ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
The push to buy local this holiday season is overwhelming some Manitoba business owners, who are struggling to keep up with the avalanche of online and curbside orders. While the business is welcome, it's pushing many to the limit and for some, including McNally Robinson Booksellers, it still won't pull them out of the red this year."The amount of labour that this style of selling requires is two, maybe three, times higher than normal," co-owner Chris Hall said. "On the other side of that, this a fraction of the sales we would be normally getting — so we're earning much less [and] working much harder."Inside the normally bustling Grant. Avenue bookstore, phones are ringing off the hook, online orders are surging and staff are working tirelessly to process and package hundreds of parcels for pickup and delivery. One of the biggest challenges, Hall says, is that the business isn't set up to operate as online retailer."We're reaching our physical limit," he said. "We don't have enough space to literally stage the items that need to be picked up; we don't have enough computers to put more people on; we don't have more phones to answer more phone lines."He is warning customers new orders may face delays of seven to 14 days.Meanwhile, with revenue almost halved due to the shutdown of in-person shopping, the company is staying afloat thanks to pandemic wage and rent subsidies."By the time the week before Christmas comes we would be about twice as much [volume] as this week," he said. "But we can't get to twice as much of what we're doing right now, so we're going to be way down."Winnipeg candle-company Coal and Canary, is feeling the heat too.Online sales have skyrocketed much to the surprise of owner and creative director Amanda Buhse — who is first to admit you can't smell her candles online.Candle company fielding over 500 orders a day"We basically are working around the clock to try and keep up with the demand in the orders," she said.Buhse has tripled her team, added night and weekend shifts and is working 16-hour days herself just to keep up. The business is averaging 500 to 1,000 orders per day, she said, adding they sell across Canada and the United States.Trade shows and in-person shopping, the company's biggest drivers of revenue, have evaporated with pandemic restrictions so the record online sales success has been a happy surprise.The company has already exceeded last year's sales by 50 per cent, Buhse said, adding she attributes much it of it to Canadians' commitment to buy local."It's crazy," she said. "We have just been so blown away by the incredible support, of people that had never even shopped local before the pandemic happened and now they're looking at local options."At Toad Hall Toys, in Winnipeg's Exchange District, staff have turned off the phones as they work to process the volume of online orders as fast as they can."Between that and answering the door for pickup orders, it is all the seven of us can handle," said a note from the shop's staff posted to Instagram. Small business owners face burnout: CFIBThe Canadian Federation of Independent Business found small business owners are feeling the pressures of the pandemic and facing burnout as they enter the holiday shopping season.A recent national survey found close to half of small business owners said their mental health has suffered during the pandemic and 45 per cent said they have worked significantly more hours."It's been a very rocky start for a lot of retailers and other businesses too, that rely on the holiday season," said Jonathan Alward, director of the Prairie region."Even though the buy local in Manitoba surge has been very helpful, a lot of businesses still aren't anywhere near normal."In Manitoba, 48 per cent of the province's businesses are fully open, 35 per cent are fully staffed and just 24 per cent are making normal sales, Alward said.The challenges vary widely depending on the sector, he said, adding some are faring better than others."Think of any boutique — if you miss this season, your next season is going to be spring or summer," he said. "You're flush with inventory you've paid for and you can't move. It's a big concern."For many businesses, the pivot to online and curbside also comes with a price. "There's so many added costs, whether you're looking at more labour costs to do curbside pickup or delivery or, you know, you have a lot of costs associated with trying to keep your staff and any customers that can come in as safe as possible," he said. "I think we're going to see a lot of sales missed out on because of that lack of in-person interaction."In an effort to drive consumers to buy local, Winnipeg business owner Obby Kahn launched GoodLocal.ca, a one-stop online shop with dozens of Manitoba vendors."Think of Amazon and Etsy, but local," he said. "Everything good, everything local we want on our platform, you order it, we package it for you on one nice box."Since launching in September, the site was averaging 20 orders a week. Sales gradually started to pick up as Manitoba moved to orange and then red on the pandemic response scale.Last week, the site pulled in more than 700 orders forcing Khan to shut it down to catch up and increase capacity."It was panic," he said. "We weren't set up for that. We've had to move warehouses twice already. So we said, you know, we have to hit a little bit of a pause, kind of figure out our systems."He said the site will be up and running again shortly and he is grateful for the support.He hopes Manitobans continue to be mindful of where they spend their money this season and the year ahead."Think about that," he said. "Think of how that can help a family and have an immediate impact on our Winnipeg and our economy and everything going on in this great city."
A group representing francophone and Acadian communities on P.E.I. is encouraging Islanders to write to their MPs about modernizing the federal Official Languages Act. Société acadienne et francophone de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard (SAF'Île) says the 50-year-old act is out of date and that's creating inequalities in the way Islanders receive French-language services. "If we say that we are a bilingual country, then the federal government really needs to put the means and resources to live up to it," said Isabelle Dasylva-Gill, executive director of SAF'Île (formerly the Société Saint-Thomas d'Aquin).Lack of bilingual workforce Dasylva-Gill said one of the big issues is a lack of a bilingual workforce to provide services in areas such as child care, education, and health care. And that affects francophones trying to access services in their first language."If you want to register your child for French-language daycare [on P.E.I.], well most of the time there is a huge waiting list," said Dasylva-Gill."Because there are not the resources available to be able to have a spot."When that happens, said Dasylva-Gill, parents must put their kids into English-language daycare, which can lead to assimilation.Dasylva-Gill emphasized that the act also affects anglophones on P.E.I., in particular parents who want their children to have equal access to learn French through an immersion program. "If you don't have the resources to provide those programs, that's where the act is not living up to the demand," Dasylva-Gill said. Group says act not accountable enough She said that if Islanders feel they are not getting equal treatment under the act, it's hard to know where to speak up about it. "The mechanisms that are in place are not reliable enough to make sure that the act actually is respected by the federal institutions."The act also includes targets for bilingual immigrants who can work in the health care and education sectors.> As a society, we have a responsibility to make our voices heard — Isabelle Dasylva-Gill, SAF'Île"Year after year, there is less than two per cent of immigrants that settle outside of Quebec that are French speaking," said Dasylva-Gill. She said it's an asset for all businesses to be able to employ more bilingual workers, which helps the economy. "Really, it's the act of all Canadians when you think about the bigger picture." SAF'Île wants Islanders to send a letter to their MP about modernizing the Official Languages Act, and it has a template on its website. "As a society, we have a responsibility to make our voices heard," said Dasylva-Gill.More from CBC P.E.I.
More than 50 people who live in the western P.E.I. community of Forestview have signed a petition calling on the provincial government to move high-voltage power lines away from their homes.The lines run along Howlan Road and carry electricity generated at the West Cape wind farm.The province did remove three-quarters of the lines in 2008, says local resident Clyde Penney, and promised at that time to move the rest once future wind turbines were established in that area."We're asking now for government to live up to that responsibility and to remove the lines," said Penney.After more than a decade of lobbying, the residents of the area say the time to move the lines is now, as the province plans a $44 million project to establish a 106-kilometre transmission line to transport energy from a future 40-megawatt wind farm in Skinners Pond to a substation in Sherbrooke, near Summerside. It's planned for 2025.Penney said 52 impacted residents have signed the petition.He said they're not against the turbines, just against the lines running by their homes."In some cases they're only 25 feet from the houses," said Penney, adding that the lines devalue their properties and pose a potential health risk."The birds won't even land on them."'Just devastated'The residents want to see the lines relocated away from homes on the road.Juanita Gallant told CBC News when they rerouted the other lines back in 2008, she and her neighbours thought all the lines would be moved."But they stopped about a quarter of a kilometre from our house. That was it. We were just devastated," she said."They rerouted everything from here right through to Summerside, but they didn't reroute this bunch of homes right here," said her husband, Ricky."They should've done that from the start."Their MLA, Robert Henderson, has asked the government to follow through on its commitment, suggesting it use the poles, wire and insulators along the new route of its wind energy corridor."They're right in their front yards," he said. "The community has been very patient."Penney wrote to Energy Minister Steven Myers in August, but said he has not heard back yet.In the legislature Tuesday, Myers said he doesn't know where the new power corridor will be located, but he's willing to meet with residents to discuss their concerns.A spokesperson with Maritime Electric said the company was not aware of any recent issues or concerns in that area, and it would be up to the province to decide whether to move the lines.More from CBC P.E.I.
The Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) says it is looking into several instances of uninvited strangers joining online classes and disrupting lessons.Nathalie Seskus, a Grade 7 St. Alphonsus School student — and the daughter of a CBC employee — said that since moving online this week, her class has been crashed by uninvited strangers more than once."It happened in two calls — one on [a] Google meeting, one on Zoom, where people who aren't part of our school or class have just been joining in calls," Seskus said.Seskus, 12, said the students and teacher can tell when someone uninvited had joined their chat rooms because of their usernames."We noticed because we're always supposed to use our real names when we're on calls. When we don't, we're asked to change them," she said. "In one case, when we were on a Zoom meeting, a man who was posing as a student had a random username."Seskus said the teacher told him to leave because he wasn't part of her class."She had kicked him out of the meeting and he joined again," Seskus said.She said in the other case, the intruder claimed to be a new student. "But he sounded like a man, not a child," Seskus said. "Everyone in the class was telling our teacher to kick them out. So she did, and we didn't see him pop up again."Disruptions were more common in the springBryan Szumlas, chief superintendent of the CCSD, said these disruptions are definitely happening — but were more common in the spring."For example, zoom back from March to June, there were some security issues with them, but they have since improved their technology significantly," Szumlas said. "It has been assessed by our Calgary Catholic technology team and it is a platform that we are comfortable with."Szumlas said the process of moving all Grade 7 to 12 students online this week was bound to include hiccups along the way. "What I did hear wasn't a huge problem," Szumlas said. "But I did hear about it in one or two classrooms where a teacher never clicked on a security feature and consequently [people outside the class joined]."We suspect it was just another student playing a prank and jumping into a class and making an inappropriate comment and then taking off."Szumlas said these types of incidents are taken very seriously and investigated fully."When something like this happens, obviously the teacher would communicate that to the principal and the principal would then start an investigation," Szumlas said. Szumlas said that should an incident be criminal, then the principal would also contact Calgary police, adding that police have not yet been required.Moving students onlineThe superintendent said the direction from the province to move older students online came relatively quickly."There was only four or five days for teachers to prepare," he said. "So the direction that we've given our teachers is that, use whatever platform you're comfortable with, so that we can continue the continuity of education."We've tried to give our teachers choice here. And I think we live in a world today that is so full of different technologies that are improving continuously, that having that rich variety is only good for our staff and good for our students."Szumlas said the district is constantly working with staff to help them understand some of the new security features on Zoom and other online platforms."One of the measures is that all students need to wait in the waiting room and then be admitted by the teacher and the teacher by clicking a few buttons within Zoom can lock in the student names and also prevent other people from accessing the room," he said.Calgary Board of Education experienceThe Calgary Board of Education said this is not an issue it has been seeing."We have not heard of incidences of strangers being a part of online lessons with our students," said the CBE in an emailed statement.The majority of the CBE's online learning takes place through Google Classrooms or D2L, according to the district."Classroom spaces, physical or digital, are learning environments specific for guiding interactions between teachers and students," the statement read.The CBE said there have been instances where a parent or guardian pops in on a lesson. "Caregivers entering a classroom space without invite and without following all of our guidelines are asked to leave and reminded of the importance of privacy for all students," the statement read."In most cases, our school-based administrators share the expectations of the classroom and parallel these expectations with face-to-face learning environments, and parents or caregivers are very understanding and receptive."
TORONTO — Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment's giant kitchen is open again.MLSE and its partners, who combined to donate 500,000 meals to front-line workers and community agencies from April to June, are reintroducing the 'Bringing Toronto Back to its Feet" program.Starting this week, the goal is to distribute more than 130,000 meals in early December.Scotiabank Arena will again be used to assemble the meals, which can be stored and frozen. They will later be distributed to community agencies and families who are struggling. MLSE’s chefs and food and beverage staff, along with other company employees, will prepare the meals for distribution.MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum. calls this holiday season "one of the most challenging that we have known."“This program will play a small part in helping our neighbours enjoy their holiday season as we all look forward to a better year ahead in 2021,” he said in a statement.Solidarity Kitchens, created by La Tablee des Chefs and financially supported by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada emergency fund, has given grants to Canadian initiatives, including Bringing Toronto Back To Its Feet, with a goal of creating two million meals for those in need across the country.“As the pandemic continues to impact our communities and we approach the holiday season, there is no better time to come together to support those in need and we want to thank everyone who is helping to make a return of this important program possible, including MLSE’s ownership group and our founding corporate partners,” said MLSE president and CEO Michael Friisdahl.Second Harvest, the largest food rescue organization in Canada, along with a network of local suppliers and sponsors, are supplying fresh ingredients daily to the MLSE team.The chefs will then turn those supplies, along with other food purchased or donated to the program, into ready-to-heat meals meeting a variety of dietary needs. The meals will delivered five days a week.The meal donation program sees MLSE chefs spread out in Scotiabank Arena kitchens, physically distanced as they cook using giant 120-litre pots. Routes have been set up in the arena to control the flow of traffic and food, from the loading dock to kitchen to meal assembly line.The chefs stay in the kitchen. Others take the food from the kitchen to an open space in the arena to be assembled and packaged into meals. Earlier this year, that was the arena floor. This time, the meals are being put together in the concourse.Once cooked, the food is cooled in fridges, then assembled quickly and covered, wrapped and refrigerated again to await distribution and reheating.At its peak, the MLSE-led program produced 13,000 meals per day, providing meals to more than 75 community agencies and front-line health-care workers and their families at 25 hospitals and health-care facilities in the Greater Toronto Area.“We have heard first-hand about the incredible impact these prepared meals have on the lives of people struggling with hunger and limited access to food programs,” said Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest. MLSE is working with food hygiene experts and Toronto Public Health to ensure the safety of the meals and of the people preparing them.MLSE owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors, Argonauts, Marlies and Toronto FC.\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A mysterious object temporarily orbiting Earth is a 54-year-old rocket, not an asteroid after all, astronomers confirmed Wednesday. Observations by a telescope in Hawaii clinched its identity, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The object was classified as an asteroid after its discovery in September. But NASA’s top asteroid expert, Paul Chodas, quickly suspected it was the Centaur upper rocket stage from Surveyor 2, a failed 1966 moon-landing mission. Size estimates had put it in the range of the old Centaur, which was about 32 feet (10 metres) long and 10 feet (3 metres) in diameter. Chodas was proven right after a team led by the University of Arizona's Vishnu Reddy used an infrared telescope in Hawaii to observe not only the mystery object, but — just on Tuesday — a Centaur from 1971 still orbiting Earth. The data from the images matched. “Today’s news was super gratifying!,” Chodas said via email. “It was teamwork that wrapped up this puzzle.” The object formally known as 2020 SO entered a wide, lopsided orbit around Earth last month and, on Tuesday, made its closest approach at just over 31,000 miles (50,476 kilometres). It will depart the neighbourhood in March, shooting back into its own orbit around the sun. Its next return: 2036. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
UK officials have claimed that Brexit allowed them to fast-track approval of a COVID-19 vaccine.View on euronews
A fishing tournament organizer and TV personality has brought his business to New Brunswick after being fined $9,000 and losing his Ontario fishing licence for not reporting the nearly 200 dead bass he threw into a dumpster.Ben Woo was convicted of failing to abide by the terms and conditions of the licence allowing tournament organizers to transport fish to be weighed and measured before they were returned live to the water. After the incident, Woo relocated to southern New Brunswick, where he's continued to organize fishing tournaments under the name B1 Fishing, including two in partnership with the City of Fredericton. According to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, 195 dead bass were found after Woo's tournament on the St. Lawrence River near Gananoque on July 15, 2019. Of that number, 188 were in plastic bags at the bottom of a dumpster. It's one of the largest fines handed out, and one of the most serious violations the department has recorded. "This was by far the most heinous one I've ever seen," said Greg Bourne, a staff sergeant who has been with the Ontario ministry for 21 years.Bourne said anglers called in the tip about the fish-dumping on the opening day of the two-day weekend tournament. "People who were at the tournament called our communication centre and complained that there seemed to be a lot fish dying at this bass tournament," said Bourne. Bourne said someone was dispatched on the second day of the tournament to check it out but was reassigned to another call. An officer didn't make it to the marina where the fish were being kept until the day after the tournament ended. But anglers also contacted Bruce Tufts, a professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., head of the Freshwater Fisheries Conservation Lab, and the biologist who helped craft Ontario's guidelines for handling fish during tournaments. They sent him photos of the fish — some already dead — in the tank where they were kept after being measured and weighed. Tufts said the pictures bothered him so much he barely slept that night. "I called my lab manager at 6 o'clock in the morning and said 'This is really bugging me, there's got to be a ton of dead fish down there,'"Tufts, along with some of his students and another angler, got permission from the marina owner to search the area for what they suspected would be a large number of dead bass. They were later joined by a conservation officer from the Ministry of Natural Resources. "We started finding dead fish in the bushes," said Tufts. "We found a few dead fish in the water." Tufts said a marina employee pointed them to a dumpster. "In the bottom, there were 17 bags of smallmouth bass that were the biggest, best, broodstock in our fishery," said Tufts.According to both Tufts and Bourne, the fish died as a result of lack of oxygen and inadequate water temperatures in the holding tank where they'd been placed after being weighed.The Ontario ministry requires that if more than five per cent of the fish caught during the tournament die while in the possession of the event, the government must be immediately contacted. "We believe the organizer was negligent in the way he handled the fish, and that's what resulted in the deaths of so many," said Bourne.Tufts said the fish were double-bagged, and other garbage had been piled on top. Woo originally faced 11 charges, including giving a false statement to a conservation officer, but in the end pleadedguilty to one: failing to abide by the terms and conditions of a licence. Move to New Brunswick Woo and his family moved to Tracyville, about 28 kilometres south of Fredericton, last year.The former Montreal resident is prohibited from holding a fishing licence in Ontario, but that does not bar him from fishing in other provinces. He said his move to New Brunswick was for personal reasons and not an effort to circumvent the Ontario penalty. Inthe wake of his conviction, he said, he's no longer hosting fishing tournaments."Absolutely 100 per cent done with that," Woo said this week. "And to be very transparent that not only due to this, but it's also due to COVID."But Woo and B1 Fishing did host tournaments this past summer and he was scheduled to host an event in Fredericton as recently as October. That event was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.Until his recent conviction, Woo had also been partnering with the City of Fredericton on tournaments.The City of Fredericton hosted two B1 Fishing tournaments in 2019. Both took place after the Gananoque tournament, but the city said it worked with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure proper fish handling. "However, we will not be working with Mr. Woo on future tournaments," wrote Bobby Despres, Fredericton sport tourism co-ordinator. "Protecting our natural environment is the city's top concern and we want to work with organizers who are fully committed to this principle." Woo also has a working relationship with the New Brunswick Department of Tourism. The fishing show he hosts, Fish East, is set to premiere this month on the Wild Television Network and the website states: "Woo sets out to explore the East Coast through a nine-episode series filmed exclusively in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia."The government of New Brunswick is listed as a partner with the production. Woo denies hiding fishWoo claimsthe only thing he did wrong was to not immediately contact the Ontario government after more than five per cent of the fish caught died on the first day of the tournament. He said he filed a report with the ministry on the Tuesday following the tournament, then resubmitted a more detailed report the following Friday. He said his only option was to throw the fish in the garbage. "What would be the other option, take them off-site? I'm not sure where we would have put them," said Woo. "Or do we go and announce to everybody 'Hey, we have 200 dead fish here, what do we do?' I'm not sure that would have been the politically correct thing to do. There's no precedent here." "We panicked," Woo wrote on the B1 Fishing Facebook page when explaining why fish were thrown in the garbage. He denies trying to hide them. Woo thinks whatever killed the fish is still uncertain. Water quality blamed "This was an anomaly," said Woo. "It never happened before; it's never happened since."Woo points the finger at the venue, the river water quality, as one of the factors in what happened to the fish."But certainly, there was no negligence on our side of things as far as the procedure or the fish handling is concerned," said Woo. Woo said he takes full responsibility and regrets what happened.
Ottawa's success at reducing its COVID-19 case count — and keeping it relatively low — over the past two months may be unique in the world, say Canadian epidemiologists."I don't know any other city like Ottawa in the world," said Doug Manuel, a physician and senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital."The leader board has changed," said Manuel. "We were [among] the highest in the country not even two months ago, and now we're bucking the trend internationally."But as much as experts say Ottawans should be proud of their accomplishment, they also warn that a slip in following the rules — keeping two metres apart, wearing masks, and especially not socializing outside our own households — could rapidly lay all that hard work to waste.'It's pretty remarkable'In mid-October, Ottawa saw its COVID-19 infection rate reached 132 active cases per 100,000 residents — higher than Toronto's and many other Canadian cities. The people of Ottawa were shocked. There were official warnings, there were public scoldings and there was a four-week partial lockdown. That seemed to work, as Ottawa's COVID-19 daily case count has been generally declining for the past seven weeks.Our infection rate now sits at 29.5 per 100,000 residents, which is still serious enough to keep us in the "orange" or intermediate zone of the province's five-tier system for scoring COVID-19 severity. But our stats keep us well away from the top-level grey zone that Toronto and surrounding municipalities find themselves in.It's not that other cities aren't also seeing their COVID-19 numbers come down, said Manuel, but in other places around the globe, the cases are generally declining from a relatively high level. For example, in London, England, the number of new daily coronavirus cases has fallen by about half over the last four weeks of an economic lockdown in that country, but there are still 154 active cases per 100,000 residents."We kind of woke up and got some messages and got back together when we were about 100 to 150 cases a day," said Manuel. "I don't know anyone who's done that.… It's pretty remarkable." Great public health, white-collar populationColin Furness, an epidemiologist and assistant professor with the faculty of information at the University of Toronto, said Ottawa is "absolutely going in the opposite direction to almost everybody else," especially in the northern hemisphere.He believes Ottawa's success is due largely to the capital's demographics and its public health leadership.The relatively large proportion of government and high-tech jobs in Ottawa means that many more people are able to work from home than in other cities."You've also got a population that is educated and able and compliant and therefore equipped to respond," he said. "And so the outcome was quite positive." Furness also gives kudos to Dr. Vera Etches and the team at Ottawa Public Health for their ability to reach out to the community with the ever-shifting advice on how to keep COVID-19 at bay."You've got excellent public health leadership in Ottawa," Furness said.Etches in particular has a way of connecting with the people of Ottawa. Not many public officials would admit to showing up to work so frazzled that she forgot to put on her skirt."I think this makes a difference — we really need to be able to connect to people," said Dr. Peter Jüni, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the University of Toronto, and a director of research at St. Michael's Hospital.Jüni is also the scientific director of the province's Science Advisory Table.He agrees that Ottawa is "really unique" in being able to keep COVID-19 cases relatively low, but warns our success will be fleeting if we let our guard down.'Playing with fire'Some in Ottawa may be wondering why, despite our world-beating numbers, we have to follow the same restrictions as cities faring worse, especially during the upcoming holidays.Experts say those feelings are understandable, and even logical. But the COVID-19 situation is precarious — as Manuel put it, like "trying to balance a broom on your finger."Manuel pointed to the fact that the daily numbers, including the virus count in the wastewater — data that Ottawa alone makes public — have been edging up slightly in recent days. If we begin to socialize more, especially indoors, we risk the chance of a few "superspreader events" that will send COVID-19 numbers rocketing skyward."This thing is really contagious, and it is contagious, unlike SARS, when we're not symptomatic, and that makes it very challenging," Jüni said. He likened the spread of COVID-19 to throwing a match into the brush. One time, maybe the second time, nothing happens. But that third match starts a devastating blaze."So now, right now, it's just playing with fire."Furness uses a different metaphor to describe Ottawa's efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay."We're on a parachute and we're descending nice and slowly," he said. "So this is going really, really well. Who among us wants to take the parachute off now?"
BRUSSELS — A senior legal adviser said Thursday that the European Union’s top court should reject Hungary’s attempts to overturn a European Parliament action aimed at holding the country to account for what lawmakers consider to be a breach of the bloc’s values.Advocate General Michal Bobek recommended that the European Court of Justice “dismiss Hungary’s action as unfounded.” Advocates General routinely provide legal guidance to the ECJ. Their opinions aren't binding on the Luxembourg-based court, but are followed in most cases.The EU parliament launched a procedure in 2018 to force Hungary’s EU partners to sanction the government in Budapest over concerns about the country’s constitutional and electoral systems, the independence of its judiciary, corruption and conflicts of interest, as well as fundamental rights concerns.The “Article 7” procedure was contained in a resolution that was adopted in a 448-197 vote, while 48 lawmakers abstained. Hungary argued that had the abstentions been taken into account, the vote wouldn't have achieved the required two-thirds majority.In Bobek’s opinion, a person who abstains from a vote asks to be counted as neither in favour nor against a proposition, and to be treated as if they weren't voting at all. He also said that EU lawmakers had been informed more than a day before the poll that abstentions wouldn't be counted as votes cast.It’s the first time the parliament has launched such a procedure. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has also taken similar action against Hungary. If four-fifths of Hungary’s 26 EU partners agree “there is a clear risk of a serious breach” of the bloc’s values, Budapest could lose its voting rights.The EU’s treaty says the bloc “is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.”The Associated Press
A 39-year-old man was shot and killed Wednesday in Laval. The provincial police major crimes unit has taken over the investigation due to the shooting's possible link to organized crime. The shooting happened around 9 p.m. on De la Fabrique Street in the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul neighbourhood.As of this morning, investigators are still at the scene and a large security perimeter has been set up. There have been no arrests.It is Laval's third homicide of the year.
An Ottawa cancer patient who spoke out about being "terrified" he would contract COVID-19 in hospital after sharing a room with a positive patient, has now tested positive.Adrian Lloyd, 52, was notified Nov. 26 that one of his roommates at The Ottawa Hospital's General campus contracted the illness. It was the same day Ottawa Public Health declared an outbreak on his ward, 5E.On Wednesday, Lloyd's own fears were realized when he himself tested positive following an earlier negative result."I am afraid and also angry," said Lloyd by phone after learning he has COVID-19."Hospitals are supposed to be a safe place and this is why there's been several times, I've had fevers and things, and haven't come into the hospital."In a statement to CBC News, The Ottawa Hospital said patient safety is a top priority. "When a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in hospital, all appropriate infection prevention and control protocols are diligently followed. This includes strict contact tracing and monitoring of all patients for symptoms," said a spokesperson for the hospital."Any patients who test positive for COVID-19 are immediately placed on a COVID-19 cohort unit. The hospital also has auditing practices in place to ensure that these infection prevention and control protocols are maintained. Staff will continue following these protocols, in order to keep everyone safe."Roommate should have been 'whisked off'Lloyd has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was admitted to hospital nearly two weeks ago after he developed a fever while undergoing chemotherapy treatment.During his stay, Lloyd said he shared a room with a man whose bed was less than six feet away from his, coughed continuously at night and was not told to wear a mask. "As soon as he started coughing like that he should have been whisked off to a private room," said Lloyd, who believes he got COVID-19 from the roommate.As of Wednesday, six patients and two staff members have tested positive as part of the ongoing outbreak on ward 5E. One of the patients who tested positive has died, according to Ottawa Public Health.Lloyd, who was supposed to be released from hospital by now, said Thursday must stay in a COVID-19 ward for 20 days while he recovers.So far, his symptoms are mild but he worries they may worsen."At nighttime sometimes, I'll have a bit of a dry cough but I keep telling myself it's because the air here is very dry," he said.
We're serious, Clark: A family in Stittsville is going full Griswold for the holidays, and it's a full-blown, four-alarm celebration of one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time.Fans of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation will immediately recognize the over-the-top decorations made famous by the fictional Griswold family. The holiday classic starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo and Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie was released 31 years ago.Fast forward to 2020, and the Turcotte family is recreating the movie's look and feel with the help of 2,500 multicoloured lights — the fun, old-fashioned kind."We actually went [for] the old-fashioned glass incandescent lights," said Shawn Turcotte, vice-president of construction for Mattamy Homes. "So it's really lit up the neighborhood." And like the famous scene from the 1989 movie, the electrical load proved too much, at first. "We had a few breakers pop. We had to [move] our extension cords to different outlets in the house to make sure we didn't blow the breaker panel," said Turcotte. The Turcottes are known for going all out with festive lights and decorations, but after last year's display, daughter Kennedy, 13, challenged the family to up their game in 2020. "'Dad, if we do this, we're all in,'" was the pitch, Turcotte told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. "So we're all in."While they've been planning the caper since last Christmas, the COVID-19 pandemic only made them want to go bigger, for themselves and the whole neighbourhood. That meant doing their research — Turcotte said they watched the movie 10 times in preparation — and finding the perfect prop: the Griswold family station wagon.In the movie, the family heads out to cut down a Christmas tree, but the hapless Clark forgets to bring along a saw. The scene ends with a shot of an enormous tree, complete with root ball, lashed to the top of the wood-panelled wagon. "It's not the exact car from the movie, but it's very close. It's a 1980 Chevrolet Caprice station wagon," said Turcottte, who spent a year searching for just the right ride, and bought it on Kijiji from the original owner in Toronto.Last weekend, the family even drove the car to get their own Christmas tree at a local farm. "We decided to go through the McDonald's drive-thru with the car, and the tree," said Turcotte. "We got a lot of attention." Raising money for food bankThe Turcottes are hoping to tap into the interest in their Griswold-style scene at 18 Cypress Gardens to raise money for the Stittsville Food Bank, which has 1,000 more clients now than this time last year, according to Turcotte. Gawkers will be encouraged to donate directly from their cell phones. "Show up, enjoy the decorations, take some pictures," urged Turcotte. And then consider scanning a QR code that will link to the food bank website. And what's going to happen to the vintage station wagon once Christmas is over?"I've got a 16-year-old son who's very interested in it. His buddies think it's the coolest thing in the world," said Turcotte. "So we may let him cruise around with it after Christmas."
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Hundreds of thousands of masked students in South Korea, including 41 confirmed COVID-19 patients, took the highly competitive university entrance exam Thursday despite a viral resurgence that forced authorities to toughen social distancing rules.About 426,340 students were taking the one-day exam at about 1,380 sites across the nation, including hospitals and other medical facilities where the 41 virus patients and hundreds of other test-takers in self-quarantine sat separately from others, according to the Education Ministry.The annual exam, called “Suneung,” or College Scholastic Ability Test, is crucial in the education-obsessed country, where job prospects, social standing and even who you marry can often depend on which university you attend.Defence and land ministries said they temporarily banned military exercises and stopped air traffic to reduce noise during the English-language listening parts of Thursday’s exam, as they did in past years. Government offices and many private companies asked their employees to come in late, and the country’s stock market delayed its opening to clear roads for test-takers.This year’s exam had been originally scheduled for November but was delayed due to the virus outbreak. Experts say on-and-off online classes have widened the gap between high achievers and low performing students due to reduced interaction with teachers, digital distractions and technical difficulties.“If the exam had been delayed again, our kids would have felt much more psychological pressure ... I think it’s fortunate the exam is taking place now,” said Kim Sun-wha, the mother of a test-taker. “I hope everyone will avoid making mistakes, do their best and get good results.”Mothers hugged their children and patted their backs before they entered a temporary exam site set up at a high school in Seoul. One shouted, “Don’t be nervous! Do Well!” and another screamed “Cheer up!”Students were required to have their temperature taken before entering the test sites, wear masks throughout the exam and maintain their distance from each other. They had to bring their own water and lunch because they weren't allowed to use water purifiers or drinking fountains at the sites or go outside to get meals. Those with a fever were to go to separate testing areas. There were a total of 1,383 sites, an increase of 198 from last year, according to the Education Ministry.In recent days, the government has urged the public to stay home and avoid social gatherings as much as possible to provide a safe environment for those taking the exams. Park Yu-mi, an anti-virus official in Seoul, said authorities asked companies to have at least one-third of their employees work from home.There are worries that the nationwide exam could accelerate the spread of the virus.During a briefing Thursday, health official Lee Sang-won said he felt “really sorry” that he had to ask students to be vigilant and avoid gatherings even after the exam is over.“I’d like to offer words of consolation to test-takers who have studied and come to take the exam under a particularly difficult situation,” Lee said. “I want to tell you to put aside stress and enjoy yourselves fully (after the test), but it’s regrettable that I can’t say that under the current situation.”South Korea has relatively successfully contained previous viral outbreaks this year thanks to its internationally acclaimed rapid tracing, testing and treatment strategy, combined with the widespread public use of masks. But it’s now grappling with a spike in infections after it eased distancing rules in October. Authorities last week restored stringent distancing restrictions in the greater Seoul area and other places.On Thursday, South Korea reported 540 new cases, taking the total to 35,703 with 529 deaths.___Associated Press journalists Kim Tong-hyung and Kim Yong Ho contributed to this report.Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press
Ontario's annual greenhouse gas emissions rose for the first time in nearly a decade during the first year the Ford government was in power.It's a sign that the province's climate change targets are in jeopardy, according to a new report. The report, to be released Thursday by the group Environmental Defence, calls the increase "a big step backwards" in Ontario's progress toward reducing carbon emissions."Ontario is trending dangerously in the wrong direction on climate change, and the gap between Ontario's carbon reduction targets and actual emissions levels is growing," says the report, a copy of which was provided to CBC News ahead of Thursday's publication. The report — entitled Ontario Climate - Yours to Recover — also says the government has an opportunity to make investments that would both stimulate economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce emissions, yet hasn't made moves to do so. The latest federal figures, which are published with a two-year lag time, show the province's emissions rose by 10 megatonnes (MT) in 2018 over the previous year. This marks Ontario's first annual increase in emissions since 2010, the year the province's economy emerged from the last recession. The increase in emissions in 2018 means the government will have to make even more reductions than previously promised just to hit its own targets, said Sarah Buchanan, clean economy program manager for Environmental Defence. "Yes, it's possible they could still meet their 2030 carbon reduction targets, but it's becoming increasingly distant of a possibility," said Buchanan. "It's something that we don't have the luxury of time to fix."The government remains committed to its emission reduction target for 2030, said a spokesperson for Environment Minister Jeff Yurek. "We have taken some important steps over the past two years to lower greenhouse gas emissions in the province," said Yurek's press secretary Andrew Buttigieg in a statement. The report argues some of the government's most significant steps actually contribute to higher emissions. Shortly after forming government in 2018, Premier Doug Ford scrapped Ontario's cap-and-trade system, cancelled home energy efficiency programs and eliminated incentives to purchase electric vehicles. Yurek's predecessor as environment minister, Rod Phillips, now the finance minister, set new, less-stringent targets for reducing emissions in what the government dubbed the Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan. The plan proposed about 18 MT of reductions in annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030: * Renewable fuels: 3.5 MT. * Natural gas conservation: 3.2 MT. * Electric vehicles: 2.9 MT. * Industrial emission performance standards: 2.7 MT. * Technological innovations: 2.7 MT. * Federal clean fuel standard: 1.3 MT. * Emission reduction fund: 0.7 MT. * Other policies: 1.1 MT."Our plan is an evolving document, and our estimates will continue to evolve as policies and commitments are reviewed and refined, and as we begin to see results of initiatives already in motion," said Buttigieg. The Environmental Defence report examines how much progress Ontario has made on each of those promised reductions. It builds on work by the province's auditor general last month that concluded the government is at risk of missing its emission targets. A significant portion of the top source of reductions, renewable fuels, would come from boosting the minimum renewable content (such as ethanol) in gasoline to 15 per cent. Last week the government announced a slower timetable for the change than previously planned. Also last week, the government waffled on whether its target for natural gas conservation — its second largest proposed source of emission reductions — is actually a target at all. In a letter to the Ontario Energy Board, Yurek and Bill Walker, the associate minister for energy, said the 3.2 MT figure for reduced emissions is merely "an estimate of the potential for actions related to natural gas conservation" and "is not intended to be a prescriptive target." "There's been no action, not even a hint of action towards implementing and expanding natural gas conservation programs," said Buchanan. When Ontario's emission figures for 2020 are published, they will almost certainly show a drop from 2019 because of the pandemic's impact on commuter habits and industrial output. Environment Defence argues that such a drop would not be evidence that the Ford government is making progress on climate change, nor would it be sustained if the government continues on its current path. The government's plans for economic recovery from COVID-19 don't reflect a climate-friendly approach, says the report. "Ontario's recovery actions announced to date have not incorporated any programs promised in the Environment Plan to reduce GHG emissions, despite many actions with high potential for economic stimulus," the report says."This is a missed opportunity to invest in proven job-creating solutions like public transit, energy efficiency, and green building."Environmental Defence accuses the government of "adopting an outdated view of economic stimulus based on accelerating large infrastructure projects like highways, which will make climate change worse."The organization points to the proposed Highway 413, to run from the northern part of Vaughan through Caledon to where the 401, 403 and 407 intersect. The government in turn points to two recent announcements that auto sector giants will retool their Ontario assembly plants for production of electric vehicles: Ford in Oakville, and Fiat Chrysler in Windsor. "We will continue to look to industry, who we are counting on to do their part to drive innovative solutions that will help us meet our goals for the environment and climate change," said Buttigieg.
The number of families seeking holiday help has increased in Cape Breton, including people who are finding themselves in need for the first time.With fundraising impacted by the pandemic, resources are spread particularly thin this year, said Maj. Corey Vincent of the Salvation Army.The Christian organization will support 900 families in Cape Breton this Christmas — an increase of about 25 per cent. "These are families that have never sought help before or assistance," said Vincent. "They're unfamiliar with Christmas assistance because they've been able to provide for their families in the past, but because of COVID and unemployment, they've just been stressed to the max." Kettle campaign down $14KThe pandemic has brought a wide range of challenges for the Salvation Army on the island. Partnering organizations have been unable to sponsor as many families this year. Another blow has been dealt to the well-known kettle campaign, which Vincent said is down by $14,000 compared to last year. "That worries me," said Vincent. "But in previous years, we've always noticed that in December a lot of people who give, they're giving more. "I'm very, very confident that the people of Cape Breton will step up to the plate." Each year, volunteers with the Every Woman's Centre in Sydney help by purchasing gifts and other items for families sponsored by the organization's adopt-a-family program.Louise Smith-MacDonald, executive director of the centre, said the extra help contributes to about half of the Christmas items purchased. "Our unknown was whether people were going to feel comfortable in going out and shopping for the family that they adopted," she said. "It worked out absolutely wonderful. People took their families, they shopped, they shopped early."Providing meals a necessityMembers of the Sydney Sunrise Rotary Club decided early that fundraising from last year would be spent on COVID relief.The club recently donated $2,500 each to the Glace Bay food bank and Loaves and Fishes in Sydney. "We did a little bit of research and for us, we felt the money was best put to help with food insecurity," said Michele McKinnon, the club's public relations chair. "That's where we saw our money could perhaps benefit most people."McKinnon expects next year giving will be impacted by the pandemic's cancellation of two major fundraisers for the club. Cape Breton poverty visibleVincent, who has been ministering with the Salvation Army for almost 20 years across Canada, said poverty is more visible in Cape Breton compared to other areas where he's lived."Every day we're seeing clients coming through our facility that are basically living on the edge," he said."We see a lot of working-class poor where they're getting hours, they're working — but it's just not enough to meet the demands."MORE TOP STORIES
Judy Havers says she used to like going outside, getting coffee at Boston Pizza, watching animals in the park and, most of all, feeding the feral cats she's nourished and taken comfort from for the last six years. That's all out of reach now. Havers, 60, is a resident of Providence Place, a Moose Jaw care home dealing with one of the many COVID-19 outbreaks hitting Saskatchewan's extended care homes.Havers is not infected, unlike four other residents and seven staff confirmed to have tested positive at the home, according to a statement management gave CBC News six days ago. "But we're all under lockdown," Havers said over the phone Wednesday from her single room, where she's been largely cooped up in her wheelchair for days.The isolation imposed by COVID-19 has taken a toll on her mental health, Havers says — quickened her already short temper, fed her depression, even given her the shakes because of how powerless she feels. "Sometimes I get really lonely because there isn't anybody to talk to," she said. "I find it very, very constricting being in the room all the time. "I miss going outside." 'Zero chance' of lower numbers by Christmas: profOn Tuesday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe offered a ray of hope for care home residents and their families. Moe said people might be able to visit loved ones in care homes for two or three days during the holiday season, provided the rate of COVID-19 transmission decreases over the next two weeks and depending on the advice he receives from Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer."This is the goal," Moe said of Christmas visits, before adding another caveat. "People need to adhere to the measures that are in place [now]."Moe said care-home staff face the risk of transmission every day they go to work, but that they lessen that risk by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and being cautious."The same may be true, potentially, for families that would want to visit in a long-term care," Moe said.He pointed to Quebec, where "there's going to be a little bit of a different standard so that families would be able to come together for those few days."Kyle Anderson, an assistant professor in the college of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, said it took Quebec about six weeks from the implementation of its new restrictions to start seeing active case numbers go down."There is zero chance Saskatchewan will have lower active case numbers on Christmas than we are right now, and right now we have seniors dying daily," he said."We need to commit to these measures, not look for ways to circumvent them."Anderson has been closely tracking the daily number of new COVID-19 cases. He created a video that shows the surge in cases among Saskatchewan seniors beginning in mid-November — right around the time outbreaks in care homes began, he said. "We need to keep our vulnerable safe for the next three or four months," Anderson said. "This might seem like too much to ask of us, and ask of them, after such a hard year, but we do the hard things now so we can enjoy the bountiful harvest at the end of the season. This is the Saskatchewan way."'I'm afraid it will spread'At Providence Place in Moose Jaw, Havers said that while it would be nice to see someone in person, she's wary of allowing visits again. She said some residents at her care home are worried about further COVID-19 spread."If it was too much of a risk for us, I'd just as soon not see anybody and stay safe," she said of Christmas visits. "I have some pre-existing conditions and I'm just really afraid of getting COVID in here. I'm afraid it will spread like it did in those homes back east."The day before Moe's comments, Health Minister Paul Merriman said people should plan to see their loved ones at Christmas. It's just a matter of whether they'll do that in person or virtually, he said. Merriman was asked if family members who test negative might be allowed to visit homes."The problem with a negative test is somebody can be negative, tested in the morning and could have picked it up on the way," he said. "We want to make sure that the individuals in that home are safe."> If it was too much of a risk for us, I'd just as soon not see anybody and stay safe. \- Judy HaversOn Thursday, Dr. Shahab said that every time the province relaxes restrictions, "you see a bit of a rebound" in cases.He said the province has seen outbreaks in many different settings, but that those in long-term care homes are the most "high risk out of all the outbreaks that we're seeing in terms of impact on residents and staff and families." Outings restricted for last 2 weeksHealth officials declared an outbreak at Providence Place on Nov. 18, according to an update sent to families that day.The day before, the Ministry of Health announced it was halting visits to all long-term care homes except for people visiting patients in end-of-life care. Providence Place said at the same time it was suspending all outings for its residents, a decision it would revisit in four weeks.Havers said she gets some fresh air because she still goes to a hospital three days a week for dialysis. She keeps in touch with a sister living in Nanaimo, B.C., via texts and FaceTime.But it's hard watching other people face the full brunt of restrictions, she said. "You see the residents [whose] family was here every day … giving them extra attention, washing them, talking to them, bringing them treats, whatever," she said. "Now, all of a sudden, even if they have dementia or Alzheimer's or something, I think they still realize that they're alone. It's not their fault, but I don't think they understand that."As of Thursday, the outbreak numbers at Providence Place were stable among staff and residents, said Georgia Hutchinson, the facility's executive director. "Our spiritual care, recreation and other redeployed staff are focusing on supporting and assisting our residents to cope with the effects of isolation in the outbreak," she said. "The SHA does provide mental health supports to our residents as they are required."On Tuesday, Moe was asked why he would get people's hopes up about visits given recent modelling from the Saskatchewan Health Authority that projects a continued rise in COVID-19 cases."It may not be possible," Moe said. "But is it my place to provide hope and to provide opportunity, to provide some targets for the people of the province to work towards between now and December the 25th? "I think it is."
A Markham, Ont. man who rented a dozen luxury homes and turned them into rooming houses has been ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution to the landlords within 10 days or he'll be arrested and jailed for four months.The penalty comes after Arif Adnan Syed was found in contempt of court last month for failing to comply with an Ontario Superior Court of Justice order compelling him to turn all of the properties back into single-family residences.In a scathing nine-page decision, Justice Mark Edwards made it clear that he didn't accept Syed's assertion that he was struggling financially or that Syed had tried his best to empty the houses of occupants."The fact that Syed continued to accept rent is a further reflection of his real intentions," Edwards said. "Syed had no intention to restore the residences to their former status as single-family residences until he was staring down the barrel of a contempt motion."In terms of finances, the Superior Court judge said that Syed's own evidence shows he's not struggling. Syed testified that he received an average of $500 a month for each room he rented and so could have been making roughly $40,000 a month across the properties when he had 90 renters.$208K deposited to bank account in 1 monthSyed's bank account statements also show total monthly deposits ranging from roughly $30,000 to $208,000 and total monthly withdrawals as high as $216,000 during the months he was leasing at least some of the luxury homes."What the bank account statements do seem to reveal are substantial cash withdrawals during the currency of Syed's fraud that he has perpetrated on the plaintiffs," Edwards said.WATCH | Landlords who rented their homes inspect the damage:One regular transaction the judge considered notable was a monthly $5,123 lease payment, which Edwards said was "presumably the monthly lease of Syed's Lamborghini sports car.""The fact that Syed is leasing a Lamborghini sports car does not measure up with his assertion that he is 'struggling,'" the judge said.In a phone interview after Wednesday's hearing, Syed told CBC News that he is struggling financially now but wasn't at the time of the bank statements."I respect the court decision, and I have started working on it," he said. "And I will try my best to have the restitution paid out within 10 days."Landlords say homes sustained up to $1M in damage Despite the strong words, the decision by Edwards is all bark and no bite in the eyes of at least one of the landlords.> "We're going to be paid less than [Syed] pays every single month to lease his precious Lamborghini." \- John DaviesJohn Davies said the $36,000 the judge awarded in restitution is "ludicrous" given how little each of the 12 landlords will get to help restore their homes once the funds are split among them. "[The judge] said that he's going to award substantial damages, and we get insulted with a payment of $3,000 a house," Davies said. "We're going to be paid less than [Syed] pays every single month to lease his precious Lamborghini."CBC News previously reported on efforts by Davies and the other landlords to reclaim their luxury homes after Edwards voided their leases in late September. The landlords say the illegal rooming houses have caused up to $1 million in damage across their 12 properties in Richmond Hill, Markham and Thornhill, all in the Greater Toronto Area.The remaining occupants in three of the 12 houses are set to be evicted on Thursday.Syed is also facing 17 fraud-related criminal charges for allegedly using fake identification documents in his applications to rent the houses. None of the charges have been proven in court. Penalty means 'nefarious activities' will continueDavies told CBC News that Syed owes him $40,000 — a year's worth of rent — and estimates that it will cost $70,000 to $80,000 to repair the damage the rooming house caused to his Thornhill home."This is a recipe for the courts encouraging criminals to carry on with their nefarious activities," he said. "Other people are going to say, 'My goodness, I can do that, too. I can start doing that because I can get away with it.'"In his decision Edwards said the restitution money is to give the landlords "a means to clean up and begin the repair of their homes," since it was "impossible" to determine how much damage was done to all of the properties based on the evidence in the contempt hearing.The judge said damage claims will have to be made "as the action proceeds."Along with the $36,000 in restitution, Edwards also ordered Syed to pay $65,000 in legal costs for the proceeding, including an overdue $15,000 payment he had been ordered to make previously.Syed told CBC News he's working on paying the restitution first and will then turn to the legal costs.Davies said he doesn't think that Syed will pay those costs. But even if they are paid, the landlord said it won't cover all of the legal fees he and other landlords have accrued trying to get their houses back."How the hell can somebody get away with this level of fraud, dishonesty and criminal activity — and it's the innocent that have to pay for it?" he said.
Kim Zavesky is desperate to return to her home in Golden, B.C.After retiring last year, she and her husband — both Americans — sold their house in Chandler, Ariz., and moved most of their belongings to their second home in Golden, in southeastern British Columbia.The plan was to rent a place in the United States for the first part of the year and spend the rest of the year in Golden. But then the Canada-U.S. border closed to non-essential traffic in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, blocking the couple from accessing their Canadian property."All my stuff is there, all my documents except for my passport," Zavesky said. "It's like not being able to go home."Adding to her frustration is the fact that, despite the border closure, Canadians can still fly to the U.S for leisure travel. That includes snowbirds who are currently flocking to the Sunbelt states."The unfairness of it really bothers me," Zavesky said. "Whatever the rules are, I just feel like it should be the same."Although Canada and the U.S. agreed to close their shared border to non-essential travel during the pandemic, they each crafted their own policies. That has sparked some confusion and frustration because the rules vary — depending on which border you're crossing.Political scientist Don Abelson said the different rules between the two countries isn't surprising."You're still dealing with two sovereign countries who have jurisdiction over their own border, and they certainly have jurisdiction and responsibility for developing their own policies," said Abelson, a professor at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. Snowbirds OK to fly southThe Canada-U.S. land border is set to stay closed until Dec. 21, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau implied on Tuesday that the date could be extended."The [COVID-19] situation in the United States continues to be extremely serious," he said on CBC Radio's The Current.Since the start of the border closure, the Canadian government has barred Americans from entering for non-essential travel by all modes of transport.But while the U.S. has barred Canadian travellers from crossing by land, it still allows them to fly into the country. The U.S. has declined to tell CBC News why it made this decision, but in general, its air travel restrictions are less stringent than Canada's.Despite soaring COVID-19 infections in the U.S., a number of Canadians have taken advantage of the flying exemption, including snowbirds who are heading south to escape the Canadian winter."No way in hell we're staying here," said Claudine Durand of Lachine, Que.If the land border is still closed when Durand and her husband head to Florida in late January, they plan to use a new service offered by Transport KMC. The Quebec company flies snowbirds — and transports their vehicles — across the Quebec-New York border."Basically, it solves our problem because we want to take our RV down," Durand said, adding that she plans to take all COVID-19 safety precautions while in Florida.The federal government advises Canadians not to travel abroad for non-essential travel during the pandemic but says it can't prevent people from leaving.Those who do must quarantine for 14 days upon their return to Canada.Family exemptionsCanada and the U.S. also have different rules for family member exemptions.Following protests from families separated by the border shutdown, the Canadian government loosened its travel restrictions in June to allow Americans with certain immediate family in Canada to enter the country for any reason by both land and air.In October, the government further widened the exemptions to include additional family members, as well as couples who've been together for at least a year.Conversely, the U.S. offers no exemptions for Canadians crossing into the country by land to visit family, unless they're tending to a sick relative.U.S. immigration lawyer Len Saunders suggests the U.S. hasn't bothered to loosen the restrictions as the pandemic drags on because separated family members can still fly to the country."There's a huge alternative," said Saunders, who's based in Blaine, Wash. "There's no restrictions on flying."WATCH | Some Canadians decide to spend winter in U.S. amid COVID-19:One affected group that has found no way around the federal government's travel restrictions are Americans who own property in Canada. Some of them argue they, too, should get an exemption to enter the country."I pay [property] taxes. I would more than live by the rules," said Zavesky, who points out she has a place where she can quarantine for 14 days — her home in Golden, B.C.Mark Brosch of Atlanta owns a cottage in Muskoka Lakes, Ont. He said he believes he should be allowed to enter Canada so he can check on a property that has sat vacant for 10 months."I get across the border and I go to my cottage and quarantine for 14 days," he said. "I am less of a risk to the public in Muskoka than the people that travel back and forth from Toronto every weekend."When asked about property owners, the Public Health Agency of Canada told CBC News in an email that U.S. visitors will be allowed to re-enter Canada when it's deemed safe to do so."Travel into Canada for tourism and recreation purposes is currently prohibited, regardless of the ability of the traveller to quarantine for the full 14 days upon arrival," spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau said.