WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 26, 2020 When a single mother was struggling to afford a bed for her and her kids, Mike the Mattress Guy stepped up. Owner Mike Rudkins dropped off bunk beds for the children and a queen-size bed for Mom. That’s the kind of charitable gesture that helped Rudkins and his wife, Krista, earn the provincial Small Businesses, Big Hearts Award. The Barrie entrepreneur also helps the community by offering free delivery for donations to the Barrie Food Bank or the Women’s and Children’s Shelter of Barrie. Last May, Small Business Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria created the award, which was designed to recognize businesses that help their community during COVID-19. Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin presented the award at the Barrie store. “Mike the Mattress Guy helped our community by donating services, resources and time to help others so that the vulnerable can be in a better position to rebound from the economic challenges brought on by COVID-19,” she said in a media release. If you know a small business that has stepped up to help the community, send their story to email@example.com Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
There are five new COVID-19 cases in Arviat, Nunavut, as of Thursday, according to the territorial government.The new cases brings the community's active case count to 68, while the territory is at 75 active cases, it says in a news release issued on Thursday. The total number of active cases in the territory has been going down over the past week.All active cases in Rankin Inlet are now recovered while Whale Cove has seven active cases as of Thursday. The territory's top doctors said it's important the community stays vigilant."While Rankin Inlet has successfully flattened the COVID-19 curve, I ask residents there to remain strict in their commitment to continue on this path and follow the current public health restrictions," said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief public health officer, in a statement."COVID-19 is not over in Nunavut. Everyone needs to ensure they do their part to bring us to zero active cases in the territory and remain committed and prepared for a potential resurgence of the virus."Contact tracing in all impacted communities is ongoing and people in isolation are being monitored by public health staff, the release says.As of Wednesday, there have been 223 tests done in Rankin Inlet with negative results, while Arviat has had 643 negative tests and Whale Cove had 125. Sanikiluaq is still being monitored.People who think they have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to call the COVID-hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, or notify their community health centre and immediately isolate at home for 14 days.People are asked to not go to the health centre in person.
Almost one month after his Nov. 9 surgery, Evan Paterson is reportedly “progressing well with his therapies and, slowly but surely, his incision is healing and looking better.” In late October, the Cosmos featured a story on young Evan Paterson, a three-year-old who required brain surgery. Evan’s family had started a campaign to raise funds to support his recovery journey, which would include physical therapy, and medical aid devices. The GoFundMe has now raised almost $17,000, and is still growing. Three weeks post-op, Samantha Bishop, Evan’s mom, reports that the young boy is doing well. “This week he started to use a stander to help build his strength, with support, in order to one day start walking again. I was in a bit of shock when his physiotherapist said that’s what we were doing - I didn’t realize he was making THAT much progress!” says Bishop. Evan’s surgeon reports that he is confident Evan will heal well with time. Bishop says the Holland Bloorview rehab hospital has been a wonderful place for the beginning of Evan’s recovery and, again, she wishes to thank the community members who have helped support their cause. “We could not be more thankful.” “This week we find out how long they think Evan will need to be in the hospital. We have hopes that it will only be for a couple of months and then we can continue therapies at home,” says Bishop. Earlier this year, in July, after a series of seizures, a lesion was found on Evan’s brain. Doctors decided that the best way to stop the seizures and ensure that Evan continued to develop in a regular pattern, the left and right sides of his brain would need to be disconnected. It was predicted that, after the surgery, Evan would be extremely weak on one side, have no peripheral vision, and would have to learn how to do fundamental tasks again. “We are over the moon excited that he’s already in a stander!” says Bishop. To follow along with the family’s updates, or to make a donation, visit the Hope For Evan GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/f/agzcs-hope-for-evan Justyne Edgell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos
VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board team has been assigned to investigate a marine accident that seriously injured two crew members from a freighter moored in English Bay, off Vancouver.A statement from the board says the team will examine why a lifeboat from the bulk carrier Blue Bosporus was accidentally released from the ship on Dec. 1.A coast guard statement issued Tuesday said the two crew members were hurt as they carried out a routine drill in the covered lifeboat.The boat began to sink after it had dropped into the water and a vessel from the Kitsilano coast guard station was one of several that responded, rescuing the injured sailors.The statement from the safety board says its team will gather information and assess the occurrence.Three Ukrainian crew members died and one was hurt in October 2000 when a similar covered lifeboat fell about 15 metres into the water from a bulk carrier moored in English Bay.A report by the safety board in 2003 identified issues with the lifeboat's lowering mechanism and the hooks connecting it to the launching equipment. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
WINNIPEG — A Manitoba judge has agreed to hold a special hearing Saturday to determine whether a Winnipeg church can hold drive-in services despite a ban under the province's COVID-19 restrictions.Springs Church and two of its pastors have already been fined $32,000 for allowing people to gather in the church's parking lot and remain in their vehicles while one of the pastors speaks from an outdoor stage.The church says it has taken precautions to keep congregants safe."This is a church which is not anti-maskers, they're not COVID disbelievers," Kevin Williams, the church's lawyer, told court Thursday. The church says the province is violating religious and association rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is seeking a temporary stay of the province's public health order that would allow drive-in services to resume this weekend and continue until the case can be heard.The government said its health order, which forbids public gatherings of more than five people and requires church services to be held online only, is needed to stem a rising tide of COVID-19 cases.Government lawyer Denis Guenette also said the church is being allowed to hold services, just not in-person."The service is going on, it is being telegraphed remotely," Guenette said. "What's not being permitted is the gathering in cars on the parking lot."Manitoba's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, would not comment on the matter Thursday as it was before the courts. He has previously said the ban on in-person religious services, even drive-in ones, is aimed at keeping people home as much as possible and reducing public gatherings.Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Court of Queen's Bench agreed Thursday to hear the church's application for an interim order Saturday morning — hours before the church's first scheduled service of the weekend.Manitoba has had a surge of COVID-19 cases this fall. Health officials reported 367 new cases Thursday and 12 additional deaths. Roussin has repeatedly said intensive care units are being stretched close to capacity.The province has enacted a series of tightening restrictions on public gatherings and business operations. The most recent rules forbid in-store sales of non-essential items and have forced restaurants to offer food only for pickup or delivery.Another church, outside of Steinbach in southeast Manitoba, has gone further in its defiance by holding in-person services indoors and has also been fined.Premier Brian Pallister urged Manitobans Thursday to take the pandemic seriously. At the end of a news conference — after reporters had finished asking questions — Pallister offered harsh words for people who don't believe the novel coronavirus is a threat."If you don't think that COVID's real right now, you're an idiot," the premier said."You need to understand that we're all in this together."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
During questioning in the P.E.I. Legislature Wednesday about the province's nurse shortage, Health Minister James Aylward said Health PEI is recruiting using several methods — including working with Quebec to bring in French-speaking nurses. The opposition parties were grilling Aylward during question period about how he plans to deal with an ongoing shortage of nurses, especially in light of revelations this week that Veterans Affairs Canada had recently hired away 32 nurses from Health PEI. "We're working closely right now with Quebec as well, because Quebec goes to France every year to recruit upwards of 300 nurses," Aylward said in response to a question from Liberal Robert Henderson.Aylward said France graduates thousands of new nurses every year. "What we're looking at is bringing in 20 to 30 French-speaking nurses into the province so we can support facilities such as Chez Nous and other areas here that require bilingual-speaking nurses," Aylward said. In November, Le Chez-Nous seniors' home in Wellington said it had been unable to open its new long-term care wing because it can't find nurses to work there. Dozens of vacanciesWhen pressed about dozens of other nursing vacancies listed on the province's website, Aylward said Health PEI recently hired 20 nursing graduates, and has had expressions of interest from some of next year's graduating class.He added that there are currently 14 internationally educated nurses about a year away from graduating from a bridge program to bring them in line with P.E.I.'s hiring requirements, and there are "robust" nursing recruitment efforts going on in Alberta, where the province is letting health-care staff go, including nurses.Aylward added that the nursing shortage is a national problem, and previous governments "should have seen this coming."'We're at the breaking point'Green MLA Trish Altass circled back to the issue of DVA hiring away nurses from Health PEI. Those nurses are working on clearing up a backlog of tens of thousands of veterans' disability claims. "Many of those nurses asked for a leave to pursue a new short-term opportunity and were denied, so they quit," she said. "Why didn't you grant these nurses leave?"Aylward said that was a decision made by Health PEI, which he called a "standalone operation." He added he is working with P.E.I. MP Lawrence MacAulay, the federal minister of veterans affairs, on an agreement that would allow some of those nurses to be seconded back to Health PEI if the Island experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases.Altass wanted to know if Aylward was investigating why the nurses chose to leave in the first place, mentioning other provinces had offered health-care professionals bonuses and extra vacation when COVID-19 cases were low. The P.E.I. Nurses' Union said Monday nurses are looking for "better work-life balance" and are feeling "undervalued, not appreciated and always being asked to do more with less."Aylward replied he has instructed Health PEI's human resources department to conduct exit interviews with the nurses.Henderson said he is worried long-term care homes on the Island may have to close because they don't have enough staff to operate safely. "Staff are saying that we're at the breaking point ... where facilities may have to close, especially long-term care, where they cannot provide a safe work environment for their residents or for their staff." More from CBC P.E.I.
