Remember when Kanye West ran for president? The rapper appeared to concede on Wednesday morning after failing to make a splash in the 2020 election — but his White House ambitions may not be over.
Remember when Kanye West ran for president? The rapper appeared to concede on Wednesday morning after failing to make a splash in the 2020 election — but his White House ambitions may not be over.
President Donald Trump's frantic effort in the courts to delegitimize an election he lost has come no closer in a month to reversing any results. Lawyers for Trump and his allies have asked judges in several states to take the drastic and unprecedented step of setting aside President-elect Joe Biden’s wins. They have filed new cases and vowed to press on with appeals. But the quantity of affidavits, lawsuits and claims made by Trump belies that they are spurious or often repetitive of arguments already rejected by judges and elections officials, some of them Republicans. Here is a look at where the legal action stands in several key states: ARIZONA A judge on Friday threw out a Republican bid to undo Biden’s victory in Arizona, concluding the state’s GOP chief failed to prove fraud or misconduct in her challenge of election results in metro Phoenix. The judge also noted the evidence presented at trial wouldn’t reverse Trump’s loss in the state. Judge Randall Warner dismissed Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s challenge of ballots in metro Phoenix that were duplicated because voters’ earlier ballots were damaged or could not be run through tabulators. Poll observers called to testify by Ward said they witnessed problems in the processing of duplicated ballots, but the judge said those problems were pointed out to election workers, who then fixed the mistakes. Warner wrote “there is no evidence that the inaccuracies were intentional or part of a fraudulent scheme. They were mistakes. And given both the small number of duplicate ballots and the low error rate, the evidence does not show any impact on the outcome.” Courts there had already dismissed four other cases. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, certified Arizona's results Monday. In a touch of symbolism, he declined a phone call from Trump while signing the certification papers. Lawyer Sidney Powell, who was recently kicked off Trump's legal team and has been pushing wild conspiracy theories about the election, has also filed a lawsuit there. PENNSYLVANIA Trump has lost repeatedly in Pennsylvania, collecting a series of stinging rebukes from Republican-appointed judges. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a district judge's dismissal of a key lawsuit argued in an error-filled performance by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. “Voters, not lawyers, choose the president. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections,” wrote Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, nominated by Trump. The district judge, Matthew Brann, wrote of the complaint, “One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption." Brann, a member of the conservative Federalist Society, noted that the campaign did not provide that evidence. Trump's lawyers have vowed to ask for review from the U.S. Supreme Court anyway. MICHIGAN Six cases brought by Trump and Republican allies in Michigan have either been rejected or dropped. On Wednesday, Giuliani appeared at a public meeting with lawmakers and urged activists to pressure, even threaten, the GOP-controlled Legislature to “step up” and award the state’s 16 electoral votes to Trump despite Biden’s 154,000-vote victory. A Michigan appeals court turned down an appeal Friday from Trump’s campaign in a challenge to how absentee ballots were handled in Detroit and other issues. WISCONSIN The state’s Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear Trump's lawsuit seeking to overturn his loss in the battleground state. In a divided decision, the court didn’t rule on the merits of the claims but said the case must first wind its way through lower courts. Trump wants to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. In urging the Supreme Court to hear the case, Trump’s lawyers said they didn’t have enough time to start in a lower court. 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.” Trump's campaign filed a similar lawsuit in federal court Wednesday. The Wisconsin Supreme Court also declined Friday to hear a lawsuit brought by a conservative group over Trump’s loss. ____ Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix; and Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report. Nomaan Merchant And Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
The outbreak started at a funeral for a young girl who died from cancer. About 200 people from the community of Pimicikamak were in attendance, including someone unknowingly infected with COVID-19. Days later, Pimicikamak Cree Nation leaders were notified about that positive case along with a family of four who also attended the funeral and all contracted the virus. The leaders sounded the alarm immediately, says Chief David Monias. “Absolutely people are scared and people are upset,” Chief Monias said, recalling when he had to announce the first cases to the community of about 8,600 members on Oct. 24. “They said how could you let this person in or how did this person get through?” Pimicikamak is one of a number of First Nations in Manitoba hit with recent outbreaks as COVID-19 infections almost tripled across the province in November and deaths hit record numbers. While they represent about 10 per cent of Manitoba’s population, First Nations people make up 25 per cent of all new cases and 42 per cent of those in intensive care units, according to data from the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team. The outbreak can be devastating for those living in overcrowded homes and with underlying health conditions. Nation leaders have acted swiftly to impose lockdowns and secure testing and isolation spaces – offering lessons to other communities grappling with outbreaks. Chief Monias said Pimicikamak’s approach was to stop the spread of the coronavirus by restricting people to their homes, shutting down public places with the exception of essential services and sending people who tested positive, and those who were in contact with them, to Winnipeg to isolate. “That was the main message, to stop the spread. And the only way to stop the spread is actually by shutting down mobility of people in our community,” Chief Monias said. A rapid response team made up of primarily First Nations doctors, nurses and other health professionals was deployed to conduct testing and contact tracing. Chief Monias said the community’s own pandemic team is made up of about 23 people including emergency response workers, doctors, nurses, elected leadership, social workers and others who ensure supports are in place for people to safely isolate and lockdown. By Oct. 29, the province had issued a public-health order supporting the community’s measures to close schools, businesses and restrict gatherings outside of households as the remote community moved into critical red alert on the province’s pandemic response system. Chief Monias says anyone who tested positive along with their contacts were sent to isolate in Winnipeg hotels, “just in case.” More than 200 people identified as contacts were sent to isolate in a Winnipeg hotel covered by the Red Cross and 70 confirmed cases isolated in a separate hotel provided by the federal government. “We did not ascertain the difference between close contact and contact, to us if you’re a contact, you’re contact and should be isolated. That’s just to make sure that you don’t spread it,” he said. Checkpoints were set up in five different areas of the community to monitor traffic and a shopping schedule implemented for residents. The community’s personal care home was restricted to staff only, who themselves were instructed to limit contacts outside of the home. Signs were also put up outside elders’ homes. “An elder lives here, is vulnerable, please do not enter,” they read. Chief Monias says it took five weeks to resolve all 70 COVID-19 cases from the outbreak. There’s no more community transmission, but they are now trying to contain additional cases that have popped up since, including in dialysis patients who have been staying in Thompson while they get treatment. Pimicikamak isn’t the only First Nation to successfully beat back an outbreak. About a week after the funeral in Pimicikamak, people attending a funeral in Opaskwayak Cree Nation were exposed to the virus, leading to community transmission. The spread within the community reached all 28 residents and 13 staff from the Rod McGillivary Memorial Care Home, and one resident died as a result. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak says they had to move quickly to contain the spread of the virus, which has infected close to 200 people so far. Onekanew Sinclair said they requested military support from the federal government following the death of the care-home resident. A team of 12 people from CFB Edmonton and Shilo stayed on the ground at the residence for about 10 days, supporting frontline staff, some of whom slept there and worked around the clock, Onekanew Sinclair said. He said one resident was sent to an intensive-care unit in Winnipeg and the rest were isolated and treated within the care home. “We are proud and very happy, relieved to announce that they have all fully recovered and are now able to move about freely within the care home again instead of being isolated in their rooms,” Onekanew Sinclair said. The community has more than 3,000 living on-reserve and is a service hub for surrounding communities in the region, which means checkpoints have been established at main access points to monitor traffic going in and out. They remain on a lockdown with schools closed and students doing remote learning from home. Opaskwayak converted their 60-room hotel and another 45-bed facility for isolation units but Onekanew Sinclair says there are cases where entire families have become infected and opt to stay home. “We have to do what we can with our resources available,” Onekanew Sinclair said. “And when it’s time we’ll call on the federal government as our treaty partner for assistance where needed, as needed.”Willow Fiddler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Globe and Mail
OTTAWA — Procurement Minister Anita Anand says that as soon as she knows when the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Canada, she will share that information with Canadians.But Anand told The Canadian Press in an interview this week that the original contracts to buy COVID-19 vaccines had to be vague about delivery dates because nobody knew at the time if the vaccines would be successful.It's only in the last few weeks, when the leading candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca reported such positive results from their large clinical trials, that the way forward became clear enough for Anand's department to start asking the companies to be more specific about when they can make good on their contracts with Canada."We put these contracts in place in order to place Canadians in the best stead possible, of any country in the world, recognizing that we would need to negotiate additional terms such as precise delivery dates, once a vaccine was discovered, and regulatory approval was obtained," she said. "And that is what's happening now."As Canadians face a pandemic-plagued holiday season and dream that 2021 will not be the anxiety-laden and often tragic disaster that 2020 has proven to be, there is one gleaming hope dangling still just out of reach: a vaccine for COVID-19.Still, the federal government has yet to answer one big question: When will it get here?It is not that she doesn't want to tell Canadians when, said Anand. But the complexities of figuring out a specific date are linked to when Health Canada approves the vaccine, and when the vaccine makers can see that Canada is ready to receive and safely distribute the precious doses, some of which have to be stored at temperatures below -70 C.Those pieces are starting to converge now.Health Canada officials are days, maybe even hours, away from approving the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for use in Canada.Canadians got some more information on the logistics from a briefing of federal officials this week, including that Pfizer will ship its vaccine directly to 14 identified receiving sites in provinces. FedEx and Innomar Strategies were contracted Friday to oversee the delivery of other vaccines from a national receiving site to provinces.The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued refined guidance Friday for who should get the vaccine first, including long-term care residents and workers, and people over the age of 80. The materials like syringes, gauze pads and bandages needed to vaccinate millions of people are in place. Ultralow temperature freezers have been purchased and nine new ones have already arrived. Provincial governments are lining up their own task forces."We are going to have vaccines in this country, as expeditiously as possible," Anand said.Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has been decrying the lack of clarity from the Liberals about the vaccine plan. A week ago he accused the Liberals of only starting to buy vaccines in a panic this summer after a collaboration with China on a vaccine fell apart.The partnership between the National Research Council and China's CanSino Biologics was announced in May to great fanfare. But the doses to be used in a Canadian clinical trial failed to arrive, when the Chinese government — in the midst of political tensions with Canada — refused to issue an export permit for them.“I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China,” O’Toole said Nov. 29, adding the timeline shows it wasn't until that deal fell apart that Canada "started getting serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options."Anand said that is not the case.She said the CanSino deal fell within Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains' portfolio, not her own, and nothing about the project prevented her from negotiating with other companies.Her marching orders to negotiate deals with other vaccine makers came weeks earlier. A team of procurement officials in her department was assigned to the file in March, at the same time as those negotiating contracts for medical supplies, personal protective equipment and rapid tests.In June, the COVID-19 vaccine task force provided a list of vaccines for Canada to pursue. Anand said talks with manufacturers began in early July. The first deal, with Massachusetts biotech firm Moderna, was struck July 24. Canada was first to sign with Moderna. It signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech a week later, on Aug. 1. It was the fourth country to do so, after the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. News of trouble on the CanSino deal first appeared in early July when the doses still hadn't been approved for export by China. Canada walked away from the deal at the end of August when it became clear it would not happen.By then, Canada had deals with four other vaccine companies, including Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and NovaVax. It added deals with Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca in September and then with Canada's own Medicago the next month.Anand said Canada approached every contract with a similar goal — to get 20 million doses guaranteed, and options to potentially buy more later on. In all, Canada is paying more than $1 billion to the seven vaccine makers for 194 million doses, even if those vaccines never get beyond the experimental stage.Another 220 million doses are available if Canada asks for them, a decision that will be made for the vaccines that are proving to be the best. Anand announced Friday another 20 million doses will come to Canada in 2021 from Moderna, for a total of 40 million.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta is offering more of its Rocky Mountain landscapes to coal mining after rescinding a decades-old policy that protected them. In documents released earlier this week, Alberta Energy is giving miners until Dec. 15 to bid on nearly 2,000 hectares on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.Surface mining on those lands would have been prohibited under the former coal policy rescinded in May, said Ian Urquhart of the Alberta Wilderness Association."Unfortunately, it isn't surprising."The leases will add to the land already leased for coal, which stretches in an almost unbroken swath for nearly 60 kilometres north from the Crowsnest Pass in the province's southwest corner. "There isn't much left there," he said. Alberta Energy spokesman Kavi Bal said any mine proposal is subject to review."A coal lease does not mean that a coal project has been approved or exploration has been permitted." If the proposal is large enough, it is subject to a federal review as well. The United Conservative government has said it seeks to encourage increased export coal production. The province and the federal government are currently considering a proposal for a mountaintop removal coal mine in the Crowsnest Pass area. More proposals are expected. Most Alberta coal is used for steelmaking, not power generation.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
THUNDER BAY — A 62-year-old man who falsely claimed to be COVID-19 positive while under arrest for violating court orders was sentenced on Friday for one count of conveying false information, failing to provide a breath sample and failure to comply with conditions of an undertaking. Arnett Langfried appeared in a Thunder Bay Zoom courtroom on Friday, Dec. 4 where he was sentenced by Judge Peter Bishop to 50 days of pre-sentence custody, which was enhanced to 75 days for all three charges. During his sentencing hearing, Langfried told the court he had not been tested for the virus despite telling police during his arrest on Oct. 15 he had received a positive test result for COVID-19 days before. Langfried came to police attention after the vehicle he was driving was reported to police for erratic and aggressive driving, Crown Attorney Stella Vallelunga said Friday, Dec. 4. Police conducted a traffic stop on Highway 11/17 near Shabaqua where they informed the driver of the reason for the stop and requested his driver's licence. The driver provided an expired out-of-province licence which alerted police the motorist was under court orders to not be driving. Police also observed the vehicle had two different licence plates on it. Officers advised Langfried he was under arrest for breaching his recognizance and placed him in the back of a police cruiser. Officers then spoke with a woman who was seated in the front passenger side of the vehicle who was reluctant to give police her name. Court heard police were making efforts to arrange for an alternate ride for the woman but she insisted on staying with Langfried. Once she provided her name and date of birth, police were notified her name came back as a missing person from the Peel Region area. Officers notified police in Peel. The woman became extremely uncooperative with the police and began screaming at officers she wanted to stay with her husband, court heard. While Langfried was in the back of the vehicle, he told police he had tested positive for COVID-19 in Newmarket days prior. At one point, Langfried and the woman began to verbally abuse the police by using profanities, court heard. Langfriend also pulled his mask down while speaking with police and officers observed an odour of alcohol from his breath. While police were searching his vehicle they found a full can of beer. Police asked Langfried for a breath sample to which he refused. He was also on court-orders to have zero milligrams of alcohol inside his body outside of his residence. Langfried’s lawyer, Sharon Scharfe, informed the court her client's poor behaviour that day was partly be attributed to his concern for his girlfriend. The couple also had a cat inside the vehicle who had gotten out on the highway and both individuals were distracted and upset about what had happened, the lawyer said. Court also heard a background of Langfried's criminal history including a conviction of an attempt to commit murder using a firearm in 2011 for which he received four years and eight months at a Saskatchewan penitentiary. He was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and received a one-year driving prohibition for failing to provide a breath sample. Langfried apologized for his actions in court.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Another North Island resident has confirmed they have COVID-19, and are isolating at home, this time in Port McNeill. Kelly Chadwick, mother of two, started feeling cold-like symptoms on Nov. 30. She stayed home from work the next day day and sent her kids to stay with their dad and began to isolate herself. On Dec. 3, Island Health called with the positive test confirmation. Chadwick was surprised; she thought it was just a regular sinus infection like she gets every winter. She works at the pharmacy but since Mondays are her regular day off, she hadn’t been at work during the contagious part of the disease, which Island Health says is 48-hours before the onset of symptoms. Still, the pharmacy took the situation seriously, double and triple checking it was safe to remain open. A couple of close friends who Chadwick saw over the weekend, as well as Chadwick’s two children, are now isolating for 14 days. The quarantine means Chadwick will miss her son’s 10th birthday on Dec. 10, but she’s glad she’ll still get to spend Christmas with them. She has no idea where she picked up the virus, saying it had been at least three weeks since she was last down Island. “At first I felt a little bombarded, like it was my fault,” she told the Gazette, but since sharing publicly on Facebook she feels supported by the community. READ MORE: First publicly confirmed COVID-19 case in Port Hardy has been isolated since before symptoms occurred Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom wrote a post on her official Facebook page, saying that while rumours of COVID have been going around, it’s a reminder to diligently follow the public health guidelines, and reminded people to stay kind. “We have always been a community that cares. Don’t let COVID steal that from us. Let’s be sure to remain caring by extending grace and kindness to all. Do not let fear consume you. We will get through this!” Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgZoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
About 100 businesses in Windsor-Essex will be visited by provincial offences officers as part of a COVID-19 enforcement blitz this weekend. In partnership with the local health unit and city bylaw department, 16 officers from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development will be visiting the region on Saturday and Sunday to ensure that big box stores, retail stores, bars and restaurants are abiding by provincial COVID-19 rules. Ontario's Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton told CBC News on Friday that the event is mostly to educate businesses in the region, though they will hand out charges if necessary. "This isn't about the government carrying a big stick, it's actually about working with businesses to keep people safe," McNaughton said. "I come from a small business background in southwestern Ontario — our family had a home hardware store — I know the challenges that businesses are facing. It's unprecedented times. This is about protecting the health and wellbeing of the people." During these visits, he said that officers will educate businesses and make sure the Occupational Health and Safety Act is being followed. "Ultimately the goal is to protect workers, but also to keep businesses open," McNaughton said. "It really is to reinforce that Businesses need to have a health and safety plan to prevent COVID-19 from coming into the workplace, ensuring that social distancing is happening and that masks are being worn." Fines to be handed out, if necessaryWhile he said this is to help businesses, McNaughton said they will also use discretion. "There are some bad actors out there and we will issue orders and fines if necessary," he said, adding that he understands Windsor-Essex has jumped from the province's 'green-prevent' category to the 'red-control' category in only a matter of weeks. The businesses being visited are ones that have been listed by local public health officials and the city, McNaughton said. Since the Thanksgiving weekend, McNaughton said more than 200 officers have attended different regions in the province. Of these, he said they have found that 86 per cent of businesses are in compliance with COVID-19 rules. The officers have handed out orders and charges, though McNaughton said he didn't know the exact number.
Talk about Canadian, eh? Some Southwestern Ontario golf courses have done such brisk business through the pandemic, they’re opening through the winter, even in the snow. White Squirrel Golf Club, located outside Zurich, north of Grand Bend, is teeing off on winter golf for the first time to give house-bound and pandemic-weary folks a safe, outdoor activity. “It’s more about getting outside and swinging a golf club than taking your score seriously,” said Brittany Nigh, White Squirrel’s manager of golf operations. “It’s a bit more fun.” The fundamentals of the summer sport stay the same on frozen ground. Snowy golfers will still find the fairway in play, but there are no tee blocks and the green isn't used for putting. Instead, temporary greens have been crafted to protect the course. Nigh said COVID-19 pandemic safety restrictions have spurred creativity and the desire to keep the course open year-round. “We do try to always think outside the box and do things a little differently,” she said. “Let’s not focus on what we can’t do, let’s see what we can do within the restrictions and can do safely.” But what about tracking down a white ball in swaths of fluffy snow? Nigh recommends playing a fluorescent or coloured golf ball and still keeping the weather forecast in mind. “You can do it in some snow, but obviously if the entire course is covered in two feet of snow, it’s going to be pretty difficult to find a patch to hit the golf ball from,” she said. She also recommends wearing gloves and waterproof shoes, dressing in layers that still let you swing your arms, and packing a thermos. The club also has transformed its front nine holes into a hiking trail, free for the public to use, and is keeping its restaurant open year-round. Nigh said locals have warmed to winter golf. “It’s offered our community a nice outlet,” she said. Another course, the Fox Golf Club, just north of London near Granton, also is open for the winter, with similar snowy weather adjustments. The Fox is run by Waterloo-based company GolfNorth, which has set up eight of its Southwestern Ontario courses for winter play, including ones in Forest, Petersburg and Baden. “We thought golf was safe and fun and people felt comfortable doing it all summer, and in the winter this year, people need something to do,” said Doug Breen, GolfNorth’s vice-president. “It’s just a way to get outside, get some exercise, do something fun with your buddies.” He said any day that would be appropriate for skiing would be good for winter golf. If the pandemic brainchild of winter golf is popular, GolfNorth plans to keep running it in future years. And so far, the frosty conditions haven’t deterred any golfers. Breen said earlier this week, groups played their courses even after Tuesday’s storm, with snow up to their shins. “It’s absolutely a quintessentially Canadian thing to do to embrace the cold,” he said. email@example.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
Alberta's United Conservative Party government denied the chief electoral officer's request for a four-month extension in a complex investigation into alleged election wrongdoing, the officer said. Glen Resler told an all-party legislative committee Friday the COVID-19 pandemic and other complications were interfering with his office's ability to finish some investigations within the required three-year time limit. Worried about one case in particular, which Resler did not identify, he sought a 120-day extension from the government, and was denied. The Opposition NDP said the timelines and details of the case line up with the investigation into the 2017 UCP leadership race. NDP democracy and ethics critic Heather Sweet said the government should acknowledge if it interfered with the investigation into its own party. "I think the government should get out of the way and they should allow the elections officer to do the investigation," Sweet said in an interview. Staff for the justice minister did not respond to emails and calls Friday afternoon. Steve Kaye, Elections Alberta's director of compliance and investigations, told the legislative committee the pandemic was one of several factors hampering the investigation. He said the complaint came 15 months after the alleged misdeed, and people didn't co-operate. "We then encountered challenging subjects and complainants that we personally served notices to attend and notices to appear before the commissioner," Kaye said. "We had to apply to the courts at one point to seek a court order compelling someone to appear before the [former election] commissioner." When the request for an extension was denied, the office shuffled around duties so more people could focus on completing the work in time, he said. The NDP believes the case in question is the alleged "kamikaze" campaign inside the UCP's 2017 leadership race. Now-Premier Jason Kenney and former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean were considered front runners to take the help of the newly united party. Allegations from insiders and leaked records suggest money improperly flowed to leadership candidate Jeff Callaway, who would attack Brian Jean before abandoning the race. Alberta's former election commissioner had levied more than $200,000 in fines in relation to the leadership race for improper campaign donations, collusion and obstructing investigations. Several parties have appealed those fines to the courts. Leaked documents also suggest the Kenney and Callaway campaigns shared information and strategies. Last year, the UCP government fired the election commissioner and merged his office with the chief electoral officer, arguing it would save money on administration. Approval of auditor's budget delayed Also at Friday's meeting, the government member-dominated committee voted to stall approval of the budget of the province's auditor general. Auditor Doug Wylie had requested $26.3 million for the 2021-22 year, which is $2.5 million less than his budget this year. UCP MLA Brad Rutherford made the request to delay approval, saying he had more questions for the auditor. Rutherford could not be reached Friday afternoon. "This did come as a surprise," auditor spokesperson Val Mellesmoen said Friday afternoon. "It is unusual." Sweet said the government is playing politics with the auditor, who last month identified $1.7 billion in accounting errors in the government's 2019-20 financial statements. The committee approved the budgets of six other independent officers of the legislature, including the chief electoral officer. Resler asked for, and received, a 28 per cent budget increase for next year. About 12 per cent of his 2021-22 budget will be spent preparing for and running provincial senate elections and referendums promised by the UCP government. His office needs about $1.4 million to create and distribute election supplies, such as ballots and signs, advertise the elections, educate municipalities on running the votes in conjunction with civic elections and to operate a call centre, Resler said. Fulfilling a campaign promise, the government passed legislation in 2019 allowing Albertans to elect the people they'd like to serve as senators in Ottawa. A national selection committee is not obligated to choose candidates Alberta elects. Kenney has also proposed several referendums be held in 2021, including a vote on whether Albertans wish to continue participating in the federal equalization program. Creating a provincial pension plan and abandoning twice-yearly clock changes could also be on the ballot. Resler said the budget does not include money for other democratic measures the government is considering, including promised recall legislation, or democratic initiatives such as citizen-led referendums.
Ahead of a looming year-end deadline, only 1,785 out of about 20,000 short-term rentals in Toronto have registered with the municipality. With fines beginning at $1,000 for both property owners and host platforms, the race is on to come into compliance. Matthew Bingley reports.
Two people were found dead in a home in Milton, Ont. Friday afternoon, Halton Regional Police say. Police said in a statement they were called to a residence just after 3 p.m. near Bronte Street South and Louis St. Laurent Avenue in Milton, Ont.Officers found the bodies of a male and a female inside the home, they said. There are no suspects and no threat to public safety, said police.An investigation is ongoing and police say they will be providing no further details at this time.
The City of Vancouver says work to bring eastbound vehicle traffic back to Beach Avenue between Denman and Jervis streets will begin next week.In April, when few cars were on the road because of stay-at-home orders by public health officials, Beach Avenue's eastbound lanes were closed to motorists all the way to Hornby Street. The changes were made to allow park users more room for physical distancing due to COVID-19 concerns. Cyclists in Stanley Park had a two-lane road to themselves and pedestrians got exclusive use of the seawall.Under the new plan, traffic will still be banned from Jervis to Hornby streets, as the city works to establish a more permanent plan for the area."These interim changes are based on feedback from more than 2,500 residents during the fall on the current street design," according to a statement from the city.The changes include: * Painting crosswalks to better prioritize pedestrians crossings. * Adding median islands to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians. * Incorporating accessible design features like level bus boarding islands and modified traffic signals. * Replacing traffic cones with sturdier and harder-to-move concrete barriers.In September, the City of Vancouver launched an online survey to gather public input on the future of the Beach Avenue bike lane and the path.A plan to gather feedback on the longer-term vision for the area, and whether the changes should be permanent will be rolled out in 2021.The budget for the changes was not mentioned in the statement from the city.
A portion of University Avenue is closed to traffic in both directions after a multi-vehicle accident.The accident happened at the intersection of University and Belvedere avenues and University is closed between Belvedere and the Indigo bookstore.Police say there are injuries.Firefighters, paramedics and police are on the scene.
A search continues in Haines, Alaska, for two people still unaccounted for after heavy rains this week caused landslides, washed-out roads, and widespread flooding in the small coastal community.Mayor Doug Olerud said that Alaska State Troopers were leading the search efforts for the two missing people."They've had teams out on the water, with search dogs combing the beaches, and on the beach they've got crews that are trying to remove some of the materials to get into some of the areas," Olerud said."So the efforts are ongoing."Olerud said Thursday that weather is still a concern. It was raining again on Thursday afternoon, and he said the forecast was calling for more rain or snow in the coming days."It's not stopping and giving us a break here," he said."We've got two missing individuals, but everybody else that has requested evacuation, we've gotten them out safely. We don't have any other missing individuals. And so to the best of our knowledge, everybody else in the community is safe."Olerud said local crews are doing their best to deal with the extensive damage around town, but it's been difficult to get a handle on things. "It's kind of one of those [where] we've got so many places that where do you put the crews first?" Olerud said.Alekka Fullerton, interim manager of the Haines Borough government, said there are about 50 homes that have been ordered to evacuate because of potential mudslides."Unfortunately last night we had to evacuate several other areas of town so we have a lot more people who have been displaced now and so our hotels are all full," Fullerton said.Fullerton said with all the rain, the ground is getting saturated and dangerous for residents in certain areas.A geological team from Alaska's Department of Natural Resources that was supposed to arrive Thursday to help determine the stability of the area, was weathered out and didn't arrive until Friday.They arrived by ferry as the weather made flying impossible, Olerud said."We really are discouraging people from coming to town, we do not need any more volunteers, we don't need people coming to town," Fullerton said.Olerud said the community has already received a lot of support, from within the state and beyond. He said it's been tough especially with two local residents still unaccounted for."It's hard. You know, everybody knows each other," Olerud said."I hope we get a break here. We've got a lot of talented people doing everything they can to keep everybody safe. And I have faith that they're going to do that."
California certified its presidential election Friday and appointed 55 electors pledged to vote for Democrat Joe Biden, officially handing him the Electoral College majority needed to win the White House. Secretary of State Alex Padilla's formal approval of Biden's win in the state brought his tally of pledged electors so far to 279, according to a tally by The Associated Press. That’s just over the 270 threshold for victory. These steps in the election are often ignored formalities. But the hidden mechanics of electing a U.S. president have drawn new scrutiny this year as President Donald Trump continues to deny Biden's victory and pursues increasingly specious legal strategies aimed at overturning the results before they are finalized. Although it’s been apparent for weeks that Biden won the presidential election, his accrual of more than 270 electors is the first step toward the White House, said Edward B. Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University. “It is a legal milestone and the first milestone that has that status,” Foley said. “Everything prior to that was premised on what we call projections.” The electors named Friday will meet Dec. 14, along with counterparts in each state, to formally vote for the next president. Most states have laws binding their electors to the winner of the popular vote in their state, measures that were upheld by a Supreme Court decision this year. There have been no suggestions that any of Biden's pledged electors would contemplate not voting for him. Results of the Electoral College vote are due to be received, and typically approved, by Congress on Jan. 6. Although lawmakers can object to accepting the electors' votes, it would be almost impossible for Biden to be blocked at that point. The Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate would both vote separately to resolve any disputes. One already has arisen from Pennsylvania, where 75 Republican lawmakers signed a statement on Friday urging Congress to block the state’s electoral votes from being cast for Biden. But the state’s Republican U.S. senator, Pat Toomey, said soon afterward that he would not be objecting to Pennsylvania’s slate of electors, underscoring the difficulty in trying to change the election results through Congress. “As a practical matter, we know that Joe Biden is going to be inaugurated on Jan. 20," Foley said. That was clear in the days after the election, when the count of mail ballots gradually made clear that Biden had won victories in enough states to win the Electoral College. It became even more apparent in late November, when every swing state won by Biden certified him as the winner of its elections and appointed his electors to the Electoral College. Trump has fruitlessly tried to stop those states from certifying Biden as the winner and appointing electors for the former vice-president. He made no effort in deeply Democratic California, the most populous state in the nation and the trove of its largest number of electoral votes. Three more states won by Biden — Colorado, Hawaii and New Jersey — have not yet certified their results. When they do, Biden will have 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232. Trump and his allies have brought at least 50 legal cases trying to overturn the results in the swing states Biden won — mainly Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. More than 30 have been rejected or dropped, according to an AP tally. Trump and his allies have also raised the far-fetched notion that Republican state legislatures in those states could appoint a rival set of electors pledged to Trump. But state Republican leaders have rejected that approach, and it would likely be futile in any case. According to federal law, both chambers of Congress would need to vote to accept a competing slate of electors. If they don't, the electors appointed by the states' governors — all pledged to Biden in these cases — must be used. The last remaining move to block the election would be the quixotic effort to vote down the electors in Congress. This tactic has been tried — a handful of congressional Democrats in 2000, 2004 and 2016 objected to officially making both George W. Bush and Trump president. But the numbers were not enough to block the two men from taking office. Michael R. Blood And Nicholas Riccardi, The Associated Press
The fortress that was Vancouver Island has been breached when it comes to the low COVID-19 case numbers it enjoyed compared to B.C.’s Lower Mainland during earlier stages of the pandemic. Provincial health authorities noted this week that though numbers are still high, there has been a levelling off of cases in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions. But case numbers are rising in the province’s Northern and Interior health regions, and Vancouver Island is also continuing to see new cases. Ten of the 694 new cases in B.C. were in the Island Health region, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing. There were also 12 new deaths due to the virus, all in the Lower Mainland. There are now 9,103 active COVID-19 cases across the province, including the 277 active cases in Island Health, with 12 people in hospital and four in critical care. Henry acknowledged that some regions of the province were struggling to contain numbers they had not experienced before. “Many of our communities around this province are affected right now, many of whom went through the first wave and the first number of months of this pandemic without having cases, without having it touch close to home,” Henry said. But the doctor urged people to continue to follow pandemic protocols to protect the elderly, as well as strained and tired health-care workers. “We need to do our bit everywhere, to make sure that we support and protect them, too.” Island Health announced Wednesday that two hospitals — Saanich Peninsula Hospital and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni — are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. Two First Nations communities in the Island Health region remain under lockdown while dealing with outbreaks: the Ehattesaht Chinehkint First Nation community near Zeballos and the Klahoose Nation on Cortes Island. However, the battle to flatten the curve on Vancouver Island can still be won if people continue to follow pandemic protocols, said Daniel Coombs, an expert in the modelling of infectious disease. Until recently, the Vancouver Island region saw a handful of daily cases, but since November, new cases of the virus have largely run in the double digits. “If Vancouver Island wants to maintain its really impressive record with the virus, it remains critical that people remain vigilant and follow the public health guidance that we're getting,” said Coombs, a mathematics professor at the University of British Columbia. At the moment, the COVID-19 situation on Vancouver Island is akin to the potential for wildfire in dry summer conditions, he said. “The forest fire analogy is a good one,” Coombs said. The virus won’t have fuel to spread if people continue to avoid crossing back and forth to the mainland except for essential travel and don't indulge in any social gatherings outside their households. “If physical distancing, mask protocols and other measures are maintained on Vancouver Island, it prevents those sparks (of COVID-19) from growing and getting out of control,” he said. Over the past two weeks, the Central Vancouver Island health service delivery area recorded 118 COVID-19 cases, followed by 66 cases in the South Island and 37 in the North Island area, data released Thursday showed. Island Health currently has exposure notices for eight schools in the region, including six in Port Alberni, one in Victoria and one on Salt Spring Island. As well, an outbreak at Veterans Memorial Lodge long-term care home in Victoria was announced over the weekend, and the lockdown of the Tsawaayuss-Rainbow Gardens facility in Port Alberni remains in effect. The greatest areas of concern for outbreaks are in long-term care homes and multigenerational households where the elderly people are most at risk from the virus, Coombs said. As well, smaller rural communities on the surrounding islands or spread across Vancouver Island are more vulnerable due to the lack of medical resources and the difficulty of accessing rapid testing, he added. Henry also expressed the need for individuals to make the right choices to protect groups most at risk. “We know that our long-term care homes in particular are most vulnerable. It's the biggest challenge that we are facing,” she said. “I recognize that this sacrifice is one that all of us are taking, and the vast majority of people around B.C. have taken this to heart.” Though the daily COVID-19 case numbers on Vancouver Island are still fluctuating up and down, overall, the numbers appear to be flattening, Coombs said. But keeping it that way will depend on people adhering to physical distancing, Coombs said. This will be necessary for some time into the future, despite hopes vaccines are around the corner. “We’ve been hearing a lot about vaccination at the moment,” he said. “But if we haven't actually deployed the vaccine fully in our communities in B.C., there’s a risk that people are going to loosen up too quickly or too early. “Yet, I can definitely foresee some restrictions lasting into the summer, or maybe even longer.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
South Korean authorities urged vigilance on Saturday as small coronavirus clusters emerged in a third wave, centred in the Seoul area, with infections near nine-month highs. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 583 new coronavirus infections, down from the 629 reported on Friday, which was the highest since the first wave peaked in February and early March. This wave of infections is different from the first two, which were driven by large-scale transmission, said KDCA official Lim Sook-young.
The union for blue-collar workers in Montreal says it wants to put pressure on the city to speed up negotiations and says it has issued a strike notice that will come into force in the next couple weeks. The city's 6,500 blue-collar workers have been without an employee contract since Dec. 31, 2017. In a news release sent by the union representing the workers, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said, "discussions are ongoing but we want to put some pressure to get things done.""Blue-collar workers want a new employment contract that is fair and respects the work they provide on a daily basis," the release said. It said in mid-November 2,846 members voted 97.2 per cent in favour of a mandate giving them the right to exercise pressure that could go as far as a general strike.The assembly was held in a temporary drive-in installed on the site of the Royalmount project, where members arrived by car. The City of Montreal says it is aware of the union's decision but that it has not been informed of the pressure tactics workers plan on taking, or which essential services they will continue to offer.
Opponents of a planned correctional facility in Kemptville are organizing a Zoom meeting on Tuesday. "The recent public engagement session hosted by the Ministry of the Solicitor General provided one view of the issue; we think it is important for people to hear from other voices on this matter," said Victor Lachance, a member of the Coalition Against the Proposed Prison (CAPP) and the evening's moderator. The province plans to locate a 235-bed correctional facility on agricultural land in the community. The online meeting, dubbed an information session, will be held on Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. According to a press release issued by CAPP, participants at the event will hear from experts in the field of incarceration, prison reform, and construction, as well as an Indigenous political leader. Eight speakers are on the schedule, including: Kim Beaudin, Vice-Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples; Bryonie Baxter, former executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa; Paul Cormier, chairman of RANA Development Inc.; Marie-Therese Voutsinos, who will talk about the importance of preserving agricultural land; Aaron Doyle, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University; Justin Piche, associate professor at the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa; and Kirk Albert, spokesperson for the local Jail Opposition Group. "Our goal is to emphasize a positive vision for the future of Kempville and North Grenville," said Lachance. CAPP is made up of a group of residents opposed to the planned construction of the Eastern Ontario Correctional Complex on 182 acres of farmland that was previously part of the Kemptville agricultural college. "It’s an important piece of the agriculture and farming heritage of the area," said Colleen Lynas, spokesperson for CAPP. According to the press release there will be a "robust" question-and-answer period following the presentations and anyone interested in participating is invited to register at firstname.lastname@example.org.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
A new chamber of commerce partnership program designed to help businesses connect with new talent, and gain access to financial incentives, has just launched. The 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Magnet and the Talent Opportunity Program (TOP) to connect chamber of commerce members to the Magnet platform, a digital social enterprise out of Ryerson University. Through Magnet, businesses can get connected with new talent, and get access to business growth opportunities and tools to navigate the impacts of the changing labour market and the COVID-19 pandemic. Key to the partnership between Magnet and local chamber is access to wage subsidies through the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP). Funded by the Government of Canada, SWPP lets employers tap into wage subsidies of up to $7,500 when they hire a Canadian post-secondary student, in a co-op style environment . "The combination of a national recruitment platform and the SWPP wage subsidy will be an important lifeline for our members," said Amy Kirkland, executive director of the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. This chamber partnership initiative brings together local chambers and boards of trade, small and medium-sized enterprises, job-seekers, and post-secondary institutions to support opportunities for student job seekers from coast to coast, across Canada, in an effort to boost economic recovery. "The initiative represents an innovative and necessary approach to helping small businesses grow, connecting early talent to new opportunities to emerge from this challenge stronger and better," said Kirkland. Creating an account with the Magnet Business Growth Portal is free for businesses of all sizes and industries. The Magnet Business Growth Portal helps small and medium enterprises strategize, adapt, and grow with notifications about funding, wage subsidies, training and hiring programs, market research, and COVID-19 support, according to the portal. "Ensuring a strong economic recovery depends on the success of our students and youth. Programs like the Student Work Placement Program exist to provide post-secondary students with the chance to grow professionally and develop new skills while working in sectors that are in line with their interests and field of study," Carla Qualtrough, the federal minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, said in a statement. The SWPP can help business, working towards recovery, offset the cost of hiring, while giving youth an opportunity to gain work experience. "Our government's investment in Magnet will go a long way in helping young Canadians gain meaningful placement opportunities in a variety of disciplines including health care and other high demand sectors, all of which play an especially important role in responding to the current pandemic," said Qualtrough.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times