With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
With meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal
WASHINGTON — Outgoing Attorney General William Barr's decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of the Russia probe ensures his successor won't have an easy transition.The move, which Barr detailed to The Associated Press on Tuesday, could lead to heated confirmation hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's nominee, who hasn't been announced. Senate Republicans will likely use that forum to extract a pledge from the pick to commit to an independent investigation.The pressure on the new attorney general is unlikely to ease once they take office. With the special counsel continuing to work during the early days of the Biden administration, it may be tough for the Justice Department's new leadership to launch investigations of President Donald Trump and his associates without seeming to be swayed by political considerations.Barr elevated U.S. Attorney John Durham to special counsel as Trump continues to propel his claims that the Russia investigation that shadowed his presidency was a “witch hunt.” It's the latest example of efforts by Trump officials to use the final days of his administration to essentially box Biden in by enacting new rules, regulations and orders designed to cement the president's legacy.But the manoeuvring over the special counsel is especially significant because it saddles Democrats with an investigation that they've derided as tainted. Now there's little the new administration can do about it.“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy,” Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.A special counsel can only be dismissed for cause. And as was the case during Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, such probes can sometimes stray from their origins.The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment on the special counsel appointment.But Barr's decision could influence whom the president-elect puts forth as a nominee for attorney general. One leading candidate, Sally Yates, was already viewed skeptically by some Trump-aligned Republicans for her role in the early days of the Russia investigation. Her nomination could face even greater challenges because she's connected to some of the work that Durham is examining.As deputy attorney general, Yates signed off on the first two applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor communications of ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a process that has been among the focuses of the Durham investigation.A Justice Department inspector general report found significant flaws and omissions in the four applications to the court, though it also found no evidence that Yates or any other senior Justice Department officials were aware of the problems.Some Democrats have privately expressed concerns – likely to deepen with Durham’s appointment as a special counsel – that nominating Yates would lead to a messy confirmation process that focuses on the Russia investigation, instead of focusing on reforms and shifting priorities at the Justice Department, people familiar with the matter have said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.Others potentially in the mix for the role include Lisa Monaco, a former homeland security adviser and senior Justice Department official in the Obama administration, and outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who famously prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a Birmingham church in the 1960s.The question for Biden, however, is how to balance top Cabinet picks as he attempts to fulfil his pledge for racial, ethnic and gender diversity. Many of Biden's leading nominees so far have been white, which could work against Yates, Monaco and Jones.Some Black Democrats are attempting to elevate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is Black and led the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Bill Clinton, in discussions about potential attorneys general.Whoever emerges as the nominee will be pressed to demonstrate independence from the new White House after Biden campaigned on a pledge to depoliticize the Justice Department.That could be tough, however, if the future attorney general faces calls for new probes into the Trump administration. Some investigations into Trump have been frozen because of the immunity he enjoys as president. Others swirling around members of his family and associates have been simmering for years.On Tuesday, an unsealed court filing revealed an investigation into a potential plot to solicit political donations in exchange for the president using his pardon power.Barr, for his part, insisted that he was trying to keep politics out of the Durham probe, explaining that is why he delayed announcing the special counsel appointment until a month after the election.“With the election approaching, I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Muller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election,” Barr said in an interview with the AP on Tuesday.“I wanted to have the team, both Durham and his team understand that they be able to finish their work,” Barr said.Durham has already been a huge disappointment for Trump and his allies, and prompted a dispute with Barr over why things weren’t moving faster and why the investigation did not yield major prosecutions in the weeks before the election. The investigation wasn’t expected to result in many more criminal charges, and there has only been one so far — a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to a single charge.But the investigation is worth more politically than practically.A nearly 500-page inspector general report chronicled in great detail the errors and omissions FBI agents made in a series of applications to surveil Page. Declassified documents released by congressional Republicans have raised additional questions while not undercutting the overarching legitimacy of the Russia probe. And the facts of the one criminal case Durham has brought so far, against an FBI lawyer who admitted altering an email, were already mostly laid out in the watchdog report.There’s also been a degree of turmoil within Durham’s ranks as one of the team’s leaders, Nora Dannehy, resigned months ago, a significant departure given the active role she had played.___Miller reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Colleen Long in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
The Kincardine and District Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of the Community Achievement Awards, during a livestreamed ceremony on Nov. 28. The Chamber congratulated all the nominees and winners, as well as award sponsors. Community partners Epcor, Reliance Home Comfort, RogersTV, Jennifer Cook and Associates the Cooperators and JMedia were thanked for their support. The awards, usually presented after a sold-out gala, moved to the virtual format in order to conform to pandemic gathering restrictions and to ensure the safety of all in attendance. “The Kincardine & District Chamber of Commerce is so very honoured to be facilitating this event for another year,” said Chamber executive director, Ashley Richards. “The stories and successes expressed in our record-setting intake of nominations were inspiring.” Congratulations were sent out to Brad Thomas, who retired from his business, Lake Huron Rod and Gun, earlier this year. Thomas was thanked for providing the “community with the tools and imparted important knowledge, to inspire generations of people to embrace the journey of hunting, and foster an appreciation and love for the outdoors,” said Richards. The 2020 Achievement award winners are: Kincardine Food Bank, winner of the Enbridge Quality of Life award. Cati VanVeen, winner of the Royal Bank Golden Apple award. Eden Babbitt, winner of the Ontario Power Generation Environment award. Sylvia Leigh, winner of the Meridian Good Neighbour award. Nadine VandenHeuvel, winner of the Bruce Telecom Young Entrepreneur award. Chris Napier, Sobeys, winner of the Community Living Kincardine & District Inclusion award. Quinn Florist, winner of the BDO Customer Service Excellence award. Kincardine Fall Fair, winner of the Miller Insurance Agricultural Business award. Janice Matchett, winner of the Bank of Montreal Woman of Distinction award. Jamie Hunsburger, the winner of the Law Offices of Andrea Clarke Youth Programming Excellence award. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
The $500-million expansion of the BMO Centre is on track for a spring groundbreaking, according to the Stampede, and that means the demolishing of the old Corral will start this month. The Stampede and the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, which is in charge of the development, say construction of a new hall as part of the existing facility means work can now proceed. "Over the past 18 months, our project team has made significant progress on the preparatory work required to support the successful delivery of the BMO Centre expansion," said Kate Thompson, president and CEO of CMLC, in a news release. "While we've certainly had to adapt and respond to health guidelines brought forward from the pandemic, we are now moving into the next stage, which lays the groundwork for the expansion to be built — it's a major step for the project and the realization of Calgary's Culture & Entertainment District."Crews have already started removing materials from the outside of the Corral, as well as the Plus-15 walkway on its south side. "We have been busy on the interior of the demolition zone, the Corral and Hall A of the BMO Centre, and we've been preparing the building for demolition," said Jim Laurendeau a vice-president at the Calgary Stampede. "Demolition will get underway early next week and we'll be beginning with the smokestack of the Corral and bringing that down. And over the weeks to follow, the remainder of the building will start to slowly come down."The Stampede says in a news release that "memories and memorabilia of the Stampede Corral have been carefully preserved and placed in storage." It says those items that could not be preserved, including the neon cowboy and large concrete figures on the outside of the building, have been documented and could be recreated in the future. The BMO expansion is one of four projects identified by the city as a priority capital investment — including the new arena that will be built nearby — and received funding from both the province and Ottawa in addition to the city's contribution. The expansion project will double the capacity of the convention centre, and proponents say it will put Calgary on the map for large conventions and events. The BMO Centre's current size of 285,000 square feet limits which conventions it can accept. The Calgary Stampede has previously said the venue turns down 11 to 14 large conventions each year.The Stampede estimates the new BMO Centre and other elements, including the controversial events centre, could draw private infrastructure investment of roughly $1 billion.The expansion will break ground next spring and is expected to be complete by 2024.
For the first time in almost a decade, the City of Ottawa might finish 2020 with a slight surplus in its snow-clearing budget.The city expected to spend $78 million in 2020, but unless Mother Nature delivers a December wallop in the coming weeks, looks like it will end up about $500,000 in the black. The last time the city had a small surplus for winter maintenance was 2011. Since then, it has run deficits including a $23-million overrun in 2013 and $21.1 million last year.Laila Gibbons, the city's director of roads and parking, credited the $5.6 million top-up council made in 2020 for finally bringing the budget in line with the actual costs of salting and plowing roads and sidewalks.Gibbons also pointed to changes the department made a year ago that treated winter maintenance differently in suburbs, older urban neighbourhoods and rural areas, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, and gave front-line supervisors more flexibility.Even bigger changes will come when the city eventually adopts new standards for maintaining roads and sidewalks in winter. Public consultation will be held to determine the details.$335M for transportation infrastructureThe transportation committee endorsed some $650 million including $335 in capital spending on roads, cycling, traffic and parking in 2021.Among the big-ticket projects on tap is a $18.9-million widening of Bank Street to four lanes from Leitrim Road to Dun Skipper Drive to cater to the fast-growing Findlay Creek community, a project due to be finished in 2028. There's also $9.7 million to finish widening Strandherd Drive in Barrhaven from Maravista Drive to Jockvale Road.Planning will also begin to widen the Airport Parkway, a project that has long been on the books but has faced delays.Many older roads and the aging sewers underneath will be fully rebuilt, including $12 million spent on Byron Avenue between Kirkwood and Churchill avenues, and $12.7 million on Bel-Air Drive.The city will spend $45 million to resurface and repair dozens more roads across Ottawa.A few councillors, including Jeff Leiper and Shawn Menard, voted against the road widenings, as they want the city to focus more on active modes of transportation and reducing greenhouse gases. In 2021, the City of Ottawa expects to bring in $6 million from the new photo radar pilot that began last July. Money from those tickets will fund a list of projects designed to reduce road fatalities, to be discussed in the spring.Also in the spring, a new line-painting truck that uses more resilient paint will finally hit the road.The final transportation budget goes to full council Dec. 9. Public transit falls under transit commission, whose budget was already discussed last month.
Calgary police say two Good Samaritans jumped in to help out a senior who had been assaulted and robbed in the city's southwest last week. A woman in her 70s was waiting to cross at 37th Street and Bow Trail S.W. when two offenders grabbed her, kicked her and hit her over the head, causing her to fall.The assault happened just before 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 24.According to police, the culprits ran off with the woman's purse toward Westbrook Mall.A witness called police and followed the suspects in her vehicle to a CTrain station.A second witness ran after the suspects and returned with the woman's purse. However, the money had been stolen, police said.Police say they are looking to speak with the witness who returned the purse to help further the investigation.One suspect is described as a Caucasian man in his 30s, about five feet 11 inches tall. He was wearing a dark red jacket, black hoodie, blue jeans and sunglasses.The other suspect is a woman described as wearing dark jeans and a blue-and-grey jacket with white highlights.Anyone with information about the witness or suspects is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 403-266-1234 or submit tips to Crime Stoppers.
Anyone considering getting a COVID-19 test leading up to Christmas so they can spend the holidays with parents, kids or other extended family is being warned against the idea by Windsor public health.A negative COVID-19 test result doesn't mean it's safe to ignore public health guidance on gatherings — even if it's the holidays."I don't want people to ... use the test as a tool to find ways to still do what they do," said Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit."Because if that's the approach, I think that's the wrong approach."Dr. Ahmed was responding to a question about whether he's concerned that the region could see a surge in demand for testing from people looking to mitigate risk — or clear their conscience — before attending holiday gatherings.That may have been the case in the U.S. ahead of Thanksgiving last month. Media reports said there was heightened demand for testing despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging Americans to avoid travel and celebrate with their own household.In Ontario, provincial guidelines determine who is eligible for a COVID-19 test. With some exceptions — some groups can get tested at pharmacies if they're asymptomatic, for example — only those with symptoms or exposure can get tested.Dr. Ahmed strongly encourages them to do so."Anyone who has had a high-risk exposure, anyone who's identified as a close contact, anyone with any kind of symptoms, I think they should definitely, definitely get tested," he said.People who are symptomatic but test negative are required to isolate until they feel better. With the virus's the long incubation period, a negative result doesn't necessarily mean you haven't been infected, Dr. Ahmed said. A negative result can provide a false sense of security around holiday visits."If someone had a high-risk exposure today and even three, four days down the road they go and get themselves tested and if it's negative they feel fine, they could still be infected. Their symptoms can start to show up 10, 11 even 14 days after their last exposure."Public health advice on the holidaysLate last month, the province released public health guidance strongly discouraging multi-household gatherings over the holiday season.In keeping with established guidelines on contact with others, Premier Doug Ford announced Ontarians should only celebrate with people inside their own household."Doing so is critical if you live in a lockdown region," Ford said. "If you live alone you can join one other household. Please don't have big holiday parties."
An equality advocate in Nova Scotia is calling on the province's human rights commission to provide lawyers for people who file complaints, saying the current system creates a David and Goliath battle for victims of discrimination.Judy Haiven of the group Equity Watch Nova Scotia said she saw the need for change first hand while sitting in on a board of inquiry for a complaint filed by Gyasi Symonds in November.Symonds, who is Black, said he was the victim of racism by Halifax Regional Police in 2017 when two officers went to his work to ticket him for jaywalking.The inquiry, which took place over several days, was structured like a casual court. Lawyers were there representing the officers and human rights commission, while Symonds represented himself.Haiven said Symonds was at a disadvantage from the start."He was going up against frankly a very large employer, possibly the largest in the city, the city of Halifax," Haiven said. "Of course his knowledge of the law and his own legal rights are very limited because he's not a lawyer."Few inquiriesSymonds repeatedly addressed the issue during the hearing, saying he didn't understand the format, some terminology, and he pointed out that he was the only one in the room not being paid to take part in the inquiry.It will be six months before the result of that inquiry is known, and Symonds did not want to do an interview about the process until after the decision is released.Haiven points out that those filing complaints are disproportionately people from minority groups, who often would not have access to thousands of dollars to hire a lawyer, or be able to take time off work to prepare their case. She said the commission needs to provide help."If we want to defend people's rights and allow people to have full human and civil rights, we have to fund the human rights commission," said Haiven.Over the last three years, only about five per cent of the complaints ended up in a board of inquiry. Of the 159 complaints received in 2019 and 2020, only nine reached that part of the process.The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission said there's a number of factors that affect that. Some cases reach settlements, some are dismissed because of a lack of evidence and some are withdrawn. Haiven is convinced a lack of support is also an issue."I think it's a rare person that agrees to go before a tribunal, no matter how friendly an adjudicator may be."A problem 'across Canada'The commission's senior legal council agrees the current system is flawed, but said there's no easy fix."Overall, probably yes, the complainant would be at a disadvantage if the respondent was represented by council," said Kymberly Franklin.She said a lawyer isn't needed during the complaint process, but if it does reach the inquiry level, she always recommends a complainant seek council."That is something that is definitely on our radar and it's an identified problem across Canada."Franklin said the answer is not as simple as providing lawyers for complainants.The commission's mandate is to protect the public interest. Franklin said it would be a conflict of interest to support one side and not the other."The commission isn't there to represent people, they aren't there to promote any one complaint."She said they would have to offer help to both sides, and restructure to create a new, completely separate department to do so. Franklin said the money isn't there to cover that."We have a hard enough time trying to get funding for our existing staff of 25."Ontario exampleFranklin said a potential solution would be to work with the Department of Justice and Nova Scotia Legal Aid to see if some help could be provided. She points out currently, legal aid does not practise administrative law.She said in an ideal world, both sides of the inquiry would always have representation."I think the board chairs that we have do a really good job of being open and a little bit more loose with some of the rules because they know that people that don't have lawyers don't know the legal system and don't know how court runs."Haiven said if the province truly wants to fix its issues with discrimination, it needs to start with the commission itself.She points to a system in Ontario, where people making complaints can consult a Human Rights Legal Support Centre. She said there's no reason why something similar can't exist in Nova Scotia."It's one-stop shopping and it's something that we could really use here. It also guarantees that everybody who wants gets their day at a tribunal."For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.MORE TOP STORIES
Don’t travel over the upcoming holidays. But if you must, consider getting coronavirus tests before and after, U.S. health officials urged Wednesday.The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the best way to stay safe and protect others is to stay home.The agency also announced new guidelines that shorten recommended quarantines after close contact with someone infected with coronavirus. The agency said the risk in a shorter quarantine is small, but that the change makes following the guidance less of a hardship.The no-travel advice echoes recommendations for Thanksgiving but many Americans ignored it. With COVID-19 continuing to surge, the CDC added the testing option.“Cases are rising, hospitalizations are increasing , deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase,” the CDC's Dr. Henry Walke said during a briefing.He said any travel-related surge in cases from travel would likely be apparent about a week to 10 days after Thanksgiving.The virus has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000 since January.“The safest thing to do is to postpone holiday travel and stay home," said Dr. Cindy Friedman, another CDC official. "Travel volume was high over Thanksgiving,'' and even if small numbers were infected, that could result in ’’hundreds of thousands of new infections.”‘’Travel is a door-to-door experience that can spread virus during the journey and also into communities that travellers visit or live," she added.For those who decide to travel, COVID-19 tests should be considered one to three days before the trip and again three to five days afterward, the CDC said. The agency also recommended travellers reduce non-essential activities for a full week after they return or for 10 days if not tested afterward. And it emphasized the importance of continuing to follow precautions including masks, social distancing and frequent hand-washing.The revised quarantine guidance says people who have been in contact with someone infected with the virus can resume normal activity after 10 days, or seven days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the pandemic began.The change is based on extensive modeling by CDC and others, said the agency's Dr. John Brooks..___Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press
The owner of the Water Street Dinner Theatre in Saint John says he gave Public Health the names and numbers of the 120 guests and staff who were present for a Nov. 13 show, but he can't say whether that was a superspreader event. Roy Billingsley says he's aware that people are speculating that his was one of " two venues" that the chief medical officer of health has described as being the source of 80 per cent of the current active cases in the Saint John zone. "The timeline might suggest that we were involved," said Billingsley. "But I've received no confirmation of that." Billingsley said Public Health notified him on Nov. 18 about a potential public exposure at the theatre on the previous Friday evening. "I was told that myself and my staff had to isolate for 14 days," said Billingsley, who has since decided to close the venue indefinitely. He said about a dozen employees were working that night, and all were tested for the coronavirus but none tested positive.Billingsley said the business was complying with the strict protocols that were in place at the time and masks were mandatory except when customers were seated at their tables. The venue can accommodate 14 tables of 10 people each, with two metres of distance between the tables. As another precaution, customers were able to place their food orders online in advance of the show, he said.> I do take some comfort in knowing that we were following guidelines. We were playing by the rules. \- Roy Billingsley, Water Street Dinner Theatre ownerThere was an option to order drinks by texting the bartender, and diners could also order beverages in advance of the event.Those who decided to line up for drinks had to maintain the appropriate distance. "I guess I do take some comfort in knowing that we were following guidelines," Billingsley said. "We were playing by the rules. "It's unfortunate that somebody was identified as attending one of our productions having COVID-19. However, I think as long as business owners abide by the rules, anybody who lays blame is kind of foolish for doing so. We're all working within the guidelines, and I think people really need to be kind at this time."Owner not sure when dinner theatre will reopen CBC News asked Billingsley how his business has been faring since the start of the pandemic. He operates both the dinner theatre and a restaurant in the same building across from the cruise ship terminal He said the restaurant, Steamers, is a seasonal business that normally closes in November. This year he decided to close it in September. In March, Ottawa announced a ban on cruise ships in Canadian waters and later cancelled the season entirely. Billingsley said he doesn't know when he'll be able to safely open the theatre, especially since singing is part of the show. "It's been a bit of a roller-coaster," he said. "We've been very fortunate in our region that we haven't had to deal with the effects of COVID for very long … but it certainly takes a toll on you, financially and psychologically." On Nov. 20, when Dr. Jennifer Russell first mentioned the superspreader event in response to a question from CBC News, she said it involved "many" health-care workers. Billingsley said he didn't know about health-care workers attending the show but said many of the customers that night would have known each other.Russell brought up the subject again on Tuesday, without naming dates, times or locations of what she called the superspreader event. She said it occurred at two venues over the course of one evening in Saint John and was directly responsible for 60 confirmed cases in Zone 2. "Sixty people have contracted the respiratory disease from the event — 34 who attended and 26 others who were infected when they came into contact with attendees," said Russell. "This isn't about casting blame, it's really about a teaching moment."
The N.W.T. Housing Corporation on Wednesday said it was providing a total of more than $300,000 to projects in Nahanni Butte and Colville Lake. The corporation's Community Housing Support program will give $50,000 to the Nahɂą Dehé Dene Band in Nahanni Butte to fund emergency repairs to homes in the community. A 2019 GNWT housing report identified Nahanni Butte, one of the smallest N.W.T. communities, as having among the highest proportion of houses requiring major repairs. The Behdzi Ahda First Nation in Colville Lake will receive $264,000 to help construct four log homes providing affordable housing. Materials are scheduled to arrive in April 2021. The First Nation will provide the labour to complete the project. "Log homes are an important part of Colville Lake’s history and the look and feel of our town,” Chief Wilbert Kochon of Behdzi Adha First Nation is quoted as saying. “This project will also provide the community much-needed economic development, jobs and training.” The same 2019 housing report said Colville Lake, another of the territory's smallest communities, had the N.W.T.'s highest proportion of dwellings with housing issues. Ninety per cent of Colville Lake's homes had problems at the time of the report. Some community members said last year they were planning to make their own homes to address the community’s dire need for adequate and suitable housing.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the priority list for the first COVID-19 vaccines is being refined because there won't be enough doses available in the first round to cover the initial groups recommended.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is expanding its visitor ban to Regina hospitals on top of long-term care and personal care homes.The new restrictions come as Regina continues to see rising COVID-19 case numbers.The changes go into effect at 8 a.m. CST Thursday and will be reassessed in 14 days, SHA said.The SHA is limiting family presence and visitation to compassionate care only in all Regina SHA acute care facilities. Compassionate care reasons may include, but are not limited to, family or support persons during end-of-life care, major surgery, intensive care, pediatrics, and inpatients and outpatients with specific challenges."The decision to restrict family presence is not taken lightly. These measures are in place to keep you, your loved ones, and health-care workers safe," said the SHA in a press release. On Tuesday the province reported that Regina was the zone in the province with the most new cases, with 67. As of Tuesday, Regina had 26 people in hospital and another seven people in intensive care due to COVID-19.
As the death toll from illicit drug overdoses continues to mount unabated in B.C., advocates want more specialized services and harm reduction measures to help protect young people. Another 162 fatalities occurred in October due to toxic drug supply, for a total of 1,386 deaths in 2020, according to the BC Coroners Service's most recent figures. Of those killed this year by the overdose crisis, 19 per cent, or 269 deaths, were young people aged 29 years old or younger, with 14 of the dead under the age of 19, the coroners service figures show. Kali Sedgemore, a youth outreach worker and peer harm reduction advocate in Vancouver, said the ongoing public health emergency is in its fifth year, and COVID-19 is only exacerbating the harms. “We don’t even have time to grieve because we know we will hear about another (death) the next day,” Sedgemore said. The dangers of the toxic illicit drug supply are being compounded as people following pandemic protocols use illicit drugs alone and as harm reduction services have been reduced, or wait times have increased at overdose prevention sites (OPS) during the pandemic, Sedgemore added. Youth do not make up the largest number of fatalities, but all overdose deaths are largely unnecessary and preventable, Sedgemore said. In 2020, 70 per cent of those who have died from the toxic drug supply fall between the ages of 30 and 59, and males account for 80 per cent of the deaths to date. Most overdose fatalities involved people dying alone indoors. One immediate way to reduce the harms from toxic illicit drugs to youth is to provide harm reduction and OPS services dedicated strictly to their demographic, Sedgemore said. “Youth are vulnerable to manipulation by adults,” Sedgemore said, adding young people are at risk of being exploited sexually or for money or other reasons. Specialized harm reduction services are already hard to come by in urban areas such as Vancouver but are even more scarce in smaller communities and rural areas, Sedgemore said, noting they originally came from a small community from the northern part of Vancouver Island. Plus, young people — especially those under the age of 18 — are often deterred from using harm reduction services or supplies by providers due to their age, or can come under increased scrutiny from staff at these locations, they said. Both of these situations make youth uncomfortable, Sedgemore said. It’s also critical that medical professionals, social workers or other service providers don’t push youth into treatment before they are ready, Sedgemore stressed. Doing so only puts youth at increased risk, forcing them to be more secretive about any illicit drug use and increasing the unwillingness to use harm reduction services or call emergency services in case of an overdose. Research shows abstinence education, or the "just say no to drugs" approach, is not as effective as talking openly about illicit drugs, the associated risks and, if youth should choose to use them, how to do it safely, Sedgemore said. However, there is also the need for more youth treatment beds and shorter wait-lists for youth seeking help, Sedgemore said, especially closer to their own communities. “I don’t think it’s great sending a youth away from their own hometown and the people youth are used to seeing every day.” The B.C. government plans to double the number of treatment beds for youth aged 12 to 24 who are struggling with substance use. A total of 60 young people under the age of 24 lost their lives to fentanyl poisoning from toxic street drugs from January to June 2020, according to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. The province committed $36 million to create another 123 treatment beds for young people, in addition to 20 beds recently established at a new youth facility in the Fraser Valley. Prior to the recent announcements, B.C. had 103 treatment beds for youth. The new beds are part of a broader continuum of care the B.C. government is planning for young people that will include culturally safe, youth-specific services in both rural and smaller city centres, the ministry stated. Building on its network of youth-specific mental health and substance use services, the province will develop eight new Foundry centres, for a total of 19 youth hubs. Foundry centres provide primary care, youth and family peer supports, walk-in counselling, mental health and substance use services and social services all under one roof. Steve Ayers, program manager for the Foundry located in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, agreed that youth benefit from specialized services and being in charge of any decisions about their drug or alcohol use. “If a counsellor is going to really be impactful, they have to let the client drive the process of making changes around substance use,” Ayers said. “The objective of substance use counselling is to help youth have a better life, and what are some concrete ways that might happen, depending on their choices of course,” he said. Many youth use substances to deal with trauma or anxiety, so alternate tools or strategies need to be developed to help young people deal with that suffering, he added. It’s dangerous to assume youth overdoses due to illicit drugs are only a big-city problem, Ayers said. “It’s absolutely a misconception,” he said, adding the issues that fuel youth substance use exist in every community across Canada. However, youth generally don’t tend to be as entrenched with illicit hard drugs as some other age demographics, especially in rural areas where supply might be limited, Ayers said. “If there’s no supply (of illicit drugs) kids will find other things to do to cope with what they are struggling with,” he said. However, kids and families in rural or remote communities such as the Discovery Islands or small communities across North Vancouver Island can face additional challenges or gaps in accessing supports, Ayers said. Many Foundry services are now available online to try to mitigate the challenges for youth living in more isolated communities who need support, especially with travel limitations due to the pandemic, he said. The youth hub also works with schools to meet with students during class time for those who have to bus in and out of Campbell River. Young people and their families just need to reach out and the Foundry will try to find a fix for any stumbling blocks to service, Ayers said. “We always seem to be able to find them and reach them with help,” he said. “Unless they're just not reaching out at all. And honestly, those are the people that we’re scared for most.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
MAPLE RIDGE – Officials with the Upper Canada District School Board announced that two cases of COVID-19 have been found at North Dundas District High School. The cases come less than a week after a case was diagnosed at Tagwi Secondary School in Avonmore. The board did not identify if the cases were staff or students at the school, or if the cases were related to each other. Contact tracing by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit is underway and people identified who may have had close contact with the infected have been contacted. "The school and health unit are taking all necessary steps to prevent the further spread of the virus in the school and in the community," said UCDSB spokesperson April Scott-Clarke. "The school remains and operating on the regular daily schedule." No outbreak has been declared by the EOHU. A school is considered in an outbreak when two or more infected individuals whose cases are linked go to the same school. It is unknown the case at North Dundas is related to the one at Tagwi. That case, a student, was diagnosed on November 29th. This is the third new case of COVID-19 in North Dundas since Friday. As of December 2nd there are no active COVID-19 infections in South Dundas, and there have been fewer than five cases total. Only one school, a French-Catholic school in Casselman (Sainte-Euphémie) is currently considered in an outbreak. There are 130 active COVID-19 infections in the EOHU region, more than half are in Prescott-Russell. Since the pandemic began there have been 898 cases. Five people are currently hospitalized, none of those are in Intensive Care. Thirty-one people have died from the virus in the region.Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
La Société de sauvetage profite du début du mois de décembre pour rappeler à la population l’importance de respecter les règles de sécurité lors de déplacements sur les plans d’eau gelés. Chaque année, environ sept Québécois perdent la vie par noyade durant l’hiver. La majorité de ces décès touchent des personnes qui marchaient, jouaient au hockey, pêchaient, faisaient de la motoneige ou du véhicule tout-terrain sur un cours d’eau gelé. L’organisation croit aussi que davantage de citoyens sortiront à l’extérieur cet hiver en raison des ventes importantes effectuées dans les magasins de plein air et de véhicules récréatifs à l’automne. Afin de prévenir d’éventuels accidents en motoneige ou véhicule tout-terrain, la Société de sauvetage a émis une liste de 10 conseils à suivre : Par ailleurs, plusieurs cours d’eau ne gèleront pas convenablement et resteront risqués tout au long de l’hiver en raison des grandes variations de température. On estime qu’une glace de 12 cm peut supporter le poids d’une motoneige, seulement si elle est neuve et transparente. Un plan d’eau gelé peut être dans un tout autre état le lendemain. Il est donc recommandé de se renseigner auprès des autorités locales pour connaître les plus récente conditions et sécurité de la glace dans la région. Rappelons qu’un total de 93 noyades ont eu lieu depuis le début de l’année. Il s’agit d’une augmentation de 66 % par rapport à 2019, et ce, même si l'année n’est pas terminée.Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
GUYSBOROUGH – There’s nothing like the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree. But if you don’t get one soon, you might not get one at all. The first thing on your Christmas shopping list this year should be the tree, according to the buzz on the lot at the Northeastern Christmas Tree Association (NECTA). Norman MacIsaac, the association’s manager of marketing, told The Journal last week that they will soon stop shipping because they are getting low on trees. And, while the association ships to the United States and doesn’t sell locally – when they can’t find enough trees to ship, that indicates a shortage in supply across the entire market. The NETCA, located on South River Lake Rd. near Goshen, procures trees for the U.S. market mainly from growers in Guysborough, Antigonish and Pictou counties. The association has 100 members and markets trees for approximately 60 of those members. This year, MacIsaac said, there is a big demand for trees,but not much of a supply. But that, according to him, has nothing to do with the pandemic; it’s due to competition and the plight that faces most of the agricultural sector – the demographic involved in the industry. “The average age of the grower is between 65 and 70 years old; people are getting out of it.” And the competition, that’s coming from below the border. “There are buyers from the U.S. coming in offering more money in some cases,” said MacIsaac. The draw for U.S. buyers is profit, of course. MacIsaac told The Journal that “prices are going up definitely; probably about 10 per cent more than last year and last year was probably about 10 per cent more than the year before.” The actual price per tree varies based on size and grade,but MacIsaac said, “If you’re dealing with premiums, you’ll get a pretty good dollar for them … a 7-8-foot tree of the highest grade would probably get $18 or more [wholesale].” MacIsaac said he isn’t seeing any difference in the tree business this year as far as COVID-19 is concerned, but he does expect it will be a good year for retailers. “I think there is going to be a big demand because people are going to be stuck in their homes because they can’t travel. Retailers are going to do really well, I think.” And he’s not the only one who’s predicting a good season. All over North America the Christmas tree market is booming. Shirley Brennan, the executive director of the Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association told Global News, “People realize ‘I’m not going away for Christmas this year, so I am going to get a real tree.’ Families want a tradition and want to embrace this holiday season because they missed so much this year because of COVID.” While the pandemic might be making you rethink your holiday traditions, it might make you rethink your career choices as well. If that’s the case, here’s some potential advice from MacIsaac. “There are some young people in it, and they are going to reap the benefits of the low supply. They are doing a lot of planting and a lot of grooming. I think they are going to be set up pretty good. Any younger people that manage a Christmas tree farm properly will do well.”Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, is launching her bid for a third two-year term heading the GOP's governing organization after the party’s stronger-than-anticipated showing in November’s election, even though President Donald Trump lost.In a letter Wednesday to the 168 members of the RNC announcing her candidacy, McDaniel said she has the support of Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader McCarthy of California, as well as a supermajority of committee members — all but assuring her victory.McDaniel was selected by Trump for the role four years ago and he endorsed her for a new term about a week after the Nov. 3 election. That could give the outgoing president additional sway over the party as he ponders his own future, including a potential presidential run in 2024.McDaniel, in her letter, echoed Trump's rhetoric about the election and said she would step up the RNC's voting-related litigation efforts and form a committee on election integrity "to continue battling the Democrats’ unprecedented attempts to change election laws."While she did not repeat Trump's false claims that he won the election, McDaniel said the GOP continues “to fight for President Trump" as he makes legal challenges across the country.McDaniel also promised “to explore ways to transition” from what she called the “biased” Commission on Presidential Debates.” Trump has vented about the nonpartisan commission, which instituted tight safeguards against the coronavirus after Trump came down with COVID-19. Trump refused to participate after the commission decided the second debate would be virtual; it ended up being cancelled.Despite Trump's musing about running again in four years, McDaniel pledged to uphold the party's neutrality in primaries. The GOP "will remain neutral and focus on laying the groundwork," she wrote. “I will work to ensure that all Republican candidates can be successful.”Under McDaniel, the GOP deployed the largest field operation in politics, including more than 3,000 staffers and 2.6 million volunteers, and raised more than $1.3 billion for GOP candidates. Republicans restored much of their field program this summer despite the pandemic while Democrats largely kept to all-virtual voter contacts. Republicans believe that helped them outperform expectations by retaining vulnerable Senate seats and narrowing Democrats’ majority in the House.“President Trump earned more minority votes than any Republican candidate in decades, and a record number of women, minorities and veterans were elected to office,” McDaniel wrote. “This is a legacy our Party can be proud of, and we must continue to build on this historic momentum.”Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
The Kincardine Theatre Guild has devised a way to bring live, local entertainment to the homes of residents who are pining for theatre and a boost for their Christmas spirit, during the pandemic. The 2020 Advent Calendar – a gift of theatre, will showcase short video clips, submitted by the public, to help bring some holiday spirit to the community. Earlier this year, the Guild was in the midst of preparing for its production of Curse of the Silver Pharaoh, when the pandemic hit and restrictions were implemented. Bringing the play to the stage was put on hold and while it had hoped to resume rehearsals and reschedule performances for later this year or early 2021, the second wave of COVID struck, and all plans have been put on indefinite hold. “We were well into rehearsals for the spring 2020 show, Curse of the Silver Pharaoh, when the Covid lockdown happened,” said Debbie Deckert, a performer and Guild board member. “We kept hoping this would be a short term thing but sadly we have had to cancel the show, but plan to put it on at a future date. The way things are now, we’ve had to cancel our 20-21 season. We’re only allowed to have three to five crew members in the theatre for maintenance work, no public access.” “Theatre can get to feel like a family and it’s really tough when we can’t be together. We’re looking at alternatives and this “Gift of Theatre” gives us an opportunity to test online performances.” The initiative, which began on Dec. 1, offers a daily clip provided by members of the public. People were invited to send in a video of a song, a dance, reading a poem, or a skit, approximately three to eight minutes in length. The daily video is available for viewing on the Guild website, www.kincardinetheatreguild.com, its YouTube page or on Facebook. The performances are free to view. In lieu of an admission payment, a donation to the Food Bank would be appreciated. “If you enjoyed this presentation, please consider making a donation to the Food Bank,” said Deckert. Deckert hopes the Guild will receive enough clips to offer a new performance every day until Dec. 24. Questions regarding the clip content or format can be directed to Jim May by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and any late submissions should be directed to Deckert at email@example.com. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
PASADENA, Calif. — It was a rare sight after Los Angeles County restaurants were restricted to takeout to reduce the spread of the coronavirus: tables and chairs set up outside the Pie 'N Burger shop in Pasadena.Owner Michael Osborn explained to two men who approached him Monday that the city famous for its Rose Parade had marched to its own beat and kept outdoor dining open.“God bless Pasadena!” the two exclaimed, placing their order and taking a seat at one of the sidewalk tables, Osborn recounted.Pasadena has become an island in the nation's most populous county, where a surge of COVID-19 cases last week led to a three-week end to outdoor dining and then a broader stay-home order that took effect Monday.The decision by Pasadena health authorities to buck Los Angeles County has been a relief to restaurateurs who have struggled to stay afloat amid closures, ever-changing rules and attempts to keep workers on the job and money in the till. Even Pasadena has made changes, mandating that only people in the same household can gather starting Wednesday, which applies to outdoor seating.“We’re not out of the woods yet, but every day that goes by is a blessing that we can keep the outdoor dining open,” Osborn said.Infections and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County have been rising sharply in the past few weeks, hitting an all-time high Tuesday of more than 7,500 new confirmed cases and the rate of positive tests rising to 12% from 7% a week ago.The county's health order, which only allows restaurants to prepare food to go, applies to about 10 million residents in the region except those in Pasadena or Long Beach — cities that have their own public health departments and can set their own rules.Long Beach, a city of about 460,000, also closed outdoor dining. It implemented a stay-home order Wednesday that mostly mirrors the county's: urging people to stay inside as much as possible, further restricting capacity in stores and banning all public and private gatherings except for protests and religious services.Closing dining at 31,000 county restaurants created a backlash among owners and some politicians who say there's no evidence eating outside is a big risk. Health officials counter that not wearing a mask while eating raises the threat of transmission.Owners argue it will force more people to gather indoors, where the virus is known to spread easier and no one is enforcing rules.A divided LA County Board of Supervisors rejected a measure Nov. 24 that would have kept outdoor dining open. The Los Angeles City Council passed an urgent resolution last week asking the county to rescind the order, and Beverly Hills took similar action Tuesday. Restaurants went to court to stop the restrictions, but a judge denied their request.Pasadena, a city of 140,000 at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, has mostly followed the county's lead during the pandemic.But the home of the Rose Bowl and California Institute of Technology decided to chart its own course last week. Because it's smaller and can more closely monitor its 600 restaurants, officials said they chose more aggressive enforcement.“We literally have seen COVID cases in a large percentage of businesses across the city,” Pasadena spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said. “To single out restaurants was unfair.”County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said she couldn't predict whether Pasadena's decision would have an impact on the county's infection rate. Given the city's size, it may be able to ensure safety measures are followed, she said.But she noted that a lack of compliance was not the reason dining was shut down.“We are closing restaurants for outdoor dining for three weeks because people who are there are not able to wear their face coverings,” Ferrer said. “There’s much greater risk of transmission both to workers and to other people at your table and other people that are eating at the other tables.”Over the weekend, seven Pasadena restaurants were closed after inspectors found violations ranging from staff not wearing plastic shields over masks to seating people indoors, Derderian said. All had been approved to reopen after correcting errors.Inspectors also shut down a car show, broke up birthday parties and soccer matches in parks, and warned people exercising that they had to wear masks, she said.If the city doesn't stop outdoor dining altogether, it could be forced to do so by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who suggested Monday that a more “drastic” stay-home order could be in the works as the state tries to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.At Lucky Baldwins, a pub in Pasadena's Old Town, business picked up Monday around happy hour. A patio that was expanded into an alley was about half full, and servers wore masks and face shields.Anthony Angulo, who had driven from nearby Altadena to meet a friend, was glad he had an option to get a bite and some beers.“A lot of these business owners are struggling, and they don’t need to be hamstrung. They’re doing the best that they can,” he said. “Nobody is going inside standing shoulder to shoulder.”Owner Peggy Simonian said she was relieved Pasadena allowed two locations to stay open. She had to close a sister cafe in nearby Sierra Madre under the county order.“I feel stuck,” Simonian said. “I can’t move forward, can’t move backwards, can’t do anything. I can’t make this situation any better.”___Melley reported from Los Angeles.Brian Melley And Christopher Weber, The Associated Press
Lors de la dernière séance du conseil des maires de la MRC des Pays-d’en-Haut qui avait lieu le 25 novembre, le budget global pour l’année 2021 a été adopté. C’est un montant total de 10 858 589 $ qui est prévu pour la prochaine année. Ensuite, projets de règlements ont été déposés concernant la répartition des quotes-parts payables à la MRC des Pays-d’en-Haut à différents égards. En ce qui concerne l’administration générale, une somme de 1 012 945 $ est prévue. 181 627 $ sont prévus pour l’aménagement du territoire, 471 845 $ pour les parcs récréatifs des Pays-d’en-Haut, 1 521 825 $ sont prévus pour l’évaluation foncière, 49 652 $ pour la sécurité publique. En ce qui a trait à l’hygiène du milieu, 5 479 286 $ sont prévus pour la gestion des matières résiduelles et 105 637 $ pour les cours d’eau. 135 000 $ sont prévus pour la culture, 243 922 $ pour les trans-ports, 637 641 $ pour le développement économique et territorial, 767 744$ pour le complexe sportif et 119 000 $ sont prévus pour des frais reliés à la COVID-19. Il y a également eu dépôt d’un projet de règlement établissant une nouvelle réserve financière de 132 465 $ pour le financement de liens d’interconnexion entre le parc linéaire le P’tit Train du Nord et le corridor aérobique pour les municipalités non limitrophes à ces infrastructures. Cette somme sera aussi utilisée pour la mise en valeur et l’amélioration de ces dernières. Certains maires et mairesses ont manifesté leur déception puisqu’ils ont affirmé avoir reçu certains documents relatifs à la répartition des quotes-parts par municipalité en avant-midi vers 11h, alors que la séance pour adopter les dépôts de règlement était à 13h30 durant la même journée. Toutefois, comme ce sont des projets de règlements, ils peuvent être sujets à changement avant qu’ils soient adoptés lors de la prochaine séance. Différents règlements ont également été adoptés dont le règlement 596-2020 modifiant le Règlement (416) sur le zonage afin de permettre la possession, la garde et l’élevage de poules dans l’ensemble des zones de la municipalité de Morin-Heights. À Piedmont, la résolution 13350-1120 permettant au commerce Olodge de pratiquer 3 activités (tenir un atelier de réparation de vélo, un café et une boutique) a été adoptée. Le Règlement 222-64-2020 à Saint-Sauveur a également été adopté, permettant à certains terrains sur la rue de l’Église d’avoir des services d’aqueduc.Marie-Catherine Goudreau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès