This column is an opinion from Graham Thomson, an award-winning journalist who has covered Alberta politics for more than 30 years.Buried amidst the ongoing COVID confusion and controversy this week in Alberta came a bit of unusual news: the UCP government and NDP opposition agreed on something.It wasn't exactly a Kumbaya moment but the two battling political parties that have turned the legislature's daily question period into a form of trench warfare finally see eye-to-eye on an issue.They're both unhappy with the announcement on Monday from federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland involving much-anticipated changes to the fiscal stabilization program that provides money to provinces experiencing a significant drop in revenue year-over-year.Alberta, of course, has been experiencing chronic revenue drops year-over-year-over-year. Because of a series of bad years topped off by a COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta's revenue ride is less like a roller coaster and more like the Drop of Doom.The fiscal stabilization program wasn't designed for that kind of multi-billion-dollar collapse in revenues.In 2016, for example, the Alberta government under the NDP complained that it lost $6.5 billion in revenue because of low oil prices but only received $250 million from the stabilization program that was capped at $60 per provincial resident.After forming government in 2019, the United Conservative Party took up the fight and this year demanded $4 billion instead of the $266 million offered. Not only that, the UCP wanted the higher stabilization payments to be retroactive to 2015.On Monday, Freeland announced the cap is being hiked to $170 per capita, meaning the province is now entitled to receive $750 million this year. But the payments will not be retroactive."[I am] very disappointed that the caps weren't lifted entirely," said Finance Minister Travis Toews. "It really doesn't go far enough."For her part, NDP Leader Rachel Notley sounded like a clone of Toews: "I would continue to advocate for the removal of the cap and I would also suggest that this should be retroactive to when Alberta deserved a fair fiscal stabilization formula in the first place."But the fight to remove the cap completely has gone from difficult to impossible because of the pandemic.WATCH | Alberta politicians unhappy with federal stabilization changesThis year, every province will probably be applying for aid under the stabilization program. Ottawa, already neck-deep in pandemic debt, would be swamped with billions of new claims under a sky's-the-limit fiscal stabilization program.And, besides, premiers who had been supporting Jason Kenney's call for a capless program will likely be happy enough to receive almost triple the amount of money than was available under the old formula.Change of heartBut Kenney's disappointment with Ottawa on Monday shifted to satisfaction on Wednesday.He performed such a sudden change in direction he might need a neck brace for whiplash. But that's the kind loopy politics you get during a pandemic.On Monday, the issue was money.On Wednesday, it was a COVID-19 vaccine."We've been assured by the federal government that shipments will begin to arrive by Jan. 4 and continue to arrive in waves throughout the early part of next year," said Kenney, putting the kind of faith in the federal government apparently not shared by federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole.Setting a firm timeline for a vaccine rollout is not particularly risky for Kenney. If the plan works, great. Albertans might be happy enough that Kenney sees his approval ratings start to rise after a year of steady decline. If the vaccines don't arrive on time, Kenney can blame Ottawa yet again for Alberta's problems.Of course, a third scenario is Ottawa delivers the vaccine as promised but Alberta has trouble with the logistics of getting Albertans vaccinated.To that end, Kenney has called in the military — sort of. He has appointed Paul Wynnyk, the deputy minister of municipal affairs and a former general in the Canadian Forces, to lead the province's vaccine task force.In the meantime, as Alberta continues to lead the country in COVID cases, playing in the background is a plan to call on the federal government and Red Cross to set up emergency hospitals should the virus overwhelm our health-care system.Kenney is still trying to spin a positive tale out of the distressing pandemic reality, still trusting that Albertans will take personal responsibility to flatten the curve, still insisting there is "light at the end of the tunnel."But that light might just be a Red Cross truck coming with a field hospital to house Alberta's ever growing number of pandemic patients.
For more than three decades, CBC Vancouver's annual Open House and Food Bank Day has raised money for those in need, and the tradition continues Friday — with a safety-promoting twist.This year, the fundraising festivities have been adapted so you can watch special broadcasts, meet your favourite CBC British Columbia hosts virtually, and donate to Food Banks B.C. all from the comfort of your home.The day's programming has ended, but you can continue to donate through the night and all weekend.So far, the event has already raised $1,892,710.To donate now, visit www.FoodbanksBC.com and click on the CBC Open House in Your House image.In 2019, over $1 million was raised, bringing the 33-year total to $10 million — and this year, the need is greater than ever.Since the start of the pandemic, over 50 per cent of provincial food banks have reported an increase in demand.Many of us have been affected financially by the pandemic, limiting us in ways we might traditionally contribute. But there are many opportunities to spread generosity and kindness aside from making monetary donations.New for 2020, in addition to raising funds for local food banks, CBC Vancouver will be encouraging acts of kindness in the community to spread goodwill and cheer during an especially challenging holiday season.For ideas and inspiration for your generous act, go here.You can also visit the Food Banks B.C. website to find your local food banks and learn about volunteer opportunities available in your community.
Northumberland County hopes residents dig a program that provides them with free tree saplings to plant on their properties. Applications for Northumberland County's Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) replacement tree program have reopened following two years of successful EAB replacement tree programs that resulted in the local planting of 24,000 trees. County residents are invited to apply to receive free tree saplings as part of a five-year program subsidized by the county. Residents can apply to receive between 25 to 150 trees to plant on their property in Northumberland. There will be 12,000 trees subsidized through this year's application process on a first-come, first-served basis. Tree species available through the program include various types of oak, maple and pine as well as spruce, birch and tamarack. All successful orders will be available for pickup from Lower Trent Conservation in the spring. This program was developed to replace trees that are being removed as part of Northumberland County's 10-year plan to remove hazardous trees as a precaution to prevent injury or damage. This plan was developed in response to the EAB, an invasive insect that attacks and kills ash trees. For every tree removed as part of the plan, Northumberland County will subsidize about 10 native trees for residents to plant on their property. For more information about the program and to apply to receive free saplings, visit Northumberland.ca/EABprogram. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
OTTAWA — Canada's national unemployment rate was 8.5 per cent in November. Here are the jobless rates last month by province (numbers from the previous month in brackets):— Newfoundland and Labrador 12.2 per cent (12.8)— Prince Edward Island 10.2 per cent (10.0)— Nova Scotia 6.4 per cent (8.7)— New Brunswick 9.6 per cent (10.1)— Quebec 7.2 per cent (7.7)— Ontario 9.1 per cent (9.6)— Manitoba 7.4 per cent (7.1)— Saskatchewan 6.9 per cent (6.4)— Alberta 11.1 per cent (10.7)— British Columbia 7.1 per cent (8.0)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020 and was generated automatically.The Canadian Press
A special committee struck after almost two years' worth of emails from a government account went missing is recommending the province make individual public servants responsible by law for preserving their own records.The province's Special Committee on Government Records Retention is calling on the province to implement a "duty to document" clause in the Archives & Records Act, the legislation that sets out government's responsibilities when it comes to the preservation of documents."A duty to document establishes a positive duty for public servants and officials to create a full, accurate and complete record of important business activities," the committee wrote in its final report to the legislature.Information and privacy commissioners across Canada have been pushing for duty to document legislation in the country for years, as a way to strengthen public access to government documents.In 2017, B.C. became the first province in Canada to implement such a measure.Committee chair Michele Beaton said implementing a similar measure in P.E.I. would "catapult us to being a leader in being transparent regarding government decisions."The committee is also recommending government make more records public via routine disclosure — without requiring they be requested through freedom of information legislation.Committee struck to probe missing emailsIt was as a result of freedom of information requests that the committee came into being.P.E.I.'s former privacy commissioner Karen Rose issued a scathing report in June, after learning that almost two years worth of emails belonging to Brad Mix, a senior bureaucrat with Innovation PEI, had gone missing.The emails had been subject to multiple freedom of information requests. The province didn't tell those requesting the emails — and initially did not tell the privacy commissioner — that the records no longer existed.Failing to disclose that, the commissioner concluded, put government in breach of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. She said failure to properly archive the emails was a breach of the Archives and Records Act.More 'gaps' in government email archivesAs part of its review, the committee was advised by the province's Treasury Board of five more email archives belonging to former bureaucrats and elected officials that contain one or more "gaps."Among those are two former cabinet ministers: Wes Sheridan, former minister of finance; and Allan Campbell, a cabinet minister who became Robert Ghiz's chief of staff in 2011.Both archives were among a list of email accounts P.E.I.'s auditor general asked for in 2015 as part of her investigation of e-gaming, the province's failed attempt to become a regulator for online gambling.The five archives with gaps are in addition to three email accounts the auditor general said in her 2016 report had been improperly deleted. She cited that as a contravention of the Archives and Records Act.A spokesperson for the province's Treasury Board told CBC News that a "preliminary search" of 26 email accounts was conducted in 2015, at the request of the auditor general, and the five in question "appeared to have a gap or gaps in time."However, the spokesperson said that, according to the province's IT department, "a gap does not mean a missing email or emails. A gap may be a variety of things such as a day of inactivity or a time period of inactivity."According to the information provided to the committee, the dates of those gaps were not recorded when they were first discovered in 2015. Commissioner asking for detailsMembers of the committee, when they were advised of the email gaps, decided to take no further action on the matter.But P.E.I.'s new privacy commissioner Denise Doiron has written to the province's deputy minister of finance asking about one of the gap accounts — that belonging to Sheridan.Doiron has asked for the dates of Sheridan's gaps, and noted that when her predecessor asked the department about the possibility of any further missing records while investigating Mix's emails, there was no mention of Sheridan's account."You did not mention the possibility of any gaps in Wes Sheridan's records in your response," Doiron noted in her letter.Didn't delete emails, said MixWhen called to appear before the committee in October, Mix said he "did not do anything to destroy any of my email archives. I did not do anything knowingly to cause the gap that exists in my email archive." P.E.I. is the last province in the country to use the Groupwise email system, which debuted in 1994. The province is in the process of upgrading to Microsoft 365, which is expected to make records management and retention easier.CBC News reached out to Sheridan and Campbell for reaction to the report.Campbell did not respond and Sheridan declined to comment.More from CBC P.E.I.
Had the ATAC mining access road in the Beaver River watershed been built, it would have constituted a “breach of the honour of the Crown” and betrayed First Nations people, according to a decision document released by the Yukon government after inquiries by The Narwhal. The document provides insight into the territorial government’s Nov. 27 decision to reject the proposed all-access road by Vancouver-based ATAC Resources, a mining exploration company with gold and copper claims in the region. The document also sheds light on concerns raised by the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, on whose territory the claims are located. The rejected road was given a conditional green light by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board in 2017 but was awaiting a final decision from the Yukon government. The new route would have opened access to a 65-kilometre portion of the company’s three mineral claims that form the Rackla gold property and connected Keno City to the Tiger gold deposit, the site of a planned ATAC Resources’ open-pit gold mine. The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun was “strongly opposed” to the project going ahead, the decision document reveals. The document contains a list of concerns raised by the nation, including fears the road would have caused “significant adverse impacts” on treaty rights such as hunting, fishing and trapping in traditional territory. That list also noted concerns the road would have prevented Na-Cho Nyäk Dun citizens from adequately exercising treaty rights in “one of the few remaining wilderness areas in its traditional territory.” The road would have “fundamentally alter[ed] an untouched portion of” the nation’s territory and would have “alienated” citizens from their lands. “Approving the application would permanently impair the process of reconciliation that the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, the Yukon government and Canada have been engaged in for more than 30 years,” the document states. Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn did not return a request for comment. Andrew Carne, ATAC Resources’ vice-president of corporate and project development, told The Narwhal this week that the company is seeking legal counsel on the Yukon government’s decision and that, as a result, there’s little else he can state at this time. “ATAC does not agree with many material aspects of the government’s decision,” Carne said in an email to The Narwhal. In an ATAC Resources’ press release, president and CEO Graham Downs said the road’s cancellation suggests Yukon isn’t open for business. “We are extremely disappointed with and surprised by this decision,” he wrote. The Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society has warned that roads such as the one ATAC Resources’ proposed can fragment wildlife habitat, interrupt migratory patterns and lead to an increase in mining activity and hunting pressure. The Beaver River watershed, northeast of Mayo, is a vast expanse of relatively intact wilderness that’s home to moose, grizzly bears and wolves. According to the Yukon government’s decision document, ATAC Resources’ plan for the road didn’t adequately consider cumulative effects on the region’s ecosystem — particularly on wildlife. Todd Powell, director of mineral resources at the Yukon Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, told The Narwhal the company did not review wildlife impacts “in a meaningful way.” “The bigger the project, the bigger the effects are. In this case, a road into an area like that was going to have fairly significant effects.” The company’s plan to mitigate effects on wildlife “simply didn’t go far enough,” he said. According to ATAC Resources’ draft management plan, mitigation efforts included building the road in the Rankin Creek valley, where fewer wildlife are present, reducing or suspending traffic during calving and rutting and making the route private to prevent hunting. The company also said it would conduct road patrols to further deter hunting. The decision document notes there were baseline data “deficiencies” that would have affected environmental monitoring efforts. In its draft management plan, ATAC noted Lebarge Environmental Services conducted eight aerial and three ground surveys of wildlife between 2010 and 2013 that noted the project area is home to species that are considered of “special concern” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada including woodland caribou, grizzly bear, wolverine, collared pika, horned grebe, rusty blackbird, peregrine falcon and dolly varden. Threatened species that are found in the project area, according to ATAC, include the common nighthawk and the olive-sided flycatcher. Without adequate monitoring, Powell said there was little hope potential impacts could be mitigated in the future, which contributed to the Yukon government pulling the plug on the project. The Beaver River watershed is largely roadless and the ATAC road would have set a new “precedent” for mineral exploration in the territory, the document states. No roads longer than 50 kilometres have been built for operations that, like ATAC Resources’, are purely exploratory over the past decade, the document notes. “Far more typically, existing access routes and new access routes have only been upgraded or constructed once mine development and production has been authorized.” ATAC Resources is not currently operating any mines in the region and is not permitted to. The company is only permitted to conduct exploratory work until 2024, which raised questions about the need for the access road and concerns the company wouldn’t have long enough to successfully build and decommission the road as proposed. “The nearness of the expiration date doesn’t suggest that they would have a reasonable timeframe to get all of that work done,” Powell said. A sub-regional land use plan for the Beaver River watershed was recently launched by the Yukon government and the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation. Work on the plan is set to continue, regardless of the ATAC road cancellation, Powell said. “Everybody recognizes that this is a highly mineralized area with lots of potential,” he said. “The commitment remains in place to finalize [the land use plan] as soon as we can.” Randi Newton, conservation manager with CPAWS Yukon, recently told The Narwhal she hopes that the sub-regional land use plan will be replaced with a much broader plan that encapsulates the entire Beaver River watershed. CPAWS recently released a report that cautioned the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board against approving road projects before land use plans are completed. “Land use planning can take that broader view of how much development is allowable in an area, which areas should we keep remote and free of roads,” Malkolm Boothroyd, the report’s author and campaigns co-ordinator at the Yukon chapter of CPAWS, told The Narwhal in a previous interview. Powell said that while the sub-regional land use plan won’t be scrapped, it could help inform a region-wide plan in the future, so the intention now is to finish what has already been started. Lewis Rifkind, mining analyst at the Yukon Conservation Society, told The Narwhal his organization has been highlighting concerns associated with the ATAC road since its inception. While he questions why it took the Yukon government so long to cancel the project, he’s hopeful environmental protection is coming to the region through land use planning. “It does give us a chance to protect or manage a pretty large-scale landscape,” he said. “Now we can do the planning without having the road dictate certain land uses.”Julien Gignac, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
BERLIN — Veteran German diplomat Helga Schmid, a key behind-the-scenes negotiator of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, was named Friday as the new administrative head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The Vienna-based regional security organization plays an important role in trying to resolve conflicts in Europe and on its periphery, including Ukraine. Its 57 members include Russia and the United States. A career diplomat, the 59-year-old Schmid was the German embassy's spokeswoman in Washington during the early 1990s, before taking senior roles at the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin, and later moved to Brussels. She spent the last four years as the head of the EU's diplomatic service. The post of OSCE secretary general comes with a three-year term that can be renewed once. The secretary general is the administrative head of the OSCE, complementing the presidency which rotates annually among member states. A branch of the organization also conducts election monitoring missions, including during last month's U.S. presidential vote. The Associated Press
Ontario’s justice system will continue to push forward and modernize beyond the rapid transformations forced by the pandemic, Attorney General Doug Downey told the Empire Club of Canada on Thursday. During the lunchtime virtual meeting, Downey talked about some of the advancements made in the province's justice system since emergency measures were enforced in March to ensure it could operate safely. “It wasn’t long before capacity was expanded to conduct 100 per cent of proceedings involving a person in custody” and advancing to remote hearings, said Downey, who is also the local MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. “Behind the scenes, we were making targeted investments to update technology in a sector where fax machines were still an acceptable way of doing business.” The initiatives included remote court access, the new use of digital signatures and service by email, all of which are now becoming permanent staples of the system. As a result, he said, the system has become stronger by becoming more accessible and more resilient. “We really did rely on fax machines, millions of pages of paper, and technology that was just slightly better than Morse code to share information,” he said, adding that just two days ago the word 'telegram' was replaced by 'email' in a civil rule. Within months, the old paper-based system has been modernized to allow for online filing of more than 450 different documents. As a result, 95 per cent of civil proceedings are filed online and more than 70 per cent of family matters. Information about court cases are now available online, meaning people don’t have to line up at the courthouse to gain access. And a platform to power online and in-person hearings was also adopted. Last June, the changes allowed 20,000 people to log into an online Superior Court hearing to witness a judge deliver a sentence in a high-profile case. In September, the Superior Court reported 50,000 hearings had been conducted virtually. The lesson, Downey said, was to not just address yesterday’s issues, but to look at solutions for tomorrow’s sustainability and resilience and to not be afraid of change. He also suggested adopting a design for a courthouse implementing some of the customer service elements available in an airport. Or creating an app that allows the user to schedule a court appearance from a cellphone. “The pandemic showed us, in stark terms, how far behind Ontario’s justice system had fallen,” he said. “Now we know better, and we’ll do better. In this new approach, justice accelerated means justice delivered.” During a question period, he pointed to Ontario’s tribunals, which were largely shut down after the COVID-19 crisis and prevented normal interaction. Downey said he’s struck a deal with British Columbia’s attorney general to adopt its four-year-old online tribunal system for $1, provided Ontario takes care of the updates.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
Ontario reported another 1,780 cases of COVID-19 and 25 more deaths from the illness on Friday, as the provincial government announced the members of its vaccine distribution task force.The province also said three more regions are moving into new levels of the province's colour-coded restrictions framework for at least 28 days. York Region continued to avoid being placed in lockdown despite being among the hardest hit regions after Toronto and Peel.As of Monday, Middlesex-London and Thunder Bay will be in the orange "restrict" tier, while the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit will move into the yellow "protect" category."Over the last seven days we have seen the trends in key public health indicators continue to go in the wrong direction in these three regions," said Minister of Health Christine Elliott in a news release.The new cases reported Friday include 633 in Toronto, 433 in Peel Region, 152 in York Region and 94 in Durham Region. Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were: * Windsor-Essex: 68 * Halton Region: 51 * Hamilton: 43 * Simcoe Muskoka: 41 * Waterloo Region: 40 * Middlesex-London: 39 * Ottawa: 36 * Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 25 * Niagara Region: 21 * Southwestern: 20 * Thunder Bay: 13 * Brant County: 11 * Huron Perth: 10Also included in today's new cases are 129 that are school-related: 102 students and 27 staff members. Some 776 of Ontario's 4,828 publicly-funded schools, or about 16 per cent, currently have at least one case of COVID-19, while eight schools are currently closed because of the illness.(Note: All of the figures used for new cases in this story are found on the Ontario health ministry's COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)Given today's figures, the seven-day average of new daily cases dropped slightly to 1,759.There are currently 14,997 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide, the most at any point since the outbreak began in late January.They come as Ontario's network of labs processed 56,001 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a test positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Another 62,400 tests are in the queue waiting to be completed. Moreover, the number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness climbed to 674. Of those, 207 are being treated in intensive care, though an internal Critical Care Services Ontario report puts the current total at 214 as of Friday morning. Some 116 are on ventilators.The 25 additional deaths pushes the province's official toll to 3,737. Vaccine task force members announcedMeanwhile, the province has appointed nine people to its vaccine panel, including the province's top coroner.The panel, headed by retired chief of national defence staff Rick Hillier, will oversee distribution of the vaccine when available.Health Minister Christine Elliott said it will be up to the panel to ensure effective and ethical delivery of a vaccine.WATCH | Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a member of the vaccine task force, details his priorities:Key tasks include delivery, logistics and administration, clinical guidance as well as public education and outreach.The panel includes Chief Coroner Dr. Dirk Huyer, former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders, and Linda Hasenfratz, head of car parts giant Linamar.LTC commission recommends annual inspectionsOntario's Long-Term Care Commission released its second interim report Friday morning, making seven more recommendations to the Progressive Conservative government. The interim report, which comes amid surging cases, notes 100 homes have seen an outbreak in the last six weeks, with 300 more deaths.Among them is a call to reintroduce comprehensive annual inspections, known as Resident Quality Inspections (RQI), which were eliminated by the province in the fall of 2018. The process required a minimum of one thorough, unannounced inspection each year. Only 27 homes were inspected last year, far fewer than in previous years, the report states. Inspectors looked at only 11 of the province's 670 nursing homes proactively from March 1 after the pandemic hit to Oct. 15.Inspectors issue mandatory orders only in "extreme circumstances," the report says, noting only 21 were handed out between January 2019 and August 2020. Fines or prosecutions are "rarely applied," resulting in a "lack of urgency" from home operators to address violations.CBC Marketplace reported in September that an analysis commissioned by the Ministry of Long-Term Care in 2015 concluded that RQIs were up to five times more effective than other types of inspections.In a statement, Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton didn't specifically mention the issue of inspections but said the government has already moved to address many of the commission's ongoing recommendations."We have invested over $750 million to protect residents, caregivers, and staff in long-term care homes during the pandemic, and we will continue to act on the commissioners' recommendations to protect our most valuable.
NEW YORK — A year after a series of concerts in Puerto Rico that ended up being his last because of the pandemic, Daddy Yankee is bringing those performances to YouTube as a Christmas gift to his fans around the globe.“DY2K20,” the digital version of his show “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” will be released in three parts on Yankee's YouTube channel, with the first installment out Friday. The others will drop on Dec. 14 and Dec. 21, respectively.“I wanted to give a Christmas present to all my fans during the pandemic, bring the party to their homes free of charge, bring them joy in such difficult times,” the reggaeton star told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Miami.Yankee, who has stayed mostly out of the spotlight in 2020, said that while the pandemic has hit many very hard, it has also allowed him to do something he hadn't done in three decades: Focus on his health and rest.It's something he had to gradually learn after gaining 40 pounds (almost 20 kilos) during the first months of quarantine.“Maybe because of the anxiety... I started eating and eating and eating and I put on the pounds like never before. I got to weigh 230 pounds (105 kilos) ... But I recovered my normal weight from 10 years ago. That was my focus,” said the “Despacito” and “Gasolina” singer, adding he achieved his goal by watching what he ate and exercising, a lot.“I devoted myself to my health and to something that was unknown to me, which was rest,” he said. “I started to learn how to live with calmness and to appreciate it... And I feel different, I feel in a new phase completely.”Now that he gained some balance in his life, he feels ready to reactivate his career. In addition to “DY2K20,” he has another surprise for his fans: A new music collaboration he will release in the coming days, although he wouldn't provide details yet.For now, he said he was blessed to finally share with the world the footage of a show staged at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot, which involved over 80 people who worked with “great passion, great creativity.” It was well-received, going from two scheduled dates to a full residence, with 12 sold-out shows, or 170,000 tickets.What many don't know is that a technical problem on opening night resulted in a new business opportunity: Massive concerts in the daylight hours, something never seen before on the island.After getting stuck on a platform over the stage, Yankee announced to the audience that he would give them an extra show for free, and it was a matinee. He adjusted the content to make it family friendly, and ended up doing one more that way.Another unique aspect of “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” which featured artists like Ozuna, Wisin & Yandel and Nicky Jam, was the use of holograms to replace those who weren't there to perform live.“I wanted the artists to be gigantic, on people's faces, so the audience could feel that they were in front of them and we achieved that,” Yankee said. “It was a concert that became a residence, like if Las Vegas had moved to Puerto Rico.”___Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner.Sigal Ratner-Arias, The Associated Press
While the aftermath of the American presidential election continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how exactly the shift of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden will impact Canada-U.S. relations. A former international ambassador cautions it won’t be all sunshine and lollipops ahead for the generally friendly neighbours. Derek Burney, who was born in Fort William (now Thunder Bay) served as Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. from 1989 to 1993 under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Burney is currently chancellor of Lakehead University, chairman of the Burney Investment Group, chairman of GardaWorld’s International Advisory Board, chairman of Enablence Technologies Inc., and a member of the advisory board of Paradigm Capital. He was named an Officer to the Order of Canada in 1993. Last week he gave an online address which was hosted by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, and simulcast by the chambers of Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay and Timmins. Burney opened by calling the U.S. election a “cathartic” event. “The aftershocks continue to resonate. The Electoral College will meet on Dec. 14 to certify the results, and formally declare Joe Biden as president.” He then spoke of the big takeaways he had from the election. “A huge turnout amplified by massive influxes of mail-in ballots helped ultimately tip the verdict to Joe Biden, even though Trump won 10 million more votes than he received in 2016.” Burney said the 'Blue Wave' that many pollsters had predicted did not materialize. “Too many pollsters seemed more inclined to affect, rather than reflect, the mood of American voters. Biden won with a tightly disciplined, low-key campaign, banking on the fact that he was not Trump, and that the election would be a referendum on Trump, not a choice between the two candidates.” Burney lamented that foreign policy was barely mentioned by either candidate throughout the campaign. “Personalities, character and COVID concerns dominated.” Burney pointed out that regardless of the outcome the United States is in a period of deep division. “The country remains highly polarized — split right down the middle and very difficult to govern. The Democrats are jubilant, but weary. The Republicans are subdued, but not submissive.” He said the election conveyed a messy image of American democracy to the world, and that it regrettably emboldened authoritarian leaders like China's President Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to take advantage. Domestically, policy ideas from the Republicans and Democrats on matters such as taxes, immigration, health care and energy are seemingly polar opposites. “Biden will definitely bring a less abrasive tone, especially on global issues, but his ability to implement major changes on domestic issues will be circumscribed, if the Republicans hold the Senate. He will also need to consolidate consensus on policies and priorities first within his own party, which is more divided internally, than are the Republicans.” “Biden's pledge to heal and unite the nation is commendable, but maybe unrealistic.” On the positive side, Burney did remark that there was some scope for bipartisan consensus on issues like justice reform, infrastructure, and possibly healthcare. “But if the Congress remains divided, agreements will require nimble give-and-take negotiations. At least Biden and Republican Senator Mitch McConnell are both Senate veterans, and they begin with a degree of mutual respect, a spirit that was entirely lacking between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” Regarding Canada and how a new government will affect Canadian business, Burney, said Biden will be more congenial with U.S. allies. “After 47 years of service in Washington, he is no stranger to Canada, nor to our Prime Minister and other alliance leaders. That alone is good news.” However, Burney said that in reality, the Canada-U.S. relationship is “no longer special” and that Biden’s domestic policies are a mixed bag for Canada moving forward. “Those favouring more action on climate change will be pleased by his quick decision to rejoin the Paris Accord. I personally would be happier if he were also committed to ensuring more timely, and more tangible commitments by major polluters like China and India. The imbalance is startling.” He also cautioned that Western Canada could be in for more challenging times concerning the oil and gas sector if Biden’s positions come to fruition. “If he fulfils his pledge to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit, that would be devastating for our energy sector. In my view, such action would be blatantly discriminatory and should be challenged forcefully by our government, not just the pipeline companies.” The first few months of 2021 will be highly interesting for economic observers on both sides of the border as the two nations, the largest trading partners on the planet, scramble to get their economies rolling again during a global health crisis. “Because we are joined at the hip economically with the U.S., we stand to gain when their economy is robust, and conversely when the U.S. economy slumps, so does ours. That is why my fervid hope is that Joe Biden puts economy recovery first and foremost on his agenda.” Burney told the business-oriented viewers what his overall message is. “At a time of greater instability and uncertainty in the world, my most important message to you is that greater self-reliance is becoming the order of the day. As business operators, you need to be mindful of that increasing trend. Find ways to produce more of what is needed right here in Canada, and rely less on global supply chains that can easily be disrupted, as our experience with COVID, badly demonstrated.”Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
The singer is perfectly at ease letting people see what he’s really going through.
Some 7,000 people are facing eviction hearings in Ontario this winter, and tenant advocates are urging solidarity among neighbours and across Toronto to keep people in their homes. The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) is “in a full-throttle blitz to clear its backlog,” said Kenneth Hale, the director of legal services at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), noting there is a particular focus on processing eviction applications for non-payment. While Premier Doug Ford promised earlier this year that no one would be evicted during the pandemic, his government lifted a moratorium on hearings back in August, and the LTB has since kicked back into gear despite higher COVID-19 caseloads than in the first wave. “The government thinks that it’s more important that investors get paid than low-income people are protected from viral infection,” Hale said. In response, the Keep Your Rent advocacy group is inviting those facing the tribunal to share details — they’ve collected more than a hundred of these so far — in order to better prepare them to fight. “We are telling them that they need to be communicating with their neighbours, they need to realize that they are part of a bigger struggle, that they are not alone in being behind on rent during COVID,” said MaryAnn Icaro, who got active with Keep Your Rent early in the pandemic and has been observing hearings in the recent uptick. “What we've been seeing, especially for these tenants that we are not in contact with, that are not organizing, that are isolated, they are finding themselves with standard orders,” she said, which typically give a tenant less than two weeks to pay their arrears. After eight months of pandemic-related income loss, that could amount to thousands of dollars. “Tenants have minutes to plead their case to these judges,” she said. In one recent online hearing, she said neighbours and other supporters intervened by going down the hall to notify a tenant who had, in fact, paid their arrears and didn’t know they still needed to attend or that the landlord would not mention the payment. A spokesperson for Tribunals Ontario, of which the LTB is a part, did not respond to a request for comment. The Ford government has introduced legislation this year, Bill 184, which makes it easier for tenants to be evicted, including by waiving a requirement for another LTB hearing if a tenant agrees to a rent arrears plan and then misses a payment. “These politicians will not save us, they’ve orchestrated this crisis,” Icaro said, noting that Keep Your Rent is instead focused on improving tenants’ negotiating position with their landlords. This is what tenants in properties owned by corporate landlord MetCap Living plan to do this Saturday when they show up at the real estate company’s headquarters seeking a meeting with CEO Brent Merrill. Tenants who have withheld rent since April plan to say they are willing to pay if Merrill agrees not to seek to evict those who can’t, Icaro said. She also pointed out that tenants in various locations across the city, including in the Crescent Town neighbourhood near the Victoria Park subway station, have made it clear to their landlord that they will block any efforts by sheriffs to enforce evictions. That may stave off the immediate threat, but ACTO’s Hale said a deeper reckoning with the housing crisis and troubles at the tenancy tribunal looms. “Community efforts to fend off the sheriff are not going to be successful in the long run,” he said. “We need a justice system that works for everyone, including low-income people.”Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
For the second time in the past five days, Niagara Region Public Health has advised District School Board of Niagara that one individual at Port Colborne High School has tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was confirmed on Nov. 29. As a result of the two COVID-19 cases, three classrooms have been closed. Local school boards will not identify the individual who tested positive. However, the provincial online database that tracks school-related COVID-19 cases does identify the Nov. 29 case as staff member. Today’s case will not be immediately known as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its reporting. In a media release, DSBN said, “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual have been contacted and told by NRPH to stay home and self-isolate.” Provincial guidelines indicate “an outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection.” Public health has not indicated if it will declare an outbreak at Port High. Preventative COVID-19 practices that Port Colborne High School has been following since classes started, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue, DSBN said. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Lawyers fought the latest round of a 16-year legal battle by video conference in the province’s top court on Tuesday and Wednesday. The long-running dispute between Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) and the Saskatchewan government aims to find whether 600 flooded acres of land near Southend is a reserve. The debate centres on whether to uphold Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Dan Konkin’s 2019 decision finding the land was never properly designated as a reserve. That decision also tossed out PBCN’s claim that the flooding meant the province and SaskPower were trespassing on the land. This week, PBCN and the federal government argued it is a reserve — a finding that would throw out the lower court’s decision and help the First Nation’s legal counsel press for compensation based off the trespassing claim. “The important thing here is the ownership of (roughly) 10,000 acres of land is at stake,” said Thomas Berger, a prominent British Columbia lawyer who has long served as PBCN’s counsel on the case. The Saskatchewan government and SaskPower argued to uphold the 2019 decision, saying the reserve was never properly designated. The Ministry of Justice declined to comment on a matter before the courts. One part of the dispute centres on a surveyor’s actions almost a century ago. When the surveyor was tasked with finding Barren Lands band members at Southend in 1929, he found members of PBCN. PBCN argued he took steps to create a reserve there. A 1981 federal government cabinet order and the land’s inclusion in the 1992 Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement confirmed that designation, PBCN’s factum said. In an interview, Berger said the province’s position on its status was a reversal because “25 years later, they said, ‘we made a mistake.’ ” Saskatchewan legal counsel Mitch McAdam said that’s not necessarily the case. In a factum, he wrote that the surveyor’s “instructions were crystal clear — to survey a reserve at Southend for Barren Lands — and he carried those instructions out ‘to a T.’ ” However, McAdam said the survey was flawed and incomplete. He said the government also never confirmed it as a reserve, meaning the land passed to Saskatchewan under the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement in 1930. That brings into question who owns the land that Whitesand Dam floods as it controls Reindeer River’s flow into the nearby Island Falls hydroelectric power station. Berger says his clients are owed their “fair share” of compensation for the flooding, but that partly depends on how the court sides on the question of the land’s reserve status. “If Peter Ballantyne has no interest in the (land), in other words, the (land) is not Indian reserve land, (and) Peter Ballantyne has no claim in trespass,” the SaskPower factum noted. Berger expects to hear the top court’s decision sometime in 2021. NoneNick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
TORONTO (Reuters) -The Canadian dollar strengthened to a two-year high against its U.S. counterpart on Friday as Wall Street rose and data showed Canada's economy added more jobs than expected in November, with the currency advancing for the third straight week. Canadian employment rose by 62,000 in November and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5%, both beating analyst expectations. The market also digested U.S. data showing the smallest nonfarm payrolls gain since the jobs recovery started in May.
Ahi creates this beautiful makeup look inspired by sunset colors. She uses the orange neon palette by Huda Beauty. It's a must have palette!
With the election of Colin Ratushniak and Julie Baschuk, and the re-election of Chief Tammy Cook-Searson, the leaders of the Lac La Ronge Tri-Community are excited to start working together to improve the Lac La Ronge area. This has included some quick work by the leaders and their administration to push for a mandatory masking policy in the tri-community area that matched provincial regulations. When the provincial government brought in a mandatory masking policy for all Saskatchewan communities over 5,000 people, the communities of La Ronge and Air Ronge and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band did not individually fit that bill. Mandatory masking mandates were slowly increasing as the number of new cases in the province started to grow and policies in Saskatchewan’s major cities were announced on Nov. 3. By Nov. 13, all communities over 5,000 were required to have mask requirements for public spaces. Together, the Lac La Ronge Tri-Communities did have the necessary 5,000 person population for the government to include them in the masking policy and a letter to the province was quickly drafted and signed by all three leaders that same day. Thanks to the Village of Air Ronge staff the letter was drafted and signed as quickly as possible with the letter even being taken to leaders’ homes at 10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13, Ratushniak said. Even though the province has since expanded its mandatory masking policy to include the entire province, this letter is still a sign of something bigger, said Ratushniak, La Ronge’s newly elected mayor. “It shows our willingness to work together to work for better things in the communities and safety in general. Masking is just one part of the equation, I think that there's much more that needs to be done.” Baschuk unseated long-serving former Air Ronge mayor Gordon Stomp, who had an uninterrupted reign since 1977 when the village was incorporated. While people respected the work that Stomp has done, the voting results showed that they are excited for the potential that Baschuk brings to the table, she said. A diverse and inclusive council was something that she wanted coming into the mayor's chair, Baschuk said, as well as a more modernized way of communicating and being transparent with residents of Air Ronge. Seeing how women are underrepresented in government and business, seeing the mixed council at the table is great to see, she said. “It's nice to see the community be able to stand with me and support me along in this. And we saw two other women elected to our councils. We now have two women and two men [and] we've got a lot more equality happening, which is fabulous.” Cook-Searson has worked with four different mayors from La Ronge and Air Ronge during her time as chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and was re-elected for her sixth term in May. When she was first elected in 2005, she was the youngest among the three leaders. Now she finds she is the oldest, she laughed. With Ratushniak and Baschuk new to the mayoral roles, Cook-Searson is excited to continue the various partnerships among the three communities, including their shared sewer, water, and fire services. Now, she said, the relationship is even more open between the three with Cook-Searson saying she can text the other two and have discussions whenever something comes up. With a diverse leadership team, Baschuk said they are going to bring fresh perspectives to the table with a community that has room to grow. “Right off the hop we're willing to work together in a co-operative way, so we know that and improve the quality of life within each of our communities.” While Baschuk knows that they are not the only ones in the province working together as municipal partners, she hopes that the tri-community can be role models to other communities who want to join together to solve local issues.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut continues to fall, but it will be some time before community outbreaks are officially over, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said in a news conference Friday at the Legislative Assembly. The territory reported a total of 51 active cases on Friday, with eight new cases reported in Arviat, and says 155 people are recovered. Patterson says most people will be immune from catching COVID-19 again for at least two or three months. "It means that we are moving in the right direction and we can be optimistic," he said. Of those 51 active cases, 44 are in Arviat. The community is in lockdown and there is community transmission still happening."In Arviat, there has been progress but there continues to be evidence of community transmission," Patterson said. "I urge people to stay isolated if you have been told by public health to isolate."There also remain seven active cases in Whale Cove, but no cases are recent, he said.In Rankin Inlet all cases were reported as recovered as of Thursday.In a news release, Patterson said the community had "successfully flattened the curve," but said existing restrictions are still in place and won't be changed until everyone in the community is finished their mandated isolation. Missed the government update? Watch it here:Moderna vaccine most 'appropriate' for NunavutWhen COVID-19 vaccines are available, Patterson said it's more likely that Nunavut will receive the Moderna vaccine because storage and shipping requirements for the Pfizer vaccine aren't appropriate for remote locations. If there is access in Nunavut to the Pfizer vaccine it will be in Iqaluit because of the cold storage required for the vaccine. "We're expecting that we won't get any of that vaccine in Nunavut," he said. A vaccine isn't a "magic switch" but "the more people get it, the less chance there will be of further outbreaks that are happening right now," he said.Patterson said the government is working on education and communications plans to "combat the misinformation" that could scare people into feeling the vaccine is unsafe. "It's certainly a concern," he said. "We'll do everything we can to ensure Nunavummiut have accurate, up to date information and that individuals will also have the right to make the choice."Help make holidays safe, says premierIn Rankin Inlet there will be residents isolating for the next 10 days at least and an outbreak can't be considered as over for around a month, Patterson said. Sanikiluaq won't be considered clear of COVID-19 until two weeks from now. "COVID-19 is not over in Nunavut. Everyone needs to ensure they do their part to bring us to zero active cases in the territory and remain committed and prepared for a potential resurgence of the virus," he said in a statement. Public health is following 752 people for symptoms of COVID-19 or contacts of people with the virus. "Our case numbers are going down but that does not mean that we can relax our hard work to eliminate this virus," Premier Joe Savikataaq said. "Let's stay safe and make sure this holiday season is as safe as possible for everyone." Anyone who may have had contact with COVID-19 is asked to call a COVID-hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, or to notify their community health centre, and isolate at home for 14 days, the Health department said.The department is asking residents not to visit their community health centres in person. The news conference will air later in the day on CBC Radio.
Nominations are open to recognize individuals in the territory who “work to strengthen the arts, culture, heritage and languages of the N.W.T.” The Minister’s Culture and Heritage Awards celebrate “outstanding leadership in the North” and raise awareness about the importance of protecting, preserving and celebrating the different cultures and unique ways of life in the territory. There are five categories: According to the GNWT's website, a Minister's Choice Award will also be handed out this year at the discretion of RJ Simpson, the minister. Awards will be given to winners virtually this year, due to COVID-19. Northerners looking to nominate a peer must submit the necessary form by January 8, 2021.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio