WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
CENTRE WELLINGTON – A heritage study in Centre Wellington has identified 18 areas of importance and recommends prioritizing urban areas for further study. At a special committee of the whole meeting on Monday, a Cultural Heritage Landscape (CHL) study draft report was presented to Centre Wellington council. Mariana Iglesias, senior planner with the township, said with recent development pressures in the township they’ve found the need to protect larger areas that are historically and culturally significant. These areas are called CHLs, which the presentation to council identifies as a grouping of heritage features such as buildings, structures, spaces, views, archaeological sites or natural elements valued together. This study was commissioned as a starting point to identify the most significant CHLs in collaboration with the public, Indigenous groups and stakeholders. Annie Veilleux, consultant from Archaeological Services Inc., said the township is known as a scenic area with the Grand River being the backbone of influencing development in the township. “The significant CHLs are spread out throughout the township but are concentrated on the Grand River corridor,” Veilleux said. The study further identified higher priority areas that are more likely to have adjacent development, risk of altering heritage attributes or with more economic and tourism benefits. The report prioritizes the following urban areas for technical studies: Veilleux said CHLs in rural areas tend to be more stable. Also, those owned and managed by the Grand River Conservation Area have existing regulations and protections. These lower priority areas include: Council was very receptive to this report with councillor Kirk McElwain saying it should be part of the local school curriculum. He asked if a CHL designation provides any additional protection and noted that GRCA properties could be threatened by recent proposed changes to conservation authority mandates. Veilleux clarified that this report does not give protections to the CHLs but provides recommended priority areas for further study. “Following this study, the township may take on additional technical studies that are CHL specific and those studies would have the opportunity to develop protection measures for these places,” Veilleux said, adding that these measures could come from the heritage, planning, zoning. The CHL study is open for comments from the public until Jan. 29 where it will be later finalized and approved by council. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
When the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay approved the use of body cameras for municipal enforcement officers in September the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) for the province had some concerns, and two months later he still does. Privacy Commissioner Michael Harvey said that when he found out through the media that the town had passed the policy and officers were wearing them, he contacted the town with a number of recommendations, but hasn’t heard back. “We made some recommendations to council and also all sorts of questions, and we put them to the council in mid-October and have not received any response since then. We’re still waiting.” Harvey said town staff did have an informal discussion with his office, but the town has only intermittently been forthcoming, which is leading to increasing frustration on his end, and may yet lead to a formal investigation. “I’m getting to the point where I may well do that,” he said of a formal investigation. “I’ll make that decision in the coming days.” Harvey said some of the recommendations include that the town clarify when the cameras are being used in the course of the officers' duties, that elected officials not have access to body camera footage and that the town complete a privacy impact assessment. He said there were verbal commitments to some changes made in a meeting between his staff and the town, but his office has yet to see changes to the policy, and the cameras are still in use. “They seem to go long periods of time not responding to us and then respond to us. This is one of the reasons why it’s starting to look more appropriate for me to launch a formal investigation because that would give a formal framework for these questions and in the course of a formal investigation, I have the authority of a commissioner of the Public Inquires Act. Simply not answering my questions becomes less of an option.” A recent incident in the town involving a member of the public and a municipal enforcement officer that is now the subject of an independent investigation also prompted him to contact the town, Harvey said. He said there are four questions he wants answers to: whether the body camera was on and the details of when and how it was used; whether the footage would be provided to the independent investigator; if it was within the scope of the investigation, why the body camera wasn’t on; and what the legal authority was for the officer to be doing whatever he was doing. The last question is important, Harvey said, because public bodies like the town are only allowed to collect personal information with some sort of legal purpose, and only certain things the officer would be doing qualifies as law enforcement. The issue of body camera footage sparked a discussion in the town council meeting on Thursday. Coun. Jackie Compton Hobbs said she doesn’t understand why council members couldn’t simply view footage from the body cameras in some incidents instead of having to potentially spend money on external investigators. “It could be some minor infraction on a property that someone could be insinuating something, and the council could look at and say, ‘That’s wrong, it’s this way,’ and not have to call in a lawyer to get advice on it, that’s my thinking. As for the OIPC recommendations, at the end of the day, decisions are made by council. They’re only recommending that the mayor and town manager view the cameras, but at the end of the day it’s council’s discretion.” Harvey said when he makes recommendations like this they could be construed as advice, but when he makes formal recommendations in a report under the act, some can be formed into court orders and have legal force behind them. Compton Hobbs said she would like council to discuss the recommendations with the OIPC, which had been requested previously. Harvey said he wasn’t aware of any such request, and while it would be unusual for him to meet with an individual council, he would like to discuss the recommended changes with the town. He stressed that his office doesn’t have a particular issue with body cameras, but if a public body wants to use them, they have to comply with privacy legislation. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
Some nurses who left their jobs at Health PEI to take positions with Veterans Affairs Canada asked for, but were denied, a secondment from their provincial jobs, according to the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay.That's from the latest in a series of letters between MacAulay and P.E.I. Health Minister James Aylward. Aylward wrote to MacAulay in October, expressing concern about a hiring campaign by VAC by which the federal department had lured away at that time, according to Aylward's numbers, 25 registered nurses, two social workers and one psychologist from Health PEI.Health PEI said this week that the number of nurses who have left for VAC has now reached 32.As part of its effort to clear up a backlog of tens of thousands of disability claims, a spokesperson for VAC told CBC the department has hired 125 nurses across Canada, including 55 on P.E.I. Overall the federal department plans to hire 300 temporary staff and aims to clear up the backlog by March 2022. However the Parliamentary Budget Office says the job will require more staffing and an extra year to complete."Given the size of our province and corresponding size of the nursing workforce within our health-care system, this recruitment campaign has had a significant negative impact on our health human resources," Aylward wrote to MacAulay in the first of two letters the health minister tabled in the P.E.I. Legislature.Aylward went on to say some long-term care facilities also lost positions, and were operating with "a skeleton staff."Aylward told MacAulay it was "counterproductive" for a federal department to be taking nurses from provincial health care while Ottawa was at the same time sending additional resources to the provinces to help them deal with COVID-19.> I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada. — Lawrence MacAulay"The number of nurses that have migrated from our system to your department has left a potential significant nursing gap should we experience a second wave resulting in a critical situation," Aylward wrote in a followup letter dated Nov. 17.In that letter, Aylward asked about the possibility of Health PEI receiving some of the nurses back from VAC on secondment.Nurses denied requests for leave, says MacAulayBut in response, MacAulay said some of the nurses hired by VAC had asked for a secondment working the other way around: they had asked Health PEI to be allowed to temporarily leave their provincial positions to help VAC clear up the backlog, but that request was denied."My department offered this option for consideration at the time of the recruitment campaign, recognizing the pressures that all health systems were facing," MacAulay wrote to Aylward."I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada."MacAulay said the positions are only temporary, and that he'd instructed his department "to be as helpful as possible on this matter." He said VAC is "willing to assist the province with its pandemic response should the current situation change."Nurses in search of 'work-life balance': unionMona O'Shea, the head of the P.E.I. Nurses' Union, said she found it "interesting" Aylward reached out to MacAulay over the nursing shortage. She said the province was already facing a significant number of nursing vacancies even before VAC started recruiting.She said Aylward might have done better to take his concerns to the union. She said nurses are looking for "better work-life balance," and are being denied requests for "temporary leave of absence for education, for movement within the system, vacation, being called back to work when on vacation."O'Shea said nurses are feeling "undervalued, not appreciated and always being asked to do more with less."More from CBC P.E.I.
CHARLOTTETOWN - Sukhmeen Caur is concerned about the impact India's farm reforms will have on its farmers, she said. "It's harming people," she said. "Because of these laws, there's going to be no food on the table." Caur, who's originally from Punjab, India, was one of about 10 to 15 people demonstrating by the Charlottetown cenotaph on Nov. 30 - many of whom were members of P.E.I.'s Sikh community. They were raising awareness and showing their support for the Punjab and Haryana farmers protesting a series of laws imposed by India's government in September. The farmers believe their livelihood will be affected by the reformed laws, and when about 300,000 attempted to march into the city of Delhi last week they were met with police barricades, tear gas, and water cannons, demonstrator Manpreet Singh said. "They were stopped forcefully," he said. "They were beaten, they were harassed." Singh, who's also from Punjab, said farming is a primary source of income for India. While the goal of the reforms was to give more control to farmers, the farmer's main concern with them is that a minimum price for what their crops can sell for is no longer guaranteed or regulated, potentially giving corporations more control and profit. For example, one Indian farmer reported selling his wheat crop for 7 rupees per kilogram, after which the buying corporation processed and sold it for 150 rupees per kilogram, Singh said. "They're not treated like people. They're treated like animals," he said. While rising tensions have resulted in a meeting to be called between some of the country's farm unions and the Indian government on Dec. 3, the Charlottetown demonstration was to oppose the police and government's violent response to the protests for showcasing a lack of democracy, Singh said. "I have my right of speech in this country," he said. "But in my country right now, it is not trying to listen to the farmers." Caur added that accurate news coverage on the protests out of the country is difficult to find due to social media censorship, so the Charlottetown demonstration was to inform Islanders of what was going on. "I am here, I should also know what's going on here," she said. "(And) they should know what's going on in India." While only a maximum of 20 people was permitted to gather at the Nov. 30 demonstration due to COVID-19 protocol, Caur noted a larger rally may be held in the near future pending the Chief Public Health Office's approval. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
The federal Liberal government unveiled a suite of environmental measures on Monday as part of its fall fiscal update, proposing spending on things such as ecosystem restoration, clean transport and energy efficiency. The government’s Fall Economic Statement, tabled by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, also sets up some signposts pointing to a “green transformation,” including issuing the first federal green bonds next year. Ottawa will be exploring the possibility of border carbon adjustments, where a fee is imposed on imports from countries without carbon pricing, so foreign products don't undercut those produced in Canada by companies subject to Canadian carbon pricing systems. And it will be setting up an “action council” focused on developing a sustainable finance market in Canada that would see capital flows redirected toward green initiatives. That will include looking at “enhancing climate disclosures,” the government said, as directors of Canadian corporations face mounting obligations to act on the risks posed by the climate crisis as part of the responsibilities of their jobs. But with Canada’s deficit projected to hit $381 billion in 2020-21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is pushing back any larger stimulus plan until a vaccine is being distributed and outbreaks and shutdowns are in the rearview mirror. “When the virus is under control and our economy is ready to absorb it, we will deploy a three-year stimulus package to jumpstart our recovery,” reads the statement. “Key to this stimulus plan will be smart, time-limited investments that can act fast and make a long-run contribution to our future shared prosperity, quality of life, competitiveness and our green transformation.” Reaction was muted from some opposition members. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole dismissed the economic statement soon after Freeland tabled it as “putting the economy on hold.” He portrayed the government’s approach as wrongheaded, looking forward to future stimulus potential without first getting public health fundamentals correct. The Liberals were “not willing to ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, by taking steps to secure new revenue sources from large corporations making “massive profits” during the pandemic. “This is the exact opposite of what people need,” he said. Funding to address issues such as retrofits and clean transport was central to proposals issued last month by a coalition of more than two dozen environmental and conservation groups in Canada. The Green Budget Coalition’s roadmap for a federal green recovery called for $10 billion for energy efficiency retrofits in buildings, among other commitments. Monday’s economic statement commits to $2.6 billion over seven years for Natural Resources Canada to provide up to 700,000 grants of up to $5,000 each for homeowners and landlords to carry out energy-efficiency upgrades. The government said buildings account for 17 per cent of emissions, and “helping Canadians make their homes more energy efficient can support our environmental objectives, while making homes more comfortable and more affordable to maintain.” “We know that Canada’s future competitiveness depends on our ability to take advantage of the net-zero green economy,” Freeland said in Parliament after tabling the document. “Our growth plan must continue to advance our progress on climate action and promote a clean economy.” Efficiency Canada executive director Corey Diamond said home retrofits were a big environmental and economic boost, creating local jobs nationwide and contributing to Canada's journey to net-zero emissions. “The announcement today is a start, and a piece of the puzzle,” Diamond said. “But a lot more is required if we're going to be able to help Canadians.” He said there appeared to be “gaps in some high-impact areas,” including specific supports for low-income programs. “What is essential in all of this, however, is that the federal strategy integrates with existing programs on the ground, across the country,” he said. The Green Budget Coalition had also asked the federal government for $2.6 billion for “nature-based climate solutions” and $4.8 billion to support protected areas. The economic statement proposes to spend $3.16 billion over the next decade, starting in 2021-22, in order to follow through with its promise to plant two billion trees. It also proposed up to $631 million over 10 years, starting next year, to “implement climate smart, natural solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to ecosystem loss.” The statement acknowledges that Canada’s grasslands, wetlands and peatlands are “highly valuable for their ability to store greenhouse gases,” and proposes funding to “restore degraded ecosystems, protect wildlife, and improve land and resource management practices.” The government estimated that these kinds of “nature-based solutions” can provide “almost 40 per cent of the emission reductions needed by 2030.” Because of jurisdictional issues, both of those initiatives will require Ottawa to work with a wide range of partners, including provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities, conservation authorities and non-governmental organizations. The government also touted a $98-million Natural Climate Solutions for Agriculture Fund, to capitalize on the potential of Canadian farms to increase carbon sequestration and “realize other environmental benefits” that will come out of a future “Canadian Agri-Environmental Strategy.” Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, said the economic statement was “yet another promise to go big on climate change and inequality at a future date.” Canada has made decades of “down payments without ever sealing the deal,” Stewart said. “We can fight the pandemic in a way that lays the groundwork for a greener, more equitable and inclusive future but this economic update doesn’t do that.” He said environmental groups will have to "keep the pressure on" for the forthcoming new 2030 emissions reduction target, and plan to achieve it, as well as the 2021 budget. The government said it was “committed to ensuring that Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy is achieved in a way that is fair and predictable for our businesses, and supports Canada’s international competitiveness.” To this end, the economic statement said the government was “exploring the potential” of a border adjustment for carbon, working with the United States, Mexico and “like-minded economies” in Europe. The government also plans to set up a public-private Sustainable Finance Action Council, as institutions and investors around the world increasingly evaluate climate change risks to company assets. The Bank of Canada has warned that sectors such as oil and gas are exposed to risks that could spill over into “fire sales.” “Developing sustainable finance in Canada will promote the long-term growth and stability of our financial system in the face of climate change,” reads the economic statement. The commitment is worth $7.3 million over three years. Finally, Ottawa announced its intention to “issue the federal government’s first-ever green bond in 2021-22,” that it said would help finance its green infrastructure spending. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National ObserverCarl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Nonfiction 1. A Promised Land by Barack Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 2. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 3. Unf—k Your Brain by Faith G. Harper, PhD LPC-S ACS ACN, narrated by the author (Blackstone Audio, Inc. ) 4. The Art of War by Sun Tzu, performed by Aidan Gillen (Audible Studios) 5. Atomic Habits by James Clear, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio) 6. Mind Power Mixtape by Common, performed by the author (Audible Originals) 7. Smokey Robinson: Grateful and Blessed by Smokey Robinson, performed by the author (Audible Originals) 8. Habits for Happiness by Dr. Tim Sharp, performed by the author (Audible Original) 9. Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio) 10. Be Calm by Jill P. Weber, PhD, narrated by Bernadette Dunne (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) Fiction 1. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton (Random House Audio) 2. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, narrated by Amy Landon (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) 3. The Awakening by Nora Roberts, narrated by Barrie Kreinik (Macmillan Audio) 4. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Kate Reading & Michael Kramer (Macmillan Audio) 5. Dead Acre by Rhett C. Bruno & Jaime Castle, performed by Roger Clark (Audible Originals) 6. 1984 by George Orwell, narrated by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio, Inc.) 7. The Weirdies by Michael Buckley, performed by Kate Winslet (Audible Originals) 8. A Christmas Carol: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry by Charles Dickens, performed by Tim Curry (Audible Studios) 9. Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle & Stephen Fry - introductions, performed by Stephen Fry (Audible Studios) 10. American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (A Full Cast Production) by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Ron McLarty, Daniel Oreskes & full cast (HarperAudio) The Associated Press
CALGARY — Shares in Imperial Oil Ltd. were rising after it announced late Monday it would write down up to $1.2 billion on Canadian assets it doesn't think it will ever develop.In a brief news release, it said it has reassessed the long-term development plans of its unconventional natural gas portfolio in Alberta and no longer plans to develop a "significant potion" of those assets.It says that will result in a non-cash writedown of between $900 million and $1.2 billion in the current quarter.In Toronto, Imperial shares rose by as much as 94 cents or 4.2 per cent to $23.42 on Tuesday morning, despite falling benchmark U.S. oil prices.Imperial said the exploration lands it is shelving haven't been developed and aren't producing, adding the move doesn't include natural gas prospects that are also rich in petroleum liquids.Last week, the Calgary-based company said it would lay off about 200 of its 6,000 employees across Canada as part of a cost-cutting initiative due to low oil prices, adding it has reduced the number of contractors it employs by about 450 since the start of the year."We did not expect the company to allocate much to its unconventional assets in 2021 (or beyond) given its focus on the oilsands as well as cash returns to shareholders," said CIBC analyst Dennis Fong in a report.He added he expects Imperial's move to be "immaterial" to his financial estimates.Imperial is 69.6 per cent owned by U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil Corp., which said in October it would cut its global workforce by about 15 per cent, equating to about 14,000 jobs.Exxon announced Monday it would take an after-tax impairment of US$17 billion to US$20 billion thanks to removing certain natural gas assets from its development plan.Imperial committed in March to cut spending by $1 billion, including a $500 million reduction in capital spending plus $500 million in lower operating expenses, due to lower energy demand caused by lockdowns to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:IMO)The Canadian Press
Regina police have charged a 17-year old girl who allegedly stole a vehicle with a four-year-old child inside.Officers were called to the 2100 block of Albert Street around 8:17 p.m. CST on Nov. 21 for a report of a stolen vehicle, according police.Police were told a 31-year-old woman had given three young women a ride in her car while her child was also in the vehicle.Police said the driver stopped and got out of the vehicle briefly, at which point one of the passengers got in the driver's seat and started driving away. When the mother tried to stop her, the driver allegedly tried to hit her with the car.The suspect left the four-year-old on a street a few minutes later, police said. Two people found the child and called police.Officers identified the suspect and learned she had fled to Calgary. A warrant was issued for her arrest on Nov. 24. She was arrested by Calgary police for an unrelated matter.The suspect, who can't be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was brought back to Regina on Monday and charged with offences including abduction of a child under 14-years-old, assault with a weapon (vehicle) and auto theft.
CALGARY — Suncor Energy Inc. is forecasting higher spending and production in 2021 based on benchmark U.S. oil prices staying near their current levels of around US$45 per barrel.It says it predicts daily oil and gas production between 740,000 and 780,000 barrels of oil equivalent in 2021, an increase of about 10 per cent compared with this year driven by higher bitumen output from its oilsands operations.It expects capital spending of between $3.8 billion and $4.5 billion, including sustaining capital of $2.9 billion to $3.4 billion, an increase of about nine per cent over 2020's expected spending of $3.6 billion to $4.0 billion.The Calgary-based company forecasts refinery throughput of 415,000 to 445,000 barrels per day based on a utilization rate of between 90 and 96 per cent.Suncor says it expects to repay between $500 million and $1 billion of debt and will introduce a $500-million share repurchase program.In reports, analysts said the guidance was in line with what they were expecting.Credit Suisse analyst Manav Gupta pointed out that Suncor cut capital and operating spending earlier this year and lowered its dividend payments."Suncor almost broke even in the third quarter of 2020, and now is getting ready to pay down portion of the debt it took on to navigate the crisis," he added.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:SU)The Canadian Press
BRUSSELS — European Union lawmakers lashed out Tuesday at the head of Frontex over allegations that the border and coast guard agency helped illegally stop migrants or refugees entering Europe, calling for his resignation and demanding an independent inquiry.The lawmakers grilled Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri over an investigation in October by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said that video and other publicly available data suggest Frontex “assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea.”The report said personnel from the agency, which monitors and polices migrant movements around Europe’s borders, were present at another incident and “have been in the vicinity of four more since March.” Frontex launched an internal probe after the news broke.“In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign,” senior Socialist lawmaker Kati Piri said in a statement after the parliamentary civil liberties committee hearing. “There are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.”Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn't be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or being members of a social or political group.Frontex’s board met to discuss the allegations late last month. The board said afterwards that the European Commission had ordered it to “hold a further extraordinary meeting within the next two weeks in order to consider in more detail the replies provided by the agency.” That meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9.“Migrants and refugees are very vulnerable to pushbacks by border guards,” Greens lawmaker Tineke Strik said. "We must be able to rely on an EU agency which prevents human rights violations from happening and not inflict them. But Frontex seems to be a partner in crime of those who deliberately violate those human rights.”Strik raised doubts about whether the internal Frontex probe would produce results and urged the assembly's political groups to consider launching their own inquiry.Leggeri said that no evidence of any Frontex involvement in pushbacks had been found so far. He said EU member countries have control over operations in their waters, not Frontex, and he called for the rules governing surveillance of Europe's external borders to be clarified.“We have not found evidence that there were active, direct or indirect participation of Frontex staff or officers deployed by Frontex in pushbacks," he told the lawmakers. When it comes to operations, Leggeri said, “only the host member state authorities can decide what has to be done.”Leggeri also said that Frontex staff were under extreme pressure around the time of the alleged incidents in March and April. He said that Turkish F-16 fighter jets had “surrounded” a Danish plane working for Frontex, while vessels were harassed by the Turkish coast guard and shots fired at personnel at land borders.He called for EU “guidance” on how to handle such situations.The allegations are extremely embarrassing for the European Commission. In September it unveiled sweeping new reforms to the EU’s asylum system, which proved dismally inadequate when over 1 million migrants arrived in 2015, many of them Syrian refugees entering the Greek islands via Turkey.Part of the EU's migration reforms includes a system of independent monitoring involving rights experts to ensure that there are no pushbacks at Europe’s borders. Migrant entries have dropped to a relative trickle in recent years, although many migrants still languish on some Greek islands waiting for their asylum claims to be processed or to be sent back.EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she still has confidence in Frontex’s managing board but remains deeply concerned about the allegations.During a visit to Morocco, Johansson said that the report "concerns me a lot. If it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable. A European agency has to comply to EU law and fundamental rights with no excuse.”Johansson said she has “full confidence in the process that (has) gone on in the management board and the sub-group they are setting up” to continue the investigation, but, she noted that “there were a lot of questions put to the director. And he has not answered these questions.”___Tarik El Barakah reported from Rabat, Morocco.Lorne Cook And Tarik El Barakah, The Associated Press
SANTÉ. Il est déjà connu que la pandémie, tout comme les autres types de catastrophes, engendre des séquelles psychologiques importantes dans la population. La docteure Mélissa Généreux, professeure-chercheuse à la Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé de l’Université de Sherbrooke, termine une deuxième phase de l’étude québécoise sur les impacts psychosociaux de la pandémie. Elle est maintenant en mesure de comparer les résultats observés avec ceux de septembre dernier. La conclusion : il faut agir, dès maintenant ! «Les jeunes de 18 à 24 ans forment, comme il y a deux mois, le groupe le plus susceptible de présenter des symptômes significatifs d’anxiété ou de dépression majeure (46 %). Les travailleurs de la santé ont toujours eux aussi une prévalence élevée d’anxiété ou de dépression probable (31 %). Les personnes en télétravail s’ajoutent maintenant au lot des personnes affectées psychologiquement par la pandémie dans une proportion de 27 %», précise Mélissa Généreux qui est également médecin-conseil à la Direction de santé publique de l’Estrie. Réalisée auprès de 8 500 adultes, l’enquête s’est déroulée du 6 au 18 novembre dernier dans toutes les régions du Québec. On y apprend que : · Un adulte sur 4 (un jeune adulte sur 2) rapporte des symptômes compatibles avec un trouble d’anxiété généralisée ou une dépression majeure. Ce phénomène est en hausse, surtout chez les hommes et les jeunes. · Les idées suicidaires sérieuses sont 2 fois plus fréquentes qu’avant. · Les troubles psychologiques sont nettement plus présents à Montréal. · Les travailleurs essentiels et les télétravailleurs sont davantage touchés. · Tant la pandémie que l’infodémie influencent la santé psychologique. · Le sentiment de cohérence demeure un facteur protecteur très important. · La consommation abusive d’alcool est en hausse chez les 35 ans et plus. · Seuls 6 adultes sur 10 seraient prêts à recevoir un vaccin (en baisse). · Les consignes sont perçues comme étant exagérées et peu claires par plus du quart de la population. «Alors que l’homologation de vaccins approche, le désir de se faire vacciner diminue. Elle ne se traduit pas par un refus, mais plutôt par une plus forte hésitation à se faire vacciner. Nous attribuons une partie de ce phénomène au faible sentiment de cohérence et aux attitudes négatives face aux consignes gouvernementales : selon l’étude de novembre, ces consignes sont perçues comme étant exagérées et peu claires par plus du quart de la population», explique la professeure-chercheuse en santé publique. Malgré des résultats somme toute inquiétants, Mélissa Généreux est toutefois confiante. «Plus nous en connaissons sur la nature, l’ampleur, la distribution et l’évolution des impacts psychosociaux de la pandémie et les facteurs de risque ou de protection associés, plus nous pouvons éclairer les décisions prises par les autorités. Je suis vraiment fière que nos dernières recommandations permettent aujourd’hui des collaborations pour assurer une prise en charge concrète et immédiate de la situation». En effet, le ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, par l’entremise du ministre Lionel Carmant, annonçait des investissements de 100 M$ en santé mentale le 2 novembre dernier. Pour instaurer des solutions concrètes à court terme, le ministère s’est adjoint les services de la docteure Mélissa Généreux qui a coordonné avec la communauté de Lac-Mégantic des projets contribuant à renforcer la résilience des individus et des collectivités. Elle agira comme conseillère sur le déploiement de l’organisation pour tout le Québec, d’équipe d’éclaireurs en santé mentale. «L’expertise a été et est encore développée en Estrie, et toutes les instances impliquées collaborent de façon coordonnée. Le tout, bien sûr, dans le but de faire profiter des meilleurs soins et des meilleures pratiques à notre communauté, mais aussi à la population du Québec», conclut Mélissa Généreux. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The Fort McKay Métis Group is planning to break ground on a solar farm as early as next year, making it the second project of its kind in the Wood Buffalo region. Ron Quintal, chair of the group and president of the Fort McKay Métis Nation, said the groundbreaking ceremony is expected to be held sometime in spring 2021. At the same time, the company is looking at larger solar projects closer to Edmonton that could be finalized within the next two years. Details such as costs and size of the solar farms are being finalized. The projects do not represent a switch away from the group's work in the oilsands, but a response to growing demands for renewable energy sources. “You can’t have success in green energy by just shutting out the rest of the energy sector,” said Quintal in a Monday interview. “For our community to be able to build these green projects, we’re going to have to use monies raised from the energy industry.” The McKay Métis Group is also negotiating other equity projects, such as stakes in the proposed Alaska to Alberta railway and the Trans Mountain expansion. Last week, the company appointed Crystal Young as its new CEO. Part of her role will be directing these new green energy projects. For Young, Indigenous-led energy companies should be the ones leading the way in renewable energy development. “Indigenous-led companies understand the importance of giving back to communities,” she said in an interview. “We all have the same vision.” Locally, a new solar farm in Fort Chipewyan is the most recent example of an Indigenous-led energy company pursuing green energy projects. The project, completed by Three Nations Energy, will provide 25 per cent of Fort Chipewyan’s energy annually. The solar farm is designed to cut greenhouse gas emission by 2,170 tonnes and save up to 800,000 litres of diesel fuel annually. Suncor, Canada’s second largest oilsands producer, has also tapped into the renewable energy sector by investing in four wind power farms across Canada. For Quintal, renewable energy and oil are energy sources that are complimentary, rather than adversarial. He also hopes the energy needs of oilsands projects will be met with future green energy sources. Quintal says this will bring operational cost savings that could be invested elsewhere. “I think that’s a win-win for everybody,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.orgSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
A symbol of magic and happiness, the World Tree has been set up in Jasper for the third year running in Robson Park. "This is an ideal location within Jasper's residential area, nestled in a green space bordering our schools, the library and the Jasper Art Gallery," said Marcia DeWandel, one of the volunteers behind the tree, in an email. "It creates a festive community hub during the cool, dark winter season." This year’s tree was harvested in a valley close to town, as part of the area's FireSmart program. It was set up on Nov. 30 by municipal staff, with help from the volunteer trio of DeWandel, Traudi Golla and Penny Bayfield. DeWandel said there has been a great deal of support from community organizations. The Municipality of Jasper gave approval for the initiative in October, 2018. Other community groups that have helped the World Tree be a shining light include Community Outreach Services, the Jasper Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Jasper Municipal Library, Jasper Artists Guild, the Dutch Guy, SAW Construction, Friends of Jasper and Parks Canada Although the World Tree is not a fundraiser, DeWandel pointed out that in 2018 and 2019, Santas Anonymous encouraged donations through the sale of tree decorations and hot chocolate at the site. Adaptation to the reality of COVID means events have to happen in different ways. "Like the rest of the world, the pandemic has prompted us to think outside the box," DeWandel said. "The World Tree is needed this year, and its light and energy will remain in Robson Park this season." While there won't be a formal lighting event, the tree will be lit on Dec. 4. Volunteers are encouraging festivities and giving in a slightly different way this year. "Visit the World Tree with your cohort and decorate," DeWandel said. "The more love the tree receives, the brighter it shines. Students from all the schools are still encouraged to make decorations and place them on the tree." DeWandel also encouraged folks to donate to Santas Anonymous by purchasing raffle tickets for the "amazing gingerbread house" or visiting the mitten donation line at TGP. "Support your community by shopping locally," she said. DeWandel hopes the World Tree becomes a tradition in Jasper, with coordination done by a formal group. For 2020, she said, "The World Tree will continue to bring happiness and joy this holiday season. It represents a sense of normalcy during a time of uncertainty. “The tree is community, it is fun, it is magic and it is hope."Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
NEW YORK — Let Thanksgiving have the turkey. Let Christmas have fruitcake. Every other day, it's got to be pizza.So argue Thom and James Elliot, brothers and pizza makers from England who have written a book celebrating the worldwide phenomenon of roundish dough cooked with toppings.In the 270-page “Pizza" (Quadrille), the brothers offer over 30 recipes for homemade pizzas — including a carbonara and one with asparagus and pancetta — as well as eating guides to delicious slices in cities like Rome, Paris, Chicago and New York. It turns out New Haven, Connecticut, has a very distinct and vibrant pizza scene, though its just 70 miles from New York.The Elliots marvel that while the pizza we eat today was invented in Naples in the late 1800s, other cultures have their own versions, from one with spiced ground meat in Lebanon to a baguette topped with mushroom and cheese in Poland.“All these countries came up with this on their own. And that is the definition of a good idea, right?” says James Elliot. “It’s a bit like the way so many cultures created beer independently. Just great ideas make it through.”The brothers include sections on controversial ingredients — pineapple, that’s you — and which drinks to pair with a slice, as well as the various ways people can eat it, from rolling it into a cigar to a technique called the “snag and drag.”They present the info without judgement, refusing to weigh in on whether coal ovens are better than wood or if buffalo milk is better than cow milk for making mozzarella.“There’s that saying: There’s two kinds of people in the world — people that love ABBA and liars,” says James Elliot. “Not all music has to be high and mighty in the same way that not all pizza has to be high and mighty. You can love different songs and different pizzas for all kinds of different reasons.”The origins of the book began when the brothers ditched their regular jobs in 2012 to go to Naples and learn all about pizza. They travelled the length of Italy and the world and, once educated in all things delicious, came back to the United Kingdom to open a chain of pizzerias, Pizza Pilgrims.In Chicago, they encountered that city's famous, dense variation. “We ate four deep dishes a day for five days,” says Thom Elliot. “I really surprised myself. I went to confirm my hatred of it, but actually left being like, ‘This has got a place for sure.’”The book is a distillation of all they learned, from pizza records ("Cheesiest Pizza," “Furthest Pizza Delivery") to how to work with active dry yeast. The working title was “The Pizzapedia,” but the authors felt that didn’t convey their love of the food. “Encyclopedia just feels quite cold and quite factual,” says Thom Ellliot.“We’ve been told by so many people in so many different ways that pizza is not enough to carry a book. ‘There are not enough interesting things to say about pizza.’ And so we have been on this mission for five years to write a longer and longer and longer and longer list of why these people are wrong.”Despite the brothers' obvious respect for the classic Neapolitan version, they acknowledge the impact of the huge pizza-making chains, like Pizza Hut and Domino's. The book includes interviews with their executives, who oversee companies making millions of pizzas a year.“You can’t ignore it. They’re doing something right. Whatever you think, they’re doing something right,” says Thom Ellliot. "They love pizza. These are not people who are just sitting there going, ‘Oh, we don’t care. It's just all about the margin and how do we sell more for less.’”Pizza, to the brothers, is clearly woven into the fabric of humanity, a cheap, delicious, satisfying meal that can be scaled up or down. It's a food we eat when we are celebrating, gathering for entertainment, working hard collectively or when we're just in need of a hug.“Pizza is the place that people turn when they’re struggling, when they break up, when they lose their job, when they’re just having a tough day. Pizza is the food that they talk about — like their spouse — that thing that carries them over the line,” says Thom Ellliot."I really genuinely think that you don’t get that with any other kind of food, even the ones that people obsess about, like barbeque. People don’t turn to barbecue in their time of need. They geek out about it and they obsess about it and they see perfection. But they don’t have it like a crutch in their life."___Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwitsMark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Consumer advocates are protesting a move by the Trump administration that they say will make it harder for the government to punish airlines that treat passengers unfairly.On the Friday during a four-day Thanksgiving weekend, the Transportation Department made final its proposal for defining unfair and deceptive practices by airlines.The rule deems that airline policies – around things like how ticket prices are advertised – are unfair only if they cause unavoidable and “substantial injury” that isn’t offset by some benefit. That is a high bar, in the view of consumer advocates.In addition, the rule lets airlines request a hearing before the department issues new regulations.Charlie Leocha, a travel consumer advocate, said the agency's rule could clear the way for airlines to go to court and overturn regulations that require them to advertise the full cost of tickets and to give passengers a chance to return to the gate if planes are stuck on the ground for hours.Under the new rule, “airlines can do anything they want in terms of passenger protection with no worries,” he said. “This is not good for consumers, and it is a big win for airlines.”The Transportation Department said it received 224 comments, with about 180 of them filed by individuals who argued that the proposal weakens consumer protection. The two Democrats on the Federal Trade Commission also criticized the proposal — commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter wrote that the rule “will seriously hamper the Department’s ability to fulfil its statutory mission of protecting aviation consumers.”The rule was praised by Airlines for America, the main trade group for big U.S. airlines, which argued that current regulations can be arbitrary.“This reform is a critical step forward in ensuring a data-driven regulatory process, which will produce widespread and lasting benefits for air travellers, airlines and the economy,” the group said in a statement.The Transportation Department, led by Trump-nominated Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, acknowledged drafting the rule in response to a request from the airline trade group and a 2017 Trump executive order that urged agencies to reduce regulations.The Transportation Department will soon will be under new leadership after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. Consumer advocates believe the Biden administration will be more pro-consumer. However, even if Biden’s people want to reverse last week’s decision, now they will have to go through a long rule-making process to do so.The airlines have chafed for years under an Obama administration rule that requires them to use the all-in price — including any mandatory taxes and fees — when advertising airfares. The carriers say that's unfair because retailers and other businesses can usually advertise prices before taxes and fees.If the Biden administration is unable to reverse last week's rule, “it's likely consumers will find shopping for flights to become more confusing and frustrating,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst with Atmosphere Research Group in San Francisco.___David Koenig can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriterDavid Koenig, The Associated Press
The final decision lies with the Ministry of Health, but Grey Bruce Health Services has made its recommendation for the contractor for the new Markdale hospital. That name has not been released. The call for tenders from pre-qualified bidders was earlier this summer, and the bids have been reviewed locally. The Ministry of Health is expected to approve the bid within a few months, when the name will be made public. Site preparation should begin this spring, a press release from GBHS said. “We are checking off the milestones for this project, and getting ready to transition from the years of planning to physically building our new hospital,” said Gary Sims, GBHS President and CEO. Teams are working through the transition plans to co-ordinate the two-year project. The $70 million build will be about 68,000 sq. ft. with inpatient beds, a palliative care bed, 24/7 emergency care, lab and diagnostic imaging, as well as outpatient services. Two ambulance bays will be housed at the hospital. The community in the central and south Grey area was deeply involved in the project from the time of the public fundraising campaign in 2004. The hospital will replace an aging existing facility. Over more than 15 years since then, advocacy by locals including MPP Bill Walker has supported the new build, which is now close to seeing shovels in the ground. GBHS operates six hospitals in the Grey Bruce region. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined on Tuesday his government’s efforts to secure a COVID-19 vaccine for Canadians and the agreements it signed with pharmaceutical companies including the recent Johnson & Johnson agreement, and said his government will be ready to distribute a vaccine as soon as possible once approved by Health Canada review, but provided no specific dates.
