WASHINGTON — The General Services Administration ascertained Monday that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said in a tweet that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, citing, “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.” Michigan certified Biden’s victory Monday, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden transition, said in a statement that the decision “is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”He added: “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”Murphy, a Trump appointee, had faced bipartisan criticism for failing to begin the transition process sooner, preventing Biden’s team from working with career agency officials on plans for his administration, including in critical national security and public health areas.“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “We will keep up the good fight and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”Pressure had been mounting on Murphy as an increasing number of Republicans, national security experts and business leaders said it was time for that process to move forward.Retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement Monday saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for Murphy to release money and staffing needed for the transition. Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”Meanwhile, more than 160 business leaders asked Murphy to immediately acknowledge Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,? the business leaders said in an open letter to Murphy.Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”Trump had publicly refused to accept defeat and launched a series of losing court battles across the country making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and seeking to overturn the election results.Murphy missed a deadline on Monday set by House Democrats to brief lawmakers about the delay in beginning the transition, which is usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration. A spokeswoman for the GSA said that a deputy administrator would instead hold two separate briefings for House and Senate committees on Nov. 30.In response, the Democratic chairs of four committees and subcommittees said they could reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, but no later.“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” the Democrats said in a letter to Murphy. “Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”Portman said it was “only prudent” for GSA to begin the transition process immediately.“Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face,? Portman wrote in an op-ed calling for the transition to begin.Murphy's ascertainment will free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies. Trump administration officials had said they would not give Biden the classified presidential daily briefing on intelligence matters until the GSA makes the ascertainment official.“Now that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has fulfilled her duty and ascertained the election results, the formal presidential transition can begin in full force,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. “Unfortunately, every day lost to the delayed ascertainment was a missed opportunity for the outgoing administration to help President-elect Joe Biden prepare to meet our country’s greatest challenges. The good news is that the president-elect and his team are the most prepared and best equipped of any incoming administration in recent memory.”Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, the co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.Matthew Daly, Zeke Miller And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Canada's seafood industry is breathing a sigh of relief after the signing of a temporary free-trade deal between Canada and the United Kingdom.The agreement announced on the weekend keeps tariffs off Canadian seafood exports — valued at $131 million last year — to the U.K. post-Brexit.Tariffs on Canadian seafood were eliminated under the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement."It cements the access that we've currently enjoyed under CETA. The U.K. is our fifth largest single country export destination, so it is important for our sector and we're pleased that this transitional deal was reached," said Paul Lansbergen, president of the Fisheries Council of Canada."Our analysis was that it would have resulted in about an average of a 10 per cent tariff on our products, and that would certainly be enough to disadvantage us in the marketplace if other countries reached a transitional deal."Industry says it was facing $11M in tariffsThe Fisheries Council of Canada, a non-profit trade association representing seafood harvesters, processors, importers and marketers, said the top seafood exports to the U.K. are salmon (35 per cent), shrimps and prawns (26 per cent), lobsters (25 per cent), and scallops (five per cent).The council said applicable tariffs would have added roughly $11 million on the top four exports in absence of an agreement.The office of International Trade Minister Mary Ng said the deal maintains "a competitive edge and preferential access to the U.K. market" for Atlantic Canadian seafood companies."It's vital for the hard-working people and businesses in the fish and seafood industry who would have faced increased tariffs on their exports to the U.K. once the Brexit period ends," said press secretary Youmy Han in a statement to CBC News.The interim deal is good news for some of Atlantic Canada's biggest seafood companies like Ocean Choice International in Newfoundland and Labrador and Clearwater Seafoods in Nova Scotia.Clearwater 'very pleased' with deal"We are very pleased with the Canada-U.K. trade deal," said Christine Penney, vice-president of sustainability for Clearwater Seafoods, in an email. "The deal will provide a seamless transition for trade between Canada and the U.K. as the U.K. exits the European Union." The deal must be approved by both governments.In Canada's case, legislation to change regulations and laws, including its custom tariff, to comply with the new agreement must be approved by Parliament before the deal can take effect.The Fisheries Council of Canada is urging Parliament to ratify the deal as soon as possible."Canadians working in the fisheries sector supply chain will thank you," the council said in a news release.Negotiations for a permanent free-trade deal with the U.K. are planned for next year.MORE TOP STORIES
BROCKTON – Mayor Chris Peabody said Tuesday, “There’s a lot of anxiety about rising numbers of COVID-19.” He said that while Grey-Bruce is still Green, looking at the numbers, a move to Yellow will probably happen. He was pleased to note that all the people he saw at the Hometown Christmas Market event in Walkerton on the weekend were following the safety guidelines, including wearing masks. While there’s no meeting of Brockton council this week, Bruce County council is holding a number of committee meetings. Among the topics on the various agendas are development fees.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared two Peel police officers of wrongdoing in the Sept. 10, 2019, death of a 34-year-old Mississauga man who died after he was Tasered at a Malton home. According to a Friday news release, Special Investigations Unit director Joseph Martino determined “there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the man’s death.” The man, who has not been named by police or the SIU, died after he was Tasered during an interaction with police after two officers went to the home following multiple calls from family members inside. “Soon after arriving, officers became involved in an interaction with a 34-year-old and shortly after apprehended him,” the SIU report of the incident said. The man was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead soon after arrival. According to the SIU, two Peel officers were called to the home on Morning Star Drive near Cambrett Drive around 9 p.m after a man complained that his brother was acting erratically. After entering the home, the officers found the man agitated, and one of the officers deployed his Taser twice in succession, the SIU said in its report on the case. The Taser appeared to have no effect, and the man then removed its wires and ran toward the front door “yelling and flailing his arms,” the report said. Near the door, the same officer grabbed the man, and during an attempt to arrest him the other officer also deployed his Taser. According to the SIU, the officers were eventually able to overpower the man on the ground outside and handcuffed him with this hands behind his back. Another officer arrived while the man was restrained and, according to the SIU, he continued to yell, kick and struggle until the officers called for paramedics. They arrived around 9:30 p.m. to find the man prone, held down by one or two officers, the SIU said. According to the report, the man appeared to lose consciousness after he was placed on a stretcher, and he was pronounced dead in hospital. Following an autopsy, a pathologist determined the Tasering likely “did not play a major role, if any,” in the man’s death. The pathologist found his cause of death to be from “excited delirium (cocaine and ethanol toxicity) during restraint,” saying “the cumulative effects of agitation and struggles, position with impaired respiratory movements and cocaine likely all contributed to cause sudden cardiac arrest.” Neighbours told the Star the man lived at the home with his mother, and that his father had died recently. The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. This ruling comes at a time when the SIU is under increasing pressure from advocates and the relatives of several Peel residents shot or killed by police since 2019. Those cases include: The Nov. 20, 2019, death of Clive Mensah, a 30-year-old mentally ill who died after Peel police Tasered him near his home. The Jan. 7, death of Jamal Derek Jr. Francique, a 28-year-old Mississauga man who was shot and killed by a Peel officer. The April 6 death of D’Andre Campbell, 26, who was shot and killed in his home by a Peel officer. The Mother’s Day shooting of Chantelle Krupka, who continues to undergo physiotherapy after she was shot in the abdomen. The June 20 shooting of 62-year-old Ejaz Choudry, who killed inside his Malton apartment, sparking public uproar and a series of protests. The SIU has been criticized for the length of its investigations and perceptions of low transparency and poor communications with victims’ families. Of those outstanding cases, the SIU has completed its investigation into only Krupka’s case — for which a rookie Peel officer was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and careless use of a firearm. In a rare move, the accused officer, Valerie Briffa, resigned soon after she was charged. According to the SIU’s recent annual report, the watchdog took an average of 136 days to close a case in 2019 — or about four-and-a-half months per case. Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpicJason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
The Nova Scotia government is using $21.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief money to purchase thousands of new computers for students and upgrade servers and Wi-Fi systems in schools.The news comes several days after two schools were shut down and moved to at-home learning for two weeks due to several COVID-19 cases.Education Minister Zach Churchill said the province will buy 32,000 new computers, 24,000 of which have already been ordered and are expected to arrive by next month. The rest are to come in the new year.This is in addition to the 14,000 devices the province has already purchased. During a virtual briefing, Churchill said the level of need was determined by surveys submitted earlier this year by students and parents, as well as local input from regional education officials. The minister said the new supply would be able to meet demand."This is about ensuring that there's not a digital divide in our education system, that all of our students have equitable access to the tools they need to learn and succeed, even in an at-home learning environment," he said.The computers are coming from IMP following a tender process.A silver lining for the departmentThe timing is particularly relevant because on Friday the province closed Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour and Graham Creighton Junior High School in Cherry Brook for 14 days after three cases of COVID-19 were detected between the two schools.When schools were shut down last spring and learning moved to an at-home model, it caused a number of problems for families and teachers. Churchill said much has been learned from that experience and he expects things to go more smoothly this time.Along with ensuring people who need technology have it, there are guidelines in place to help teachers and other staff and options such as teleconferences, USB drives for the sharing of work and appointments to attend schools in cases where students do not have high-speed internet at home.If there is a silver lining to the situation, Churchill said it's that his department has been forced to consider technological capacity and assess who does and does not have access to digital learning tools sooner than perhaps was otherwise planned."I don't see us moving back from this. In fact, I see us enhancing our ability to utilize technology in the learning environment at school and at home for the long run," he said.Erring on the side of cautionIn announcing the school closures on Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil acknowledged that it was as much about addressing concerns parents, students and staff had about the situation as it was anything else. Churchill said Monday that officials will err on the side of caution when it comes to determining whether a school should shift to a blended learning model or full at-home learning."Even if the risk may be low, we want to make sure that we're responding in a way that minimizes the risk of spread to the best of our ability."Nova Scotia's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, has confirmed that evidence of community spread now exists in the greater Halifax area and his office has started announcing new restrictions. As of Monday, there were 51 known active cases of COVID-19 in the province.The funding announcement is in addition to the $40 million the province announced in August to help with the restart of the school year. Although the issues with technology were well established before September, Churchill said his department was awaiting access to the money from Ottawa before it could act.It's his hope the upgrades to servers and Wi-Fi systems will be completed before the end of the school year. The funding also includes money for 10 new full-time positions to help support the new devices, infrastructure upgrades and general at-home learning needs.MORE TOP STORIES
Some Penetanguishene community partners could have a reason to smile this week. Penetang elected officials are coming together Tuesday to discuss community grant requests made by several local non-profits. According to the report, staff is recommending council approve a number of those requests. If council agrees with staff, the Georgian Bay General Hospital will receive $15,000, the Southern Georgian Bay Physician Recruitment will receive $8,500 and $1,000 will go toward Sistema Huronia Music Academy. A further $2,000 will be given to the Midland Penetang District CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). Staff is asking Cultural Alliance's request of $10,000 be deferred until after the non-profit's presentation on Dec. 9. The agenda also includes a number of requests around an increase in budget to extend contract positions. The first one up is the position of junior planner for which staff is asking an additional $25,000 be included in the budget to expand the current part-time position to a one-year full-time contract at a total cost of $57,000. A similar extension request is being made for the current part-time contract for a bylaw enforcement officer. The increase in budget would be almost $32,000, bringing the total cost of the one-year full-time contract to $47,500. A third budget request related to staffing comes after the decision to reopen the arena was approved by council. Staff is recommending that funding for 40 weekly hours for a facility attendant be included in the 2021 operating budget in anticipation of a 2021-2022 ice season. The move would require that $12,270 be included in the 2021 arena operating budget. The staff report says this step will also ensure the town is financially equipped to reopen the arena for a 2021-2022 ice season. A number of departmental draft budget documents included in the agenda are being presented to council for information. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and will be streamed live on the town's YouTube channel. Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
The number of COVID-19 cases among Saskatchewan seniors aged 80 and older is surging far more rapidly than in any other age group as health officials grapple with a growing list of outbreaks in care homes. According to the latest provincial update on Sunday, the cumulative number of cases among people aged 80 and over is 213. That's a 69 per cent increase from only one week before, when cases among that age group numbered 126.By comparison, the average week-over-week increase in the four younger age groups measured by health officials was 30 per cent. On Monday, the number of seniors 80 and older in the province with known COVID-19 infections increased to 231.This surge among the population most vulnerable to COVID-19 comes as health care workers deal with active outbreaks in seven long-term care homes.The latest long-term care home added to the province's daily list of active outbreaks, Parkside Extendicare, is in Regina. When other care homes (including privately owned ones), seniors residences, assisted living facilities and group homes are factored in, 20 homes are now dealing with active outbreaks.34 residents, 4 staff at Luther Special Care Homes infectedThe largest known outbreak at a long-term care home is at the Luther Special Care Home, nestled in Saskatoon's Varsity View neighbourhood.According to an email update sent to families on Sunday night, 34 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, up from 28 on Saturday. Four staff members are also infected and a total of 23 staff members are self-isolating, a care home spokesperson said Monday."Staffing at the care home has become strained, however, we are working with our partners within the health system and our staff as we strive to maintain our high standard of quality care," Ivan Olfert, the home's operations lead, said in an emailed statement. Staffing ratios was already raised as a concern by a family member during a 2019 inspection of the facility. Seniors complex connected to homeLuther Special Care Home is connected to the residential Luther Tower seniors complex.Allan Grundahl, head of the tenants board at Luther Tower, said no tower residents have tested positive for the virus and movement between the tower and Luther Special Care Home is restricted.According to the 2019 inspection, Luther Special Care Home is a spacious facility that includes a secure unit for 49 residents in an older building dating back to 1955 and more than 100 other residents in a newer, three-floor addition. What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week. MOVIES — The Christmas movie, that yuletide evergreen, is subtly changing. “Happiest Season,” which premieres Wednesday on Hulu, has many of the genre's comforting standards — a homecoming trip, family discord, a secretly planned engagement — but it opens the holiday comedy to a fresh cast of characters, and comes away all the more charming for it. Writer-director Clea DuVall's film — originally planned as a theatrical release by Sony Pictures — stars Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis as Harper and Abby, a couple who travel to Harper's Waspy family for the holidays. Just before they arrive, Harper confesses she isn't out to her family. The spirited supporting cast includes Aubrey Plaza, Mary Steenburgen and Daniel Levy. — “Superintelligence,” too, is a studio film uprooted to a streaming service by the pandemic. The Melissa McCarthy comedy, her latest with director-husband Ben Falcone ("Tammy," “The Boss"), had been headed to theatres but will instead debut Thursday on HBO Max. In it, an artificial-intelligence supercomputer voiced by James Corden tasks McCarthy's unemployed character with saving the world. — Ironically, the week's top Netflix release is the one that's been playing in theatres. After two weeks in select cinemas, Ron Howard's “Hillbilly Elegy” begins streaming Tuesday. The adaptation of J.D. Vance's much-talked-about 2016 bestseller hasn't been a hit with critics ( including this one ), but it's also a kind of regular feature to the season: a big 'ol helping of awards bait, with a handful of big performances by elite actors (Glenn Close, Amy Adams). —AP Film Writer Jake Coyle MUSIC — Miley Cyrus is ready to rock ‘n’ roll on her new album. The pop star recruited some famous rock stars to help on her seventh studio release “Plastic Hearts,” including Stevie Nicks, Billy Idol and Joan Jett. And Mick Rock, the iconic rock ‘n’ roll photographer who has shot everyone from David Bowie to Debbie Harry, photographed the “Plastic Hearts” cover art. But pop fans shouldn’t worry too much about Miley’s rock sound, the album – out Friday – also features a collaboration with hitmaker Dua Lipa and includes producers like Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars) and Louis Bell (Post Malone). — Speaking of Dua Lipa, the Brit has had a major year in music thanks to the success of her sophomore album “Future Nostalgia” and the smash hit single “Don’t Start Now.” She’ll celebrate her big year on Friday with “Studio 2054,” a multidimensional live experience where Lipa is promising fans “a night of music, mayhem, performance, theatre, dance and much more.” The singer said there will be “surprise superstar guests” at the event, and standard tickets costs $11.99. — Grammy-winning Chicago-based rockers Smashing Pumpkins will release a double album on Friday. “CYR” features 20 tracks produced by founding member and frontman Billy Corgan. The band’s 11th album also features founding members James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin as well as guitarist Jeff Schroeder. “CYR” is the follow-up to 2018’s “SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL. 1 / LP: NO PAST. NO FUTURE. NO SUN” – Corgan, Iha and Chamberlin’s first collaborative album in 18 years. — AP Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu TELEVISION — If you like “Bones” and “CSI” but just need more French accents, your best bet is the terrific NOVA special “Saving Notre Dame.” The hour-long PBS documentary airing Wednesday shows the incredible lengths architects, engineers and craftspeople have gone to restore the iconic Paris cathedral stricken by 2019's fire. There is detective work — where did the original limestone come from? — and painstaking efforts to reclaim the building’s glory, like stained glass specialists using cotton swabs to remove toxic lead. Everyone wears wear full hazard protection gear as they navigate a “giant house of cards.” — Can you have a “Saved by the Bell” without Screech? Peacock is hoping fans won't notice that character's absence when its sequel to the popular TV series brings back members of the original cast — Elizabeth Berkeley, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen and Mark-Paul Gosselaar — but not Dustin Diamond, who played the quirky Screech. In this sequel kicking off Wednesday, Gosselaar is California governor who has a son at Bayside High, Berkeley is a guidance counsellor and Lopez is once again A.C. Slater, now a gym teacher. — It happens all the time: You wake up next to a dead body in a Bangkok hotel. In the case of HBO Max’s adaptation of “The Flight Attendant,” the comedy and darkness work simultaneously. Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory” plays an air hostess with a drinking problem whose looney attempts to cover up her part in the death place her in the crosshairs of the FBI. The first three episodes of the limited series premier Thursday, with the first one free now if you're willing to give HBO Max your email. — AP Entertainment Writer Mark Kennedy ___ Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment. The Associated Press
RCMP are looking to speak to a woman who allegedly assaulted an employee of Skaha Lake Liquor Store in Penticton after he had asked her to wear a mask. Penticton RCMP say they responded to a report of an assault at the Skaha Lake Liquor Store on Nov. 21, 2020 at 1:48 p.m. In a post on social media, Skaha Lake Liquor store alleges (with video) that a woman entered the store without a mask and when asked to put one on, she damaged the employee’s cellular phone and spit at the employee. The woman who was wearing a black and pink coloured jacket is described by RCMP as: “It’s extremely troubling an employee who was only following the provincial health orders, was subject to an assault of this nature,” said Sgt. Jason Bayda, Media Relations Officer for the Penticton South Okanagan RCMP. “Spitting at someone is a concern anytime, let alone in the midst of a pandemic.” RCMP are aware of the security footage of the woman making the rounds on social media, and police say they “would like to first provide her an opportunity to come forward and speak to investigators about the matter.” The post on Skaha Lake Liquor Store’s Facebook page also alleges the woman made “racial comments” towards the employee. Penticton RCMP are asking the woman or anyone else who may have information into this matter to call them at 250-492-4300 or to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
Here are the top stories for Monday, Nov. 23: Biden looks to Obama veterans for key staff picks; States move ahead with election certifications; GM to recall 7 million vehicles; White House Christmas Tree arrives in DC.
LONDON — Drugmaker AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, buoying the prospects of a relatively cheap, easy-to-store product that may become the vaccine of choice for the developing world.The results are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world waits for scientific breakthroughs that will end a pandemic that has pummeled the world economy and led to 1.4 million deaths. But unlike the others, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.“I think these are really exciting results,” Dr. Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said at a news conference. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in one of the dosing regimens tested; it was less effective in another. Earlier this month, rival drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective.While the AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius (36 degrees to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), the Pfizer and Moderna products must be stored at temperatures approaching minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 Fahrenheit).The AstraZeneca vaccine is also cheaper.AstraZeneca, which has pledged it won’t make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic, has reached agreements with governments and international health organizations that put its cost at about $2.50 a dose. Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20, while Moderna’s is $15 to $25, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.AstraZeneca applied for approval of its vaccine candidate in Canada on Oct. 1, under a special process that is allowing Health Canada to review COVID-19 vaccines for use at the same time as the vaccines are finishing their final clinical trials. Pfizer and Moderna have also applied for the rolling-review process.Canada signed a deal with AstraZeneca at the end of September to secure 20 million doses of the highly touted vaccine. The federal government has not said when those doses would be available to Canadians, but they can't be distributed here until Health Canada gives the vaccine the green light for use.Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca stressed they weren’t competing with other projects and said multiple vaccines would be needed to reach enough of the world’s population to end the pandemic.“We need to be able to make a lot of vaccine for the world quickly, and it’s best if we can do it with different technologies so that if one technology runs into a roadblock, then we’ve got alternatives, we've got diversity,'' professor Sarah Gilbert, a leader of the Oxford team, told The Associated Press. “Diversity is going to be good here, but also in terms of manufacturing, we don’t want to run out of raw materials.”AstraZeneca said it will immediately apply for early approval of the vaccine where possible, and it will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization, so it can make the vaccine available in low-income countries.The AstraZeneca trial looked at two different dosing regimens. A half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least one month later was 90% effective. Another approach, giving patients two full doses one month apart, was 62% effective.That means that, overall, when both ways of dosing are considered, the vaccine showed an efficacy rate of 70%.Gilbert said researchers aren't sure why giving a half-dose followed by a larger dose was more effective, and they plan to investigate further. But the answer is probably related to providing exactly the right amount of vaccine to get the best response, she said.“It's the Goldilocks amount that you want, I think, not too little and not too much. Too much could give you a poor quality response as well ...,'' she said. "I’m glad that we looked at more than one dose because it turns out to be really important.”The vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that is combined with genetic material for the characteristic spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, the spike protein primes the immune system to attack the virus if it later infects the body.Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the finding that a smaller initial dose is more effective than a larger one is good news because it may reduce costs and mean more people can be vaccinated with a given supply of the vaccine.“The report that an initial half-dose is better than a full dose seems counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs: With drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects, and more side-effects,” he said. “But the immune system does not work like that.”The results reported Monday come from trials in the U.K. and Brazil that involved 23,000 people. Of those, 11,636 people received the vaccine — while the rest got a placebo.Overall, there were 131 cases of COVID-19. Details on how many people in the various groups became ill weren’t released Monday, but researchers said they will be published in the next 24 hours.Late-stage trials of the vaccine are also underway in the U.S., Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and Latin America, with further trials planned for other European and Asian countries.Researchers said they expect to add the half dose-full dose regimen to the U.S. trial in a “matter of weeks.’’ Before doing so they must discuss the changes with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.The AstraZeneca trials were paused earlier this year after a participant in the U.K. study reported a rare neurological illness. While the trials were quickly restarted in most countries after investigators determined the condition wasn’t related to the vaccine, the FDA delayed the U.S. study for more than a month before it was allowed to resume.AstraZeneca has been ramping up manufacturing capacity, so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine starting in January, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this month.Soriot said Monday that the Oxford vaccine’s simpler supply chain and AstraZeneca’s commitment to provide it on a non-profit basis during the pandemic mean it will be affordable and available to people around the world.“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,’’ Soriot said.British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he felt “a great sense of relief” at the news from AstraZeneca.Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, and the government says several million doses can be produced before the end of the year if it is approved by regulators.Just months ago, “the idea that by November we would have three vaccines, all of which have got high effectiveness … I would have given my eye teeth for,” Hancock said.From the beginning of their collaboration with AstraZeneca, Oxford scientists have demanded that the vaccine be made available equitably to everyone in the world so rich countries can't corner the market as has happened during previous pandemics.Leaders of the world's most powerful nations on Sunday agreed to work together to ensure “affordable and equitable access" to COVID-19 drugs, tests and vaccines.“If we don’t have the vaccine available in many, many countries, and we just protect a small number of them, then we can’t go back to normal because the virus is going to keep coming back and causing problems again," Gilbert said. “No one is safe until we’re all safe.”___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakDanica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
The CP Holiday Train is a tradition that many hold dear in Medicine Hat. This year, the train is going to have a different look compared to previous iterations. Canadian Pacific is holding a virtual concert this year, so people can still take live music in while not crowding outside with hundreds of others. “Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we had to make the choice to hold the train virtual this year,” said CP spokesperson Salem Woodrow. “The spirit will continue with the Holiday Train at Home Concert.” The concert will launch at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 on the Canadian Pacific Facebook page. “Even though it’s not in-person, we’re happy to bring the train to communities this year,” said Woodrow. The concert will be headlined by Canadian rock band, The Trews and singer Serena Ryder. Jojo Mason, Logan Staats and Kelly Prescott will also be performing. As is tradition, people will be encouraged to donate to their local food bank as part of the Holiday Train experience. “We know it’s been a hard year for everyone, but we encourage people to donate as best they can this year, and to be as generous as they’re able to be,” said Woodrow. Canadian Pacific will be making donations to food banks in all municipalities that the train usually stops in. The Holiday Train has been around for 22 years, and has stopped all around North America. In its first 21 years, the train has raised more than $17 million and has collected nearly five million pounds of food for food banks. People can find CP on social media platforms by searching for Canadian Pacific.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
At a briefing Monday on how COVID-19 is affecting Horizon Health Network, president and CEO Karen McGrath said, "we could easily be overwhelmed with a very few new cases." McGrath said each of the regional Horizon Health centres tries to keep three to five medical beds open, and two to three ICU beds are kept open at each of the five largest hospitals to have room for a surge in COVID-19 patients."That doesn't sound like a very large number and it's not a very large number," said McGrath."So if, in fact, you have seven or eight people being admitted in a very short time, then in addition to everybody else we're providing care for, that small number could really impact the system and we could become overwhelmed really quickly."McGrath said, despite possible COVID fatigue, people should follow provincial guidelines and do what they can to stop the spread of the respiratory virus because only a few cases can impact the entire system."What happens is then we work very hard to get people out of hospital," said McGrath.She said if numbers of COVID-19 patients start to rise the first step is to cancel surgeries.64 staff isolatingMcGrath said 64 Horizon staff members are currently in isolation. She said there are not staff to fill in for these vacancies. "We are actually looking hour by hour as to how we staff particular areas," said McGrath.McGrath described the ICUs, emergency rooms and medical beds as "mission critical," meaning that these areas have to be properly staffed."That probably means when we get to a certain level, we are redeploying staff from other areas," and other services like surgeries are then cancelled. Stan Cassidy outbreakHorizon Health Network and New Brunswick Public Health are investigating a potential COVID-19 exposure at Horizon's Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton.McGrath said that about five patients and five staff who had direct contact with the staff member were tested, along with all other staff. Patients at the centre are also being tested for COVID-19.She said outpatient services have been cancelled for at least a week, while people receiving inpatient care will remain at the centre, but extra precautions are being taken."We have isolated patients within our facilities," McGrath said.She said the health care worker who tested positive for COVID on Saturday was not working at other places within Horizon.
NAIROBI, Kenya — Ethiopia’s government is again warning residents of the besieged capital of the embattled Tigray region as the clock ticks on a 72-hour ultimatum before a military assault, saying “anything can happen.”Senior official Redwan Hussein told reporters Monday that the Tigray regional leaders are “hiding out in a densely populated city; the slightest strike would end up losing lives.”Human rights groups and others were alarmed over the weekend when Ethiopia’s military warned civilians in the Tigray capital, Mekele, that there would be “no mercy” if they don’t “save themselves” before the offensive to flush out defiant regional leaders. Amnesty International warns that deliberately attacking civilians and civilian objects “is prohibited under international humanitarian law and constitutes war crimes.”Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister, issued a 72-hour ultimatum Sunday for the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, to surrender.Redwan said that Mekele, a city of around 500,000 people, is now encircled at a distance of about 50 kilometres (30 miles), and with rougher terrain left behind “what remains is the plain land, easier for tanks.”He added, “by providing a brute fact, it is letting people to understand the reality and make the right choice.” Ethiopia’s government is urging Mekele residents to separate themselves from the TPLF leaders in time.Cara Anna, The Associated Press
With COVID-19 health restrictions putting a hold on public gatherings, there is still some Christmas fun to be had at the Festival of Trees. While the event is usually a three-day festival including the Ladies Holiday Luncheon and the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, Cindy Amerongen, executive director of the Northern Lights Health Foundation (NLHF), said planning the auction alone was a complex task. “At first, we didn’t see how we were going to do it,” said Amerongen. “We knew we couldn’t have the community come in how they’re used to doing.” With health restrictions in mind, the NLHF began exploring larger locations which would allow for social distancing. They settled on the north terminal of the Fort McMurray airport, which fits up to 40 people at a time. People entering the event after booking timeslots online. “Our goal this year was giving people a place to go to and a place to feel like there’s happening for Christmas,” said Amerongen. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for mental health services in the community, said Amerongen, as people struggle with delayed surgeries and isolation. “As time wears on, that loneliness is really setting in for a lot of people,” she said. “It’s something that plays with your mind.” This year, Amerongen hopes this event will help break the cycle of isolation people have felt. The trees can be viewed at the airport’s north terminal until Nov. 28. On Friday, the NLHF announced a drive-through light display called Bright Nights at Abram’s Landing. The event is also a fundraiser for the NLHF and will include a series of Christmas-themed light-up displays. Bright Nights runs from Dec. 6 to 9 and visitors can book a timeslot online. email@example.comSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
A former chief of Siksika Nation and Blackfoot leader, Isapo-muxika, is one of several historical figures under consideration to be featured on the Bank of Canada’s new $5 bill. Eight shortlisted candidates are being considered for the new note selected from a list of 600 eligible nominees from a six-week public consultation process that ended March 11, 2020. Over 45,000 Canadians participated in the process. Isapo-muxika or Sahpo Muxika, known more commonly as Crowfoot, was born circa 1830 near Belly River, Alta. and died April 25, 1890 near Blackfoot Crossing. Crowfoot was a leader of the Blackfoot Confederacy and known for his judicious use of diplomacy, and for being an advocate for peace between Indigenous nations and with settlers. He was instrumental in the Treaty 7 negotiations, and in preventing the Blackfoot Confederacy from participating in the North-West Resistance of 1885. Later in life, he also fostered peace with neighbouring Indigenous peoples. Others shortlisted for the $5 bill include Pitseolak Ashoona, Robertine Barry (“Françoise”), Binaaswi (Francis Pegahmagabow), Won Alexander Cumyow, Terry Fox, Lotta Hitschmanova, and Onondeyoh (Frederick Ogilvie Loft). The list will be submitted for consideration to the Minister of Finance. Each candidate will be judged on enacting positive change, being a national icon, universality (impacting Canada, reflecting values), uniqueness, and relevancy. The selected candidate will be announced in early 2021.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) is putting their season on pause following new public health measures and guidance from the province. The KIJHL provided an update on league operations following the provincial health orders issued Nov. 19 and later clarification provided by Viasport, a B.C. government non-profit sports organization, on Nov. 20. "In light of the new parameters outlined on Friday evening by Viasport, which include restrictions concerning travel between different communities, the KIJHL will pause all regular season game play beginning Saturday, Nov. 21. Under the current Provincial Health Order, competition between teams cannot resume until Monday, Dec. 8 at the earliest. Other Phase 3 activities, including team practices, may proceed so long as they adhere to all aspects of the KIJHL’s Return to Play policies," says a statement on the KIJHL website dated Nov. 21. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the KIJHL says it has made the health and safety of athletes, staff, volunteers, billet families and fans a top priority and the league is closely observing all of the guidance and protocols outlined by the province, Viasport, Hockey Canada and BC Hockey and team’s home facilities. Teams had been sorted into "cohorts" grouped together to reduce travel and exposure to other groups. The Osoyoos Coyotes had played three games thus far this season, with a record of one win, one loss and one overtime loss, sitting at third place in the Neil Murdoch Division. "On Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced additional province-wide restrictions, and we have been working hard to clarify their impact on our league," the statement from KIJHL says. "We recognize that circumstances can change quickly, and we will update our plans as soon as new information becomes available. The KIJHL appreciates the patience and support of our fans, volunteers, billet families and sponsors as we navigate this process."Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown. In “Let Us Dream,” Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.” The 150-page book, due out Dec. 1, was ghost-written by Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, and at times the prose and emphasis seems almost more Ivereigh’s than Francis.’ That's somewhat intentional — Ivereigh said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers. At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits. But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour. At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini. “But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013. The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world. At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies. “Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.” People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.” Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.” But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue. “Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote. Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!” He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem. “You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.” He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state." “There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them." In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course. The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order. “I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote. The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it. The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country. “I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote. But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.” “Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote. Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour. “We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is putting $500,000 from the Ending Violence Association of BC towards sexual assault response service programs over the next three years. The acquisition of the funding, announced by the ONA Nov. 20, is set to build on the work already carried out by the ONA’s “You Empowered and Strong” (YES) program. The program supports Syilx Okanagan Nation individuals, families and communities dealing with the impacts of trauma caused by violence including sexual assault and human trafficking. The funding is in line with the 231 outlying calls to justice coming out of the The Final Report on the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, released in 2019, which includes the development of “self-determined and Indigenous-led solutions and services.” The YES program was launched after the ONA Wellness Committee identified needs to address family violence in the Okanagan Nation in 2015. In July 2019, the ONA Chiefs Executive Council passed a Tribal Council Resolution to support the calls to justice out of the Final Report and the continuation of the YES program. Each community determines how to provide the services the YES program offers baed on individual community needs. “The roots of violence toward Syilx women and girls can be traced back to the trauma and systemic racism that communities have experienced over years of colonization. The ONA remains committed to ensuring that Syilx individuals and families across the Nation have proper support, safety and healing,” said Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Chairman. “Through such initiatives as this we are taking decisive action to provide access to community-drive, culturally appropriate and effective services. This work must continue.”Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
A Black man who was stopped by police while dropping his son off at daycare eight years ago was racially profiled, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal has found.The tribunal ordered the Montreal suburb of Longueuil, a Longueuil police officer and a former police officer to pay Joel Debellefeuille $10,000 in damages, plus interest.Debellefeuille was stopped by police outside his son's daycare in March 2012, after police followed his car for more than a kilometre.In his decision, Judge Christian Brunelle said the city must adopt a policy on profiling that would include providing training to officers, and collecting and evaluating race-based data on people who are stopped by police. Brunelle also said Quebec's human rights commission must pay the plaintiff's legal fees, ruling that the delays in responding to Debellefeuille's complaint were abnormally long and unacceptable. In addition, Dominic Polidoro, who remains a police officer, was ordered to pay $2,000 in punitive damages.The tribunal's ruling is binding, unlike those of the human rights commission.According to the decision, Polidoro testified that he followed Debellefeuille's vehicle because he thought Debellefeuille was looking at him, had gestured toward him and had said something to him while the two vehicles were stopped at a stop sign.Brunelle found that Polidoro's explanation didn't justify his stop of Debellefeuille."It is highly improbable that a white man (or woman) who, while driving their vehicle observed a police officer while continuing to talk with the other passengers and gesticulating — as many people do incidentally while expressing themselves — would be considered a suspect for that sole reason," Brunelle wrote.Brunelle found that Polidoro's actions could only be "rationally explained by the prejudices he maintained, whether consciously or not, toward a Black man driving a luxury car."Debellefeuille, who was driving a BMW at the time, told the tribunal that he had been stopped "numerous times" by police.The other officer who stopped Debellefeuille, Jean-Claude Bleu Voua, was not ordered to pay additional punitive damages because he is no longer a police officer and could not be found by the tribunal.He is believed to have left the country.'This is how we make progress'Collecting race-based data is an important step, said Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, which supported Debellefeuille's complaint.Niemi said that data will make it harder for the police department to deny that racial profiling exists.He said his organization is looking to the courts, because municipal and provincial politicians aren't taking action to stop racial profiling."What we are seeing now is that these battles will have to be fought in the courts and when the court sides with us and imposes these decisions," Niemi said. "This is how we make progress."Neither the Longueuil municipal government — which sought to have the case dismissed — nor its police service responded to a request for comment on Saturday.Quebec's human rights commission praised the decision in a statement.The commission is also calling for another Montreal suburb and three of its police officers to pay $35,000 in damages to a Black man who says he was racially profiled.Francois Ducas was also driving a BMW when he was stopped by Repentigny police.Ducas, who objected to the stop and refused to identify himself, was handcuffed and searched.Police issued Ducas, a secondary school teacher, two tickets: one for obstruction, the other for injuring a police officer.The commission believes he was stopped because of his race.Repentigny is challenging the commission's decision. That challenge will be heard before the Human Rights Tribunal.Marlène Girard, the director of communications for Repentigny, said she couldn't comment on the case but that the municipality has "increased the number of initiatives seeking to bring the police service closer to the diversity of its population" over the past few years."Today we acknowledge that we still have work to do," Girard wrote in an email. "We are being proactive, we are not waiting for the outcome of current cases of alleged racial profiling or future allegations in order to take action."Last week, the Repentigny police service announced it had hired a consulting firm to develop a plan to be more inclusive.However, Niemi said he believes the Repentigny police are still denying the seriousness of the problem.