The entire province of Manitoba is going back into lockdown mode. It's a last-minute bid to turn infection rates around before deaths spiral. But for some Manitobans, the only surprise is that it took this long.
The entire province of Manitoba is going back into lockdown mode. It's a last-minute bid to turn infection rates around before deaths spiral. But for some Manitobans, the only surprise is that it took this long.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
The big takeaways for agriculture in Ontario’s behemoth $187 billion 2020 budget are funding for rural broadband infrastructure and the Agri-Food Prevention and Control Innovation Program. The provincial government has made available an additional $680 million across four years to bring reliable internet connectivity to rural and underserved areas of the province. “We look forward to seeing that infrastructure actually put in the ground,” said Peggy Brekveld, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s newly elected president. Over three years, the budget allots $25.5 million to the Agri-Food Prevention and Control Innovation Program. The cost-sharing funds are available for projects to mitigate disruptions to farm business from COVID-19 through technology. Brekveld said she believes the funds “will help us continue to find ways to innovate and invest in new technologies” to push back against COVID-19's effects on the sector. The budget reads that innovation funding will lead to “increased efficiencies and productivity” while supporting “resilience and long-term sustainability and growth in the agri-food sector.” Bill George, chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, also highlighted the innovation funding as the budget’s main appeal for the agri-food sector. “There’s not a lot really other than that,” he said. Only a small element of the budget, there’s also $5 million set out for Ontario’s struggling agricultural and horticultural societies. For the societies, who put on many of the province’s fall fairs (there are three in Niagara put on by agricultural societies) the funding is significant. Speaking to Niagara This Week for a November story on the funding, Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies manager, Vince Brennan, said he’s never seen anything like it before and called it the “single largest influx of dollars for our organizations.” For the 2020-21 fiscal year, a record provincial deficit of $38.5 billion is projected in the budget. Reflected as a percentage, the net debt of the deficit makes up 47 per cent of all of Ontario’s economic production or gross domestic production (GDP). Ontario’s GDP is also projected to fall 6.5 per cent during 2020. Two deficit outlook scenarios are presented, one for slow growth and another for faster. Under a fast growth projection, the provincial deficit by the 2022-23 fiscal year would decline to $21.3 billion. Under slow growth, the projection for the same period would be a decline to $33.4 billion. Currently, the 2020 budget projects the deficit to decline to $28.2 billion for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Of the total $187 billion in spending in the 2020 budget, $12.5 billion is forecasted to be spent on paying interest on government debt. There is also $2.5 billion being kept in reserve to weather any unforeseen circumstances. There was no plan presented to balance the multi-year budget, as is required by law, and the province will be seeking a pause on the requirement given the "volatile and uncertain economic situation” of the pandemic. The province plans to table a path to balance in the 2021 budget.Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
CALGARY — An environmental law group has lost its bid to pause Alberta's inquiry into where critics of its oil and gas industry get their funding. Ecojustice sought an injunction in the summer to suspend the inquiry until there is a ruling on whether it is legal. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Karen Horner dismissed the application with costs on Friday. “The court’s decision, while disappointing, won’t stop Ecojustice from continuing to challenge the Kenney government’s inquiry into ‘anti-Alberta’ activities and expose it for the sham that it is," executive director Devon Page said in a statement Monday. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative government contend foreign interests have long been bankrolling campaigns against fossil fuel development. In 2019, forensic accountant Steve Allan was tapped to lead the $2.5-million inquiry. Allan's report was initially due in July, but after two extensions and a $1-million budget increase, it is now expected by Jan. 31. Energy Minister Sonya Savage must publish the final report within 90 days of receiving it. “The Government of Alberta is pleased to see the courts strike down a nuisance injunction application by Ecojustice designed to slow down the Public Inquiry into Foreign Funded Campaigns," Alberta Energy spokesman Kavi Bal said in a statement. Ecojustice filed a lawsuit last November alleging the inquiry is politically motivated, biased and outside provincial jurisdiction. "Its purpose really was to shut up opponents to Alberta oil and gas and it was something that was driven directly by the premier," Page said in an interview Monday. Ecojustice wanted Allan's work paused because if his findings were to be released before a court ruled on the lawsuit, environmental groups could suffer reputational harm in the meantime. Horner said in her decision that Ecojustice had to prove there is a serious issue to be tried, it would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction isn't granted and it would suffer greater harm than its opponent if the injunction is refused. The judge ruled Ecojustice satisfied the first test but failed the other two. "Mr. Page suggests that a risk of harm exists in the 'possibility' of being called to respond to the inquiry that may have no legal foundation. However, I am not convinced that a mere 'possibility' amounts to evidence of irreparable harm that is both clear and not speculative," Horner wrote. "The allegations of improper purpose, bias, and lack of jurisdiction are issues to be examined and resolved in the upcoming judicial review." The lawsuit was scheduled to be heard in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic put in on hold. Page said December or early-February hearing dates are now being discussed. Page, who has criticized the inquiry for its lack of transparency, said he's recently heard from groups who have received letters from Allan requesting clarification on publicly available tax information. "It just makes us more confused about what's going on." One Nov. 6 letter to a group, whose name had been removed because Page did not have their permission to publicize it, requested written or oral responses by Dec. 4. "Basically it looks like (Allan is) on a fishing expedition to get the information that he's had 18 months to accumulate," said Page. "So what's he been doing?" This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 30, 2020. Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
Despite a "significant outbreak" of COVID-19 at the Calgary Remand Centre, there are reports of inmates being triple-bunked, according to defence lawyers sounding the alarm on conditions at the northwest facility. During her afternoon update, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw identified 41 cases at CRC, up from just three last Tuesday.According to a report prepared last week, the CRC has capacity for 34 infected inmates.The CRC is now on total lockdown. Inmates who are mid-trial — including one murder trial — are not allowed to leave the CRC for court and even CCTV appearances have been cancelled. CRC is a secure holding facility for those awaiting trial or a bail hearing. Many, if not all, of the inmates there have not been convicted of the charges they are facing. "It's grossly negligent," said Tom Engel, an Edmonton defence lawyer and president of the Canadian Prison Law Association."It's disturbing to hear about a client triple-bunking and someone tests positive, and they just leave them in that situation. I don't know how they could think this is appropriate."Engel called it a "significant outbreak" taking place in several units. Hinshaw said AHS is working to ensure strict protocols are maintained with aggressive testing underway.Masks are just now being provided to inmates. Previously, only those leaving the facility would have access to a mask.Defence lawyer Chad Haggerty says he has a client who is triple-bunked with new protocols only allowing inmates allowed to leave their cells for 1.5 to 2 hours a day.Alberta Health Services has previously stated provincial facilities are complying with COVID-19 safety protocols but some inmates say that's not the case. "I keep hearing from prisoners that what the government and AHS are saying about compliance with COVID protocols in Alberta jails is just completely false."New transfers to the Calgary Remand Centre spend 14 days on a quarantine unit. If they develop symptoms, they're moved to an isolation unit.The director of the Calgary Remand Centre was scheduled to meet with the Health Ministry Monday afternoon.
Students in grades 7-12 have now moved to online classes until at least Jan. 11, and diploma exams will now be optional for the rest of the school year. Nailah Fuko, a Grade 10 student at Edmonton's W.P. Wagner School, said she found out she'd be back to learned online while scrolling through Instagram. "I came upon this post that was talking about the government saying that we were moving online," Fuko said in an interview on Edmonton AM. "And I was like, 'Oh, this is new.'" Rebecca Boroditsky, a Grade 10 student at Ross Sheppard, said she's not worried about the academic implications of going virtual. Hear the students talk about their next month online: "For the socializing portion, I'm kind of sad," she said. "I've made friends and I won't really get to talk to them anymore until January." Boroditsky said she had been enjoying the quarter system schools brought in instead of the usual two semesters. In quarters, the classes are longer and Boroditsky said she had been liking her ceramics class she's taking. "We have more time to really get into it and do lots of project things, whereas with the shorter classes ... there's less time because you have to designate time to clean up and get set up, and that eats into a good portion of the class if it's shorter," she said. Fuko said she prefers a semester setup. "I think they sped up a lot of the material and it wasn't as easy to learn," she said. One practical difference is that online learning will make it easier to physically distance. Boroditsky said that was much easier in classrooms than in hallways or at lunch. Fuko said her friends are being careful and do care about safety and what's going on with COVID-19. "I definitely think students particularly are very worried and trying to do their best with what the rules are and how to follow the rules," Fuko said.
A forensic psychiatrist testified in court Monday about whether Alek Minassian's autism could be a reason to find him not criminally responsible for the deaths of 10 people in the Toronto van attack, a potential finding the autism community is concerned could stigmatize their members.
OTTAWA — Key elements from the federal government's fiscal update, delivered by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Monday afternoon:A boatload of borrowing. The federal deficit is sailing toward $381.6 billion this year, but could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks, according to the fall economic statement. A big reason for that eye-popping sum is the total cost of Ottawa's response to COVID-19, which amounts to $490.7 billion. That also means more than $8 out of every $10 in federal and provincial support comes from the capital, down from $9 out of every $10 from the July fiscal snapshot.The "Netflix tax." For the first time, Netflix and other foreign streaming giants such as Amazon and Apple TV+ will be subject to sales tax in Canada, according to the fiscal update. The government says GST/HST will apply to all companies that provide digital services — which means Netflix and Airbnb would charge sales tax on subscriptions and reservations north of the border. While the European Union moved to tax digital platforms two years ago, Freeland said Canada is prepared to act "unilaterally if necessary."Work-from-home tax break. Employees working from home with "modest expenses" in 2020 can claim up to $400, based on time spent at the dining-room desk. Canadians can make the claim "without the need to track detailed expenses," and the tax man "will generally not request" confirmation from employers, the economic statement says.Increasing fiscal-stabilization payments. Responding to a call from provinces whose finances have taken a beating, the Liberals say they will increase the maximum payment under a program designed to help provincial governments deal with temporary economic shocks. The cap will go from $60 per resident, set in 1987, to $170 per person and increase with economic growth.Support the troops. The government is also proposing to sign off on an additional $600,000 to top up the Veterans Emergency Fund that would ensure more financial support for veterans whose well-being is at risk "due to an urgent and unexpected situation."All the wage. For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of company payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March. The Trudeau government had previously extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to the summer, while the adapted business-rent subsidy — revised from a less popular iteration that hinged on landlord participation — was slated only to continue through the end of the year.Clean water for Indigenous communities. The government is pledging to invest $1.5 billion in 2020-21 to work toward lifting all long-term drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities, and $114 million each year after. The Liberals have maintained a years-long pledge to lift all outstanding boil-water advisories for Indigenous residents by March 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that about 95 advisories had been lifted since the party came to power in 2015, but more than 60 remained the last time figures were updated before the pandemic.A $100-billion stimulus. The government plans to spend between $70 billion and $100 billion over the next three years to stimulate the economic recovery from COVID-19. The boon amounts to between three and four per cent of GDP, and will tilt toward a "greener, more innovative" bounce-back, though the details are to be determined.Get retrofit. Ottawa is aiming to dole out $2.6 billion over seven years to help homeowners make their digs more efficient, starting in 2020-21. The cash, channelled through Natural Resources Canada, would take the form of up to 700,000 grants of $5,000 or less to help with projects that could range from energy-efficient heating to solar-panel installations. The upcoming plan, with eligibility retroactive to December 2020, fulfils a Liberal election promise from last year.Cash for families. Looking to boost temporary support for parents, the Liberals plan to provide up to $1,200 per child under six years old for low- and middle-income families that are entitled to the Canada Child Benefit, starting next year. The bump marks an increase of nearly 20 per cent above the benefit's current maximum payment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Ottawa Redblacks receiver Brad Sinopoli fully understands the challenge Kendall Hinton faced Sunday with the Denver Broncos.The NFL club activated the rookie receiver from the practice roster to become the starting quarterback in Sunday's 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Hinton, who played quarterback at Wake Forest before switching to receiver in his senior season at the university, was pressed into action after all four of Denver's quarterbacks went on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week.The outcome was predictable. Hinton finished 1-of-9 passing for 13 yards with two interceptions. Sinopoli, a star quarterback at the University of Ottawa before turning pro, certainly could relate."Quarterbacks make the most money for a reason," the native of Peterborough, Ont., said Monday in a telephone interview. "It's a very, very hard job and even the best ones have tough days and tough streaks."To put a guy in who doesn't do that on a daily basis is tough and stressful. I'm sure leading up to the game . . . he probably didn't let on but he was probably really stressed."Before becoming one of the CFL's top receivers — Sinopoli was named the league's top Canadian in 2016 — he played under centre at the University of Ottawa (2007-10).The six-foot-four, 215-pound Sinopoli captured the 2010 Hec Crighton Trophy as Canada's top collegiate player after passing for 2,756 yards and 22 touchdowns in eight games. He was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders in 2011 and began his CFL career as a quarterback before converting to receiver in 2013."Here and there I've always jumped in during practice over the years, be it for fun or in that situation where it was a bit of an emergency," Sinopoli said. "I was sitting there kind of stressing about it, forgetting how fast it was back there, but really I just tried to do some mental reps."I'd take the plays and go through them in my mind and go through the exact thing. The coaches were like, 'What pass plays are you comfortable with?' and I picked plays I'd done that were similar in college and I think that's probably what they did with (Hinton) because trying to do a play you're not familiar with and all that's happening around you, you can rush a bit and overthink things and it just becomes a little too much."The quarterback runs the offence on the field. Plays begin on his command and most times his hands are the first on the ball once it's snapped.But what many don't see — or hear — is how the quarterback relays plays in the huddle. Each call specifically outlines the other players' responsibilities regarding pass protections, run assignments and/or pass routes.That puts the onus on the quarterback to clearly — and correctly — relay that information."I think the process of saying the plays is a bigger deal than listening to them," Sinopoli said. "When you're a receiver what the offensive line does in protection doesn't really sometimes apply to you so you hear it but you don't have to be as detailed."But as the quarterback, everything you say matters. I think it's a bit more stressful than people realize to regurgitate the plays. It's under pressure with the time clock and sometimes the play doesn't come in correctly and you have to know whatever the situation is."There's also the matter of the quarterback, upon reaching the line of scrimmage, being able to quickly scan a defence and determine if the play called can work or if an audible is required."You're inevitably going to face struggles as a quarterback and when it's not your job it's a hard hole to get out of because you have to do the opposite of instinct," Sinopoli said. "When things start to get away from you, the instinct is to tighten up and press a little bit more but you have to calm down."If you kind of screw up at receiver or (defensive back), you can take out (the mistake) in some form of physical fashion. If you're a receiver you can make a catch, put your head down and take a good hit and that's the same way on defence."As a quarterback you can't do that. I think the toughest thing is you don't have that outlet to get over those humps, You have to work it out mentally, which, if you're not used to that is tough."And so too is getting into the rhythm required to play quarterback, something Sinopoli said takes time to achieve but can be lost rapidly."When you're not in the offence, that kind of familiar feeling goes away pretty quickly," he said. "I'm sure they probably tried to make some calls easier and not have as much in but I know a big part of it is just having that confidence."The truth is I probably wouldn't feel 100 per cent comfortable like I knew I was because it's all about reps and when you haven't repped certain things over and over, it's almost like everything is kind of new because you're in that new position of running that specific offence. The talk is usually by the end of the second year, (as a starter) now you're getting comfortable with the offence. It does take a long time to kind of get comfortable and used to it all."Sinopoli said if he was pressed into service at quarterback on an emergency basis, he's confident he could make the necessary mental adjustments. However, he wonders if he could make all the necessary throws after undergoing right shoulder surgery three seasons ago."That would be my main worry," Sinopoli said. "It's interesting, when you throw if you haven't been throwing your whole life, you just don't have that flexibility even though you're flexible."A thrower's flexibility is very, very different . . . it's like throwing with your left arm if you're not left-handed. The flexibility in your shoulder isn't used to the stress that's being put on it."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press
No matter what's been thrown their way, organizers of this year's Jasper Santas Anonymous program are doing their best to see that families have food and gifts to enjoy this Christmas season. This year, more families than ever will be accessing Santas Anonymous due to the COVID-19 pandemic contributing to more unemployment, isolation and financial stress. Pattie Pavlov, general manager of Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce, said this year, as many as 100 families are participating. In years past, it has hovered around the 70, 80 point. She and Ashley Chorley, operations manager with Chamber, are working with "the new and different nuances" that have been presented by the COVID pandemic. With COVID as one of the primary concerns, they wondered how they would get items to families safely, Pavlov said. "It's very important that we adhere to COVID (protocol), in collecting and distributing the items donated," she said. "We did consult with the Edmonton Santas Anonymous group. We were on the right track. We just wanted to confirm we were doing this properly. It was a learning experience." Chorley some items, including fabric, plush items, plastics and toys have to be put in isolation to discourage COVID transmission. For example, she said, plastic items have to sit for about 72 hours and plush items for a week, which complicates packaging them. Fortunately, with a list of families in the program already started, she and Pavlov can organize items by group. Some of the usually-held get-togethers have been cancelled, including Skate with Santa at Mildred Lake, and a photo opportunity with Santa at Bearhill Lodge. Pavlov said, “With the (allowable) gathering of 10, how are you going to restart the number of families? Pieces of the puzzle just don't come together." But other plans are coming together: the Mitten Line fundraiser at TGP, for example. At the grocery store, mittens are available at the cash registers with values of $10, $20, $50 and $100 with proceeds going to Santas Anonymous. "Some people have already purchased mittens and we're excited about that,” Pavlov said. Shoppers at TGP can also designate a portion of the money paid for groceries to the campaign at the time of purchase. Then there's The Snowball Fight. "We cut out a quantity of snowballs and we are giving them to banks specifically, and encouraging them to compete against others - a friendly competition," Pavlov said. "We're asking them to be creative with their displays." Folks can purchase a snowball for whatever amount they choose, with proceeds going to Santas Anonymous. The pastry team at Jasper Park Lodge has also added to the festive mix of fundraisers. Pavlov said they created an “absolutely unbelievable” gingerbread cottage to be raffled off. The detail in the house is something to behold - there are books on bookshelves, the inside of the log cabin lights up, and there's a pond outside with cattails along the shore. “It's big and so beautiful," Pavlov said. The masterpiece is on display at the Santas Anonymous Facebook page and tickets can be purchased at $5 apiece from Jasper Community Team Society board members. "As has been the tradition since Santa's Anonymous started," Pavlov noted, "there have been collection boxes placed throughout town. Anything you want to support Santas Anonymous with can be done through donations - toys, toques, mitts." Sites include Pharmasave, IDA Rx Drug Mart, Jasper General Store, Ransom, the Jasper Library and Nesters Market. Pavlov said the Chamber will also accept donations at Robson House. "Give us a call and we'll grab it (where it has been safely left),” she said. “I'd also encourage people to bring gift cards.” Another way to donate in a contactless way is via e-transfer to email@example.com. The winning ticket for the gingerbread house will be drawn on Dec. 17. Proceeds from the Snowball Fight and Mitten Line fundraisers will be announced on Dec. 22.Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
CINCINNATI — Ohio’s Democratic Party chair is stepping down after six years during which Republicans, including Donald Trump, dominated statewide elections, he said Monday. David Pepper, a former Hamilton County commissioner and Cincinnati council member, sent a letter to party officials saying he will resign at year’s end. He suggested those interested in succeeding him could speak at the Dec. 15 executive committee meeting, with a special meeting later in December to choose. Once considered a bellwether and swing state, Ohio has swung to the GOP, which won the last three elections for governor and nearly all other statewide offices. Trump carried it twice, by some 8 percentage points each time. Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown won reelection in 2018, but Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman handily won 2016 reelection and Republicans swept state Cabinet races in 2018. Pepper pointed with pride to the way Democrats showed enough support in the state for former Vice-President Joe Biden to make Trump divert time and resources from other battleground states. “Our effort here in Ohio, where we battled Trump to the final days, forcing him to return again and again, contributed to the historic national victory that ensured Trump would be a one-term president,” Pepper wrote. He also pointed to gains on the state Supreme Court, including the election of Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, in November, and the “Main Street” program that for five years has provided training, guidance and support to candidates for local offices across the state. Pepper also expressed hope that Democrats will be able to undo GOP gerrymandering of congressional and legislative districts. Aftab Pureval, a Democrat twice elected to be Hamilton County clerk of courts sandwiched around an unsuccessful congressional bid, said he and other Ohio Democrats are grateful for his leadership. “I’ve had no stronger ally and champion than David Pepper,” Pureval posted on Twitter. ___ Follow Dan Sewell at https://www.twitter.com/dansewell. Dan Sewell, The Associated Press
A wildlife rescue centre near Calgary has seen an enormous uptick in animal patients since the start of the pandemic.The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation, which is just north of Airdrie, says it's taken in 2,042 animals this year — a 37 per cent increase compared with 2019. Holly Lillie, executive director of the institution, says it's hard to say why there was a rise in numbers but notes demand increases every year."What we think is happening is that with people more at home, they're finding wildlife that would otherwise not have been found, or potentially, you know, there is more human wildlife encounters," she told the Calgary Eyeopener.She says staff have also noticed the wider range of animals that have come to the hospital, and that this year alone, they've taken in 160 different species, including twin moose calves."We're seeing a greater variety of animals of different species, especially some of the migratory songbirds," she said."Over the weekend, we admitted a juvenile bald eagle … this bird was found by a kayaker on the banks of the Bow River. So that was a bit unusual that, you know, the bird was down in that area," she said.The director says that to take care of the bald eagle — who had to be tested for lead — it costed $300 for just the weekend alone."It can range anywhere from $100 to well over $1,000 for an individual animal," she said."There is lots of costs, you know, some diagnostics to medical care to food. We spent over $16,000 this year on just meal worms."Since the institute is considered an essential service, Lillie says COVID-19 hasn't had large impacts. However, she says the volunteers had to be put on hiatus for a couple of months, but the institute has now found a way for people to help from home."For example, a wildlife hotline, which is answering calls," she said."But even with that break of some of our positions, our volunteers have still donated over 6,000 hours this year. So it's fantastic all that they do, from fundraising, to taking photographs and so forth. We really have a fantastic support."With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
A Nova Scotia court has weighed in on another lobster dispute. This one isn't over catching lobster, but shipping them. The dispute pits two transportation companies against one another over a cargo of crustaceans that arrived, in the words of the adjudicator Raffi A. Balmanoukian "bereft of life.""These Homarus americanus who had prematurely joined the choir invisible had to be destroyed or sold 'as is' for salvage value," he said.The choice of words in his decision are familiar to anyone who has watched Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch.Longstanding relationshipThe dispute is between Flying Fresh Air Freight and Connors Transfer. The two companies have a longstanding business relationship shipping lobster and other products.At this time last year, FFAF contracted Connors to truck about 4,700 kilograms of lobster to Quebec and Ontario for eventual shipment to France, Belgium and South Korea.According to evidence at this small claims court hearing, live lobster should be shipped at temperatures between 2-4 C. But that didn't happen in this case."On arrival, all shipments save one had varying degrees of damage due to low shipping temperatures, in some cases well below that which was appropriate," Balmanoukian wrote in his decision. "It was in evidence before me that many lobsters were dead and indeed some are encrusted in ice. Select sub-freezing crate temperature readings were in evidence before me."Limitation of liabilityThe question for the adjudicator was how much Connors owed FFAF.Connors had FFAF sign a limitation of liability agreement years ago, capping the value of lost lobster at just $2 per pound.Balmanoukian found that the agreement applied in this case, so while the losses totalled $21,703.86, Connors is only on the hook for $11,175.80.In his decision, the adjudicator noted that the only trucking story with more Atlantic Canadian flavour is the "Great Moosehead Beer Heist of 2004," in which more than 50,000 cans of beer destined for the Mexican market disappeared from a truck in New Brunswick. A New Brunswick truck driver was subsequently convicted in that case.MORE TOP STORIES
VANCOUVER — A legal battle over a missing diamond-encrusted eagle statue valued at nearly $1 million will continue, more than four years after the artwork was stolen during a robbery in Delta, B.C. In a unanimous ruling issued Monday, the B.C. Court of Appeal has sided with Lloyd's Underwriters and agreed that a default judgment against the insurer should be set aside. Ron Shore, president of a company called Forgotten Treasures International, won the judgment in 2018 requiring Lloyd's to pay a claim for the loss of the sparkling statue. Court documents show Lloyd's denied Shore's claim, arguing he violated conditions of the insurance policy, including that the statue be constantly safeguarded by two people. The eight-kilogram gold creation studded with 763 diamonds and appraised at $930,000 was going to be the final prize in an international cancer fundraiser. Justice Peter Voith agreed with a B.C. Supreme Court decision that set aside the default judgment, saying the insurer appears to have solid evidence to oppose the claim. On its website, the Supreme Court says default judgments can be filed against defendants if they fail to respond to the notice of a civil lawsuit, do not comply with the rules or a response to a civil claim is withdrawn. With the default judgment set aside, the matter may return to Shore's civil claim filed in May 2018, alleging breach of contract and failure to investigate the insurance claim in a timely manner, among other things. The statue remains missing after Shore reported it was taken in May 2016 by what the court describes as "unknown assailants'' as he placed a knapsack carrying the statue in the trunk of his car. Shore made an emotional plea for the return of the statue at a news conference shortly after it was taken, saying two men ambushed him, hit him over the head with a large flashlight and stole the eagle, plus a less-valuable decoy. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Canada's International Trade Minister Mary Ng was unable to offer a firm guarantee that MPs will see a bill to ratify the new provisional Canada-Britain trade agreement before Parliament is due to break for Christmas on Dec. 11.Ng also revealed that officials in both countries are still working on the final text of the agreement.The update by Ng to the House of Commons trade committee on Monday left opposition members across party lines surprised and pressing for answers on how a delay would affect Canadian exporters who could face new British tariffs if the deal isn’t finalized by a Dec. 31 deadline. Canada's current agreement with Britain under its European Union trade pact expires when Britain's divorce from the EU takes effect at the start of the new year. Without a new deal to replace it, a series of new British tariffs on Canadian exports such as seafood, beef and automobiles would be triggered.Ng said both countries are working on "mitigation measures" to provide stability to businesses and prevent new tariffs. But she offered no specifics after being repeatedly pressed by opposition MPs.At one point she didn't want to make policy "on the fly.""I don't want to provide uncertainty. What I want to do is provide certainty for businesses," Ng said in response to one of several questions on the topic."I would be pleased to talk about them once that work … is concluded."Ng's testimony came nine days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his British counterpart Boris Johnson announced with great fanfare a new interim trade deal between their two countries had been struck. Their announcement came in a hastily-called Saturday morning teleconference with no accompanying briefings for journalists about the content of the deal, as was the case when the original Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA, between Canada and the EU was struck. Conservative trade critic Tracy Gray was one of several MPs to press Ng on Monday for more specifics on what could be done to paper over problems that Canadian exporters might now be facing on Jan. 1.Gray chided Ng for not laying out a timeline for when a bill would be tabled in the Commons and the Senate."I don't understand how we can have certainty and continuity when we don't have a plan when this will be coming to Parliament," Gray said."It sounds like you haven't plotted out a plan over the nine days since this splashy announcement, when this would play out."New Democrat trade critic Daniel Blaikie asked Ng to walk the committee through "scenarios" in the event the deal is not finalized by Dec. 31."What kinds of contingencies are you putting in place? And what does supporting Canadian business in the event that a deal isn't enacted by Dec. 31 look like?" he asked.Ng thanked him for the question and replied: "We are looking at a range of options that will mitigate the impact of any delays that may occur."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
The NDP of P.E.I. has passed a resolution that would allow newcomers with permanent resident status to take out a party membership.Permanent resident is a status granted to someone who has the right to live and work in Canada while holding citizenship in another country. Permanent residents are not eligible to vote in Canadian elections, as all voters must hold Canadian citizenship, but many parties allow permanent residents to join regardless."We want to be inclusionary to Islanders and newcomers, and so part of that was definitely putting it in our provincial constitution," said provincial party president Jason Alward."We would welcome anybody to come on and join as an NDP member and again, push for a policy that reflects their situation, their concerns."> We want to work with different groups on the Island because we feel that those voices need to be heard. — Jason AlwardP.E.I.'s Green Party also allows those with permanent resident status to join the party, as do all of the major federal parties.A person in Canada temporarily, like a student or foreign worker, is not a permanent resident.Virtual AGM The resolution was passed at the party's annual general meeting over the weekend, which had about 40 people attend virtually. Alward said the newcomers will have full voting privileges for elections within the party, like the executive, or in a contested race to choose who would represent the party in an upcoming election."We want to work with different groups on the Island because we feel that those voices need to be heard," he said. "Come on and push our policy forward and create policy that includes those voices that might not be heard in the legislature."The president said the P.E.I. New Democrats are also looking at other ways to be inclusive of all Islanders, including establishing new committees.He said the party launched a Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) committee and a sexual orientation, gender identity committee recently.The hope is "to bring in people into the party and have their voices heard in those groups," he said."There's definitely a matter of privilege in the legislature and I don't think a lot of those voices are being heard by the three parties in there right now."P.E.I.'s NDP has not had a member elected to the legislature since then party leader Herb Dickieson in 1996. NDP candidate Lynne Thiele received 37 votes in the District 10 byelection earlier this month. The party is currently without a leader after Joe Byrne stepped down in September after two years. Alward said the party will have more news to share about the leadership in the coming days.More from CBC P.E.I.
There were two more deaths from COVID-19 reported by the province on Monday. Both deaths were in the 80 and over age group and were located in the South Central and South East zones. The number of deaths in the province is now 47. The province also reported another 325 cases on Monday. The current seven-day average is 263, or 21. 7 cases per 100,000 population. The North Central, which includes Prince Albert, reported 27 new cases. In other zones there were 125 in Saskatoon, 62 in Regina, 23 in the North West, 22 in the South West, 14 in the Far North East, 13 in the South East, 10 in the Central East, nine in the North East and Far North East, eight in the South Central and a single case in the South West. There are two cases with pending residence information. Four cases with pending residence information were assigned with single cases being assigned to the North Central, Far North East, North West and Regina zones. The Saskatoon zone leads the Active Case breakdown with 1,318 cases; the North Central zone is third with 399 active cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 173 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 194 active cases and North Central 3 has 32 active cases. In second place is Regina with 693 active cases. Of the 8,564 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 3,879 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 4,638 after 49 more recoveries were reported. The number of people in hospital is 111 in total in the province. One hundred people are currently receiving inpatient care; eight in the North Central, 33 in Saskatoon, 26 in Regina, 18 in the South East, eight in the North West, three in the North East and one each in the South Central, South West and Far North West. Twenty-three people, three in the North Central, 14 in Saskatoon and six in Regina, are in intensive care. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 8,564. Of those, 2,603 cases are from the Saskatoon area, 1,742 cases are from the north area (623 north west, 813 north central and 306 north east), 1,529 cases are from the Regina area, 1,122 cases are from the south area (429 south west, 407 south central and 286 south east), 913 cases are from the far north area (600 far north west, 80 far north central and 233 far north east) and 913 cases are from the far north area (600 far north west, 80 far north central, 233 far north east). There are now 28 cases that have pending residence location. There are currently 256 cases that are health care workers; however, the source of the infections is not related to their work environments in all instances. Of the 8,564 cases in the province: 471 cases are related to travel, 3,616 are community contacts, which includes mass gatherings, 1,825 have no known exposures and 2,652 are under investigation by local public health. The age breakdown shows 1,774 cases involve people 19 years of age and under, 3,050 cases are in the 20-39-age range, 2,291 are in the 40-59-age range, 1,127 are in the 60-79-age range and 317are in the 80-plus-age range. Five cases have a pending age confirmation. The gender breakdown shows 50 per cent of the cases being females and 50 per cent being males. Yesterday,4,251 COVID-19 tests were processed in Saskatchewan. As of today there have been 345,487 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Keep your number of contacts low The province also reminded residents to keep contacts low. Based on the confirmed cases at present, public health estimates that there are more than 6,600 reported contacts requiring follow-up in the province right now. “A ‘close contact’ is anyone that you have spent 15 minutes or more with, within the two metres of physical distancing. You should be able to count your close contacts on one hand. At this time, your close contacts should be the members of your immediate household who you dine with, hug, see without requiring a mask,” the release stated. Although not close contacts, consider all your weekly contacts whether in the classroom or at your workplace. While you must abide by the public health guidelines in these spaces to reduce the risk of transmission, could you list your contacts for the past 14 days? Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Regina–Official Opposition Leader Ryan Meili expressed disappointment with the Sask. Party government’s Speech from the Throne today, calling it a “missed opportunity” to take the urgent action needed to fight the second wave of COVID-19. “This was a ‘business as usual’ Throne Speech, but we all know that business is anything but usual in Saskatchewan,” said Meili in a release. “Premier Moe spent the election campaign telling people we were out of the woods even though expert advice and pandemic modelling showed otherwise. Now the second wave is hitting us in a big way and the government is not prepared to invest in the immediate actions needed to flatten the curve.” Minutes before the Throne Speech began, a government press release noted 325 new COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, with two deaths and 49 recoveries. There were now 3,879 active cases, while 4,638 people had recovered and 47 had died. Saskatchewan’s 7-day average of new cases is now and average of 268.3 per day. Meili said that the Sask. Party’s Throne Speech announced no new supports for businesses that were already struggling before the second wave hit, and that no immediate investments were outlined to fight the pandemic, according to the release. “Businesses are being told to stay open while their customers are being urged to stay home: it’s a recipe for economic disaster,” said Meili. “Now the government’s slow and contradictory approach has left our healthcare system in chaos – and things will only get worse if we do not act immediately to flatten the curve of COVID-19.” Meili said the Saskatchewan NDP Caucus is determined to fight for jobs, businesses, schools and health care during the first session of this new Legislative Assembly. “At a time when people are struggling, we should be planning to invest to get through this together, not making life harder for families,” said Meili. “We need clear, consistent messaging and a real plan that helps people – instead of mixed messages and half-measures that won’t get the job done. Our caucus is determined to push for a plan that will support all of Saskatchewan.”Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
The government unveiled a record deficit of $381 billion in its fiscal update, along with spending plans for more pandemic relief and a huge stimulus plan to jolt the economy post-pandemic.