WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Budget talks will continue but Southgate council has provided its feedback on major projects proposed for next year. While council can only approve the budget for the next year, members are presented with 10-year forecasts so they can look ahead at what’s coming. These are only projections. Projects sometimes get delayed for reasons beyond the control of the municipality, or moved forward if there is a good grant opportunity. The project funding doesn’t only come from the same year’s taxation. Projects are also financed by development charges, township reserves, transfers from other levels and in some cases by loans or grants. PLANS FOR TOWNSHIP FACILITIES ARE COMPLEX A big discussion is planned on facilities. Staff had originally proposed construction of a new multi-use facility in 2021. That has been delayed by more pressing needs for increased staff space due to COVID-19. Still, questions remain about that facility and its timing, whether any money will be dedicated to the Olde Town Hall pending proposals from private parties in the upcoming Request for Proposal. Right now, the building department is now operating out of the library, and council is meeting virtually. Discussions will include whether the council should return to the chambers or leave the space to allow more room for staff at the Hopeville office. Other facilities needing to expand are the fire station and Dundalk depot. In the past, the CAO has mentioned putting the Dundalk works and the township building departments in Dundalk, as the county has plans (no date yet decided) to move its sand dome out of town. In general discussion of the capital projects, councillors raised questions about costs expected from growth, especially in Dundalk. The CAO said that new development helps keep rates down. Instead, right now, the force that is a pressure on taxes is the need to keep roads and bridges in good condition, he said. LIBRARY The library anticipates an expenditure of $40,000 to expand the collection, for furnishings and to go to an infrastructure reserve in 2028. FIRE About $725,000 is budgeted in 2021 with the main expense being adding a new rescue/pumper/tanker. In 2022, about $300,000 for an expansion of one bay is forecast. ROADS The proposed roads budget is $3.7 million. That includes various construction projects as well as a plow truck, a loader and a one-tonne truck replacement. At an earlier discussion on Nov. 17, public works manager Jim Ellis asked council to consider whether it wanted to continue having staff work with outside contractors on infrastructure projects. Many paving projects are planned. The 2019 road conditions study found that about one-third of the hard-top roads in Southgate have a condition rating of 5 or less, meaning they need replacement of surfacing and are past asphalt maintenance strategies. Mr. Ellis posed the possibility of turning sections of low-traffic roads back to gravel to save money on roads needing re-construction. He said while 50 to 200 vehicles per day would be typical in that category of road, some sections had an average of seven vehicles per day, with the maximum of 35 in one day in a two-week study. So while a section of road like that might pop up closer to the top of the list for repairs, he said, it might be more worthwhile to put the money into a more-travelled road from slightly lower on the list. About $40,000 is anticipated to be spent on downtown improvements. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
TORONTO — Canadian bank executives say an economic rebound is on its way after months of governments and financial institutions working to offset turmoil with loans, deferrals, interest rate cuts and subsidies.The chief executives of Bank of Nova Scotia and BMO Financial Group said Tuesday that they are starting to see signs of improvement and are feeling reassured by countries like Canada, the U.S., Chile and Peru, which have spent on average 17 per cent of their gross domestic product on relief measures. "We are seeing clear evidence that the stimulus is having the desired impact," Scotiabank's Brian Porter said on a conference call to discuss the bank's latest financial results."In Canada, retail spending has reached pre-pandemic levels, the housing market is experiencing robust growth and auto sales have largely recovered." Porter, who called himself "cautiously optimistic" about 2021, hadn't factored in the potential rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, but if Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca get the go-ahead to inject people with their early vaccine candidates, he said his optimism would grow even more.Meanwhile, BMO chief executive Darryl White was also feeling positive about 2021, but warned that troubles are still lingering as many countries, including Canada, plunge into a second wave of COVID-19."While the path of the pandemic and the economic recovery remains uncertain, we now know that vaccines will be available relatively soon, and there's good reason to be optimistic about the associated economic recovery accelerating as 2021 progresses," he said.The remarks came as their companies started to see the expiration of consumer relief programs they launched to help Canadians hit hard by the pandemic. Scotiabank offered $120 billion worth of relief for customers throughout the pandemic, while BMO said it granted payment deferrals to more than 256,000 retail accounts in Canada and the U.S. since March. Both spent much of the pandemic stowing away cash to protect themselves from bad loans, but were able to ease up in recent months.Scotiabank's provisions for credit losses in its latest quarter totalled $1.1 billion, up from $753 million a year ago, but down from nearly $2.2 billion in the third quarter.BMO's amounted to $432 million, up from $253 million a year ago, but down from nearly $1.1 billion in its third quarter.BMO also looked to protect itself further by winding down its non-Canadian investment and corporate banking business in the energy sector — a move White said would help better allocate resources in places where they can deliver strong returns now and in the future."Going forward, BMO Capital Markets' energy business will be focused on the Canadian energy market, where we believe our competitive positioning is strongest and where we will continue our deep and long-standing commitment to supporting clients," he said.BMO reported a fourth-quarter profit of nearly $1.6 billion or $2.37 per share, up from nearly $1.2 billion or $1.78 per share a year ago.On an adjusted basis, BMO says it earned $2.41 per share, down from an adjusted profit of $2.43 per share in the same quarter last year.Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $1.90 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.Revenue totalled nearly $6 billion, down from almost $6.1 billion in the same quarter last year.The results pushed BMO's stock up by 3.6 per cent or $3.33 to reach $96.66 in late morning trading.Meanwhile, Scotiabank reported a fourth-quarter profit of $1.9 billion or $1.42 per diluted share, down from $2.3 billion or $1.73 per diluted share in the same period a year earlier.On an adjusted basis, the bank earned $1.45 per diluted share for the quarter ended Oct. 31, down from an adjusted profit of $1.82 per diluted share last year.Analysts on average had expected Scotiabank to earn an adjusted profit of $1.22 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.Revenue totalled $7.5 billion, down from nearly $8 billion in its fourth quarter last year.Scotiabank's stock climbed by 2.9 per cent or $1.83 to reach $65.03 in late morning trading.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BNS, TSX:BMO)Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
The remains of a 17-year-old soldier were unearthed four years ago in Belgium — and it turns out they are those of a member of the Newfoundland Regiment, who fought in the First World War and died 103 years ago. The details of the discovery and identity were announced Tuesday at an event at The Rooms in St. John's, with the provincial archivist being acknowledged as having played a major role in the process. Pte. John Lambert died Aug. 16, 1917. He was born July 10, 1900, in St. John's, according to officials with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. His remains were discovered during an archeological dig near St. Julien, Belgium. There were three other sets of human remains found, but it's not clear if the others have been identified. Lambert's name was memorialized on the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in Bowring Park, which commemorates soldiers from Newfoundland who died during the First World War and have no known grave. Lambert lied about his age to fight in warAccording to a biography on the federal government's website, Lambert lied about his age and claimed he was 18 years old when, in fact, he was 16. He joined the 2nd Battalion in Scotland, and made his way to France, where he joined the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment in June 1917. Members served with the 88th Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division of the British Expeditionary Force.On Aug. 16, 1917, an attack was launched by the Newfoundland Regiment — in what become known as the Battle of Langemarck — with members successfully overtaking the enemy's trenches and bunkers. Lambert suffered wounds during the attack, and later died from them. Another 26 men were killed in that battle. N.L.'s provincial archivist played key roleLambert's remains were found alongside a number of artifacts in 2016. Those included a shoulder title of the Newfoundland Regiment, an Inniskilling Fusiliers cap badge, two Hampshire Regiment shoulder titles, general service buttons, British bullets and a few other small items.DNA samples from the soldier's descendants made it possible to confirm Lambert's identity — making it the first time a Newfoundland Regiment soldier has been identified by this process, according to the provincial government. It was Greg Walsh, the provincial archivist and director of The Rooms' provincial archives, who "provided vital archival research to locate Private Lambert's direct descendants," according to a Newfoundland and Labrador government media release. Walsh, speaking to reporters at Tuesday's event, praised Lambert for being "so courageous."When pressed about the fact that this was the first local case of its kind, Walsh acknowledged the significance, but noted it was a team effort. "I just feel like it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, I have ever been asked to do, and I'm so proud of the work I did, and the work we did as a team," he said. "I do feel like we have put a name to a face and that's a huge part of what we do as archivists and we don't get to do that everyday."Patience and tenacityHow Walsh got to the point of identifying the remains was a lesson in patience and tenacity. "Military records confirmed there were 16 Newfoundland Regiment soldiers who had fought in the vicinity, with no known grave. Walsh, began his year-long search with this list of 16 soldiers and proceeded to find living descendants for 13 of the 16," reads a statement. Walsh combed through many information sources, including vital statistics registers, census records, newspaper records, phone books and online search engines, to find anything that might help with the process. Ultimately, it was a combination of historical, genealogical, anthropological, and DNA analysis that helped the Casualty Identification Review Board identify Lambert, according to the government's website.Col. Perry Grandy, who is chairman of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council, said identifying Lambert, and the process that led to that, are both significant. "This has connected our modern day life with something that happened in history that we only read about," Grandy said. Burial to come at 'earliest opportunity'The Canadian Armed Forces have notified Lambert's surviving next of kin, and are providing them with ongoing support, according to the government. Lambert, who was born to Richard and Elizabeth Lambert, will be buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's New Irish Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, as the "earliest opportunity," according to the federal government. It's expected that family members, along with representatives from the Canadian, United Kingdom and Belgian governments will attend, as will representation from the Canadian Armed Forces. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is turning to a nasal spray as its primary flu vaccine for residents between the ages of two and 59. FluMist was originally available only for private purchase this year, but is now being offered by the Ontario government as demand continues across the province, according to a memo to the mayor and council from Dr. Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health.The spray will be available at OPH clinics starting Friday. It will also be distributed to pharmacies and family physicians, OPH said.The unprecedented demand for the influenza vaccine this year caused some pharmacies to run out, delaying vaccination for some Ottawa residents.Nasal spray 'proven to be effective'Etches said the nasal spray, which is authorized for use in Canada in children and adults up to 59, is "proven to be effective" and has the support of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. OPH has distributed the spray in previous flu seasons, Etches said. Infants, adults over 60, people who are immunosuppressed, pregnant women and those with uncontrolled asthma will receive a flu shot instead of the spray.Concerned about the possibility of a "double pandemic" and the resulting strain on the health-care system, public health officials have been especially adamant about residents getting vaccinated against influenza this season, and residents have apparently heeded the call.More than 48,000 Ottawa residents have been vaccinated against influenza since OPH began the current campaign in October. That's more than four times the number vaccinated during the previous flu season. "OPH will continue to offer available appointments on our website based on community demand and vaccine availability," Etches wrote. "OPH continues to recommend that individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications seek out opportunities to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible."
Prior to the pandemic, Artem Polyvyanny used to choose where he wanted to live and work pretty much on a whim. “Africa was going to be a place I wanted to go but it’s mostly closed, Asia is almost completely closed too,” says the 34-year-old from Toronto. He had settled on going to Europe to see friends, but had to change plans recently as countries there began to implement new COVID-19 lockdowns.He now finds himself in Mexico, a destination that came about through a process of elimination.“I can’t go to many of the places I want to go.”Canadians living the digital nomad lifestyle say remote work in foreign countries has become cheaper as a result of the pandemic, but the freedom to go where they wish has been heavily limited. Digital nomads, who often freelance or work remotely full-time, are accustomed to a lifestyle where they can pick and choose where they’d like to live. However, travel restrictions are one of the biggest changes they’ve had to come to terms with.Polyvyanny says what he loses in choice, he’s getting back in value as the price of housing and flights has dropped dramatically as regular tourist traffic plummets across the world. He snagged a one-way ticket from Toronto to Playa del Carmen for only $170, and was able to negotiate prices while picking a place to stay.Vanessa Perez, a freelance marketing consultant from Montreal, says she was used to working abroad for seven months every year prior to the pandemic.This year, she worked in Paris for only one month in September. She made the choice to travel to Western Europe because she felt governments there were more serious about implementing safety measures for COVID-19.It’s not a typical destination for digital nomads, who usually opt for cheaper regions like Southeast Asia where they have the added benefit of a favourable currency exchange rate. Perez, who previously lived in Columbia and El Salvador, says it was worth the extra cost to continue the nomadic lifestyle.Now back in Montreal, Perez says she’s planning to work abroad in February, but is careful about committing.“I can’t buy a ticket now for February because I don’t know how things will even turn out in December,” she says, adding that insurance coverage and visa restrictions are a constant concern.“It’s day to day, week to week to see what will be the next step.”For Canadians, Mexico has proven to be a convenient destination where a visa is easy to come by.Lisa Shiller, a Torontonian who currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, said she’s able to live in the country with a six-month tourist visa that she received on arrival.She said renewing her visa is as simple as leaving the country and coming back again, which is much cheaper during the pandemic because of lower living costs.“Mexico has this stance where it’s like, ‘yes, come here, bring your dollars, spend your money,’” said Shiller, who has lived in Mexico throughout the pandemic, only returning home once after seven months to renew her visa.But she said the lifestyle isn’t quite the same, as she's avoiding air travel and can't explore the country like she had planned to. The silver lining is that she’ll save more money and can still travel by vehicle. Polyvyanny, who returned to Toronto at the start of the pandemic, says he decided to go back to Mexico because he felt it wasn’t worth spending so much to live in Canada’s largest city when most events are cancelled and city life is disrupted.“Pretty much all of the good things about Toronto were taken away,” he says.“There’s no reason to pay a premium on everything if I’m not able to enjoy this city.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press
Director Julia Hart couldn’t stop thinking about Tuesday Weld. She had just watched Michael Mann’s 1981 thriller “Thief” and Weld’s character Jessie had taken over her imagination. Where did she and the baby go? What was going through her mind? In some ways, Jessie is just the girlfriend. She’s there to up the stakes for the main character and exits the frame when the action begins. It’s not uncommon in the genre. Just think of Michael Corleone closing the door on Kay at the end of “The Godfather.” But, Hart thought, what if we followed the woman instead of the man? It wouldn't be revisionist or corrective, just a different path. And it was the beginning of the yearslong process of creating “I’m Your Woman,” which turns the lens on the suburban housewife who has to go on the run with a new baby when her criminal husband disappears. The film starring Rachel Brosnahan opens in select theatres Friday and will be available on Amazon Prime Video on Dec. 11. “It’s not like I want ‘Thief’ to have followed Jessie,” Hart said. “The movie was so good that I couldn’t stop thinking about this character and the story of all these women. In these crime dramas, even though the women weren’t the main characters, they were amazing characters. They were complex and flawed and interesting and well performed and well written. They just didn’t get their own movie...That’s what inspired me to create Jean.” Hart and her husband, producer Jordan Horowitz, got to work writing the script. And when Amazon Studio heads, who had been impressed with her superhero drama “Fast Color," asked what they wanted to make next, they had this ready to go. And after a meeting with Brosnahan, she knew she’d found her Jean. “She’s such a chameleon,” Hart said. “And she feels like a real woman. I think a lot of the women in the 70s movies did as well — not like someone who had been airbrushed and made to look perfect.” The “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star was all in. Despite her successes over the past few years, she’d been frustrated by the “one-dimensional” roles that were coming her way. Jean was a refreshing departure from that. “Jean is a quiet woman’s action hero. That’s something that I’ve never seen before,” Brosnahan said. “And it’s a really nontraditional look at motherhood. Motherhood is more often than not, not the picture perfect journey we see on Instagram.” The shoot was going to be hard. Hart knew she’d have her work cut out for herself directing her first car chase and big club scene with hundreds of background actors. But the biggest challenge would be the fact that they’d decided to work with real babies, who in the process of the chronological shoot would go from 6 to 8 months in age. “I am constantly frustrated by how people treat babies like they’re not people both in real life and on film — like it’s fine to have a fake baby or it’s fine to have four different babies playing the same character,” Hart said. “We knew it was a big risk, but we felt like it was one worth taking. We wanted to commit to making the baby a character in the film who you could connect to and know.” It added stress and time restrictions but also beauty and spontaneity to the shoot. “There were times when things happened with those babies that we never could have expected,” Brosnahan said. “And that added a layer of magic to certain scenes.” In one tense scene where Jean’s home is broken into and she has to hide in the closet and make a desperate phone call, the baby unexpectedly fell asleep in her arms. “It added this layer of urgency,” Brosnahan said. And although Hart is proud of the action sequences, the mother of two does not remember feeling more joy and exhilaration than knowing that they got a shot of the baby sleeping. “Getting a baby to fall asleep in its period costume, in its period crib at the time when you’re scheduled to shoot it is a bit of a miracle,” Hart said. There are exactly two of those miracle shots in the finished film. Brosnahan also took on a different kind of role in “I’m Your Woman:" as producer. She’d been thinking about it for some time, “looking for a way to carve out a path for myself.” And she’s immensely grateful to Hart and Horowitz for giving her the opportunity. “This is such a literal example, but most of the time you show up on the set as an actor having never seen what could be your house, the character’s house that they have lived in 30 years. And you’re showing up on day one and trying to pretend you’ve lived there for 30 years,” she said. As a producer, she was involved in everything from script development to location scouting. When she showed up to her character’s house this time, she knew it already. “It made me a better actor,” she said. Hart has spent most of her career as a writer and filmmaker trying to convince studios that stories about women are worth telling. After years of fighting, she's finally starting to see the change. “The studios are starting to really take female filmmakers and filmmakers of colour more seriously,” Hart said. “It’s not just lip service anymore.” —- Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
Regina police have charged a 17-year old girl who allegedly stole a vehicle with a four-year-old child inside.Officers were called to the 2100 block of Albert Street around 8:17 p.m. CST on Nov. 21 for a report of a stolen vehicle, according police.Police were told a 31-year-old woman had given three young women a ride in her car while her child was also in the vehicle.Police said the driver stopped and got out of the vehicle briefly, at which point one of the passengers got in the driver's seat and started driving away. When the mother tried to stop her, the driver allegedly tried to hit her with the car.The suspect left the four-year-old on a street a few minutes later, police said. Two people found the child and called police.Officers identified the suspect and learned she had fled to Calgary. A warrant was issued for her arrest on Nov. 24. She was arrested by Calgary police for an unrelated matter.The suspect, who can't be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was brought back to Regina on Monday and charged with offences including abduction of a child under 14-years-old, assault with a weapon (vehicle) and auto theft.
Santa will be able to make his visit to P.E.I. on Christmas Eve, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison informed Islanders at her regular weekly briefing Tuesday morning that Santa had been pre-approved for travel."I received a special alert this morning to tell me there is no COVID-19 in the North Pole. Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, the elves and the reindeer are all safe and healthy. They know that COVID-19 has been very hard for children and families around the world," said Morrison.Santa is still asking his elves to practise physical distancing and wash their hands regularly, she said.As for Elf on the Shelf, Morrison noted that the annual visitor arrived at her house Tuesday morning, having qualified as a rotational worker who is to become part of her family bubble. Other families' elves will be treated the same way.Holiday guidelinesThe Chief Public Health Office will be posting guidelines for Islanders celebrating Christmas and New Year's later this week, Morrison said.With the Atlantic bubble suspended, Morrison said Islanders need to avoid unnecessary travel."I urge Islanders to not travel off-Island over the holidays," she said."I urge families, including students who live off-Island, to consider not coming home for the holidays, and that's hard to say."For those who do wish to come to the Island, pre-travel approval will be required and arrivals will need to be prepared to self-isolate for 14 days.Morrison is recommending levees not be held this year. As with any gathering, any levee that is held will require an operational plan.More from CBC P.E.I.
BRUSSELS — European Union lawmakers lashed out Tuesday at the head of Frontex over allegations that the border and coast guard agency helped illegally stop migrants or refugees entering Europe, calling for his resignation and demanding an independent inquiry. The lawmakers grilled Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri over an investigation in October by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said that video and other publicly available data suggest Frontex “assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea.” The report said personnel from the agency, which monitors and polices migrant movements around Europe’s borders, were present at another incident and “have been in the vicinity of four more since March.” Frontex launched an internal probe after the news broke. “In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign,” senior Socialist lawmaker Kati Piri said in a statement after the parliamentary civil liberties committee hearing. “There are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.” Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn't be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or being members of a social or political group. Frontex’s board met to discuss the allegations late last month. The board said afterwards that the European Commission had ordered it to “hold a further extraordinary meeting within the next two weeks in order to consider in more detail the replies provided by the agency.” That meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9. “Migrants and refugees are very vulnerable to pushbacks by border guards,” Greens lawmaker Tineke Strik said. "We must be able to rely on an EU agency which prevents human rights violations from happening and not inflict them. But Frontex seems to be a partner in crime of those who deliberately violate those human rights.” Strik raised doubts about whether the internal Frontex probe would produce results and urged the assembly's political groups to consider launching their own inquiry. Leggeri said that no evidence of any Frontex involvement in pushbacks had been found so far. He said EU member countries have control over operations in their waters, not Frontex, and he called for the rules governing surveillance of Europe's external borders to be clarified. “We have not found evidence that there were active, direct or indirect participation of Frontex staff or officers deployed by Frontex in pushbacks," he told the lawmakers. When it comes to operations, Leggeri said, “only the host member state authorities can decide what has to be done.” Leggeri also said that Frontex staff were under extreme pressure around the time of the alleged incidents in March and April. He said that Turkish F-16 fighter jets had “surrounded” a Danish plane working for Frontex, while vessels were harassed by the Turkish coast guard and shots fired at personnel at land borders. He called for EU “guidance” on how to handle such situations. The allegations are extremely embarrassing for the European Commission. In September it unveiled sweeping new reforms to the EU’s asylum system, which proved dismally inadequate when over 1 million migrants arrived in 2015, many of them Syrian refugees entering the Greek islands via Turkey. Part of the EU's migration reforms includes a system of independent monitoring involving rights experts to ensure that there are no pushbacks at Europe’s borders. Migrant entries have dropped to a relative trickle in recent years, although many migrants still languish on some Greek islands waiting for their asylum claims to be processed or to be sent back. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she still has confidence in Frontex’s managing board but remains deeply concerned about the allegations. During a visit to Morocco, Johansson said that the report "concerns me a lot. If it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable. A European agency has to comply to EU law and fundamental rights with no excuse.” Johansson said she has “full confidence in the process that (has) gone on in the management board and the sub-group they are setting up” to continue the investigation, but, she noted that “there were a lot of questions put to the director. And he has not answered these questions.” ___ Tarik El Barakah reported from Rabat, Morocco. Lorne Cook And Tarik El Barakah, The Associated Press
Some nurses who left their jobs at Health PEI to take positions with Veterans Affairs Canada asked for, but were denied, a secondment from their provincial jobs, according to the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay.That's from the latest in a series of letters between MacAulay and P.E.I. Health Minister James Aylward. Aylward wrote to MacAulay in October, expressing concern about a hiring campaign by VAC by which the federal department had lured away at that time, according to Aylward's numbers, 25 registered nurses, two social workers and one psychologist from Health PEI.Health PEI said this week that the number of nurses who have left for VAC has now reached 32.As part of its effort to clear up a backlog of tens of thousands of disability claims, a spokesperson for VAC told CBC the department has hired 125 nurses across Canada, including 55 on P.E.I. Overall the federal department plans to hire 300 temporary staff and aims to clear up the backlog by March 2022. However the Parliamentary Budget Office says the job will require more staffing and an extra year to complete."Given the size of our province and corresponding size of the nursing workforce within our health-care system, this recruitment campaign has had a significant negative impact on our health human resources," Aylward wrote to MacAulay in the first of two letters the health minister tabled in the P.E.I. Legislature.Aylward went on to say some long-term care facilities also lost positions, and were operating with "a skeleton staff."Aylward told MacAulay it was "counterproductive" for a federal department to be taking nurses from provincial health care while Ottawa was at the same time sending additional resources to the provinces to help them deal with COVID-19.> I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada. — Lawrence MacAulay"The number of nurses that have migrated from our system to your department has left a potential significant nursing gap should we experience a second wave resulting in a critical situation," Aylward wrote in a followup letter dated Nov. 17.In that letter, Aylward asked about the possibility of Health PEI receiving some of the nurses back from VAC on secondment.Nurses denied requests for leave, says MacAulayBut in response, MacAulay said some of the nurses hired by VAC had asked for a secondment working the other way around: they had asked Health PEI to be allowed to temporarily leave their provincial positions to help VAC clear up the backlog, but that request was denied."My department offered this option for consideration at the time of the recruitment campaign, recognizing the pressures that all health systems were facing," MacAulay wrote to Aylward."I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada."MacAulay said the positions are only temporary, and that he'd instructed his department "to be as helpful as possible on this matter." He said VAC is "willing to assist the province with its pandemic response should the current situation change."Nurses in search of 'work-life balance': unionMona O'Shea, the head of the P.E.I. Nurses' Union, said she found it "interesting" Aylward reached out to MacAulay over the nursing shortage. She said the province was already facing a significant number of nursing vacancies even before VAC started recruiting.She said Aylward might have done better to take his concerns to the union. She said nurses are looking for "better work-life balance," and are being denied requests for "temporary leave of absence for education, for movement within the system, vacation, being called back to work when on vacation."O'Shea said nurses are feeling "undervalued, not appreciated and always being asked to do more with less."More from CBC P.E.I.
When council had its first look at the capital budget it discussed using outside consultants to complete some crucial planning projects. Southgate needs to do an industrial plan, urban expansion and updates to the official plan and zoning bylaw. Asked why outside help was needed, township planner Clint Stredwick told council it comes down to workload. Of course, subdivision proposals are now coming in regularly he said. “It’s not just residential any more. It’s commercial and industrial… They all require site plans, they require thought,” If he was to take up those extra projects, “you would have people breaking down your door asking where your planner is,” Mr. Stredwick said. Coun. Jason Rice posed the question about the pace of development, and the costs. Mr. Stredwick said that growth will come to an end unless the limits of wastewater capacity are solved. CAO Dave Milliner expanded on that. He agreed that you don’t want to spend money building capacity that isn’t used, and no one can predict if current interest in Dundalk will stay strong. But right now, he said, the demand is high, and he and the planner are fielding many, many calls from people who want to move their business out of Toronto. The new interest in living in Dundalk drives pressure on pricing in our community to almost unaffordable levels for some people, he said, but it also drives the economy. The budget also contains expenses to open up more land for development. About $1.7 million will be spent in 2021 on the first phase of construction of the Highway 10 Bypass, which was deferred to 2021. In 2022, an estimate of $2.3 million is given for the second phase of that construction. About $1 million from the sale of industrial land is expected in 2021, an amount that also was deferred from this year. Water and wastewater are budget categories that don’t come out of resident’s taxes. Money for big water and wastewater projects comes from reserves that are built up from user fees and from Development Charges. Design for the new Dundalk water tower is planned for 2021, with the tower to be built in 2022. Also, servicing will be changed to a loop rather than a dead end at Hagan and Gold Street . While 2021 will see pump replacements, in 2022 about $16 million is forecast for sewage treatment facility upgrades. Work will also have to be done within the next five years on pumping stations to move sewage.M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
Up to $100,000 will be given to the N.W.T. resident or company that submits the strongest proposal for an investment in technology. That financial pledge comes from the N.W.T. Manufacturing Innovation and Technology Contribution, a GNWT fund designed to find a project that will reduce costs, increase productivity for an N.W.T. business, and increase local employment. Members of the N.W.T. Manufacturing Association and new businesses looking to become a manufacturer can apply, as can individual N.W.T. residents. Those applying must be prepared to make an equity contribution of at least 20 per cent of the cost of their proposal. The project seeks to “support and encourage innovation in the N.W.T. manufacturing sector by supporting research into existing and emerging technologies.” Entries must be submitted by December 13. Application details and eligibility criteria can be found on the GNWT’s website.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Ontario is reporting 1,707 new cases of COVID-19 today, and seven new deaths due to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 727 new cases are in Toronto, 373 in Peel Region, and 168 cases in York Region. The province also reported 299 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 253 among students. Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 737 out of Ontario's 4,828 publicly funded schools. In the province's long-term care homes, 743 residents currently have COVID-19 and six new deaths have been reported today. The province says 109 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
People should expect a slippery rush hour drive Tuesday night, and even Wednesday morning's commute might be snowy, according to Environment Canada.Meteorologist Peter Kimbell told CBC News the City of Toronto can expect two to four centimetres of snow during the day, and another two to four this evening.That's not "earth shattering" accumulation, he said, but it will be steady, alongside temperatures below zero."It's not great for driving conditions," he said, adding that because it's early in the season, people are not used to driving in snow."You have to be really extra cautious because of that fact," Kimbell said.Conditions will likely be worse north of the city, he added, in areas like York Region and Newmarket.The system is slow moving, so it will be "with us for some time," Kimbell said.Environment Canada's forecast is calling for the return of sunny skies on Thursday.
SILVER SPRING, Md. — U.S. construction spending jumped 1.3% in October, the fifth straight monthly increase, again on the strength of single-family home building.The October gain follows a strong upward revision to 0.5% in September, from a previous estimate of a 0.3% gain, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. It's the largest increase since a 2.8% jump in January, before the coronavirus pandemic all but shuttered the U.S. economy. Spending in October was stronger than economists had expected.Single-family home building has been a consistent bright spot for months as a lack of new homes has pushed builders to ramp up projects. Single-family home construction rose 5.6% in October, helping to boost a 2.9% increase in total private residential construction for the month.Nonresidential private construction fell 0.7%, with the category that includes hotels and other lodging falling 3.1%.Spending on government construction projects increased 1% after generally lagging for months, possibly due to budget restraints by state and local governments as the pandemic wiped out large amounts of tax revenue. Construction of roads, schools and public safety projects all increased.During the first ten months of 2020, construction spending is up 4.3% over the same period last year.Matt Ott, The Associated Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined on Tuesday his government’s efforts to secure a COVID-19 vaccine for Canadians and the agreements it signed with pharmaceutical companies including the recent Johnson & Johnson agreement, and said his government will be ready to distribute a vaccine as soon as possible once approved by Health Canada review, but provided no specific dates.
When the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay approved the use of body cameras for municipal enforcement officers in September the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) for the province had some concerns, and two months later he still does. Privacy Commissioner Michael Harvey said that when he found out through the media that the town had passed the policy and officers were wearing them, he contacted the town with a number of recommendations, but hasn’t heard back. “We made some recommendations to council and also all sorts of questions, and we put them to the council in mid-October and have not received any response since then. We’re still waiting.” Harvey said town staff did have an informal discussion with his office, but the town has only intermittently been forthcoming, which is leading to increasing frustration on his end, and may yet lead to a formal investigation. “I’m getting to the point where I may well do that,” he said of a formal investigation. “I’ll make that decision in the coming days.” Harvey said some of the recommendations include that the town clarify when the cameras are being used in the course of the officers' duties, that elected officials not have access to body camera footage and that the town complete a privacy impact assessment. He said there were verbal commitments to some changes made in a meeting between his staff and the town, but his office has yet to see changes to the policy, and the cameras are still in use. “They seem to go long periods of time not responding to us and then respond to us. This is one of the reasons why it’s starting to look more appropriate for me to launch a formal investigation because that would give a formal framework for these questions and in the course of a formal investigation, I have the authority of a commissioner of the Public Inquires Act. Simply not answering my questions becomes less of an option.” A recent incident in the town involving a member of the public and a municipal enforcement officer that is now the subject of an independent investigation also prompted him to contact the town, Harvey said. He said there are four questions he wants answers to: whether the body camera was on and the details of when and how it was used; whether the footage would be provided to the independent investigator; if it was within the scope of the investigation, why the body camera wasn’t on; and what the legal authority was for the officer to be doing whatever he was doing. The last question is important, Harvey said, because public bodies like the town are only allowed to collect personal information with some sort of legal purpose, and only certain things the officer would be doing qualifies as law enforcement. The issue of body camera footage sparked a discussion in the town council meeting on Thursday. Coun. Jackie Compton Hobbs said she doesn’t understand why council members couldn’t simply view footage from the body cameras in some incidents instead of having to potentially spend money on external investigators. “It could be some minor infraction on a property that someone could be insinuating something, and the council could look at and say, ‘That’s wrong, it’s this way,’ and not have to call in a lawyer to get advice on it, that’s my thinking. As for the OIPC recommendations, at the end of the day, decisions are made by council. They’re only recommending that the mayor and town manager view the cameras, but at the end of the day it’s council’s discretion.” Harvey said when he makes recommendations like this they could be construed as advice, but when he makes formal recommendations in a report under the act, some can be formed into court orders and have legal force behind them. Compton Hobbs said she would like council to discuss the recommendations with the OIPC, which had been requested previously. Harvey said he wasn’t aware of any such request, and while it would be unusual for him to meet with an individual council, he would like to discuss the recommended changes with the town. He stressed that his office doesn’t have a particular issue with body cameras, but if a public body wants to use them, they have to comply with privacy legislation. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
WASHINGTON — American factories grew at a slower pace last month and there are concerns that surging coronavirus infections will endanger an economic recovery. The Institute of Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Tuesday that its manufacturing index dipped to 57.5 in November from 59.3 in October. Any reading above 50 signals that manufacturing is expanding. The ISM index plunged in the spring but has since bounced back and now shows factories on a six-month winning streak. New orders and production grew more slowly last month. Hiring actually dropped, reversing a gain in October. New export orders grew faster. Sixteen of 18 industries surveyed reported growth last month, led by apparel and mineral manufacturers. The U.S. economy collapsed from April through June and has since been recovering. But a sharp increase in infections is raising fears that the recovery will lose momentum as state and local governments issue lockdown orders and Americans stay home on their own to avoid infection. “For now, the manufacturing sector appears to be weathering another round of virus outbreaks fairly well,? Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a research note. “However, the outlook is uncertain given targeted restrictions and shutdowns, at home and abroad, could disrupt activity and weigh on demand.? Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
Consumer advocates are protesting a move by the Trump administration that they say will make it harder for the government to punish airlines that treat passengers unfairly.On the Friday during a four-day Thanksgiving weekend, the Transportation Department made final its proposal for defining unfair and deceptive practices by airlines.The rule deems that airline policies – around things like how ticket prices are advertised – are unfair only if they cause unavoidable and “substantial injury” that isn’t offset by some benefit. That is a high bar, in the view of consumer advocates.In addition, the rule lets airlines request a hearing before the department issues new regulations.Charlie Leocha, a travel consumer advocate, said the agency's rule could clear the way for airlines to go to court and overturn regulations that require them to advertise the full cost of tickets and to give passengers a chance to return to the gate if planes are stuck on the ground for hours.Under the new rule, “airlines can do anything they want in terms of passenger protection with no worries,” he said. “This is not good for consumers, and it is a big win for airlines.”The Transportation Department said it received 224 comments, with about 180 of them filed by individuals who argued that the proposal weakens consumer protection. The two Democrats on the Federal Trade Commission also criticized the proposal — commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter wrote that the rule “will seriously hamper the Department’s ability to fulfil its statutory mission of protecting aviation consumers.”The rule was praised by Airlines for America, the main trade group for big U.S. airlines, which argued that current regulations can be arbitrary.“This reform is a critical step forward in ensuring a data-driven regulatory process, which will produce widespread and lasting benefits for air travellers, airlines and the economy,” the group said in a statement.The Transportation Department, led by Trump-nominated Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, acknowledged drafting the rule in response to a request from the airline trade group and a 2017 Trump executive order that urged agencies to reduce regulations.The Transportation Department will soon will be under new leadership after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. Consumer advocates believe the Biden administration will be more pro-consumer. However, even if Biden’s people want to reverse last week’s decision, now they will have to go through a long rule-making process to do so.The airlines have chafed for years under an Obama administration rule that requires them to use the all-in price — including any mandatory taxes and fees — when advertising airfares. The carriers say that's unfair because retailers and other businesses can usually advertise prices before taxes and fees.If the Biden administration is unable to reverse last week's rule, “it's likely consumers will find shopping for flights to become more confusing and frustrating,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst with Atmosphere Research Group in San Francisco.___David Koenig can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriterDavid Koenig, The Associated Press