WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
“Eddie’s Boy,” by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press)The hitman known as the butcher’s boy is back, forced out of retirement at age 61 to confront an implacable old enemy who wants him dead.Thomas Perry first introduced him 38 years ago in his Edgar Award-winning debut novel, “The Butcher’s Boy,” but until now, the character has reemerged only twice — in “Sleeping Dogs” in 1992 and “The Informant” in 2011.The new novel, “Eddie’s Boy,” finds him in England, posing as retired American businessman Michael Shaeffer. He’s enjoying life with a charming yet spunky aristocratic British wife until someone discovers his secret and sends a small army of killers to snuff him out.Shaeffer flees to Australia, only to discover that his unknown enemy has managed to track him there. So, he jets to America to find out who has put a contract out on him and to put a stop to it. In his wake, he leaves a trail of dead bodies across much of the English-speaking world. Perry breaks the action-packed narrative with reminiscences about the protagonist’s early life, when a small-town Pennsylvania hit man named Eddie, who spent his off hours operating a fine butcher shop, taught the boy both trades.If fans of Perry’s novels think the plot of “Eddie’s Boy” closely resembles the last two butcher’s boy books, they’d be right, but the saving grace is in the differing details, including how Shaeffer confronts the challenge of engaging in combat with a fit but aging body.Although the butcher’s boy is not — and never been — a likeable character, Perry expects us to admire the skill and meticulous care with which he works. And there is certainly much to admire in the skill with which Perry works, from his flawless plotting to his tight and muscular prose style.___Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”Bruce Desilva, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Supremex Inc. says it is closing its Edmonton facility and cutting 39 jobs in a move to reduce costs.The envelope maker says the cuts represent about five per cent of its total workforce.The move is expected to result in annual cost savings of about $2.4 million, before taxes.The company says the savings will begin to materialize in the current quarter and throughout the first three quarters of 2021 as operations wind down in Edmonton. Supremex says it will take a one-time charge of about $2.5 million, before taxes, on its fourth-quarter results.The company operates 13 facilities across six provinces and three facilities in the United States employing a total of about 850 people. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:SXP)The Canadian Press
Council members told staff to keep the blended tax rate for 2021 low – with requests ranging from zero to “two or three” percent. As it presented by staff, the draft budget contained a three percent increase in the Southgate levy for capital projects, which would likely be a two percent in the blended tax rate. CAO Dave Milliner asked council for direction at the end of the special meeting on the proposed capital budget held on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Coun. Michael Sherson said his ideal would be to give residents a zero increase this year. Coun. Barbara Dobreen said she didn’t want to see township reserves depleted to keep the increase “artificially low.” She suggested a 1.5 percent increase – “keep it under two (percent) for sure.” Deputy-Mayor Brian Milne asked if the 2020 impact of growth was known. The more building in the township, the more property owners to share the burden of the tax levy. Treasurer Liam Gott said it would be a few weeks before he had final figures but he expected 2020 added about $159,000 in taxation dollars based on the value of building permits issued (lower than the $280,000 projected). The deputy-mayor said that while a zero increase is desirable – “I don’t think that it’s reasonable or even responsible.” “Our costs are going up,” he said, naming fuel, hydro, insurance and payroll. Given that, he said he’d like to see something around 2.5 to 3 percent. At that point, the treasurer asked whether councillors were talking about the increase for local use or the overall or “blended” increase that includes taxes Southgate collects and passes on to the county and the school boards. At this stage in the budget process, council has seen and discussed capital costs, with the operating budget still to be seen. Coun. Martin Shipston said that a 2.5 to three percent increase would be reasonable, and not leave residents paying more down the road to make up for a lower increase in 2021. Coun. Jason Rice said he would like to see a zero increase. Coun. Dobreen had mentioned the Cost of Living increase for employees, which would be based on the inflation rate of 0.7 percent. Coun. Rice said that maybe for one year, township employees could do without the COLA increase. ”I’m not going against them (staff) – they do a fantastic job,” he said. “It’s this year, this specific year – this pandemic we’re dealing with,” he said. “It’s not our money in this time of need,” he said. He said many Southgate residents never get a Cost of Living increase. Deputy-Mayor Milne said perhaps this was the year to pull back on COLA or “step” increases based on performance and years served. He said that council needs to see the operating budget estimates to make its final decision. To achieve zero would take cuts to services, he said. “What services are we going to cut back on?” “Fuel, hydro, insurance – other expenses like that we have no control over and we have to pay." Coun. Rice asked the CAO for his reaction. Mr. Milliner replied, “if I didn’t hear a comment from council like that I would be surprised.” He did speak in defence of merit or “step” pay increase, adding that he himself is not affected by that policy. Mayor John Woodbury said that council had to balance the need for restraint in the present moment with the risk of postponing needed changes and mortgaging the future. “Overall, two to three percent is acceptable,” he said.M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
