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WASHINGTON — Monday seemed like the end of President Donald Trump's relentless challenges to the election, after the federal government acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden was the “apparent winner” and Trump cleared the way for co-operation on a transition of power.But his baseless claims have a way of coming back. And back. And back.On Thursday, after a Thanksgiving evening conversation from the White House with troops stationed overseas, Trump abruptly pivoted to angrily alleging — still without any evidence — that “massive fraud” was behind his defeat.Speaking to news crews gathered to watch the traditional holiday conversation with the military, Trump denounced officials in battleground states he'd lost as “communists” and “enemies of the state.” Trump also announced he'd be travelling to Georgia to meet with what he said would be tens of thousands of supporters on Dec. 5, ahead of two runoffs there that will likely determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate.The 2020 presidential race is turning into the zombie election that Trump just won’t let die. Despite dozens of legal and procedural setbacks, his campaign keeps filing new challenges that have little hope of succeeding and making fresh, unfounded claims of fraud.But that’s the point. Trump’s strategy, his allies concede in private, wasn’t to change the outcome, but to create a host of phantom claims about the 2020 presidential race that would infect the nation with doubt and keep his base loyal, even though the winner — Biden — was clear and there has been no evidence of mass voter fraud.“Zombies are dead people walking among the living — this litigation is the same thing,” said Franita Tolson, a professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. “In terms of litigation that could change the election, all these cases are basically dead men walking.”It's a strategy tolerated by many Republicans, most notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who are clinging to Trump as they face a test of retaining their own power in the form of two runoff elections in Georgia in January.“This really is our version of a polite coup d’etat,” said Thomas Mann, senior resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. “It could end quickly if the Republican Party acknowledged what was going on. But they cower in the face of Trump’s connection with the base.”A day after Trump said his administration should begin working with Biden's team, three more lawsuits were filed by allies attempting to stop the certification in two more battleground states. In Minnesota, a judge did not rule on the suit and the state certified the results for Biden. Another was filed in Wisconsin, which doesn't certify until Tuesday. Arizona Republicans filed a complaint over ballot inspection; the state certification is due Monday.And the campaign legal team said state lawmakers in Arizona and Michigan would hold meetings on the election “to provide confidence that all of the legal votes have been counted and the illegal votes have not been counted in the November 3rd election.”In Pennsylvania, where state Republican lawmakers met at Gettysburg on Wednesday to air grievances about the election, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani attended in person and Trump dialed in from the Oval Office.“We have all the evidence," Trump asserted. “All we need is to have some judge listen to it properly without having a political opinion.”But the strongest legal rebuke yet came from a conservative Republican judge in federal court in Pennsylvania, who on Saturday dismissed the Trump team's lawsuit seeking to throw out the results of the election. The judge admonished the Trump campaign in a scathing ruling about its lack of evidence. The campaign has appealed.Trump's allies have privately acknowledged their plan would never actually overturn the results, but rather might provide Trump an off-ramp for a loss he wasn't owning up to and an avenue to keep his base loyal for whatever he does next.“And then our governing and politics will be hellish, because he will continue doing what he’s doing from his private own perch,” Mann predicted.Emily Murphy, the top official at the General Services Administration, declared Biden the “apparent winner” Monday, a procedural yet critical step that allowed for the transition to begin in earnest. She made the determination after Trump's efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states. She cited “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.”Michigan certified Biden’s 154,000-count victory Monday, despite calls by Trump to the GOP members to block the vote to allow for an audit of ballots in Wayne County, where Trump claimed he was the victim of fraud. Biden crushed the president by more than 330,000 votes there.“The board’s duty today is very clear,” said Aaron Van Langevelde, the Republican vice chair. “We have a duty to certify this election based on these returns.”Still, the Trump legal team dismissed the certification as “simply a procedural step” and insisted it would fight on.Trump and his allies have brought at least four cases in Michigan that sought — unsuccessfully — to block certification of election results in part or all of the state.In Pennsylvania, after Gov. Tom Wolf certified Biden as the winner, an appeals court judge ordered state officials to halt any further steps toward certifying election results. The state has appealed to Pennsylvania's Supreme Court.In Arizona, just as lawyers for a woman in the Phoenix area dropped a case alleging that equipment was unable to record her ballot because she completed it with a county-issued Sharpie pen, Trump’s campaign filed its own lawsuit echoing some of the same complaints. As that suit was about to be dismissed, lawyers for the woman filed a new case reviving the claims and demanding that she be allowed to recast her ballot. All three of the cases have now been dismissed.“The legal process seems to be unfolding the way it’s supposed to, but the Trump campaign has made clear its desire to throw wrenches in the system wherever it can,” said Lisa Marshall Manheim, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law.___Richer reported from Boston. Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia, Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin; Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix and Steve Karnowski in St. Paul, Minnesota, contributed to this report.Colleen Long, Alanna Durkin Richer And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Christmas decorations, clothes and kitchenware are visible from the front window of National Thrift on Toronto's Keele Street, but people who stop by are greeted with a sign on the door that says the store is closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.Non-essential businesses in Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region have been ordered by the province to close until the week of Christmas, in an effort to suppress surging COVID-19 infections.While grocery, hardware stores and other department chains remain open for in-person sales, shoppers and business owners say the new restrictions have made it harder for people with less disposable income to get by. Vanessa Barra peered into the dark front window of National Thrift on Wednesday afternoon. She said she recently moved to Ontario and was looking for some essentials like kitchenware.“When I moved here, I didn’t take a lot of stuff with me,” Barra said from the sidewalk outside. “With the lockdown it’s kind of hard to find a job and I’m looking for something cheap I can use. I think this kind of place has that.”At a nearby Value Village, flanked by open retailers including Metro and Shoppers Drug Mart, more than a dozen people approached the locked doors, some looking for second-hand clothes, others for games to pass the time while stuck at home. Municipal and provincial officials have encouraged residents to support local businesses during the four-week lockdown by ordering online or using curbside pickup.For National Thrift, which has three locations in Toronto, cataloguing thousands of unique donated items online would be “literally impossible to do,” said operations manager Jake Davis. It's left customers who rely on lower prices to buy clothes for their families, as well as kitchen goods and other essentials, in a bind. “Their dollar does stretch a little bit further than going to regular retail,” Davis said, adding that clothing should be considered a necessity, especially with kids still attending school in Ontario’s locked-down zones.The timing may also hurt families ahead of the holiday season, he said. National Thrift stores sell second-hand toys that have been cleaned up to look like new, so families who can afford gifts for their kids if brand-new is outside their price range. “It is very, very unfortunate,” Davis said. “I think the safety of everyone is at the forefront of everyone's mind. But in terms of closing, it does hurt a lot.”Pegasus Thrift in east Toronto also shut down its in-person sales this week. Profits from the second-hand shop fund the charitable activities of the Pegasus Community Project, which runs day programs for adults with developmental disabilities, some of whom volunteer at the store.The leadup to Christmas is often a busy time for sales among shoppers who rely on lower prices, or those who are looking for unique finds, said Paula Murphy, executive director of the non-profit.She said the shutdown will affect sales and it's disrupted the routines and social connections for participants in Pegasus' social programs, who were already isolated during the spring lockdown. “It's devastating to the people we support, it's devastating to the families, it's devastating to my staff,” Murphy said of the closure this week.Other social enterprises have had to pivot as Peel and Toronto weather measures aimed at reversing increasingly dire COVID-19 case counts. St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown Toronto wrote on social media this week that its drop-in hot meal service is now takeout only due to the restrictions.The provincial department of health did not directly answer whether thrift stores are considered non-essential during the lockdown phase of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework. A statement from the Ministry of Health said individual businesses “should consult their legal counsel to determine how the lockdown regulation … applies to their specific business.”It also pointed to relief funds available to support businesses. “To be clear, moving regions into a lockdown is not a measure this government takes lightly,” the statement said. “However, as we have seen around the world, lockdowns are a difficult but necessary step to stop the spread, safeguard the key services we rely on and protect our health system capacity.” Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore locations, which sell used furniture and other home goods at reduced prices, have remained open in the Greater Toronto Area and Peel Region during the lockdown stage because of the hardware component of their catalog. Jim Waechter, who directs the ReStore Success and Product Support program for Habitat for Humanity Canada, said the stores have had to pivot to more online sales, curbside pickup and delivery since the pandemic began.He said it's been a worthwhile shift to continue offering sustainable, affordable options to people during a difficult time.“We're proud of that role that we play in our local communities,” he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l’évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 464 nouveaux cas, pour un nombre total de personnes infectées de 136 894. Elles font également état de 32 nouveaux décès, pour un total de 6 947. De ces 32 décès, 8 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures, 19 sont survenus entre le 19 et le 24 novembre et 5 sont survenus avant le 19 novembre. Le nombre d’hospitalisations a augmenté de 20 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 675. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a diminué de 3, et s’élève maintenant à 90. Les prélèvements réalisés le 24 novembre s’élèvent à 33 023, pour un total de 3 783 890. Date Cas confirmésDécèsHospitalisationsHospitalisations aux soins intensifsPrélèvements réalisés19 novembre1 25926624 (-27)96 (-5)31 09920 novembre1 18921646 (+22)99 (+3)34 21721 novembre1 15423642 (-4)103 (+4)20 01722 novembre1 16428634 (-8)98 (-5)20 40023 novembre1 12419655 (+21)96 (-2)24 06724 novembre1 1002765593 (-3)33 02325 novembre1 4648675 (+20)90 (-3)NDNombre de cas par région Régions sociosanitaires22-nov-2023-nov-2024-nov-2025-nov-20Total des cas 01 – Bas-Saint-Laurent2110101475202 – Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean1611041482114 72503 – Capitale-Nationale1061539813911 18904 – Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec5378661176 63905 – Estrie6240401164 34906 – Montréal29428421933649 58407 – Outaouais486427293 45508 – Abitibi-Témiscamingue002526509 – Côte-Nord31-1220110 – Nord-du-Québec00015311 – Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine301591 34012 – Chaudière-Appalaches403464505 11313 – Laval63707310111 08114 – Lanaudière1421031589310 84715 – Laurentides413727547 76416 – Montérégie12514513318719 38717 – Nunavik00-102818 – Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James000016Hors Québec212214Région à déterminer000-1102Total1 1641 1241 1001 464136 894 01 – Bas-Saint-Laurent1602 – Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean11103 – Capitale-Nationale42104 – Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec26005 – Estrie6006 – Montréal3 60307 – Outaouais7808 – Abitibi-Témiscamingue409 – Côte-Nord210 – Nord-du-Québec011 – Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine4012 – Chaudière-Appalaches12713 – Laval72514 – Lanaudière31415 – Laurentides33316 – Montérégie85217 – Nunavik018 – Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James1Hors Québec0Région à déterminer0Total6 947Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Team Halo is hoping to answer questions from those sceptical or hesitant about COVID vaccines. View on euronews
Le maire de Mirabel, Jean Bouchard, fait l’annonce d’une nouvelle très attendue de la part des résidants et usagers des transports collectifs, via sa page Facebook publique, alors que la gare du secteur de Saint-Janvier sera fonctionnelle dès le 4 janvier prochain. Rappelons que cette gare sera dotée d’un quai ferroviaire, d’une boucle d’autobus et d’un stationnement incitatif comptant 333 places. Selon le Programme des immobilisations 2020-2029 d’exo, un budget d’un peu plus de 14 M$ a été alloué à ce projet. Il comprend aussi des cases de stationnement pour les personnes à mobilité réduite, les taxis, le covoiturage et les véhicules électriques; avec bornes de recharge. On compte aussi une quarantaine d’espaces sous un abri à vélos. Une date devancée Lors d’un entretien téléphonique tenu en septembre dernier, l’actuel conseiller municipal et ex-maire suppléant, Patrick Charbonneau, avançait que le site pourrait être accessible aux usagers deux mois plus tard, soit en novembre 2020. Le chantier avait repris ses activités dernièrement, à la suite du premier confinement, alors que l’on prévoyait des retards aux vues de la situation entourant la pandémie. «Les besoins de nos concitoyens augmentent en matière de mobilité. La nouvelle gare va leur offrir une alternative efficace à l’utilisation de l’automobile avec un arrêt du train directement dans leur municipalité», de déclarer M. Charbonneau, dans le cadre d’une autre entrevue donnée en juin dernier. Ce site s’ajoutera donc aux 13 gares déjà existantes sur la ligne exo2 de Saint-Jérôme. Nicolas Parent, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Éveil
BRUSSELS — Thanksgiving just got a little bit better for the Maine lobster industry.The European Union parliament on Thursday approved a mini trade deal with the United States, which includes the elimination of customs duties on U.S. lobster imports. The passage with 638 votes for, 45 against and 11 abstentions was the last major political step for the deal to come into effect.As a result, the 27-nation EU will drop its 8% tariff on U.S. lobsters for the next five years and work to make the move permanent.U.S. lobster imports to the EU came to about $111 million in 2017 before falling off in the face of rising tensions between the trading partners, and an EU trade agreement with Canada that allowed its lobsters to enter the bloc tariff-free.Because of it, said EU legislator Bernd Lange, “we have seen a drop in demand by 50% in Maine, which is obviously quite serious. So now we are making an offer to allow American lobster to come tariff-free into the EU."For its part, the U.S. agreed to cut in half tariffs on EU imports worth about $160 million a year, including some prepared meals, crystal glassware and cigarette lighters. The tariff cuts will be retroactive to Aug. 1.The deal approved on Thursday covers only a tiny portion of trans-Atlantic trade with the U.S., but the EU hopes it will have some symbolic value. And for the lobster industry, already hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, every piece of good news is welcome.For the EU, which has had acrimonious relations with the Trump administration, a sign of goodwill will never hurt.“We have more in common than divides us," said Lange. “This piece of legislation is an offer: it’s not about lobster for all. It’s about co-operation instead of confrontation.”Raf Casert, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Provincial finance ministers have quietly prodded Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to pause planned increases in premiums workers and businesses pay into the Canada Pension Plan.The planned increase on Jan. 1 is part of a multi-year plan approved by provinces and the federal government four years ago to boost retirement benefits through the public plan by increasing contributions over time.The first premium bump was in 2019, another was earlier this year and the next is due at the beginning of 2021.A number of provincial finance ministers on a recent call with Freeland asked her to put a pause on next year's automatic increase because of the COVID-19 pandemic.They argued it isn't a wise economic decision to take more off workers' paycheques and to charge businesses more when many are still struggling.The details are in a letter Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer sent Freeland two days ago, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.Harpauer's office confirmed the authenticity of the letter, and that her provincial counterparts raised the issue during a Nov. 20 teleconference with Freeland.Any changes to contribution rates or the earnings ceiling at which point contributions top-out would need the approval of Parliament and seven provinces representing at least two-thirds of the national population — a higher bar than what's required to amend the Constitution.Freeland is to deliver an economic update on Monday that should provide a full accounting of all federal spending on the COVID-19 pandemic to date.The document will also detail the depth of the deficit this year, last estimated in July at $343.2 billion, and is expected to outline some new spending.In her letter, Harpauer asked Freeland to use the document to announce a delay in any CPP contribution increases until at least 2022, when the country hopes to see "a recovery from our current economic difficulties.""Our governments have provided a number of direct and indirect supports to businesses and workers to help sustain them through the current COVID-based economic downturn," Harpauer wrote."I believe that increasing CPP contribution rates at this time would be counterproductive to our many efforts over the past eight months."A spokeswoman for Freeland said freezing the increases negotiated in 2016 would mean reducing future benefits for Canada's current workers.“The federal government’s top priority is supporting Canadians and businesses, very much including in Saskatchewan, as the country weathers the COVID-19 pandemic," Katherine Cuplinskas said. "With a second wave underway, many people in Saskatchewan and across Canada continue to face immense uncertainty."Groups representing businesses big and large, and the workers they employ, say they are looking for some reshaping of federal aid programs.Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the government needs to put sectors that rely on a physical presence for their operations at the centre of any economic plan, through targeted emergency supports.The National Airlines Council of Canada made a plea for aid on Thursday, noting newly released figures from Statistics Canada showing passenger counts continue to be down by more than 80 per cent.Robert Asselin, senior vice-present for policy at the Business Council of Canada, said targeted aid for airlines has been slow to land compared to in other countries. The council, which represents large employers in the country, will be looking for clarity on targeted aid in Monday's update, he said.Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, said many workers using emergency benefits are worried about maxing out early in 2021. He said the government may want to use Monday's update to signal an extension, beyond 26 weeks, of how long someone can claim the new benefits."There is going to be a need for them to look at extending the benefit period because I think Canadians are going to need it for a little longer until we can start getting a (COVID-19) vaccine," Yussuff said.Small businesses are also looking for any extra help the government can provide beyond a reprieve from CPP premium increases.Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said about one-third of small businesses are losing money even though they're open."The government does need to keep its focus very squarely on getting us through COVID and ensuring that there are sufficient economic supports in place," he said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
The Northern Village of Air Ronge has elected its second leader in history since the municipality was founded. Having won the election by just five votes, mayor-elect Julie Baschuk is the first to succeed in dethroning Gordon Stomp, who was instrumental in incorporating the municipality in 1977 and was the only mayor the village had ever known. She said that brings a special kind of pressure. “I don’t take that win lightly. I absolutely recognize it’s big. I’m not the first person that’s gone against Gord,” Baschuk told the Prince Albert Daily Herald in an interview. “With the vote being as close as it was, it absolutely does bring a little bit of pressure, because it shows that people really paid attention to both of our campaigns and how we see the community going forward. But I also feel comfortable. I like that people are going to hold me accountable and hold me to task on what I delivered throughout that campaign.” Baschuk has served on the Air Ronge village council for the past two terms. Her campaign focused on engaging directly with residents on community projects and she promised to work on a long-term strategic plan to stimulate growth, upgrade infrastructure and increase community safety. “I think a big one is always maintaining that affordability. Crime definitely was, I would say, the most consistent message that I had heard on the doorsteps, and I visited hundreds of doorsteps throughout that campaign. The community wants to be consulted and engaged in where we’re moving,” Baschuk said. “I think the need for healthy change was something that resonated amongst many people.” Baschuk’s new village council has gender parity, which is a change from the previous term. Tabitha Burr, Terry DesRoches, Corey Hardcastle, and Kristy McDougall were elected as councillors with McDougall replacing Baschuk in her role as deputy mayor. “Last election, I was the only woman amongst the town (of La Ronge) and the village that was elected. I think people this time realized that there wasn’t that inclusion, and there wasn’t that diversity, and saw the value of having women at that table that we are as a society, we’re moving forward,” Baschuk said. “I absolutely think it’s a big thing that I’m a mom, I’m a community member and now I am the mayor. I think it’s encouraging to younger generations of little girls and of teenagers that we are breaking down those barriers. It’s for the better of our society. I don’t like it to primarily be just because I am a woman but I do recognize that we are underrepresented within government and in society as a whole. I think it is very important.” Stomp acknowledged Baschuk’s win and said that while the results surprised him, he didn’t put as much energy into campaigning as he should have. “We’ve always had a good turnout for our voting process here. I’ve been challenged many times and I’ve survived up until now. There have been a lot of promises made and there will be a lot of challenges that’s for sure,” Stomp told the Daily Herald. “I don’t understand some of the things she’s saying. I guess the younger generation have ideas that they’re going to change things in a different direction. But I think we’ve been doing that. So let’s hope that things work out the very best.” Stomp, now 73 years of age, moved to northern Saskatchewan as a young man and started his own business in commercial fishing. “Our community began with a co-op Housing Authority, which built about 12 homes over here because people didn’t have a lot of money, and so that’s how they got housing at that time,” Stomp said. “It was sort of a hands-off approach. The community and the people weren’t that involved in the development and the running of the community. “We started out as just a northern authority and then we moved into more of an organized municipal governance structure. My vision of Air Ronge has always been to develop the community and to work with the people here to have a community that people are proud to live in and raise a family.” Stomp said money has been a consistent issue when it comes to getting projects off the ground and improving quality of life for residents of Air Ronge. He also sees difficulties that residents face in the context of inequalities between the north and the rest of province. “We never have enough revenue to have the things that we really need and to get parity with some of the necessities of the North. We take the backseat in northern Saskatchewan when it comes to those kinds of services. Things like health issues; like drugs and alcohol, addictions and treatment facilities. We just have a continuous battle to try and get some kind of parity here. And systems that work for the people of the North,” Stomp said. “I don’t know how many years and how many ministers we’ve talked to, and I have personally talked to… Sending people away even to Prince Albert and further south for treatment. It just doesn’t work for the people of northern Saskatchewan. It’s a huge burden. Let’s hope it will improve.” Stomp is very concerned about the spread of coronavirus in the region. He said he has wanted to implement mandatory masking in Air Ronge since “three months ago at least” but wasn’t taken seriously by his council at the time. “I went to my council and we were having meetings with the health authorities. And I talked about mandatory masks… I’m glad that the province finally woke up enough to make it mandatory across the province. I think there needs to be some more work done yet,” Stomp said. The village is part of a tri-community that shares municipal services and infrastructure like waterworks and waste disposal with the town of La Ronge and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. Relationships between the three communities are at times complex and the idea of amalgamating with the Town of La Ronge has been a thorn in Stomp’s side. “A very important thing for me all the time in all my years of service here in the community was that we retain our own identity. If you talk about amalgamation, if you talk about becoming a city, there’s so many ramifications. And I think people should keep that in mind,” Stomp said. “We do have a very good record of administration and I think our village is sort of looked up to as a good community in northern Saskatchewan, and I hope that will remain.” Stomp said now that he’s no longer mayor he will be spending more time outdoors with his great-grandchildren and focusing on his fishing business. “It’s a full-time job and the demand out there right now for fish, it’s just unbelievable,” Stomp said. One of Baschuk’s first actions as mayor was to get onboard with the Town of La Ronge and Lac La Ronge Indian Band to request the province mandate wearing a mask in public spaces. She called the move, “just another way of us trying to be supportive of our residents.” “I think there’s a very big difference between what regional cooperation and amalgamation look like. And while I’m committed to strengthening those regional relations with our tri-community leadership, I am willing to still work respectively with them. But I am looking at maintaining the identity of Air Ronge,” Baschuk said. “I respected my time with Gord. he has a heart for the community and I think that’s what kept him in that role for as long as we have seen. But with that, I think that people were ready to see some change, not in a bold way, but in a healthy direction.” Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
Prince George, B.C., resident Judy Howard recently shelled out $50 for a six-pack of soy sauce after a family Facebook bidding war, and she feels like she got a pretty sweet deal — or salty, to be more accurate.A single bottle of Canadian-made China Lily Soya Sauce usually runs about $3 and is a staple in many kitchens in northern B.C., primarily in Indigenous households where it is often used liberally in traditional dishes and everyday dinner prep.Currently, it is incredibly hard to come by, and that's causing a bit of a panic among regular purchasers.The sauce is crafted by Lee Foods in Toronto. False rumours the factory is closing could be behind why grocery stores in B.C.'s north have been cleaned out, Amazon has nothing to offer, and prices on eBay keep climbing.Prince Rupert, B.C., resident Carolina de Ryk, host of CBC's Daybreak North, caught the concerned chatter of locals on social media and contacted Lee Foods to find out why people were fearful their favourite brand was on the brink. A woman at Lee Foods who took de Ryk's call said there are no plans to shut down the family-run business.Her explanation for the shortage was simple: "China Lily Soya Sauce is the next toilet paper in the COVID-19 pandemic."While hearing the company is still open may be a relief for some, the current situation remains dire for die-hard fans. So much so that Tahltan President Chad Day released a tongue-in cheek-warning on Facebook that soy sauce bootlegging would not be tolerated. Annita Macphee, who is Tahltan and lives in Vancouver, said she remembers rice with China Lily being a component of many childhood meals. She told de Ryk its popularity in many Indigenous kitchens could be because so many Indigenous and Chinese people worked together at one time in coastal canneries."I've heard of people buying 16 bottles," she said, adding she currently has a line on some bottles that surfaced in Powell River, B.C., so she should be supplied for the time being.Howard, meanwhile, is likely being hailed as a hero by her immediate family for the six-pack she scored after her nephew, Sheldon Howard, Jr., a Prince George resident originally from the Gitxsan community of Gitsegukla in northwestern B.C., auctioned it off."I don't think it was extortion," said Howard, who uses the sauce to flavour much of her cooking, especially salmon and herring roe dishes.This year, said Howard, a bottle or two from Santa would be a coveted Christmas gift for many in Gitsegukla.To really dive down into the cultural significance of China Lily, De Ryk also spoke with Jeremy Pahl, also known as Saltwater Hank, a Tsimshian First Nation member and Prince Rupert resident.He was plum out at the start of the week but, while it was weighing heavy, he said he was staying strong."We are going to get through it, and future generations are going to look back and say my ancestors survived the great China Lily shortage of 2020," Pahl said with a chuckle.Pahl later got lucky when some employees at Coast Mountain College called up de Ryk to let her know they had a bottle and it was Pahl's if he wanted it. You can bet he did.But if you're not one of the lucky Howards, don't know about a stash out of town, and no kindly neighbour has tracked you down via the national broadcaster to offer you a spare bottle, don't despair — Lee Foods is still in full swing.In a statement, company president Christopher Wong said while there have been some supply, shipping and staffing hiccups due to the pandemic, customers can expect to see China Lily Soya Sauce back on the shelves within the coming weeks.To hear Judy Howard talk about her Facebook auction score on CBC's Daybreak North, tap the link below:
This translation is part of a new initiative to provide content to our Chinese readers. You can find the English version, written by reporter John Cudmore here. 萬錦市一所私立職業學院Royal Institute of Science and Management，現有9人面臨欺詐指控，其中包括來自約克區的5名居民。 安省警方從2017年開始對該學院及其工作人員展開調查。結果發現，在過去6年的時間裏，學院的所有者和僱員招來的學生蓄意申請省府推出的第二職業資助項目。 這個項目本意是為失業者提供新的技能培訓，幫助他們重返職場。符合資格的申請人可獲得2.8萬加幣助學金，用於支付學費、書本費及生活費等。 警方調查發現，Royal Institute of Science and Management的學生把從政府那裏獲得的助學金作為學費交給該學校。作為回報，學生們無需上課或接受培訓就可之間獲得文憑。 另外，該學院還向MOL和監督相關項目的監管機構提供了欺詐性文件。 目前已經有9人遭到起訴，包括8名學校雇員和1名前學生。 其中來自烈治文山的居民Wei (Raymond) Xu和Xue (Sherry) Hang，今年分別58歲及51歲；還有來自萬錦市的Ye (Parker) Liu, 今年54歲，他們面臨包括超過5000加幣的欺詐及持有和販賣偽造文書等在內的多項指控。 康山居民Jing (Mary) Bian，今年34歲，烈治文山居民Jue (Judy) Li，今年37歲，面臨超過5000加幣的欺詐和參與犯罪組織活動等指控。 同樣面臨多項指控的還有來自多倫多的Deguang (Derek) Chen，今年56歲；來自怡陶碧谷的Michael Ostroff，今年73歲；來自科堡的Ming-ya (Kathy) Kennedy，今年56歲；以及來自奧克維爾的Octavian Calin Lucaciu，今年54歲。 他們將於明年1月14日在紐馬克特出庭受審，任何有相關信息的人請聯繫省警1-888-310-1122或撥打滅罪熱線1-800-222-TIPS。Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun
HALIFAX — One of the biggest shopping days of the year is here, just as public health officials impose tighter restrictions in an effort to slow the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.The confluence of Black Friday and rising COVID-19 cases has added what experts are calling an “existential moral dimension” to a retail event that has gradually become part of the holiday shopping season in Canada and a crucial sales vehicle for businesses. Black Friday, famous for its pre-dawn lineups and hordes of bargain hunters, has increasingly eclipsed Boxing Day as the country’s biggest Christmas shopping event. Yet those wall-to-wall crowds are exactly what makes the shopping spree a potential health hazard in the time of a global pandemic."We're seeing Black Friday fall at a particularly inopportune time in the pattern of infections," says Tandy Thomas, an associate professor in the Smith School of Business at Queen's University.“There's a lot more moral complexity to Black Friday this year than we've ever seen before."Critics have long denounced the rampant consumerism of Black Friday, an event that traces its origins to post-Thanksgiving sales in the United States.However, retailers rely on holiday sales in general — and Black Friday in particular — to survive the slower winter months. “It's the No. 1 day for a lot of retailers in Canada,” says retail analyst Bruce Winder. “It’s literally make-it-or-break-it time for many.”This year, the Black Friday debate has devolved into "virtuous versus sinful," says Markus Giesler, associate professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business.“Black Friday has been reimagined through the lens of the pandemic along moralistic lines,” he says. “There's an existential moral dimension to Black Friday this year that has amplified the usual debate." Whereas previous concerns over Black Friday sales hinged on the ethics of an event in which consumers are pitted against one another in a scramble to get a discounted big-ticket item, sometimes resulting in chaos and violence, the issue now is whether in-store shopping will become a potential super-spreader retail event. Retailers have acknowledged the risk and encouraged customers to shop early this year. Big box stores, which often attract throngs of people on Black Friday, started promotions as early as October.They've also moved most promotions online to ward off large crowds in store. Walmart, for example, released two new gaming consoles — traditionally among the biggest draws on Black Friday — exclusively online, while Best Buy says its Black Friday deals are simultaneously online and in-store.Yet despite the online deals, analysts expect some people will still show up in-person on Friday in the hopes of snagging a doorbuster deal. And they'll likely be rewarded. Because it's such a critical time of year for retailers, Winder says there will still be some “aggressive deals” on Black Friday proper.“Retailers can’t afford to not have some zingers," says the author of the book Retail Before, During and After COVID-19. “You're still going to see some diehards going into stores."Even though most deals are just a click away, Giesler with York University says some consumers remain drawn to the immediate gratification of pulling a steeply discounted product off a shelf. It’s the thrill of a good find in-store, versus the more transactional and utilitarian nature of online shopping, he says.“There’s probably still going to be an awkward pandemonium in some stores with lineups and crowds,” Giesler adds. “Overall, it should be a little more subdued, but there will still be some deal-prone consumption. I expect we’ll still see some door crashing.”Most retailers fortunate enough to remain open are working hard to avoid becoming the site of an outbreak. Many have bulked up safety measures, like additional hand sanitizing stations and more workers to limit crowds. “They don't want to be the store that starts a super-spreader event,” Thomas says. “There’s a moral imperative to not wanting people to get sick in your stores. But there would also be a big PR cost."Meanwhile, in-store shoppers may also be motivated by concerns over inventory levels and shipping capacity. Indeed, managing online sales for home delivery, in-store and curbside pickup could be “a logistical nightmare,” Winder says.“I can guarantee you there's going to be capacity issues with the number of pickers and drivers needed to get those packages delivered on time.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press
November 26, 2020 - Jeremy Prete (pictured above) began Epic Youth Services because of a moment in his childhood when someone reached out to mentor him and changed the course of his life. Prete moved to Cardston shortly after his parents divorced when he was 12 years old, and he remembers vividly the moment he walked past some kids from the football team who told him he didn’t belong. He believed them -- he hated his life, hated the town, and had no friends. One day he was walking up the hill with a slurpee in hand when the coach of the football team drove up, a stranger to Prete, and asked him to try out for the team because he was the right size for football. Walking up to tryouts Jeremy recognized the same boys he had seen earlier that year and he almost turned around, but coach Floyd Baxter saw him coming and told him he was where he needed to be. Baxter and other coaches became mentors to Prete and changed the course of his life by finding him a place to belong. Football became Prete’s family and saved him in a time when he needed connection. Mentoring became a strong principle for Prete who has since coached football, basketball, and baseball and also been a mentor to kids he was teaching in his church’s seminary program. Working on the FCSS board and as president for Cardston Victims services Prete noticed that he couldn’t reach all the kids that needed mentoring through his sports and church circles, and he dreamed up the youth centre as a solution. On completion of his degree in clinical counselling he and his wife shut down their carpet cleaning business to fund the purchase of the building where Epic Youth Services was born. Epic Youth services is a social and recreational centre intended primarily for use by youth by Junior and Senior High school students. The groups website states “Epic supports opportunities for youth to develop their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive abilities and to experience achievement, leadership, enjoyment, friendship, and recognition.” The building is strategically located near the middle school and High School so the services can be easily accessed by youth in the area. Prete has created many strategic partnerships with other stakeholders in the area such as Family and Community Support Services, Bridges of Hope, and Alberta Mentoring. With these allies he has many resources at his fingertips including some funding, help with legalese, and the ability to operate under charitable status. Epic Youth services is indeed a not-for-profit service, meaning it is not run for personal gain. Prete is employed by Bridges of Hope as the director of services and makes a small salary in compensation for the long hours he puts in, but the job satisfaction is what keeps him coming back. Running his own company previously was more financially successful, but he says “it feels better at the end of the day even though my bank account is tiny. I don’t want to go home and feel like my day was a waste and I’ve squandered my existence. The connection with the kids is more impactful than a paycheque has ever been.” Prete also has been able to keep up a counselling business on the side called Foundations Family Counselling so that he can continue his important work at the youth centre and still provide for his family. Running the youth centre is a big undertaking that Prete has taken on. It looks like arranging programming, counselling and connecting with youth, and also significant hours pouring over grant applications and fundraising efforts. Two major community fundraisers are the Home Run Derby and community discount cards. Only two days into the week and Prete has already applied for two grants on behalf of the centre. Resident grant-writer and in house counsellor, Prete is certified in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, sexual trauma, suicide risk assessment, anxiety and depression disorders, and more. Prete describes what the programs at the centre were like pre-COVID, with food, art therapy, open stage, karaoke night, jam sessions, mini and big concerts, slam poetry, joke offs, movie nights, video game tournaments, table game tournaments, knitting club, board and card game tournaments, relationship success courses, introduction to finance, a resource centre for homework help, resume writing aids, assistance with university applications, hygiene skills programs, teen tech awareness nights, and parent support groups. The programs, counselling services, and mentoring led to group dynamics that Prete says “had an energy and a pulse -- it was alive and every station was being used in the intended way. There were no cultural lines, no race or religion divisions, no kids at the top of the hill saying you don’t belong here”. Running the youth centre during a pandemic has not been an easy task, and the youth centre has danced the pandemic pivot like all businesses and not-for-profit organizations. The children that had been accessing the centre are in more need of help now than ever, but only 15 at a time could sign up to participate in any given program prior to further restrictions this week. There are still about 500 kids registered at the centre, but recruitment is down because of school closures last year. Further restrictions put in place by the government this week will cause even more disruption of services to the youth needing connection in the Cardston community. Prete is continually adjusting as new government regulations emerge, but has been able to start new programs to keep EPIC alive and well in the community. Pandemic Epic is running a food hamper program along with FCSS through which they provide food to families in the area, the youth centre also arranged for a free back to school shopping day where youth could choose new to them clothes from a couple thousand pieces that had been donated, and they have created a 24-hour local help phone/text line so community members can access free counselling, food hampers, and hygiene products. Prete is constantly envisioning and creating an adaptable path through the pandemic to reach the youth who need this community program most. He is connecting with individual kids and groups on zoom and he has purchased over 200 stockings that he has stuffed with goodies he can drop off door to door while doing mental health check-ins with kids who haven’t been able to spend as much time at the centre recently. Covid has caused an uproar in many people’s lives, leaving them with the feeling that they are hanging on to the edge of a cliff with their fingernails. Jeremy Prete and Epic youth services, however, are still around trying to catch people before they fall, Empowering People and Inspiring Change -- keeping the heart of Epic alive no matter what 2020 throws at them.Elizabeth Thompson-Christensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
BUDAPEST, Hungary — The leaders of Hungary and Poland vowed Thursday to uphold their veto of the European Union’s next budget — and its massive pandemic relief fund — saying a mechanism that ties payment of funds to rule of law principles risks derailing the bloc. The EU has proposed a mechanism linking its 1.8 trillion-euro ($2.1 trillion) budget for 2021-2027 and coronavirus recovery package to the respect of the rule of law by its 27 members. This would allow funds to be denied to members that violated democratic norms, and could target Poland and Hungary. Both countries are at loggerheads with Brussels over their rule of law standards, and the EU has opened legal procedures against them. Poland and Hungary vetoed the mechanism last week, effectively stalling progress on the implementation of the whole budget and the urgently needed rescue package, planned for January. Tough negotiations are expected at an EU summit next month. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Poland's Mateusz Morawiecki, met in Budapest to discuss ways of persuading EU leaders, and especially Germany, which currently holds the bloc's presidency, to abandon the conditionality mechanism. “This is extremely dangerous for Europe’s cohesion, it is a bad solution that threatens a breakup of Europe in the future,” Morawiecki told a news conference. He argued that similar exclusive mechanisms could be used in the future against other countries, over other issues. “This is not the right way to go,” Morawiecki said stressing that conditionality of funds is not written into EU founding treaties. With the veto "We are defending the unity of the union,” Morawiecki said. Hungary's Orban said the EU debate over the rule of law must not be tied to ways of helping the entire bloc overcome the biggest economic downturn in its history. "Whoever links them is irresponsible, because the crisis needs fast economic decisions,” Orban said. He said he was acting in his nation's interest by opposing the financial mechanism, saying it violated Hungary’s national values and sovereignty. Orban said the debate was not about the rule of law but about the “rule of the majority.” The two leaders vowed to back each other in opposing any mechanisms that they found unacceptable. Budapest and Warsaw have previously backed each other in opposing some decisions taken by Brussels, including on migrant policy. In their joint statement, they rejected any mechanism that would financially sanction member states for violating democratic standards. If EU nations' leaders fail to break the stalemate before the end of the year, the bloc will continue to spend but function on limited resources, with a maximum of one twelfth of the budget for the previous financial year to be spent each month. Many projects for Poland and Hungary could be held up. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose country has been among the worst-hit in Europe by COVID-19, said he is convinced Hungary and Poland will “overcome” their opposition and the December EU summit will prove “decisive.” ____ Scislowska reported from Warsaw, Poland ________________________________________ Justin Spike And Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press
More than two-thirds of the world’s fields, ranches and orchards are owned by one per cent of its farmers, according to a report released Tuesday. Land inequality — the concentrated ownership of land — is skyrocketing globally, including in Canada and the U.S. It’s a trend driven by large-scale industrial farming and export-oriented agricultural policies with wide-ranging impacts on everything from food security to climate change. Those investments aren’t always obvious. Historically, land ownership analyses have excluded key pieces of information, such as the value of land and the degree of control a person or organization has over it, according to the report’s authors. For instance, many farms operate under contract to agri-food corporations, giving them control over production methods and market access without explicitly owning the farm. Investors are also purchasing farmland at increasingly high rates, pushing land prices beyond the value of the crops they can produce and exacerbating farmland consolidation. An analysis of these control mechanisms was included by the coalition of organizations behind the report — a novel technique, said Ward Anseeuw, co-author of the report and co-ordinator of the initiative. The additional data revealed that worldwide, land inequality is 41 per cent higher than previously reported through national agricultural censuses. “These findings radically alter our understanding of the extent and far-reaching consequences land inequality has, proving that not only is it a bigger problem than we thought, but it’s undermining the stability and development of sustainable societies,” he said in a statement. Concentrated land ownership is associated with a suite of problems, including deforestation, political and economic inequality and the degradation of rural food security, the report notes. And while land inequality is an old problem — it was a key part of many colonial governments’ policies — the authors note that since the 1980s, the problem has gotten worse. That’s when national and international trade policies were implemented that made it easier for financial institutions and global agri-businesses to purchase vast tracts of farmland for conversion into industrialized crop production. This land was generally purchased from small- to mid-sized family farms growing a diversity of crops for local or regional consumption. Replacing them were larger industrialized farms owned by vertically integrated companies invested from seed to sale in international commodity markets. It’s a trend that accelerated after the 2008 financial crash, said Devlin Kuyek, senior researcher at GRAIN, an international non-profit supporting small farmers and social movements. Those investors, including several Canadian pension funds, started purchasing farmland worldwide. And with deeper pockets than most farmers, they didn’t struggle to find the land, despite policies in certain jurisdictions — including some Canadian provinces — that limit foreign farmland ownership. It’s a practice that drives land consolidation, he explained. Meanwhile, smaller-scale farmers producing food for regional and local consumption often struggle to make ends meet because of high farmland prices and competition from global commodity markets. It’s a pattern that is seen worldwide — including in B.C., explained Mullinix. The province has a proliferation of small, diversified farms serving local markets, many of which struggle to afford farmland (farmland prices in the province are also driven by real estate speculation, not only agri-businesses and investments from financial institutions). There are also several large ranches and orchards producing food for Canada-wide and international markets — and not much in between. Still, Kuyek said that Canadians have more leverage than they might think. Canadian pension funds are some of the world’s largest farmland investors and sustained pressure from the people whose money they are managing can help change their practices. “We have an interest in understanding what’s going on with our money. If the money is being used to expand industrial agriculture, kick communities off their lands, destroying the future of the planet, it’s not really a good investment that way,” he said. “But this is a new area for the pension funds, so putting pressure on them now, making them aware of the risks … it can sort of push them to hold back from stepping into that area of investment.” Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Scarborough Southwest NDP MPP Doly Begum is demanding more provincial support for Scarborough’s battle with COVID-19 after it was revealed the community had a 14 per cent positivity rate. A report in the Toronto Star on Nov. 17 revealed that Scarborough Health Network has the highest number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the GTA. It included outbreaks in schools and long-term care homes. In response, Begum has demanded the province immediately commit to more testing, more contact tracing, paid sick days, and personal protective equipment. “Kids are getting sick in crowded classrooms. Seniors are dying in long-term care homes again. What else does Premier Ford need to see before he sends help to Scarborough?” Begum said. As Scarborough, along with Toronto and Peel is in lockdown, Begum said help is needed more than ever. With businesses closing down, long lines at food banks, evictions, and more, she added that the province needs to spend its $9 billion of allocated funds for COVID-19 on communities like Scarborough. Almost a week later on Nov. 25, the Auditor General of Ontario Bonnie Lysyk released a report that indicated “the province’s response was lacking” and was responsible for a relatively slower pandemic response. The report pointed to “outdated provincial emergency plans, insufficient staff, and significant changeover in leadership at Ontario’s Provincial Management Office, as well as systemic issues such as the lack of lab surge capacity and outdated IT systems” as causes for a slow and flawed response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also revealed the Ford government paid $1.6 million to develop a command structure for its pandemic response that did little to help, and that testing, managing cases, and contact tracing weren’t being done quickly enough to limit the spread. “It’s mind-boggling how they’ve mismanaged this whole situation and now we know why,” Begum said of the provincial government. As of Nov. 26, Scarborough continues to have among the highest rates of positive cases in the City of Toronto. In the last 21 days, Begum’s riding alone has had almost 500 cases.Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
Ce jeudi soir à 20 heures aura lieu un spectacle qui sort de l’ordinaire à la salle rouge de la Coop Paradis, sur la rue Michaud à Rimouski : le public pourra assister à la phase de recherche d’un projet théâtral à saveur documentaire mené par une compagnie artistique de Montréal, le Théâtre PÀP. L’événement se nomme Radio-ressources et aura lieu dans six régions du Québec. Dans chacune d’entre elles, un thème spécifique relié à l’histoire économique locale est abordé. « Au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean on est sur la ressource de l’eau, sur la Côte-Nord c’est les pâtes et papiers, détaille le directeur artistique du Théâtre PÀP Patrice Dubois. Au Bas-Saint-Laurent, on aurait pu choisir l’éolien ou la forêt, mais il nous est apparu clair qu’il fallait parler de souveraineté alimentaire. Parce que dans la souveraineté alimentaire il y a la rencontre entre la mer et les terres, entre le bas-pays et le haut-pays. » Dans la salle, on trouvera une table ronde réunissant la restauratrice Colombe St-Pierre, le producteur maraîcher Donald Dubé (ferme du Vert Mouton), l’ancien leader des Opérations Dignité Pierre Dufort et l’autrice Stéphanie Pelletier. Cette dernière est une « personne clé » de cette démarche artistique, d’après Patrice Dubois : « Elle observe le monde en s’intéressant aux moindres gestes du quotidien. On est entrés dans le Bas-Saint-Laurent à partir de ses écrits. C’est pourquoi on s’intéresse aux petits gestes à l’échelle du village qui vont éventuellement changer les choses à plus grande échelle. » Étant donné le contexte, les membres de la troupe permanente du Théâtre PÀP (nommée L’Ensemble) ne pourront pas être sur place mais auront recours à la technologie de la Station Scenic, développée par la Société des arts technologiques. Celle-ci permet de pousser beaucoup plus loin l’expérience de vidéoconférence que ne le fait l’application Zoom : « On va placer des écrans de chaque côté du Paradis, le public va être entre nous et les intervenants, explique Patrice Dubois. On va être à la même échelle, assis sur des chaises, comme si on était dans la salle. » Une correspondance en fil rouge Au cours de la soirée, une correspondance entre Stéphanie Pelletier et Stephie Mazunya, membre de L’Ensemble, sera d’ailleurs dévoilée. « Stephie vient du Burundi, elle est arrivée à Montréal pour faire son école de théâtre et ne connait du bas du fleuve que ce qu’elle en a lu, témoigne M. Dubois. Cette rencontre entre une personne déracinée de son lieu d’origine et une personne qui s’enracine dans le sien est en quelque sorte la colonne vertébrale de notre événement de jeudi. » Pour la troupe, l’objectif de la soirée est avant tout de collecter du matériel pour écrire une pièce de théâtre qui pourrait voir le jour dans deux ans. Plus précisément, il s’agit de voir où est rendu le processus de souveraineté alimentaire du Bas-Saint-Laurent, de dresser le portrait des actions déjà entreprises et des obstacles qui se profilent. L’entrée est gratuite, mais la distanciation sociale limite à 25 le nombre de spectateurs. Une discussion avec le public clôturera la soirée, au cours de laquelle les personnes présentes pourront donner leur opinion sur le thème de la souveraineté alimentaire. Il est possible de réserver sa place sur le site web du Théâtre du Bic, qui a collaboré à la réalisation de cet épisode de Radio-ressources. On pourra également suivre l’événement en ligne en ayant préalablement effectué une réservation sur le site web du Théâtre PÀP.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
Adam Skelly, the owner of Adamson Barbecue, has now been arrested by police, taken away in handcuffs after continuing to violate COVID-19 rules.
November 5, 2020 - Westwind alternate school principal, Mike Devuyst, has seen a significant increase in Cardston and area student registration this fall. Student registrants cover a wide geographical area across the division and include students in the Parent directed Home Education Program, the Personalized education programs on campuses, and the outreach students. The risk of increased COVID-19 exposure to vulnerable family members has encouraged many to consider one of these as at least a temporary option. Enough new students registered in the different home based options during August that the division increased teaching staff by one and a half. But by the end of September, administration soon realized this would not be enough for the extreme increase in numbers and have since approved a total of 4.5 new positions. Devuyst, says “these temporary positions are for the first semester only as we are aware some families may choose to go back to public school as the year plays out, however all teachers are currently teaching at capacity or above”. So far, families do not seem to be changing their minds about the move to home learning- Westwind has seen a 127% increase in new student registration this year. A typical year may see 10 new student registrations at the alternate school, but this year 275 new students have registered in the various alternate learning environments. New student intake began to seriously increase in the first couple weeks of August and Principal Devuyst found himself busy every workday at the office in a month he would usually have been at home. The registrations kept coming in September and there have even been new students registered as recently as this week. Westwind runs various home based learning campuses and satellite schools across the area to meet the needs of families interested in alternatives to public school. Westwind boasts two main campuses, one building in Cardston and another in Raymond, as well as smaller classrooms in Magrath and Stirling for high school students interested in unique schooling options. Westwind Alternate offers two options for families looking for a substitute from traditional public school- one is Home education, where there is more parent led learning and less teacher contact, and the other being Personalized Education Programs, where there is regular contact with teachers with parents contributing to learning also. The Personalized Education Programs at the school building follow the directions of the education minister, the school division, and chief medical officer of health in the province and have changed their health protocols along with mainstream public schools. Students need to have masks when they come, and may need to wear them, depending on student numbers and types of activity. There are also hand sanitizer stations and signs reminding everyone to wash up. Physical distancing is attempted as much as possible, the best that can be done in the classroom setting. Devusyt believes that, masks or not, “kids are happy to enjoy some of the normalcy in ‘going back to school’ after the huge changes in March”. In March, homeschoolers who usually got together with other families daily for a combined science class or other focus group had to stay home just like the kids in public school. Homeschool parent Lindy Mckay’s kids had been attending community classes for robotics, hip hop, dance, gymnastics and more that were all closed down when the pandemic hit Alberta. She says “We weren’t ever able to get together with each other or go to community classes, and the library was shut down which made it difficult to find information for projects”. Families are happy to see these groups reopen this fall and have been able to keep attending many field trips as they don’t have to rely on division bus transportation. Devuyst says “our days are looking pretty normal, besides kids with masks.” Mckay noticed an increased interest in homeschooling on social media and in her close friend groups. She says “its interesting because even women who work full time are considering homeschooling now”. She recognizes that homeschooling is not just luxurious for stay at home moms, but many parents are afraid of the unknown and want an education that is stable and unchangeable when the pandemic is changing everything. Mckay has advised over a hundred people internationally who are interested in making the change this year, and locally 4 or 5 of her friends have also asked for advice on switching over. When asked for home education advice Mckay tells families interested in changing over that homeschool does not have to look like public school at home. Many homeschoolers in the area use natural opportunities to learn in a more simplified and flexible way. She says “Honestly I’ve felt like my kids were always getting an excellent social life even though they don’t go to a brick and mortar school. With homeschool in Cardston, entire families are friends regardless of gender or age and parents are able to take direct action when teaching their kids how to resolve conflict”. COVID 19 has given families and individuals a lot to think about as each group recreates what normal and best looks like for themselves. Education change is one of the many ways the novel pandemic is changing lives. Whether your family have chosen to send kids to public school, private school, traditional homeschool, or a home based learning program, it is clear that many people are making sacrifices in order to make the best choice for their kids during uncertain times. Elizabeth Thompson-Christensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
On Thursday afternoon (Nov. 26), the Province of Ontario announced that drivers from lockdown regions will be unable to seek road tests in other regions. This comes as part of the move to cancel all in-vehicle road tests in regions that enter the grey zones, a decision which came into effect on Nov. 23. The announcement specifically identifies Toronto and Peel Region residents, explaining that any cancelled tests will be without penalty. DriveTest service advisors in other areas have been given direction to restrict residents from those regions at lower COVID-19 levels from booking tests, effective Nov. 30. "We know that these measures will result in some people experiencing longer wait times for road tests," said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. "However, these are unprecedented times, and our number one priority is the health and safety of individuals, families and workers." Although drivers from Peel and other GTA regions have been using the Orangeville services for years, their position as COVID-19 hotspots raises concerns beyond crowding and delay issues. Fears of grey-zone drivers utilizing services have been a recent hot topic locally, after a driving examiner raised health and safety concerns about the number of drivers from red and grey lockdown zones accessing services at the Orangeville location. “In these COVID-19 lockdown areas, DriveTest centres are actually closed because conducting the drive tests is considered not to be safe under these public health guidelines,” Coun. Lisa Post said during a meeting of council on Nov. 23. “It seems a little strange that we're allowing drive tests in our safe area when it is being deemed it is not safe to happen in other areas and they are closing down those facilities.” Council unanimously supported Post’s request to send a letter to provincial decision makers demanding “cross region access” to the Orangeville DriveTest location be restricted. Following Thursday’s announcement, Post said she was happy to hear that action was being taken by the government. “I’m grateful that the province took quick action to ensure that drive tests are being conducted in a safe manner with the safety and protection of our examiners in mind,” she said. DriveTest centres affected by total road test closures from the lockdown include those in the City of Toronto and Peel Region, including Brampton, Downsview, Etobicoke, Metro East, Mississauga and Port Union. Those drivers from grey lockdown zones who currently have road tests booked in different regions will need to cancel the appointment.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
A male wood duck is catching birders' eyes around Regina's Wascana centre — not just for his striking good looks, but for his amorous ways. His actions as one half of an aquatic pair of star-crossed lovers have earned him the nickname Romeo. "It's very unusual for wood ducks to stay in Saskatchewan for the winter. They migrate south," says local bird enthusiast and amateur photographer Hanna Walczykowski."But then we noticed he has a best friend — a mallard."The wood duck commonly rates among the most promiscuous of waterfowl, but Romeo has proven to be a more faithful sort. For the past four or five years, local birders have seen him stay faithfully by the female mallard's side. Walczykowski said he seems "protective" of the mallard — nicknamed Juliet — going so far as to chase away other ducks."It's quite amazing to observe that couple actually," she said. Listen to The Morning Edition's interview about the unusual relationship between a mallard and a wood duck:Walczykowski believes it to be the same pair meeting each year, based on her photos and observations, but neither has been banded, so it's not a given. Perhaps the bigger mystery, though, is whether the pair have had offspring.The wood duck is known to crossbred with as many as 20 other duck species, so it's not out of the question, but Walczykowski says so far, no one has spotted them with young.It's just one more reason to keep her eyes open and fixed on nature."It's kind of like a love story, to us," she says, noting Romeo seems to persist through what is an inhospitable winter for most of his kind."Maybe the reason he stays here, it was actually falling in love — with her."