Venezuela's government is encouraging private firms to sign import and export deals with companies in Asia and the Middle East as part of an effort to limit the impact of U.S. sanctions, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter. The plan expands on President Nicolas Maduro's existing commercial relationships with allies such as Turkey and Iran, which have already been providing the cash-strapped government with food and fuel in exchange for gold.
BERLIN — Veteran German diplomat Helga Schmid, a key behind-the-scenes negotiator of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, was named Friday as the new administrative head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The Vienna-based regional security organization plays an important role in trying to resolve conflicts in Europe and on its periphery, including Ukraine. Its 57 members include Russia and the United States. A career diplomat, the 59-year-old Schmid was the German embassy's spokeswoman in Washington during the early 1990s, before taking senior roles at the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin, and later moved to Brussels. She spent the last four years as the head of the EU's diplomatic service. The post of OSCE secretary general comes with a three-year term that can be renewed once. The secretary general is the administrative head of the OSCE, complementing the presidency which rotates annually among member states. A branch of the organization also conducts election monitoring missions, including during last month's U.S. presidential vote. The Associated Press
Area grandmothers are tying orange ribbons on fixtures in downtown Brighton to raise awareness about gender-based violence. Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN) Northumberland is leading the orange campaign locally. Orange has been chosen by the United Nations as the colour to represent the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world by 2030. “To this end, our group (decorates) downtown Brighton with orange bows and cards, as well as mans a display at the Brighton Public Library to promote increased awareness of the impact of violence against women and girls,” GRAN Northumberland’s Betty Ann Knutson told the Brighton Independent. Sixteen days of activism against gender-based violence is an international campaign that occurs annually. The campaign runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, commencing on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and winding down on Human Rights Day. “We now have lots of orange bows on Main Street, at King Edward Park, at the municipal building/library and even at Tim Hortons,” added GRAN Sharon Graham. GRAN is described as a dynamic network of volunteers across Canada advocating at local, national and international levels. The group strives to garner Canadian and international support for measures that will significantly improve the quality of life for Africa's grandmothers as they strive to hold their families and communities together in the face of the AIDS pandemic. “Our current efforts focus on ensuring access to affordable medicines, improving access to education, ending violence against women and girls and (granting) the right to economic security and social protection,” Graham noted. GRAN Northumberland welcomes women from across the county to join in on its advocacy work. Call Graham at 613-475-2094 or e-mail email@example.com and/or visit www.grandmothersadvocacy.org for more information. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
This column is an opinion from Graham Thomson, an award-winning journalist who has covered Alberta politics for more than 30 years.Buried amidst the ongoing COVID confusion and controversy this week in Alberta came a bit of unusual news: the UCP government and NDP opposition agreed on something.It wasn't exactly a Kumbaya moment but the two battling political parties that have turned the legislature's daily question period into a form of trench warfare finally see eye-to-eye on an issue.They're both unhappy with the announcement on Monday from federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland involving much-anticipated changes to the fiscal stabilization program that provides money to provinces experiencing a significant drop in revenue year-over-year.Alberta, of course, has been experiencing chronic revenue drops year-over-year-over-year. Because of a series of bad years topped off by a COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta's revenue ride is less like a roller coaster and more like the Drop of Doom.The fiscal stabilization program wasn't designed for that kind of multi-billion-dollar collapse in revenues.In 2016, for example, the Alberta government under the NDP complained that it lost $6.5 billion in revenue because of low oil prices but only received $250 million from the stabilization program that was capped at $60 per provincial resident.After forming government in 2019, the United Conservative Party took up the fight and this year demanded $4 billion instead of the $266 million offered. Not only that, the UCP wanted the higher stabilization payments to be retroactive to 2015.On Monday, Freeland announced the cap is being hiked to $170 per capita, meaning the province is now entitled to receive $750 million this year. But the payments will not be retroactive."