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 23, 2020 Cannabis has been legal in Canada for two years, but several police raids on illegal grow-ops show the illicit market continues to thrive. The OPP said it seized more than 122,000 illegally grown plants, valued at about $143 million on the street, following 52 raids across the province since July 1. “There is still a huge demand for illegal cannabis here in Ontario and in Canada,” Det.-Inspt. Jim Walker told Simcoe.com. “A great deal of the illegal cannabis we are seeing is being exported into the United States and it’s coming back in the form of U.S. currency, but also in harder drugs like cocaine, meth, fentanyl and in some cases firearms.” The provincewide investigations ended with 195 arrests, the seizure of 36 firearms, $76,000 in cash and $514,000 in property obtained by crime. Twenty-five of the 52 search warrants were conducted in central region, which includes Simcoe County, where more than 7,000 illegal plants were discovered in a Midland industrial building last month. Walker said illegal grow-ops are being operated by “opportunistic” individuals who are using loopholes in Health Canada’s medical cannabis licences and diverting cannabis to the illicit market. Suspects allegedly “stack” personal and designated cannabis grow applications onto one address, Walker said. “So you are getting cannabis grown in these large-scale illegal cannabis production sites with no intention of it every going to a medical patient,” he said. Walker said those who purchase cannabis illegally should know they are supporting criminal groups involved in human trafficking, weapons offences and dealing hard drugs. “When you are buying it from the black market, those funds are going to the pocket of criminals.” The illegal grow-ops are also impacting the quality of life of residents who live near a large facility. “Municipalities are getting complaints about them not abiding by the bylaws and even building codes,” Walker said. Earlier this month, New Tecumseth town council placed a hold on new applications related to the production and cultivation of cannabis until a study has been completed. A grow operation popped up near Tottenham earlier this year without town approval, creating noxious odours for nearby residents.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
A small plane crash-landed and hit a vehicle on a Minnesota interstate, with no injuries reported. A portion of the highway in suburban Minneapolis was closed for several hours. (Dec. 3)
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 11, 2020 Master Cpl. Jonathan Woolvett didn’t die on the battlefield. But the horrors he endured as a soldier in Afghanistan ultimately cost him his life. The Canadian veteran, who saw two tours of duty in that wartorn country, was remembered with reverence Nov. 11 as his mother laid a wreath in his honour during a Remembrance Day ceremony at the Barrie Legion. “He paid the price. He gave it all,” Diana Monteiro told Simcoe.com. “I tried to change his mind a million times not to go back there, but he always wanted to be a soldier ever since he was a little kid.” Woolvett passed away March 17 at Royal Victoria Regional District Health Centre due to complications from catastrophic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He was 38. Woolvett was a “boots-on-the-ground” soldier who saw the nightmare of war first-hand, once having to pick up the pieces of a fellow soldier who was killed by an explosive device. Woolvett received the Medal of Sacrifice in 2013 for saving Canadian lives while fighting the Taliban. “In a hail of bullets, he went and grabbed a friend a hundred feet away and brought him back in a helicopter,” his mother said. “They always said Jonathan was the first one in and the last one out. I’m very proud of him.” At the end of his second tour in 2009, he returned to Canada physically able, but the Barrie-area resident never overcame the mental anguish he carried with him until he died of a heart attack in hospital. “They call it the living death,” Monteiro said. “What never gets talked about is the ones that commit suicide when they come back.” During an interview with Global News in 2014, Woolvett spoke about the nightmares he tried to quash with alcohol and prescribed medications. “A lot of my nightmares are of stuff that didn’t necessarily happen over there. But it’s my greatest fears, like being overrun, being captured, my friends being systematically executed in front of me.” In 2013, he made national headlines when his father addressed an all-party committee of MPs about the “tremendous disconnect” between the military chain of command and the medics treating soldiers with combat-related mental injuries. Greg Woolvett told committee at the time his son was “drinking himself into stupidity” to wash away the nightmares, but appeared to be getting little help from his military commanders. Still, Jon Woolvett had a gregarious side and was popular among his friends and teammates in the Barrie Molson Sportsmen Hockey League, where he went by the nickname “Gunny.” He would tell his teammates stories of Afghanistan, but would lighten the mood with humorous anecdotes. “He always was the entertainer,” his mother said. “When he was little, he was always the last one out of the dressing room because he was performing for his friends.” Woolvett served in Afghanistan from Jan. 21 to Aug. 30, 2007, and Sept. 9, 2008, to March 22, 2009. He retired from the military on April 2, 2015. He is buried in Beechwood National Military Cemetery in Ottawa.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
The Commissioner of Yukon has announced this year's inductees to the Order of Yukon.In a news release sent Wednesday, Commissioner Angélique Bernard gave the names of the ten inductees from the territory who were chosen from nominations submitted to an advisory council. "2020 inductees were chosen for their demonstrated excellence and achievement and their outstanding contributions to the social, cultural or economic well-being of Yukon and its residents," the release states. This year's recipients include:Bess Cooley, who is known as a master of the Tlingit language, and has done significant work on the genealogy of the inland Tlingit. Keith Byram, known for being a big supporter of multiple community organizations and working with many local businesses in Yukon. Byram founded Pelly Construction and employs a large number of Yukoners.Doug Phillips, who served as an MLA from 1985 to 2000, and then as the territory's commissioner from 2010 to 2018. He lobbied to have the Taylor House in Whitehorse designated as Yukon's Government House. Philips has also been small-business owner, and a volunteer on many Yukon boards and committees. Jack Cable, a Liberal MLA from 1992 to 2000, and commissioner of Yukon from 2000 to 2005. He has also been involved in volunteer organizations including the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon and the Law Society of Yukon.William Klassen, who has worn many hats in his career, including as an RCMP officer in Teslin, a conservation officer, a wildlife biologist, and deputy minister with the Yukon government. He has also been involved with the Riverdale Baptist Church since the early 1970's, the Whitehorse Gun Club, Yukon Agriculture Association and the Salvation Army. Frances Woolsey, a respected Ta'an Kwäch'än elder and a leader in promoting Indigenous culture. Dr. Sally MacDonald, who has been a family physician in Whitehorse and several Yukon communities since 1980, delivering over 1,000 babies in the territory. She has also taken on the role of assisting people at the end of their lives. Gertie Tom, who has contributed to First Nations language revitalization throughout the territory. She used the details of her speech patterns to provide a basis for a practical writing system for the previously-unwritten Northern Tutchone language. From 1961 to 1965, she worked as a part-time translator and broadcaster for CBC Radio in Whitehorse.Agnes Mills, a Vuntut Gwitchin elder who has worked to advance the rights of Indigenous people as the National Elder of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and was the First Nations elder at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The Honourable Ron Veale who was the first to have the title of Chief Justice of Yukon, and initiated the earliest civil actions about the abuses suffered by Indigenous children in residential schools. The commissioner's office says it will be posting a video recognizing this year's recipients on its Facebook page on Jan. 1.
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 13, 2020 If you happen to have an interaction with a front-line Barrie police officer, you may be on camera. The city’s police service rolled out a pilot project Oct. 13, providing 25 officers with body cameras to test how beneficial they are for officer safety and transparency. An evaluation of the results will take place and a report will be presented to the police services board. The service is starting the pilot project after studying their use in other jurisdictions. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced funding for RCMP body cameras, and Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders is expediting body cameras for his officers. Calgary police are one the few large municipal police services in Canada to use the Axon body cameras. So what does this mean for Barrie officers and citizens? Will the cameras always be on? The short answer is no. Officers will engage the cameras when they arrive on a call or are about to engage in an investigation. The officer controls when the camera is off or on. What happens to the footage? The footage is uploaded to a secure server to be used for an ongoing investigation or for court evidence. Footage not needed for court will be deleted within one year. How will you know when you are being recorded? The camera will have a flashing red circle when it is recording. The flashing red light can be disabled if it compromises officer safety. What if you don’t want to be recorded? Officers do not need consent to record in a public place but must ask permission in a private place, unless they have a search warrant to enter the premises. Can an officer delete or edit the video? No. Officers have no control over the video once it is recorded. At the end of their shift, video is uploaded to a secure virtual server and is retained for one year unless needed for court. Can you view the video? A written request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is required before a decision can be made to release video or deny its release. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 19, 2020 Collisions in Barrie have dropped sharply during this year’s pandemic compared to last year, but there was an increase in one critical area. There have been nine people killed in vehicle collisions so far this year, compared to only three during the same period in 2019. The city’s police services board reviewed the numbers during a meeting Oct. 15. Overall, 779 collisions were reported to Barrie police from January to September 2019, compared to 464 from January to September this year. The statistics are part of a strategic plan update for the Barrie Police Service. The report states the reductions are likely due to COVID-19 restrictions, which have translated to fewer vehicles on the road this year. Collisions that resulted in injuries fell from 252 in 2019 to 134 this year, which represents a 40 per cent decline. Collision without injuries decreased from 524 last year to 321 during the same period this year. Criminal charges were laid in connection with at least one of the fatal crashes this year. Two teens aged 17 and 19 were charged with dangerous driving causing death after Paige Ferreira, 17, was killed in a crash on Georgian Drive Jan. 29. Police said a collision occurred after two drivers had an “interaction.” That case remains before the courts. Meanwhile, charges have not been laid in connection with the death of 26-year-old Cynthia Cisneros, who was struck and killed by a snowplow while crossing Veterans Drive at Mapleview Drive, at about 12:35 a.m. Jan. 17. Cisneros had moved to Canada from Mexico and was working as a cleaner when she was struck. A co-worker was also injured. Barrie police are attempting some creative measures in a bid to reduce speeding, especially in residential areas. The report says a new initiative known as “Constable Scarecrow” will test if a lifelike cutout of an officer holding a radar gun will reduce speeding. Residents in high-complaint areas will be surveyed to assess their feeling of safety and perception of police response. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Le gouvernement du Québec est finalement revenu sur sa décision initiale et interdira les rassemblements à Noël. Cette décision est prise en raison de la propagation du virus de la COVID-19. «Ce n'est pas réaliste de penser que nous allons réussir à réduire la progression du virus de façon satisfaisante d'ici Noël», a mentionné le premier ministre François Legault lors du point de presse tenu le 3 décembre. Il a ajouté qu'il comptait sur le «sens des responsabilités» des Québécois pour respecter la décision annoncée. Des amendes pourront être remises à ceux qui contreviendraient à cette interdiction. Les mesures annoncées en novembre, telles que l'enseignement à distance dans les jours qui précéderont et suivront le congé des Fêtes, ainsi que la réduction des activités des employeurs pendant cette période, seront maintenues. M. Legault souhaite que la province soit dans ses «meilleures dispositions possibles pour janvier afin de briser la vague». «On focalise beaucoup sur Noël et les rassemblements, mais je pense qu'on doit se pencher sur ce qui se passe dès maintenant, note Dr Horacio Arruda, directeur national de santé publique. Les chiffres sont assez alarmants pour qu'on doive appliquer les consignes à vigueur. Si on attend pour le confinement de Noël, on ne fera pas les gains nécessaires. Il faut que les cas baissent au maximum pour épargner notre système de santé.» Rappelons que le «contrat moral» proposé le 19 novembre permettait aux familles de se réunir lors de deux rassemblements du 24 au 27 décembre. Celui-ci était toutefois conditionnel à l'évolution de la pandémie et à la hausse des hospitalisations liées à la COVID-19. Avec un bilan de 11 823 personnes testées positives à la COVID-19, Laval a connu une hausse de 135 cas en 24 heures. Le total de décès depuis le début de la pandémie augmente à 728. Le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de Laval cumule également 10 298 guérisons, ce qui signifie qu’il y a désormais 797 cas actifs confirmés (-37) sur le territoire lavallois. Parmi les personnes touchées, 26 sont hospitalisées, dont 8 aux soins intensifs. 26 employés de l’organisation de santé sont toujours absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Cinq résidences privées pour aînés (RPA) de Laval sont présentement touchées par la COVID-19. Voici la liste complète de celles-ci : Par ailleurs, le Jardin des Saules a été placé dans la catégorie des RPA en situation critique en raison du taux d'infection. Au Québec, le bilan est maintenant de 146 532 cas et 7155 décès. Au total, 737 personnes sont toujours hospitalisées, dont 99 aux soins intensifs.Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 11, 2020 Megan O’Donnell of Barrie, a freshman classical voice major at the University of Toronto, joins the online concert première of the new musical Sticks & Stones on Oct. 16, as part of National Bullying Prevention Month. The stream, which starts at 8 p.m., can be seen at broadwayworld.com and broadwaycares.org. It will be available through 8 p.m. Oct 20. Sticks & Stones adapts the Biblical story of David and his triumph over Goliath to address the issue of teen bullying. During the free stream, donations will be accepted for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Born This Way Foundation, founded by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
OTTAWA — The father of a young woman who died in the Boeing 737 Max crash last year says federal officials told victims' families approval of the beleaguered aircraft is "imminent."Transport Canada's head of civil aviation informed family members in a virtual meeting Wednesday the department is on the cusp of validating changes to the plane — already cleared for takeoff in the United States — said Chris Moore, who lost his 24-year-old daughter Danielle in the tragedy.The Max has been grounded in Canada since March 2019, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plummeted to the ground six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board in the second of two Max crashes less than five months apart.Moore said he is concerned the review processes that led regulators to green-light a fatally defective plane remain in place."They basically said they have one or two minor things to go over," Moore told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. "But we still don't know exactly how they're going to reform the way that they validate these airplanes."Transport Canada has spent months poring over changes made to the Max, which contained critical flaws in its MCAS anti-stall system that could plunge it into a nosedive if a sensor failed.Departmental approval would be the first step on the path back to the runway, a process that would not wrap up before January, said Amy Butcher, a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Marc Garneau.The initial validation stage is expected "to conclude very soon," she said in an email, noting that Canadian operating requirements will differ from those issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)."These differences will include additional procedures on the flight deck and pre-flight, as well as differences in training."Following the first 737 Max crash in October 2018, which killed 189 people aboard Lion Air Flight 610 off the coast of Indonesia, the FAA conducted a study that found more crashes could occur as a result of faulty stabilizing software. It sent preliminary results of the risk analysis to Transport Canada.The department has not disclosed what precisely the preliminary report revealed, why it did not ground the plane or the reason it only obtained the full analysis after the second disaster 19 weeks later.Moore and other family members have called for a public inquiry into Transport Canada's validation of the Max, which New Democrat MP Taylor Bachrach proposed last month in a motion to the House of Commons transport committee. The motion was voted down 9-2."I think Transport Canada failed. After the first crash, they should have grounded that plane in Canada, which would cause other agencies to follow suit," Moore said Wednesday."I am channelling my daughter’s energies and passions and her sense of justice," he said, noting Danielle was en route to the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi."She couldn’t stay still. She was a beautiful girl."Gilles Primeau, a flight systems engineer, told the committee on Nov. 24 that design deficiencies remain on the Max, Boeing's bestselling plane — and one of the deadliest ever produced, with more fatalities in its first four years on the market than any other commercial aircraft in history."I would not get on this aircraft … The grandfathering has been stretched too much," he said."It’s safer now that the MCAS software has been changed. However, to say that this is now the safest airplane because of all the scrutiny is just not true."In a three-and-a-half-hour meeting Wednesday afternoon, three Transport Canada officials — director general of civil aviation Nicholas Robinson, director of aircraft certification David Turnbull and a test pilot — assured about 10 of the victims' family members that the validation process would thoroughly scrutinize changes to updated aircraft, Moore said.A complex return-to-service plan would follow validation, and involve training and maintenance instructions for planes that have languished unused for 20 months, Butcher said in her email. It would also include an "airworthiness directive," which would notify operators that certain defects must be corrected before the aircraft can fly again.Reassurances from transport officials failed to satisfy Paul Njoroge, whose wife, three children and mother-in-law died in last year's crash. He told the transport committee on Nov. 24 that others should not have to experience that profound trauma, which has left him "in a chasm of solitude, isolation and pain.""The difficult thing in life is when you are living in a world full of billions of people, but you just feel alone all the time."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 23, 2020 Barrie police has pulled the plug on a sexual-assault investigation that included the circulation of an artist’s sketch of a possible suspect. The sketch was widely publicized by local media outlets, and police created a direct tip line for information from the public. But police closed the case without charges following a three-week “thorough, detailed and comprehensive investigation,” according to a media release. “Investigators have determined that there was never a threat to public safety and, as a result, there will be no further details or updates provided regarding this investigation,” police stated. Police were called Oct. 1 about a sexual assault that was reported to have taken place in Hurst Park while a woman was walking her dog. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance