Harvey Weinstein is being “closely monitored” for a fever in prison, his reps said. The former mogul who was convicted of rape early this year in New York is serving a 23-year sentence in a state prison near Buffalo.
Harvey Weinstein is being “closely monitored” for a fever in prison, his reps said. The former mogul who was convicted of rape early this year in New York is serving a 23-year sentence in a state prison near Buffalo.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Toronto police say they have charged a man with the attempted murder of an officer who was hit by a car last month. Police allege the man was driving a car that struck the officer and dragged him for more than 50 metres. Supt. Ron Taverner says the officer was taken to hospital with serious injuries but has since been released. Taverner says the incident took place on Nov. 21, after the officer heard sounds of gunshots while on patrol. He says the officer saw a car fleeing the area, caught up to the vehicle and had signaled for the driver to stop when he was hit. Police say Terry Baksh, 39, faces several charges that include attempted murder, assault with a weapon, flight from police and dangerous operation of a vehicle. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly said the incident took place on Saturday. In fact, it took place on Nov. 21.
Thanks to École catholique Sacré-Coeur students, people in need will have socks to keep their feet warm this winter. In just a week, students from Grade 5 to 8 donated 343 pairs of socks to SOCKS Timmins. The organization will then distribute donated items to local shelters and food banks. The idea came to the school’s student council president Jenna Kim. She said she wanted to do something to help the community and the school. “We made lots of signs, I made a video and spread the word and made announcements to the whole school to get everyone involved,” Kim said. Students could either bring socks or donate $2. “Thank you to all students, teachers and organizer (of SOCKS Timmins) who were involved in this big project, it means a lot,” Kim said. "It makes me really happy to think all these students would like to help their community by just donating even $2 or a pair of socks. It makes a big difference.” The school’s principal René Gaudreau said the student council is doing a good job of looking out for others and he was extremely proud of his students. “Sometimes, it’s about thinking about others. That mindfulness, that spirit of giving all around Christmas is really important because this has been such a tough year for everybody,” he said. “Because of COVID, it’s even more reason why we need to think outside the box and do these sorts of things.”Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
The first region-wide social needs assessment and strategy in the Regional District of Nanaimo is now underway. The partnership between the RDN, Town of Qualicum Beach, District of Lantzville, City of Nanaimo and Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee will turn a lens on what families, children and youth need as well as how to improve social supports and address housing and homelessness, access to services, safe affordable transportation and discrimination and stigma. The project has been made possible in part thanks to a $125,000 grant from the B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction as administered by the Union of BC Municipalities. An additional $60,000 from the RDN’s 2020 budget rounds out the total amount devoted to the project. In November, a $140,000 contract was awarded to Kelowna-based Urban Matters, an advisory company that focuses on social and community development projects. An engagement plan is underway and will include working with community health networks (like the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative) and individuals with lived experience in poverty as well as consulting with the community. The plan will be presented to the RDN board early next year for endorsement. The RDN’s senior long-range planner, Courtney Simpson, said staff are also “in ongoing conversation with First Nations to understand how they would like to be involved in the process.” The RDN is situated within the traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw, Snaw-Naw-As and Qualicum First Nations. Simpson explained there are a few phases to the project. The assessment phase includes a scan of existing services, including “checking with service providers to ensure nothing is missed.” A baseline study follows, which will “measure social needs of the community such as data related to the social determinants of health.” Social determinants of health are social and economic factors that determine health and can include income, education or employment as well as experiences of discrimination, racism and historical trauma. After the baseline study, a gap analysis will be conducted followed by development of a strategy on how to address those gaps. The project’s request for proposals highlights Island Health’s 2019 Local Area Profile for Greater Nanaimo, which shows, among other insights, that “measures of low income, housing affordability and vulnerability in children are lower than the Island Health and B.C. average,” and the “the proportion of persons who are members of a low-income household in the RDN is higher than the Island Health and B.C. average for all age groups except for seniors.” Project staff will consult information collected via the soon-to-be-released Regional Childcare Assessment as well as the Regional Housing Capacity Assessment, which identified a critical need for housing for single income and lone-parent households among other needs. The Islands Trust has conducted several studies over the years that will inform the project, including a 2019 report on strategic actions for affordable housing in the Trust Area and the 2018 Northern Region Housing Needs Assessment. Gabriola LTC Trustee Scott Colbourne said the regional approach to address needs like housing and social services is vital work. “If you can’t get a service on Gabriola, you end up in Nanaimo, if you can’t get a service in Oceanside or Parksville, you end up in Nanaimo or Victoria. If we kind of get a handle on how this all works together, that causes less stress for people and families.”Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
For Islanders looking to learn more about their local graveyard or family history, the Clyde River History Committee is offering a new online course called Cemetery Stories. The course, which is free and self-directed, started in November and will run until August. It will cover topics such as gravestone design, family history, and obituaries. Vivian Beer, the chair of the committee, told Angela Walker of CBC's Mainstreet P.E.I. that 30 people have already signed up. Participants are from P.E.I. and other Canadian provinces — with some from as far away as California."I think they're interested in passing on some interesting stories to the next generation," Beer said.> Everyday folks that have done some really important things for their communities often don't get the credit they deserve — Vivian Beer"When we think of people that we know, we take them for granted while they're with us. But when they pass, technically their stories can pass, unless somebody writes them down and passes them on." Giving everyday folks their due A key part of the course, Beer said, is using questions to unearth the stories of figures from the past, such as what was important to them, and how they contributed to their community."We want to go beyond the obituary and we want to bring out the interesting stories about individuals," Beer said.> Based on just the group we have now, we have the potential to create at least 200 biographies. — Vivian Beer"Oftentimes prominent folks get covered, but the everyday folks that have done some really important things for their communities often don't get the credit they deserve." Beer said the course has attracted people who were already doing some kind of historical research on their own, and this allows them to come together and collaborate. The final projects could end up on the Clyde River History Committee's website. "Based on just the group we have now, we have the potential to create at least 200 biographies, so that's certainly a start."Islanders interested in taking part can register by visiting the Clyde River History Committee website (see link below).More from CBC P.E.I.
CBC's Faith Fundal says we are "at a time where more and more people are feeling safe to come out". And they are "excited" by Elliot Page's news.
The federal Liberal government unveiled a suite of environmental measures on Monday as part of its fall fiscal update, proposing spending on things such as ecosystem restoration, clean transport and energy efficiency. The government’s Fall Economic Statement, tabled by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, also sets up some signposts pointing to a “green transformation,” including issuing the first federal green bonds next year. Ottawa will be exploring the possibility of border carbon adjustments, where a fee is imposed on imports from countries without carbon pricing, so foreign products don't undercut those produced in Canada by companies subject to Canadian carbon pricing systems. And it will be setting up an “action council” focused on developing a sustainable finance market in Canada that would see capital flows redirected toward green initiatives. That will include looking at “enhancing climate disclosures,” the government said, as directors of Canadian corporations face mounting obligations to act on the risks posed by the climate crisis as part of the responsibilities of their jobs. But with Canada’s deficit projected to hit $381 billion in 2020-21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is pushing back any larger stimulus plan until a vaccine is being distributed and outbreaks and shutdowns are in the rearview mirror. “When the virus is under control and our economy is ready to absorb it, we will deploy a three-year stimulus package to jumpstart our recovery,” reads the statement. “Key to this stimulus plan will be smart, time-limited investments that can act fast and make a long-run contribution to our future shared prosperity, quality of life, competitiveness and our green transformation.” Reaction was muted from some opposition members. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole dismissed the economic statement soon after Freeland tabled it as “putting the economy on hold.” He portrayed the government’s approach as wrongheaded, looking forward to future stimulus potential without first getting public health fundamentals correct. The Liberals were “not willing to ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, by taking steps to secure new revenue sources from large corporations making “massive profits” during the pandemic. “This is the exact opposite of what people need,” he said. Funding to address issues such as retrofits and clean transport was central to proposals issued last month by a coalition of more than two dozen environmental and conservation groups in Canada. The Green Budget Coalition’s roadmap for a federal green recovery called for $10 billion for energy efficiency retrofits in buildings, among other commitments. Monday’s economic statement commits to $2.6 billion over seven years for Natural Resources Canada to provide up to 700,000 grants of up to $5,000 each for homeowners and landlords to carry out energy-efficiency upgrades. The government said buildings account for 17 per cent of emissions, and “helping Canadians make their homes more energy efficient can support our environmental objectives, while making homes more comfortable and more affordable to maintain.” “We know that Canada’s future competitiveness depends on our ability to take advantage of the net-zero green economy,” Freeland said in Parliament after tabling the document. “Our growth plan must continue to advance our progress on climate action and promote a clean economy.” Efficiency Canada executive director Corey Diamond said home retrofits were a big environmental and economic boost, creating local jobs nationwide and contributing to Canada's journey to net-zero emissions. “The announcement today is a start, and a piece of the puzzle,” Diamond said. “But a lot more is required if we're going to be able to help Canadians.” He said there appeared to be “gaps in some high-impact areas,” including specific supports for low-income programs. “What is essential in all of this, however, is that the federal strategy integrates with existing programs on the ground, across the country,” he said. The Green Budget Coalition had also asked the federal government for $2.6 billion for “nature-based climate solutions” and $4.8 billion to support protected areas. The economic statement proposes to spend $3.16 billion over the next decade, starting in 2021-22, in order to follow through with its promise to plant two billion trees. It also proposed up to $631 million over 10 years, starting next year, to “implement climate smart, natural solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to ecosystem loss.” The statement acknowledges that Canada’s grasslands, wetlands and peatlands are “highly valuable for their ability to store greenhouse gases,” and proposes funding to “restore degraded ecosystems, protect wildlife, and improve land and resource management practices.” The government estimated that these kinds of “nature-based solutions” can provide “almost 40 per cent of the emission reductions needed by 2030.” Because of jurisdictional issues, both of those initiatives will require Ottawa to work with a wide range of partners, including provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities, conservation authorities and non-governmental organizations. The government also touted a $98-million Natural Climate Solutions for Agriculture Fund, to capitalize on the potential of Canadian farms to increase carbon sequestration and “realize other environmental benefits” that will come out of a future “Canadian Agri-Environmental Strategy.” Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, said the economic statement was “yet another promise to go big on climate change and inequality at a future date.” Canada has made decades of “down payments without ever sealing the deal,” Stewart said. “We can fight the pandemic in a way that lays the groundwork for a greener, more equitable and inclusive future but this economic update doesn’t do that.” He said environmental groups will have to "keep the pressure on" for the forthcoming new 2030 emissions reduction target, and plan to achieve it, as well as the 2021 budget. The government said it was “committed to ensuring that Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy is achieved in a way that is fair and predictable for our businesses, and supports Canada’s international competitiveness.” To this end, the economic statement said the government was “exploring the potential” of a border adjustment for carbon, working with the United States, Mexico and “like-minded economies” in Europe. The government also plans to set up a public-private Sustainable Finance Action Council, as institutions and investors around the world increasingly evaluate climate change risks to company assets. The Bank of Canada has warned that sectors such as oil and gas are exposed to risks that could spill over into “fire sales.” “Developing sustainable finance in Canada will promote the long-term growth and stability of our financial system in the face of climate change,” reads the economic statement. The commitment is worth $7.3 million over three years. Finally, Ottawa announced its intention to “issue the federal government’s first-ever green bond in 2021-22,” that it said would help finance its green infrastructure spending. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National ObserverCarl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
A woman arrested by the North Battleford RCMP gang unit failed to appear in court Nov. 30 and a warrant was issued. Amanda Wohobin, 31, failed to appear Nov. 9 and a warrant to hold was issued. She again failed to appear on Nov. 30 so the warrant was activated. The RCMP Crime Reduction Team arrested Wahobin, along with Kyle Caron, 40, and Dean Lafreniere, 48, on Sept. 20 after police raided a home in North Battleford, a vehicle and a hotel room. The arrests followed a two-month investigation into drug activity in North Battleford. The three were charged with three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and weapons offences. Caron and Lafreniere appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court on Nov. 30 and their matters were adjourned to Feb. 1, 2021, for election and plea. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy posted its best three-month stretch on record during the third quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 40.5 per cent on the back of household spending.The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, Statistics Canada said, but unlike 55 years ago, the rise last quarter was fuelled by a record drop during the preceding three-month stretch.Wide parts of the economy effectively shut down in March and April, creating a pent-up demand among consumers as the savings rate soared in the second quarter.The lifting of lockdowns and further restriction rollbacks during the three-month stretch of July, August and September opened an economic relief valve.Statistics Canada said Friday that there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates, driven down by the central bank in a bid to prod spending, as well as on home renovations.Households also spent more on goods like cars, as consumer spending jumped, although it still remains five per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, leaving a lump of cash in bank accounts as households don't have their pre-pandemic spending options.The savings rate stood at 14.6 per cent, a drop from the record-high 27.5 per cent in the previous quarter, but still far higher than the two per cent at the end of 2019.CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said that suggests Canadians will have the resources to spend post-pandemic. "Over the next year, I think the focus still needs to be on returning Canadians to a more normal way of life," he said in an interview. "That will return Canadian spending habits to a more normal way of life, and that will return the Canadian economy to a more normal way of life."Despite the overall increase, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.How the next few quarters play out may rest on households continuing to spend, and whether government aid is toned down as the federal Liberals have indicated would happen if economic conditions improve.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking outside his Ottawa residence, said the positive third-quarter figures showed that federal spending has helped families and businesses stay afloat. "There are still tough times ahead," he said. "So we'll continue to be there for people, especially those who are hardest hit by this crisis."The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada said, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.Economists suggested the economy could limp to the finish line of 2020 amid the tightening of restrictions and threats of localized lockdowns. Overall, the economy is likely on track to contract by over five per cent this year, economists say."There is a good chance that the economic recovery doesn’t just stall, but shifts into reverse this winter," TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote."While light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccine distribution, it will not cure the near-term pain in store for the Canadian economy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
A fire in a commercial building in Vancouver on Monday night has claimed the life of one man and sent a second man to hospital.The Vancouver Police Department says two officers were driving near Kingsway and Victoria Drive around 9 p.m. PT when they noticed heavy smoke billowing from a second floor suite at 2127 Kingsway. The officers notified Vancouver Fire Services who attempted to enter the building but were driven back by the fire."The fire occurred in an illegal suite which did not have sprinklers or smoke alarms," said Capt. Jonathan Gormick with Vancouver Fire Rescue Services. "Fire Investigators have determined smoking to be the cause of this fire."A man between 30 and 40 years old was pronounced dead at scene. Another man was taken to hospital with significant injuries, according to Gormick."This tragic loss is a reminder for everyone to ensure they have working smoke alarms; Fire Code requires one per occupancy," said Gormick, adding that smoking is a leading cause of fire fatalities.Vancouver Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Richard Craven said the two-alarm blaze was fought by 15 firefighters.
As opposition critics and some premiers accuse his government of falling behind on a vaccine distribution plan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today sought to reassure the country that his government will be ready to deploy shots soon after they receive the necessary Health Canada approvals.Trudeau said the independent scientists reviewing the clinical trial data submitted by the drugmakers behind four promising vaccine candidates are working hard to ensure the safety of these products before Ottawa starts shipments.With recent polls showing that a sizeable number of Canadians will refuse a vaccine altogether, or will wait some time before lining up for a shot, Trudeau said he wants Canadians to be assured that the science will not be rushed and Canada's regulators will only approve a product that works."In this COVID-19 pandemic, keeping Canadians safe means getting a vaccine as quickly as possible, but it also means making sure that the vaccine is safe for Canadians," Trudeau said.Trudeau said once the regulator gives the green light to one of those vaccines, Canada will mobilize its public health infrastructure to deploy it to the provinces and territories.WATCH: Trudeau is asked about how vaccines will be deliveredThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to meet on Dec. 10 to review the Pfizer product. Health Canada's chief medical adviser, Supriya Sharma, has said regulators here are expected to make decisions on timelines similar to those followed by the U.S.Speaking to reporters at a COVID-19 briefing, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said today the government is planning for vaccines to arrive in the first three months of 2021.Based on her conversations with the drugmakers, she said, she's hoping a vaccine will be available to Canadians well before the end of March."As soon as Health Canada has provided its approval, we are well-placed to begin deliveries to Canadians as soon as possible. We will kick into the delivery process ASAP. That's why we have the refrigerators procured. That's why we have the needles, syringes and gauze procured," she said.The U.S. has publicly released a robust distribution plan — 20 million Americans are expected to be vaccinated in December alone. Canadian officials have been largely quiet about how the deployment will be conducted here, beyond offering assurances that the provinces and territories will be ready to go.Anand said she wanted to clear up what she called "misinformation" that has been circulating in recent days.Anand confirmed that Canada already has received 34 of the freezers needed to store vaccines that must be kept at temperatures well below zero, with another 92 freezers soon to follow. The Pfizer product, for example, needs to be kept at approximately -80 degrees Celsius to remain stable.All told, between the newly procured cold storage and existing federal capacity, 33.5 million doses of frozen and ultra-frozen vaccines can be stored here at this point, Anand said.WATCH | Anand: Vaccine delivery dates are being negotiated nowBeyond storage, the shots also need to be transported by qualified shippers. Anand said more details on end-to-end logistics will be revealed in the coming days.Anand said Canada was among the first countries to sign agreements with pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna for their vaccines, which use groundbreaking messenger RNA technology, or mRNA. These vaccines essentially direct cells in the body to make proteins to prevent or fight disease.While some have suggested Canada is at the "back of the line" on vaccine availability, Moderna's co-founder confirmed to CBC News on Sunday that Canada will be among the first countries in the world to get access to doses.On Monday, the Massachusetts-based company applied to the FDA for emergency use authorization (EUA) of this vaccine in the American marketplace.The company's final clinical trial data is encouraging, demonstrating the vaccine is 94.1 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 and 100 per cent effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.'Amazing data'In July, Moderna began administering its vaccine and a placebo to 30,000 clinical trial participants in the U.S.Of the 15,000 people who received the vaccine, only 11 developed COVID-19. None of those 11 people became severely ill. Among the 15,000 people who received the placebo — a shot of saline that does nothing — 185 developed the novel coronavirus. Thirty of those 185 patients reported severe illness and one died."This is striking," Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA's vaccine advisory committee, told CNN Monday. "These are amazing data."Moderna's chief medical officer said he became emotional when he saw the data Saturday night. "It was the first time I allowed myself to cry," Dr. Tal Zaks said. "We have a full expectation to change the course of this pandemic."The federal government secured an agreement on Aug. 5 with Moderna for 20 million doses of its vaccine, with the option to procure an additional 36 million doses if necessary.First in lineMarginalized groups, such as seniors in long-term care homes, and front line health care workers are expected to be among the first to be inoculated, said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public officer. She added that other essential workers, such as grocery store clerks, could also be ahead of other Canadians.The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), which provides independent advice to the Public Health Agency of Canada, has provided some guidelines on which "key populations" should be among the first to be vaccinated.Ultimately, it will be up to the provinces and territories to identify who gets a shot first. But Trudeau said Tuesday that the premiers agree that these plans should be largely harmonized nationwide.While some provinces and territories have voiced serious concerns about a lack of detail on how and when vaccines will be available, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said those jurisdictions are well-placed to administer these vaccines when they do arrive because they lead mass inoculation campaigns each year during flu season.WATCH: Hajdu says vaccine distribution a 'very delicate dance'"They already have systems in place, they already have capacity in place, they already have processes in place to lead sophisticated immunization programs," she said."I say to Canadians: hang on. We can get through this winter together and relief is on the way."The government has frequently pointed to its massive order for 414 million vaccine doses from seven different companies — the most of any country per capita — but Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said that procurement push means little if millions of Canadians are kept waiting longer than citizens in other Western countries."A robust portfolio in 2023 doesn't help us as we enter 2021," O'Toole said Monday in his response to the government's fall economic statement."This government is not providing a plan, they're not providing clarity and it's clear, having been late on rapid tests, on the border, there's no clarity or competence."In question period Tuesday, O'Toole again pushed the government to offer a firmer date for access to a vaccine. Trudeau said again they'd be available shortly after Health Canada signs off.O'Toole also slammed the government for partnering with a CanSino, a Chinese-run pharmaceutical firm, early in the pandemic to jointly develop a vaccine.WATCH: Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand talks about freezer capacityThat deal was abandoned after the regime in Beijing blocked shipments of vaccine samples meant to be used in clinical trials in Canada, which prompted the government to turn to U.S. firms for supply. O'Toole said Canada should have never trusted the Chinese in the first place.The Conservative opposition is now pushing for a parliamentary probe into the CanSino deal at the Commons industry, science and technology committee.
WASHINGTON — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local): 2:10 p.m. The committee raising money for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will take contributions from individual donors of as much as $500,000 and from corporations of as much as $1 million. That’s according to an inaugural official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the work of the committee, which started raising money on Monday for the Jan. 20 festivities. The committee won't accept contributions from lobbyists or the fossil fuels industry, including companies and executives whose “primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution or sale of oil, gas or coal.” The prohibition applies to political action committees run by fossil fuels interests. The contribution limits for Biden are far lower than those of President Donald Trump in 2017. Trump raised a record $107 million for his inauguration and accepted massive checks from individuals, including $5 million from Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson. — By AP writer Brian Slodysko ___ HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN'S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE: President-elect Joe Biden is considering former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a substantial and somewhat divisive figure in Democratic Party politics, to serve as his transportation secretary. Read more: — Trump headed to Georgia as a turnout driver, but also a threat — It’s Major: Pets poised for a return to the White House — Top secret: Biden gets access to President’s Daily Brief — Biden names liberal economics team as pandemic threatens workers ___ HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: 1:55 p.m. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris says there is a “hunger crisis in America now” due to the COVID-19 pandemic but promised quick action to address the challenge when in office. Harris said that dealing with the economic fallout of the pandemic “could not be more urgent,” noting the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases as the weather has gotten colder. She also says that in addition to the loss of hundreds of thousands of Americans, “the toll of this recession continues to mount across America.” Harris referenced the significant number of American adults with children saying their families are going hungry, and the even higher rate of adults saying they’re having trouble paying their “essential” bills. She says the Biden administration’s economic team, which was unveiled Tuesday, would put “working people front and centre” to pursue reforms to make the economy work better for all Americans, and would “hit the ground running on day one.” ___ 1:45 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to run the White House budget office says social programs helped her family when she was a young girl being raised by a single mother in a Boston suburb. Neera Tanden would help prepare Biden’s federal budgets as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Word of her expected nomination has encountered early disapproval from some Republican senators who will vote on whether she becomes the first woman of Indian descent to lead the office. Tanden says her mother faced hard choices after divorce left her to raise two young children. She says her family survived on food stamps and federal housing vouchers until her mother got a job and eventually bought a house. Tanden says she wants to give people the same chance at a fair shot. ___ 1:35 p.m. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen is describing the economic crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic as an “American tragedy” and warning that without quick action to address it, the damage will get worse. Introducing herself during a Joe Biden transition event where the president-elect unveiled his economic team, Yellen spoke about the “historic crises” of the pandemic and the economic fallout resulting from it, as well as the “disproportionate impact” it has had on “the most vulnerable among us.” Speaking about a pandemic that has cost 268,000 American lives, Yellen referenced the “lost lives, lost jobs” and struggles Americans face “to put food on the table and pay bills and rent.” She went on to say that “it’s essential that we move with urgency” because “inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn causing yet more devastation.” She pledged to Americans that the Treasury would be “an institution that wakes up every morning thinking about you.” ___ 1:25 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden says his economic team is “first rate” and will help build an economy that works for all Americans. Biden introduced key members of the team Tuesday in Delaware, including former Fed chair Janet Yellen to become Treasury secretary. Biden described Yellen as one of the “most important economic thinkers of our time.” She would be the first female Treasury secretary if confirmed by the Senate. Biden also introduced Neera Tanden as his choice to run the White House budget office. Tanden’s nomination, however, has encountered early disapproval from some Senate Republicans, who will vote on her nomination. Biden also named his chair and members of the Council of Economic Advisers. He says the CEA chair will serve in the Cabinet. Biden also named a deputy for Yellen. ___ 1:15 p.m. Joe Biden is calling on Congress to pass a “robust package for relief” to address the economic and public health crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic. The president-elect made the comments introducing his economic team in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Congressional leaders have been locked in a stalemate over a COVID relief package, with Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on the price tag or content of a potential bill, though a team of bipartisan lawmakers released their own compromise legislation on Tuesday. Biden said, however, any package passed during the lame duck session of Congress would be “at best just a start” and that his team is already working on his own proposal for the new Congress “to address the multiple crises we’re facing.” He said the team of economic advisers he announced Tuesday would play a “critical role” in shaping the Biden administration’s plan to revive the economy. ___ 1:10 p.m. Joe Biden is wearing a boot publicly for the first time, after fracturing his foot while playing with one of his dogs over the weekend. The president-elect wore the boot at an event where he introduced his economic team Tuesday afternoon, walking with no obvious limp onto the stage. His doctor said Sunday that he suffered small fractures to his right foot from the incident and would likely have to wear a walking boot “for several weeks.” Arriving to the event, Biden pointed to the boot and raised his leg as if to show it off. He walked gingerly, telling reporters his foot was “good.” The event was set up with chairs and tables, allowing Biden to sit when he wasn’t speaking before a podium in the centre of the stage._ The Associated Press
Up to $100,000 will be given to the N.W.T. resident or company that submits the strongest proposal for an investment in technology. That financial pledge comes from the N.W.T. Manufacturing Innovation and Technology Contribution, a GNWT fund designed to find a project that will reduce costs, increase productivity for an N.W.T. business, and increase local employment. Members of the N.W.T. Manufacturing Association and new businesses looking to become a manufacturer can apply, as can individual N.W.T. residents. Those applying must be prepared to make an equity contribution of at least 20 per cent of the cost of their proposal. The project seeks to “support and encourage innovation in the N.W.T. manufacturing sector by supporting research into existing and emerging technologies.” Entries must be submitted by December 13. Application details and eligibility criteria can be found on the GNWT’s website.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Quebec City has inaugurated a memorial to the victims of the 2017 mosque shooting. The commemorative work designed by artist Luce Pelletier is located near the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec, in the city's Ste-Foy district. Mayor Regis Labeaume said the Jan. 29, 2017 attack on the centre left families, a community and an entire city in mourning when six Muslim men were gunned down shortly after the end of evening prayers. Labeaume says the people of Quebec City want to live together in harmony, a sentiment reinforced by another recent tragedy, a sword attack that left two people dead and five injured in the city's historic district on Halloween night. He says the memorial, titled "Vivre Ensemble" (Live Together), is a way of making it clear that "hate will never win." The monument is composed of several elements that symbolize the meeting of different communities, with the part near the mosque serving as an area for meditation and commemoration. The area for reflection includes a written recounting of what happened that night while the commemorative portion includes the names of the six men engraved on stones, each adorned with perforated aluminum sheets with patterns inspired by their countries of origin: Morocco, Guinea, Tunisia and Algeria. Family members of the six victims — Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzeddine Soufiane and Aboubaker Thabti — as well as some survivors were present for the unveiling today. "This tragedy left a permanent scar on the hearts of thousands of residents," Labeaume said. "To demonstrate that we remember, that we still think about the victims today, we are proud to pay homage with the magnificent commemorative monument." The president of the mosque gave an emotional address with a message for the children of the six victims. "For the kids present today, the children of our lost friends, you have felt that everyone loves you," Boufeldja Benabdallah said. "When you cross people on the street, they embrace you. You are like their children, everyone loves you and everyone wants you to become the great citizens of tomorrow, to honour this city and to honour your parents' memory." The Quebec City man convicted of six counts of first-degree murder in the killings was sentenced to life in prison in February 2019. Following a successful appeal decision last week, he is eligible to apply for parole after serving 25 years in prison. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
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,” published Tuesday, 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 was written in collaboration with Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, who 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
Originally scheduled to be completed in December, further construction of Gabriola Island’s Village Way Path is now on hold until spring 2021. Asphalt surfacing meant to go in through the Village Core section of the 1.5 km long, two-metre wide path has been delayed “due to weather conditions and paving material availability,” according to Yann Gagnon, the Regional District of Nanaimo’s manager of parks services. “The path will be in a usable condition over the winter, much like a widened gravel road shoulder,” he said. The RDN confirmed delay of completion of the Village Way will not delay the start of the construction of the Huxley Park skatepark in 2021. Work completed so far on the Village Way includes survey layout, tree assessment and removals, retaining wall construction, clearing and path base construction on sections between the Gabriola Professional Centre and Church Road. In the fall, staff determined fewer trees needed to be removed than planned. Using a hydro-excavator, crews exposed the root systems of trees in close proximity to the work site to assess if they would be damaged by further excavation work required to install the path. “This exploratory digging consequently allowed more trees to be retained as opposed to removing trees based on the assumption that the construction of the new path will damage their root system beyond their ability to recover,” Gagnon explained. As a result, trees have been saved in front of the Madrona Marketplace. Adaptations have also been made to parts of the path that will run in front of Gabriola Elementary School. Staff decided to reorient the path to “meander around live trees.” The adjustment will see dead trees or ones identified as declining removed instead. The construction method has also been adapted so that the gravel is “floating” overtop of the existing soil and root masses “as opposed to using a traditional path building method which includes excavation to sub-grade, which considerably damages healthy root systems,” Gagnon said. The completed path will run along the north side of the road from the junction of North and South roads to the 707 Community Park entrance at Tin Can Alley. The RDN has been working with the Ministry of Transportation since 2014 to make the path a reality. In July, the RDN board awarded the $971,349 construction contract to Windley Contracting. The project is entirely funded by the Electoral Area B Community Works Fund.Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
Northern environmentalists say the federal government's fiscal update on Monday was a missed opportunity — and it should have done more to help the region hardest-hit by climate change to emerge from COVID-19 with a greener economy.The wide-sweeping update includes promises to fund reconciliation efforts, speed up universal broadband access and body cameras for RCMP officers.It says $380 million is going to a support fund for Indigenous communities during the second wave of the pandemic. It also points to $272 million that the government has given airlines and businesses to keep the North's supply chains connected, along with more funding for environmentally-friendly home retrofits, money for consultations on electrical infrastructure projects, and more electric charging stations for cars.An organizer with a group that advocates for a "Green New Deal" in Canada, or a proposed package of government investments that build an environmentally-friendly economy by reducing social inequality, says that plans to promote greener homes, electric vehicles and tree-planting don't create meaningful change.Ellen Gillies, the organizer with Our Time Yellowknife, said on Facebook to CBC that the update "is very much in line with the Liberal's playbook to date — progressive language and lofty promises with little to no transformative commitments or actions on social, economic and climate justice."For example, the budget update promises $1.5 billion for closing the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities, but the government is actually spending more than $16 billion on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline alone, Gillies notes.Gillies also says there is no mention of where the money will come from — and she and her organization want it to come from the wealthiest people and corporations."It's really disappointing to me that even with so many people in need, Trudeau's government shies away from taking on the billionaires who have been profiting from the pandemic," she said.Planet on a 'bad trajectory'William Gagnon, a green building engineer and former campaigner for Green Party leadership candidate Courtney Howard, agrees that the proposal doesn't go far enough. He compares the update to "when you crave moose meat … and someone delivers you cucumber sushi."Gagnon points to the many jobs in the oil and gas sector that were lost because of the pandemic, saying this is the moment to help more people get jobs in renewable energy instead.He also says that according to estimates he has done with other advocates for green building, making every building carbon neutral in the territory alone would cost almost half of the budget the country has set aside to pay for building retrofits across Canada.Sebastian Jones, with the Yukon Conservation Society, says certain green efforts like those on habitat restoration and tree-planting won't apply to the North — home to sparse boreal forests and rocky tundra, where habitat loss in the vast region has been minimal."Our planet is in a really bad trajectory," he said."I probably wouldn't have whinged about this if it weren't for the signals we did get from the federal government … that this crisis is a chance to build back greener and better."The fiscal update says an upcoming climate plan from the government "will highlight further work and investments in areas like renewables, clean fuels and hydrogen."The fiscal update says $64.7 billion is also "proposed" to help the territorial governments with pandemic response for 2020 and 2021.
Megan Gail Coles, a writer whose debut novel Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club became a Canadian literary sensation, has been named ArtsNL's artist of the year.Coles was named the winner Tuesday afternoon at a physically-distanced ceremony held at the LSPU Hall in downtown St. John's.The novel, which was published in 2019, was a contender in the most recent Canada Reads competition, and was short-listed for the Giller prize.The book, set on a stormy winter's night in and around an upscale St. John's restaurant, circles around a set of characters who work there and their often dysfunctional relationships."I would especially like to thank the Great Northern Peninsula, the island of Newfoundland, who are responsible for my best and bad bits, whether they want to really acknowledge that sometimes or not," said Cole, who grew up in Savage Cove. In a short speech, Cole also thanked her "friends and family, who put up with my antics during the creation period, which can sometimes be taxing for everyone." Cole, who is also a playwright, won the 2019 BMO Winterset award for the novel. She won the same prize in 2014 for her short fiction collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome.ArtsNL usually holds a gala for its annual awards ceremony. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a scaled-back ceremony was held on Tuesday afternoon, and live streamed over the internet.Other winners of the 35th ArtsNL Awards included:Danielle Irvine, a veteran theatrical director and the artistic director at the Perchance Theatre in Cupids, received the Artists' Achievement Award.Emily Bridger, an actor, writer and director who has been making films in the St. John's area, received the CBC Emerging Artist Award.WATCH | We prepared this video about nominees of the 2020 ArtsNL awards: Joanna Barker, a singer-songwriter and a music teacher at the Mushuau Innu Natuashish School, received the Arts in Education Award.David Hood, a retired chartered accountant who has volunteered his time for numerous arts organizations, including Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, the Bonavista Biennale, St. Michael's Print Shop, MusicNL and the Garrick Theatre, received the Patron of the Arts Award.Bernice Morgan, the bestselling author of Random Passage and many other books, received the Hall of Honour Award. "I am deeply, deeply honoured to be here today," said Morgan, who thanked the artists who came before her for inspiration, as well as for public support of the arts and the library system she credited for nourishing her mind. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Charges of first and second-degree murder have been laid against three men in connection with the 2017 shooting death of 24-year old Alexander Blanarou in Abbotsford.Islam Nagem and Edrick Raju are both charged with first-degree murder, while Michael Schweiger is charged with second-degree murder. According to Integrated Homicide Investigation Team spokesman Sgt. Frank Jang, Blanarou was shot multiple times in what is believed to be a targeted killing related to drugs but stopped short of identifying it as a gang hit."Those details will come in court," said Jang. "Including our victim ... all the men are known to police."Blanarou was killed on Dec. 28, 2017 while out on bail on two drug charges he was facing in the Yukon.His body was found in a blueberry field in the 5200-block of Bates Road in rural Abbotsford. The three accused remain in custody. Blanarou's parents are suing ICBC over an insurance claim related to their son's truck which was stolen shortly before he was killed.
Nothing about us, without us: the idea that no policy should be decided, by any representative, without the full and direct participation of those affected by that policy. It’s the main issue that Lisa Long has with the Downtown Task Team, a group hand-picked by Mayor Brian Bigger to tackle the myriad social challenges, from drugs and crime to homelessness, facing the city’s downtown core. The task team has been criticized by some social services organizations for excluding groups that actually work with the homeless. “I believe representation from our vulnerable populations should also be made available,” said Long. “The ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’ philosophy that emphasizes people, our vulnerable population, being valued as integral and essential contributors. “It seems fitting, as the (Downtown) BIA has a seat.” If there is representation on the mayor’s team from the business community, Long wonders why the same courtesy hasn’t been extended to organizations that actually work with vulnerable and marginalized downtown populations. Long is the executive director of The Samaritan Centre and, together with partner agencies the Blue Door Soup Kitchen and the Elgin Street Mission, works with individuals facing multiple social barriers including homelessness, food insecurity, poverty, mental health and addictions, in downtown Sudbury. She, like other downtown community service groups, were not invited to be a part of the mayor’s task team. She first heard of its creation in October from Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc. “He asked me why I wasn’t on it,” she said. Long said not only does she want to ensure a more equitable perspective on the team, one that “represents those who call the downtown core their home,” but that the Samaritan Centre would offer valuable insight. “These are our neighbours,” she said. “This is our neighbourhood.” Prior to the pandemic, The Samaritan Centre would receive a daily average of 300-400 people. The pandemic hasn’t changed that. Though they have been forced to change their methods, the Samaritan Centre still offers meal services, showers, laundry and other grooming opportunities, as well as a weekly nurse practitioner clinic – all with COVID-19 restrictions in place. Additionally, Long said that while maintaining all safety protocols, she is consistently interacting with clients who are waiting for services, as well as moving through the downtown to check in and distribute items like granola bars, vitamins, socks, and winter wear. “I have regular, direct contact with the individuals we serve through the Samaritan Centre, and I’m aware of their needs, challenges and stories.” The most recent meeting of the Downtown Task Team took place Nov. 25. In an interview with Sudbury.com, Mayor Brain Bigger said he was pleased with the progress the task team is making, but he does recognize the need for expert advice. The most recent meeting of the task team focused on hearing more from experts. “Our conversation was: how do we engage effectively with the large number of smaller service organizations? They’re working with the people that are experiencing these challenges and crises in the downtown.” He said the focus now is “trying to understand how we can be strategic, and really drive that value for money from the resources that we do have.” He also said there is a misconception in terms of the knowledge that council already possesses. “Many people seem to have this impression that if you’re a member of council, people think we’re completely unaware of what’s happening,” he said. “That’s far from the truth.” He said that because city councillors are interacting with citizens from their wards on a regular basis, “we’re continually involved in trying to resolve challenges in the community, and looking for opportunities to help people navigate and find support.” Mayor Bigger said this is the impetus for a public engagement forum that the city plans to hold “as soon as possible.” He said it will be a chance to hear from those who have a vested interest: community groups, business owners, those with lived experience, and the general public. But as the mayor himself noted, a pandemic-world does make this a challenge. He said it will be “essentially, a listening experience, and an opportunity to hear the ideas and the solutions — to hear about the challenges, about some of the gaps that we might not think of.” Still, despite the criticism the task team can’t really address issues it doesn’t understand, the mayor said he is “proud of what we’ve accomplished.” Long, however, isn’t quite sure it will be enough to shape the view that is required, one that is built upon the idea of nothing about us, without us. “If you look at issues from the perspective of privilege and power, the perspective will be subject to tunnel-vision, and limited in scope and purpose” she said. “If the objective of the Task Force is to install LED lights downtown, then I am sure they will have a measure of success,” said Long. “If they want to gain an understanding of the people and social issues in our downtown, then I think the framework from which they are problem-solving needs to be reconsidered.”Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com