[I am] very disappointed that the caps weren't lifted entirely," said Finance Minister Travis Toews. "It really doesn't go far enough."For her part, NDP Leader Rachel Notley sounded like a clone of Toews: "I would continue to advocate for the removal of the cap and I would also suggest that this should be retroactive to when Alberta deserved a fair fiscal stabilization formula in the first place."But the fight to remove the cap completely has gone from difficult to impossible because of the pandemic.WATCH | Alberta politicians unhappy with federal stabilization changesThis year, every province will probably be applying for aid under the stabilization program. Ottawa, already neck-deep in pandemic debt, would be swamped with billions of new claims under a sky's-the-limit fiscal stabilization program.And, besides, premiers who had been supporting Jason Kenney's call for a capless program will likely be happy enough to receive almost triple the amount of money than was available under the old formula.Change of heartBut Kenney's disappointment with Ottawa on Monday shifted to satisfaction on Wednesday.He performed such a sudden change in direction he might need a neck brace for whiplash. But that's the kind loopy politics you get during a pandemic.On Monday, the issue was money.On Wednesday, it was a COVID-19 vaccine."We've been assured by the federal government that shipments will begin to arrive by Jan. 4 and continue to arrive in waves throughout the early part of next year," said Kenney, putting the kind of faith in the federal government apparently not shared by federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole.Setting a firm timeline for a vaccine rollout is not particularly risky for Kenney. If the plan works, great. Albertans might be happy enough that Kenney sees his approval ratings start to rise after a year of steady decline. If the vaccines don't arrive on time, Kenney can blame Ottawa yet again for Alberta's problems.Of course, a third scenario is Ottawa delivers the vaccine as promised but Alberta has trouble with the logistics of getting Albertans vaccinated.To that end, Kenney has called in the military — sort of. He has appointed Paul Wynnyk, the deputy minister of municipal affairs and a former general in the Canadian Forces, to lead the province's vaccine task force.In the meantime, as Alberta continues to lead the country in COVID cases, playing in the background is a plan to call on the federal government and Red Cross to set up emergency hospitals should the virus overwhelm our health-care system.Kenney is still trying to spin a positive tale out of the distressing pandemic reality, still trusting that Albertans will take personal responsibility to flatten the curve, still insisting there is "light at the end of the tunnel."But that light might just be a Red Cross truck coming with a field hospital to house Alberta's ever growing number of pandemic patients.
Northumberland County hopes residents dig a program that provides them with free tree saplings to plant on their properties. Applications for Northumberland County's Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) replacement tree program have reopened following two years of successful EAB replacement tree programs that resulted in the local planting of 24,000 trees. County residents are invited to apply to receive free tree saplings as part of a five-year program subsidized by the county. Residents can apply to receive between 25 to 150 trees to plant on their property in Northumberland. There will be 12,000 trees subsidized through this year's application process on a first-come, first-served basis. Tree species available through the program include various types of oak, maple and pine as well as spruce, birch and tamarack. All successful orders will be available for pickup from Lower Trent Conservation in the spring. This program was developed to replace trees that are being removed as part of Northumberland County's 10-year plan to remove hazardous trees as a precaution to prevent injury or damage. This plan was developed in response to the EAB, an invasive insect that attacks and kills ash trees. For every tree removed as part of the plan, Northumberland County will subsidize about 10 native trees for residents to plant on their property. For more information about the program and to apply to receive free saplings, visit Northumberland.ca/EABprogram. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
OTTAWA — Canada's national unemployment rate was 8.5 per cent in November. Here are the jobless rates last month by province (numbers from the previous month in brackets):— Newfoundland and Labrador 12.2 per cent (12.8)— Prince Edward Island 10.2 per cent (10.0)— Nova Scotia 6.4 per cent (8.7)— New Brunswick 9.6 per cent (10.1)— Quebec 7.2 per cent (7.7)— Ontario 9.1 per cent (9.6)— Manitoba 7.4 per cent (7.1)— Saskatchewan 6.9 per cent (6.4)— Alberta 11.1 per cent (10.7)— British Columbia 7.1 per cent (8.0)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020 and was generated automatically.The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Alison Lurie, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist whose satirical and cerebral tales of love and academia included the marital saga “The War Between the Tates” and the comedy of Americans abroad “Foreign Affairs,” died Thursday at age 94.Lurie, a professor emerita at Cornell University, died of natural causes, according to her husband and partner, Edward Hower.Praised by The New York Times as one of the country's “most able and witty novelists,” Lurie broke through commercially in 1974 with “The War Between the Tates” and received her highest acclaim for “Foreign Affairs,” winner of the 1985 Pulitzer. Set in London, Lurie’s novel was consciously based on old-fashioned narratives of manners and customs, with one character imagining himself trapped in a Henry James story.The protagonists were Corinth University professor Virginia “Vinnie” Martin, an Anglophile and middle-aged scholar of children’s literature so self-contained that her closest companion is an invisible dog, and her wayward young colleague, Fred Turner, who takes up with the impulsive British actress Rosemary Radley as his marriage falls apart back home.“Before he met Rosemary, Fred didn’t really exist for anyone here except a few other academic ghosts,” Lurie wrote. “Now the city is alive for him and he alive in it. Everything pulses with meaning, with history and possibility, and Rosemary most of all. When he is with her he feels he holds all of England, the best of England, in his arms.”Lurie’s novel was adapted into a 1993 television movie starring Joanne Woodward as Vinnie and Eric Stoltz as Fred. “The War Between the Tates” became a 1977 TV production featuring Elizabeth Ashley and Richard Crenna.Academics and artists were often featured in her work, which combined storytelling with social and intellectual commentary. Her first book, “Love and Friendship,” centred on a professor’s wife in New England who has an intense affair with a school musician. In “The War Between the Tates,” a Corinth professor’s adultery upends his marriage and scatters husband and wife into the cultural upheavals of the late 1960s.Her other books included the novels “The Last Resort” and “Real People,” the nonfiction works “The Language of Clothes” and “The Language of Architecture” and “Familiar Spirits,” a memoir about her friendship with the prize-winning poet James Merrill and his companion David Jackson. Her most recent novel, Truth and Consequences," came out in 2005. Her last published book, the literary essay collection “Words and Worlds,” was released in 2019.In her fiction, Lurie drew openly from her own life. Corinth was an Ivy League school that closely approximated Cornell and she shared Vinnie’s love for England and expertise in children’s literature, editing such compilations as “The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales” and “The Heavenly Zoo.” She wrote about Vietnam War protests, and participated in them. In 1985, she was arrested during a rally at Cornell that called on the school to sell off its investments in companies doing business with South Africa’s racist government.Married in 1948 to Jonathan Bishop, an academic and son of the poet John Bishop Peale, she separated from him around the time “The War Between the Tates” was published and later married Hower, an author and Cornell literature professor. She had three sons with Bishop.Born in Chicago and raised in White Plains, New York, Lurie was the child of liberal, educated parents and grew up reading Jane Austen and other British authors because there “were not many models for the American woman novelist, except for the Southern school,” she told The Associated Press in 1985. She studied history and politics at Radcliffe College and spent much of the 1950s raising her children, writing stories and poems and working with the Poets’ Theater, where members included Merrill and John Ashbery.She and Bishop lived in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles, both of which became settings for her fiction, before moving to Ithaca, New York in the early 1960s. “Love and Friendship” came out in 1962 and got right to a favourite theme.“The day on which Emily Stockwell Turner fell out of love with her husband,” Lurie wrote in the book’s opening sentence, “began much like other days.”Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
AL-QAYYARAH, IRAQ (Reuters) - Tuqqa Abdullah and her Iraqi family have wandered from one displaced people's camp to the next in the past three years, buying time and hoping they will one day be able to go home. Just 14 when her father took the family to the then Islamic State (IS) stronghold of Mosul, she has inherited a legacy that might take generations to overcome. When Iraqi forces captured Mosul in the dying days of the three-year-old IS caliphate in 2017, Abdullah's father and older sons were killed.
A family is left homeless after a fire engulfed their mobile home on 15 Wilson Avenue in Elgin on Dec. 1. Wanda MacDonald, her partner, three children and a son-in-law, escaped unharmed. They managed to save their six dogs and a cat, although one cat is still missing. “I was in the house, on Facebook at the time, when Jason (her son) yelled that the bike was on fire, (although) they’re not sure if that’s what caused it,” MacDonald said. The fire is still under investigation. The family has no home insurance to cover their losses. MacDonald and her family went into the house a few times to save their pets, even though the house was on fire. “A lot of people say animals are just animals, but they’re not. They’re family members,” she explained. She said her most immediate need is a three or four-bedroom place to rent. “That’s all I’m looking for--just enough space for my family. We’ve been calling around, but most places are rented,” MacDonald added. She said her family has been getting huge donations from people in the community, but her father’s home, located right beside hers, can’t store the couches, beds and other items they’ve received. “Our family is so grateful. I just want to say thank you to the community for helping out.” Country Squire in Gananoque had been letting them stay at the hotel, but “our last stay is tonight, we have to be out of there tomorrow,” she said. Her son Adam, 21, and her daughter both purchased brand new acoustic guitars for Christmas, but both guitars were burned in the fire. “That’s all they wanted for Christmas,” MacDonald said. MacDonald can be reached at 613-532-4827. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family. Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
While the aftermath of the American presidential election continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how exactly the shift of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden will impact Canada-U.S. relations. A former international ambassador cautions it won’t be all sunshine and lollipops ahead for the generally friendly neighbours. Derek Burney, who was born in Fort William (now Thunder Bay) served as Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. from 1989 to 1993 under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Burney is currently chancellor of Lakehead University, chairman of the Burney Investment Group, chairman of GardaWorld’s International Advisory Board, chairman of Enablence Technologies Inc., and a member of the advisory board of Paradigm Capital. He was named an Officer to the Order of Canada in 1993. Last week he gave an online address which was hosted by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, and simulcast by the chambers of Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay and Timmins. Burney opened by calling the U.S. election a “cathartic” event. “The aftershocks continue to resonate. The Electoral College will meet on Dec. 14 to certify the results, and formally declare Joe Biden as president.” He then spoke of the big takeaways he had from the election. “A huge turnout amplified by massive influxes of mail-in ballots helped ultimately tip the verdict to Joe Biden, even though Trump won 10 million more votes than he received in 2016.” Burney said the 'Blue Wave' that many pollsters had predicted did not materialize. “Too many pollsters seemed more inclined to affect, rather than reflect, the mood of American voters. Biden won with a tightly disciplined, low-key campaign, banking on the fact that he was not Trump, and that the election would be a referendum on Trump, not a choice between the two candidates.” Burney lamented that foreign policy was barely mentioned by either candidate throughout the campaign. “Personalities, character and COVID concerns dominated.” Burney pointed out that regardless of the outcome the United States is in a period of deep division. “The country remains highly polarized — split right down the middle and very difficult to govern. The Democrats are jubilant, but weary. The Republicans are subdued, but not submissive.” He said the election conveyed a messy image of American democracy to the world, and that it regrettably emboldened authoritarian leaders like China's President Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to take advantage. Domestically, policy ideas from the Republicans and Democrats on matters such as taxes, immigration, health care and energy are seemingly polar opposites. “Biden will definitely bring a less abrasive tone, especially on global issues, but his ability to implement major changes on domestic issues will be circumscribed, if the Republicans hold the Senate. He will also need to consolidate consensus on policies and priorities first within his own party, which is more divided internally, than are the Republicans.” “Biden's pledge to heal and unite the nation is commendable, but maybe unrealistic.” On the positive side, Burney did remark that there was some scope for bipartisan consensus on issues like justice reform, infrastructure, and possibly healthcare. “But if the Congress remains divided, agreements will require nimble give-and-take negotiations. At least Biden and Republican Senator Mitch McConnell are both Senate veterans, and they begin with a degree of mutual respect, a spirit that was entirely lacking between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” Regarding Canada and how a new government will affect Canadian business, Burney, said Biden will be more congenial with U.S. allies. “After 47 years of service in Washington, he is no stranger to Canada, nor to our Prime Minister and other alliance leaders. That alone is good news.” However, Burney said that in reality, the Canada-U.S. relationship is “no longer special” and that Biden’s domestic policies are a mixed bag for Canada moving forward. “Those favouring more action on climate change will be pleased by his quick decision to rejoin the Paris Accord. I personally would be happier if he were also committed to ensuring more timely, and more tangible commitments by major polluters like China and India. The imbalance is startling.” He also cautioned that Western Canada could be in for more challenging times concerning the oil and gas sector if Biden’s positions come to fruition. “If he fulfils his pledge to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit, that would be devastating for our energy sector. In my view, such action would be blatantly discriminatory and should be challenged forcefully by our government, not just the pipeline companies.” The first few months of 2021 will be highly interesting for economic observers on both sides of the border as the two nations, the largest trading partners on the planet, scramble to get their economies rolling again during a global health crisis. “Because we are joined at the hip economically with the U.S., we stand to gain when their economy is robust, and conversely when the U.S. economy slumps, so does ours. That is why my fervid hope is that Joe Biden puts economy recovery first and foremost on his agenda.” Burney told the business-oriented viewers what his overall message is. “At a time of greater instability and uncertainty in the world, my most important message to you is that greater self-reliance is becoming the order of the day. As business operators, you need to be mindful of that increasing trend. Find ways to produce more of what is needed right here in Canada, and rely less on global supply chains that can easily be disrupted, as our experience with COVID, badly demonstrated.”Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
NEW YORK — Miguel Algarín, poet, professor and a founder of New York City's beloved Nuyorican Poets Café performance space, has died. He was 79. Algarín died Monday at a Manhattan hospital from sepsis, said Daniel Gallant, executive director of the Nuyorican Poets Café. Born in Puerto Rico, Algarín and his family came to New York City when he was a child. After Algarín had returned to New York with degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania State University, he held gatherings with other poets in his apartment in the early 1970s, exploring Puerto Rican identity and other themes. Out of that was created the Nuyorican Poets Café, which by 1981 had moved to a building on Manhattan's lower east side where it remains. “Miguel was a brilliant poet, an influential professor and leader, and a supportive mentor who inspired and guided generations of artists," Gallant said. Algarín was a prolific writer, with multiple books of poetry to his name, and edited several anthologies as well. He spent years at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he taught classes on Shakespeare, creative writing and ethnic literature, and became a professor emeritus. Gallant said the cafe would have an online tribute for Algarín this month, and would do something in person as soon as conditions allow. The Associated Press
Ahi creates this beautiful makeup look inspired by sunset colors. She uses the orange neon palette by Huda Beauty. It's a must have palette!
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president has renewed his vitriolic attacks on French President Emmanuel Macron, saying he hopes France will get rid of him soon. Speaking after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Macron “trouble” for France, which he said was experiencing a dangerous time under his leadership. “My wish is for France to get rid of the Macron trouble as soon as possible,” Erdogan said. Otherwise, Erdogan claimed, France would not be able to overcome the Yellow Vest protest movement against social injustice in the country. Erdogan also said France has lost its credibility as an intermediary of the Minsk group, which was created in the 1990s to encourage peaceful resolution for the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. France has sided with Armenia in that conflict, and Turkey with Azerbaijan. Erdogan’s comments come amid harsh rhetoric from both leaders. Macron tried to avoid further escalation Friday, calling for “respect” after Erdogan's attack, and deflecting a question on the spat. The French leader also told Brut, a news website, that Erdogan was in the process of limiting the liberty of the Turkish people. Relations have been tense over a host of issues, including what Erdogan characterizes as French Islamopohobia, energy disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya. In October, Erdogan said Macron needed his head examined for defending caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. At the time, French authorities denounced Turkish “propaganda” against France and Paris recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations. The French presidency responded to Erdogan's comments in October with unusually strong language, saying: “Excess and rudeness are not a method” and “we are not accepting insults," and called for changes in Erdogan's “dangerous” policy. The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A year after a series of concerts in Puerto Rico that ended up being his last because of the pandemic, Daddy Yankee is bringing those performances to YouTube as a Christmas gift to his fans around the globe.“DY2K20,” the digital version of his show “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” will be released in three parts on Yankee's YouTube channel, with the first installment out Friday. The others will drop on Dec. 14 and Dec. 21, respectively.“I wanted to give a Christmas present to all my fans during the pandemic, bring the party to their homes free of charge, bring them joy in such difficult times,” the reggaeton star told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Miami.Yankee, who has stayed mostly out of the spotlight in 2020, said that while the pandemic has hit many very hard, it has also allowed him to do something he hadn't done in three decades: Focus on his health and rest.It's something he had to gradually learn after gaining 40 pounds (almost 20 kilos) during the first months of quarantine.“Maybe because of the anxiety... I started eating and eating and eating and I put on the pounds like never before. I got to weigh 230 pounds (105 kilos) ... But I recovered my normal weight from 10 years ago. That was my focus,” said the “Despacito” and “Gasolina” singer, adding he achieved his goal by watching what he ate and exercising, a lot.“I devoted myself to my health and to something that was unknown to me, which was rest,” he said. “I started to learn how to live with calmness and to appreciate it... And I feel different, I feel in a new phase completely.”Now that he gained some balance in his life, he feels ready to reactivate his career. In addition to “DY2K20,” he has another surprise for his fans: A new music collaboration he will release in the coming days, although he wouldn't provide details yet.For now, he said he was blessed to finally share with the world the footage of a show staged at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot, which involved over 80 people who worked with “great passion, great creativity.” It was well-received, going from two scheduled dates to a full residence, with 12 sold-out shows, or 170,000 tickets.What many don't know is that a technical problem on opening night resulted in a new business opportunity: Massive concerts in the daylight hours, something never seen before on the island.After getting stuck on a platform over the stage, Yankee announced to the audience that he would give them an extra show for free, and it was a matinee. He adjusted the content to make it family friendly, and ended up doing one more that way.Another unique aspect of “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” which featured artists like Ozuna, Wisin & Yandel and Nicky Jam, was the use of holograms to replace those who weren't there to perform live.“I wanted the artists to be gigantic, on people's faces, so the audience could feel that they were in front of them and we achieved that,” Yankee said. “It was a concert that became a residence, like if Las Vegas had moved to Puerto Rico.”___Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner.Sigal Ratner-Arias, The Associated Press
For the second time in the past five days, Niagara Region Public Health has advised District School Board of Niagara that one individual at Port Colborne High School has tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was confirmed on Nov. 29. As a result of the two COVID-19 cases, three classrooms have been closed. Local school boards will not identify the individual who tested positive. However, the provincial online database that tracks school-related COVID-19 cases does identify the Nov. 29 case as staff member. Today’s case will not be immediately known as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its reporting. In a media release, DSBN said, “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual have been contacted and told by NRPH to stay home and self-isolate.” Provincial guidelines indicate “an outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection.” Public health has not indicated if it will declare an outbreak at Port High. Preventative COVID-19 practices that Port Colborne High School has been following since classes started, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue, DSBN said. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off the inaugural meeting of a global council on artificial intelligence by warning of the danger of unbridled digital technology, despite its potential to change the world for the better. The virtual summit marks the latest step in the slow march toward international co-operation on digital governance amid growing concerns over data privacy, built-in bias and deployment in war. Canada first set out on that path two years ago, unveiling plans with France for a standing AI forum during a meeting of G7 countries in Quebec. Since then, 13 other states have signed on to the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to guide policy development with an eye to human rights, establishing expert panels and involving government, industry and academia. Speaking ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, Trudeau said AI has the potential to combat diseases and climate change, but also to "create new challenges if left unchecked." Last month, the Liberal government tabled legislation to give Canadians more control over their information in the digital age, with potentially stiff fines for companies that flout the rules. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
Peel police say a 33-year-old man has been charged after a 61-year old woman's body was found at the scene of a fire in Brampton Friday morning.Emergency crews were called to the scene on Martindale Crescent near Vodden Street West just before 4 a.m.When they got there, five of the six residents were outside and the home was engulfed in flames.Fire crews quickly found the woman's body inside. A 34-year-old woman was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injures. A 71-year-old man, along with children aged 11, nine and four, were unhurt. All the residents are known to the accused, police said in an update Friday evening. The 33-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder, police said. Police are asking anyone with information about what happened or security camera video to contact them or Crime Stoppers.
La tenue d’un exercice d’instruction sur la base de Valcartier par plusieurs militaires membres du Régiment du Saguenay, du 20 au 22 novembre dernier, soulève des interrogations et des craintes pour la famille de l’un d’entre eux en raison des risques potentiels de propagation de la COVID-19. Au cours des derniers jours, un citoyen de Chicoutimi, dont le fils est membre du Régiment du Saguenay et qui vit sous le même toit que ses parents, s’est interrogé sur la pertinence de tenir des exercices militaires regroupant plusieurs dizaines de personnes dans les deux zones rouges nécessitant le transport des participants. Selon le récit de l’interlocuteur, le jeune homme a été transporté en minibus jusqu’à Valcartier avec tout son équipement à bord en respectant la mesure de distanciation tandis que le port du masque aurait été plus ou moins respecté, une affirmation difficile à vérifier. Le parent concerné aurait tenté de dissuader le fils d’âge majeur de participer à l’exercice militaire, mais il aurait répondu que ses petits frères et sœurs allaient à l’école, ce qui le légitimait de se rendre à Valcartier. « La participation au Régiment du Saguenay se fait sur une base volontaire. Il y a des pères de famille là-dedans. Notre crainte est que mon fils revienne avec le virus et nous contamine, moi et ma conjointe, qui sommes confinés en télétravail, ainsi que ses petits frères et sœurs. On comprend que le Régiment du Saguenay est sa seule source de revenus », mentionne ce parent inquiet. Mis au fait de la situation, l’adjudant-chef du Régiment du Saguenay, François Girard, confirme que 43 membres du régiment, dont lui-même, ainsi que des membres de la réserve oeuvrant comme policiers à la Base miliaire de Bagotville, ont été transportés à Québec pour des manœuvres d’instruction. Des exercices d’attaques en zone rurale, de patrouille de reconnaissance et de rappel sur tour ont été effectués. L’adjudant-chef assure que toutes les mesures édictées par la Santé publique ont dû être respectées à partir du transport des militaires, qui a été effectué avec des autobus d’une capacité de 47 passagers remplis à 50 %, jusqu’aux mesures de distanciation sur le terrain. M. Girard nie que les masques ont été enlevés à bord. M. Girard précise que depuis le printemps, le Régiment du Saguenay a été mis en pause et a dû annuler une quantité importante d’activités prévues au calendrier tandis que plusieurs membres du commandement oeuvrent en télétravail. L’autre réalité est que les militaires doivent continuer de conserver leurs capacités opérationnelles afin de pouvoir faire face à toute situation d’urgence, opérations terrain, sauvetage, etc., ce qui exige la tenue d’entraînements collectifs comme ceux tenus à la fin novembre. « Dans nos directives, tout est observé quant au respect des règles. Il nous faut des gens qui vont continuer à faire ce qu’ils ont à faire. Pour ça, il nous faut être en santé. Aussitôt qu’on a des doutes, on ferme les unités. » M. Girard conclut que la participation aux exercices collectifs au sein du Régiment du Saguenay se fait sur une base volontaire et que personne n’oblige les membres à être présents.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Lawyers fought the latest round of a 16-year legal battle by video conference in the province’s top court on Tuesday and Wednesday. The long-running dispute between Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) and the Saskatchewan government aims to find whether 600 flooded acres of land near Southend is a reserve. The debate centres on whether to uphold Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Dan Konkin’s 2019 decision finding the land was never properly designated as a reserve. That decision also tossed out PBCN’s claim that the flooding meant the province and SaskPower were trespassing on the land. This week, PBCN and the federal government argued it is a reserve — a finding that would throw out the lower court’s decision and help the First Nation’s legal counsel press for compensation based off the trespassing claim. “The important thing here is the ownership of (roughly) 10,000 acres of land is at stake,” said Thomas Berger, a prominent British Columbia lawyer who has long served as PBCN’s counsel on the case. The Saskatchewan government and SaskPower argued to uphold the 2019 decision, saying the reserve was never properly designated. The Ministry of Justice declined to comment on a matter before the courts. One part of the dispute centres on a surveyor’s actions almost a century ago. When the surveyor was tasked with finding Barren Lands band members at Southend in 1929, he found members of PBCN. PBCN argued he took steps to create a reserve there. A 1981 federal government cabinet order and the land’s inclusion in the 1992 Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement confirmed that designation, PBCN’s factum said. In an interview, Berger said the province’s position on its status was a reversal because “25 years later, they said, ‘we made a mistake.’ ” Saskatchewan legal counsel Mitch McAdam said that’s not necessarily the case. In a factum, he wrote that the surveyor’s “instructions were crystal clear — to survey a reserve at Southend for Barren Lands — and he carried those instructions out ‘to a T.’ ” However, McAdam said the survey was flawed and incomplete. He said the government also never confirmed it as a reserve, meaning the land passed to Saskatchewan under the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement in 1930. That brings into question who owns the land that Whitesand Dam floods as it controls Reindeer River’s flow into the nearby Island Falls hydroelectric power station. Berger says his clients are owed their “fair share” of compensation for the flooding, but that partly depends on how the court sides on the question of the land’s reserve status. “If Peter Ballantyne has no interest in the (land), in other words, the (land) is not Indian reserve land, (and) Peter Ballantyne has no claim in trespass,” the SaskPower factum noted. Berger expects to hear the top court’s decision sometime in 2021. NoneNick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
WELLINGTON COUNTY – A newly-announced mobile addictions services van in Wellington County aims to bridge healthcare gaps in rural areas of the county. Stonehenge Therapeutic Community recently got $900,000 in funding from Ontario Health to enhance their addiction services. Kristen Kerr, executive director of Stonehenge Therapeutic Community, said about a third of this is going toward a project to serve the needs of rural Wellington County residents who face substance use issues. They are expanding their Rapid Access Addiction Clinics (RAAC), where there is only one in Wellington County, with a mobile van that can address issues with transportation, a common gap in health services in the county. “These clinics offer specialized medical addiction services and that can be hard to access when you live in a rural community,” Kerr said. “Sometimes it can be quite a long geographic distance to get to a clinic that is stationary. We have four existing clinics but most of them are far from Harriston for example.” Kerr said another issue in rural areas when accessing addiction services relates to anonymity. The thought is In a smaller community, people who are using such services can be more easily identified by other residents. The van itself will act as a mobile medical clinic that is staffed with a nurse practitioner. “It will be able to go to more central or accessible locations so that folks from the rural areas can more easily access the clinic,” Kerr said. The nurse practitioner can provide medicine services, addictions counselling and referrals. Kerr said they are working out the fine details with their rural healthcare partners such as precisely where the van will go in the county and therefore couldn’t say exactly where it will be making stops. Some of the funding is also going toward enhancing supportive housing they have in Guelph for those who face substance-use issues and have some level of involvement in the justice system. Kerr said the van concept was created from feedback about barriers clients face in rural areas and they will continue to listen and learn how they can improve. “I think listening to those who need to access service and listening to the voice of people with lived experience is key to knowing what more we need to do,” Kerr said. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com