SILVER SPRING, Md. — U.S. construction spending jumped 1.3% in October, the fifth straight monthly increase, again on the strength of single-family home building.The October gain follows a strong upward revision to 0.5% in September, from a previous estimate of a 0.3% gain, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. It's the largest increase since a 2.8% jump in January, before the coronavirus pandemic all but shuttered the U.S. economy. Spending in October was stronger than economists had expected.Single-family home building has been a consistent bright spot for months as a lack of new homes has pushed builders to ramp up projects. Single-family home construction rose 5.6% in October, helping to boost a 2.9% increase in total private residential construction for the month.Nonresidential private construction fell 0.7%, with the category that includes hotels and other lodging falling 3.1%.Spending on government construction projects increased 1% after generally lagging for months, possibly due to budget restraints by state and local governments as the pandemic wiped out large amounts of tax revenue. Construction of roads, schools and public safety projects all increased.During the first ten months of 2020, construction spending is up 4.3% over the same period last year.Matt Ott, The Associated Press
Regina– On Nov. 19, the Ministry of Health released updated modelling information which provided four possible forecasts of what could happen in the coming months as COVID-19 spread across Saskatchewan. Several slides referenced Nov. 29 as part of a 14-day forecast. So what actually happened? Generally speaking, even with regularly climbing daily case counts in Saskatchewan, reality has been much less harsh than those models were predicting. While Saskatchewan has continued to show exponential growth in its 7-day average new case count, reality turned out to be much lower than the projected forecast. The “14 Day Forecast of Lab Confirmed Cases (to Nov. 29, 2020)” slide shows a band of possibilities, with a “50 per cent Forecasted Value” line, the “Upper Credibility Interval (97.5 per cent),” and the “Lower Credibility Interval (2.5 per cent).” The chart also says “*Interpret with caution.” The forecasted 50 per cent value was roughly 1,400 cases per day on Nov. 29, with the upper number coming in around 2,100 and the lower number at 660. In actuality, Saskatchewan’s new case count on Nov. 29 was 351, one of its highest days, but its 7-day average on that day was 250 cases per day. Three days earlier the average case count of 243 cases per day exceeded the 240 case per day level – a doubling from 120 average cases per day reached 16 days earlier on Nov. 10. Saskatchewan had been seeing a doubling of average cases per day roughly every 14 days since Oct. 10. Similarly, the “14 Day Forecast of Acute Hospital Admissions (to Nov. 29, 2020)” was also substantially off the mark. It’s 50 per cent forecast line came in at 90 new admissions per day, with the high mark at 130 and the low mark at 40. The daily COVID-19 updates from the province do not speak of new admissions per day, but rather provide how many people are in hospital, overall new cases, recoveries and deaths. So while the total number of people in hospital may increase by eight, as it did on Nov. 30, there will be churn within the number for people recovering and going home, and new admissions coming in. Thus, in reality, on Nov. 30, Saskatchewan had 123 people in total hospitalized throughout the province, the highest level to date. That was an increase from 115 the day before. On Nov. 30, the 325 new cases also came with were 49 recoveries. There were two deaths reported on Nov. 30, and 23 people were in intensive care. Manitoba and North Dakota compared With 325 new cases announced on Nov. 30, Saskatchewan’s 7-day average is now 262.9 cases per day. That number shows a continuing growth pattern, but perhaps not as sharply as the previous two months had been, and it may no longer be on the same exponential curve that it had been on from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15. In comparison, Manitoba has remained relatively flat since Nov. 13, when its 7-day average case count hit 400.4. Since then there have been fluctuations in the daily count, but the average has remained in a narrow band between 371.6 and 422.7 average cases per day. On Nov. 30, Manitoba’s 7-day average was 392.4 cases per day. Prior to mid-November, Manitoba had been undergoing exponential growth at a rate almost exactly the same as Saskatchewan, but roughly 16 to 18 days ahead of Saskatchewan’s curve. By Dec. 1, that had stretched to 30 days, as Saskatchewan’s growth rate slowed and Manitoba’s flattened out. North Dakota, which received national headlines as one of the worst affected states in the union, has not only flattened its curve, but bent it substantially down in the last two weeks of November. North Dakota, too, had been seeing exponential growth of new COVID-19 cases for the two months leading up to mid-November, albeit at a lower rate of growth than either Saskatchewan or Manitoba. Its overall numbers were much higher, however. North Dakota’s 7-day average crested on Nov. 18, at 1,415.7 average cases per day. Its highest individual case count for a day was 2,278 on Nov. 14. But in the two weeks since, that 7-day average case count made a steady decline, falling to 1035.7 by Nov. 27, and 848.1 on Nov. 30. On an individual day bases, Nov. 30 was the best day North Dakota had seen in over a month, with 598 new cases. The last time the state had a number in the 500s, it was Oct. 26, at 527. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury