Looking toward the latter half of the 2020 season, Matt Harmon discusses the players you, the people, hope will turn your fantasy season around.
Looking toward the latter half of the 2020 season, Matt Harmon discusses the players you, the people, hope will turn your fantasy season around.
OTTAWA — A quick look at Canada's November employment (numbers from the previous month in brackets):Unemployment rate: 8.5 per cent (8.9)Employment rate: 59.5 per cent (59.4)Participation rate: 65.1 per cent (65.2)Number unemployed: 1,735,200 (1,816,800)Number working: 18,615,600 (18,553,500)Youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate: 17.4 per cent (18.8)Men (25 plus) unemployment rate: 7.4 per cent (7.8)Women (25 plus) unemployment rate: 6.8 per cent (6.8)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020 and was generated automatically.The Canadian Press
Ontario reported another 1,780 cases of COVID-19 and 25 more deaths from the illness on Friday, as the provincial government announced the members of its vaccine distribution task force.The province also said three more regions are moving into new levels of the province's colour-coded restrictions framework for at least 28 days. York Region continued to avoid being placed in lockdown despite being among the hardest hit regions after Toronto and Peel.As of Monday, Middlesex-London and Thunder Bay will be in the orange "restrict" tier, while the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit will move into the yellow "protect" category."Over the last seven days we have seen the trends in key public health indicators continue to go in the wrong direction in these three regions," said Minister of Health Christine Elliott in a news release.The new cases reported Friday include 633 in Toronto, 433 in Peel Region, 152 in York Region and 94 in Durham Region. Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were: * Windsor-Essex: 68 * Halton Region: 51 * Hamilton: 43 * Simcoe Muskoka: 41 * Waterloo Region: 40 * Middlesex-London: 39 * Ottawa: 36 * Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 25 * Niagara Region: 21 * Southwestern: 20 * Thunder Bay: 13 * Brant County: 11 * Huron Perth: 10Also included in today's new cases are 129 that are school-related: 102 students and 27 staff members. Some 776 of Ontario's 4,828 publicly-funded schools, or about 16 per cent, currently have at least one case of COVID-19, while eight schools are currently closed because of the illness.(Note: All of the figures used for new cases in this story are found on the Ontario health ministry's COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)Given today's figures, the seven-day average of new daily cases dropped slightly to 1,759.There are currently 14,997 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide, the most at any point since the outbreak began in late January.They come as Ontario's network of labs processed 56,001 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a test positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Another 62,400 tests are in the queue waiting to be completed. Moreover, the number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness climbed to 674. Of those, 207 are being treated in intensive care, though an internal Critical Care Services Ontario report puts the current total at 214 as of Friday morning. Some 116 are on ventilators.The 25 additional deaths pushes the province's official toll to 3,737. Vaccine task force members announcedMeanwhile, the province has appointed nine people to its vaccine panel, including the province's top coroner.The panel, headed by retired chief of national defence staff Rick Hillier, will oversee distribution of the vaccine when available.Health Minister Christine Elliott said it will be up to the panel to ensure effective and ethical delivery of a vaccine.WATCH | Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a member of the vaccine task force, details his priorities:Key tasks include delivery, logistics and administration, clinical guidance as well as public education and outreach.The panel includes Chief Coroner Dr. Dirk Huyer, former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders, and Linda Hasenfratz, head of car parts giant Linamar.LTC commission recommends annual inspectionsOntario's Long-Term Care Commission released its second interim report Friday morning, making seven more recommendations to the Progressive Conservative government. The interim report, which comes amid surging cases, notes 100 homes have seen an outbreak in the last six weeks, with 300 more deaths.Among them is a call to reintroduce comprehensive annual inspections, known as Resident Quality Inspections (RQI), which were eliminated by the province in the fall of 2018. The process required a minimum of one thorough, unannounced inspection each year. Only 27 homes were inspected last year, far fewer than in previous years, the report states. Inspectors looked at only 11 of the province's 670 nursing homes proactively from March 1 after the pandemic hit to Oct. 15.Inspectors issue mandatory orders only in "extreme circumstances," the report says, noting only 21 were handed out between January 2019 and August 2020. Fines or prosecutions are "rarely applied," resulting in a "lack of urgency" from home operators to address violations.CBC Marketplace reported in September that an analysis commissioned by the Ministry of Long-Term Care in 2015 concluded that RQIs were up to five times more effective than other types of inspections.In a statement, Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton didn't specifically mention the issue of inspections but said the government has already moved to address many of the commission's ongoing recommendations."We have invested over $750 million to protect residents, caregivers, and staff in long-term care homes during the pandemic, and we will continue to act on the commissioners' recommendations to protect our most valuable.
Had the ATAC mining access road in the Beaver River watershed been built, it would have constituted a “breach of the honour of the Crown” and betrayed First Nations people, according to a decision document released by the Yukon government after inquiries by The Narwhal. The document provides insight into the territorial government’s Nov. 27 decision to reject the proposed all-access road by Vancouver-based ATAC Resources, a mining exploration company with gold and copper claims in the region. The document also sheds light on concerns raised by the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, on whose territory the claims are located. The rejected road was given a conditional green light by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board in 2017 but was awaiting a final decision from the Yukon government. The new route would have opened access to a 65-kilometre portion of the company’s three mineral claims that form the Rackla gold property and connected Keno City to the Tiger gold deposit, the site of a planned ATAC Resources’ open-pit gold mine. The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun was “strongly opposed” to the project going ahead, the decision document reveals. The document contains a list of concerns raised by the nation, including fears the road would have caused “significant adverse impacts” on treaty rights such as hunting, fishing and trapping in traditional territory. That list also noted concerns the road would have prevented Na-Cho Nyäk Dun citizens from adequately exercising treaty rights in “one of the few remaining wilderness areas in its traditional territory.” The road would have “fundamentally alter[ed] an untouched portion of” the nation’s territory and would have “alienated” citizens from their lands. “Approving the application would permanently impair the process of reconciliation that the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, the Yukon government and Canada have been engaged in for more than 30 years,” the document states. Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn did not return a request for comment. Andrew Carne, ATAC Resources’ vice-president of corporate and project development, told The Narwhal this week that the company is seeking legal counsel on the Yukon government’s decision and that, as a result, there’s little else he can state at this time. “ATAC does not agree with many material aspects of the government’s decision,” Carne said in an email to The Narwhal. In an ATAC Resources’ press release, president and CEO Graham Downs said the road’s cancellation suggests Yukon isn’t open for business. “We are extremely disappointed with and surprised by this decision,” he wrote. The Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society has warned that roads such as the one ATAC Resources’ proposed can fragment wildlife habitat, interrupt migratory patterns and lead to an increase in mining activity and hunting pressure. The Beaver River watershed, northeast of Mayo, is a vast expanse of relatively intact wilderness that’s home to moose, grizzly bears and wolves. According to the Yukon government’s decision document, ATAC Resources’ plan for the road didn’t adequately consider cumulative effects on the region’s ecosystem — particularly on wildlife. Todd Powell, director of mineral resources at the Yukon Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, told The Narwhal the company did not review wildlife impacts “in a meaningful way.” “The bigger the project, the bigger the effects are. In this case, a road into an area like that was going to have fairly significant effects.” The company’s plan to mitigate effects on wildlife “simply didn’t go far enough,” he said. According to ATAC Resources’ draft management plan, mitigation efforts included building the road in the Rankin Creek valley, where fewer wildlife are present, reducing or suspending traffic during calving and rutting and making the route private to prevent hunting. The company also said it would conduct road patrols to further deter hunting. The decision document notes there were baseline data “deficiencies” that would have affected environmental monitoring efforts. In its draft management plan, ATAC noted Lebarge Environmental Services conducted eight aerial and three ground surveys of wildlife between 2010 and 2013 that noted the project area is home to species that are considered of “special concern” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada including woodland caribou, grizzly bear, wolverine, collared pika, horned grebe, rusty blackbird, peregrine falcon and dolly varden. Threatened species that are found in the project area, according to ATAC, include the common nighthawk and the olive-sided flycatcher. Without adequate monitoring, Powell said there was little hope potential impacts could be mitigated in the future, which contributed to the Yukon government pulling the plug on the project. The Beaver River watershed is largely roadless and the ATAC road would have set a new “precedent” for mineral exploration in the territory, the document states. No roads longer than 50 kilometres have been built for operations that, like ATAC Resources’, are purely exploratory over the past decade, the document notes. “Far more typically, existing access routes and new access routes have only been upgraded or constructed once mine development and production has been authorized.” ATAC Resources is not currently operating any mines in the region and is not permitted to. The company is only permitted to conduct exploratory work until 2024, which raised questions about the need for the access road and concerns the company wouldn’t have long enough to successfully build and decommission the road as proposed. “The nearness of the expiration date doesn’t suggest that they would have a reasonable timeframe to get all of that work done,” Powell said. A sub-regional land use plan for the Beaver River watershed was recently launched by the Yukon government and the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation. Work on the plan is set to continue, regardless of the ATAC road cancellation, Powell said. “Everybody recognizes that this is a highly mineralized area with lots of potential,” he said. “The commitment remains in place to finalize [the land use plan] as soon as we can.” Randi Newton, conservation manager with CPAWS Yukon, recently told The Narwhal she hopes that the sub-regional land use plan will be replaced with a much broader plan that encapsulates the entire Beaver River watershed. CPAWS recently released a report that cautioned the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board against approving road projects before land use plans are completed. “Land use planning can take that broader view of how much development is allowable in an area, which areas should we keep remote and free of roads,” Malkolm Boothroyd, the report’s author and campaigns co-ordinator at the Yukon chapter of CPAWS, told The Narwhal in a previous interview. Powell said that while the sub-regional land use plan won’t be scrapped, it could help inform a region-wide plan in the future, so the intention now is to finish what has already been started. Lewis Rifkind, mining analyst at the Yukon Conservation Society, told The Narwhal his organization has been highlighting concerns associated with the ATAC road since its inception. While he questions why it took the Yukon government so long to cancel the project, he’s hopeful environmental protection is coming to the region through land use planning. “It does give us a chance to protect or manage a pretty large-scale landscape,” he said. “Now we can do the planning without having the road dictate certain land uses.”Julien Gignac, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
The World Health Organization says the world is close to seeing the end of the COVID-19 pandemic but warned that inequalities in distributing a vaccine and other therapeutics could have deep economic and social consequences. (Dec. 4)
MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off the inaugural meeting of a global council on artificial intelligence by warning of the danger of unbridled digital technology, despite its potential to change the world for the better.The virtual summit marks the latest step in the slow march toward international co-operation on digital governance amid growing concerns over data privacy, built-in bias and deployment in war.Canada first set out on that path two years ago, unveiling plans with France for a standing AI forum during a meeting of G7 countries in Quebec.Since then, 13 other states have signed on to the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to guide policy development with an eye to human rights, establishing expert panels and involving government, industry and academia.Speaking ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, Trudeau said AI has the potential to combat diseases and climate change, but also to "create new challenges if left unchecked."Last month, the Liberal government tabled legislation to give Canadians more control over their information in the digital age, with potentially stiff fines for companies that flout the rules.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
A new program that looks to connect Canada’s resort communities in an effort to tackle climate change has called on the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) to become a founding partner. “We believe our love of adventure in nature demands our participation in the fight to save and protect it,” said David Erb, executive director of Protect Our Winters Canada (POW). “We're a not-for-profit organization that's really focused on aligning the outdoor industry, which includes everyday enthusiasts like myself and, and others that might visit Blue Mountain to ski or hike, professional athletes and industry brands,” he explained during a recent deputation to TBM council. POW focuses its efforts on organizing, educating and equipping businesses, social influencers and the general population to advocate for systemic policy solutions to climate change. In recent months, POW has been approaching municipalities across Canada that rely on adventure tourism in an effort to seek out partnerships for collaboration on an inter-municipal climate awareness plan. Prior to approaching TBM, POW also invited the municipality of Whistler, the Town of Banff, the municipality of Jasper, Ville de Mont Tremblant, the University of Waterloo, interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change and Hot Planet Cool Athletes Canada, to also become founding members. “The fact that we've been identified and have been invited into this group — you'll note that we're the only Ontario municipality — so I definitely think we have to put our commitment behind this and we can't just be their name, we've got to be there in actual action as well,” said TBM Coun. Andrea Matrosovs. “So much can be learned from each other, both across Canada, and the world. I was quite impressed when I did research on POW that this isn't just Canada, but it's a worldwide network,” she continued. The program strives to assist its partner municipalities in developing a Climate Action Plan blueprint by providing projections on impacts, assessment on local and tourist related CO2 emissions and identifying strategies, best practices, technology efficiencies, and engagement strategies. “We aim to increase the resilience and future viability of Canada’s adventure tourism sector by evaluating climate-change risks, developing strategies to decarbonize ski and adventure tourism destinations, and transition resort communities on climate resilient pathways,” Erb explained. POW also plans to create a Resort Municipality Climate Coalition (RMCC), which will leverage the collective experience of Canada’s resort communities to create a forum to exchange information, ideas, successes and challenges. “The intention behind this RMCC is that we can bring together other resort municipalities from across the country, no matter what stage they're at in their climate planning, and create a community where we can really forward each other's efforts,” Erb said. The program will be based out of the University of Waterloo, and is also backed by the Climate Caucus, a non-partisan network of 250-plus elected local leaders working collectively to create and implement equitable policy, which aligns with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services science. Erb adds there is no direct cost to partner municipalities for the first year of the program, as POW is currently in the process of acquiring funding through Canadian Climate Action and Awareness Fund. In the second year of the program, POW will be asking founding partners to make a $50,000 annual contribution for two years. According to Erb, the funds can be allocated directly, indirectly or in-kind. For example, wages for staff working on climate planning or allocation of consultant fees would be considered as indirect contributions. “There's no cost to doing this. It's essentially a working committee that will come together and resource one another,” he said. “However, that would likely lead to part two, which is a commitment for in-kind matching funds. And, that can be a very flexible ask, it doesn't need to be new dollars, we just need to have the ability to point to dollars in your budget that are being allocated toward climate planning.” According to Jeffery Fletcher, manager of solid waste and environmental initiatives for TBM, the town has already begun work in some of these areas through such sub-committees, such as the sustainability advisory committee. “This is a great opportunity for the town to take advantage of some great academia and influential groups like the Climate Caucus. As well as all the other resorts that are involved. Together we can gain some real momentum,” Fletcher said. Erb adds that the threat of climate change is a stark reality for the outdoor tourism industry, pointing to the impact the climate crisis is having on the length of the winter season. “As you may know, ski operators have a magical number of 100 days. If they can operate for 100 days in a winter, that's generally their break-even point and anything above that is a surplus,” Erb said. “But, as soon as they dip below 100 days, it's really questionable if they're able to sustain their overall operations.” “A major engine of our economy is Blue Mountain Resort and the other resorts that operate in the area, not to mention the rest of the outdoor winter activities that happens here and some of our smaller tour operators. It's a big part of economic sustainability, but it's also apart of our social sustainability as well,” Matrosovs added. Following the deputation from Erb, TBM council moved a motion to join the RMCC as a founding member and also directed staff to provide a follow-up report regarding the request for a commitment to allocate in-kind matching funds to the program once federal funding is in place. “This is an important opportunity for us, whatever noise we can make will be amplified greatly by being part of an organization like this,” added TBM Deputy Mayor Rob Potter. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
NEW YORK — A year after a series of concerts in Puerto Rico that ended up being his last because of the pandemic, Daddy Yankee is bringing those performances to YouTube as a Christmas gift to his fans around the globe.“DY2K20,” the digital version of his show “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” will be released in three parts on Yankee's YouTube channel, with the first installment out Friday. The others will drop on Dec. 14 and Dec. 21, respectively.“I wanted to give a Christmas present to all my fans during the pandemic, bring the party to their homes free of charge, bring them joy in such difficult times,” the reggaeton star told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Miami.Yankee, who has stayed mostly out of the spotlight in 2020, said that while the pandemic has hit many very hard, it has also allowed him to do something he hadn't done in three decades: Focus on his health and rest.It's something he had to gradually learn after gaining 40 pounds (almost 20 kilos) during the first months of quarantine.“Maybe because of the anxiety... I started eating and eating and eating and I put on the pounds like never before. I got to weigh 230 pounds (105 kilos) ... But I recovered my normal weight from 10 years ago. That was my focus,” said the “Despacito” and “Gasolina” singer, adding he achieved his goal by watching what he ate and exercising, a lot.“I devoted myself to my health and to something that was unknown to me, which was rest,” he said. “I started to learn how to live with calmness and to appreciate it... And I feel different, I feel in a new phase completely.”Now that he gained some balance in his life, he feels ready to reactivate his career. In addition to “DY2K20,” he has another surprise for his fans: A new music collaboration he will release in the coming days, although he wouldn't provide details yet.For now, he said he was blessed to finally share with the world the footage of a show staged at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot, which involved over 80 people who worked with “great passion, great creativity.” It was well-received, going from two scheduled dates to a full residence, with 12 sold-out shows, or 170,000 tickets.What many don't know is that a technical problem on opening night resulted in a new business opportunity: Massive concerts in the daylight hours, something never seen before on the island.After getting stuck on a platform over the stage, Yankee announced to the audience that he would give them an extra show for free, and it was a matinee. He adjusted the content to make it family friendly, and ended up doing one more that way.Another unique aspect of “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” which featured artists like Ozuna, Wisin & Yandel and Nicky Jam, was the use of holograms to replace those who weren't there to perform live.“I wanted the artists to be gigantic, on people's faces, so the audience could feel that they were in front of them and we achieved that,” Yankee said. “It was a concert that became a residence, like if Las Vegas had moved to Puerto Rico.”___Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner.Sigal Ratner-Arias, The Associated Press
In the wake of a pledge by the City of St. John's to spend $3 million to support a bid to host the Canada Summer Games in 2025, questions are being raised about that decision and whether such an event could be a success.On Monday, city councillors voted unanimously in favour of a plan that allots spending over three budget years starting in 2022.The agreement for future spending comes amid some sharp belt-tightening, with the Metrobus budget slashed by $800,000, and a proposal to increase sidewalk snow-clearing denied, as the city continues to struggle with both COVID-19 and financial problems that have been looming for years. That contrast has some people wondering about city hall's priorities. Ophelia Ravencroft, who recently ran in the Ward 2 byelection, has been vocal about increasing mobility services, like public transit and snow-free sidewalks. She said she isn't opposed to the Canada Games coming to St. John's, but says she's frustrated to see it approved so easily and quickly."We've had to fight so hard to get those things to the front of this conversation, to a legitimate position at all, but the minute an event like this comes up, automatically it's kind of, yes, we'll spend lots, we'll invest in this very heavily," she said Thursday."I think it shows we understand some things as being economic drivers and not others, and I think that's fundamentally flawed."Municipal politicians estimate the games could bring in $80 to $110 million to the St. John's region. Coun. Dave Lane called it "a smart investment.""When we look to a significant event that's going to pump money into the economy, into people's pockets, to support businesses and people's livelihoods, a small investment for such a huge gain is something we felt is important for us to do on behalf of residents and businesses in this city," Lane told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.Ravencroft doesn't pick apart city hall's estimate that landing the games will be a boost to economy. But, she argues, the ability to ride the bus to work or shop instead of spending money on car insurance or taxis can also free up money to circulate within the city, and that needs to given equal weight."We can support economic drivers, but we should support all economic drivers," she said.An athletic reality checkThe city's $3 million is only a portion of what's required to run such a large-scale event. Looking to past Canada Games, the federal government can be expected to chip in about $40-million to implement the needed athletic infrastructure, said one expert, showing that what the city may pay out could end up only being a drop in the bucket compared to the return.Bas Kavanagh co-authored a report in 2014 to assess what was needed to host the games, and how best to prepare. As 2021 approaches, he said there's no way St. John's can meet those recommendations now."There's a difference between doing it, and doing it right," he said Friday.Kavanagh pointed to a laundry list of needed fixes: baseball and soccer pitches like the King George V Field need upgrades. The Swilers Rugby Club, the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre and some Memorial University facilities require work, and rowing and cycling infrastructure also needs to be addressed.Along with physical buildings, his report recommended increasing supports to increase athlete performance. Ideas like a committee that monitors training programs and provides resources such as coaching skill upgrades, physiotherapists and massage therapists have not materialized.A lack of support translates into athletic standings, he said, leaving he province's athletes under-prepared for what may come in competition."We've been pretty pathetic performing at the Canada Games. And the opportunity to host, as the task force looked at it, would've been a good opportunity to get the athletes ready to compete and actually be competitive," Kavanagh said."But right now without those recommendations being followed, we wouldn't perform very well. And we wouldn't perform very well in 2025."Kavanagh said the province needs to act swiftly on that report from six years ago."Every day that we lose is going to impact performance in 2025," he said.Meanwhile, with the city's bid for the event now approved, the Canada Games Council will now review it. A public announcement of its decision is expected in February.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
NEW YORK — Miguel Algarín, poet, professor and a founder of New York City's beloved Nuyorican Poets Café performance space, has died. He was 79.Algarín died Monday at a Manhattan hospital from sepsis, said Daniel Gallant, executive director of the Nuyorican Poets Café.Born in Puerto Rico, Algarín and his family came to New York City when he was a child.After Algarín had returned to New York with degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania State University, he held gatherings with other poets in his apartment in the early 1970s, exploring Puerto Rican identity and other themes.Out of that was created the Nuyorican Poets Café, which by 1981 had moved to a building on Manhattan's lower east side where it remains.“Miguel was a brilliant poet, an influential professor and leader, and a supportive mentor who inspired and guided generations of artists," Gallant said.Algarín was a prolific writer, with multiple books of poetry to his name, and edited several anthologies as well.He spent years at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he taught classes on Shakespeare, creative writing and ethnic literature, and became a professor emeritus.Gallant said the cafe would have an online tribute for Algarín this month, and would do something in person as soon as conditions allow.The Associated Press
For the second time in the past five days, Niagara Region Public Health has advised District School Board of Niagara that one individual at Port Colborne High School has tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was confirmed on Nov. 29. As a result of the two COVID-19 cases, three classrooms have been closed. Local school boards will not identify the individual who tested positive. However, the provincial online database that tracks school-related COVID-19 cases does identify the Nov. 29 case as staff member. Today’s case will not be immediately known as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its reporting. In a media release, DSBN said, “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual have been contacted and told by NRPH to stay home and self-isolate.” Provincial guidelines indicate “an outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection.” Public health has not indicated if it will declare an outbreak at Port High. Preventative COVID-19 practices that Port Colborne High School has been following since classes started, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue, DSBN said. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
While the aftermath of the American presidential election continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how exactly the shift of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden will impact Canada-U.S. relations. A former international ambassador cautions it won’t be all sunshine and lollipops ahead for the generally friendly neighbours. Derek Burney, who was born in Fort William (now Thunder Bay) served as Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. from 1989 to 1993 under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Burney is currently chancellor of Lakehead University, chairman of the Burney Investment Group, chairman of GardaWorld’s International Advisory Board, chairman of Enablence Technologies Inc., and a member of the advisory board of Paradigm Capital. He was named an Officer to the Order of Canada in 1993. Last week he gave an online address which was hosted by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, and simulcast by the chambers of Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay and Timmins. Burney opened by calling the U.S. election a “cathartic” event. “The aftershocks continue to resonate. The Electoral College will meet on Dec. 14 to certify the results, and formally declare Joe Biden as president.” He then spoke of the big takeaways he had from the election. “A huge turnout amplified by massive influxes of mail-in ballots helped ultimately tip the verdict to Joe Biden, even though Trump won 10 million more votes than he received in 2016.” Burney said the 'Blue Wave' that many pollsters had predicted did not materialize. “Too many pollsters seemed more inclined to affect, rather than reflect, the mood of American voters. Biden won with a tightly disciplined, low-key campaign, banking on the fact that he was not Trump, and that the election would be a referendum on Trump, not a choice between the two candidates.” Burney lamented that foreign policy was barely mentioned by either candidate throughout the campaign. “Personalities, character and COVID concerns dominated.” Burney pointed out that regardless of the outcome the United States is in a period of deep division. “The country remains highly polarized — split right down the middle and very difficult to govern. The Democrats are jubilant, but weary. The Republicans are subdued, but not submissive.” He said the election conveyed a messy image of American democracy to the world, and that it regrettably emboldened authoritarian leaders like China's President Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to take advantage. Domestically, policy ideas from the Republicans and Democrats on matters such as taxes, immigration, health care and energy are seemingly polar opposites. “Biden will definitely bring a less abrasive tone, especially on global issues, but his ability to implement major changes on domestic issues will be circumscribed, if the Republicans hold the Senate. He will also need to consolidate consensus on policies and priorities first within his own party, which is more divided internally, than are the Republicans.” “Biden's pledge to heal and unite the nation is commendable, but maybe unrealistic.” On the positive side, Burney did remark that there was some scope for bipartisan consensus on issues like justice reform, infrastructure, and possibly healthcare. “But if the Congress remains divided, agreements will require nimble give-and-take negotiations. At least Biden and Republican Senator Mitch McConnell are both Senate veterans, and they begin with a degree of mutual respect, a spirit that was entirely lacking between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” Regarding Canada and how a new government will affect Canadian business, Burney, said Biden will be more congenial with U.S. allies. “After 47 years of service in Washington, he is no stranger to Canada, nor to our Prime Minister and other alliance leaders. That alone is good news.” However, Burney said that in reality, the Canada-U.S. relationship is “no longer special” and that Biden’s domestic policies are a mixed bag for Canada moving forward. “Those favouring more action on climate change will be pleased by his quick decision to rejoin the Paris Accord. I personally would be happier if he were also committed to ensuring more timely, and more tangible commitments by major polluters like China and India. The imbalance is startling.” He also cautioned that Western Canada could be in for more challenging times concerning the oil and gas sector if Biden’s positions come to fruition. “If he fulfils his pledge to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit, that would be devastating for our energy sector. In my view, such action would be blatantly discriminatory and should be challenged forcefully by our government, not just the pipeline companies.” The first few months of 2021 will be highly interesting for economic observers on both sides of the border as the two nations, the largest trading partners on the planet, scramble to get their economies rolling again during a global health crisis. “Because we are joined at the hip economically with the U.S., we stand to gain when their economy is robust, and conversely when the U.S. economy slumps, so does ours. That is why my fervid hope is that Joe Biden puts economy recovery first and foremost on his agenda.” Burney told the business-oriented viewers what his overall message is. “At a time of greater instability and uncertainty in the world, my most important message to you is that greater self-reliance is becoming the order of the day. As business operators, you need to be mindful of that increasing trend. Find ways to produce more of what is needed right here in Canada, and rely less on global supply chains that can easily be disrupted, as our experience with COVID, badly demonstrated.”Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
The Congress of Aboriginals Peoples (CAP) is calling on the resignation of Saskatchewan’s Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Christine Tell. More than 100 inmates at Saskatoon Correctional Centre have tested positive for COVID-19. “Minister Tell has fumbled the ball in her role as minster responsible to Saskatchewan correctional facilities,” said National Vice-Chief Kim Beaudin Dec. 3. “This requires leadership with a level of foresight and compassion that is lacking in her public response to COVID-19.” The CAP is also calling on the federal government to intervene in Saskatchewan’s provincial jail system. They want all non-violent inmates to be released immediately. They also want testing of all inmates and staff and measures to ensure infected inmates are given separate living quarters from other inmates. "Our people are now facing a death sentence in Saskatoon Correctional Centre due to Covid-19,” said Beaudin. "These are lives being intentionally put at risk, and is nothing short of a genocidal, colonialist policy.” Saskatchewan’s Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety department was contacted for comment on the situation at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre but have not responded. Earlier this week protesters – concerned for their loved ones inside - picketed in front of the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. A group of Saskatchewan lawyers sent a letter Tuesday to Tell calling for the release of non-violent, low-risk inmates who are elderly and have compromised immune systems. CUPE 1949, the union that represents 130 lawyers and legal staff at Legal Aid Saskatchewan, says the outbreak at Saskatoon Correctional Centre shows the volatility of the situation. “Our jails are overcrowded with vulnerable people who have virtually no means of protecting themselves,” said Julia Quigley, President of CUPE 1949. “Once the virus gets in, our clients are at an incredible risk.” Quigley said the majority of inmates in Saskatchewan are on remand, meaning they haven’t been convicted of any crime. “In essence, these inmates have a bull’s eye on their backs, and yet they are legally innocent,” said Quigley. She said that Saskatchewan remands people at twice the national average and the majority of inmates in Saskatchewan prisons are Indigenous and medically vulnerable to COVID-19. “This virus doesn’t discriminate, but the criminal justice system does. Our Indigenous clients will bear the brunt of the Saskatoon outbreak, and any other outbreaks if we don’t contain it.” “We cleared the jails effectively in the first wave, without any discernible risk to the public. We need to do it again, now,” added Quigley. Noel Busse, director of communications for Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice/Corrections and Policing, however, told the News-Optimist in July that no prisoners were released early from Saskatchewan jails during the COVID-19 pandemic. “No sentenced offenders have been released early as a result of COVID-19,” Busse said about the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic that hit the province. In March, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections and Policing put in measures to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread. They used existing infrastructure and program space in correctional facilities to create additional separation between offenders and staff. They also restricted the movement and placement of offenders within a facility, and provided personal protective equipment to corrections staff and offenders. COVID-19 also prompted the province’s Crown prosecutors to rethink remanding some defendants who were charged but not yet convicted. Some non-violent inmates held on remand in Saskatchewan’s jails were released while waiting for trial. Saskatoon Correctional Centre is a provincial jail run by the province of Saskatchewan. As of Dec. 4 there are no COVID-19 positive cases in the federal penitentiaries in the province, such as the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert, the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon, Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, and Willow Cree Healing Lodge. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Canada's economy added 62,000 jobs last month, which is better than economists had been expecting, but it's also the lowest total since the labour market recovery from COVID-19 began in May.Statistics Canada reported Friday that the jobless rate ticked down four basis points to 8.5 per cent. That's down from a peak of 13.7 per cent in May, but still well above the 5.6 per cent rate seen in February, before the pandemic.Canada lost more than a million jobs in March and another two million in April, before the job market started to recover in May. According to Statscan, more than 19.1 million Canadians aged 15 or over had some sort of job in February. Last month, that figure stood at just over 18.6 million.There are currently 1.7 million people in Canada officially categorized as unemployed, which means they would like to work but can't find any. Roughly one quarter of them — 443,000 people — have been out of work for more than half a year.Manitoba lost 18,000 jobs last month, while Ontario added 36,000 and Quebec 15,000. British Columbia added 23,000 and the Atlantic provinces added a total of 17,000.Mostly full timeWhile the overall rate of job gains is undeniably slowing, economist Royce Mendes with CIBC did see some reason for optimism in the numbers, specifically the fact that most of the new jobs were full time, which boosted the total number of hours worked by 1.2 per cent — faster than the increase seen a month earlier.But with cases spiking across Canada and more regions locking down more parts of the economy, he thinks the streak of job gains will come to an end this month. "It's likely that COVID will catch up with the Canadian economy in the December data, with a decline expected in both employment and overall economic activity," Mendes said.Leah Nord with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the job slowdown shows that the government needs to do a better jobs of testing for COVID-19 and tracing contacts, and making much broader use of rapid testing to ensure businesses stay open for the long Canadian winter ahead."The short-lived partial rebound in jobs is turning an unfortunate corner heading into a potentially protracted second wave," she said. "As we look forward, we believe there is increasing risk for a steady decline in employment over the coming months as governments and health authorities grapple with transmission mitigation."
Niagara is now home to one of the best young spellers in Canada. Leena Jalees, 14, of St. Catharines took home the gold at this year’s Spelling Bee of Canada national championship, beating out 25 other competitors in the intermediate division (ages 12-14) across the country. Jalees, who has entered the regional competitions on two previous occasions, said this was her first time reaching the national level, after winning Niagara’s competition earlier in November. Jalees said she had always been a good speller, particularly when it came to everyday words, and thought entering a spelling bee would help her expand her spelling abilities when it came to new and unfamiliar words. “I thought it would be fun to learn new words, and become a better speller, and know the tactics of how to break down the words and be able to spell words I have never heard of before. So I decided to do a spelling bee, just to see how well I could do.” Jalees did more than okay. In her first appearance on the national stage, she was crowned the winner in the intermediate division of the Spelling Bee of Canada after correctly spelling the word “taxonomist”. For Jalees, the word was a no-brainier. “When I found out that was the word, I was so relieved because I was already familiar with that word. I already knew how to spell it, so I didn’t have to think about it.” So how does one study for a spelling bee? The competitors were given a manual of 400 words two and a half weeks prior to the competition, but that doesn’t include tiebreaker words, which are entirely new, and come down to the participants' ability to break down the word itself. Jalees said her strategy involves looking at the words as multiple units, and understanding the origin of the word itself. “One of the words was polemicist. I thought it was a medical word, but then when I knew it had to do with politics, then I decided to change the way I spelled it to ending in 'cist'. So I was very grateful I didn’t start spelling it the way I was initially going to.” Jalees, who hopes to one day be an OB/GYN said she hopes to defend her title at next year’s competition, as it may be her last year of eligibility. “I am going to try again next year, and see how well I can do again.” Also representing Niagara at the national championship were Jimmy Zhou, of Niagara Falls, who competed in the junior division (ages 9-11) and Shirley Chen, of St. Catharines, who competed in the primary division (ages 6-8).Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
Nominations are open to recognize individuals in the territory who “work to strengthen the arts, culture, heritage and languages of the N.W.T.” The Minister’s Culture and Heritage Awards celebrate “outstanding leadership in the North” and raise awareness about the importance of protecting, preserving and celebrating the different cultures and unique ways of life in the territory. There are five categories: According to the GNWT's website, a Minister's Choice Award will also be handed out this year at the discretion of RJ Simpson, the minister. Awards will be given to winners virtually this year, due to COVID-19. Northerners looking to nominate a peer must submit the necessary form by January 8, 2021.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit widened 1.7% in October to $63.1 billion. The politically sensitive gap in the trade of goods with China and Mexico grew.The gap between the goods and services the United States sold and what it bought abroad rose from $62.1 billion in September, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Exports rose 2.2% to $182 billion, led by sales of aircraft engines. Imports increased 2.1% to $245.1 billion on an uptick in shipments of auto parts.The deficit in the trade of goods with China rose 9% to $26.5 billion and the gap with Mexico rose 10% to $11.8 billion.So far this year, the overall gap in the trade of goods and services with the rest of the world has risen to $536.7 billion, up 9.5% from January-October 2019.President Donald Trump, who vowed to reduce the trade deficit, has imposed tariffs on foreign steel, aluminum and on $360 billion in Chinese products. It is unclear how much of Trump's aggressive trade policies will be retained by President-elect Joe Biden.The coronavirus, however, has upended trade in services such as education and travel in which the United States runs persistent surpluses. U.S. services exports are down nearly 20% so far this year, and America's trade surplus in services dropped in October to $18.3 billion, lowest since August 2012.The U.S. ran an October deficit of $81.4 billion in the trade of goods such as autos and appliances.Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is adjusting the scope of his agenda to meet the challenges of governing with a narrowly divided Congress and the complications of legislating during a raging pandemic.Rather than immediately pursue ambitious legislation to combat climate change, the incoming administration may try to wrap provisions into a coronavirus aid bill. Biden's team is also considering smaller-scale changes to the Affordable Care Act while tabling the more contentious fight over creating a public option to compete with private insurers.Biden is already working on an array of executive actions to achieve some of his bolder priorities on climate change and immigration without having to navigate congressional gridlock.The manoeuvring reflects a disappointing political reality for Biden, who campaigned on a pledge to address the nation's problems with measures that would rival the scope of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal legislation. But Democrats acknowledge that big legislative accomplishments are unlikely, even in the best-case scenario in which the party gains a slim majority in the Senate.“Let’s assume my dream comes true,” Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said, referring to a tight majority for his party. “I think we have to carefully construct any change in the Affordable Care Act, or any other issue, like climate change, based on the reality of the 50-50 Senate.”“There’s so many areas, which we value so much that Republicans do not, that it will be tough to guide through the Senate under the circumstances,” the Illinois Democrat added.Biden's agenda hinges on the fate of two Senate runoff races in Georgia, which will be decided on Jan. 5. If Democrats win both seats, the chamber will be evenly divided, with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.In that event, Biden's agenda items stand a better chance of at least getting a vote. If Republicans maintain control, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might not bring the new president's priorities to the floor.Biden's initial focus on Capitol Hill will be a multibillion-dollar coronavirus aid bill, which is certain to require significant political capital after lawmakers have been deadlocked over negotiations on Capitol Hill for months.The president-elect said Thursday on CNN that while he supports a $900 billion compromise bill introduced this week by a bipartisan group of negotiators, the bill is “a good start" but it's “not enough” and he plans to ask for more when he's in office. His team is already working on his own coronavirus relief package.People close to Biden's transition team say they're looking at that stimulus as a potential avenue for enacting some climate reforms — like aid for green jobs or moving the nation toward a carbon-free energy system — that might be tougher to get on their own.Durbin mentioned President Barack Obama’s first term as a precedent for what Biden will encounter when he takes office.Then, Obama was forced to focus much of his early energy on a stimulus package to deal with the financial crisis, and he spent months wrangling with his own party on his health care overhaul. Obama also enacted financial regulatory reform, but other progressive priorities, like cap and trade legislation and immigration reform, ultimately lost steam.And he had a significant House and Senate majority at the time.Still, some Republicans argue that if Biden approaches negotiations in good faith, there are some common areas of agreement. Rohit Kumar, the co-leader of PwC's Washington National Tax Services and a former top aide to McConnell, said it's possible to find a compromise on some smaller-scale priorities, like an infrastructure bill, addressing the opioid crisis and even a police reform bill.“There is stuff in the middle, if Biden is willing to do deals in the middle — and that means being willing to strike agreements that progressive members don’t love, and maybe have them vote no, and be at peace with that,” he said.Indeed, speaking on CNN Thursday, Biden expressed optimism about cutting deals with Republicans. He said when it comes to national security and the “economic necessity” of keeping people employed and reinvigorating the economy, “there's plenty of room we can work.”Still, he acknowledged, "I’m not suggesting it’s going to be easy. It’s going to be hard."But here, progressives, not Republicans, could be the roadblock. Waleed Shahid, spokesperson for the liberal Justice Democrats, said progressives are “worried and anxious” about Biden's history of making what he called “toxic compromises with McConnell."“I think progressives will probably play a key role in trying to push Democrats to have a spine in any negotiations with Mitch McConnell,” he said. “People will hold him accountable for what he ran on.”Shaheed said he believes progressives could play a role in pushing the Biden administration to embrace a more “aggressive approach” and pursue executive actions to address some Democratic priorities.And indeed, Biden’s transition team has already been at work crafting a list of potential unilateral moves he could take early on.He plans to reverse Trump’s rollback of a number of public health and environmental protections the Obama administration put in place. He’ll rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord and rescind the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries. He could also unilaterally reestablish protections for “Dreamers” who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children.But some of his biggest campaign pledges require congressional action and are certain to face GOP opposition.Biden has promised to take major legislative action on immigration reform and gun control, but prior legislative efforts on both of those issues — with bipartisan support — have failed multiple times.He’s also pledged to roll back the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy, forgive some student loan debt and make some public college free — all heavy lifts in a closely divided or Republican-controlled Senate.“It’s easy to be skeptical and pessimistic in this Senate,” Durbin said. “I hope that they give us a chance to break through and be constructive and put an end to some of the obstruction.”Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
Lawyers fought the latest round of a 16-year legal battle by video conference in the province’s top court on Tuesday and Wednesday. The long-running dispute between Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) and the Saskatchewan government aims to find whether 600 flooded acres of land near Southend is a reserve. The debate centres on whether to uphold Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Dan Konkin’s 2019 decision finding the land was never properly designated as a reserve. That decision also tossed out PBCN’s claim that the flooding meant the province and SaskPower were trespassing on the land. This week, PBCN and the federal government argued it is a reserve — a finding that would throw out the lower court’s decision and help the First Nation’s legal counsel press for compensation based off the trespassing claim. “The important thing here is the ownership of (roughly) 10,000 acres of land is at stake,” said Thomas Berger, a prominent British Columbia lawyer who has long served as PBCN’s counsel on the case. The Saskatchewan government and SaskPower argued to uphold the 2019 decision, saying the reserve was never properly designated. The Ministry of Justice declined to comment on a matter before the courts. One part of the dispute centres on a surveyor’s actions almost a century ago. When the surveyor was tasked with finding Barren Lands band members at Southend in 1929, he found members of PBCN. PBCN argued he took steps to create a reserve there. A 1981 federal government cabinet order and the land’s inclusion in the 1992 Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement confirmed that designation, PBCN’s factum said. In an interview, Berger said the province’s position on its status was a reversal because “25 years later, they said, ‘we made a mistake.’ ” Saskatchewan legal counsel Mitch McAdam said that’s not necessarily the case. In a factum, he wrote that the surveyor’s “instructions were crystal clear — to survey a reserve at Southend for Barren Lands — and he carried those instructions out ‘to a T.’ ” However, McAdam said the survey was flawed and incomplete. He said the government also never confirmed it as a reserve, meaning the land passed to Saskatchewan under the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement in 1930. That brings into question who owns the land that Whitesand Dam floods as it controls Reindeer River’s flow into the nearby Island Falls hydroelectric power station. Berger says his clients are owed their “fair share” of compensation for the flooding, but that partly depends on how the court sides on the question of the land’s reserve status. “If Peter Ballantyne has no interest in the (land), in other words, the (land) is not Indian reserve land, (and) Peter Ballantyne has no claim in trespass,” the SaskPower factum noted. Berger expects to hear the top court’s decision sometime in 2021. NoneNick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
Northumberland County hopes residents dig a program that provides them with free tree saplings to plant on their properties. Applications for Northumberland County's Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) replacement tree program have reopened following two years of successful EAB replacement tree programs that resulted in the local planting of 24,000 trees. County residents are invited to apply to receive free tree saplings as part of a five-year program subsidized by the county. Residents can apply to receive between 25 to 150 trees to plant on their property in Northumberland. There will be 12,000 trees subsidized through this year's application process on a first-come, first-served basis. Tree species available through the program include various types of oak, maple and pine as well as spruce, birch and tamarack. All successful orders will be available for pickup from Lower Trent Conservation in the spring. This program was developed to replace trees that are being removed as part of Northumberland County's 10-year plan to remove hazardous trees as a precaution to prevent injury or damage. This plan was developed in response to the EAB, an invasive insect that attacks and kills ash trees. For every tree removed as part of the plan, Northumberland County will subsidize about 10 native trees for residents to plant on their property. For more information about the program and to apply to receive free saplings, visit Northumberland.ca/EABprogram. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
The singer is perfectly at ease letting people see what he’s really going through.