Georgia election officials have announced an audit of presidential election results that will trigger a full hand recount. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Wednesday that the process will begin this week. (Nov. 11)
Georgia election officials have announced an audit of presidential election results that will trigger a full hand recount. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Wednesday that the process will begin this week. (Nov. 11)
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
WINNIPEG — Manitobans will likely have to deal with strict COVID-19 measures into the winter, Premier Brian Pallister warned Tuesday.With daily case counts remaining high and intensive care capacity close to the limit, Pallister said some restrictions on public gatherings and business openings will have to continue beyond Friday of next week, when the current orders are to expire."My gut feeling is that as we get into winter, it's going to be critical that we continue with a high level of restrictions for some time," Pallister said."COVID doesn't give up, and we're seeing that all across the country."Manitoba was leading all other provinces in the per-capita rate of new infections until recently, when Alberta surged ahead.To try to bend the curve, the province enacted some of the strictest rules in the country: non-essential businesses have closed, public gatherings have been limited to five people and, with some exceptions for things like medical services, people are not allowed to have visitors in their home.In-person religious services have also been banned — an order that has been met with a small measure of defiance and protests.A church in Winnipeg held four drive-in services last weekend, where people remained in their vehicles while a pastor spoke on a stage. Outside of Steinbach in southeast Manitoba, a church has held in-person services, prompting police to block the parking lot last Sunday.The rules have worked, Manitoba's chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Tuesday.The number of new infections has plateaued and even dropped slightly in recent days — there were 282 new cases Tuesday — and people now testing positive are reporting fewer contacts with others.That effect has yet to trickle through to the health-care system, however. A record 16 deaths were reported Tuesday and intensive care units remained close to full."Our health-care system can't sustain daily counts like this," Roussin said.The government is already working on what restrictions might continue beyond next week, Roussin added, although he did not divulge details.Manitoba has backed up its public health orders with added personnel, including a private security firm, to hand out fines.The two churches that held services last weekend are being fined $5,000, Pallister said, and several individuals involved can expect fines of $1,296 each."It's critical right now that we do not gather with people outside of our households," Pallister said."And we need the full participation of all Manitobans in order for these strict public health measures to work."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Last week, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his top cabinet picks, and selected Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Melanie Mark as the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. Mark holds the distinction of being the first First Nations woman to serve in the B.C. Legislature. She was elected to the riding in 2016 and previously served as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, before being given this new assignment. Mark’s appointment was heralded by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA). “We look forward to working closely with Melanie Mark, the new Minister of Tourism, Arts Culture and Sport to tackle the significant challenges facing the industry, and ultimately moving the sector down the path to economic recovery,” said TOTA President and chief executive officer Glenn Mandziuk. Mandziuk is currently serving as the chair of the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat. The organization is a collaboration between the province’s regional destination management organizations and is giving key input on the province’s tourism recovery plan. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
A fourth route for the Town of Orangeville’s transit system will be delayed thanks to a decision to nix the transfer hub plans on Broadway. The route was set to be established in order to serve an area of town that currently does not have transit service. “(It’s) so frustrating,” Coun. Todd Taylor told the Orangeville Banner. “We are losing precious time to serve all of our community.” He added that Veteran’s Way and the west end of town are two examples. “We currently have entire neighbourhoods not served by transit,” said Taylor. The fourth route would allow the transit service to operate on a four-quad system. Each quad would serve a different area of the town and meet with the rest at a central location, allowing riders to transfer to reach their destination. Council reversed their decision on the Broadway hub in a 4-3 vote on Nov. 23, after hearing numerous concerns from businesses in the downtown core and the BIA. Taylor, along with Councillors Lisa Post and Grant Peters, felt that sufficient work had been completed to prove the safety and benefits of a Broadway transfer point, which would have been located between First and John Street. Instead, several members of council would like to see staff investigate the possibility of using the Edelbrock Centre, an idea which was favoured until more recently. “I am disappointed in the decision,” said Taylor. “The Edelbrock site will cost over $300k to implement, while downtown was minimal.” Until council settles on a location, any work on the transit project, which includes the fourth route, has been put on hold. Taylor added that part of the reasoning behind a centralized station is to improve challenges deterring ridership, such as reliability and access to certain parts of town. “Our buses are underutilized today; this is a fact,” said Taylor. “Why would anyone want to ride a bus that is frequently late and does not get you close to a desired location?” Council is scheduled to vote on a motion to revisit the idea of using the Edelbrock Centre at its Dec. 14 meeting.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
Toronto FC will be going after goals in searching for a third designated player.The slot became open this week when TFC announced that while it was open to Argentine winger Pablo Piatti returning, it would not be as a DP."We need someone that can come in and help us score goals at a very high clip, that can create relationships with our players on the field and off the field, that can contribute in a lot of different ways, that has a great character and personality off the field," GM Ali Curtis told reporters Tuesday.Toronto's other designated players are Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo and striker Jozy Altidore.TFC tied for 12th in goal-scoring this season in the 26-team league, averaging 1.43 goals a game.Young striker Ayo Akinola and Pozuelo each had nine goals while fullback/midfielder Richie Laryea and Piatti had four apiece. Altidore, limited to just 13 appearances through injury, had two goals."Obviously our real only consistent goal-scorer this year was Ayo and so that's an area we're looking to upgrade," team president Bill Manning said of his strike force.The hunt will go on in conjunction with the search for a coach to follow Greg Vanney, who stepped down Tuesday.Toronto (13-5-5) posted the second-best regular-season record in MLS in 2020 despite only playing four games at BMO field due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.There will be other changes."How much change? It's such a relative kind of term," said Curtis. "But there will be change. We have to bring in a new coach. We've got to find a way to get better we can win these trophies."Pozuelo has been a hit right out of the box, a member of the league's Best XI in his two MLS seasons and a leading contender for MVP this year. Altidore can be a force to be reckoned with when healthy, but keeping him out on the pitch has been a problem.Curtis said Altidore will be back next year, although his words did not come with a guarantee."Jozy's been a really big part of TFC over the years … Unfortunately he had a couple of injuries and wasn't able to be on the field as much as we'd like but we're looking to have Jozy back next year and we'll go from there."(If) for some reason we were to have a conversation and something were to change or things like that, then just like any player we would have that conversation. But for the most part right now I think the focus is on how we can find a player to fill that designated player slot and how can we find a coach to help lead our team on the field."The team also has high hopes for 23-year-old rookie forward Ifunanyachi Achara, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game of the season.While Toronto has declined its option on Piatti, Manning said there were lots of positives with the 31-year-old Argentine and that Curtis has had "very good discussions" with his agent."So if we're in a situation where we can have a new designated player and Pablo on the team together, I think we're going to be better," he added.Said Curtis: "Pablo was a great addition … We're just looking for something slightly different."As for 21-year-old Scottish fullback Tony Gallacher, Curtis said the club's loan agreement with Liverpool did not come with an option to buy.Curtis said the club continues talks with 33-year-old fullback Justin Morrow, whose contract expires at the end of the season."We'd like for Justin to come back but we also recognize that he's earned the right to be a free agent. He's a good soccer player … He's got a lot of juice in him as a soccer player."Morrow also serves as executive director of Black Players for Change.As for 35-year-old defender Laurent Ciman, Curtis said he plans a conversation with his agent but was unsure about his future.\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s auditor general says the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the need for more robust cybersecurity and anti-fraud measures as government employees are forced to work remotely.However, he says the provincial government isn't working fast enough to manage those risks.Acting auditor general Terry Spicer notes in a report released Tuesday that the federal government's Canadian Centre for Cybersecurity has warned of an increase in attempts to access and attack networks used by remote workers.The audit finds that 10 provincial government departments, nine public service units and 19 government organizations have not completed fraud risk assessments.It adds that Service Nova Scotia, which helps citizens access government programs and services, is lagging behind on finalizing its regulations around cybersecurity.The auditor general cautions that fraud in the public sector can result in the loss of taxpayer funds and erode the public’s confidence in government if the risk isn’t properly handled.Tim Houston, leader of the Opposition Progressive Conservatives, said in a statement that the auditor general's findings reveal the province is failing to protect the information of residents."As governments around the world find themselves increasingly at risk of cyberattacks, Nova Scotia has shown that it doesn’t place a high importance on keeping our health and other records safe from improper access," Houston said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. \- - - This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News FellowshipThe Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Provinces are criticizing the federal Liberals for failing to signal more help for health-care systems and strained provincial coffers in its new spending plans, setting up a potential showdown next week between the prime minister and premiers.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet Dec. 10 with the country's premiers, who have been demanding a meeting since September to talk about the annual federal transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care.The fiscal update released Monday, which proposed some $25 billion in new spending to top up and expand existing programs and create new, targeted support for hard-hit industries, did not detail a bump in health-care spending beyond increases planned before the COVID-19 pandemic.Federal health transfers to provinces will rise to $43.1 billion next year from $41.9 billion this year, as part of a prearranged three per cent annual increase.Provinces say the proposal still falls well short of what is needed to properly fund their systems, not including the added costs associated with COVID-19.They want the federal government to boost its share of health-care funding by an extra $28 billion this year with annual increases of $4 billion thereafter. "The primary objective of the premiers to to see a structural change in how health care is funded," Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said Tuesday in an interview. "And I think they're going to be successful because it is the No. 1 thing that Canadians are interested in right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, is making sure we have stable, long-term health-care funding."The Liberals argue they've sent plenty to the provinces for pandemic-related measures, totalling $24 billion to support health-care systems across the country.On Tuesday, Trudeau said he planned to hear out the provinces about their needs during and after the pandemic, but wouldn't commit to added spending.His Liberal government's fall economic statement must first survive a confidence vote in the House of Commons. Failure to gather the necessary support would mean the minority government falls, which could plunge the country into a federal election."I am reasonably confident that none of the opposition parties wants an election right now. We certainly don't want one," Trudeau told reporters outside his Ottawa residence."We want to get these supports out to Canadians. And there are certainly things in this fall economic statement that every party should be able to support in terms of helping Canadians."Spending to date is putting the federal deficit on track to reach $381.6 billion this year, but the government's math says it could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks.Pandemic-related spending has sent total federal transfers this year to $99.7 billion. Next year, the amount falls to $82.1 billion, near where it was before the pandemic, based on figures in the fall economic statement.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said the Liberals' spending binge pre-pandemic has blown the margin now to increase transfers to lower levels of government."There's not a lot of room left for other commitments because of (Trudeau's) irresponsible and insatiable appetite for spending other people's money," Poilievre said.Rebekah Young, Scotiabank's director of fiscal and provincial economics, wrote in an analysis that one-off transfers to provinces were necessary under the circumstances, but there should be a structural shift in the long term to make the country's finances sustainable."And the discussion should be broader than expenditure-shifting, as provinces have been reluctant to take up revenue capacity given up at the federal level in recent years," she wrote.The Liberals are proposing extra help through a revised fiscal stabilization program that sends money to provinces facing a year-over-year decline in non-resource revenues.The economic statement looks to lift funding capped now at $60 per resident up to $170.Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews said his province expects to receive $750 million under the new limits, which falls well short of what Alberta could use. He said he was disappointed the Liberals didn't eliminate the cap as provinces have asked."We're going to continue to seek support from other provinces and we're disappointed in what I would call is really not even a half measure," he told reporters at the provincial legislature.Newfoundland and Labrador's Finance Minister Siobhan Coady said the province still wouldn't qualify for help through the stabilization fund this year despite a 45 per cent drop in offshore oil revenues.She added the increase in the cap is unlikely to be a big benefit.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.— With files from Shawn Jeffords in Toronto, and Dean Bennett in EdmontonJordan Press, The Canadian Press
RALEIGH, N.C. — A 3 1/2-year ban on new local ordinances aimed at protecting LGBT rights in North Carolina expired Tuesday, prompting gay rights groups to urge the passage of such measures now.Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper agreed to the moratorium in March 2017 in exchange for GOP lawmakers agreeing to do away with several portions of a “bathroom bill” that Republicans had approved a year earlier.A key disputed section of House Bill 2 directed transgender people to use public bathrooms matching their biological sex instead of the gender they identify with. It drew national condemnation and prompted several large corporations and sports teams to relocate events to other states or reconsider expanding in North Carolina.As the moratorium ended, leaders of Equality North Carolina and the Campaign for Southern Equality on Tuesday urged North Carolina residents to contact leaders of cities and urge them to expand anti-discrimination laws for the LGBT community. The moratorium had barred new local ordinances related to private employment, hotels and restaurants.“We can finally begin writing a new chapter for LGBTQ North Carolinians, one where no one is left vulnerable to discrimination based on who they are or who they love,” Allison Scott, policy director for the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a news release.Beau Mills, executive director of the North Carolina Metro Mayors Coalition, said before the ban ended that he wasn't aware of any city planning to pass new ordinances right away. “I am aware that cities, some municipalities, are certainly looking at it,” Mills told The News & Observer of Raleigh.Although the legislature that convenes in January will still be controlled by Republicans, the party lacks a veto-proof majority and will have limited options to cancel any local ordinances that might be passed. Cooper was reelected in November. The GOP has shown little interest in passing statewide protections for the LGBT community.The Associated Press
Inoccupé depuis 10 ans, l’ancien centre communautaire Saint-Noël-Chabanel a finalement croulé sous le pic du démolisseur à la fin du mois de novembre. L’administration Demers est à réfléchir quant à la vocation qu’elle entend donner à ce site, alors qu’à 1,5 kilomètre à l’ouest s’amorcent les travaux préliminaires à la réalisation du centre de services de proximité de l’Est (CSPE). «Différents scénarios que l’on ne peut dévoiler pour l’instant sont à l’étude, précise le conseiller municipal de Saint-François et membre associé du comité exécutif, Éric Morasse, dans un communiqué publié le 1er décembre. D’ici à ce qu’une décision soit prise, le terrain en question situé à l’angle du boulevard Lévesque et de la montée du Moulin sera gazonné, mentionne-t-on. «On peut maintenant affirmer que Saint-François est en route vers un meilleur avenir», se réjouit M. Morasse, fier de constater que «le secteur est plus que jamais en effervescence». Par ailleurs, le 10 novembre dernier, le futur centre de services de proximité de l’Est a fait l’objet d’une présentation en ligne où les croquis du futur bâtiment de quelque 4400 mètres carrés ont été dévoilés. Ce centre, qui s’élèvera sur l’ancien site industriel que BASF Canada a occupé de 1969 à 1986, abritera des espaces communautaires, une salle de diffusion, le poste de police de quartier ainsi que la bibliothèque Marius-Barbeau qu’on y relocalisera en 2023. La mise en chantier est prévue en 2021. Plus de détails à venir.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it's not clear what can be done.
BUCKHORN — Banners have been placed on each of the eight lampposts on the Buckhorn lock bridge to help enhance tourism in the region as small businesses continue to struggle through the pandemic. As an initiative through the Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8), Trail Town has made the Trent-Severn Waterway Canada’s first waterway trail, says Leslie Clarkson, vice-chair of the RTO8 board and co-chair of the Buckhorn Trail Town committee. The trail currently connects a total of nine communities on the system, including Buckhorn, Coboconk, Rosedale, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Lakefield, Hastings and Campbellford, Clarkson said. The concept was taken from the Great Allegheny Passage in the United States; a biking and hiking trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Tourism is one of the main economic drivers in Buckhorn, Clarkson said. “Buckhorn is one of the busiest locks on the entire Trent Severn system, and our welcome centre is generally the busiest in the region,” she said. Buckhorn is one of the only towns of the nine communities that has municipal funding, so some of the funding was used for the banners, Clarkson said. “The main thing really is to get visitors to come to the area and to stay in the area and to stay in the region, and then to get them to want to come back and spend more time in the region,” said Clarkson. Trail Town is a great opportunity to help attract visitors to the area and to let them know that there’s a variety of different things that they can do in the region, said Selwyn Township Mayor Andy Mitchell. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s coming at a time when the tourism industry is facing some challenges,” he said. “Hopefully we can position ourselves as we move forward, particularly in the spring and summer when, from a public health perspective, things will be much better to welcome visitors from across the province and across the world." With boaters travelling down the Trent Severn Waterway as well as cars crossing the bridge, the banners will be seen by many, Clarkson said. However, the banners are just the first step in the Trail Town initiative, Clarkson said. “As we move forward to year two and year three, we will continue to capitalize on the relationship with Parks Canada and look at those other gyms that a visitor would stumble across and develop those as well,” she said. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
TORONTO — Netflix Canada will bid farewell to "Friends" later this month as the hit sitcom moves to Crave.Both streaming platforms confirmed the switch on Tuesday, saying Dec. 31 will see all 10 seasons of the show depart Netflix for their new home on Crave under an exclusive agreement.The change comes as Crave continues to bulk up its streaming library of hit network TV comedies, which include "30 Rock," "The Bernie Mac Show" and "Frasier."The streamer, owned by Bell Media, also recently picked up the rights to "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," which will leave Netflix on Dec. 30.Netflix isn't left empty-handed when it comes to classic TV, however. The company says it will have the Canadian streaming rights to "Seinfeld" starting next year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
Next year, if all goes as planned, Canadians will get a free COVID-19 vaccine, billions of dollars in economic stimulus, and perhaps, insiders and analysts say, an early election. Five sources familiar with the thinking in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party say a snap election is likely at some point in 2021 rather than at the scheduled end of the legislature in 2023. Last year, the ruling Liberals won only a minority of seats in the House of Commons, leaving them reliant on opposition parties to survive.
Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) opened its doors last week to a new primary care clinic located on reserve at the OKIB Health Centre. The new clinic is a partnership between Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice and Interior Health. The primary care clinic, which is open to OKIB members living both on and off-reserve, is an expansion to the existing facility but now providing patients with access to doctors. “There has been a need for a long time for these types of services,” says Chief Byron Louis of Okanagan Indian Band. “The idea has always been there, it’s based upon community growth.” OKIB, which is located at Inkumupulux (Head of Okanagan Lake), near Vernon, B.C., currently has 2030 members, with half of its members living on reserve. It’s the growing population that has fueled discussions of the need for a new primary care clinic. “We also have a growing need when we start looking at that,” says Louis. “Even with half of our population being non-reserve, but band members, you’re starting to get into the size of a small community.” The clinic is now open and accepting new patients via appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m. The services available range from medical assessments, to diagnosis and treatment plans, diabetes and physical exams for newborns, seniors and elderly care. (See the full list here.) “It represents a new approach to providing health care services and access to doctors on OKIB reserve land. Now, OKIB members can receive care at all stages of life, right here in community,” Louis says. A healthcare system right at home in the community builds on pre-existing programs and services, but meets the needs of “the ageing population,” he explains. “It’s good that you’re able to provide a home base for your health care.”Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
Multiple B.C. First Nations continue to demand the provincial government release the location of COVID-19 cases near their communities. The Heiltsuk Nation, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Tsilhqot’in National Government said despite being engaged in government-to-government negotiations, there has been no result. Public health emergencies, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, “do not impact all populations in the same way” noted a recent report by Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, which discovered widespread systemic racism against Indigenous peoples in B.C’s health-care system. “First Nations people are significantly more likely to experience an overdose event or death, and more likely to contract COVID-19, than non-Indigenous people in B.C.,” the report stated in one of its 11 key findings. Specific challenges reported to the review included lack of access to data, lack of resourcing for prevention and security, and lack of integration of First Nations in the supply chain for personal protective equipment and other necessary emergency supplies, the report added. The First Nations leaders said while they feel vindicated by Turpel Lafond’s report, the report’s recommendations must be immediately implemented and address COVID-19 information sharing. They have been requesting the location of coronavirus cases near their communities, if the case involves a person who has travelled to their territories within the last 14 days and the name of positive members to be used for culturally-safe contact tracing since May. Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president Judith Sayers said the health ministry’s ongoing refusal to share the information is based on stereotypes of First Nations governments that receive and work with confidential information every day. “It’s insulting to suggest that we can’t be trusted with this information,” she said in a Dec. 1 release. A complaint by the First Nations was filed in September 2020 with the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner, which has opened a file into the matter.Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
REGINA — Saskatchewan's minister of corrections and policing says she doesn't know how the novel coronavirus got into a jail where more than 100 inmates are infected — and she isn't going to try to find out. Christine Tell says precautions were in place to try to prevent the virus's transmission in jails. Inmates have been required to isolate for 14 days upon arrival and correctional officers have been wearing masks since the summer. Despite that, the Justice Ministry said 107 inmates and 23 staff at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday. "Why it came into the facility with all the precautions, I can't answer that," Tell said Tuesday. Asked if she would try to find out what happened, Tell responded "no." "I cannot say how it got in there," said Tell. "There's no possible way for us to find out." NDP justice critic Nicole Sarauer said Tell's response was unsurprising. "It makes me wonder if she worries about the safety of the inmates and the staff in our correctional centres," Sarauer said. "This is a minister that shouldn't be a minister anymore." The government made masks mandatory for all provincial inmates last week. Offenders had only been required to wear them when they showed symptoms or moved around a facility. Some of the inmates at the Saskatoon jail say getting masks now is too little too late and they are worried about overcrowding. Troy Maurice said his unit has a shared bathroom with 15 bunk beds and five portable beds on the floor. “I feel like a science experiment. I feel like a lab rat being watched by scientists," the 29-year-old recently told The Canadian Press. Maurice said the bunks are close together, there isn't enough air flow and inmates on the unit have been together for weeks. “We shouldn’t be jam-packed like tuna fish," Maurice said. "It was impossible to get away from everybody. There are guys who tested positive for COVID on the bottom bunks and the guys on the top bunks are just deathly scared." Cory Charles Cardinal, another inmate, said people are coughing on his unit and the jail didn't put enough precautions in place to prevent the virus from spreading. “They just gave out a little memorandum every once in a while saying try (to) wash your hands and social distance," said Cardinal, who added some inmates have been reluctant to get tested out of fear of being ostracized. Tell acknowledged that overcrowding has been an issue in the province's jails for more than 20 years and said her government has expanded capacity. "I think COVID is bigger than our government," she said The Ministry of Justice said public-health officials have advised that movement between units should be restricted because offenders who test negative could still have been exposed to positive cases. "This is a similar precaution that has occurred in other provinces that have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak in a correctional centre," said spokesman Noel Busse. "Additionally, Corrections must continue to ensure that incompatible offenders (rival gang members) are not put in a situation where they are more likely to endanger themselves or others." Busse said last week that most inmates in Saskatoon's jail who tested positive were asymptotic. Temporary trailers were brought in so those offenders could isolate. Justice officials said no more inmates are being sent to the Saskatoon jail. They are being diverted to jails in Regina and Prince Albert. The provincial government said that despite COVID-19 it has no plans to release offenders who are serving sentences. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Oscar-nominated Canadian star of the film "Juno" has come out as transgender.The Halifax-raised Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, made the announcement in a powerful post on social media.The star of the Toronto-shot Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy" says his preferred pronouns are he/they.Page's letter thanks those who have supported him along the journey, and addresses the trauma trans people face from discrimination, hateful acts, and a lack of rights.He says it feels remarkable "to finally love" who he is enough to pursue his "authentic self."And he's been "endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community.""Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society," Page said in Tuesday's post."I also ask for patience. My joy is real, but it is also fragile. The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I'm scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the 'jokes' and of violence." Page said he's not trying to "dampen a moment that is joyous" but wants to address the full picture. "The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences," Page wrote."In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women. To the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all of those with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community: you have blood on your hands."Page concluded the post by saying he loves that he is trans and queer."And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive."Page got an Oscar nomination for playing a pregnant teen in 2007's "Juno," and two Emmy nominations for his reality series "Gaycation," which explores LGBTQ experiences around the world.Page often uses his platform to speak out against injustices and amplify underrepresented voices.In his documentary "There's Something in the Water," which hit Netflix in March, he shines a light on marginalized groups in Nova Scotia affected by what's known as environmental racism.Netflix said Tuesday it was in the process of updating all of the titles the performer and producer is involved with on its service to credit Elliot Page.The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD praised Page for delivering "fantastic characters on-screen" and being "an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people.""Elliot will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. We celebrate him. All trans people deserve to be accepted," said a tweet from GLAAD, which also issued a tip sheet for journalists covering Page's story, to help them write it in a respectful and accurate way. Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, thanked Page for sharing his truth and "shining a bright light on the challenges too many in our community face.""We are proud of you, and we love you. And we will never stop fighting alongside you for change," David posted on Twitter.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
RALEIGH, N.C. — Outgoing North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker on Tuesday announced his bid to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr in 2022, a path the Republican indicated a year ago he'd pursue after his House district shifted to the left during an unscheduled redistricting.The quick entry of Walker, mere days after almost all North Carolina 2020 election results were finalized, may signal an attempt to make other big-name conservatives think hard before entering the race. Those include Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and a North Carolina native.Burr announced years ago that his third six-year term would be his last.“I’m running for the United States Senate because serving others is my life, and I have the experience to fight and to win in Washington," Walker, 51, said in a campaign kickoff video on his website.A favourite of the Republican base, Walker is a Baptist minister who was first elected to Congress in 2014. He rose through the ranks and chaired the conservative Republican Study Committee. He made inroads working with African American lawmakers by working on efforts to promote historically Black colleges and universities. Black residents are featured prominently in his fast-paced four-minute video, recorded in downtown Greensboro.Walker had considered challenging Sen. Thom Tillis in the 2020 Republican primary, particularly after GOP activists aligned with Donald Trump questioned Tillis' allegiance to the president. But Walker declined, and two weeks later Trump endorsed Tillis for reelection.Walker said he had spoken to Trump about challenging Tillis, and that he would focus on winning another term in central North Carolina's 6th Congressional District.That calculus changed in late 2019 when the state legislature redrew all 13 U.S. House districts after judges ruled it was likely the previous map was tainted with extreme partisan bias favouring the GOP.The reworked 6th District made it likely that a Democrat would win the seat and Walker announced last December he wouldn't run for anything in 2020. Walker said in a phone interview Tuesday that Trump had told him previously he would back him in a 2022 Senate run, affirming what a Walker spokesperson said last year.Such an endorsement, if Trump gives it, could winnow the Republican field in North Carolina, where Trump twice earned the state’s electoral votes. His 2020 victory over Joe Biden by 1.3 percentage points, however, was less than half of his victory margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016.But any such commitment to Walker could be threatened if a family member of the president enters the race.A person close to Lara Trump, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss her thinking publicly, told The Associated Press that the president’s daughter-in-law has expressed interest in Burr’s seat in 2022 and is exploring a run.Lara Trump, 38, grew up in Wilmington and went to N.C. State University. She currently lives in New York with husband Eric Trump and their two children. She made frequent North Carolina campaign appearances for her father-in-law in both 2016 and 2020, connecting her to the state's GOP culture.Asked about the possibility of Lara Trump's candidacy, Walker told the AP “it’s not illegal for somebody to move to a state and establish a residence and run.” As for the president's endorsement, Walker said, “ultimately, that’s his call. But we would certainly appreciate the fact that if he was able to stay with that support, it certainly would mean a lot to us."His campaign website shows a photo of Walker with President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence in the Oval Office. Walker's video didn't mention Donald Trump by name but mentioned that his time in Congress included “taking on the swamp.” Walker's goal, he said, was “to be a conservative warrior and a bridge builder for all of our communities. And that’s exactly what we did.”Other Republicans who've said they'd consider Senate bids include former Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S. Rep. George Holding of Raleigh, who also didn't seek reelection this year due to redistricting.On the Democratic side, state Sen. Erica Smith, who lost to Cal Cunningham in the 2020 primary for the seat held by Tillis, is already running in 2022. Other names in the mix include state Attorney General Josh Stein and Anthony Foxx, a former Charlotte mayor and U.S. transportation secretary.Official candidate filing for the March 2022 primaries begins in December 2021, but clearly candidates will have to gas up their campaign fundraising machines well before.Burr’s retirement will make the first open Senate seat in North Carolina since Democrat John Edwards didn’t run for reelection in 2004, when he instead was the vice-presidential nominee.Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press
The Kawartha Land Trust has raised enough funds to purchase and protect a property just south of Burleigh Falls. In just seven weeks, the KLT raised more $750,000 to acquire an “environmentally important parcel of land” on Stoney Lake, the organization announced Monday. John Kintare, executive director of the KLT, said for years, the local community has been working to protect the property. When the opportunity ensued to purchase it, the community asked for the KLT’s help in organizing a campaign. The KLT works to protect natural spaces that might otherwise be sold for development, usually through donation. This was the first time the organization has bought land. “This was truly a community initiative that was supported by KLT,” Kintare said in a statement. “KLT has led very successful campaigns to support the stewardship needs of specific properties such as Big Island in Pigeon Lake in 2015, but never a campaign to support a purchase.” Referred to as the Clear Lake North Wetland, the 137-acre property will officially be named after the late Christie Bentham in recognition of a financial gift she left to the KLT. Bentham, who died in 2015, was very well known on Stoney Lake, the organization stated. Her daughter, Margaret, a volunteer with the KLT who is also on the KLT’s development committee, said she’s sure her mother is watching from above and is tickled pink, humbled and so happy to be a part of preserving the piece of the lake. Margaret said Bentham spent all of her summers on the Stoney Lake. Bentham’s grandfather, Richard Russell, had purchased a T-shaped island toward the north side of the lake in 1910. Bentham’s father, Keith, later inherited the property, called Spree Island. While Bentham spent the remainder of the year in Toronto, Stoney Lake was her home, Margaret said. Bentham spent her summers at the lake swimming, canoeing and sailing, with cousins and friends. When she grew up and married, a condition of the marriage was that her future husband Will must love Stoney Lake and Spree Island as much as she did, she said. Fortunately, he did and the couple went on to marry, adopt six children and raised their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren teaching them to swim, canoe, sail and bail on the lake, Margaret said. For more information visit https://kawarthalandtrust.org/. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
IQALUIT, Nunavut — An investigation by the Ottawa Police Service has determined that the arrest of a Nunavut man who was knocked down by an RCMP truck door was lawful. A video posted on social media in June from Kinngait showed what appeared to be a Mountie knocking down an intoxicated man using the door of a police pickup truck. Ottawa police investigators said they interviewed 10 witnesses in the South Baffin community of about 1,400, including residents and RCMP officers. Investigators also looked at third-party video of the arrest, went to the scene and examined the police truck. The Nunavut RCMP has an agreement with the Ottawa Police Service to review actions involving police. Mounties said at the time that they were notified about 11:30 p.m. on June 1 about "an intoxicated male who was reported to be fighting with others." A video posted to Facebook by a Kinngait resident that night shows a man lying down on the side of the road. The man gets up, stumbling, before an RCMP truck flashes its lights and starts to pull up next to him. The video appears to show the officer driving the truck opening the driver’s side door, knocking the man to the ground, while the truck is still moving. Four other officers arrive on the scene. A news release Tuesday from the Ottawa Police Service said the investigation found that the officer "did not intentionally strike the community member with the vehicle door." "The vehicle came to a sliding stop on a snow- and ice-covered track, the driver’s front tire went off the track, the vehicle dipped forward, and the opened driver’s door swung forward and struck the community member." The release said investigators concluded that no criminal offence was committed "as the applied force was unintentional." "Investigators also deemed that that was no evidence of dangerous operation of a conveyance or criminal negligence and further concluded that the arrest was lawful." The man in the video, who was arrested for public intoxication, was not charged but was placed in an RCMP cell, where he was allegedly so severely beaten by his cellmate that he was flown to Iqaluit for medical treatment. The RCMP officer was removed from the community after the video surfaced and placed on administrative leave. In an email, Nunavut RCMP said the officer is still on leave while an internal investigation is done. The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP is also conducting an investigation, which isn't complete yet. In a separate release, the Nunavut RCMP said it will not comment further on what happened. Benson Cowan, head of Nunavut Legal Aid, said the Ottawa police statement gives little information about a much larger story. "Police occupy a place of public trust and the public has an interest in how they go about their jobs. We're owed an explanation when something happens. What we got was a conclusion. There's no transparency and no accountability," Cowan said. "We've all seen that video and we know that the police explanation doesn't explain everything we see in that video." Cowan said even if people accept the truck door hitting the man was an accident, it is troubling to say the arrest was lawful. "On what basis was it justified that five police officers be involved in the takedown of this man?" Cowan said Ottawa police also don't explain why the RCMP acted so swiftly to arrest a man who was never charged. "Why on earth, if it was public intoxication, would you drive so close and put someone at risk?" The agreement between the Ottawa Police Service and the Nunavut government does not require the service to make its reports public. Nunavut introduced legislation in the fall that would allow it to use civilian investigative groups instead of police forces. On Monday, RCMP in Iqaluit started wearing body cameras as part of a national pilot project to promote police accountability. Since Jan. 1, there have been six serious encounters involving police in the territory, including two deaths. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press