With Election Day only one week away, Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris urged supporters in Reno, Nevada to vote early and "fight for the promise of America." (Oct. 27)
With Election Day only one week away, Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris urged supporters in Reno, Nevada to vote early and "fight for the promise of America." (Oct. 27)
WASHINGTON — The General Services Administration ascertained Monday that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said in a tweet that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, citing, “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.” Michigan certified Biden’s victory Monday, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden transition, said in a statement that the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”He added: “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”Murphy, a Trump appointee, had faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration, including in critical national security and public health areas.“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “We will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”Pressure had been mounting on Murphy as an increasing number of Republicans, national security experts and business leaders said it was time for that process to move forward.Retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement Monday saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for Murphy to release money and staffing needed for the transition. Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”Meanwhile, more than 160 business leaders asked Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,? the business leaders said in an open letter to Murphy.Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”Trump had publicly refused to accept defeat and launched a series of losing court battles across the country making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and seeking to overturn the election results.Murphy missed a deadline on Monday set by House Democrats to brief lawmakers about the delay in beginning the transition, which is usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration. A spokeswoman for the GSA said that a deputy administrator would instead hold two separate briefings for House and Senate committees on Nov. 30.In response, the Democratic chairs of four committees and subcommittees said they could reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, but no later.“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” the Democrats said in a letter to Murphy. “Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”Portman said it was “only prudent” for GSA to begin the transition process immediately.“Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face,? Portman wrote in an op-ed calling for the transition to begin.Murphy's ascertainment will free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies. Trump administration officials had said they would not give Biden the classified presidential daily briefing on intelligence matters until the GSA makes the ascertainment official.“Now that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has fulfilled her duty and ascertained the election results, the formal presidential transition can begin in full force,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. “Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country’s greatest challenges. The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory.”Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, the co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.Matthew Daly, Zeke Miller And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Ontario health minister Christine Elliott told Sudbury MPP Jamie West this past week that while many parts of Ontario do not have all the mental health resources that many people need right now, there is a plan in place to have provincewide mental health and addictions services. Elliott was responding to West's plea for the government to take action to immediately increase funding for mental health services in Sudbury. “Sudburians are suffering,” said West during question period at the Ontario Legislature. “Family members are mourning and local health resources are overwhelmed," he added. West described how he had met with Denise Sandul of Sudbury, the mother of 22-year-old Myles Keaney, who died of an opioid overdose earlier this year. He also told the legislature that a cross had been erected in downtown Sudbury close to where Keaney died, as a memoriam to a young life lost. West said the number of crosses had increased dramatically to the point where it is expected more than 50 crosses will be in place before too long. “Will the premier commit to immediate increased funding to help Sudburians like Denise and her family?” asked West in the legislature. Health Minister Elliott stood to respond and offered her sympathies. "First, let me express my condolences to Myles’s family and all of the other families who have lost anyone through an overdose, through addictions of any kind. That is something none of us want to see happen in the province of Ontario," said Elliott. She added that Ontario has a plan in place to address mental health concerns across the province. "That is why we brought forward our Roadmap to Wellness, to make sure that across Ontario — that includes Northern Ontario, southern, eastern and western Ontario — we can have that core basket of addictions and mental health treatments," said Elliott. The Roadmap to Wellness is a joint federal-provincial 10-year action plan to address several concerns that include too long wait times, barriers to access, fragmented services, uneven quality of services and lack of data. Elliott said the addictions and mental health crisis is similar to what existed several years ago with the shortfalls in cancer care in Ontario. Elliott said it took time and money before cancer care was improved significantly. She said work is underway, costing billions of dollars, to ensure that all parts of Ontario get better mental health and addictions support. In his comments in the Legislature, West also stated the opioid overdoses are involved in as many as 50 to 80 deaths per week in Ontario. In a study published earlier this year by Public Health Ontario (PHO), it was stated that opioid deaths were quickly outpacing the number of deaths that occurred in Ontario in 2019 and the increase might be as much as 50 per cent higher by the end of this year. "If the number of opioid-related deaths continues to increase at the weekly pandemic rate for the rest of 2020, it is anticipated that there will be 2,271 opioid-related deaths in the province by the end of the year. This would represent a 50-per-cent increase from the year prior (1,512 opioid-related deaths in 2019)," said the PHO report. Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Victory is always sweet in municipal politics, said Mayor Duane Favel, and this year, victory has meant starting his fifth term as leader of the Northern Village of Île-à-la-Crosse. Duane defeated fellow mayoral candidate Peter Durocher with 323 votes to 257, with 580 total votes cast. This will be a long four years of council, Favel said, with many challenges facing northern Saskatchewan communities and with COVID-19 those challenges are going to get bigger, he said. In a previous interview before the election, Duane said physician retention and high water levels have been a challenge for the community for years. Joining Duane at the council table will be incumbents Vincent Ahenakew, Bodean Desjarlais, Myra Malboeuf, and Gerald Roy, and new councillors Noel McLean and Kevin Favel. Having a mix of old and new councillors is good to have for both continuity and bringing new voices to the table, Duane said. “It's nice to have a council who clearly has a good background on some of the things we've been working on and to bring those two councillors up to speed. Certainly, their voices will be heard as well.” Mentoring the new councillors will be an important step in the coming term, Duane said. Duane said he would like to thank the outgoing councillors who have stepped away from the table, including Durocher, who decided to run for mayor. The open spots allowed for two new voices to join the conversation and Duane said he is excited to work with this new council. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
BROCKTON – Council has renewed its contract with Veolia Water Canada for five years, for the operation, maintenance and management of Brockton’s water and wastewater. The report presented by director of operations Gregg Furtney outlined Veolia’s history with the municipality, beginning in 2006. The most recent agreement renewal was awarded in 2016, for five years. The term ends in June, 2021. Because the municipality is entering into 2021 budget discussions, staff spoke with Veolia representatives about “what a renewal and amended agreement may look like.” The five-year extension to the present agreement would involve an adjustment to the annual fee from the current rate of $702,645 to $727,376, an increase of $24,731, with subsequent increases based on the previous year’s price plus an adjustment for inflation. Furtney’s report stated there was discussion related to “operations and costs associated with a significant event, such as a pandemic, that could make operating significantly more onerous.” Veolia has stated the COVID-19 pandemic, to date, has not proven to be significantly more onerous. Veolia staff have operated safely and successfully throughout the pandemic. The renewal agreement will include the addition of the Fischer Dairy sewage pumping station and the upcoming Walker West booster pumping station. It also includes additional sampling and operational oversight of the water systems at various community centres including the Bradley School House, Cargill Community Centre, and Elmwood Community Centre. Furtney’s report noted “Veolia Water Canada Inc. staff have been great partners in Brockton. They have highly trained and knowledgeable staff that work hard to provide our residents with safe drinking water and maintain important Brockton-owned infrastructure.” He further noted their response time to emergencies has been excellent. Veolia has donated to the Walkerton Clean Water Legacy Scholarship Fund. There was some discussion among councillors about looking into taking on the task of managing water and wastewater in-house. Furtney said wages alone would make that prospect a daunting one, not to mention the need to purchase vehicles and other equipment. It’s not something that could be planned in a few months. “If, in two years, council wants to do this, we can start planning.” Mayor Chris Peabody stated the municipality has been quite pleased with the agreement with Veolia. He suggested if council were to decide to look into managing water and wastewater in-house, that partnering with another municipality would make it more affordable. “After 15 years, it wouldn’t hurt to evaluate (the possibility),” he said. Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak said the Veolia contract is one of the two largest contracts the municipality has – the other is with the OPP. He noted Veolia “appears to be a good partner” for the municipality. Coun. Steve Adams said he supports Furtney’s report. “It would be very expensive and risky to do it on our own,” he said, adding that the agreement with Veolia has provided “good value and safe drinking water” for the municipality.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Global aviation body IATA is developing a set of mobile apps to help passengers to navigate COVID-19 travel restrictions and securely share test and vaccine certificates with airlines and governments, it said on Monday. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents many of the world's major airlines, plans to pilot the Travel Pass platform by year-end and deploy it for Android and Apple iOS phones in the first half of next year. Airlines are pressing governments to replace traffic-stifling quarantine requirements with systematic COVID-19 testing, with some success.
HURON COUNTY – Gift giving just got easier in Huron County with the release of an online wish book on Nov. 12. Highlighting local businesses, the Wish Book provides plenty of gift ideas from retailers and companies across Huron County. Whether looking for a handcrafted one-of-a-kind item or popular brand name products, everyone can find great gift-giving ideas available right in their backyard. According to a press release from Huron County, Canadians spent an average of $1,593 on holiday gifts last year. Not only does shopping locally keep those dollars in Huron communities, but purchasing gifts from local merchants is also the most convenient choice to avoid crowded malls, unexpected delivery delays from online retailers, and making unnecessary trips out of town. There will be daily gift-giving inspiration posts between now and Dec. 24. A weekly draw for $100 in gift certificates from local merchants on Ontario’s West Coast Facebook and Instagram pages. You can view the Huron County Wish Book at https://www.ontarioswestcoast.ca/wishbook and scroll through all of the gift ideas to show support for Huron County businesses and communities this holiday season. The County of Huron developed the Huron County Wish Book in partnership with the Blyth BIA, Central Huron BIA, Community Futures Huron, Goodrich BIA, Huron County Chamber of Commerce Seaforth BIA, Municipality of Bluewater, South Huron Chamber of Commerce, Town of Goderich, Wingham BIA and the Zurich District Chamber of Commerce.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta Health Services posted a heart-wrenching on Twitter after the province confirmed more than 460 people have died from the virus.
Some Penetanguishene community partners could have a reason to smile this week. Penetang elected officials are coming together Tuesday to discuss community grant requests made by several local non-profits. According to the report, staff is recommending council approve a number of those requests. If council agrees with staff, the Georgian Bay General Hospital will receive $15,000, the Southern Georgian Bay Physician Recruitment will receive $8,500 and $1,000 will go toward Sistema Huronia Music Academy. A further $2,000 will be given to the Midland Penetang District CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). Staff is asking Cultural Alliance's request of $10,000 be deferred until after the non-profit's presentation on Dec. 9. The agenda also includes a number of requests around an increase in budget to extend contract positions. The first one up is the position of junior planner for which staff is asking an additional $25,000 be included in the budget to expand the current part-time position to a one-year full-time contract at a total cost of $57,000. A similar extension request is being made for the current part-time contract for a bylaw enforcement officer. The increase in budget would be almost $32,000, bringing the total cost of the one-year full-time contract to $47,500. A third budget request related to staffing comes after the decision to reopen the arena was approved by council. Staff is recommending that funding for 40 weekly hours for a facility attendant be included in the 2021 operating budget in anticipation of a 2021-2022 ice season. The move would require that $12,270 be included in the 2021 arena operating budget. The staff report says this step will also ensure the town is financially equipped to reopen the arena for a 2021-2022 ice season. A number of departmental draft budget documents included in the agenda are being presented to council for information. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and will be streamed live on the town's YouTube channel. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Agriculture in Labrador has always been a bit of a hard go. While there is a huge amount of agricultural land in the region — far more than on the island portion of the province — the vast majority of it is uncleared and even getting access to some of it could take years. There is a bright side, though. In recent years, a few new farms have popped up and one is even planning to sell local beef. Food insecurity is a big issue in Labrador, with high prices and the area only producing one per cent of the food it consumes. The provincial government created a work sector plan for agriculture in the last few years and highlighted some concerns producers are having in Labrador, including the lack of an abattoir or the ability to sell large-scale commercial eggs in the region and the need for more Crown land to be made available for agriculture. On Nature’s Best Farm, Desmond Sellars has been growing produce such as carrots and potatoes in the region for about 20 years. He is a familiar face to many in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as the guy who sells vegetables in front of the courthouse, There is a huge amount of opportunity for farmers in Labrador, according to Sellars, but he feels the industry is still in its infancy stage and 'requires a lot of zeroes in your bank account.’ “Farmers here in Labrador can produce more but it always comes down to policy around agriculture. There’s no question about the soil, there’s no question about the land being able to produce, but we do not have the right policy and the right supports at the present time to support increased agriculture here in Labrador.” Things are moving in the right direction, he said, with the province recognizing the need for more locally produced food, but agriculture is a long game and that’s even more true in Labrador. It can take years to get leased land from the government, he said, and that’s just the first hurdle. Since all agricultural land in Labrador is leased, not granted, farmers don’t have access to any capital from it to go to banks, and so have to invest a lot of their own money up front. Even then, he said, the province still owns it and when a farmer retires, all the investments they made on the land can be lost. Freight costs are another barrier, he said. It costs just as much to ship things sometimes as the items themselves. That drives up his cost, which is a barrier to selling his produce to local stores. It’s cheaper for local stores in bring in food from outside the province than buy from him, he said, and that needs to be addressed. “Farmers don’t need a handout, they need a hand up,” he said. ‘If I could, for example, be able to expense freight on a subsidy basis I could compete with P.E.I., Ontario, New Brunswick, and I’d have that market, I know I would. That wouldn’t be a terrible cost to anyone, but it would be a big step for producers.” At the end of the day, he said, young people need to see that agriculture is something worthwhile to pursue and he doesn’t see a lot of that messaging out there. While farming is a long-term investment because of the large upfront capital costs, he said, it can be very profitable and there need to be more conversations around that. “The whole notion of farming as an important, viable business for this province and for people to engage in, there aren’t enough conversations around that. Farming is an underdeveloped part of this province, that’s self-evident. For that to change it requires ongoing conversations and I would argue some policy changes. “ Jim Purdy is one of the operators of Birch Lane Farm on Mud Lake Road in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which produces a wide variety of products, from produce to live chickens and live ducks to berries and jams. Purdy highlighted some of the same issues as Sellars, especially around the impact of freight costs and getting Crown land. “Our biggest competition isn’t here, it’s in Quebec and Ontario. They can sell their product cheaper here than we can produce it for. We have to depend on the local market, loyalty, to sell our products.” Purdy said people do recognize that locally grown food tastes better, but producers need to move into larger commercial markets to be able to grow and that isn’t possible right now. Other provinces have programs to assist with that, he said, and something needs to be done in Newfoundland and Labrador. Things that aren’t issues in less remote places, he said, like getting a tractor fixed or hiring someone to clear land, can be a real barrier in Labrador. “I would say that there’s less than 200 acres of cleared agricultural land in Labrador and in some places that’s a small farm,” he said. “It’s not like you can call someone and get them to do it. We don’t have the infrastructure here for agriculture, it’s as simple as that.” He said in his opinion other provinces have done a lot more to help with agricultural production and it doesn’t seem to be a priority for the government in Newfoundland and Labrador. Much like Sellars, Purdy cites the rules around Crown land and the unwillingness of government to grant it to farmers. “They can but they won’t,” he said. “It took me a few years to get a lease and that was on land no one else wanted. Can you imagine how long it would take if someone else had wanted it? I don’t know why the process takes so long but it isn’t helping anything. If you want to farm here, you better be ready for a long investment,” he said. When asked what could be done to help the industry grow Purdy said he didn’t even know where to start, but government offering more support is a big part of it. When SaltWire Network contacted Fisheries, Forestry, and Agriculture Minister Elvis Loveless, who was given the portfolio three months ago, he said he hasn’t had a chance go to Labrador to meet with local producers yet and discuss the issues, but he’s committed to doing so. “Our goal, in terms of helping farmers, is opening up access to land,” Loveless said when asked about the concerns expressed over the inability to get granted agricultural land. “Farmers, in order to grow vegetables, or just around the culture of growing, need land, there’s no doubt. I won’t make a commitment on a timeframe, but I will commit to talking to farmers. I’m looking to get on the ground in Labrador and have those conversations with them; what are their priorities moving their industry forward in Labrador?” Loveless said in terms of issues, it’s “all on the table.” He referenced recent investments made by the provincial government in the central Labrador region for community gardens and a cold storage and packaging facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and said there are plans to make more agricultural land available in the region. “Having access to safe and healthy food is on everyone’s minds, and addressing those needs has never been more important than right now, especially in Labrador, where the residents rely heavily on food imported from other areas, and that’s something we’d like to change.” Tomorrow: a new beef farm is the only one of its kind in Labrador. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
A Black man who was stopped by police while dropping his son off at daycare eight years ago was racially profiled, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal has found.The tribunal ordered the Montreal suburb of Longueuil, a Longueuil police officer and a former police officer to pay Joel Debellefeuille $10,000 in damages, plus interest.Debellefeuille was stopped by police outside his son's daycare in March 2012, after police followed his car for more than a kilometre.In his decision, Judge Christian Brunelle said the city must adopt a policy on profiling that would include providing training to officers, and collecting and evaluating race-based data on people who are stopped by police. Brunelle also said Quebec's human rights commission must pay the plaintiff's legal fees, ruling that the delays in responding to Debellefeuille's complaint were abnormally long and unacceptable. In addition, Dominic Polidoro, who remains a police officer, was ordered to pay $2,000 in punitive damages.The tribunal's ruling is binding, unlike those of the human rights commission.According to the decision, Polidoro testified that he followed Debellefeuille's vehicle because he thought Debellefeuille was looking at him, had gestured toward him and had said something to him while the two vehicles were stopped at a stop sign.Brunelle found that Polidoro's explanation didn't justify his stop of Debellefeuille."It is highly improbable that a white man (or woman) who, while driving their vehicle observed a police officer while continuing to talk with the other passengers and gesticulating — as many people do incidentally while expressing themselves — would be considered a suspect for that sole reason," Brunelle wrote.Brunelle found that Polidoro's actions could only be "rationally explained by the prejudices he maintained, whether consciously or not, toward a Black man driving a luxury car."Debellefeuille, who was driving a BMW at the time, told the tribunal that he had been stopped "numerous times" by police.The other officer who stopped Debellefeuille, Jean-Claude Bleu Voua, was not ordered to pay additional punitive damages because he is no longer a police officer and could not be found by the tribunal.He is believed to have left the country.'This is how we make progress'Collecting race-based data is an important step, said Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, which supported Debellefeuille's complaint.Niemi said that data will make it harder for the police department to deny that racial profiling exists.He said his organization is looking to the courts, because municipal and provincial politicians aren't taking action to stop racial profiling."What we are seeing now is that these battles will have to be fought in the courts and when the court sides with us and imposes these decisions," Niemi said. "This is how we make progress."Neither the Longueuil municipal government — which sought to have the case dismissed — nor its police service responded to a request for comment on Saturday.Quebec's human rights commission praised the decision in a statement.The commission is also calling for another Montreal suburb and three of its police officers to pay $35,000 in damages to a Black man who says he was racially profiled.Francois Ducas was also driving a BMW when he was stopped by Repentigny police.Ducas, who objected to the stop and refused to identify himself, was handcuffed and searched.Police issued Ducas, a secondary school teacher, two tickets: one for obstruction, the other for injuring a police officer.The commission believes he was stopped because of his race.Repentigny is challenging the commission's decision. That challenge will be heard before the Human Rights Tribunal.Marlène Girard, the director of communications for Repentigny, said she couldn't comment on the case but that the municipality has "increased the number of initiatives seeking to bring the police service closer to the diversity of its population" over the past few years."Today we acknowledge that we still have work to do," Girard wrote in an email. "We are being proactive, we are not waiting for the outcome of current cases of alleged racial profiling or future allegations in order to take action."Last week, the Repentigny police service announced it had hired a consulting firm to develop a plan to be more inclusive.However, Niemi said he believes the Repentigny police are still denying the seriousness of the problem.
Users, who could previously share snaps or stories with friends, can now share them directly to Spotlight and garner more followers, Snap said in a blog post https://press.snap.com/introducing-spotlight. Facebook Inc earlier this year launched Instagram Reels - the company's version of TikTok wherein users can record short mobile-friendly videos, then add special effects and soundtracks pulled from a music library.
Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, describes why she is optimistic about an eventual end to this pandemic.
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown. In “Let Us Dream,” Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.” The 150-page book, due out Dec. 1, was ghost-written by Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, and at times the prose and emphasis seems almost more Ivereigh’s than Francis.’ That's somewhat intentional — Ivereigh said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers. At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits. But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour. At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini. “But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013. The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world. At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies. “Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.” People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.” Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.” But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue. “Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote. Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!” He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem. “You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.” He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state." “There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them." In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course. The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order. “I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote. The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it. The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country. “I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote. But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.” “Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote. Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour. “We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
Two prominent Saskatoon support agencies were closed Monday after staff tested positive for COVID-19.The Saskatoon Food Bank will stay closed until at least Wednesday. Prairie Harm Reduction, a safe consumption site, is closing for two weeks.The Food Bank had three positive cases of COVID-19 identified in the workplace, two this past weekend. One was a staff member who was off last week, said executive director Laurie O'Connor.The building will be sanitized when closed and O'Connor said the canned and packaged goods should be all right.Prairie Harm Reduction runs out of a building on 20th Street W. and attracts dozens of people every day."We've already reviewed and compiled a list to work with Public Health to contact trace for those folks," said executive director Jason Mercredi.Mercerdi said the worker is one of 42 on staff. He estimated that the person had contact with about 100 people.He said the decision to close the doors was tough but necessary."Our organization is the only warm-up spot in Pleasant Hill. A lot of people come through our doors," he said.What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
WALKERTON – Despite an icy wind and requests for people to stay home because of COVID-19, a small group of people went to the Walkerton cenotaph to view an abbreviated Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 11. Most people remained safe at home and viewed the ceremony on Facebook. Brief though they were, the ceremonies in Walkerton and Mildmay were fitting and dignified. Although there were no parades, there were many wreaths set in place prior to the ceremony. There was a solemn two-minute silence. And there were heart-felt words from all levels of government. In Walkerton, representatives of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 102 were joined by members of the Ontario Provincial Police, MP Ben Lobb, MPP Lisa Thompson and Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody. The Legion and government representatives gave short speeches thanking those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, and who continue to do so – members of the Armed Forces, police, emergency services and volunteers. Thompson spoke about a 97-year-old veteran who told her he hopes no one ever has to go through what he did. Peabody summed it up by stating, “Thank you for your service.” The poppies carefully placed beside many of the names on bricks in the walkway said the same thing. We will not forget. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
The Municipality of McDougall currently has two projects for which it would like to apply for funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan COVID-19 Resilience Stream. McDougall chief administrative officer Tim Hunt said that if the municipality is approved, it could see $100,000 to support projects. “The two I’d like to move forward with an application for funding is to complete the renovations at the municipal office (and) for accessibility renovations at the Nobel church,” he said during the Nov. 18 council meeting. The municipality is considering taking ownership of the facility as a recreation centre. Hunt said there would be accessibility issues for the entrance, washrooms and general cleanup of the building. “This funding is not going to cover any major renovations we want to do, but it will certainly put us in the position where we can operate the building in a positive (and) respectful manner to the citizens,” he said. Mayor Dale Robinson stated there was flexibility for the money to be moved around depending on the needs of the two projects. Coun. Joel Constable raised the question if there was any thought to replacing the municipal office down the road. “For the amount of money (contractors) were looking for to replace the windows and do some front repairs, it made me think, ‘is it worth doing?’” he asked. The reply from Hunt was, “I don’t see it happening in the very near future … I think this building will last us another few years, for sure.” However, Robinson noted that during the recent wind storm and power outage, it became evident there were some improvements that could be made to the offices. “We have older, outdated electric furnaces heating this building, which is not ideal and we don’t have a generator system that’s capable of powering it,” he said, adding the importance of striking a balance on renovation needs. Council advised staff to move forward with the grant application for the two projects for the Dec. 21 deadline.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country's legal process.In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr. Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations."The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called “daiyo kangoku” system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”"Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn," it added.Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr. Ghosn, "specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media...”Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said."He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.Ghosn's lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.____Jeffrey Schaeffer reported from Paris.Jamey Keaten And Jeffrey Schaeffer, The Associated Press
The Kamistiatusset (Kami) project in Labrador west has entered another phase of its long saga. The iron ore project was put back into limbo earlier this year when the owners, Alderon Iron Ore, defaulted on a $14-million loan and went into receivership. Now, Australia-based Champion Iron Ltd., the operators of the nearby Bloom Lake project just across the border in Quebec, has picked up the gauntlet on the sizable iron deposit in the Labrador Trough. Champion was the successful bidder on the project to the tune of $34 million, which also covers the cost of Alderon’s secured debt. The deal was approved by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador this week. Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown said he wants to sit down and have some talks about where the project is going and assurances from government the resources will benefit Labradorians. Alderon had always touted a potential $1-billion project in Kami, with 300-400 local jobs projected. Brown said he wants to make sure that work stays on the Labrador side of the border and that the benefits of the resource goes to this province. “A lot of people hope and want the project to go ahead, and be a mine that uses a local workforce, minimizes fly-in fly-out operation, things like that. I just want to make sure this resource benefits Labradorians as the resource is in Labrador.” Brown said he wants to have that conversation with Champion, and make sure those concerns are front of mind as they proceed. Michael Marcotte, vice-president of investor relations with Champion, told SaltWire they’re very excited about the possibility of the project but don’t know where it will go until they complete a feasibility study. “We’ll have to look into a standalone project to some extent, see how we can benefit the infrastructure we currently have, but the way it will be structured and the scale, it’s too early to say,” he said. Marcotte said the company has hired people to start a study, work on that for several months, and then come back to the local communities and see what the potential plan would look like. But at this point it’s to early say how or if the project will proceed. He said Bloom Lake is a great anchor for Champion, with an expansion announced to that project last week, and they think Kami is positioning the company for another phase of growth. As part of the purchase, Champion will get an additional eight million tonnes annually of port capacity in Sept-Isles, Que., where they currently send the iron ore concentrate from Bloom Lake. Marcotte said they won’t have the extra capacity at Bloom Lake to integrate the iron ore from the Kami project so that will be something they will be studying. The Kami project has had a couple of near starts over the years, one as recently as 2019. Alderon had announced it hoped to start construction in 2020 but was unable to secure funding, citing the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, and lost the project and assets to Sprott Lending Corp. The project then went up for sale. Champion also picked up Bloom Lake at a time when the project seemed unlikely to be profitable, buying it from Cliffs Québec Iron Mining ULC for $10.5 million in 2016. Marcotte said it shows that they have a track record of exceeding expectations. “We think we have a secret sauce and the recipe is working at Bloom,” he said. “We’re excited to bring our know how to the region and hopefully have a benefit to the region.” Altius Minerals has had its hand in the Kami project pretty much since it began. The Newfoundland based company did the initial drilling program that identified the Kami site in 2008 and later sold it to Alderon, holding a 37.3 per cent equity holding in the company at the time of its demise. Altius is receiving 600,000 shares in Champion as part of the current deal and expects to receive a portion of the cash Champion paid for the project once the details are worked out. “In some ways it’s bittersweet,” Altius CEO Brian Dalton said when asked about the deal. “It’s tough to attract that kind of capital with a junior mining company so I was disappointed Alderon wasn’t able to get across the line.” He said timing was against Alderon, but he has a lot of faith in Champion and people shouldn’t underestimate their ambition or their ability to execute. Dalton said he wouldn’t expect to see any major changes to the scope of the project, since Alderon already had a lot of the permitting and approvals in place and a major change of the scope would mean starting a lot of processes over.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
TORONTO – The Government of Canada has launched a new initiative to modernize its radioactive waste policy. Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan launched the inclusive engagement process on Nov. 16. and asked the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to lead the process. A press release from NWMO said all of Canada’s low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste is “safely managed today in interim storage.” An integrated strategy will ensure the material continues to be managed in accordance with international best practices over the longer-term. Building on previous work, the NWMO says this strategy represents a next step to identify and address any gaps in radioactive waste management planning while looking further into the future. “This is important work, and we look forward to lending our expertise to make informed and practical recommendations to the Canadian government on a more comprehensive radioactive waste management strategy for low- and intermediate-level waste,” said Laurie Swami, president and CEO of the NWMO. “I want to thank Minister O’Regan for entrusting us to lead this process.” The Government of Canada will engage interested Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, waste producers, owners, and other government levels. Their objective is to elaborate on the existing policy to provide greater leadership on radioactive waste management and ensure that they continue to meet international best practices. A letter sent to Swami by O’Regan said, “I am requesting the NWMO to lead this dialogue and to develop Canada’s Integrated Strategy for radioactive waste for my review and consideration. I believe that the NWMO is uniquely positioned to lead this work as a leader in used nuclear fuel management and public engagement.” O’Regan said the integrated strategy should build on the plan developed by NWMO for the long-term management of Canada’s nuclear fuel waste. The strategy, he said, should include: • A description of the current waste management situation in Canada in terms of current and future volumes, taking into account potential small modular reactor waste, characteristics, locations, and ownership of the waste. • An update on current plans and progress in advancing long-term management and disposal solutions for Canada’s wastes as well as the gaps that must be addressed. • Conceptual approaches for dealing with our current and future radioactive waste inventory, including technical options for long-term management or disposal of the various waste types and options for the number of long-term waste management facilities in Canada. • Considerations regarding the staging, integration, establishment, and operation of long-term waste management facilities. O’Regan stressed the importance that the NWMO carry out this important task in a manner that is open, transparent, and inclusive. He added that it must be built on a solid foundation of trust, integrity, and respect for all Canadians. “The dialogue should not detract from the NWMO’s current mandate to implement Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term management of used nuclear fuel, known as Adaptive Phased Management. That mandate is clear, and your progress to date is commendable,” O’Regan said. “This work needs to continue to progress in an effective and efficient manner. I would also emphasize that this dialogue and the resulting Integrated Strategy are not intended to replace other projects currently in progress.” Karine Glenn, strategic project director for the NWMO, said that the organization looks forward to the process. “For more than 50 years, Canadian nuclear technology has been in our lives – powering our homes, making life-saving medical treatments, and bringing safe food to our tables,” said Glenn. “I look forward to this being a process of informed, balanced dialogue about what we must do to ensure that people and the environment are protected from the remaining hazards of this material long after we are gone.” More details regarding the process will be shared in the coming weeks. Interested individuals and organizations will have various ways to participate while respecting public health directives related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interested parties are invited to sign up for updates at nwmo.ca/radwasteplanning.Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
COVID-19. Récemment, le premier ministre François Legault a annoncé que les restaurants, les salles de spectacles et les salles d'entraînement situés en zone rouge resteront fermés jusqu'au 11 janvier prochain. Le gouvernement a par la même occasion autorisé les rassemblements familiaux pour quelques jours durant la période des Fêtes. Pourtant, les restaurants auraient pu représenter des lieux sécuritaires pour des réunions en famille, étant donné les nombreux investissements sur le plan sanitaire revendique la Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ). «C'est un coup extrêmement dur pour plusieurs entreprises, non seulement sur leurs finances, mais aussi sur leur moral. Nous comprenons que les chiffres actuels des cas de COVID-19 ne permettent pas un retour à la normale complet, mais les entreprises en restauration ont investi des sommes importantes pour l'aménagement de leurs espaces selon les meilleures normes sanitaires. Les rassemblements en nombre limité dans ces établissements auraient pu se faire sans compromettre la santé publique», souligne Charles Milliard, président-directeur général de la FCCQ. «La communauté d'affaires, autant dans les villes qu'en région, pousse un cri du cœur devant la crainte de voir plusieurs commerces disparaître en raison de cette nouvelle fermeture prolongée. Les entreprises ont suivi toutes les consignes depuis le tout début de la pandémie. Elles ont fermé une première fois, ont investi pour adapter leur commerce, ont refermé temporairement et maintenant, on repousse encore une fois leur réouverture. On ne peut rester insensible à la réalité que ces entreprises rencontrent. Tout en demeurant vigilant sur les pratiques de santé publique, selon nous, le gouvernement devrait préparer le terrain à la réouverture des restaurants, et envoyer des signaux en ce sens aux entrepreneurs en restauration ainsi qu'à la population», ajoute Charles Milliard qui a des demandes pour le gouvernement. Les voici: «Il y a environ 21 000 établissements en restauration au Québec qui sont dans l'incertitude. Il y a des réalités régionales différentes et des solutions mur à mur sont difficilement envisageables. On comprend le défi pour le gouvernement du Québec de répondre à ces préoccupations. Seulement, il serait nécessaire qu'il envoie des signaux positifs à cette industrie, pour une reprise à court terme. Il faut travailler dès maintenant à un scénario de reprise des opérations en restauration au 11 janvier 2021, avec un nombre restreint en salle à manger, car un report au-delà de cette date aurait des conséquences encore plus dévastatrices sur l'industrie», conclut Charles Milliard. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal