WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
TORONTO — 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
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.
CHARLOTTETOWN - Sukhmeen Caur is concerned about the impact India's farm reforms will have on its farmers, she said. "It's harming people," she said. "Because of these laws, there's going to be no food on the table." Caur, who's originally from Punjab, India, was one of about 10 to 15 people demonstrating by the Charlottetown cenotaph on Nov. 30 - many of whom were members of P.E.I.'s Sikh community. They were raising awareness and showing their support for the Punjab and Haryana farmers protesting a series of laws imposed by India's government in September. The farmers believe their livelihood will be affected by the reformed laws, and when about 300,000 attempted to march into the city of Delhi last week they were met with police barricades, tear gas, and water cannons, demonstrator Manpreet Singh said. "They were stopped forcefully," he said. "They were beaten, they were harassed." Singh, who's also from Punjab, said farming is a primary source of income for India. While the goal of the reforms was to give more control to farmers, the farmer's main concern with them is that a minimum price for what their crops can sell for is no longer guaranteed or regulated, potentially giving corporations more control and profit. For example, one Indian farmer reported selling his wheat crop for 7 rupees per kilogram, after which the buying corporation processed and sold it for 150 rupees per kilogram, Singh said. "They're not treated like people. They're treated like animals," he said. While rising tensions have resulted in a meeting to be called between some of the country's farm unions and the Indian government on Dec. 3, the Charlottetown demonstration was to oppose the police and government's violent response to the protests for showcasing a lack of democracy, Singh said. "I have my right of speech in this country," he said. "But in my country right now, it is not trying to listen to the farmers." Caur added that accurate news coverage on the protests out of the country is difficult to find due to social media censorship, so the Charlottetown demonstration was to inform Islanders of what was going on. "I am here, I should also know what's going on here," she said. "(And) they should know what's going on in India." While only a maximum of 20 people was permitted to gather at the Nov. 30 demonstration due to COVID-19 protocol, Caur noted a larger rally may be held in the near future pending the Chief Public Health Office's approval. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
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.
P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office still doesn't know how a high school student diagnosed with COVID-19 on the weekend caught the disease.Extensive testing has been done on the contacts of the Charlottetown Rural student but no source has been found, according to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison.At her regular weekly briefing Tuesday morning, Morrison said she believes the student was likely in direct contact with someone who had travelled off P.E.I."I would encourage all teachers and students in P.E.I. schools with smartphones to download the free national COVID Alert app," she said.The student was one of two cases announced on the weekend. The other person had travelled off-Island.There are now a total of 102 people in self-isolation on P.E.I. who have been connected to recent cases.Sharp decrease in travelSince the Atlantic bubble was suspended last Tuesday, personal vehicle traffic has dropped by about 80 per cent, said Morrison.During the first weeks of November an average of 1,120 personal vehicles crossed Confederation Bridge every day. Since the bubble was suspended last week that fell to 220 a day.It is still possible for Islanders to travel to the mainland under some circumstances and not self-isolate when they return.If the travel is for medical, child custody, airport dropoff or student pickup purposes, Islanders can be exempt from self-isolation. They are not allowed to stay overnight and interactions while travelling should be brief, physically distant, and be kept to a minimum. No stops in public places or visits with family or friends are allowed as part of the trip.P.E.I. has had 72 cases of COVID-19, with four currently considered active. There have been no deaths and no hospitalizations.More from CBC P.E.I.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada was one of the first countries to sign deals with U.S.-based vaccine producers Pfizer and Moderna, decrying what she described as misinformation. Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre says basic questions around when citizens will be immunized against COVID-19 remain unanswered due to government dithering over the summer.
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
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
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
The COVID-19 pandemic made it harder for many to find and afford menstrual products. It also gave Isabela Rittinger and scores of other volunteers in and around Toronto time to do something about it. Rittinger, a first-year student at Queen’s University in Kingston stuck attending virtual classes from home in Pickering, jumped into the fray by creating an international chapter of a U.S.-based period movement in March. By the summer, she and a group of others, including many students, had split off to create Bleed the North and declare Canada’s first ever National Period Day, part of a campaign to fight menstrual stigma and period poverty, the inability to afford pads and tampons, which can cost between $75 and $150 a year. The group, now numbering 80 people, has since collected and distributed more than 10,000 period products, in kits of 11 pads and 7 tampons, enough to cover a typical menstrual cycle. It was all Rittinger could do to feel useful at a time of massive upheaval, and the community and team-building helped get her through the worst of those early days. “I don't know what I would have done with my time and how I would have faced the COVID lockdown if not for the people I had met at Bleed the North,” she said in an interview. “Those few months at the beginning were really, really dire and it was just like, if I didn't have this to pour all my time and my heart into I don't know where I would be.” Bleed the North started off collecting donated pads and tampons and delivering them to shelters and individuals in need in Durham Region outside Toronto, but has since eyed getting student trustees on school boards across Ontario to pitch for them to make period products freely available in all secondary school bathrooms. “We hear all the time from menstruators afraid to go to the bathroom holding a pad or a tampon,” said Mia Medic, who takes a lead on Bleed the North’s advocacy efforts. “That's stigma, that's period stigma.” “No one in school, no teacher, has ever told me to not be ashamed to have a period,” she added, noting the group plans to create a sex education toolkit for teachers in the coming months and recalling her experience learning the biological basics in grades 5 and 6. She said it was important to get products into all bathrooms “so every student who menstruates has access to products,” pointing out that “not all women menstruate and not all those who menstruate are women.” Independent of their efforts, Peel District School Board recently said it would provide free period products after a student trustee push, but there is no provincewide legislation. “Even sparking conversations within school boards and within authority figures is super, super important,” Medic said. “I would love to hear (Education Minister) Stephen Lecce talk about periods and talk about menstruation, even if we don't get anywhere, just to hear people in power speak about it is a win for us, because it's a start.” One-third of the under-25s in a Plan Canada survey of 2,000 cisgender women conducted in early 2018 said they struggled to afford menstrual products. (It did not include the specific experiences of trans men and non-binary menstruators.) Those in Indigenous and rural communities suffer acutely from a lack of affordable access, with a box of tampons costing between $16 and $40 in rural Indigenous communities that Bleed the North is trying to reach. “I think one for us coming into 2021 is figuring out how we can support communities that we don't necessarily live near because obviously a lot of us are young 17, 18-year-olds who in their cars go to different communities and drop off products to shelters,” Rittinger said, noting it might make more sense to fundraise and e-transfer to remote shelters and other sources. Bleed the North itself has largely subsisted on small individual donations of cash and goods to distribute, including a contactless drive-thru drop-off where it raised $500. A peer organization called Menstruation REDefined hosted a virtual art auction and sent them half the proceeds. The federal government proposed to make federally regulated workplaces provide workers with free menstrual products in May last year, while in Ontario a bill tabled by the opposition NDP’s Bhutila Karpoche at around the same time to declare a provincial menstrual hygiene day has stalled at first reading. British Columbia's government issued a first-in-Canada ministerial order requiring all public schools to provide free menstrual products for students in school bathrooms last April. Bleed the North’s monitoring of legislative efforts elsewhere show little to no movement. The group said it has received interest from advocates on university campuses and other sites in other provinces (it has a couple in Quebec already) and is looking to expand across the country next year. “We're hoping to expand nationally next year and having contacts all across the country that we can rely on to start this in their own communities and hopefully reach as many people as possible.”Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
In a regulatory filing, Airbnb set a target price range of between $44 and $50 apiece to sell 51.9 million shares, which would pull in $2.6 billion. Of the shares being sold, Airbnb founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk will together sell nearly $100 million worth of shares in the IPO launch. The San Francisco-based firm also gained from increased interest in renting homes away from major cities.
China has increased scrutiny of its technology sector in recent weeks, last month drafting anti-monopoly rules for tech firms. It has also expressed concerns about data protection and consumer rights, while authorities have on a number of occasions ordered apps to be suspended for mishandling user information.
Canada will not agree to lifting a ban on non-essential travel with the United States until the coronavirus outbreak is significantly under control around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday. Trudeau's comments were a clear indication that the border restrictions will last well into 2021. The two countries have highly integrated economies and Canada sends 75% of its goods exports to the United States every month.
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
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
It’s been a different year for Gander Fire Rescue. Normally, members’ calendar would be filled with things like handing out Halloween candy to children at the hospital or opening the fire hall for tours. However, things like that were scuttled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the fire department was hoping to do something this year. With that in mind, some members of the department came up with the idea of collecting winter clothing for children. “We just thought we were going to get jackets and stuff, but people were asking if they could donate certain items and we said, ‘Certainly, go ahead,’” said Addison Quilty, Gander Fire Rescue’s assistant deputy fire chief. The department’s goal was to collect the same number of winter clothing as there are fire hydrants in Gander. That set their aim at 427 pieces of clothing. They didn’t care if it was mittens, gloves, toques, jackets or boots, as long as the department was able to get what they aimed for. It turns out they got all of those things in abundance — they’ve collected 432 pieces of clothing. “We’ve been really impressed,” said Quilty. “We’re still getting things now.” The pandemic has changed the way organizations handle donated items, and Gander Fire Rescue is no different. The department put a pair of bins outside the fire hall and once an item was placed in the bin, it stayed there for 24 hours. When it entered the building, the clothing was cleaned again. In the next little while, the department will start bagging up what they’ve collected and delivered it to the Salvation Army. From there, the church’s community and family services division in Gander will distribute the items where they are needed. “The Salvation Army is certainly very grateful for that kind of partnership with us, to be able to provide that kind of practical donation to help people for the cold winter months,” said Maj. Rene Loveless, public relations and development secretary with the provincial Salvation Army. “That's fabulous.” Loveless said he was impressed with the number of items the Gander fire department collected in a short period. Ensuring children have adequate clothes for the winter months, which can be harsh at times in central Newfoundland, was at the heart of the Gander Fire Rescue clothing drive. To see that effort to help children was something that stood out for Loveless. “It’s a beautiful thing, really,” said Loveless. The department isn’t done collecting clothing just yet. They’ve set a deadline of Dec. 6 and then they will stop collecting. In the meantime, their final number could be even higher by the time they call it off next week. “People are still not afraid to help others out,” said Quilty. “It is a good thing to see.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
China successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon's surface on Tuesday in a historic mission to retrieve lunar surface samples, Chinese state media reported. China launched its Chang'e-5 probe on Nov. 24. The mission will attempt to collect 2 kg (4-1/2 lbs) of samples in a previously unvisited area in a massive lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or "Ocean of Storms".
Canada's economy notched record growth in the third quarter, with real GDP expected to climb 0.2% in October, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday, though analysts cautioned the rebound would stagnate in coming months amid renewed COVID-19 restrictions. Canada's Q3 annualized growth soared 40.5%, rebounding from a historic plunge in the second quarter, while September real GDP rose by 0.8%. Despite the gains, total economic activity remains about 5% below February's pre-pandemic levels, Statscan said.
Community concerns surrounding the future of the moose population near a small, remote First Nation west of Williams Lake has led its newly-elected chief to ink a five-year memorandum of understanding with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS). Yunesit’in government (Stone) is the latest First Nation to reach such an agreement with the COS to promote wildlife sustainability through joint communication, collaboration and enforcement. “It’s going to open the door to have some meaningful meetings, and taking better jurisdiction and care of our moose and deer population out west,” Chief Lennon Solomon said Nov. 30 outside the Tsilhqot’in National Government office in downtown Williams Lake. Solomon, who was elected chief of Yunesit’in in Sept. 2020, said the community voiced their concerns to him after seeing a decline in moose numbers in recent years. COS Insp. Len Butler of the Thompson Cariboo Region said working with Solomon is a real benefit. “We have the same concerns, and it’s the unlawful hunting of cow moose and if we’re working together, it’s much better than working apart on these issues,” Butler said. “Having that backing and us working together is good for the moose populations but also all the species of wildlife.” This year has seen an increase in illegal hunting activity such as hunting on private lands and trafficking, Butler noted, stating there has also been a lot of ‘unfortunate’ night hunting activity within the area. Butler and Solomon both agreed there is more than one factor leading to the moose population’s decline, including predation and logging. Tsilhqot’in National Government Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse described the Yunesit’in caretaker area as prime moose habitat that has been heavily logged. The area was also heavily impacted by wildfires that tore through the region in 2017. “They’d say that our hunters used to go out in the wilderness and get lost, now there are so many logging areas out there they go out on the logging roads, and they get lost,” Alphonse said. Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune