A Georgia judge has denied bond for the white father and son charged with murder in the February slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25 year-old Black man. (Nov. 13)
A Georgia judge has denied bond for the white father and son charged with murder in the February slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25 year-old Black man. (Nov. 13)
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
Le préfet de la MRC du Fjord-du-Saguenay, Gérald Savard, demande au premier ministre Justin Trudeau qu’il accélère le déploiement de l’Internet haute vitesse sur le territoire dans le cadre d’un plan de relance en tant que priorité nationale. Dans une lettre datée du 19 novembre dernier et adressée au premier ministre et aux députés Richard Martel et Mario Simard, M. Savard affirme que 40% des bâtiments de la MRC ne sont pas ou sont mal desservis par l’Internet, faute de rentabilité possible, une situation qualifiée d’inacceptable. M. Savard mentionne que le service Internet de qualité est une condition essentielle pour le développement économique, social et culturel, en plus de contrer le déclin démographique et la vitalité des communautés. Il poursuit en affirmant que le contexte de pandémie actuelle démontre l’importance de déployer l’Internet pour briser l’isolement, faire évoluer les pratiques dans les entreprises avec le télétravail tout en assurant leur survie. En dépit de l’annonce d’un investissement supplémentaire de 750 M$ s’ajoutant aux milliards $ annoncé lors du budget 2019, M. Savard soutient que trop peu de foyers seront branchés rapidement. Selon lui, un des obstacles au déploiement de l’Internet haute vitesse concerne l’accès aux poteaux alors que les propriétaires s’installent rapidement tandis que les autres doivent affronter un processus bureaucratique long et fastidieux pour obtenir les permis nécessaires. Il ajoute que la stratégie pour la connectivité en vertu de laquelle 95% des Canadiens auront accès à la haute vitesse en 2026 est trop longue.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
EASTERN SHORE – Former Moser River resident Marie Turner entered Northwood Continuing Care facility last November. While it was her first placement, it was not her first choice. When she applied, she selected Harbourview Lodge (HVL) in Sheet Harbour as her first choice, to allow her to live in the same community as her family. Turner’s sister, former Dartmouth mayor Gloria McCluskey, is unhappy her sister has not, after a year, been transferred back to her home. McCluskey looked into the policy posted on the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) website. “The policy reads ‘as soon as a vacancy becomes available – you are transferred to your first choice’ – but that’s not true. She’s housed now – they have no compassion. There have been vacancies in HVL over the past year but no transfer for Marie,” she says. Turner contracted COVID-19 last spring as a Northwood resident and spent months unable to have any visits from family members, especially while she was ill. “Marie was in a room with another woman and they didn’t even move her,” complains McCluskey. “She suffered from pains in her legs and headaches. She was lucky and did not become extremely ill – and she survived.” The former politician with a 23-year history in municipal government stresses long-term care facility workers are underpaid for the work they do. “They work hard. Administration undervalues the work they do so they can have a lower pay scale. They’ve dropped the ball. COVID should never have been in there [Northwood].” Turner will turn 93 on Dec. 6 and her sister says she should have been given the opportunity months ago – before the pandemic – to transfer to HVL to spend these years near her children and grandchildren. “They don’t care,” McCluskey tells The Journal by phone. “They have such little empathy for seniors. The dear soul has already had COVID, she could have been transferred before this second wave.” McCluskey does not feel there is any hope her sister will get moved now. “They’ve closed the facilities again. They had given false hope and now there is no solution – they are not going to move anybody now,” she said. McCluskey and Turner are two of the four sisters left from a family of nine. “How little do our seniors mean? They seem to think seniors only die anyway. They built our country and deserve dignity,” McCluskey says. Arthur Turner, Marie’s son, tells The Journal how difficult it was for his family when his mom was diagnosed with coronavirus. “I feel frustration about her being there – and not here – as her choice was. The system should be in place that puts her where she chooses to live.” The last time Arthur saw his mother, in person, was this fall at Northwood. “I had all the COVID gear on and was able to hug her – but only for a second.” When Turner heard of his mother’s COVID diagnosis he felt there had been no consideration for either his mother or her family. “We might never see her again. She was quite low and we couldn’t visit and maybe had seen her for the last time….” Communication with his mother, while she lives in a facility 90 kilometres away from him, has proven to be a challenge. “We try to reach her by phone – but we usually can’t get a hold of her. It’s always an ordeal,” Arthur says. “We have to wait until the nurses are available to help us set it up and get Mom to the phone. She is in her room a lot.” Arthur remains hopeful his mother will ultimately get the transfer she desires and become a resident at Harbourview Lodge. “It would be so good for her to return to her home community. I feel she deserves it, really. You know, she taught school down here and worked for the Guild faithfully,” he shares. “She was a real good person – she was a member of the Eastern Star and helped raise a lot of money for her community. She set a good example.” Arthur’s sister, Ann Martin, is a registered nurse at HVL. “It would be wonderful for Mom to be here and have my sister so close – helping to care for her. We could all see her. I know during COVID they were not moving anybody but there have been quite a few openings here – but there always seems to be red tape,” she says. The Journal contacted NSHA to inquire about the transfer and placement policy, but did not receive a reply by press time.Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said Thursday in a written news release one additional COVID-19 case has been confirmed in P.E.I. The man is in his 20s and is a rotational worker who recently travelled to the Island from outside the Atlantic region. He has been self-isolating since arriving in P.E.I. and tested positive on routine testing. Contact tracing has been completed, the release said. The case is not related to any other recent positive cases.In a weekly interview with CBC News: Compass, Morrison said she is pleased P.E.I. hasn't seen widespread community transmission. A youth centre in Cornwall that suspended activities when the pandemic hit said it will not reopen, even when public health restrictions allow.Storytime from the P.E.I. Library Service has returned, but has gone online.Islanders who want to donate reusable face masks can now drop off donations at Access PEI locations across the province, and free masks will now be available at 14 food banks and pantries around P.E.I. P.E.I. is adding 55 new front-line positions to schools across the province to support students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.Several P.E.I. appliance stores are dealing with a shortage of products to sell because COVID-19 is affecting the manufacturers of fridges, stoves, washers and dryers.Nova Scotia reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday; the province now has 119 active cases. New Brunswick reported six new cases Thursday, and is dealing with 111 active cases.P.E.I. currently has five active cases, and there have been 73 positive cases since the onset of the pandemic, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
SHEET HARBOUR – The Royal Canadian Legion Courcelette Branch 58 is hurting like other non-profit organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. During good times the legion was self-sufficient, sponsoring ongoing fundraisers – such as bingos, 50/50 draws, hall rentals, dances and darts – to cover operating costs and ongoing maintenance. After 10 months of an unprecedented pandemic affecting many aspects of the economy, legion members are looking at their budget and reaching out to the community for continued support. A member of the fundraising committee, Barby Cochrane has a message for residents who rely on the legion and the services it offers. “We need the community's help and support. When we open back up in two weeks, we need those who feel safe to come out on Friday night, even if it is just to have one drink or buy a strip of tickets [Chase the Ace]. We need those who cannot come out to reach out to us and we'll arrange to get tickets for you or you can support the 50/50 online,” says Cochrane. “Our numbers for Chase the Ace usually increase week by week, but this year they did not. We had our steady 30 or so participants weekly. “The legion is the only place in the community to gather and it would be a loss to the community, if we had to shut the doors permanently,” Cochrane tells The Journal in an email. “We'll continue to promote the 50/50. We'll hopefully get some of the Covid-19 relief funds from the government. Hopefully, we'll be able to open again after these two weeks, and we'll be able to start Chase the Ace again and community events. But, none of this will matter unless we get the support from our community,” Cochrane says. Past President Vance Thompson adds, “We have helped 25 different organizations within our community over the past few years with Chase the Ace – paying out more than $150,000. We also have a benevolent fund to help people in need – not only vets, but also community members…. The income is used to keep our aging hall going – roof repairs, plumbing repairs, new accessible washroom, new kitchen, new bar fridge, wheelchair ramps, general upkeep of exterior. All these help customers access the building and feel welcome.” Yearly dues are $40 per member, with the local legion receiving a small percentage of that income. Fundraising efforts are the main source of income, although the legion does rely heavily on grants. “We also support community groups, such as the Lions Club, Lily's Hill, GSAR, ATV club, HYGGE [Travel Club], the Sheet Harbour and Area Heritage Society and St. James Church by partnering with them for our Chase the Ace fundraiser,” Cochrane says. “In the past we have helped individual community members when we were able. We also provide rent free space to any and all fundraisers in the community. It is our way of contributing to the fundraiser.” The building is in need of a new roof. The expected expenditure will be in excess of $40,000. Cochrane says they have applied for grants to cover approximately $30,000, but the fundraising committee and legion members will need to work to raise the balance. “The pandemic has hit us hard,” Thompson says. “We had to close our hall in mid-March and we re-opened in mid-September – only now to be closed again for the next few weeks. All events and rentals we had going on are now cancelled until further notice.” There will be about $2,000 in lost income due to the cancellations. “Our membership is primarily made up of elderly residents who are now not able to visit our branch,” Cochrane says. “They cannot come out for Muffin Morning or Chase the Ace or bingo. The reduction in the number of people attending events has impacted our income substantially … yet the building must still be maintained and the expenses must still be paid.” The legion’s service officer supports veterans by providing a confidential service. The officer liaises with other organizations on behalf of the veteran to ensure that they receive everything to which they are entitled. “The branch provides a place for the veterans to gather, services to honour them, and a place where they can remember,” says Cochrane. “We support our veterans through our service officers and poppy campaign, helping them with any requirements they require. As for the community, the legion has always been there for them – even more now that we are the only hall open in the area,” Thompson says. The legion faces membership challenges as most branch members are elderly. “The legion won't continue to operate, if younger people in the community don't get involved. We have to hire maintenance, such as cleaning and sanitizing after events, and shoveling and snow clearing,” Cochrane says. Sometime after Dec. 7, a new Chase the Ace license will start and the Rafflebox 50/50 online draw will continue weekly. Bingo has been closed for the winter and the hall will be open to rentals or community fundraisers. Muffin Morning, dart league and pool will continue to be offered. “The government protocols allow half the normal allowance; 84 people can be accommodated downstairs, with 150 upstairs. Tables are arranged to allow for six-feet spacing. Masks are required and hand sanitizer is provided. We do have a sign-in procedure in case contact tracing is necessary,” says Cochrane.Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Charlottetown is expecting work on stormwater culverts on Capital Drive in Charlottetown will be completed Thursday.The work closed the busy road between North River Road and the Maypoint roundabout. That section of Capital Drive connects Charlottetown to Cornwall and other communities to the west.Traffic had to take a detour.The project, which started about a month ago, replaced twin stormwater culverts under the road.Guardrails and fencing were installed Wednesday, city officials said. Lane marking will be done Thursday, and the road should be open in the afternoon or evening.The budget for the project was $1.3 million.More from CBC P.E.I.
WASHINGTON — In the modern twist on old-fashioned war games, the U.S. military dispatched cyber fighters to Estonia this fall to help the small Baltic nation search out and block potential cyber threats from Russia. The goal was not only to help a NATO partner long targeted by its powerful neighbour but also to gain insight on Russian tactics that could be used against the U.S. and its elections. The U.S. Cyber Command operation occurred in Estonia from late September to early November, officials from both countries disclosed this week, just as the U.S. was working to safeguard its election systems from foreign interference and to keep coronavirus research from the prying reach of hackers in countries including Russia and China. Estonian officials say they found nothing malicious during the operation. The mission, an effort analogous to two nations working jointly in a military operation on land or sea, represents an evolution in cyber tactics by U.S. forces who had long been more accustomed to reacting to threats but are now doing more — including in foreign countries — to glean advance insight into malicious activity and to stop attacks before they reach their targets. The Defence Department has worked to highlight that more aggressive “hunt forward” strategy in recent years, particularly after Russia interfered through hacking and covert social media campaigns in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. American officials were on high alert for similar interference in 2020 but described no major problems on Nov. 3. “When we look at the threats that we face, from Russia or other adversaries, it really is all about the partnerships and our ability to expand really the scope, scale and pace of operations in order to make it more difficult for adversaries to execute operations either in the United States, Estonia or other places,” Brig. Gen. William Hartman, commander of the Cyber National Mission Force, said in a conference call with a small group of reporters this week. Estonia, a former Soviet republic, was in some ways a natural fit for a partnership with Cyber Command because in years past it has been a cyber target of nearby Russia, including crippling attacks on government networks in 2007. Estonian officials say they have since strengthened their cyber defences, created a cybersecurity strategy and developed their own cyber command, which like the U.S. version is part of the country’s military. While nothing malicious was found on the networks during the exercise, “what we did learn is how the U.S. conducts these kinds of operations, which is definitely useful for us because there are a lot of kind of capability developments that we are doing right now,” said Mihkel Tikk, deputy commander of Estonia’s Cyber Command. Tikk added: “In some areas, it is wise to learn from others than having to reinvent the wheel.” Hartman declined to discuss specifics of the operation but said the networks in Estonia were “very well defended.” “I don’t want anyone to leave here with the impression that Estonian networks were full of adversary activity from a broad range of nation states” because that is not the case, he added. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the commander of Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency, has hinted at a more aggressive, proactive federal government approach to cyber threats. In an August piece for Foreign Affairs magazine, for instance, Nakasone wrote that U.S cyber fighters have moved away from a “reactive, defensive posture” and are increasingly engaging in combat with foreign adversaries online. Cyber Command has worked in past years with countries including Montenegro and North Macedonia on similar missions. Estonian officials say they believe the partnership could be a deterrent to countries such as Russia. “These kinds of operations, I think, they will continue,” said Undersecretary of Defence Margus Matt. But, he added, “I don’t know how much we will speak of them publicly.” U.S. officials say they think the risks of a proactive approach — a country could regard such an operation as a provocation toward a broader international cyber conflict — are outweighed by the benefits. “We believe that inaction in cyberspace contributes to escalation more than reasonable action in cyberspace,” said Thomas Wingfield, deputy assistant secretary of defence for cyber policy. Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Tesla surged 5% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to "buy" in the run-up to the electric car maker's addition to the S&P 500 index. Tesla was Wall Street's most traded stock by value, with about $25 billion worth of shares exchanged, according to Refinitiv data, more than double Boeing, in second place.
Parents of students with special needs are struggling to adapt as states decide whether to close schools again as a second wave of COVID-19 hits the country. (Dec. 3)
Storytime from the P.E.I. Library Service has returned.Before the pandemic, Storytime was a popular event for children and families, who would gather to hear a local librarian read, but pandemic public health restrictions shut them down.Storytime has now made a virtual return, and the first online story was read Thursday morning. The event will happen weekly at the same time on Zoom, with space for about 20 families to participate."We really miss the children coming in for programming,' said Lori MacAdam at the library service."Our staff misses them. I'm sure the families miss that connection as well."The virtual Storytime will be conducted in the same format as the old in-person sessions, with the occasional song mixed in with the book readings. Families do need to contact the library using this email address to pre-register for each session.MacAdam said there are plans to add more online offerings from the library —for all ages — until it's safe to resume programming inside the libraries again.More from CBC P.E.I.
Seven classrooms have been shut down at Diamond Trail Public School in Welland after an individual there tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” District School Board of Niagara said in a news release. Whether the individual who contracted the coronavirus is a student or staff member was not publicly known Wednesday. “The preventative COVID-19 practices that Diamond Trail has been following since the beginning of school, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue,” DSBN said. The same day DSBN reported the case at Diamond Trail, Niagara Catholic District School Board confirmed that the case count at St. Martin Catholic Elementary school in Stevensville had climbed to double digits. The province’s database is indicating that three of the school’s10 cases have been resolved. Of the remaining cases, four have been identified as students and three as staff. The Niagara Catholic website indicated these seven cases are the only active cases for the board. An outbreak was declared at St. Martin on Nov. 19. For DSBN, there are seven active cases from six schools; two at Prince Philip and one case at Martha Cullimore in Niagara Falls, two cases at Eden High School in St. Catharines, one at Port Colborne High School and one at Diamond Trail. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
ESKASONI, N.S. — The provincial government announced Wednesday it was committing more than $700,000 to help with the transportation needs of multiple communities and as a result, Eskasoni First Nation will receive $117,685 for transit funding. “We’re excited, this is something the community members have been asking for and we got it,” said Chief Leroy Denny. In Eskasoni, the money will go toward purchasing a nine-passenger van for door-to-door service within the Mi’kmaq community and a 20-person bus offering routes to Sydney and Membertou First Nation. The province will contribute $67,685 for the van and $50,000 for the bus. Funding for the initiative was provided through the accessible transportation program and covers 75 per cent of the vehicle cost. Other funding announcements for Cape Breton communities includes: $17,353 for a five-passenger van for La Cooperative de Transport de Cheticamp; $55,385 for an eight-passenger van for Strait Area Transit, and $50,000 for a 16-passenger bus for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Denny says the transit service is something the community has advocated for in the past and the system will address some of the barriers the residents face. Eskasoni is about 44 km from Sydney and Denny says some community members on a fixed income must pay money for rides into town so the bus will be a cost-saving tool. Bus service will come at a small fee, but the price will not be fixed until bus drivers are hired and more is known about the operating fees. “Public transportation allows people to more fully participate in their communities and better access work, schools, shopping and important services,” said Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, minister of communities, culture and heritage in a news release. Denny expects the transit system to be operational in early 2021 but will adhere to strict safety guidelines as the province deals with the second wave of COVID-19. He believes reliable transportation may lead to more employment for some community members. “Transportation is very important if you want to get to school or work,” said Denny. In October, the Eskasoni health department launched a bus system to help ease transportation concerns when accessing health care. The recent announcement is separate from that initiative. But both are expected to help residents without vehicles travel around the large reserve. Eskasoni has more than 4,500 residents and spans more than 100 hectares of land. Denny says the population continues to grow and the transit system is another way to help the community. “It’s a really good thing and we’re excited for it,” said Denny.Oscar Baker III, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post
BRUSSELS — A senior legal adviser said Thursday that the European Union’s top court should reject Hungary’s attempts to overturn a European Parliament action aimed at holding the country to account for what lawmakers consider to be a breach of the bloc’s values.Advocate General Michal Bobek recommended that the European Court of Justice “dismiss Hungary’s action as unfounded.” Advocates General routinely provide legal guidance to the ECJ. Their opinions aren't binding on the Luxembourg-based court, but are followed in most cases.The EU parliament launched a procedure in 2018 to force Hungary’s EU partners to sanction the government in Budapest over concerns about the country’s constitutional and electoral systems, the independence of its judiciary, corruption and conflicts of interest, as well as fundamental rights concerns.The “Article 7” procedure was contained in a resolution that was adopted in a 448-197 vote, while 48 lawmakers abstained. Hungary argued that had the abstentions been taken into account, the vote wouldn't have achieved the required two-thirds majority.In Bobek’s opinion, a person who abstains from a vote asks to be counted as neither in favour nor against a proposition, and to be treated as if they weren't voting at all. He also said that EU lawmakers had been informed more than a day before the poll that abstentions wouldn't be counted as votes cast.It’s the first time the parliament has launched such a procedure. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has also taken similar action against Hungary. If four-fifths of Hungary’s 26 EU partners agree “there is a clear risk of a serious breach” of the bloc’s values, Budapest could lose its voting rights.The EU’s treaty says the bloc “is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.”The Associated Press
TORONTO — The chief executive of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce says he's determined to protect and win more market share in areas like personal and small business banking as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage."We've made good progress … but there's more upside to capture in the year and years ahead," said Victor Dodig on a Thursday call to discuss the bank's fourth-quarter financial results.Dodig said the move is one of his top priorities as the bank and country head into another year of uncertainty caused by the virus.The bulk of 2020 has been challenging for banks like CIBC, which were forced to help customers navigate an unexpected pandemic replete with temporary lockdowns, soaring unemployment levels and consumer demand for loan deferrals and other abatements.CIBC, however, is already seeing some of the strains caused by COVID-19 ease up.Client applications, Dodig said, have recovered from earlier lows and are even generating positive year-over-year growth.Traction from digital offerings like the bank's GoalPlanner personal finance app, are also proving to be asset."Our investments in technology over the past several years to digitize and simplify our bank are allowing us to provide real-time remote support to our clients at a time when physical distancing has become the norm," Dodig said.His remarks came as CIBC beat expectations even as its fourth-quarter profit edged down compared with a year ago.The bank earned nearly $1.02 billion or $2.20 per diluted share for the quarter ended Oct. 21, down from $1.19 billion or $2.58 per diluted share in the same quarter last year.On an adjusted basis, CIBC earned $2.79 per diluted share for the quarter, down from $2.84 per diluted share a year ago.Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $2.52 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.CIBC's revenue totalled $4.6 billion, down from $4.77 billion a year earlier.Like most of the big Canadian banks, which reported fourth-quarter earnings this week, CIBC took a step back from pouring record-breaking amounts of cash into reserves to protect themselves from bad loans.Provisions for credit losses amounted to $291 million, down from $402 million a year ago and $525 million in the bank's third quarter.CIBC also announced Thursday that Katharine Stevenson, who has been an independent director since 2011, will become chair of the board at the company's annual meeting set for April 8, 2021.Stevenson will succeed John Manley, who will retire from the board at the meeting after serving six years as chair and 16 years as a CIBC director.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:CM)Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
SHEET HARBOUR – The Sheet Harbour and Area Chamber of Commerce is on a mission to spread a little joy this holiday season to help make up for the numerous let-downs of the past year. Chamber director Meryl Atkinson is working with a committee to raise community spirit, provide opportunity and spread happiness. An idea for an outdoor Christmas event has evolved, taking all government protocols into consideration to keep participants safe from the coronavirus. The first call Atkinson made before any advertising was to the RCMP. “We will not be stopping any traffic, we will follow all public health guidelines and participants will be expected to social distance,” she said. “This is a community event and there are lots of people involved. We’ve tried to capture as many people and activities as we can, while having safety foremost in mind. “We are calling the event ‘Christmas on Main Street’,” Atkinson told The Journal. “We had a $1,100 grant we couldn’t use on Canada Day and so we are moving it to the Christmas season.” Taking all the restrictions into account, the event – slated for Dec. 6, from 4 to 7 p.m. – will have 22 vendors organized in separate locations along a 2.5-kilometre stretch of Main Street. Vendors, who would have normally sold their wares at indoor markets and craft sales, will supply their own tables and other necessities. “We will market the event,” Atkinson said. “What we are offering is opportunity and we have vendors selling their products, including Christmas ornaments, jewellery, preserves, mats, Scentsy – and so much more.” Vendors will set up in assigned vacant spaces, parking lots and empty areas on Main Street – between the bridges – West River Bridge to East River Bridge. Each vendor will supply sanitizer and those attending will be expected to wear masks. “There is so much more planned,” explained Atkinson. “We have a trackless train set up over by St. James Church in that large lot. It will be free and the operator, dressed as an elf, will sanitize after every child. Local photographer Robert Moser will be taking photos.” Residents have been asked to participate by adopting one of the 71 trees along the business district. “Let Rhea Snow know if you are interested in decorating one of the trees along the route,” Atkinson said, “… and you can make it in memory of someone special if you’d like. The more lights and colour the better.” Several businesses have donated cash to cover expenses and the Lions Club will serve free hot tea, coffee and individually wrapped cookies at MacPhee House. Sheet Harbour Radio will broadcast live music provided by local musicians Nathalie Ladouceur and Dan and Sherrie Goodsell. Chamber members have put up the annual LED wreaths on the light poles throughout the business district and MacPhee House will have the community tree lit. Ground search and rescue will be there with a food truck – hoping to raise some cash, with their annual fundraising events cancelled due to COVID-19. “Carollers will be singing next to Foodland and Santa and the Mrs. will be in the NSLC vacant lot. We have people selling hot chocolate to raise funds for the Gerald Hardy Society and a bonfire and hot apple cider will be offered in the farmers’ market lot,” continued Atkinson. “Lily’s Hill is hosting a ‘Slap Out 2020’ contest, where participants will shoot hockey pucks into an open dryer. The library is packaging individual grab-bags for the children, and others are putting out their Christmas inflatables.” A map of where vendors will be located and parking along the route will be on the Sheet Harbour Facebook page, with printed copies on notice boards. Vendors will also have copies. “There is lots of space, lots of vendors and lots of events…. Be mindful, follow guidelines and be safe,” said Atkinson. “Now… let’s hope for good weather … and let’s spread joy.”Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
The Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) says it is looking into several instances of uninvited strangers joining online classes and disrupting lessons.Nathalie Seskus, a Grade 7 St. Alphonsus School student — and the daughter of a CBC employee — said that since moving online this week, her class has been crashed by uninvited strangers more than once."It happened in two calls — one on [a] Google meeting, one on Zoom, where people who aren't part of our school or class have just been joining in calls," Seskus said.Seskus, 12, said the students and teacher can tell when someone uninvited had joined their chat rooms because of their usernames."We noticed because we're always supposed to use our real names when we're on calls. When we don't, we're asked to change them," she said. "In one case, when we were on a Zoom meeting, a man who was posing as a student had a random username."Seskus said the teacher told him to leave because he wasn't part of her class."She had kicked him out of the meeting and he joined again," Seskus said.She said in the other case, the intruder claimed to be a new student. "But he sounded like a man, not a child," Seskus said. "Everyone in the class was telling our teacher to kick them out. So she did, and we didn't see him pop up again."Disruptions were more common in the springBryan Szumlas, chief superintendent of the CCSD, said these disruptions are definitely happening — but were more common in the spring."For example, zoom back from March to June, there were some security issues with them, but they have since improved their technology significantly," Szumlas said. "It has been assessed by our Calgary Catholic technology team and it is a platform that we are comfortable with."Szumlas said the process of moving all Grade 7 to 12 students online this week was bound to include hiccups along the way. "What I did hear wasn't a huge problem," Szumlas said. "But I did hear about it in one or two classrooms where a teacher never clicked on a security feature and consequently [people outside the class joined]."We suspect it was just another student playing a prank and jumping into a class and making an inappropriate comment and then taking off."Szumlas said these types of incidents are taken very seriously and investigated fully."When something like this happens, obviously the teacher would communicate that to the principal and the principal would then start an investigation," Szumlas said. Szumlas said that should an incident be criminal, then the principal would also contact Calgary police, adding that police have not yet been required.Moving students onlineThe superintendent said the direction from the province to move older students online came relatively quickly."There was only four or five days for teachers to prepare," he said. "So the direction that we've given our teachers is that, use whatever platform you're comfortable with, so that we can continue the continuity of education."We've tried to give our teachers choice here. And I think we live in a world today that is so full of different technologies that are improving continuously, that having that rich variety is only good for our staff and good for our students."Szumlas said the district is constantly working with staff to help them understand some of the new security features on Zoom and other online platforms."One of the measures is that all students need to wait in the waiting room and then be admitted by the teacher and the teacher by clicking a few buttons within Zoom can lock in the student names and also prevent other people from accessing the room," he said.Calgary Board of Education experienceThe Calgary Board of Education said this is not an issue it has been seeing."We have not heard of incidences of strangers being a part of online lessons with our students," said the CBE in an emailed statement.The majority of the CBE's online learning takes place through Google Classrooms or D2L, according to the district."Classroom spaces, physical or digital, are learning environments specific for guiding interactions between teachers and students," the statement read.The CBE said there have been instances where a parent or guardian pops in on a lesson. "Caregivers entering a classroom space without invite and without following all of our guidelines are asked to leave and reminded of the importance of privacy for all students," the statement read."In most cases, our school-based administrators share the expectations of the classroom and parallel these expectations with face-to-face learning environments, and parents or caregivers are very understanding and receptive."
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — About 750 gallons (2,800 litres) of diesel and water have been cleaned up after an Alaska oil spill that state Department of Environmental Conservation officials said occurred during a fuel tank transfer. State conservation officials said the Nov. 25 spill in the village of Selawik happened after workers started transferring fuel from a city fuel tank to a water treatment plant tank. The reasons for the spill and the amount spilled is still under investigation, officials said. “We know that 35,000 gallons is still in the tank and is not threatening to release at this time," said Sarah Moore, a state conservation agency spokesperson. "So we have a ballpark estimate, but are still working on some more concrete numbers about the volume spilled." The incident was reported to state conservation officials at about 1:30 a.m. last Thursday. The spill happened about 600 feet (183 metres) from the Selawik River, a source of water for the village. The fuel tank holds just under 46,000 gallons (147,000 litres) of diesel while the water plant tank holds about 4,000 gallon (15,000 litres), Alaska's Energy Desk reported. U.S. Coast Guard officials arrived in the village on Tuesday to provide equipment and investigate the cleanup. “In addition to investigating the causal factors of the incident, we are on site to assess any potential environmental impacts,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Dane Grulkey in a statement. “We are assisting our community and agency partners organize a safe, effective and co-ordinated response.” The Associated Press
MORRISBURG – Alight at Night may be open for the holidays, but don’t expect to see bus tours arriving this year. The St. Lawrence Parks Commission kicked off the 20th annual light event at Upper Canada Village on November 27th with limited numbers of people able to attend. Tickets are sold online only and limited to blocks in 30 minute intervals between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on nights it is open. Already, the SLPC reports that the first two weeks of tickets have been sold out. However there was concern from area residents that bus tour companies were bringing visitors from areas where higher levels of COVID-19 infection are located. Several tour companies have listings on their websites for bus trips to Alight At Night from previous years, or for 2021. No bus tour packages have been advertised for 2020. “For the 2020 season, group sales have been paused,” said SLPC spokesperson Rosalyn Gambhir. “Upper Canada Village does not have tour operators/companies or buses groups booked for our winter event Alight at Night.” She said that the SLPC has been working to ensure the event continues during the holiday season, even with the current pandemic situation. “This year, like our fall event Pumpkinferno, there are a limited number of tickets available each night and attendance has been drastically limited every half hour,” Gambhir said. “If needed, numbers will be adjusted based on COVID-19 protocols.” This July, the provincial government provided a $7 million funding infusion to the cash-strapped agency, to assist with operating during the pandemic. Two million of that funding was specifically for Upper Canada Village, which ran a shorter season for 2020 with fewer parts of the attraction open. The SLPC was able to run the popular Pumpkinferno event throughout October. Alight at Night runs on select nights until December 17th, then operates nightly except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day until January 2nd.Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
Parry Sound-Almaguin hunters say they feel targeted by a federal firearm ban that came into effect in May, but they don’t believe it influenced the recent hunting season. Bruce Hatt, a member of the Parry Sound Hunters and Anglers Association, said that the association supports safe hunting, gun handling and shooting sports. “The regulations that are out (now), do not do anything for safe hunting, they do not do anything for crime — they do not do anything for anybody, honestly,” said Hatt. “The guns they’re banning are as dangerous as the people that are using them.” On May 1, 2020, the federal government prohibited nine types of “assault-style” firearms as well as placed new restrictions on muzzle energy, which determines the damage a bullet can do, and the bore diameter, which is the calibre of gun. “If you’re a safe gun handler, there’s no reason those guns should be banned — there’s no justification for it,” he said. Asked if the new firearms ban had any effect on the recent hunting season, Hatt replied, “No, I don’t think so.” “Most of the guns that were banned are target rifles used for recreational shooting — the guys I hunt with use the same rifles they’ve used for the last 20 years,” he said. However, the pandemic did impact the hunting season, according to Hatt. “We have people from all over the province come to our camp. A lot of people decided not to come; a lot of us stayed in different locations, met in the morning and social distanced in the field, which was easy to do,” he explained. “But it did impact it — there was a lot people that opted out.” In Sundridge, the Eagle Lake Gun Club has been operating for over 60 years and has over 550 members. Peter Turnbull manages membership for the club and has been hunting in Almaguin for years. He said that in the Parry Sound-Muskoka region, the federal gun ban doesn’t have a big impact; however, the issue, according to Turnbull, is it doesn’t target the right group of people. “There’s about 2.3 million people that are lawfully licensed to have firearms — we’re not the problem,” said Turnbull. “We go through extensive training just to be able to have that privilege.” The firearms ban didn’t affect the hunting season in his opinion, as he said not many hunters would consider hunting with the calibre of rifles listed in the prohibition. “For the most part, the AR-15 are .223 calibre, which isn’t suitable for bear hunting or any big game,” he said. “But there are cases in places, especially up in the far north, where people are using stuff like that.” Echoing Hatt’s sentiments regarding the pandemic’s effect on the 2020 hunting season, Turnbull said there were less hunters at his camp. For both Hatt and Turbull, the emphasis is on the safe handling of guns. “We have to go through courses to get firearms, it’s very regulated, it’s very safe,” said Hatt. STORY BEHIND THE STORY: After seeing a release about a recent federal firearms ban, our reporter wanted to find out if hunters in the Parry Sound, Almaguin region found the firearms ban to alter the hunting season. With the pandemic entering the second wave during the hunting season, she thought it was important to find out if hunting had seen a decline. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
A youth has been acquitted in the Orillia stabbing death of Jordan Carter-Bonfield during the summer of 2018 in a robbery gone wrong. “It was clear to me that there was an abundance of evidence… to (show) self-defence,” said the youth’s criminal lawyer, David Heath. “Really from the time of the incident the police investigation centred on the fact that it appeared there was a robbery planned.” Emergency crews were summoned to the Tim Hortons coffee shop on Westmount Drive North at 7:35 a.m., July 30, 2018, where they found Carter-Bonfield, 25, with a neoprene black face mask under his chin and suffering from several stab wounds. He was declared dead at the scene. The cause of death was later attributed to a stab wound of the right chest and neck. Police subsequently issued an alert that they were looking for a suspect. Five days later, a youth surrendered to police in Toronto and was charged with second-degree murder. “There is no question that (the youth) caused the death of Jordan Carter-Bonfield at the time and place alleged. The focus of this trial was on whether (the youth) caused that death unlawfully and with the requisite state of mind for second-degree murder,” Justice Vanessa Christie of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario wrote in her decision dated Nov. 25 following a nine-day trial at the Barrie courthouse. In the 146-page decision, the judge pointed out that on Sept. 23, 2019, Zachary Jones-Sheppard pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery in connection with the event. On Oct. 30, 2019, Miles Mathias pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. They admitted being at an Albert Street house in Orillia with Carter-Bonfield and Donnie Johnson earlier, planning to buy drugs. After meeting with the youth three times to make purchases, they hatched a plan to rob him of drugs, according to details in the decision. Charges were dropped against Johnson, who testified for the Crown at the youth’s trial. The presence of cocaine and cocaine metabolite were later found in Carter-Bonfield’s blood. Christie found the four drove a borrowed car and parked near the Bank of Montreal at Westmount Drive and Coldwater Road where Jones-Sheppard and Mathias waited while Carter-Bonfield and Johnson went to meet the youth in the woods across the street behind Tim Hortons. Carter-Bonfield was then stabbed in an altercation while trying to rob the youth. Johnson ran back to the car to tell the others about the stabbing. Mathias called 911 and then the three took off in the car. At his trial, the youth claimed he acted in self-defence, saving himself from being stabbed as he faced his robber, a much larger man who was armed with a knife. In contending the youth’s guilt, the Crown pointed to his behaviour after the stabbing. He went back to the scene to retrieve his shoes, threw his knife into a lake, changed his clothes, went to a crackhouse and secluded himself in the washroom where he shaved his head and tried to alter his appearance. He then left Orillia. The judge found that the youth became frightened when, approaching along the footpath, a masked Carter-Bonfield raised his head and appeared in front of him quickly while pulling out a knife. “(The youth) reacted by grabbing the right wrist of Mr. Carter-Bonfield with his left hand, and with his right hand, pulled his own knife out of his hoodie pocket, opened it, and swung that knife in the direction of Mr. Carter-Bonfield, several times,” Christie wrote, concluding that the Crown prosecution failed to disprove self-defence. “Having considered the totality of the circumstances, this court finds (the youth) not guilty of second-degree murder; in fact, not guilty of any crime," the judge added. Heath said the youth was released on bail in December 2018 and has since been thriving. “He and his family are looking forward to having an opportunity to get on with his life,” he said.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com