pour doubler ce type de productions d’ici 2025, à condition qu’elles servent l’autonomie alimentaire du Québec. Mais qu’arrivera-t-il du côté biologique, où on se tourne déjà en grande partie vers les États-Unis, faute de pouvoir percer le marché québécois? Russell Pocock, copropriétaire de la Ferme Sanders à Compton, s’est tourné il y a déjà 25 ans vers le marché américain, qui reçoit aujourd’hui 80 % de ses légumes biologiques. Ce n’était pas à l’image de son rêve, mais c’était l’unique solution rentable vu la faible demande québécoise, confie-t-il. Encore aujourd’hui, lui et les quatre autres maraîchers estriens membres de la coopérative Deep Root reposent donc en grande partie sur nos voisins du sud pour faire prospérer leurs fermes, tout en fournissant quelques points de vente estriens. « Je trouve qu’encore aujourd’hui, il y a peu de produits biologiques disponibles dans les épiceries et les grandes surfaces, note M. Pocock. C’est parce qu’il n’y a pas de demande. Pourtant, aujourd’hui, aux États-Unis, les plus grands vendeurs de fruits et légumes biologiques sont Walmart et Costco. Quand on parle de politiques gouvernementales pour encourager la production locale, il faut que ça passe surtout par la demande du consommateur. On peut encourager beaucoup la production, mais si on ne crée pas en même temps des incitatifs du côté de la consommation, on crée des problèmes. » Coup de pouce Avec les annonces de vendredi, les propriétaires de l’Abri Végétal à Compton pourront certainement aller de l’avant avec leur projet d’expansion, qui vise à nourrir un rayon de 50 km autour de la ferme à l’année. Il ne reste qu’à attendre l’imminente décision de la Régie de l’énergie en ce qui a trait au tarif préférentiel d’électricité pour les plus petits producteurs. Ils se réjouissent tout autant du programme d’expansion du réseau triphasé, qui pourrait leur faire économiser plus de 180 000 $, incluant les équipements électriques. Leur projet de quatre nouvelles serres dernier cri, qui représente un investissement de 500 000 $, est bel et bien conçu pour accroître l’autonomie alimentaire de la région pour la période plus morte de l’année, mais l’exportation via Deep Root devra toujours demeurer dans les cartons en été. « Il y a une demande de notre clientèle pour plus de produits en hiver, ça c’est clair et 100 % de notre agrandissement y sera consacré. En été, il y a déjà une offre avec le maraîchage. Il faut être conscient que si on double tous, il n’y aura pas de place pour tout le monde sur les marchés locaux. En exportant l’été, on évite le gaspillage et la compétition sur les marchés locaux et ça nous permet d’avoir une industrie qui est bien équipée pour soutenir l’autonomie, si jamais on a des problèmes de frontières », partage l’un des copropriétaires, Frédéric Jobin-Lawler, qui a même diversifié sa production pour pouvoir mieux fournir des détaillants. Actuellement, ce sont 55 à 60 % de ses légumes qui sont exportés. Même si le créneau biologique gagne en popularité, le défi est trop grand pour compétitionner avec l’agriculture locale conventionnelle, explique-t-il. M. Jobin-Lawler cite en exemple des épiceries de Sherbrooke qui ont cessé de s’approvisionner chez lui après plusieurs années, parce qu’elles avaient atteint leur « pourcentage d’achats directs. » « Dans le local, il y avait tellement une forte demande qu’ils ont décidé d’acheter de la production conventionnelle, avec laquelle ils pouvaient faire une plus grande marge de profit qu’avec nous. Il faudra toujours se battre pour notre place tablette, et ça va rester tant qu’il n’y aura pas une intention d’acheter locale, autre que marketing, des grandes chaînes. » En 2016, l’Estrie comptait 38 producteurs de fruits et légumes biologiques, au champ ou en serre. 10 % de plus pour le bio Interrogé par La Tribune, le cabinet du ministre André Lamontagne a annoncé une bonification de 10 % de l’aide accordée aux entreprises biologiques dans le cadre des mesures annoncées vendredi en faveur des productions en serre. Il a également rappelé que « le MAPAQ a investi une somme totalisant près de 5 M$ pour soutenir spécifiquement le développement des entreprises et l’ensemble du secteur biologique au cours de l’année 2019-2020. » Parmi les initiatives citées, on mentionne également que « pour accroître la demande des consommateurs et assurer un arrimage avec la croissance de l’offre, le gouvernement a investi 950 000 $ au cours de la dernière année en soutenant les activités de valorisation et de promotion des aliments biologiques québécois réalisées par la Filière biologique du Québec. » Doubler la production en serre d’ici 2025 Vendredi, le ministre de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation André Lamontagne a dévoilé ses mesures phares pour doubler la culture en serre au Québec d’ici 2025 et qui entreront en vigueur le 1er décembre. – Pour les entreprises qui désirent prendre de l’expansion sur le marché local : 50 % des dépenses admissibles, jusqu’à concurrence de 50 000 $. – Pour les entreprises qui alimentent les marchés régionaux ou nationaux et qui désirent augmenter leurs volumes ou diversifier leur offre : 50 % des dépenses admissibles, jusqu’à concurrence de 600 000 $ (projet d’au minimum 100 000 $). – Pour les entreprises serricoles qui sont en mesure de prendre de l’expansion dans les grandes chaînes d’alimentation : passage de 20 à 40 % de remboursement des factures mensuelles d’électricité. – Le ministre de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, Jonatan Julien, a également dévoilé un programme qui permettra l’extension du réseau triphasé dans les régions non desservies par ce type de courant. Les demandeurs pourront se faire rembourser 75 % des dépenses admissibles jusqu’à concurrence de 250 000 $. – Rappelons que la Régie de l’énergie doit bientôt rendre sa décision quant au tarif préférentiel d’électricité de 5,59 cents du kW/h (environ 50 % de rabais) pour les producteurs en serre utilisant une puissance de 50 kW minimum. Actuellement, ce tarif n’est réservé qu’aux plus grands producteurs utilisant 300 kW et plus. Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
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
STEINBACH, Man. — Mounties have ramped up enforcement at a Manitoba church that was slapped with a fine for holding a service last weekend that allegedly violated provincial COVID-19 health orders. The Church of God Restoration in Steinbach posted videos on its Facebook page that appear to show the church's empty, snow-covered parking lot, with RCMP officers positioned at its entrances and a long line of vehicles parked along the roadway. In one video, Pastor Tobias Tissen addressed the people in the vehicles via a radio transmitter from a pulpit outside the church, and claimed the officers blocking the entrance were "blocking God." No one with the church could be reached for comment. RCMP say that their officers were stationed at parking lot entrances to remind would-be churchgoers of public health rules, and warn them that attending a service would result in a fine. They say most people heeded the warning, save for one man who continued on to the church property and was fined $1,296. The province ordered churches to close earlier this month to deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases that has clogged the hospital system, saying people could only attend services virtually. The church previously confirmed it was ticketed and fined $5,000 for breaking a provincial public health order last Sunday, and RCMP said there were well over 100 people inside the church at the time. "What you all see this morning is not people recognizing the supremacy of God. Come on, if other stores can be essential and church is not essential, you're saying that God is not supreme," Tissen said from the pulpit in the Facebook video on Sunday. RCMP reminded people Friday that participating in any type of large gathering is now a contravention of the public health orders, and it specifically mentioned worship services in the Steinbach area. “Our goal is certainly not to hand out a bunch of tickets,” Steinbach Detachment Commander Harold Laninga said in the release. It said Sunday the investigation is continuing and that more tickets are possible. The Manitoba government said Sunday that officers would have been aware of the service, as well as reports of a drive-in church service on the weekend in Winnipeg, but that an update on enforcement action would not be available until Tuesday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — She's fended off protesters who made a run at her husband. She's moved him farther from reporters during the coronavirus pandemic. She's supported his presidential ambitions again and again — except in 2004, when she deployed a novel messaging technique to keep Joe Biden from running.“No,” Jill Biden, then clad in a bikini, wrote in Sharpie across her stomach and then marched through a strategy session in which advisers were trying to talk her husband into challenging Republican President George W. Bush.Protecting Joe stands out among Jill Biden's many roles over their 43-year marriage, as her husband's career moved him from the Senate to the presidential campaign trail and the White House as President Barack Obama's vice-president. She's a wife, mother, grandmother and educator with a doctoral degree — as well as a noted prankster.Now, with her husband on the brink of becoming the 46th president, Jill Biden is about to become first lady and put her own stamp on a position that traditionally is viewed as a model of American womanhood — whether that means hewing to old ways or finding new, activist ones, in the manner of Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, for example.She intends to keep working as a college professor, which would make her the only first lady to keep her day job outside the home. And if four decades in the public eye are any indication, she'll continue being Biden's chief protector.The role isn't completely unfamiliar territory for Jill Biden. She's been a political wife the entire time she's been married to Joe Biden. Plus, she had a bird's-eye view of what a first lady does during Obama's two terms.But the scrutiny level will change. And all eyes are on the incoming Biden administration to deliver what both Joe and Jill have promised — getting the coronavirus pandemic raging across the country under control.Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University and the author of several books about first ladies, recalled Barbara Bush telling her: “You know, when I was second lady, I could say anything I wanted, and no one really paid much attention. But the minute I became first lady, everything became newsworthy.”Still, Jill Biden won’t have the learning curve most other new first ladies faced. “She’s been in the public eye for a long time," Gutin said. “She’s going in eyes wide open.”The coronavirus has killed more than 260,000 Americans and upended much of daily life. The Bidens offered themselves as agents of comfort at a time of loss and grief, experiences they know well particularly after their son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015.From the start, she brought comfort to the Biden family.Joe Biden's first wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident in 1972. Jill Biden helped raise his surviving young sons, Beau and Hunter, before giving birth to their daughter, Ashley, in 1981. She refers to all of them as her children.As Joe Biden commuted from Delaware to Washington while serving as a senator, Jill Biden built a career as a teacher, ultimately earning two master’s degrees and then a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007.Throughout, Jill Biden's protective streak was notable. There she stood at his side, when Joe Biden withdrew from his first presidential bid under accusations of plagiarism. She says she emulated her mother's stoic style. Jill Biden's mother, she said, didn't even cry when her own parents died. She saw that as strength. “I decided early that I would never let my emotions rule me,” she wrote in her memoir, ”Where the Light Enters.”“As a political spouse, I’ve found that my stoicism often serves me well,” Jill Biden wrote. “In 1988, when Joe’s first presidential campaign started to look bleak, people were constantly looking for cracks in our team. We all felt scrutinized, but I refused to show weakness.”It showed early in the 2020 race when several women accused Biden of inappropriate touching. The candidate denied acting inappropriately but acknowledged that social norms had changed. He pledged that he would change, too.Jill Biden defended him.“I think what you don’t realize is how many people approach Joe — men and women, looking for comfort or empathy,” she told ABC’s ”Good Morning America." “But going forward, I think he’s gonna have to judge — be a better judge — of when people approach him, how he’s going to react. That he maybe shouldn’t approach them.”She recalled a time in her life when she had been treated inappropriately and didn't speak up.“I can remember specifically — it was in a job interview," Jill Biden said. "If that same thing happened today, I’d turn around and say, ‘What do you think you’re doin’?”She's quick to rally to her husband's side, sometimes physically.In New Hampshire in February, a man tried to cross into the roped-off area near Joe Biden. In a flash, Jill Biden crossed behind her husband and put her arms around the man, turned him around and helped push him away.A month later in Los Angeles, she similarly blocked one protester, then a second one, who had stormed the stage while Joe Biden was delivering his Super Tuesday victory speech.When the first one approached waving an anti-dairy sign and yelling, Jill Biden stepped between the protester and her husband. She did the same with the second one, this time putting her arms up to block the intrusion.Both were removed without coming in contact with the candidate. After the 27-second confrontation, Jill turned around saying, “We're okay,” and encouraged Joe to keep the event going. The Bidens then said it might be time for Secret Service protection, and they got it soon after.“I worry about Jill,” Joe Biden said.She's been protective during the pandemic.On Oct. 5 at New Castle Airport in Delaware, she moved her husband back from members of the media as he spoke outside his campaign plane before a trip to Miami.Like many American families, the Bidens spent Thanksgiving differently this year. They stayed at their house in Rehoboth, Delaware, rather than their usual “Nana-tucket,” as her grandchildren have called the Massachusetts island where the Bidens started going early in their marriage to establish a new holiday tradition.In 2020, instead of the usual sprawling family tableau, their daughter and her husband were the only Biden visitors to the house in Delaware. A Zoom call with the larger group was on the evening's agenda.Look, too, for Jill Biden to try to keep things light.“She's not your average grandmother,” granddaughter Naomi said on a video shown at the Democratic National Convention, recalling that Jill Biden once woke her up at 5 a.m. on Christmas morning to go “soul cycling.”“She’s a prankster, she’s very mischievous,” Naomi added with a grin. “When she goes on a run, sometimes she'll find, like, a dead snake and she’ll pick it up and put it in a bag and use it to scare someone.”—-Follow Kellman on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellmanLaurie Kellman, The Associated Press
At the start of the school year, Cornell University implemented a strategy of regular testing and robust contact tracing on campus. The plan was expensive, but it’s prevented any major COVID-19 outbreaks at the New York institution.
A draft agreement between Ottawa and a Nova Scotia First nation over a "moderate livelihood" fishery has the potential to be a historic recognition of Mi'kmaq treaty rights, the community's chief said Sunday.Mike Sack of Sipekne'katik First Nation said he is reviewing a draft memorandum of understanding he received from the office of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan late Friday.He said the Sipekne'katik Treaty Fishery agreement would allow the Mi'kmaq community to legally sell their catch."It's very significant," Sack said in an interview. "It can help lift our people out of poverty."The community's lawyers are going over the agreement and clarifying a few points to ensure nothing infringes on the treaty rights of future generations, he added.But the chief said he'd like to get a deal finalized as soon as possible, noting that "these last couple of months have seemed like a lifetime to us."Indigenous fishers faced violence and vandalism earlier this fall after launching a rights-based fishery in southwest Nova Scotia. Tension with non-Indigenous fishers ignited almost as soon as Mi'kmaq boats entered the St. Marys Bay area. An escalating series of events ensued, leading to the destruction of a lobster pound that had housed the Indigenous fishers' catch.Other flareups included the cutting of Mi'kmaq lobster traps, warf-side gatherings of large crowds of protesters hurling racist insults at fishers, and the alleged torching of multiple vehicles.The attacks prompted widespread condemnation and calls for clarification on Mi'kmaq treaty fishing rights. Jane Deeks, press secretary for the Fisheries and Oceans Minister, said the federal government and the Sipekne’katik First Nation are continuing to work collaboratively towards an agreement. "Our negotiations have been positive, constructive, and progress is being made," she said in an email on Sunday. "While there is still more work ahead of us, we are making progress together.”She confirmed that a draft memorandum of understanding is currently with Sipekne’katik First Nation. "We share the same goals of a productive and sustainable fishery, and to further implement Sipekne’katik First Nation’s Treaty Rights," Deeks added.Meanwhile, Sack said the agreement follows through on the Supreme Court of Canada's recognition of Indigenous treaty rights in its landmark 1999 Marshall decision.The ruling affirmed the Mi'kmaq treaty right to fish for a "moderate livelihood," though the top court later clarified that the federal government could regulate the fishery for conservation and other limited purposes. “This agreement has the potential to be a historic recognition of our treaty rights and to make good on the promise and legacy of Donald Marshall Junior’s work," Sack said. "The big part for us is making sure we can harvest and sell and it's reflected in there."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.Brett Bundale, The Canadian 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
A 28-year-old man has died following a crash in Mississauga between a transit vehicle and a motorcycle, Peel Regional Police say.The crash happened in the area of Mavis Road and Novo Star Drive, south of Derry Road. Police were called to the scene about 1:40 p.m. Const. Kyle Villers, spokesperson for Peel Regional Police, said the motorcyclist was taken to hospital, where he died of his injuries.Villers said a MiWay bus and the motorcycle were both travelling northbound on Mavis Road when the motorcycle struck the back of the bus. The collision occurred when the motorcycle was making a left turn on Crawford Mill Avenue, he said.A family member confirmed to CBC Toronto that the victim is 28-year-old Gilberto Garcia from Mississauga.Duty Insp. Stephen Duivesteyn, of Peel Regional Police, said the investigation to determine what caused the crash is continuing. Mavis Road is closed from Derry Road to Highway 401 as officers investigate.Officers are asking any witnesses or drivers with dashcam footage to contact them.
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 group trained to dispose of used drug paraphernalia by Biomed Recovery and Disposal in Regina has officially hit their one-year anniversary.Patty Will is the founder of Queen City Patrol, a non-profit, volunteer-based group that drives around Regina to pick up and dispose of used paraphernalia, like needles.She said since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the group has been a lot busier than usual."With everybody not being able to go out to enjoy themselves, they're finding other ways to spend their time and their money," Will said.This past Thursday was the group's one-year anniversary and Will said they had a celebration on Saturday which included a patrol and an escape room.When looking back at the past year, Will said there is a lot that stands out to her."We've gotten a lot closer, a lot of good friends that came out of this, we have removed just over 27,000 needles off the streets of Regina," Will said. "We're hoping that we can continue doing this."Talks of safe injection site for ReginaWill said she is looking forward to hopefully working with the new city council in Regina to get a safe injection site in the city, which she said will help curb overdoses."I think that would be our end goal, to work with the city to get that done and possibly even help out with the safe injection site on an ongoing basis from there," Will said. "We honestly feel that would help make a big, big difference in Regina."She said opening a safe injection site in Regina would give drug users a central and safe location and would deter them from using in public spaces or outside when it's cold.There have been 93 apparent drug overdose deaths in Regina so far in 2020 — more than four times the amount of overdoses in 2019, which was 16.On Nov. 23, four men in their 30's were found dead from suspected overdoses. Investigators said they don't believe the deaths or locations are related but said fentanyl was involved in each case.Will said she believes some of the recent overdose cases have to do with people reusing needles."If they had fentanyl, let's say in their last drug of choice, and are reusing it now, that's a double dose of fentanyl," Will said.She said while Queen City Patrol doesn't offer new needles for drug users, they have naloxone on board their van and offer training to anybody who requests it.Will said Queen City Patrol offers residential visits and needle removal as well."If a landlord or property manager comes into their house and there's quite a few needles in there, all they would have to do is give us a call and we can go in there and remove the needles for them."