Soldiers are manning sites all over the city after the army was been drafted in to carry out the tests. The first phase of a government scheme known as 'Operation moonshot'.
Soldiers are manning sites all over the city after the army was been drafted in to carry out the tests. The first phase of a government scheme known as 'Operation moonshot'.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Friday a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar seemed "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Gulf front against Iran. The United States and Kuwait have worked to end the dispute, during which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.There are 396,270 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 396,270 confirmed cases (69,255 active, 314,608 resolved, 12,407 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,495 new cases Thursday from 86,875 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,168.There were 82 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 608 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,739,689 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (29 active, 307 resolved, four deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 420 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,583 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.17 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 61,621 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,343 confirmed cases (119 active, 1,159 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 11 new cases Thursday from 1,300 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.85 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 86 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 12.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 150,559 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 520 confirmed cases (111 active, 402 resolved, seven deaths).There were six new cases Thursday from 1,179 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.51 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 55 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 103,791 tests completed._ Quebec: 146,532 confirmed cases (13,198 active, 126,179 resolved, 7,155 deaths).There were 1,470 new cases Thursday from 11,594 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,638 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,377.There were 30 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 208 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,215,810 tests completed._ Ontario: 121,746 confirmed cases (14,795 active, 103,239 resolved, 3,712 deaths).There were 1,824 new cases Thursday from 51,144 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,769.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,197,157 tests completed._ Manitoba: 17,751 confirmed cases (9,130 active, 8,268 resolved, 353 deaths).There were 367 new cases Thursday from 2,804 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,463 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 352.There were 11 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.91 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.78 per 100,000 people. There have been 354,449 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 9,244 confirmed cases (4,017 active, 5,173 resolved, 54 deaths).There were 262 new cases Thursday from 1,696 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,882 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 269.There was one new reported death Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 265,300 tests completed._ Alberta: 63,023 confirmed cases (17,743 active, 44,705 resolved, 575 deaths).There were 1,854 new cases Thursday from 8,049 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,145 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,592.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,495,622 tests completed._ British Columbia: 35,422 confirmed cases (10,013 active, 24,928 resolved, 481 deaths).There were 694 new cases Thursday from 7,929 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,449 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778.There were 12 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 815,367 tests completed._ Yukon: 50 confirmed cases (20 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 89 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,488 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 48 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,482 tests completed._ Nunavut: 198 confirmed cases (75 active, 123 resolved, zero deaths).There were five new cases Thursday from 39 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,384 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
A local trustee has been chosen as the vice-president of the provincial school board association. At last week’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Saskatchewan School Board Association (SSBA), Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board trustee Jaimie Smith-Windsor was elected vice president. Smith-Windsor was recently re-elected to her fourth term as a rural trustee and was gratified to be elected by the association. “It’s very humbling and a very exciting opportunity to be entrusted to represent 27 school boards in Saskatchewan. I think we have got a long tradition in this province of providing a local voice in education and being able to represent the trustees and boards that are democratically elected is a real honour,” Smith-Windsor said. She she served two terms as the Central Constituency representative on the executive where she represents Saskatchewan Rivers, the North East School Division (NESD), Horizon School Division, North West School Division, Prairie Spirit School Division and Living Sky School Division. She explained that the COVID-19 pandemic offers challenges and opportunities for boards of education. “There is going to be the opportunity to innovate and do some really creative things. And I think boards are doing this at a local level. I think there is also going to be challenges in the areas of staff and student’s mental health and addressing some of the inequities that existed before the pandemic. Almost certainly there is going to be fiscal challenges. But I know that boards are going to continue to put the needs of their communities first and that is the power of a local voice,” Smith Windsor explained. She sees the role of the association as another voice for education in the province. “I think the SSBA is another strong platform to help the public connect to that idea that education does belong to communities. It is a real opportunity to have someone who is local to sit on the provincial executive in that role,” she said Shawn Davidson was returned as president for another term. “I have worked with Shawn for two terms now, we have been through a number of significant changes in education over the last four years and I am confident in his leadership and our ability to work together on behalf of boards,” she said. Smith-Windsor explained that she was the only nominee to come forward and was acclaimed to the position. With Sask. Rivers she has served on the Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change, Board Development committee Employee Bargaining Committees, as well as a number of ad hoc Board committees such as the recent election committee. “The local Board of Education appreciates Trustee Smith-Windsor’s strong voice, is proud of her election to the position of Vice President and looks forward to her continued advocacy for education and for students,” the division said in a release. Other SSBA officials elected were Davidson and Smith-Windsor, Catholic Constituency representative Jerome Niezgoda, Central Constituency representative Christine Grandin, CSF constituency representative Elizabeth Perrault, Indigenous Constituency representative Kimberly Greyeyes, Northern Constituency representative Nathan Favel, Southern Constituency representative Janet Kotylak and Urban Constituency representative Donna Banks. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the AGM was held virtually this year. Smith-Windsor explained it was a total shift from having 227 trustees, directors, SSBA staff and others all in one room having a lively engaged meeting. “We do all of our voting on paper ballots collected in ice cream pails. And this time it was a complete shift to an online platform and electronic voting connecting to all of those people across the entire province through electronic means,” Smith-Windsor said. “It was quite an event to train for and to pull off and I think it went relatively well,” she explained. Each year the school divisions in the province have an opportunity to bring forward motions that are of interest to the AGM. The Saskatchewan Rivers board discussed these in meetings that took place before the AGM. “If there is agreement to take that to the provincial assembly then that goes forward to the provincial assembly and all of the boards have an opportunity to vote on that. If those resolutions pass than they become the work of the SSBA executive that essentially feeds forward into our work for the future years,” she said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Calgary police are cracking down on anti-mask rally organizers and others who disregard public health rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Christa Dao reports, CPS have issued dozens of tickets since enhanced measures were introduced.
EDMONTON — As Alberta recorded another daily record of COVID-19 cases Thursday, its chief medical officer of health warned that rural areas are feeling the effects.“While infection rates in Edmonton and Calgary make up the majority of cases in the province, we’re seeing increased spread in many rural communities,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw Hinshaw said.“COVID-19 is not a Calgary problem or Edmonton problem. This is a provincial problem within the context of a global problem.“Our overall active case rates prove that COVID-19 doesn’t care where you live or what your postal code is.“It only takes one case entering a community to cause significant spread.”Alberta has been straining under soaring numbers of COVID-19 and currently leads the country in per-capita case rates.It set a single-day record Thursday with 1,854 new cases, even more than in Ontario.There were 511 Albertans in hospital, 97 of them in intensive care. A total of 575 Albertans have died.The case surge has overwhelmed the contact tracing system and strained the health system. The province is now reassigning staff, space and patients to cope and has begun making contingency plans to bring in field hospitals if necessary.Last week, Premier Jason Kenney introduced new health restrictions.However, some of the key restrictions on businesses and attendance at worship services don’t apply to some rural and remote areas with low infection rates.Also, while Calgary, Edmonton and other municipalities have mandated masks in indoor public spaces, Kenney has refused to follow the lead of all other Canadian provinces to make it provincewide.About 16 per cent of the 17,743 active cases are outside the Calgary and Edmonton health zones.Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said if COVID does not respect postal codes, why has the United Conservative government issued half-hearted and varying levels of health restrictions based on geography while refusing to impose a provincewide mask mandate?Shepherd said Kenney is playing politics with the health rules and Albertans are suffering as a result.“Jason Kenney is more concerned about his own political fortunes and concerned about the anti-mask fringe extremists that we know exist in his own caucus and in his own political party and political base,” Shepherd said in an interview.“He is more concerned about satisfying them and losing political capital than he is about showing leadership to protect Albertans.”Kenney has said a provincewide mask bylaw is unnecessary and the health rules are a measured and targeted way to keep Albertans safe while keeping jobs and the economy going.He has also said 90 per cent of Albertans are already under some kind of municipal mask bylaw. During a Nov. 26 Facebook town hall discussion he questioned whether rural residents working and living remotely would even follow it.“Imagine you got a couple of guys working in a big barn way up in the M.D. of Opportunity, hundreds of kilometres away from the closest COVID hot zone,” said Kenney. “Do you really think those guys are going to put on a mask because I ask them to or tell them to?”Kenney said one of his rural caucus members told him some of his constituents would be reflexively rebellious if told to mask up: “He said, ‘You know a lot of these folks who are (masking up) now, they would take it off the moment the government tells them to wear it.’”Provincewide there is a ban on gatherings in homes beyond those who live under the same roof. Outdoor gatherings are capped at 10 people. And students in grades 7 through 12 are learning virtually at home through the Christmas holidays.In areas with high caseloads, there are new restrictions on retailers, businesses, restaurants and entertainment options like casinos.Those restrictions don’t apply to low-case areas, which include some rural regions in north and central Alberta.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — Seniors in British Columbia's long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized against COVID-19 starting in the first week of January with two vaccines, the province's top doctor says.Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna will be the first to be rolled out after approval by Health Canada.However, Henry said only about six million doses are expected to be available across Canada until March."So we won't be able to broadly achieve what we call community immunity or herd immunity, but that will come," she saidAt least two other companies, including AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, are in the process of submitting data to Health Canada and regulatory agencies around the world in hopes of getting approval for their vaccines. "Those ones we hope will be available sometime in the second quarter of 2021," Henry said."We hope to have everybody done by September of next year," she said of the province's efforts through "Operation Immunize.""By the end of the year, anybody who wants vaccine in B.C. and in Canada should have it available to them and should be immunized."Henry said B.C. health officials worked with their federal counterparts Thursday on ways to facilitate the delivery of vaccines as they anticipated various challenges that could come up in the immunization process.More details will be provided about the province's vaccine plan next week, Henry said.She reported 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, for a total of 35,422 infections in the province.There have been 12 more deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in B.C. to 481.Henry noted health-care workers are tired from the pandemic as everyone deals with an "anxiety-provoking time," but that it's important to stay "100 per cent committed" to getting through the next few months before vaccines are available."We know that our long-term care homes in particular are most vulnerable and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said.Henry has banned all indoor and outdoor sports teams for adults, saying a team in the province's Interior recently tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from Alberta."What we have seen in the past few weeks to months is that 10 to 15 per cent of cases have been related to physical fitness and sports activities," she said, an estimate based on cases that have been linked.Most transmissions of COVID-19 among adult involved in sports have been through social activities related to the gatherings, Henry said.— By Camille Bains in VancouverThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
A fellow councillor's negative opinions about staff and peers are indicative of confrontational and unnecessary hostility, says complainant. Coun. Jon Main told MidlandToday people are missing the point by focusing on Bill Gordon's 'snowflake comment' that was part of a series of communications and dialogue shared with the integrity commissioner. Main said he just rolled his eyes at Gordon's 'lame and corny' snowball comment directed at him. "At the end of the day, we were discussing an issue we both agreed on," he added. And even though it did happen earlier in the year, Main said he wasn't 'sitting' on information or gathering evidence to present to the integrity commissioner. "We went in communication with the integrity commissioner in summer," he said. "The complaint would have been filed in the middle of summer and we've been discussing it this fall." Providing context to the dialogue, Main said it was a back-and-forth exchange about responding to the pandemic and what council and the town were going to do. It was spurred by a warning from him, cautioning Gordon to be careful about communicating to all of council. "We're not supposed to be discussing issues with each other over email because of closed door policies and all," said Main. "We were talking about what's the best way of bringing information forward. It was a simple exchange of information and it kind of spiralled and clearly crosses a line." But he said he would like to bring attention to the fact that it's part of a larger pattern of disrespectful of conduct from councillor to councillor. And a second matter of concern: disrespect in council and staff relations. It's indicative of a personality, confrontational and unnecessary hostility. "This isn't a Main vs. Gordon issue," said Main. "This is really a Gordon vs. code of conduct issue." And, he added, it certainly isn't (that) he, Coun. Jim Downer, and Deputy Mayor Mike Ross are out to get Gordon. "There's no animosity between us," said Main. "We're really just trying to work with our colleague to make him step up his game so we don't see these code of conduct lapses and issues." Another key point that he said residents need to realize is that of undue influence on town staff. "I don't have any instances of that happening before," Main said, talking about the one set of circumstances quoted in the report. "I think this incident is quite important to review to make sure we follow the rules around council roles and responsibilities and staff responsibilities and make sure we don't cross the wires." Main said prior to lodging the complaint, he had approach Gordon peer about his communication style. "From my communication, I've said it in the nicest way possible to soften his approach and offered constructive criticism on how to go about raising issues and who to contact (for town-related matters)," said Main. "Those suggestions and advice have not been heeded or appreciated." Ross played to a similar tune. "Coun. Main reached out to Coun. Gordon and was pretty much told to go away and (Gordon said), 'I'll do politics my way and you do it yours way,'" he said in a conversation with MidlandToday. "I give Coun. Main credit for doing that. I was surprised by Coun. Gordon's response." Ross added that in his opinion, Gordon could be one of the best councillors the town has. "But unfortunately, he doesn't want to follow the rules," he said. "I have no idea why not. Maybe he's upset due to the fact that council of the day took him to court around the Midland Police Services Board. I would hope that isn't it, but he's said it in the past that it was his motivation to get on council." And it's not a question of Ross against Gordon, said the deputy mayor. "It's the code of conduct we all agreed to follow," he elaborated. "Unfortunately, things have happened that it's not been followed or adhered to. We all want to work together." And where there are no conversations between the two included in the report, Ross said, he felt he had to back up his colleagues. Addressing Gordon's suspicions around monetary sanctions, Main said, that wasn't up to him alone, adding he wasn't thinking of going that route anyway. "I think people need to understand what a reprimand is," he said. "Financial sanction isn't the end-all and be-all of the integrity commissioner's report. The reprimand is really the only tool that council now has to censure somebody for misconduct. "We're not looking to recall somebody or have anyone impeached or a special election called. This is basically saying we all agreed to this certain set of rules and we want to make sure everyone follows it. We are paid to agree or to disagree. The community expects us to work collaboratively and put all differences aside." Ross was in the same corner. "I'm not looking to push for monetary sanctions," he said. "I just want him to realize he's breaking the rules that were set out for all of us to follow. Be respectful to others, that's all I'm looking for. It breaks my heart that it came to this." The code of conduct, Ross said, are rules all elected officials agreed to follow. But why even have a code of conduct then? To that, Ross said he didn't have an answer. "I try go the other way and avoid being on social media," he added. "I do not want to be in a position that anything like this would happen. I don't want to be engaged with constituents there. If you want to talk to me, give me a call. I conduct town business that way. I think social media and the rest of it is so easy to get away with comments people won't say to you to your face." Both said they want the matter to end on a hopeful note with all of council working together on common goals for the betterment of the town. The matter will be discussed at council's Wednesday meeting.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
The average price people are willing to pay for real estate in Windsor-Essex continues to skyrocket even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.In general, the average property price in the region has increased by nearly 25 per cent over the last year. "It has escalated lately," Damon Winney, president of the Windsor-Essex County Realtor's Association said. According to a monthly report by the Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors, the average property price last year in the month of November was $338,338.This year, it's nearly $82,000 more expensive, with prices sitting at $420,007.Property sales notably dipped in the months of April and May, as the community locked down and the main concerns were centred around the virus."As the economy grew and opened up again, we've seen people back into the market and in fact we've seen people come from other areas." He said because of COVID-19, people have been moving to the area from the GTA and the surrounding region. Winney said he thinks that while a slowdown is inevitable, low interest rates are helping drive the interest in the market. "We've got a federal government trying to keep the economy going and I think that housing is one of those marvellous factors that actually helps drive the economy over the long term," Winney said.More people are listing their homes as well, with listings up by almost 10 per cent. The number of sales are also up more than six per cent.Playing catch up "We're just, pretty much, catching up with cities that are equivalent to us in terms of population," Rasha Ingratta a mortgage agent with Mortgage Intelligence said.She also points toward the extremely low interest rates that are giving people a big incentive to get into the market with much lower monthly payments."I say to [people considering getting into the market] this is the best time to buy," Ingratta said. "Because I think prices are going to keep going up for the next year or so until it flat lines."
NEW YORK — Author James McBride and editor Chris Jackson were among those honoured Thursday night by the Center for Fiction.McBride and Showtime received an On Screen Award for the acclaimed adaptation of his prize-winning historical novel “The Good Lord Bird,” which starred Ethan Hawke as the radical 19th century abolitionist John Brown. Jackson, whose authors range from Ta-Nehisi Coates to Bryan Stevenson, was given the Medal for Editorial Excellence Award. Jackson runs the One World imprint of Penguin Random House.The Center for Fiction awarded its First Novel Prize to Raven Leilani for “Lustre,” the story of a young Black woman's affair with a married, middle-aged white man. Finalists included this year's Booker Prize winner, Douglas Stuart's “Shuggie Bain.”The Associated Press
Three Edmonton pools and two arenas on the chopping block in Edmonton's 2021 budget won't be closed without a fight. City council heard from about 80 people at a public hearing Thursday into the city's capital and operating budgets. The majority of council favour a zero per cent property tax increase next year and to reach that, administration has identified $64 million in savings in its approximately $3 billion operating budget. Closing Oliver, Scona and Eastglen pools and the Oliver and Tipton arenas will save the city an estimated $1.2 million in operating costs. But community members are lobbying the city to keep them open until they come up with an alternative. A teacher from Strathcona High School who works with the swim team, Ryan de Boer, said 180 students were part of the team last year and they rely on Scona Pool for practice. De Boer said the school has a lot of pride in the aquatics program, having won 34 city championships. "If our pool was to close, unfortunately, we are pretty aware that our swim team would have to fold," De Boer said. "Which is a shame because it's something that's got a lot of continuity. "Older siblings get their younger siblings to join this team because of the success and the positive experiences that they've had, so this makes a huge difference in their lives." The Queen Alexandra Community League is championing funding for another smaller, community-focused Rollie Miles Rec Centre, which would replace Scona Pool. Lisa Brown with the Oliver Community League, said a survey last year shows high demand for the outdoor pool there. "Oliver pool is loved by our community," it is the most popular recreation amenity in the whole neighbourhood, as well as Oliver Park." The city closed Oliver pool in 2019 to repair the drainage system. She argued that closing the pool would be a waste of that investment. City council has approved many new towers in Oliver over the past few years, creating some 4,500 housing units, Brown said. "We need more parks and more recreation amenities in Oliver, not less." John Mervyn, a city employee with CUPE local 30, joined the meeting to urge council to review its contracted services. For example, he said the city used to run its own tire shop but now, that service is contracted out. "When a vehicle gets sent to have a tire fixed, it comes back with four new tires rather than just having one fixed." He also made the case to keep community sports facilities open. "Fitness and recreation are important to Edmontonians, especially right now, and they'll be needing them to help them get through these difficult times," he said. Members from Edmonton adult ice users and power skating also chimed in to keep arenas open. Other cuts The city says it could save $100,000 by eliminating spay and neuter services. Karin Nelson with the Voice for Animals Society, asked council to keep the program. "Cutting this program would be an absolute disaster, in terms of the stray and feral cat population levels," Nelson said. The city is looking at reducing the number of transit peace officers in development services, professional standards oversight, municipal enforcement responsibilities and administrative support services, for an estimated savings of $1.1 million. "These reductions may have some impact on citizens, including slower response times for enforcement issues," the report says. Other areas the city plans to cut are fireworks on New Year's Eve, Canada Day and Family Day. Staffing at spray parks and skateboard parks, youth drop-in programs are also on the list. Janet Riopel, president and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, was one of the few speakers who lauded the city's attempts at trimming its programs. Riopel noted that nearly 50 per cent of businesses have laid off staff and another 20 per cent expect to lay off staff in the coming months. She championed the city's goal of zero per cent property tax increase and said the city is being flexible and adaptable in its approach to budgeting. That includes exploring partnerships with non-profit and private entities to run rec centres. "It's the right move and it would reduce the cost burden on taxpayers," Riopel said. City administration is expected to present one-time COVID-19 specific budget measures at a meeting next week. Council starts debating the capital and operating budgets on Monday and is expected to pass them by Dec. 11. @natashariebe
WASHINGTON — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local): 9:55 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden says it is important that President Donald Trump attend his inauguration only in the sense that it would demonstrate the nation’s commitment to a peaceful transfer of power between political rivals. Trump aides have expressed skepticism that the president would attend Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Trump has continued to falsely claim victory and spread baseless claims of fraud to try to explain away his loss. Speaking Thursday to CNN, Biden said, “It is totally his decision.” He added, “It is of no personal consequence to me, but I think it is to the country.” Biden lamented Trump’s refusal to concede, saying, “These kinds of things happen in tin-horn dictatorships." He said he hoped Trump would attend the inauguration to set an example to other nations on the democratic process. ___ HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN'S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE: Up soon for President-elect Joe Biden is naming his top health care officials as the coronavirus pandemic rages. He's also facing escalating pressure from competing factions within his own party as he finalizes his choice for secretary of defence. Read more: — Trump’s grievances feed menacing undertow after the election — Trump expected to flex pardon powers on way out door — Ivanka Trump deposed as part of inauguration fund lawsuit — Barr’s special counsel move could tie up his successor — In video, Trump recycles unsubstantiated voter fraud claims — Psaki, next White House press secretary, a veteran messenger ___ HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON: 9:40 p.m. Joe Biden is brushing off concerns by some leading African Americans that the major early picks for his Cabinet have not been diverse enough. During an interview with CNN on Thursday, the president-elect was asked about House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s comments that many qualified Black people have been passed over in the picks Biden has made so far. Biden responded that the eight choices he’s made “were the most diverse Cabinet anyone in American history has ever announced” and included five people of colour and three white people, as well as five women and three men. Biden also said he’d be meeting with NAACP leadership next Tuesday. He says he understands “their job is to push me.” “Every special interest -- and I don’t say that in a negative way -- every advocacy group out there, is pushing for more, more, more of what they want. That’s their job,” Biden said. “My job is to keep my commitment.” He added: “I promise you you’ll see the most diverse Cabinet.” ___ 9:30 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden says he’s received private congratulatory calls from several Republican senators who have refused to publicly acknowledge his victory in fear of aggravating President Donald Trump. Speaking to CNN on Thursday, Biden says, “There have been more than several sitting Republican senators who have privately called me and congratulated me.” As Trump continues to falsely claim victory and push unsubstantiated claims of fraud, Biden said the lawmakers “get put in a very tough position.” He predicted that the situation will improve, with “at least a significant portion of the leadership,” after the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14. Biden acknowledged that the Senate is a more partisan place than when he left it in 2009, but predicted it would still be possible to effectively legislate. ___ 8:45 p.m. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have made a fresh push for President-elect Joe Biden to nominate New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as health and human services secretary. The lawmakers also encouraged Biden’s team to tap either California Attorney General Xavier Becerra or Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez for attorney general, according to a person on the Thursday virtual conference call who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it. Several members spoke up for Lujan Grisham, who is apparently no longer in top running for the post. One lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, told Biden’s team that news leaks about her turning down another Cabinet job were inappropriate, the person on the call said. Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, who was on the call with other transition team officials, agreed, the person said. He told them it should not have happened. The lawmakers are pressing to have Latinos in at least five Cabinet positions and fill 20% of the administrative appointments, reflective of their population. — By AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro ___ 6:40 p.m. Joe Biden says reports that President Donald Trump may be exploring preemptive pardons to protect his children, key aides and perhaps even himself from prosecution after he leaves office concern “me a great deal.” The president-elect told CNN on Thursday that he’s worried about “what kind of precedent it sets, and how the rest of the world looks at us as a nation of laws and justice.” Biden vowed to ensure that his own Justice Department operates independently. Trump has frequently pressured the agency to do his bidding. “I’m not going to be telling them what they have to do and don’t have to do,” Biden said. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris said any decisions coming out of the Biden administration’s DOJ “should be based on facts, it should be based on the law. It should not be influenced by politics, period.” Biden added, “I guarantee you that’s how it will be run.” ___ 6:35 p.m. President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee have raised an eye-popping $495 million since mid-October, with much taken in after Election Day as the president fundraised off his baseless allegations of widespread election fraud. The sum includes money raised by the Trump campaign, the RNC, their two joint fundraising committees and the president’s new political action committee, named “Save America.” Much of the money was raised during the closing weeks of the campaign. But $207.5 million came in after Election Day as Trump repeatedly – and falsely – claimed President-elect Joe Biden won due to voter fraud. Trump has spent millions on filing legal challenges and pushing for recounts after his Nov. 3 loss, but the largess is likely to be spent elsewhere. Some is being funneled to Georgia, where Republicans are aiming to hold onto two Senate seats — and control of the chamber — in twin Jan. 5 runoffs. Trump’s new PAC also allows him to build up his political bank account as he ponders his future, including a potential run in 2024. So far, the PAC is off to a lacklustre start. Despite the windfall, Save America reported in a campaign finance disclosure Thursday that it raised only $569,000 from its launch after Election Day through Nov. 23. ___ 5:35 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden says he is keeping Dr. Anthony Fauci on as a chief medical adviser and a member of his COVID-19 advisory team. Biden made the comments Thursday during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. He said he spoke with Fauci earlier in the day about the need to instil confidence in any coronavirus vaccine and the fact that “you don’t have to close down the economy” to combat the virus. Biden says he’d be “happy” to get a vaccine in public to prove its safety. The president-elect also said he would ask the public to wear masks for 100 days to help drive down the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans. ___ 5:10 p.m. Attorney General William Barr is coming under criticism from members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who are demanding a full review of the presidential election won by Joe Biden. Several Freedom Caucus members aligned with President Donald Trump stood outside the Capitol on Thursday saying Barr needs to quickly explain what he is doing to investigate the vote. Barr said this week that the Department of Justice has not seen evidence of widespread voter fraud. Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson says, “It’s time, Mr. Attorney General. Please do your duty.” Florida Rep. Ted Yoho says, “We’ll accept the results, but not until we’re shown the fraud was taken out of that.” Trump has refused to accept results showing that he is the first incumbent since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to lose reelection. Biden won 306 electoral votes compared to 232 for Trump. The Electoral College split matches Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton four years ago, which he described then as a “landslide.” ___ 2:10 p.m. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has knocked down talk that she is in the running for President-elect Joe Biden’s secretary of health and human services. Speaking Thursday afternoon at a weekly briefing on the status of the pandemic in Rhode Island, Raimondo took a few moments at the end of her prepared remarks to rule herself out of that job. “I am not going to be President-elect Biden’s nominee for HHS secretary,” Raimondo said. “My focus is right here in Rhode Island, as I have said. I’m working 24/7 to keep Rhode Islanders safe and keeping our economy moving, and I have nothing else to add on that topic.” The governor in recent days had been mentioned as a leading contender for the job, along with former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, co-chair of Biden’s coronavirus task force. ___ 12:25 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden has tapped former Obama administration senior economic adviser Brian Deese to be director of the National Economic Council. Deese is now the managing director and global head of sustainable investing at the BlackRock company. He worked on the auto bailout and environmental issues in the Obama White House, where he held the title of deputy director of both the NEC and the Office of Management and Budget. Biden said Thursday in a prerecorded video announcing the appointment that Deese is “someone who looks at hard problems and finds solutions that help make life better for American families.” Biden highlighted Deese’s expertise on climate policy, as he looks to make the issue a centerpiece of his White House agenda. ___ 8:35 a.m. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris is hiring veteran Democratic strategist Tina Flournoy as her chief of staff. President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team announced the choice Thursday. Flournoy’s appointment adds to a team of Harris advisers led by Black women. Harris is of Jamaican and Indian heritage and is the nation’s first female vice-president. Flournoy joins Ashley Etienne as Harris’ communications director and Symone Sanders as her chief spokeswoman. Flournoy has served as chief of staff for former President Bill Clinton since 2013. That follows a career that took her to top posts at the Democratic National Committee, in the presidential campaigns of former Vice-President Al Gore and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and with the American Federation of Teachers. Harris also announced Rohini Kosoglu as her domestic policy adviser and Nancy McEldowney as her national security adviser. Kosoglu served as Harris’ top adviser during the general election campaign. McEldowney is a former ambassador to Bulgaria and has 30 years of service in various diplomatic and foreign affairs jobs. The Associated Press
Senior Health Canada officials said Thursday they could be just days away from approving a COVID-19 vaccine as many provinces reported increasing hospitalizations and Quebec cancelled plans to allow gatherings over the Christmas holidays.Chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said final documents from the American drugmaker Pfizer are expected Friday. They are to include which production lots of the vaccine will be shipped to Canada and when. Sharma wouldn't put an exact date on approval or delivery, but said once the "key information" is delivered from Pfizer, she will be able to tell Canadians the news they have been longing to hear.Moderna's vaccine is expected to receive approval soon after. The supply will initially be limited to about three million people. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Thursday they are targeting priority groups that will most benefit from an earlier vaccine while reducing the spread of the virus.“In a country as geographically large and diverse as ours, we are facing some logistical complexities,” he said, including reaching remote communities and co-ordinating between various levels of government.The Canadian Armed Forces received formal orders last week to start planning for the distribution of COVID-19 in the most ambitious and complex vaccine rollout in the country’s history. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading the country's distribution effort, said the speed, scope and scale of this plan makes it unique. A planning directive for Operation Vector includes preparations on vaccine-storage facilities and notes the possibility of flying doses on short notice from Spain, Germany and the U.S.Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals and front-line workers during the second wave of the pandemic as they prepare for upcoming distribution of the vaccine. Premier Francois Legault announced Quebec will no longer go forward with a plan to permit multi-household gatherings of up to 10 people over four days during the holidays. Hospitalizations declined slightly in that province to 737, but the number of people in the intensive care unit remained unchanged at 99 on Thursday.Legault said it was not realistic to think the numbers will go down sufficiently by Christmas.Ontario reported 666 people were in hospital Thursday with COVID-19, with 195 in intensive care — a 34 per cent increase from the week before. There were 1,824 new cases and 14 more deaths due to the virus.Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said there is a team working with the federal government on vaccine distribution. “It’s still early day. We are going to start this process as soon as we can to make strides," he said. "Everything we do is a step in the right direction.”The seven-day rolling average of new cases nationally is 6,044.The Prairie provinces have been a hot spot for COVID-19 in recent weeks. Saskatchewan and Alberta recently brought in more restrictions, with the latter making a request to Ottawa and the Canadian Red Cross for field hospitals to help with the surge.Alberta recorded 1,854 new infections Thursday — a new daily record. There were 511 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 97 in intensive care.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the contact tracing system is struggling under the volume of new cases.Manitoba reported 367 new infections and 12 additional deaths. Premier Brian Pallister called for more clarity in Ottawa's vaccination rollout, specifically when it comes to how doses will distributed on First Nations.The premier also expressed frustration with people who still don't believe the novel coronavirus is a threat, even though more than 250 Manitobans died from the virus in November alone."If you don't think that COVID's real right now, you're an idiot," Pallister said.Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, announced 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 12 additional deaths as she outlined the early details of the province's plan for immunization.Seniors in long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized, she said, but more details on the plan won't come out until next week.Henry said health-care workers are tired from the pandemic and it's important to get through the next few months before vaccines are available."We know that our long-term care homes, in particular, are most vulnerable, and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Mia RabsonKelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
The Quebec government will launch a pilot project to see whether electronic bracelets can reduce domestic violence by keeping violent ex-partners at a distance. The project is part of a wider plan to combat conjugal violence, which was announced Thursday afternoon by the minister responsible for women, Isabelle Charest, and Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault. Charest said the province's services need to be improved, after a string of homicides involving spouses and children in the past year in Quebec.Quebec has set aside $180 million over the next five years for several measures.The bracelets the government is considering affixing to violent ex-partners would set off an alarm if the person gets too close to the victim. "The first step is to determine if this is feasible, with all the issues it can bring up — the costs and legal issues. We're going to be looking at what's been done elsewhere," Guilbault said. France has implemented a similar program. Red Deer, Alta., also had one, but it lost funding. Quebec will spend $9 million seeing if the bracelets could work in the province, but Guilbault didn't say how long the feasibility study would last.The bulk of the $180 million will go to shelters for victims and their children, to help them upgrade their programs and services, as well as for repairs.The government will also be setting up crisis units in six new regions and creating programs that provide emergency funding to victims of domestic violence needing to leave a dangerous situation."All women and all children have a right to live in safety at all times. It's sad that we still have to repeat it in 2020," Charest said at the announcement. "This is a step in the right direction, but I'm aware there's still work to do."
TORONTO — Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes says the much buzzed-about shower scene that opens his new Netflix documentary was a result of great trust between himself and the director.The singer-songwriter from Pickering, Ont., did a Q-and-A with director Grant Singer via video conference Thursday for members of the media to promote the "Shawn Mendes: In Wonder" film.Mendes said Singer spent a lot of time building their relationship and making him comfortable with having a camera around before filming.He said by the time they shot the hotel-room shower scene, which shows Mendes from the waist up and has generated a lot of chatter online, they had developed a good friendship."Grant, I've been asked so many times about the shower scene and how I felt about doing a shower scene," Mendes said, explaining that the deeper they got into filmmaking, the more they wanted to make it "vulnerable and raw" and develop a sense of closeness."If you were filming me for another year, it would have been like waking up in bed with me in the morning and being like, 'So how did you sleep?'" he added with a laugh.Singer noted they shot the scene on a day when Mendes was on vocal rest."It was like, the door was open and it just felt by that point we had this trust where you knew you were being filmed and there was something that, if it wasn't appropriate for me to be filming, I wasn't going to be in the room," he said."Also keep in mind, when we were shooting that, we didn't know it was going to make it into the documentary. We were just shooting. It just happened to resonate thematically because that was the day where you lost your voice, or the day after. So it narratively played a part and why it's in the movie."Mendes, who releases his fourth album "Wonder" on Friday, allowed Singer to follow him around on tour and in his personal life in the film. Cameras capture him in his childhood home in Pickering, east of Toronto, where he first got the world's attention performing in short videos on the now-defunct Vine platform. The 22-year-old, of course, has gone on to megafame with hits including "In My Blood," "Stitches," "Treat You Better" and "If I can't Have You.""In Wonder" also shows Mendes with his family and his girlfriend, fellow singer Camila Cabello, with whom he made the 2019 hit "Senorita.""As an artist, it's very easy to believe people want to take advantage of you and play into the sides of you that media wants to eat up," Mendes said. "But I know Grant and I know how he is about art."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
The Saskatchewan Health Authority is considering lengthening hours and opening more locations for drive-thru COVID-19 testing, with current sites under pressure due to surging case numbers.New projections released Thursday suggest the number of new COVID-19 cases could reach 560 per day by mid-December. Testing centres, which are located in Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon and Yorkton, are already under strain due to the recent increase in community transmission of the virus. On its first day of operation, the Prince Albert centre had to turn people away more than two hours before its scheduled closing time of 4 p.m. CST. Jennifer Nygaard drove for about an hour from her home in Struthers Lake to line up for drive-thru testing. She said she joined the line at about noon and was turned away before 2 p.m."If people are having to be sent home at 1:00 in the afternoon, that says to me that they're well below the capacity to test the people that want to be tested right now," said Nygaard. She said nobody should be turned away because the province is in an emergency situation, and because they might not have the means to try again.Longer hours, 2nd centres among optionsSHA chief executive Scott Livingstone said at a news conference Thursday work is underway to expand testing capacity. "Particularly in Saskatoon and Regina we are looking at how we extend hours as well as put more staff in place, or even look at second locations for drive-thru testing in both the centres because of the popularity," said Livingstone. Livingstone said a pilot program is also being used to proactively test long-term care workers and residents at eight facilities. The program will be expanded provincewide after the initial pilot period to help identify cases earlier, he said.He added that about 15 new laboratory staff have been hired and about 20 more are in training to improve testing capacity and timeliness.GeneXpert machines are in 19 communities across the province to reduce the need for people to travel for testing, Livingstone said."We are working with GeneXpert to continue to expand the access to cartridges so we can use that platform better."Questions about accessBut Nygaard said the system for COVID-19 testing relies too heavily on having access to a vehicle. "What are they doing for people who are in rural communities? What are they doing for seniors who may not have vehicles to get there?" she said. "What are they doing for people with disabilities that are not in the city?… You cannot access this testing through public transit. So maybe they need to look at an in-home testing model."On Wednesday, 3,247 tests were completed in Saskatchewan, the province said in its Thursday COVID-19 update.Of the total 353,638 tests completed since the beginning of the pandemic, 100,945 were in Saskatoon and 54,561 have been completed in Regina.In the north central region, where Prince Albert is located, 26,429 test have been done.
Three Métis researchers have been directed by the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) to undertake a “deep dive” into the communities the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) has extended citizenship to as historic Métis communities. In a yet-to-be-released report, Will Goodon of the MMF, says work undertaken by researchers Darryl Leroux, Darren O’Toole and Jennifer Adese indicates the connections in the Mattawa/Ottawa River Métis community that the MNO claims as their own are actually ancestral connections to Algonquin and Nipissing First Nations. “So basically the MNO is claiming the same ancestors that the First Nations are claiming. It’s a bit of a mess. Actually quite a bit of a mess. And it’s a bit of a tangle as well to try and pull all these things apart,” said Goodon. In 2017, the MNO and Ontario government jointly released a statement saying that after studying historical reports and based on the criteria provided by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Powley decision, historic Métis communities went beyond Rainy River/Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario. The MNO and Ontario government identified Sault Ste. Marie (where the Powleys resided), Northern Lake Superior, Killarney and Georgian Bay (which comprise the Great Lake Métis), as well as Abitibi Inland and Mattawa/Ottawa River as historic Métis communities. The Métis National Council (MNC) has accepted the Rainy River/Lake of the Woods Métis community as part of the Métis homeland, but they reject the rest. As far as the MNC is concerned, the historical Métis homeland includes the entirety of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, and only parts of British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and in northwestern Ontario. Their homeland map excludes the Powleys’ community, although it was the Powley decision in 2003 that affirmed Métis hunting rights were protected under Sect. 35 of the Constitution. The MNO helped advance the Powley harvesting case all the way to the Supreme Court. The map is in keeping with the MNC’s definition of Métis: “a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation.” That definition was adopted in 2002 by the MNC. The MNO and the MMF, along with the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, Métis Nation of Alberta and Métis Nation-British Columbia, are the five Métis governments that comprise the MNC. In 2018, the MNC put the MNO on probation for accepting into its membership people from the Métis communities that resided outside of northwestern Ontario. Since then angry words have flown between MNO President Margaret Froh and various MNC representatives, including MNC President Clement Chartier and MMF President David Chartrand, who often serves as spokesperson for the MNC. Froh, however, does not stand alone. MNO has garnered the support of the presidents of the MNA and MN-S. The three Métis governments entered into a tripartite agreement in 2019. Goodon says the MMF has spent a lot of money and energy battling MNO. The research paper to be released in the coming weeks is the second such paper commissioned by MMF. He says while housing, his portfolio for MMF, and education are priorities, so is this. “To me it’s about the integrity of the Métis Nation. If MNO gets to decide who’s a citizen without the input from the rest of the Métis Nation then we have abdicated our rights to decide who we are,” he said. “Obviously Indigenous people have the right to self-determination, self-identification, and the Métis Nation have done that, but the problem is that the MNO is affiliated with the Métis Nation through the MNC,” said Goodon. Had MNO presented these additional communities to the MNC for political affiliation, that would have been a different matter, he said. “Even though we know they’re not part of the Métis Nation, they are a different people, but we will affiliate with them. They never asked us. They never asked the Métis Nation if that would be appropriate. “To me that would be one of the first things they do. To say, ‘We’re not you… we are our own peoples, but we want to be affiliated with you’,” he said. Presently, MNO is suspended from MNC. That decision was taken unilaterally by Chartier, says Froh, and should not have been made. Should MNO remove itself from the MNC and want a political affiliation instead, Goodon says that would be a difficult conversation “because there are some pretty hard feelings on both sides.” “I think if cooler heads were to settle down and say, ‘Hey, maybe we could have that conversation.’ Maybe. I think it could have been handled a little more properly on MNO’s side to say, ‘Look, we know, we understand nationhood. We understand who you are. This is us. Can we have a conversation?’ I think that could have happened and that still could happen if there’s good will. Good will is kind of hard to find at this point, I think,” said Goodon. However, a political affiliation is not what Froh is after. In an open letter on Nov. 27 to the Métis Nation leaders and citizens Froh addresses being “cut off” by the MNC. “It is apparent to the MNO that the current MNC leadership’s next steps will be to suggest that funding to the MNO and the Great Lakes Métis, including the Powley community, be cut off because of the new MNC map. “Let’s be clear, the MNO and Canada won’t allow for these types of crass political games, which disregard the Crown’s constitutional duties owing to the Powley community and other Ontario Métis communities, to happen.” In 2019, the MNO and Canada signed a Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement. At the MNO’s annual general meeting in November, the MNO informed membership of steps it was taking to implement that agreement. “The MNO will continue to represent, defend, and stand up for the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community, the Great Lakes Métis, as well as the other Métis communities it represents within Ontario as it has for the last 28 years,” Froh wrote in the November open letter. Goodon admits that MNO’s claims aren’t new, but MMF had its attentions focused on other matters. However, when MNO started accepting new communities, the issue was pushed. “We the Métis Nation decides who the Métis Nation is and a small part of the Métis Nation, maybe MNO, the small part of Ontario that is a part of the Métis Nation, maybe five, 10 per cent. That 10 per cent can’t decide they’re going to expand by 90 per cent. The Métis Nation should make that decision on who is the Metis citizen,” said Goodon. Froh points out in her letter that the MNC benefited from the Powley decision. “From 2003 to the present, Canada has provided well over $150 million… to the MNC and its Governing Members because of the Powley case to support Métis registries, Métis harvesting laws and policies, and research on other Métis Nation communities,” she wrote. As far as Froh is concerned, the MNC has “become dysfunctional … controlled by a few individuals.” MNO’s open letter is accompanied by a series of fact sheets, which Froh wrote are “to set the record straight ...(so) … people can make their own informed decisions.” She also wrote that the MNO would not be “engaging in a subsequent back-and-forth” with the MNC over what is presented in the letter. Windspeaker.comBy Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
Canada’s overdose crisis — fuelled by increasingly toxic street drugs and compounded by COVID-19 — is going into overdrive, and youth are particularly vulnerable, researchers say. But research suggests novel approaches might help youth struggling with illicit drugs, and mitigate the risk of overdose, including using cannabis as a harm reduction tool and focusing on other aspects of youths’ lives before pushing treatment or recovery. Even prior to the pandemic, Canadian youth ages 15 to 24 were the fastest growing population hospitalized for illicit drug overdoses. And young people age 29 and younger account for approximately 20 per cent (3,200) of the more than 16,000 fatal overdoses across Canada between January 2016 and March 2020. Youth, especially those experiencing homelessness or unstable housing, are particularly at risk of overdose, said Danya Fast, a researcher with the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU). However, many young people mistrust the medical system and face challenges in getting care for substance use issues, including long wait times for treatment or recovery programs, age restrictions or difficulty assessing safe supply (prescribed alternative drugs). But cannabis use among some young people may be helpful in reducing the harms from other substances, Fast said. Youth involved in a recent study indicated they weren’t using cannabis for recreation, but rather to reduce or eliminate the use of other more harmful drugs, including alcohol, or street drugs such as fentanyl, heroin and crystal methamphetamine (meth), Fast said. Cannabis use, significantly less dangerous than using toxic illicit drugs, is a tool for youth looking to relieve ongoing pain and mental health issues, she added. “In quite a few cases, young people will attempt to manage their substance use on their own with the use of cannabis,” Fast said. “And as an option to manage risk in the context of the overdose crisis.” Fast interviewed youth in Vancouver, and more recently in smaller regional cities and rural areas around Kelowna and Prince George, B.C., for her research. Some youth involved in the study said using cannabis allowed them to abandon illicit street drugs altogether. Scarlett Nelson, a BCCSU peer researcher and co-author of the study with Fast, said she’d resorted to using meth and heroin as a teen to try to deal with her diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity and oppositional defiance disorders after medically prescribed drugs failed her. But the solution lay in securing authorization for medical cannabis, she said. “Cannabis, for me, was an exit ramp from using other, more dangerous drugs and helped make me feel better overall,” Nelson stated. Fast noted that some youth still identified negative effects associated with heavy cannabis use, but overall the findings need to be considered in harm reduction contexts around youth using illicit drugs who are at risk of overdose. While youth struggling with substance use tend to be concentrated in urban centres like Vancouver, Fast said, the overdose crisis exists in all communities large and small. “As to whether illicit opioid use is an urban issue, I think the answer to that is simply, no,” Fast said. Many of the youth using substances in cities such as Vancouver arrive from the smaller communities on Vancouver Island or northern parts of the province, she said. “A lot of these young people are coming from elsewhere, and their substance use started elsewhere,” Fast said. “And certainly the coroner's report data underscores that illicit drug use and overdose risk is happening across the province.” The number of youth dying during in B.C.’s overdose crisis is similar to the national figures. Of the total deaths across the province this year, 19 per cent (269 deaths) were young people age 29 or younger, with 14 of the dead under the age of 19, the BC Coroners Service’s most recent data shows. To address risks to youth, the B.C. government has committed $36 million to create another 143 new treatment beds for young people across the province. Prior to the announcements made this summer, B.C. had 103 treatment beds for youth. Advocates have cited a lack of beds, long waiting lists and youths’ dislocation from community and family networks during treatment as barriers to recovery. However, though treatment and recovery programs are critical, accessing them is not necessarily the first order of business for youth with substance use issues, Fast said. “When we ask (youth across B.C.) questions about treatment and service access, they shifted the focus to say that what they were focused on was finding suitable housing, and employment, and building a life that was enjoyable and they could really be invested in,” Fast said. “So that they would have some kind of stability and a reason not to use drugs when they got out of treatment.” Generally, youth are presented with treatment or recovery options before addressing housing, income or employment, she said. In fact, often youth must sacrifice housing or employment to participate in treatment or recovery programs. But youth recognize that even if they successfully manage treatment or a recovery program, they are still on shaky ground, Fast said. Often when they get out of a program, youth find themselves in a situation of precarious housing and employment, with very little income, she said. The perspectives of youth should trigger new approaches about how to best facilitate their substance use treatment, Fast said. “Young people were really asking us to look beyond questions of access,” she said. “And to look at what they needed to stabilize their lives much more broadly. And I think that's a shift for a lot of us.” Steve Ayers, program manager for the Foundry located in Campbell River, on Vancouver Island, agreed that helping some youth achieve positive change in other areas of their lives can lead to drops in substance use. The Foundry is a one-stop shop with a range of support for youth and their families in the North Island and surrounding rural communities, he said. The youth hub also offers substance use counselling and a six-bed voluntary recovery program. But not all youth using substances need to access intensive treatment or recovery programs, he said, noting youth are often less entrenched with illicit street drugs than other demographics. “Oftentimes, if you can give youth a positive vision for the future and help them to have some success, then their coping goes way up,” Ayers said. Sometimes that means reconnecting with schooling, family or getting a job, he said. “Those would be some goals for sure. Then, they might find they don’t need these more problematic ways of coping,” Ayers said. “And the reasons that they were using substances stopped being as important.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
RED DEER, Alta. — Closing arguments have wrapped up in the trial of a former Mountie accused of sexually assaulting an RCMP colleague. Jason Tress is charged with one count of sexual assault over a March 1, 2012, allegation in Faust, Alta., where he was stationed at the time. The complainant has testified that she was assaulted by Tress at her residence during a party for a fellow RCMP officer. Defence lawyer Maurice Collard focused on the credibility of the woman, who still works as an RCMP constable. Collard told the court in Red Deer, Alta., that she gave numerous versions of what happened and didn't remember very specific details. Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou dismissed Collard's suggestion that the complainant is not credible. "This woman is a young woman, became intoxicated in her own house amongst friends and was put to bed by people who she believed were her friends," Papadatou told the court Thursday. "And a colleague took advantage of her." Earlier this week, the woman testified that she initially didn't want to make waves so she didn't press for an investigation at the time. She told court she decided to report what happened years later after hearing that Tress, 34, had been charged with sexual assault and other offences involving women in Red Deer. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Nathan Whitling is expected to hand down his ruling on Friday. (rdnewsNOW) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020 The Canadian Press