A 2-year-old enjoys playing in the leaves with her Golden Retriever best friend. Cuteness overload!
A 2-year-old enjoys playing in the leaves with her Golden Retriever best friend. Cuteness overload!
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
A police union on Thursday urged prosecutors to charge a Black music producer with resisting arrest, six days after President Emmanuel Macron said the arrest and beating of the man, which was caught on film, was unacceptable and shameful for France. The beating of Michel Zecler by police officers inside his music studio was captured on closed circuit television and mobile phone footage. It was circulated widely online and sparked new criticism over police violence in France.
The traffic of tourism in Muskoka's winter has always paled in comparison to the traffic in the summer. This year, Darren Scott, owner of the Muskoka Stay n’ Play Tours in Bala, said he’s getting ready for his busiest winter yet. “With all this craziness going on, I’ve had business like no tomorrow,” he said. That “craziness” is, of course, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scott said he’s had many calls this fall from people planning their winter getaways for Muskoka in lieu of their normal travelling plans abroad before the pandemic. In the District of Muskoka's survey published Nov. 12, 17 per cent of respondents said they’re hoping to be in Muskoka more often during the weekends in the winter months, meaning a 5,000 to 7,000 population increase. Norah Fountain, the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce's executive director, said while the chamber isn’t encouraging people to travel to Muskoka until the situation is safe, they are expecting a busier winter tourism season with more seasonal residents planning to stay. Overall, provided there's no major changes for the worse with the pandemic in Ontario, Muskoka Lakes and the district at large could see a surge in support of the winter tourism industry. At the Stay n’ Play Tours, Scott’s most popular winter activities are guided snowmobile tours and ice-fishing, usually done on Bala Bay once the water freezes over in the winter. He starts up business around Christmas time, running activities until March break, weather permitting. Scott has been in business for eight years and said local winter activities like these are becoming a bigger thing. “I’ve noticed an influx in people wanting to come up here, and a lot of them are, for the first time,” he said. This year, he’s estimated around 85 per cent of the clientele booking snowmobile tours or ice-fishing expeditions are from the city, while 15 per cent of them are locals. “I’m finding now people are not wanting to travel on planes anywhere. They’re not travelling abroad like they normally would," he said. However, he’s concerned about what this tourism could mean for the spread of the virus: he’s taking a number of precautions to maintain physical distancing, hygiene and cleanliness this winter. “In the past, I’ve booked groups of 30, 40 people. That won’t be the case this year. I want to keep everybody safe and still have a good time,” he said. He’s also sanitizing snowmobile helmets after use and plans to host single touring groups at a time instead of three to four at a time. “I’ve had to spend a little bit more money in prep to do with COVID and change up how my operation is going to be this winter,” he said. For people staying at the cottage, Fountain said there’s an opportunity for people to “rediscover” their own backyard. “If you’re up at the cottage, we hope you’re staying there,” she said. “And while you’re here, there are things to do.” Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Iconic '80s rockers Duran Duran held a surprise concert at London's Lyceum Theatre. (Dec. 3)
Parents and grandparents can't pile into the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre this December to snap a picture of their little ones on stage this Christmas, but as COVID-19 rules cancel the annual tradition, some artists — both big and small — are finding a workaround."We will miss it, because the little ones are just so special," said manager Krista Hansen-Robitschek."Even up to Grade 6 ... You see the same children year after year, and you see them grow."During a regular year, the stage would be blocked with school concerts during weekdays in November and December, with other Christmas concerts taking up every weekend. But she says some local entertainers have found ways to pull off a holiday show on the local stage, following the health guidelines.Spaced apart"We will put three seats between you and the next group of people. And every second row is blocked off," she said."You will be required to wear a mask when you enter the theatre. All staff and patrons, when moving through the theatre, have a mask on. And when you are seated you can take your mask off and watch the show."> 'We just want to make a safe and enjoyable atmosphere' \- Krista Hansen-RobitschekHansen-Robitschek says groups must book their seats within their bubble. There is no intermission, and shows are around an hour long, with the theatre aiming to keep capacity at 100, including performers.WATCH | Colleen Connors reports on a workaround in Corner Brook to replace some school Christmas concerts: "We just want to make a safe and enjoyable atmosphere," she said.Most entertainers are booking multiple nights to accommodate the new, limited seating situation.COVID workaroundOne group that offers private music lessons in Corner Brook discovered a COVID-19 workaround, so all their young students can take part in their upcoming Christmas show on Dec. 18.Graham Academy's youngest performers, who are four and five years old, will record their song and air it during the concert."It gives the children an opportunity to perform and be out there," said instructor Ian Locke. "Christmas is such a performing highlight for many young students."Students practice their Christmas songs and plays wearing masks, standing six feet apart. After months of online performances, Locke is just delighted to return to the stage, even though it's on a smaller, safer scale."We are so happy to be back, because we haven't been there since last Christmas," he said.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
CORNWALL – The COVID-19 infection curve is going back up after two weeks of bending in the right direction, downward. Overall infection numbers in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region have increased with 39 cases added since this weekend. As of the December 1st statistics update from the EOHU, there were 123 active cases of the virus in the region. More than half (65) of the active cases were in the Prescott-Russell area of the health unit, while Cornwall had 29 active cases and SDG Counties had 27. There have been 874 infections in the region since the beginning of the pandemic in February. The region remains at the Yellow level according to the Ministry of Health guidelines for COVID-19 restrictions. The rolling seven-day-average for the region is 19.9 cases per 100,000 people, which is considered moderate. A high level of infection is 25 or more cases per 100,000 people. The EOHU region peaked on October 13-19 with a rolling average of 53.5 cases. No information was given by the EOHU about the increased infection rate since the weekend. Most of the new infections that have occurred since October have had an “epi-link” meaning it is from a known source like a close contact. South Dundas has zero active cases while North Dundas has one new case, the first in nearly four weeks for that municipality. Including the new case, North Dundas has had 20 COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, South Dundas has had fewer than five. The EOHU does not report exact overall numbers of cases until the case count reaches five. North Stormont has its first COVID-19 infections of the pandemic with four new cases over the weekend, while South Stormont has 14 active cases. The Upper Canada District School Board issued a notice on Sunday that one case of the virus was confirmed at Tagwi Secondary School in Avonmore. “The EOHU is working closely with the school and is actively communicating with all individuals who have been identified as possible close contacts through high-risk exposures,” the board said in a release adding that the school was taking steps to “prevent spread in the school and community.” There was no change in school operations as of Tuesday and it was not disclosed if it was a staff member or a student who tested positive. The school is not considered in an outbreak situation currently. No response to questions by The Leader was received by press deadline as the EOHU has moved to a new schedule for media briefings. The EOHU now hosts a twice-weekly media availability on Tuesday and Friday. Tagwi is one of four schools with active cases of COVID-19. Only the French-Catholic school in Casselman, Sainte-Euphémie, is closed due to several classes having contact with an individual who later tested positive. No schools in Dundas County have had any known cases.Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
Russia has revoked the residence permit of a U.S. human rights worker on national security grounds and ordered her to leave within two weeks, a spokeswoman for the organisation she heads said on Thursday. Vanessa Kogan, director of the Justice Initiative rights group, an organisation that provides legal assistance to rights victims, particularly from the turbulent North Caucasus region, has lived in Russia for 11 years, Ksenia Babich, the spokeswoman, told Reuters.
A youth has been acquitted in the Orillia stabbing death of Jordan Carter-Bonfield during the summer of 2018 in a robbery gone wrong. “It was clear to me that there was an abundance of evidence… to (show) self-defence,” said the youth’s criminal lawyer, David Heath. “Really from the time of the incident the police investigation centred on the fact that it appeared there was a robbery planned.” Emergency crews were summoned to the Tim Hortons coffee shop on Westmount Drive North at 7:35 a.m., July 30, 2018, where they found Carter-Bonfield, 25, with a neoprene black face mask under his chin and suffering from several stab wounds. He was declared dead at the scene. The cause of death was later attributed to a stab wound of the right chest and neck. Police subsequently issued an alert that they were looking for a suspect. Five days later, a youth surrendered to police in Toronto and was charged with second-degree murder. “There is no question that (the youth) caused the death of Jordan Carter-Bonfield at the time and place alleged. The focus of this trial was on whether (the youth) caused that death unlawfully and with the requisite state of mind for second-degree murder,” Justice Vanessa Christie of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario wrote in her decision dated Nov. 25 following a nine-day trial at the Barrie courthouse. In the 146-page decision, the judge pointed out that on Sept. 23, 2019, Zachary Jones-Sheppard pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery in connection with the event. On Oct. 30, 2019, Miles Mathias pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. They admitted being at an Albert Street house in Orillia with Carter-Bonfield and Donnie Johnson earlier, planning to buy drugs. After meeting with the youth three times to make purchases, they hatched a plan to rob him of drugs, according to details in the decision. Charges were dropped against Johnson, who testified for the Crown at the youth’s trial. The presence of cocaine and cocaine metabolite were later found in Carter-Bonfield’s blood. Christie found the four drove a borrowed car and parked near the Bank of Montreal at Westmount Drive and Coldwater Road where Jones-Sheppard and Mathias waited while Carter-Bonfield and Johnson went to meet the youth in the woods across the street behind Tim Hortons. Carter-Bonfield was then stabbed in an altercation while trying to rob the youth. Johnson ran back to the car to tell the others about the stabbing. Mathias called 911 and then the three took off in the car. At his trial, the youth claimed he acted in self-defence, saving himself from being stabbed as he faced his robber, a much larger man who was armed with a knife. In contending the youth’s guilt, the Crown pointed to his behaviour after the stabbing. He went back to the scene to retrieve his shoes, threw his knife into a lake, changed his clothes, went to a crackhouse and secluded himself in the washroom where he shaved his head and tried to alter his appearance. He then left Orillia. The judge found that the youth became frightened when, approaching along the footpath, a masked Carter-Bonfield raised his head and appeared in front of him quickly while pulling out a knife. “(The youth) reacted by grabbing the right wrist of Mr. Carter-Bonfield with his left hand, and with his right hand, pulled his own knife out of his hoodie pocket, opened it, and swung that knife in the direction of Mr. Carter-Bonfield, several times,” Christie wrote, concluding that the Crown prosecution failed to disprove self-defence. “Having considered the totality of the circumstances, this court finds (the youth) not guilty of second-degree murder; in fact, not guilty of any crime," the judge added. Heath said the youth was released on bail in December 2018 and has since been thriving. “He and his family are looking forward to having an opportunity to get on with his life,” he said.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
COVID-19 patients from northern British Columbia are being sent to Victoria for care, as both case counts and hospitalizations in the Northern Health region surge to unprecedented levels.Since mid-November, northern B.C. has seen a sharp spike in positive test results, with the number of new COVID-19 cases rising from 96 between Nov. 1 and 15 to 343 between Nov. 16 and 30.The number of patients requiring hospitalization, meanwhile, is happening at rates higher than anywhere else in the province. With just six per cent of the province's population, Northern Health patients now account for as many as 20 per cent of the critical care patients on any given day — and health-care providers are feeling the strain."I think the last time I had any days off was August," said Dr. Lovedeep Khara, an intensive care doctor at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George, where the majority of the region's COVID-19 patients in need of intensive care wind up.The current situation in northern B.C. is a sharp contrast to the spring and summer, when the region went weeks without any new infections, or even spring, when there were only one or two new cases at a time.Now, Khara said, hospital staff are going "at full speed," foregoing holidays and regular downtime to handle the influx of new patients. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the fact COVID patients remain in intensive care for days or weeks at a time, requiring specialized teams, rooms and equipment to keep everyone safe from infection."Everybody is pretty strained and stressed," said Dr. Simon Rose, another ICU specialist in Prince George. "Not just doctors and nurses, but support and cleaning staff."Near-surge capacityNorthern B.C. has 41 critical care beds, 24 of which were occupied on Dec. 1. But what's more important, health-care workers say, is the number of people available to staff them.Fort St. John, for example, is able to look after patients with relatively mild symptoms, but once they need a ventilator or ICU care, they will likely be sent to Prince George where there are more doctors and respiratory therapists to support them. And this past week, at least two patients were sent to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria to try to take some of the strain off hospitals in the north.Courtenay Kelliher, who is in charge of Northern Health's pandemic response, said health-care workers in the region are reaching their limits and expressed hope cases will start to decline soon."A surge should be like a tidal wave," she said. "It comes in and it goes out, and you hope not to see a big one like that again." But the fear, Kelliher said, is that even though they've been operating at near-capacity for weeks, it's still unclear whether the wave has peaked or if it will continue to grow.Adding to the stress is what some health-care workers view as a growing backlash to not just public safety measures, but the very notion of whether COVID-19 is even a concern. "When you get to the end of your day ... and post after post and article after article is people complaining that the guidelines are too much and the orders are too much and this is a conspiracy … it leaves you feeling, just, defeated," Kelliher said."We went from in the springtime where the public held these pot-clanking parades and honking parades [for] frontline workers … And now it's almost been a 180 where there's sort of a hostility towards us.""It just adds to that emotional exhaustion that already exists."To hear more on how hospitals in the north are handling the surge in COVID-19 patients, and how it is impacting healthcare professionals in the region, tap the audio below.Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
OTTAWA – Changes are on the way to the board that manages the water management plan for Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River. The International Joint Commission announced November 24th that the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River board will be reformed, reducing the number of members of the board from 18 to six – three from Canada and three from the United States. “The restructuring represents a streamlined approach for this Board,” said Jane Corwin, chair of the IJC’s US section. “Commissioners enlarged the board last year, but after careful consideration determined that a smaller decision-making body with input from a more-inclusive advisory body would be more effective and appropriate.” Appointees to the board include one representative from the Canadian government, and one each from Ontario and Quebec. There will be two appointees from the US government and one from the State of New York. The ILOSLR board oversees Plan 2014, the controversial river management plan adopted to manage water levels and flow on Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River between Lake Ontario and Quebec. That plan has been criticized by many for the wildly fluctuating water levels on Lake St. Lawrence. Changes to the ILOSLR were announced after a review was made by the IJC. “On behalf of IJC Commissioners, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all members of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board who have served above and beyond the call in recent years and have provided excellent leadership in the face of extremely challenging conditions,” said Pierre Béland, chair of the IJC’s Canadian Section. The restructuring of the ILOSLR board was welcomed by local river advocate Cliff Steinberg from Ault Island. Steinberg has been advocating for Lake St. Lawrence users for the past three years and said the change was needed and a positive step forward. “At one point, the previous board had one commissioner from Ontario and five from Quebec,” he said. “This restructured board is more fair and equitable.” The IJC jurisdiction on the St. Lawrence River ends just east of Cornwall Island where the river ceases to be an international waterway. Steinberg is a member of the public advisory group for the ILOSLR of users of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. That group, along with the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management committee or GLAM, will be providing more guidance to this new incarnation of the ILOSLR board. “I think they want to put more emphasis on the public advisory group and the GLAM for decision making,” he said. “That’s where the real information is coming out.” While cutting representation on a board may have been seen as a negative in the past, Steinberg said that the situation between waterway users and the board has improved over the past three years. He attributed much of that to the inclusion of local information to the GLAM, and the creation of the public advisory group. “The communication is much better,” he said. “We are being heard. Our concerns are being heard.” He pointed to examples like this year, when the board removed a deviation from Plan 2014 so that water levels would remain at a higher level longer for boaters, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That deviation was put in place at the end of the shipping season in 2019 to drain more water off Lake Ontario to help prevent shoreline flooding. It attributed to extremely low water levels along the river in January. “[The IJC] were going to deviate longer and keep the water levels low which would have meant we wouldn’t have any water to get our boats into our docks and marinas,” Steinberg said adding that the advisory group made a presentation and the board agreed. “What that meant was they could maintain the water level similar to the level of the Thanksgiving boat haul out,” he explained. “It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than what was originally planned.” Steinberg feels that the IJC is now paying attention to the concerns of those along the St. Lawrence River. That said, he explained that the board still has to follow the adopted Plan 2014. “They are limited to what [the IJC] are going to be able to do, but they are now well aware of the conditions of this area and how it’s affecting people,” he said. “Things are improving though.” The IJC did not announce a timeline on when appointments would be made to the new restructured board. In a statement, the commission said it expected to have the restructuring complete in early 2021. Established in 1909, the IJC provides oversight and management of joint waterways along the Canada-US board. The ILOSLR was created after the completion of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system in 1959. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
MORRISBURG – Alight at Night may be open for the holidays, but don’t expect to see bus tours arriving this year. The St. Lawrence Parks Commission kicked off the 20th annual light event at Upper Canada Village on November 27th with limited numbers of people able to attend. Tickets are sold online only and limited to blocks in 30 minute intervals between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on nights it is open. Already, the SLPC reports that the first two weeks of tickets have been sold out. However there was concern from area residents that bus tour companies were bringing visitors from areas where higher levels of COVID-19 infection are located. Several tour companies have listings on their websites for bus trips to Alight At Night from previous years, or for 2021. No bus tour packages have been advertised for 2020. “For the 2020 season, group sales have been paused,” said SLPC spokesperson Rosalyn Gambhir. “Upper Canada Village does not have tour operators/companies or buses groups booked for our winter event Alight at Night.” She said that the SLPC has been working to ensure the event continues during the holiday season, even with the current pandemic situation. “This year, like our fall event Pumpkinferno, there are a limited number of tickets available each night and attendance has been drastically limited every half hour,” Gambhir said. “If needed, numbers will be adjusted based on COVID-19 protocols.” This July, the provincial government provided a $7 million funding infusion to the cash-strapped agency, to assist with operating during the pandemic. Two million of that funding was specifically for Upper Canada Village, which ran a shorter season for 2020 with fewer parts of the attraction open. The SLPC was able to run the popular Pumpkinferno event throughout October. Alight at Night runs on select nights until December 17th, then operates nightly except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day until January 2nd.Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
BRUSSELS — A senior legal adviser said Thursday that the European Union’s top court should reject Hungary’s attempts to overturn a European Parliament action aimed at holding the country to account for what lawmakers consider to be a breach of the bloc’s values.Advocate General Michal Bobek recommended that the European Court of Justice “dismiss Hungary’s action as unfounded.” Advocates General routinely provide legal guidance to the ECJ. Their opinions aren't binding on the Luxembourg-based court, but are followed in most cases.The EU parliament launched a procedure in 2018 to force Hungary’s EU partners to sanction the government in Budapest over concerns about the country’s constitutional and electoral systems, the independence of its judiciary, corruption and conflicts of interest, as well as fundamental rights concerns.The “Article 7” procedure was contained in a resolution that was adopted in a 448-197 vote, while 48 lawmakers abstained. Hungary argued that had the abstentions been taken into account, the vote wouldn't have achieved the required two-thirds majority.In Bobek’s opinion, a person who abstains from a vote asks to be counted as neither in favour nor against a proposition, and to be treated as if they weren't voting at all. He also said that EU lawmakers had been informed more than a day before the poll that abstentions wouldn't be counted as votes cast.It’s the first time the parliament has launched such a procedure. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has also taken similar action against Hungary. If four-fifths of Hungary’s 26 EU partners agree “there is a clear risk of a serious breach” of the bloc’s values, Budapest could lose its voting rights.The EU’s treaty says the bloc “is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.”The Associated Press
A Lower Sackville taxi driver is facing charges after police say he stole thousands of dollars from a client's bank account.Nova Scotia RCMP say they first received a report about the situation on Nov. 23. They were told the accused, who was driving a taxi in the East Hants area, stole his client's bank card and gained access to the PIN. They say the accused used that information to steal more than $20,000 from the victim over a period of time.On Wednesday, police charged Rodney Bryan McCarthy, 57, with theft over $5,000 and uttering threats toward the victim.Sgt. Andrew Joyce, RCMP spokesperson, said Thursday that the driver forged a connection with the client through frequent trips.People warned to guard their bank informationHe said the situation is a reminder for people to protect their PIN and to keep an arms-length business relationship with all cab drivers."It's an unfortunate situation for sure, as we are human and we do sometimes let our guard down with familiarity," Joyce said."In this case it was damaging to the victim."McCarthy was released on conditions and is scheduled to appear in Shubenacadie provincial court on Jan. 18, 2021.Police look for more victimsJoyce said this is the first time he has seen this exact situation in the province, but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened.Police did not release any more information about the driver's cab company, or details about his appearance. Investigators believe there may be additional victims. Anyone who thinks they may also be a victim, or knows someone who could be one, is encouraged to call East Hants RCMP at 902-883-7077. Anonymous tips can also be sent to Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.MORE TOP STORIES
TORONTO — Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment's giant kitchen is open again.MLSE and its partners, who combined to donate 500,000 meals to front-line workers and community agencies from April to June, are reintroducing the 'Bringing Toronto Back to its Feet" program.Starting this week, the goal is to distribute more than 130,000 meals in early December.Scotiabank Arena will again be used to assemble the meals, which can be stored and frozen. They will later be distributed to community agencies and families who are struggling. MLSE’s chefs and food and beverage staff, along with other company employees, will prepare the meals for distribution.MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum. calls this holiday season "one of the most challenging that we have known."“This program will play a small part in helping our neighbours enjoy their holiday season as we all look forward to a better year ahead in 2021,” he said in a statement.Solidarity Kitchens, created by La Tablee des Chefs and financially supported by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada emergency fund, has given grants to Canadian initiatives, including Bringing Toronto Back To Its Feet, with a goal of creating two million meals for those in need across the country.“As the pandemic continues to impact our communities and we approach the holiday season, there is no better time to come together to support those in need and we want to thank everyone who is helping to make a return of this important program possible, including MLSE’s ownership group and our founding corporate partners,” said MLSE president and CEO Michael Friisdahl.Second Harvest, the largest food rescue organization in Canada, along with a network of local suppliers and sponsors, are supplying fresh ingredients daily to the MLSE team.The chefs will then turn those supplies, along with other food purchased or donated to the program, into ready-to-heat meals meeting a variety of dietary needs. The meals will delivered five days a week.The meal donation program sees MLSE chefs spread out in Scotiabank Arena kitchens, physically distanced as they cook using giant 120-litre pots. Routes have been set up in the arena to control the flow of traffic and food, from the loading dock to kitchen to meal assembly line.The chefs stay in the kitchen. Others take the food from the kitchen to an open space in the arena to be assembled and packaged into meals. Earlier this year, that was the arena floor. This time, the meals are being put together in the concourse.Once cooked, the food is cooled in fridges, then assembled quickly and covered, wrapped and refrigerated again to await distribution and reheating.At its peak, the MLSE-led program produced 13,000 meals per day, providing meals to more than 75 community agencies and front-line health-care workers and their families at 25 hospitals and health-care facilities in the Greater Toronto Area.“We have heard first-hand about the incredible impact these prepared meals have on the lives of people struggling with hunger and limited access to food programs,” said Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest. MLSE is working with food hygiene experts and Toronto Public Health to ensure the safety of the meals and of the people preparing them.MLSE owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors, Argonauts, Marlies and Toronto FC.\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
L’administration Demers annonce qu’elle prolonge jusqu’en 2025 ses programmes de crédit de taxes aux entreprises et bonifie l’un d’eux pour les cinq années à venir. Ce renouvellement est «un moyen très concret de soutenir la croissance de nos entreprises et de créer de nouveaux emplois pour les Lavallois», a déclaré le vice-président du comité exécutif et responsable des dossiers relatifs au développement économique, Stéphane Boyer. Initiés il y a deux ans, ces programmes favorisent la construction, la revitalisation, la modernisation et l’agrandissement des bâtiments sur le territoire. En 2021, la Ville étendra la portée du programme Revitalisation pour y inclure la Cité de la biotechnologie et des sciences de la vie. Jusque-là, seules les entreprises implantées dans le parc industriel Centre et le parc industriel Est du secteur Saint-Vincent-de-Paul pouvaient en bénéficier. «La bonification fait partie des actions qui visent à soutenir l’accélération du développement de la Cité de la biotech, poursuit M. Boyer, et contribuent à attirer chez nous des entreprises en sciences de la vie et en haute technologie». Le crédit de taxes, applicable sur quatre ans, couvre les travaux de construction, démolition, reconstruction, rénovation et d’agrandissement entraînant une augmentation d’au moins 30 % de la valeur foncière du bâtiment. Quant au programme Expansion, il favorise la rétention d'entreprises manufacturières lavalloise devenues trop à l’étroit dans leurs installations actuelles. Il s’agit d’un incitatif fiscal ciblant la réalisation de nouveaux projets immobiliers en soutien à la compétitivité et au développement des entreprises d’ici. Ce programme, qui s’applique d’une rive à l’autre, offre aux investisseurs un congé fiscal jusqu’à concurrence de 1,6 M$ par année, et ce, sur une période consécutive de 5 ans. Le crédit de taxes équivaut à un pourcentage de la hausse de la valeur foncière générale établie après la réalisation des travaux admissibles. Prendre note qu’« aucun crédit de taxes ne sera accordé si les travaux sont entrepris ou effectués avant la réception d’un avis écrit de conformité et d’une acceptation de la demande», précise chacun des programmes. La reconduction de ces mesures fiscales s’inscrit dans le cadre du Plan de relance économique de la Ville de Laval lancé en juillet pour minimiser les impacts de la crise sanitaire.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Tesla surged 5% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to "buy" in the run-up to the electric car maker's addition to the S&P 500 index. Tesla was Wall Street's most traded stock by value, with about $25 billion worth of shares exchanged, according to Refinitiv data, more than double Boeing, in second place.
WASHINGTON — In the modern twist on old-fashioned war games, the U.S. military dispatched cyber fighters to Estonia this fall to help the small Baltic nation search out and block potential cyber threats from Russia. The goal was not only to help a NATO partner long targeted by its powerful neighbour but also to gain insight on Russian tactics that could be used against the U.S. and its elections. The U.S. Cyber Command operation occurred in Estonia from late September to early November, officials from both countries disclosed this week, just as the U.S. was working to safeguard its election systems from foreign interference and to keep coronavirus research from the prying reach of hackers in countries including Russia and China. Estonian officials say they found nothing malicious during the operation. The mission, an effort analogous to two nations working jointly in a military operation on land or sea, represents an evolution in cyber tactics by U.S. forces who had long been more accustomed to reacting to threats but are now doing more — including in foreign countries — to glean advance insight into malicious activity and to stop attacks before they reach their targets. The Defence Department has worked to highlight that more aggressive “hunt forward” strategy in recent years, particularly after Russia interfered through hacking and covert social media campaigns in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. American officials were on high alert for similar interference in 2020 but described no major problems on Nov. 3. “When we look at the threats that we face, from Russia or other adversaries, it really is all about the partnerships and our ability to expand really the scope, scale and pace of operations in order to make it more difficult for adversaries to execute operations either in the United States, Estonia or other places,” Brig. Gen. William Hartman, commander of the Cyber National Mission Force, said in a conference call with a small group of reporters this week. Estonia, a former Soviet republic, was in some ways a natural fit for a partnership with Cyber Command because in years past it has been a cyber target of nearby Russia, including crippling attacks on government networks in 2007. Estonian officials say they have since strengthened their cyber defences, created a cybersecurity strategy and developed their own cyber command, which like the U.S. version is part of the country’s military. While nothing malicious was found on the networks during the exercise, “what we did learn is how the U.S. conducts these kinds of operations, which is definitely useful for us because there are a lot of kind of capability developments that we are doing right now,” said Mihkel Tikk, deputy commander of Estonia’s Cyber Command. Tikk added: “In some areas, it is wise to learn from others than having to reinvent the wheel.” Hartman declined to discuss specifics of the operation but said the networks in Estonia were “very well defended.” “I don’t want anyone to leave here with the impression that Estonian networks were full of adversary activity from a broad range of nation states” because that is not the case, he added. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the commander of Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency, has hinted at a more aggressive, proactive federal government approach to cyber threats. In an August piece for Foreign Affairs magazine, for instance, Nakasone wrote that U.S cyber fighters have moved away from a “reactive, defensive posture” and are increasingly engaging in combat with foreign adversaries online. Cyber Command has worked in past years with countries including Montenegro and North Macedonia on similar missions. Estonian officials say they believe the partnership could be a deterrent to countries such as Russia. “These kinds of operations, I think, they will continue,” said Undersecretary of Defence Margus Matt. But, he added, “I don’t know how much we will speak of them publicly.” U.S. officials say they think the risks of a proactive approach — a country could regard such an operation as a provocation toward a broader international cyber conflict — are outweighed by the benefits. “We believe that inaction in cyberspace contributes to escalation more than reasonable action in cyberspace,” said Thomas Wingfield, deputy assistant secretary of defence for cyber policy. Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Patricia Young describes her home of Walker’s Point as a place where people believe in the importance of community. “I think if you look up ‘community’ in the dictionary, you’ll see Walker’s Point listed,” she said. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada, that community often gathered at the Walker’s Point Community Centre for activities and socializing: people went to check out books at the library inside, attend exercise classes, crafting sessions or the monthly potluck dinners. Paola Randall, like Young, has lived in Walker’s Point for over 20 years. She spent a lot of time at the community centre before the pandemic: she’s part of the library’s executive board and used to play pickleball there. “We see it as a hub,” she said. “It really connects us to all the services of the township, as well as bringing us together.” Young, who’s part of the community centre’s hall board, said while people are understanding of the situation they’re in, the loss of some of their traditional events is felt. “I’ve run into a few people and they have specifically said, ‘We really miss the potluck suppers,’” she said. She added, however, no one wants to “jeopardize people’s health and safety.” Community centres in Bala, Port Carling, Minett and Milford Bay reopened Nov. 2, allowing 10 people maximum in their facilities at a time for an hour a day, booked in advance. However, many feel they aren’t out of the woods yet. Residents, particularly seniors, don’t want to take the risk of infection by going out and are still leaning on the adjustments and virtual support systems they’ve developed during the pandemic in lieu of these in-person gathering places. Part of the Walker’s Point Community Centre is open to the public for limited use. The library, which has 500 members, reopened on Nov. 4. It’s open Wednesdays and Fridays, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and allows one person at a time into the library to check out or return books. The reopening, limited in its capacity, has been a mood-booster for many. "I think people are just happy to have it there," Young said. Heather Elliott works with the District of Muskoka, where she’s in charge of running free service programs for seniors in the region, including community centres in Torrance Bay, Milford Bay, Port Carling and Ullswater. They host a handbell choir, a course on learning to use the computer and various social events — all held virtually now. Once the pandemic began and people were confined to their homes for several weeks, Elliott said her team began reaching out to residents to see how they were faring physically and mentally. “Many of them are living alone and life is very different for them during a pandemic,” she said, “but we see them logging in and participating in ways that I don’t think they ever would a year ago.” While Young said she and the people she knows in the community have been doing well throughout the pandemic, she understands many must be feeling isolated. Connections through Facebook, email and over the phone have become essential in Walker’s Point. “We are definitely there for each other. It’s a very strong community,” Randall said. Elliott said, for the health and safety of their elderly population, who are more vulnerable to the consequences of the virus, they haven’t transitioned into hosting indoor events. “We’re hearing from seniors at this point that they’re not comfortable resuming in-person programming,” she said. She said they’re prioritizing plans for outdoor events like walking groups in Muskoka Lakes trails this winter. Walker’s Point residents, like Young, know one thing for certain: things are likely not going to change before the year is over. A clear sign of this is the cancellation of their annual holiday potluck, a hit event with local families and children, which ran out of the community centre. Young is planning for a more quiet, subdued Christmas in town: “We just won’t have any of the normal socializing,” she said. STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Our reporter wanted to see how residents are faring in places where the community centre is a cornerstone of local socialization and togetherness given limited openings during the pandemic. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Seven classrooms have been shut down at Diamond Trail Public School in Welland after an individual there tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” District School Board of Niagara said in a news release. Whether the individual who contracted the coronavirus is a student or staff member was not publicly known Wednesday. “The preventative COVID-19 practices that Diamond Trail has been following since the beginning of school, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue,” DSBN said. The same day DSBN reported the case at Diamond Trail, Niagara Catholic District School Board confirmed that the case count at St. Martin Catholic Elementary school in Stevensville had climbed to double digits. The province’s database is indicating that three of the school’s10 cases have been resolved. Of the remaining cases, four have been identified as students and three as staff. The Niagara Catholic website indicated these seven cases are the only active cases for the board. An outbreak was declared at St. Martin on Nov. 19. For DSBN, there are seven active cases from six schools; two at Prince Philip and one case at Martha Cullimore in Niagara Falls, two cases at Eden High School in St. Catharines, one at Port Colborne High School and one at Diamond Trail. 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
The push to buy local this holiday season is overwhelming some Manitoba business owners, who are struggling to keep up with the avalanche of online and curbside orders. While the business is welcome, it's pushing many to the limit and for some, including McNally Robinson Booksellers, it still won't pull them out of the red this year."The amount of labour that this style of selling requires is two, maybe three, times higher than normal," co-owner Chris Hall said. "On the other side of that, this a fraction of the sales we would be normally getting — so we're earning much less [and] working much harder."Inside the normally bustling Grant. Avenue bookstore, phones are ringing off the hook, online orders are surging and staff are working tirelessly to process and package hundreds of parcels for pickup and delivery. One of the biggest challenges, Hall says, is that the business isn't set up to operate as online retailer."We're reaching our physical limit," he said. "We don't have enough space to literally stage the items that need to be picked up; we don't have enough computers to put more people on; we don't have more phones to answer more phone lines."He is warning customers new orders may face delays of seven to 14 days.Meanwhile, with revenue almost halved due to the shutdown of in-person shopping, the company is staying afloat thanks to pandemic wage and rent subsidies."By the time the week before Christmas comes we would be about twice as much [volume] as this week," he said. "But we can't get to twice as much of what we're doing right now, so we're going to be way down."Winnipeg candle-company Coal and Canary, is feeling the heat too.Online sales have skyrocketed much to the surprise of owner and creative director Amanda Buhse — who is first to admit you can't smell her candles online.Candle company fielding over 500 orders a day"We basically are working around the clock to try and keep up with the demand in the orders," she said.Buhse has tripled her team, added night and weekend shifts and is working 16-hour days herself just to keep up. The business is averaging 500 to 1,000 orders per day, she said, adding they sell across Canada and the United States.Trade shows and in-person shopping, the company's biggest drivers of revenue, have evaporated with pandemic restrictions so the record online sales success has been a happy surprise.The company has already exceeded last year's sales by 50 per cent, Buhse said, adding she attributes much it of it to Canadians' commitment to buy local."It's crazy," she said. "We have just been so blown away by the incredible support, of people that had never even shopped local before the pandemic happened and now they're looking at local options."At Toad Hall Toys, in Winnipeg's Exchange District, staff have turned off the phones as they work to process the volume of online orders as fast as they can."Between that and answering the door for pickup orders, it is all the seven of us can handle," said a note from the shop's staff posted to Instagram. Small business owners face burnout: CFIBThe Canadian Federation of Independent Business found small business owners are feeling the pressures of the pandemic and facing burnout as they enter the holiday shopping season.A recent national survey found close to half of small business owners said their mental health has suffered during the pandemic and 45 per cent said they have worked significantly more hours."It's been a very rocky start for a lot of retailers and other businesses too, that rely on the holiday season," said Jonathan Alward, director of the Prairie region."Even though the buy local in Manitoba surge has been very helpful, a lot of businesses still aren't anywhere near normal."In Manitoba, 48 per cent of the province's businesses are fully open, 35 per cent are fully staffed and just 24 per cent are making normal sales, Alward said.The challenges vary widely depending on the sector, he said, adding some are faring better than others."Think of any boutique — if you miss this season, your next season is going to be spring or summer," he said. "You're flush with inventory you've paid for and you can't move. It's a big concern."For many businesses, the pivot to online and curbside also comes with a price. "There's so many added costs, whether you're looking at more labour costs to do curbside pickup or delivery or, you know, you have a lot of costs associated with trying to keep your staff and any customers that can come in as safe as possible," he said. "I think we're going to see a lot of sales missed out on because of that lack of in-person interaction."In an effort to drive consumers to buy local, Winnipeg business owner Obby Kahn launched GoodLocal.ca, a one-stop online shop with dozens of Manitoba vendors."Think of Amazon and Etsy, but local," he said. "Everything good, everything local we want on our platform, you order it, we package it for you on one nice box."Since launching in September, the site was averaging 20 orders a week. Sales gradually started to pick up as Manitoba moved to orange and then red on the pandemic response scale.Last week, the site pulled in more than 700 orders forcing Khan to shut it down to catch up and increase capacity."It was panic," he said. "We weren't set up for that. We've had to move warehouses twice already. So we said, you know, we have to hit a little bit of a pause, kind of figure out our systems."He said the site will be up and running again shortly and he is grateful for the support.He hopes Manitobans continue to be mindful of where they spend their money this season and the year ahead."Think about that," he said. "Think of how that can help a family and have an immediate impact on our Winnipeg and our economy and everything going on in this great city."