Deux mamans et amies de longue date de Jonquière viennent tout juste de lancer leur nouvelle entreprise appelée Iris & Folk. Audrey-Anne Nadeau et Geneviève Potvin-Lavoie créent ensemble depuis peu des vêtements pour bébés et enfants majoritairement unisexes, d’inspiration vintage et qui sont faits pour durer, qu’elles vendent sur Etsy. Les deux femmes se connaissent depuis la 6e année du primaire. Elles ont toujours été dans la vie l’une de l’autre. Âgées aujourd’hui de 29 et 30 ans, elles ont toutes les deux deux enfants des mêmes âges. C’est Geneviève qui a eu l’idée de lancer une entreprise en création de vêtements. Celle qui a étudié en design de mode a longtemps cherché à lancer une entreprise. Elle s’est réorientée et travaille aujourd’hui comme travailleuse sociale, mais cherchait un projet pour mettre sa créativité de l’avant. Lorsque’elle a imaginé sa marque de vêtements pour enfants, elle a tout de suite pensé à son amie Audrey-Anne, qui a accepté sur le champ de faire équipe avec son amie. Les compétences des deux femmes se complètent à merveille: Geneviève a davantage des habilités en couture, tandis que son amie s’occupe du côté de la mise en marché, avec entre autres les photos et les réseaux sociaux. Tout s’est rapidement mis en place. « Notre entreprise a vu le jour il y a quelques semaines. Nous faisons des vêtements de bébés et pour enfants. Ils sont souvent évolutifs, d’un style qui se rapproche du vintage. Nous sommes aussi à l’écoute de l’environnement, on prend par exemple tous nos tissus ici dans la région », explique Geneviève, lors d’un entretien par visioconférence avec Le Quotidien. Elles créent ensemble ou modifient les patrons et magasinent les tissus à deux. Audrey-Anne coupe le tissu et Geneviève s’occupe de coudre. Elles utilisent leurs enfants comme modèles et publient les résultats sur Instagram et Facebook. Leur entreprise a rapidement évolué. Les deux femmes voulaient, avec leur projet, combler un besoin qu’elles avaient remarqué en tant que mamans. « On veut le plus possible que nos vêtements soient unisexes, pour qu’on puisse le passer à l’enfant suivant. On choisit des couleurs qui vont autant aux garçons qu’aux filles, comme l’avoine ou l’émeraude. Même notre pièce qu’on considérait plus masculine, notre pantalon à bretelles, je l’ai essayé à ma fille et maintenant je le veux pour elle », admet en riant Audrey-Anne. La vente des vêtements se fait sur Etsy, où l’on retrouve près d’une dizaine de produits. Un jour, elles imaginent ouvrir leur propre site Web, mais pour l’instant, cette plateforme leur convient parfaitement. Les jeunes entrepreneuses sont agréablement surprises de la réponse des clients. Un lancement de la boutique avait été annoncé sur leurs réseaux, ce qui leur a permis de conclure une trentaine de ventes dans les deux premières heures de sa mise en ligne. Depuis ce temps, les ventes continuent de s’accumuler, assez pour que certains morceaux soient en rupture de stock. Leurs attentes sont dépassées, ce qui les réjouit. Bientôt, les amies lanceront de premiers vêtements pour femmes. Un ensemble en laine mérinos, comme celui fait pour enfants, sera sur le marché pour les mamans. Également, les entrepreneuses ont déjà commencé à magasiner pour la collection printemps-été, qui devrait offrir plus de morceaux que la précédente. Toutes les informations concernant cette nouvelle entreprise se retrouvent sur sa page Facebook ainsi que sur Instagram.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Reporters sans frontières editor Pauline Adès-Mével says the controversial Article 24 could allow police to stop journalists reporting live from the scene of an incident.View on euronews
Two battleground states, Wisconsin and Arizona, certified their presidential election results in favour of Joe Biden, even as President Donald Trump's legal team continued to dispute the results.Biden’s victory in Wisconsin was certified Monday following a partial recount that only added to his 20,600-vote margin over Trump, who has promised to file a lawsuit seeking to undo the results.Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, signed a certificate that completed the process after the canvass report showing Biden as the winner following the recount was approved by the chairwoman of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. Evers’ signature was required by law and is typically a procedural step that receives little attention.“Today I carried out my duty to certify the November 3rd election,” Evers said in a statement. “I want to thank our clerks, election administrators, and poll workers across our state for working tirelessly to ensure we had a safe, fair, and efficient election. Thank you for all your good work.”The action Monday now starts a five-day deadline for Trump to file a lawsuit, which he promised would come no later than Tuesday. Trump is mounting a longshot attempt to overturn the results by disqualifying as many as 238,000 ballots. Trump’s attorneys have alleged without evidence that there was widespread fraud and illegal activity.Biden’s campaign has said the recount showed that Biden won Wisconsin decisively and there was no fraud. Even if Trump were successful in Wisconsin, the state’s 10 Electoral College votes would not be enough to undo Biden’s overall victory as states around the country certify results.Earlier Monday, Arizona officials certified Biden’s narrow victory in that state.Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey both vouched for the integrity of the election before signing off on the results.“We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong,” Ducey said.He did not directly address Trump’s claims of irregularities but said the state pulled off a successful election with a mix of in-person and mail voting despite the pandemic.Hobbs said Arizona voters should know that the election “was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s laws and election procedures, despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary.”Biden is only the second Democrat in 70 years to win Arizona. In the final tally, he beat Trump by 10,457 votes, or 0.3% of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast.Even as Hobbs, Ducey, the state attorney general and chief justice of the state Supreme Court certified the election results, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis met in a Phoenix hotel ballroom a few miles away to lay out claims of irregularities in the vote count in Arizona and elsewhere. But they did not provide evidence of widespread fraud.“The officials certifying have made no effort to find out the truth, which to me, gives the state Legislature the perfect reason to take over the conduct of this election because it’s being conducted irresponsibly and unfairly,” Giuliani said.Nine Republican state lawmakers attended the meeting. They had requested permission to hold a formal legislative hearing at the Capitol but were denied by the Republican House speaker and Senate president.Trump berated Ducey on Twitter Monday night, asking, “Why is he rushing to put a Democrat in office, especially when so many horrible things concerning voter fraud are being revealed at the hearing going on right now.”Elections challenges brought by the Trump campaign or his backers in key battleground states have largely been unsuccessful as Trump continues to allege voter fraud while refusing to concede.There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.___Bauer reported from Madison, Wis.; Cooper and Tang reported from Phoenix.Scott Bauer, Jonathan J. Cooper And Terry Tang, The Associated Press
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has begun ramping up some community programs that were suspended at the start of the pandemic, but the city's medical officer of health said not all will return to their pre-COVID-19 selves.The pandemic didn't just throw OPH's budget into disarray but also how it offered many of its services, including chronic disease prevention work."These kinds of teams are completely redeployed to the COVID-19 response," said Dr. Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health, on Monday.OPH also had to shutter its four dental clinics across the city that offered services to people who had difficulties paying for care elsewhere.The St. Laurent Boulevard clinic reopened for emergency services last week, while the Wabano Centre clinic should reopen part time on Thursday, Etches said.Those clinics together saw 140 clients a day before the pandemic hit, said OPH's director of health promotion and chief nursing officer Esther Moghadam, and the hope is to get the other two open so vulnerable populations have easier access to one nearby. While the clinics were closed, Moghadam said dentists across the community stepped up to help and will likely have to continue to do so until the clinics are at full capacity."It's still very early … There is going to be a need that we won't be able to address fully," she said.Another program that fell by the wayside was the Healthy Growth and Development Program, which Etches said is currently running at 50 per cent capacity.Its breastfeeding support work is moving online or having mothers come to OPH or other community partners instead of nurses visiting them in their homes.Not all programs are set to return to the way they once were."We're looking to learn from the new tools we have, the innovative approaches that can be built upon and the partnerships that we have grown to extend some of this work into the future," said Etches.That future shift includes those services tailored at chronic diseases, which she said will change because private companies have been stepping up to help protect and promote employee health.COVID-19 in 2021Ottawa's Board of Health unanimously passed its largest budget ever at its meeting Monday night, with $24 million of its $98.1 million budget for 2021 expected to cover a number of one-time COVID-19 expenses. Even with positive vaccine updates, Etches said next year's budget forecasts a similar amount of COVID-19 cases, outbreaks, follow-up and communication work in 2021 as exists now.It is also expecting to help provide that COVID-19 vaccine to Ottawa residents "which we are hopeful, initially, will protect against hospitalizations and deaths in the people most at risk," she said."That would be excellent."The budget will go to city council for final approval on Dec. 9.
AUTOMOBILE. La saison hivernale enregistre près de 30 % de collisions de plus qu'aux beaux jours. Plus exactement, les statistiques compilées par le Groupement des assureurs automobiles démontrent qu'en 2019, au cours du 1er et du 4e trimestre de l'année, il y a eu 225 858 sinistres automobiles, soit 27 % de plus qu'au 2e et 3e trimestre. «C'est une tendance qui est observée chaque année : c'est en hiver qu'il y a les plus d'accidents sur les routes et plusieurs sont évitables. Il est donc important pour les conducteurs de redoubler de vigilance et, ainsi, d'éviter un accident fâcheux», explique Anne Morin, responsables des affaires publiques du GAA. Obligatoires à compter du 1er décembre, les pneus d'hiver permettent une meilleure adhérence sur la route mais ne remplaceront jamais la prudence des conducteurs indique le GAA. Lorsque les conditions de la route sont défavorables, le GAA rappelle l'importance de réduire sa vitesse et de conserver une distance suffisante entre son véhicule et celui qui nous précède pour pouvoir freiner à temps. On réduit ainsi le risque d'être impliqué dans une collision dont on pourrait être tenu responsable et on évite par conséquent l'ajout d'un sinistre à son dossier. Si un accident survient, il est recommandé d'avoir toujours à disposition un constat amiable, en format papier ou sur son cellulaire. En quelques instants, il est possible d'informer son assureur de l'accident qui vient de se produire. «C'est une application très simple d'utilisation qui permet à l'assureur de recevoir une information lisible rapidement. Cela facilite le règlement de sinistre», précise Anne Morin. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
TORONTO — BMO Financial Group says it is winding down its non-Canadian investment and corporate banking business in the energy sector as the bank topped expectations with a $1.6-billion profit in its latest quarter.Chief executive Darryl White said Tuesday the move is part of BMO's efforts to better allocate resources in places where they can deliver strong returns now and in the future."Going forward, BMO Capital Markets' energy business will be focused on the Canadian energy market, where we believe our competitive positioning is strongest and where we will continue our deep and long-standing commitment to supporting clients," he told analysts on a conference call to discuss the bank's latest financial results.White's remarks come as Canadian banks and the country's economy are trying to stage a rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted governments and financial institutions to streamline their processes and dig into their coffers to offer relief.Despite the added pressures and a recent second wave of the virus, BMO reported Tuesday a fourth-quarter profit of nearly $1.6 billion or $2.37 per share, up from nearly $1.2 billion or $1.78 per share a year ago.On an adjusted basis, BMO says it earned $2.41 per share, down from an adjusted profit of $2.43 per share in the same quarter last year.Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $1.90 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.Revenue totalled nearly $6 billion, down from almost $6.1 billion in the same quarter last year.White indicated that things continue to look up for the bank — one of the reasons why it was able to start paring back the amount of money it is putting aside to account for bad loans.Total provisions for credit losses amounted to $432 million, up from $253 million a year ago, but down from nearly $1.1 billion in its third quarter.BMO will continue to be disciplined with its expense management and efforts to bring efficiency to its operations, White said."While we expect revenue growth in parts of our business could remain constrained in the near term, we are committed to our financial objectives over the medium term," he said.The bank, White added, has already strengthened its competitive and capital position and identified opportunities to grow as business investment and consumer spending recover and the globe gets better at managing COVID-19."Looking ahead to 2021, while the path of the pandemic and the economic recovery remains uncertain, we now know that vaccines will be available relatively soon, and there's good reason to be optimistic about the associated economic recovery accelerating as 2021 progresses."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BMO)Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
MADRID — Emergency services in Spain's Canary Islands say 68 people from North Africa have been the first migrants to arrive in the Atlantic Ocean archipelago since authorities dismantled a squalid makeshift camp that had brought criticism and shame to the government. One boat with 34 men was rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service, while another boat with 33 adults and one teenager, all men, docked in Maspalomas beach on Gran Canaria Island, the 112 emergency service tweeted Tuesday. The migrants were taken to the Arguineguín dock on the same island, which closed as a processing centre Monday after three months of criticism for holding thousands of Africans in squalor, some times for weeks, while they were identified and tested for the coronavirus. Spain's ombudsman had ordered the makeshift camp’s closure, where potential asylum-seekers had difficulty accessing legal counselling. A minimal structure has been left to deal with new arrivals before the migrants and asylum-seekers are distributed between military barracks — where they can be only held for up to 72 hours — empty hotels or other facilities. More than 20,000 people seeking a better life have arrived so far this year in the Spanish archipelago across from the northwest African coast, up from 1,500 in the same period of 2019. At least 500 people have died in their attempt to reach Europe through the Canary Islands. The Associated Press
Germany, France and Britain urged the Trump administration in late October to reconsider broad, new sanctions against Iran’s banks, arguing that the move would deter legitimate humanitarian trade and hurt the allies’ common interests, diplomatic correspondence shows. Germany’s Bundesbank also kept a multi-billion-euro deposit facility open for Iranian banks, including two that faced fresh U.S. sanctions, giving Tehran a much-needed banking lifeline at a time its access to the global financial system was largely cut off, according to central bank data and interviews with bankers, Western diplomats and officials. The behind-the-scenes pushback to Washington and the extent of Germany’s support to Iranian trade in the face of U.S. sanctions have not been previously reported, and shed new light on the divergent approaches to Iran taken by President Donald Trump and the U.S. allies.
Social determinants of health – such as discrimination, proper housing and occupation – are critical factors for public health officials when considering how to target resources at those whose risk of contracting the novel coronavirus is highest. As health interventions aim to address these social liabilities in the short-term, the pandemic is also exposing how environmental determinants of health are often overlooked. Air pollution, for example, produces worse health outcomes and occurs more intensely in areas with poorer social and economic conditions, according to research cited in a study published earlier this month by health data non-profit ICES and the University of Toronto. The paper notes that previous studies “have also implicated environmental pollution as having a biological relationship to the risk and severity of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.” Environmental factors affecting local public health may emerge as a larger discussion in the coming weeks, as Mississauga’s climate plans resurface during budget committee presentations which resumed Monday. Estimated to cost more than $460 million in the next decade, or about $46 million per year, the City is slow to commit funding in its first year of budgeting for a greener future in Mississauga. In June 2019, following the lead of several other Canadian cities, Mississauga’s Council passed a motion to declare a climate change emergency and approved an ambitious Climate Change Action Plan six months later. In the summer, as the 2021 budget document was being considered by City staff, The Pointer asked Mayor Bonnie Crombie about the ambitious goals she championed in the Climate Action Plan just prior to the pandemic, including some $160 million that would be needed in the short term for hybrid and electric buses. "Certainly, the greening of our economy is the right direction to move and I think we all agree with that," she said at the time. "We are very hopeful that the impact of COVID will be contained to the next three-year horizon and that we will still move forward with our Climate Action Plan. It is very dependent on the ICIP money (Ottawa's Invest In Canada Plan for infrastructure) – money coming from the provincial and federal government – to assist us to green our fleet and implement many of the recommendations that you found in that report." Now, implementing the climate plan is a highlight of the City’s 2021 budget. The two-pronged climate change solution universally advocated by scientists – mitigation and adaptation – is reflected in the City’s strategy to promote green energy, and retrofit or build resilient infrastructure. The plan sets out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in the next ten years and by 80 percent ahead of 2050, with the long-term goal of reaching zero emissions. The second pillar is to “build resilience” against the effects of climate change, including severe weather damage to City infrastructure. Next year’s ‘pandemic’ budget, has leaned out capital project funding to help weather the City’s major revenue losses in transit and recreation due to the ongoing public health emergency. Parks, Forestry and Environment staff are proposing a net $37.5 million operating budget, or a $1 million increase from last year, to maintain service levels, support higher fleet costs and kick-off climate protection goals. “Now, having a bold plan is very different than action. This is where the City now has to try and follow through on that, and I don't see that in this year's budget yet,” said Marc Johnson, Director of the Centre for Urban Environments at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He cited urbanization data that shows 82 percent of Canadians live in cities, with significant greenhouse-gas emissions and resource extraction linked to oil, lumber and other materials that support urban development. Though projects including infrastructure lifecycle maintenance, tree planting, stormwater drainage, trail upkeep, parks construction and pedestrian bridge replacement may relate to climate change, the budget does not directly connect these developments to the City’s climate strategy. “I want to see earmarked in [the budget] which of these investments in staff, in green technology, and infrastructure refurbishment are aligned with their Climate Action Plan,” he said. Perhaps the clearest funding link to execute the Climate Change Action Plan is the addition of another full-time staffer, a climate change specialist, in next year’s operating budget, with a salary of $92,000, and $121,000 forecast in 2022. No funding has been allocated until 2023 for the Climate Change Plan Implementation in corporate buildings, with budget documents recommending about $216,000 be set aside. In budget presentation documents, staff acknowledged the City requires resources to fulfill its climate plan and parkland growth expansion. However, parkland growth is not funded until 2022, with a recommended $291,000 budget. Capital projects in the Parks, Forestry and Environment departmental budget will also face deferrals, with an overall budget of about $32.3 million for 2021, forecast to more than double in 2022 to $66 million, and drop slightly to $51 million the following year. There is also a modest budget for parkland acquisition in 2021, at $120,000, compared to $26 million forecast for 2022. Corporate building retrofits as part of the climate plan are also being set aside, not being requested in the budget until 2023, with staff forecasting $216,000. More than 40 percent of parks and related infrastructure will need capital funding for replacements and maintenance over the next decade. Funding in other service sectors will affect Mississauga’s climate change goals, most prominently in transit, which accounts for about 70 percent of the City’s emissions. MiWay Director Geoff Marinoff said, during Tuesday’s transit presentation to the committee, that 40 percent of the fleet would be turned over to hybrid energy buses in the next four years. MiWay is proposing $440.6 million to replace 409 buses over the next 10 years. However, staff are proposing only a small fraction of the annual investment needed if 40 percent of a new hybrid fleet is to be acquired in the next four years. The bus replacement budget for 2021 is just $2 million, even though MiWay reaffirmed its commitment to “no longer purchase any conventional diesel buses, and will be required to purchase hybrid-electric and zero emission vehicles.” The budget does not specify if the bus replacement budget will be solely for hybrid-electric vehicles. (The City currently has 36, and the remaining 475 buses run on ultra-refined diesel.) The federal government, as Crombie highlighted in the summer, could provide a significant contribution, as clean energy infrastructure is one of the priorities in its infrastructure investment policy and Ottawa has already approved large sums to municipalities and provinces for clean transportation since the plan was adopted under the Liberals in 2015. The budget also notes the City’s training program for fleet operation will be amended to train drivers in reducing idling and fuel consumption to align with climate goals. Initiatives linked to fighting climate change can also be found in the increased stormwater tax. Mississauga has seen its share of extreme weather in the past decade, with heavy rain and flash floods last spring and fall. Human activity connected to climate change is leading to more extreme rainfalls in North America, according to a study published this June. A stormwater tax raise, which will range from $2.20 to $3.68 per year, is slated to help generate $43.5 million toward the City’s stormwater reserve funds for unpredictable weather caused by changing environmental conditions. Natural disasters and severe weather events demand crucial consideration when making urgent local policy shifts, said Lauren Latour, a coordinator at Climate Action Network Canada. “A lot of the time when we talk about climate policy, we're talking about federal level policy, but the effects are going to have to be dealt with by municipal governments,” Latour said. “They become those frontline protectors for their communities.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Les élus de la MRC des Sources et du Granit ont dénoncé lundi la façon dont le ministère attribue les territoires aux compagnies de distribution internet. Ils estiment ne pas avoir été consultés quant à l’octroi d’une subvention au fournisseur internet Xplornet pour brancher plusieurs secteurs. Xplornet a conclu une entente avec le ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec (MEI) pour desservir quelque 2000 foyers principalement dans la MRC des Sources, mais aussi dans le Granit et le Haut-Saint-François pour améliorer la couverture d’internet haute vitesse. « Depuis deux ans, on est allé chercher la connaissance de nos besoins et on s’est bâti une tête, explique Hugues Grimard, préfet de la MRC des Sources. On est allé en appel de fournisseurs et Xplornet n’a pas soumissionné. Il n’a pas participé à l’exercice qu’on a fait dans notre milieu. C’est DERYtelecom qui a reçu notre appui pour desservir notre territoire. C’est inacceptable et ça n’a aucun bon sens de sortir un lapin de son chapeau de cette façon-là. Le gouvernement vient de prendre une décision arbitraire. » Même son de cloche dans la MRC du Granit qui a donné son appui à trois télécommunicateurs pour qu’ils déposent des projets au programme Régions branchées du Québec et au Fonds Large bande du CRTC pour les secteurs non ou mal desservis de son territoire. « Ce que le gouvernement du Québec s’apprête à faire est un grave manque de respect pour le travail accompli par le milieu qui s’est penché sur la question de façon sérieuse et qui sait ce qu’il convient d’offrir comme service à la population pour respecter les aspects de performance, de coûts et de fiabilité », précise la directrice générale de la MRC du Granit, Sonia Cloutier. Connexion filaire La couverture que déploiera Xplornet est de type hybride, ce qui ne fait pas l’affaire des élus. « On passe de la fibre optique dans les chemins et on connecte les maisons, précise Charles Beaudet, vice-président pour la filière québécoise de Xplornet. Dans le but d’étendre la portée de la fibre, on installe des tours LTE compatibles avec la 5G et un signal sans fil est déployé pour le dernier kilomètre vers les foyers plus éloignés. » La compagnie assure pouvoir fournir une vitesse de 100mb par seconde avec cette technologie, même avec le signal sans-fil, ce qui est deux fois plus élevé que la norme demandée par le gouvernement. Cette façon de faire laisse toutefois présager un net désavantage pour la population, croient les élus. « On veut que ce soit équitable pour tous nos citoyens, qu’ils restent d’un trou ou dans le haut d’une côte, mentionne M. Grimard. Est-ce que le signal sera bon quand il y aura une tempête ? Ce n’est pas ce qu’on reçoit comme information. » Il n’y a aucun compromis à faire selon les élus, le service doit être 100 % filaire, pour empêcher les variations de vitesse et de connexion. « On veut que ce soit de la fibre, car c’est ça qui va fonctionner dans notre MRC vu la grandeur et les montagnes, souligne la préfet de la MRC du Granit, Marielle Fecteau. Le gouvernement aurait dû nous consulter, on ne peut pas déplacer des montagnes. Ils devraient donner la chance aux compagnies qui font des demandes pour qu’on puisse un jour d’être en mesure d’avoir internet partout. » Demande d’aide de la population Dans ce contexte, les élus demandent la collaboration des citoyens pour procéder à un test de vitesse internet. Il suffit de se rendre au performance.cira.ca pour effectuer ce test. La plate-forme produira un rapport, selon la géolocalisation ou le code postal, qui sera ensuite remis aux MRC qui s’assureront de faire suivre les résultats au ministre Pierre Fitzgibbon et aux députés provinciaux de leur territoire respectif.Simon Roberge, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
The IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' index (PMI) rose to a seasonally adjusted 55.8 in November from 55.5 in October. "Latest survey data shows encouraging signs at the Canadian manufacturing sector as it continues to recover from the second quarter downturn," Shreeya Patel, an economist at IHS Markit, said in a statement. The output index stayed solidly in expansion territory, dipping to 55.1 from 55.2 in October, which was its highest in more than two years.
Along with bread-baking and closet reorganizing, another nesting trend on the home front is “cottagecore” style.“The cottagecore esthetic swarmed the internet this year with its revival of traditional ideals and the glorification of a simple yet charming cottage lifestyle,” says Amanda Brennan, trend expert for Tumblr.Engagement on the social platform for cottagecore began spiking in early spring and hasn't abated, she reports.Now it's flowing into the holiday season, she says, “with posts of farmhouse-inspired holiday decorations, homestyle seasonal recipes, warm winter décor, and knitting.”Etsy.com trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson agrees: “The nostalgia-inspired movement is all about bringing back pastoral esthetics and activities.”Characterized by romantic, nature-oriented themes and homespun design elements, cottagecore started around the mid-2010s. But it’s taken off this year as the pandemic kept people at home.“It’s no surprise that the trend’s extending into the holidays,” says Isom Johnson. “Shoppers are opting for décor that’s reminiscent of a time that was filled with simpler pleasures in life, from baking to crafting.”Etsy saw an increase in early fall in searches for crocheted, knitted and embroidered ornaments, as well as holiday quilts, she says. They’ve seen a nearly 200% increase in searches for DIY kits.Kits come at all levels, for kids, beginners and skilled crafters, and with a variety of holiday-friendly themes. For instance, Fancy Tiger’s felting kits offer alpacas, squirrels and sheep, and cross-stitched mini holiday ornaments. Stitchery.com has simple kits for making embroidered tree table-runners, tiny stockings and snow globes.Many Etsy shops, like Lark Rising, Rene Creates and Barmy Fox, offer templates of designs for download. Creativity for Kids has holiday snow globe kits, while Paper Source has kits to craft dog nutcrackers and Hanukkah bears in winsome sweaters.Lorna Aragon, home editor for Martha Stewart Living, suggests some easy holiday projects for home and gifting that fit the esthetic:“Think about stenciling or stamping a tablecloth, runner or napkins with a simple geometric motif. You can make a tree skirt the same way," she says. "Create some homemade stockings from simple dishcloths. Use baskets under the tree to hold gifts. You can also get some quilting squares at the craft store and make sachets to gift friends. I’m loving simple fabrics like ticking, gingham, denim, muslin and calico small florals and prints.”The magazine’s team created some items for the December issue based on quilt designs and folk-art motifs, evocative of the cottagecore look.Minted’s Founder Mariam Naficy likes ‘furoshiki’, the Japanese technique of gift wrapping with fabric. She says it’s a great way to wrap oddly-shaped items, and re-purpose fabric scraps or old scarves.She’s also making garlands this year out of various materials, including fragrant dried orange slices. “You can display them on a mantle, bookcase, or drape one on your dining table surrounded by tea candles for a simple, aromatic centerpiece,” she says.Naficy also suggests making garlands out of last year’s holiday cards and scraps of wrapping paper.Wreath frames from garden centres and art stores offer crafting parties the opportunity to make indoor or outdoor décor.“Eucalyptus doesn’t scream Christmas, and will work all winter,” says Stephanie Pollard of Hello Nest.Dried or faux greenery, pompoms, cotton balls, or colorful ornaments and a primed hot glue gun are all you need. To get the cottagecore look, add burlap or velvet ribbon, or wrap the wreath in cloth.Ashley Martin, a sixth-grade teacher and mom of two who lives in Green Township, New Jersey, transformed a scrounged vintage wooden Coke crate into a rustic succulent garden to decorate her home through the holidays and beyond.Martin says she’s always loved arts and crafts projects, but became obsessed with cottagecore décor when she and her husband bought an 1850s farmhouse. Turning her ideas into custom art and signs became a side gig, and she’s working on holiday orders now.“I really enjoy working on something creative any time that I can,” she says.Other ideas for DIY holiday decorations with a cottagecore feel:Gather a stack of blank cards, markers and essential oils and make aromatherapy cards. Clear glass or acrylic ball ornaments can be jazzed up with a coating of Mod Podge and a dip in a bowl of snowy glitter. (Keep a lint roller handy to clean up the sparkles. ) Use a glue gun to seal seams on cut-out felt mittens, trees or stars, then stuff the open end with a gift card or small treat.Kim Cook, The Associated Press
A lawyer for Bill Cosby on Tuesday told the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the judge at the entertainer's 2018 sexual assault trial should have barred five prosecution witnesses who testified that Cosby had also drugged and raped them. Two years ago the once-popular comedian and actor was found guilty of drugging and raping a one-time friend, Andrea Constand, at his home near Philadelphia in 2004. The hearing on Tuesday took place about a year after a lower appellate court rejected a petition by Cosby, now 83, to have his conviction overturned.
While outdoor rinks will continue to open across Saskatoon this year, hockey games will not be allowed on them.At Saskatoon city council's monthly meeting on Monday night, councillors asked administration about reports that hockey nets were being removed from outdoor rinks. Lynne Lacroix, the city's general manager of community development said that hockey games are not allowed under provincial COVID-19 rules."If you leave the nets out randomly, the chance of scrimmages happening or games picking up will probably be high," said Lacroix. "So they're trying to minimize that as public skating is permitted, games are not permitted under the new regulations."Last week, the province suspended all team and group sports in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19. Under-18 hockey players are still allowed to practise, but only in groups of eight players.Outdoor rinks operated by community associations will still allow up to 30 skaters on the ice at any given time.Andrew Roberts, director of recreation and community development with City of Saskatoon, said the new rules on hockey nets are in effect because the province is only allowing practices for under-18 players."So based on that, we're requiring that nets not be outside on our outdoor rink during public skating time," Andrews said."We are recommending to our community associations — we're not mandating, we're just recommending — that the nets be removed when there's unsupervised time just to mitigate the risk of hockey being played with groups bigger than eight."The policy is in effect until Dec. 17, when the province will be providing updates to the recommendations.Andrews said community associations can still rent out rinks for hockey practices under the new restrictions, and would be able to use hockey nets in those circumstances.The city has received plenty of feedback from citizens and community associations, mostly looking for clarification, he said. "We're providing the requirements and the documentation to our community association so that they can share them among the community as well."Indoor rinks aren't really affected, Andrews said, because nets aren't on the ice during public skating and all rental times are supervised."The difference is everyone must wear a mask indoors — it is just recommended to wear masks at outdoor rinks," he said.Kelly Boes, executive director of the Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association, said the new city guidelines don't really affect organized minor hockey.Boes said their practices, for the most part, are indoors and they are allowed to have nets."I really think this is designed around the kids that are, you know, hanging around and just want to go and have some fun and start playing, and a shinny game breaks out," he said."I think that's why they're doing it, to try to stop that from happening."Coun. Randy Donauer (Ward 5) worried there might be confusion between indoor and outdoor venues."I don't know if it's sending the right message to say we're going to have hockey facilities inside for practices, but you can't even have a net out for kids to shoot on in the neighborhood," he said. Brad Holler, who was out Tuesday shooting pucks at the Sutherland rinks, thinks removing the nets is going too far."It sucks for kids," he said. "This is Saskatchewan. Hockey's a huge part of our culture, it's how kids stay active."I realize there's a pandemic at hand. But when you look at some of the other regulations that are in place right now, like you can go eat at a restaurant, five people per table and take off [your] masks … to take away hockey nets, I think it's a little ridiculous."Roman Todos, president of the Caswell Hill Community Association, said they are still getting the rink prepared, so it isn't open yet.How big a deal the no-net policy will be depends on how long the restriction stays in place, he said."We should be close to getting our rink up and running and then we'll have to follow the guidelines as much as possible," said Todos, adding they'll need some more people to help to put up signage up and co-ordinate the new policy. Meanwhile, Lacroix said other winter activities, like Optimist Hill, are expected to open soon, as is the Meewasin outdoor rink near the Bessborough Hotel.During the city council meeting, Pamela Goulden-McLeod, the city's director of emergency planning, continued to ask people in Saskatoon to stay at home and limit the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the city.On Monday, there were 1,318 active cases of COVID-19 in Saskatoon, almost double the number from Regina."Our ICUs are currently operating over capacity and our resources are stretched," she said. "We need all residents to return to following the guidelines of [Chief Medical Health Officer] Dr. [Saqib] Shahab as closely as possible."
In the midst of a deadly year on ATV trails across Newfoundland and Labrador, the RCMP has launched a bigger push to curb what it's calling reckless behaviour, a move being met with acclaim from some ATV riders in the province.Fifteen people have died while operating ATVs and snowmobiles in areas policed by the RCMP across the province since Jan. 1. There were 12 ATV-related deaths in 2019 and 10 in 2018.In 11 of the deaths this year, safety equipment, such as helmets and seatbelts, were either not worn or improperly used. Alcohol use was a suspected factor in 10 of the deaths, according to an RCMP media release. "I find these numbers personally alarming," Assistant Commissioner Ches Parsons, commanding officer of the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador, told reporters on Monday. He also called the casualty rate "extreme."Dean Layman of Avalon ATV said it's about one in 10 riders who don't follow the rules, and with his group the rules are plain and simple: no helmet, no ride. "Enforcement is good if they get the, I call them idiots, off the road," Layman said Monday evening, shortly after the RCMP launched its enforcement and social media campaign in response to the high number ATV-related deaths across the province this year."People who go out and plan to destroy stuff and hurt people, and don't care ... that's the issue I have."Laymen said he often rides with RCMP and RNC officers, and there's never an issue when they're on the trail. Covert surveillanceThe RCMP's campaign, launched Monday, plans to increase enforcement of existing ATV laws. Officers will target speeding, use of safety equipment, under-aged drivers and alcohol use.The RCMP plant to use special tactics, including plainclothes officers and vehicles that are hard to identify as police, to allow covert surveillance and to gather evidence, in collaboration with its varying detachments, to support any charges laid. "The undeniable fact of death and tragedy is there. In my personal experience I've had ATVs flee from me, and in many cases the operator saw it as a joke," said RCMP Sgt. Matthew Christie, the commander of the force's traffic services east unit."I can assure you when I knock on a door and tell someone their loved one has been killed, it's no joke."WATCH | Find out why the RCMP in N.L. are aiming for the heart in a new safety campaign: On top of those efforts, the RCMP is also launching a social media campaign called ATV Safety Can Save More Than One Life.The campaign will run for three months. It's designed to make an emotional impact by focusing on the devastation to the loved ones left behind in the wake of ATV deaths, as well as the causes of those deaths, according to the RCMP.The campaign will use visuals and simple messages in an effort to get more people talking about safe recreational vehicle use.But as he heads out riding with his group, Layman said he wants to see officers on the trails themselves, and stricter fines for those caught breaking the law. "The [RCMP] or the RNC need to get on the trails and just get out and take a look," he said."Put a bigger fine out. No helmet, take a picture, then you got proof. Then give them a fine, take his bike from him for 24 to 48 hours ... and you can't get it back until you pay the fine."Under the Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Act: * It is illegal to operate an ATV on a highway except to cross from one side of the road to another, and in that case the operator must have a valid drivers licence, insurance and registration to do so and 100 yards of visibility. * All occupants of an ATV must be wearing an approved helmet. * It is illegal to operate an ATV while under the influence or alcohol or narcotics. * A person must be 16 years old to operate an adult-sized ATV of over 90 cubic centimetres (cc). * A person who is 14-15 years old can operate an ATV under 90 cc but only when being supervised by a person who is 19 years old or older. * A person under 14 years old is not permitted to operate an ATV of any size. * A person who permits an under aged child to operate an ATV without supervision can be charged for doing so.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
It’s been a different year for Gander Fire Rescue. Normally, members’ calendar would be filled with things like handing out Halloween candy to children at the hospital or opening the fire hall for tours. However, things like that were scuttled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the fire department was hoping to do something this year. With that in mind, some members of the department came up with the idea of collecting winter clothing for children. “We just thought we were going to get jackets and stuff, but people were asking if they could donate certain items and we said, ‘Certainly, go ahead,’” said Addison Quilty, Gander Fire Rescue’s assistant deputy fire chief. The department’s goal was to collect the same number of winter clothing as there are fire hydrants in Gander. That set their aim at 427 pieces of clothing. They didn’t care if it was mittens, gloves, toques, jackets or boots, as long as the department was able to get what they aimed for. It turns out they got all of those things in abundance — they’ve collected 432 pieces of clothing. “We’ve been really impressed,” said Quilty. “We’re still getting things now.” The pandemic has changed the way organizations handle donated items, and Gander Fire Rescue is no different. The department put a pair of bins outside the fire hall and once an item was placed in the bin, it stayed there for 24 hours. When it entered the building, the clothing was cleaned again. In the next little while, the department will start bagging up what they’ve collected and delivered it to the Salvation Army. From there, the church’s community and family services division in Gander will distribute the items where they are needed. “The Salvation Army is certainly very grateful for that kind of partnership with us, to be able to provide that kind of practical donation to help people for the cold winter months,” said Maj. Rene Loveless, public relations and development secretary with the provincial Salvation Army. “That's fabulous.” Loveless said he was impressed with the number of items the Gander fire department collected in a short period. Ensuring children have adequate clothes for the winter months, which can be harsh at times in central Newfoundland, was at the heart of the Gander Fire Rescue clothing drive. To see that effort to help children was something that stood out for Loveless. “It’s a beautiful thing, really,” said Loveless. The department isn’t done collecting clothing just yet. They’ve set a deadline of Dec. 6 and then they will stop collecting. In the meantime, their final number could be even higher by the time they call it off next week. “People are still not afraid to help others out,” said Quilty. “It is a good thing to see.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice