The outbreak started at a funeral for a young girl who died from cancer. About 200 people from the community of Pimicikamak were in attendance, including someone unknowingly infected with COVID-19. Days later, Pimicikamak Cree Nation leaders were notified about that positive case along with a family of four who also attended the funeral and all contracted the virus. The leaders sounded the alarm immediately, says Chief David Monias. “Absolutely people are scared and people are upset,” Chief Monias said, recalling when he had to announce the first cases to the community of about 8,600 members on Oct. 24. “They said how could you let this person in or how did this person get through?” Pimicikamak is one of a number of First Nations in Manitoba hit with recent outbreaks as COVID-19 infections almost tripled across the province in November and deaths hit record numbers. While they represent about 10 per cent of Manitoba’s population, First Nations people make up 25 per cent of all new cases and 42 per cent of those in intensive care units, according to data from the Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team. The outbreak can be devastating for those living in overcrowded homes and with underlying health conditions. Nation leaders have acted swiftly to impose lockdowns and secure testing and isolation spaces – offering lessons to other communities grappling with outbreaks. Chief Monias said Pimicikamak’s approach was to stop the spread of the coronavirus by restricting people to their homes, shutting down public places with the exception of essential services and sending people who tested positive, and those who were in contact with them, to Winnipeg to isolate. “That was the main message, to stop the spread. And the only way to stop the spread is actually by shutting down mobility of people in our community,” Chief Monias said. A rapid response team made up of primarily First Nations doctors, nurses and other health professionals was deployed to conduct testing and contact tracing. Chief Monias said the community’s own pandemic team is made up of about 23 people including emergency response workers, doctors, nurses, elected leadership, social workers and others who ensure supports are in place for people to safely isolate and lockdown. By Oct. 29, the province had issued a public-health order supporting the community’s measures to close schools, businesses and restrict gatherings outside of households as the remote community moved into critical red alert on the province’s pandemic response system. Chief Monias says anyone who tested positive along with their contacts were sent to isolate in Winnipeg hotels, “just in case.” More than 200 people identified as contacts were sent to isolate in a Winnipeg hotel covered by the Red Cross and 70 confirmed cases isolated in a separate hotel provided by the federal government. “We did not ascertain the difference between close contact and contact, to us if you’re a contact, you’re contact and should be isolated. That’s just to make sure that you don’t spread it,” he said. Checkpoints were set up in five different areas of the community to monitor traffic and a shopping schedule implemented for residents. The community’s personal care home was restricted to staff only, who themselves were instructed to limit contacts outside of the home. Signs were also put up outside elders’ homes. “An elder lives here, is vulnerable, please do not enter,” they read. Chief Monias says it took five weeks to resolve all 70 COVID-19 cases from the outbreak. There’s no more community transmission, but they are now trying to contain additional cases that have popped up since, including in dialysis patients who have been staying in Thompson while they get treatment. Pimicikamak isn’t the only First Nation to successfully beat back an outbreak. About a week after the funeral in Pimicikamak, people attending a funeral in Opaskwayak Cree Nation were exposed to the virus, leading to community transmission. The spread within the community reached all 28 residents and 13 staff from the Rod McGillivary Memorial Care Home, and one resident died as a result. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak says they had to move quickly to contain the spread of the virus, which has infected close to 200 people so far. Onekanew Sinclair said they requested military support from the federal government following the death of the care-home resident. A team of 12 people from CFB Edmonton and Shilo stayed on the ground at the residence for about 10 days, supporting frontline staff, some of whom slept there and worked around the clock, Onekanew Sinclair said. He said one resident was sent to an intensive-care unit in Winnipeg and the rest were isolated and treated within the care home. “We are proud and very happy, relieved to announce that they have all fully recovered and are now able to move about freely within the care home again instead of being isolated in their rooms,” Onekanew Sinclair said. The community has more than 3,000 living on-reserve and is a service hub for surrounding communities in the region, which means checkpoints have been established at main access points to monitor traffic going in and out. They remain on a lockdown with schools closed and students doing remote learning from home. Opaskwayak converted their 60-room hotel and another 45-bed facility for isolation units but Onekanew Sinclair says there are cases where entire families have become infected and opt to stay home. “We have to do what we can with our resources available,” Onekanew Sinclair said. “And when it’s time we’ll call on the federal government as our treaty partner for assistance where needed, as needed.”Willow Fiddler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Globe and Mail
Ahuntsic-Cartierville - Mohamed Lotfi s’est vu remettre, dans le cadre des Prix du Québec il y a un mois, le Prix Guy-Mauffette, soit une reconnaissance du travail qu’il a réalisé pendant plus de 30 ans à la prison de Bordeaux en produisant l’émission de radio Souverains anonymes. Journaldesvoisins.com s’est entretenu récemment avec le journaliste, comédien, réalisateur et animateur radio. Lorsque la ministre de la Culture et de Communications, Nathalie Roy, lui a téléphoné pour lui annoncer qu’il était le lauréat de la plus haute distinction attribuée par le gouvernement du Québec pour souligner la contribution d’une personne à l’excellence de la radio, de la télévision, de la presse écrite ou des médias numériques, Mohamed Lotfi a accueilli la nouvelle avec une certaine stupéfaction. Un hommage à la radio communautaire Sa surprise était aussi teintée de joie pour son ami et complice de longue date Michel Mongeau, qui est décédé le 11 novembre, une semaine après que Mohamed Lotfi ait reçu son prix. Le lauréat tient donc à partager l’honneur avec Michel Mongeau qui avait constitué le dossier soumis en 2016, mais aussi à faire rayonner cette reconnaissance sur la radio communautaire. Plus qu’une reconnaissance pour son œuvre personnelle, Mohamed Lotfi y voit un « hommage à une façon différente de communiquer et d’informer ». Il s’agit donc par extension d’un hommage mérité à la radio communautaire, sans qui le projet des Souverains anonymes n’aurait jamais trouvé d’antenne. Il espère ainsi que son prix contribuera à faire tomber les préjugés sur la radio communautaire qui contribue à donner voix à des gens qu’on n’entendrait pas autrement, comme il a cherché à défaire les préjugés sur les prisonniers en faisant résonner leur parole hors des murs de l’établissement de détention. Une parole qui rend souverain Ayant pu côtoyer de près les hommes qui vivent derrière les barreaux, le journaliste estime que c’est une erreur trop commune que de réduire les prisonniers à leurs crimes, de les dévaloriser comme personnes. Par un travail d’orfèvre, Mohamed Lotfi cherche plutôt à faire ressortir le meilleur de chacun. Questionné sur cette approche singulière, au sujet de laquelle il s’était déjà confié au JDV, il se lance dans une envolée lyrique qui traduit bien sa fougue et sa passion : En libérant la parole des détenus, Mohamed Lotfi souhaite donc avant tout leur rendre une part d’humanité qui est trop souvent réduite au silence lorsque les portes de la prison se referment sur eux. Retirer le droit de parole à des personnes qui sont déjà privées de liberté reviendrait en quelque sorte à renier les fondements du droit de cité, un principe qui veut que tous et toutes aient voix au chapitre dans une société. Libérer l’imaginaire Plus qu’un simple exercice de communication ou de création avec les prisonniers, le travail de Mohamed Lotfi avec les Souverains anonymes invite à repenser la conception qu’on se fait de l’institution carcérale. Selon lui, il est essentiel de libérer notre imaginaire collectif d’une vision de la prison comme un lieu fermé sur lieu même, un archétype hérité de l’époque du bagne qui enferme les personnes incarcérées dans un rôle muet, en retrait de la société. C’est qu’en définitive, la prison n’est, aux yeux de Mohamed Lotfi, qu’un lieu de passage pour des gens qui ont commis une faute face à la société. Exclure leur parole comme détenus, c’est les priver de la possibilité de se réhabiliter et d’espérer un jour que leur identité de criminel s’efface pour leur permettre de revêtir celle de citoyen à part entière. De la radio au théâtre L’adage veut qu’il soit plus facile de sortir le gars de la prison que de sortir la prison du gars. Mohamed Lofti l’a appris à ses dépens lorsqu’il a décidé, l’an dernier, de remiser son micro, après 30 ans à l’antenne avec les Souverains anonymes. Il a donc décidé de retourner travailler à mi-temps pour offrir des ateliers de théâtre aux prisonniers, un projet qu’il menait déjà en parallèle à l’émission de radio depuis plusieurs années. Initié au théâtre à l’âge de 16 ans, Mohamed Lotfi dit avoir découvert dans l’art dramatique un formidable outil de liberté et de communication dont il souhaite faire profiter les détenus. La radio pour adoucir le confinement En attendant de pouvoir réintégrer son théâtre à Bordeaux — la plupart des activités étant suspendues dans la prison en raison de la pandémie de COVID-19 qui a fait des ravages dans l’établissement —, Mohamed Lotfi a repris du service à CIBL, où il a notamment diffusé, au plus fort de la crise en avril, des messages de solidarité adressés par diverses personnalités publiques aux détenus en confinement. Sans se porter à la défense de l’administration carcérale, Mohamed Lotfi dit tenir à « corriger une certaine perception » de la prison de Bordeaux qui n’est pas, selon lui, l’établissement délabré, surpeuplé et violent que décrivent souvent les journalistes. Conscient que certaines situations méritent d’être dénoncées, celui qui se considère comme un témoin privilégié de la réalité à Bordeaux se dit néanmoins soucieux de ne pas encourager un « réflexe victimaire » chez les détenus qui ont selon lui tendance à se plaindre de leur situation, à tort ou à raison. La prison dans notre cour, les détenus dans notre cœur S’il poursuit son œuvre auprès des détenus de Bordeaux, ce n’est certainement pas par amour de l’institution carcérale, qu’il dit espérer un jour voir disparaître dans sa forme punitive et recluse traditionnelle pour devenir un lieu de réhabilitation plus ouvert sur la société moderne. S’il continue, c’est qu’il a à cœur avant tout de donner un visage et une voix à la figure du prisonnier anonyme, pour qu’on le reconnaisse comme appartenant à notre monde, et non comme appartenant à un monde qui nous est étranger. Ceci est presque littéralement vrai pour certains habitants de l’arrondissement qui sont les voisins immédiats de l’établissement de détention, mais c’est une vérité qui vaut pour tout le monde, précise Mohamed Lotfi. Et bien qu’on en ait parfois peur, comme on a généralement peur de ce que l’on ne connaît pas, la prison est tout sauf un monde étranger qui ne nous ressemble pas. Invité à suggérer une œuvre parmi les innombrables œuvres disponibles dans les archives des Souverains anonymes, Mohamed Lotfi recommande le court métrage Je voudrais voir la mer. Mettant en vedette le regretté Michel Mongeau qui y tient le rôle d’un détenu qui reçoit la visite de son frère, un ex-détenu joué par le Souverain Jean-Hubert Voltaire, le court métrage propose un revirement des rôles qui porte à réfléchir sur la résilience, la gratitude et le pardon en contexte carcéral.Simon Van Vliet, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal des voisins
VANCOUVER — It appears the Vancouver Canucks have cut ties with anthem singer Mark Donnelly over his plan to sing at a rally to protest COVID-19 restrictions.Donnelly confirmed to the Vancouver Sun that he planned to sing "O Canada" Saturday at the downtown Vancouver protest.That caused the Canucks to issue a statement distancing the NHL team from Donnelly.Team owner Franceso Aquilini took it a step further, tweeting: “Hey Vancouver Sun change the headline to ‘Former Canucks anthem singer,'" followed by the hashtag wearamask.Donnelly has been performing the anthem at Canucks games since 2001. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — The Trump administration must accept new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects some young immigrants from deportation, a federal judge ruled Friday, in vacating a memo from the acting Homeland Security secretary that had suspended it. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said the government had to post a public notice within three days — including on its website and the websites of all other relevant government agencies — that new DACA applications were being accepted. The ruling follows one from November where Garaufis said Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was unlawfully in his position. On Friday, the judge said that invalidated the memo Wolf had issued in July suspending DACA for new applications and reducing how long renewals were valid from two years down to one year. Wolf had issued his memo after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in June that President Donald Trump failed to follow rule-making procedures when he tried to end the program. Garaufis also ordered the government to put together a status report on the DACA program by Jan. 4. An email seeking comment was sent to the Department of Homeland Security. “Every time the outgoing administration tried to use young immigrants as political scapegoats, they defiled the values of our nation. The court’s order makes clear that fairness, inclusion, and compassion matter," said New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who led a number of state attorneys general in one of the lawsuits against the administration. DACA, which was started in 2012 during the Obama administration, allows certain young immigrants who were brought to the country as children to legally work and shields them from deportation. Those who are approved for it must first go through background checks and regularly renew. The Trump administration had announced the end of the program in 2017, leading to the legal challenges that wound up in front of the Supreme Court. In making its ruling, the Supreme Court upheld DACA, saying that the particular way the administration had gone about shutting it down was improper, but that the president did have the authority to do so. About 650,000 people are currently enrolled in the program. The Associated Press
Two people were found dead in a home in Milton, Ont. Friday afternoon, Halton Regional Police say. Police said in a statement they were called to a residence just after 3 p.m. near Bronte Street South and Louis St. Laurent Avenue in Milton, Ont.Officers found the bodies of a male and a female inside the home, they said. There are no suspects and no threat to public safety, said police.An investigation is ongoing and police say they will be providing no further details at this time.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020.There are 402,569 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 402,569 confirmed cases (69,977 active, 320,096 resolved, 12,496 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,300 new cases Friday from 86,410 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,505 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,215.There were 89 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 602 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 86. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,826,099 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 343 confirmed cases (27 active, 312 resolved, four deaths).There were three new cases Friday from 304 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.99 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,887 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Friday from 425 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 62,046 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,358 confirmed cases (117 active, 1,176 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 15 new cases Friday from 1,014 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 92 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 151,573 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 528 confirmed cases (111 active, 410 resolved, seven deaths).There were eight new cases Friday from 727 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 51 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 104,518 tests completed._ Quebec: 147,877 confirmed cases (13,145 active, 127,549 resolved, 7,183 deaths).There were 1,345 new cases Friday from 10,981 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,714 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,388.There were 28 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 199 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.34 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,226,791 tests completed._ Ontario: 123,526 confirmed cases (14,997 active, 104,792 resolved, 3,737 deaths).There were 1,780 new cases Friday from 54,170 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,310 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,759.There were 25 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 142 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,251,327 tests completed._ Manitoba: 18,069 confirmed cases (9,172 active, 8,535 resolved, 362 deaths).There were 318 new cases Friday from 3,075 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 10 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,437 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 348.There were nine new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 82 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.86 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.43 per 100,000 people. There have been 357,524 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 9,527 confirmed cases (4,116 active, 5,356 resolved, 55 deaths).There were 283 new cases Friday from 2,048 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 14 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,836 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 262.There was one new reported death Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 11 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.68 per 100,000 people. There have been 267,348 tests completed._ Alberta: 64,851 confirmed cases (18,243 active, 46,018 resolved, 590 deaths).There were 1,828 new cases Friday from 6,850 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 27 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,746 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,678.There were 15 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 71 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.5 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,502,472 tests completed._ British Columbia: 36,132 confirmed cases (9,982 active, 25,658 resolved, 492 deaths).There were 711 new cases Friday from 6,753 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 11 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,248 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 750.There were 11 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.7 per 100,000 people. There have been 822,120 tests completed._ Yukon: 51 confirmed cases (11 active, 39 resolved, one deaths).There was one new case Friday from 34 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.9 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been nine new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,522 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Friday from 29 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,511 tests completed._ Nunavut: 206 confirmed cases (51 active, 155 resolved, zero deaths).There were eight new cases Friday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,384 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
The City of Vancouver says work to bring eastbound vehicle traffic back to Beach Avenue between Denman and Jervis streets will begin next week.In April, when few cars were on the road because of stay-at-home orders by public health officials, Beach Avenue's eastbound lanes were closed to motorists all the way to Hornby Street. The changes were made to allow park users more room for physical distancing due to COVID-19 concerns. Cyclists in Stanley Park had a two-lane road to themselves and pedestrians got exclusive use of the seawall.Under the new plan, traffic will still be banned from Jervis to Hornby streets, as the city works to establish a more permanent plan for the area."These interim changes are based on feedback from more than 2,500 residents during the fall on the current street design," according to a statement from the city.The changes include: * Painting crosswalks to better prioritize pedestrians crossings. * Adding median islands to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians. * Incorporating accessible design features like level bus boarding islands and modified traffic signals. * Replacing traffic cones with sturdier and harder-to-move concrete barriers.In September, the City of Vancouver launched an online survey to gather public input on the future of the Beach Avenue bike lane and the path.A plan to gather feedback on the longer-term vision for the area, and whether the changes should be permanent will be rolled out in 2021.The budget for the changes was not mentioned in the statement from the city.
The fortress that was Vancouver Island has been breached when it comes to the low COVID-19 case numbers it enjoyed compared to B.C.’s Lower Mainland during earlier stages of the pandemic. Provincial health authorities noted this week that though numbers are still high, there has been a levelling off of cases in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions. But case numbers are rising in the province’s Northern and Interior health regions, and Vancouver Island is also continuing to see new cases. Ten of the 694 new cases in B.C. were in the Island Health region, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing. There were also 12 new deaths due to the virus, all in the Lower Mainland. There are now 9,103 active COVID-19 cases across the province, including the 277 active cases in Island Health, with 12 people in hospital and four in critical care. Henry acknowledged that some regions of the province were struggling to contain numbers they had not experienced before. “Many of our communities around this province are affected right now, many of whom went through the first wave and the first number of months of this pandemic without having cases, without having it touch close to home,” Henry said. But the doctor urged people to continue to follow pandemic protocols to protect the elderly, as well as strained and tired health-care workers. “We need to do our bit everywhere, to make sure that we support and protect them, too.” Island Health announced Wednesday that two hospitals — Saanich Peninsula Hospital and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni — are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. Two First Nations communities in the Island Health region remain under lockdown while dealing with outbreaks: the Ehattesaht Chinehkint First Nation community near Zeballos and the Klahoose Nation on Cortes Island. However, the battle to flatten the curve on Vancouver Island can still be won if people continue to follow pandemic protocols, said Daniel Coombs, an expert in the modelling of infectious disease. Until recently, the Vancouver Island region saw a handful of daily cases, but since November, new cases of the virus have largely run in the double digits. “If Vancouver Island wants to maintain its really impressive record with the virus, it remains critical that people remain vigilant and follow the public health guidance that we're getting,” said Coombs, a mathematics professor at the University of British Columbia. At the moment, the COVID-19 situation on Vancouver Island is akin to the potential for wildfire in dry summer conditions, he said. “The forest fire analogy is a good one,” Coombs said. The virus won’t have fuel to spread if people continue to avoid crossing back and forth to the mainland except for essential travel and don't indulge in any social gatherings outside their households. “If physical distancing, mask protocols and other measures are maintained on Vancouver Island, it prevents those sparks (of COVID-19) from growing and getting out of control,” he said. Over the past two weeks, the Central Vancouver Island health service delivery area recorded 118 COVID-19 cases, followed by 66 cases in the South Island and 37 in the North Island area, data released Thursday showed. Island Health currently has exposure notices for eight schools in the region, including six in Port Alberni, one in Victoria and one on Salt Spring Island. As well, an outbreak at Veterans Memorial Lodge long-term care home in Victoria was announced over the weekend, and the lockdown of the Tsawaayuss-Rainbow Gardens facility in Port Alberni remains in effect. The greatest areas of concern for outbreaks are in long-term care homes and multigenerational households where the elderly people are most at risk from the virus, Coombs said. As well, smaller rural communities on the surrounding islands or spread across Vancouver Island are more vulnerable due to the lack of medical resources and the difficulty of accessing rapid testing, he added. Henry also expressed the need for individuals to make the right choices to protect groups most at risk. “We know that our long-term care homes in particular are most vulnerable. It's the biggest challenge that we are facing,” she said. “I recognize that this sacrifice is one that all of us are taking, and the vast majority of people around B.C. have taken this to heart.” Though the daily COVID-19 case numbers on Vancouver Island are still fluctuating up and down, overall, the numbers appear to be flattening, Coombs said. But keeping it that way will depend on people adhering to physical distancing, Coombs said. This will be necessary for some time into the future, despite hopes vaccines are around the corner. “We’ve been hearing a lot about vaccination at the moment,” he said. “But if we haven't actually deployed the vaccine fully in our communities in B.C., there’s a risk that people are going to loosen up too quickly or too early. “Yet, I can definitely foresee some restrictions lasting into the summer, or maybe even longer.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
JUNEAU, Alaska — A recount Friday affirmed a win by Democrat Liz Snyder over Republican House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt for an Anchorage House seat, though her margin of victory narrowed slightly.Results certified Monday showed Snyder had defeated Pruitt by 13 votes. But Friday’s recount showed an 11-vote margin of victory, with 4,574 for Snyder and 4,563 for Pruitt. This year’s election was a rematch from 2018, when Snyder lost to Pruitt.The recount was not requested by Pruitt but by 11 others identified in their petition as voters in the Anchorage House district. State law allows a defeated candidate or 10 qualified voters who believe a mistake was made in the ballot count to request a recount.Pruitt by text message Friday said the encouragement he had received “led me to believe that there was no one better to request this recount than those who kept reaching out asking how they could help. I am humbled by their continued and unwavering support!”Two attorneys representing the recount request group, Joe Geldhof and Stacey Stone, attended the recount in Juneau, as did Snyder and Holly Wells, an attorney for Snyder. The hand count was conducted by members of a bipartisan review board, said Tiffany Montemayor, a spokesperson for the state Division of Elections.More than 9,000 votes were cast in the race. Absentee ballots went through the recount process twice after the tallies during the initial recount were off from the certified results. Pruitt ultimately picked up an absentee vote and Snyder lost one in the final recount.Snyder said the goal “was making sure all valid votes got counted, and it feels like that was achieved.”Stone described the process as smooth and said she was pleased with it.She cited concern, however, with polling location changes ahead of the election, “which we believe may have impacted the vote, and we're investigating that now.” An issue of concern is whether there was any voter disenfranchisement, Stone said.Gail Fenumiai, Division of Elections director, said notice was given of polling location changes, including flagging changes on the division website.Neither the House nor the Senate has organized ahead of the next regular session, which starts in January. In Alaska, the chambers don’t necessarily organize along party lines. Personalities and policy positions can also factor in.Separately, Montemayor said an audit of a statewide ballot measure that narrowly passed last month would begin Monday. The audit was sought by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who oversees elections. Meyer has said the audit is intended to help put to rest questions some have raised about the validity of election results tied to the vote tabulation equipment the state uses.The measure, which would end party primaries and institute ranked-choice voting for general elections, passed with 174,032 votes, compared to 170,251 no votes, according to the certified results. Meyer has said he believes the measure passed fairly.A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the measure has been filed.Cori Mills, a chief assistant attorney general with the Department of Law, said Friday's recount “verified that the voting equipment is accurate and the results, all the results, can be trusted.”Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
Those most at risk will be getting the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine — including health-care workers, seniors over 70 and adults in Indigenous communities. The process is expected to use all of the initial allotment and be finished by the end of March 2021.
Gananoque kicks off its Christmas celebrations this weekend. The three-week event will start on Saturday with the Festival of Light and a stand-still parade on King Street, organized by the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. "We lit up the whole visitor centre, Town Hall, the bandshell and 20 trees today, thanks to Hydro One; they showed up today with four bucket trucks and 20 guys and they did an amazing job," said Amy Kirkland, executive director of the chamber. On Saturday the parade will be a little smaller than previous years but no less spectacular. So far there are 29 confirmed floats and Kirkland says she is expecting another eight to show up on the day, bringing the total to 37 floats. "Before the parade starts at 5:30, the Gananoque Curling Club will be handing out free hot chocolate and apple cider in Town Park between 2 and 4 p.m.," said Kari Lambe, the town's manager of recreation. The 1000 Islands History Museum will also be lighting up the museum and is offering a walk-by window exhibit, "Toys of Yesteryear," on Saturday. The town is billing this year's celebrations as "A Wonderful Life in Gananoque" with a variety of festivities planned for the holiday season. "Starting on Sunday, Dec. 6, children will have the opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at his grotto in Town Park, where proper social distance and safety measure have been put in place," said Lambe, adding that there will also be carolling on the front steps of Town Hall from 3 until 4 p.m. The Gananoque Fire Service will be setting up firepits in Town Park from 2 until 5 p.m. Every Wednesday just after 6 p.m., Santa will be reading children's stories on 99.9 MyFM, with the final reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas scheduled for Dec. 24, just before the man in red takes off on his big journey. The town is also hosting a Winter Lights competition, and residents are encouraged to decorate their homes for the holiday season. Lambe said a group of judges will pick a winner from each ward, North, South and West, and one award will be given to the business with the best window and/or light display. The winners will be announced on Dec. 18 on the town's Facebook page. The Christmas celebrations are the work of several community groups, including those mentioned earlier as well as a committee of council, the Municipal Accommodation Tax Tourism Advisory Panel, 1000 Islands RV, the Thousand Islands Playhouse and several town volunteers. A full schedule of events is posted on the town’s website.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
OTTAWA — Procurement Minister Anita Anand says that as soon as she knows when the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Canada, she will share that information with Canadians.But Anand told The Canadian Press in an interview this week that the original contracts to buy COVID-19 vaccines had to be vague about delivery dates because nobody knew at the time if the vaccines would be successful.It's only in the last few weeks, when the leading candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca reported such positive results from their large clinical trials, that the way forward became clear enough for Anand's department to start asking the companies to be more specific about when they can make good on their contracts with Canada."We put these contracts in place in order to place Canadians in the best stead possible, of any country in the world, recognizing that we would need to negotiate additional terms such as precise delivery dates, once a vaccine was discovered, and regulatory approval was obtained," she said. "And that is what's happening now."As Canadians face a pandemic-plagued holiday season and dream that 2021 will not be the anxiety-laden and often tragic disaster that 2020 has proven to be, there is one gleaming hope dangling still just out of reach: a vaccine for COVID-19.Still, the federal government has yet to answer one big question: When will it get here?It is not that she doesn't want to tell Canadians when, said Anand. But the complexities of figuring out a specific date are linked to when Health Canada approves the vaccine, and when the vaccine makers can see that Canada is ready to receive and safely distribute the precious doses, some of which have to be stored at temperatures below -70 C.Those pieces are starting to converge now.Health Canada officials are days, maybe even hours, away from approving the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for use in Canada.Canadians got some more information on the logistics from a briefing of federal officials this week, including that Pfizer will ship its vaccine directly to 14 identified receiving sites in provinces. FedEx and Innomar Strategies were contracted Friday to oversee the delivery of other vaccines from a national receiving site to provinces.The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued refined guidance Friday for who should get the vaccine first, including long-term care residents and workers, and people over the age of 80. The materials like syringes, gauze pads and bandages needed to vaccinate millions of people are in place. Ultralow temperature freezers have been purchased and nine new ones have already arrived. Provincial governments are lining up their own task forces."We are going to have vaccines in this country, as expeditiously as possible," Anand said.Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has been decrying the lack of clarity from the Liberals about the vaccine plan. A week ago he accused the Liberals of only starting to buy vaccines in a panic this summer after a collaboration with China on a vaccine fell apart.The partnership between the National Research Council and China's CanSino Biologics was announced in May to great fanfare. But the doses to be used in a Canadian clinical trial failed to arrive, when the Chinese government — in the midst of political tensions with Canada — refused to issue an export permit for them.“I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China,” O’Toole said Nov. 29, adding the timeline shows it wasn't until that deal fell apart that Canada "started getting serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options."Anand said that is not the case.She said the CanSino deal fell within Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains' portfolio, not her own, and nothing about the project prevented her from negotiating with other companies.Her marching orders to negotiate deals with other vaccine makers came weeks earlier. A team of procurement officials in her department was assigned to the file in March, at the same time as those negotiating contracts for medical supplies, personal protective equipment and rapid tests.In June, the COVID-19 vaccine task force provided a list of vaccines for Canada to pursue. Anand said talks with manufacturers began in early July. The first deal, with Massachusetts biotech firm Moderna, was struck July 24. Canada was first to sign with Moderna. It signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech a week later, on Aug. 1. It was the fourth country to do so, after the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. News of trouble on the CanSino deal first appeared in early July when the doses still hadn't been approved for export by China. Canada walked away from the deal at the end of August when it became clear it would not happen.By then, Canada had deals with four other vaccine companies, including Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and NovaVax. It added deals with Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca in September and then with Canada's own Medicago the next month.Anand said Canada approached every contract with a similar goal — to get 20 million doses guaranteed, and options to potentially buy more later on. In all, Canada is paying more than $1 billion to the seven vaccine makers for 194 million doses, even if those vaccines never get beyond the experimental stage.Another 220 million doses are available if Canada asks for them, a decision that will be made for the vaccines that are proving to be the best. Anand announced Friday another 20 million doses will come to Canada in 2021 from Moderna, for a total of 40 million.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — The City of Vancouver says it has reached a settlement with the owners of the Balmoral and Regent hotels to expropriate the derelict properties on the Downtown Eastside. The hotels, which had been operated as single-room occupancy buildings, were home to more than 300 of the city's most vulnerable people before they were ordered shut over safety concerns in 2017 and 2019. The city says in a news release Friday that the settlement ensures it can move forward with BC Housing to turn the buildings into safe and secure low-income housing. It approved the expropriation of the buildings for $1 in late 2019 but faced a legal challenge from the owners. The news release says the city decided to settle to lessen the financial risk posed by the upcoming judicial review and potential claims for greater compensation and to enable planning to begin on the future of the properties. It says it cannot share the value of the settlement under its terms. "Bringing the Regent and Balmoral into public ownership marks a hopeful new beginning for residents of the Downtown Eastside and something all residents should be proud of," Mayor Kennedy Stewart says in the release. "Downtown Eastside residents will be at the centre of creating a new vision for these two sites, and indeed the entire community." The settlement marks the end of many years of enforcement and legal action against the owners, who oversaw decades of underinvestment and unaddressed safety issues, the city says. Parkash Kaur Sahota, 90, and Pal Singh Sahota, 81, are identified as the owners in the petition for judicial review. They could not be reached for comment. Staff plan to report back to council, which approved the settlement, on the next steps and timeline for the revitalization of the properties early next year. Given the significance of the two properties to the Downtown Eastside community, the city says community engagement regarding their future is a priority and will also begin next year. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
A large mixed-used development in the Moodyville area, set to offer more affordable living options and create a neighbourhood hub, will move ahead after a “compromise” was reached between City of North Vancouver council and developers this week. After a mammoth two-night public hearing, with more than 100 speakers, council voted in favour of allowing the Cascadia Green Development proposal for 402-438 East Third St. and 341-343 St. Davids Ave. to move forward, with an amendment to lower the height of one of the three buildings within the corner block project. Council voted five to two in support of the developer’s application to change the city’s official community plan and zoning bylaw to allow the increase of one building from four storeys to five storeys as well as add a commercial laneway and extra retail and office spaces to the project at Tuesday’s meeting. The 5,516.5-square-metre development’s three buildings include the west building, a four-storey 14.6-metre (47.9 ft.) building along East Third Street with 82 market strata residential units, including ground-floor live-work townhouse units; the east building, a five-storey 19-metre (62.4 ft.) mixed-use building with 71 market strata residential units, 14 commercial retail units, office spaces and a childcare facility, and the north building, which was originally going to be four storeys or 14.8 metres (48.6 ft.) at the lane, stepping down to two storeys at East Fourth Street, with commercial retail units facing St. Davids Avenue and the lane, and 16 residential units. The east part of the lane will be closed to traffic to create an outdoor market, with small shops sheltered by a colourful canopy. At the public hearing, those in support praised the project for offering relatively affordable housing, with a rent-to-own and affordable home ownership program, its pedestrian "walkable" orientated design, the proposed mix of neighbourhood retail and restaurants and a new daycare centre with 16 spots. Many residents who spoke against the changes to the OCP said they weren’t “anti-development” they just believed the project in its current form was “too massive” for the neighbourhood. Residents on East Fourth Street echoed the same concerns about the heights, size, expected density, and shadow impacts of the three buildings. After hearing endless comments from neighbours that the “monstrosity” would cast a shadow over their homes, Coun. Angela Girard put forward a motion to amend the bylaw and reduce the height of the development’s north building by one storey or 10 ft., taking it down to a maximum height of 11.5 metres (37.8ft) and to keep the building terraced to reduce shadowing, which was supported by Mayor Linda Buchanan and all councillors. Farzad Mazarei, chief executive officer at Cascadia Green Development, accepted the proposal change but said it would mean a loss of community amenity contributions of upwards of $500,000 and a reduction of between five to 10 units in the “much-needed rent-to-own program” – one of the most supported features of the project. “It is disappointing for us to really reduce the number of rental units, but, I think, given the fact that we have been in this project for more than four years now, I guess we don't have that much of an option in front of us because of the carry-on costs and everything else that goes with a project of this size,” he said. In question time, Mazarei had pointed out that if changes were made to the taller east building on Third Street, it would mean the loss of the daycare centre and a significant reduction to the development’s breezeway, which was widened to allow more light into the space, and if changed back would create greater shadow impacts. Commenting on the loss of some of the rent-to-own program due to the height change to the north building, Girard said it was “regrettable,” but felt it was the “right thing to do for the community.” Coun. Tony Valente agreed it was a “positive step in the right direction.” "I think this is about a compromise and this is certainly the start of that,” he said. “I realize this is a reduction in some of the benefits, but I think it's a reasonable reduction that actually does address some of the things that we've heard back from the community.” Councillors had a robust discussion, raising questions about potential traffic woes, shadow impacts of the buildings, local school capacity and the rent-to-own program before voting on the amended bylaw. “I have found making this decision on this project difficult,” Girard said, in her closing comments. “I know that if I were living on the south side of East Fourth Street … and having to consider the possibility of sharing that lane with a strata complex with a significantly greater number of people, plus commercial, I too would be feeling that this was a big change for the neighbourhood. "However, there are components of this project that I believe have great merit and could bring real benefits and change to that neighbourhood and to the broader community.” While she sympathized with neighbours’ concerns with the height of the east building, she felt the impacts to making changes to that plan were too great, and would have resulted in a greater loss to affordable housing units which a number of young people and front-line workers called up to support. Coun. Don Bell put forward a motion to lower the east building to four storeys from the lane but was not supported by fellow councillors. He then voted against the proposal moving forward, saying the heights would make a “drastic change” to the area that wasn’t fair to the residents who live on East Fourth. Similarly, Coun. Holly Back agreed with many of the positive aspects of the development but labelled the amendment “a very quick knee-jerk reaction” and did not support the proposal, calling for further discussion with developers. Melissa McConchie, who lives on East Fourth, and was one of many nearby residents calling for the developer to scale back the development, said she was thankful to her neighbours for speaking up to help “preserve the character of their neighbourhood” and to council for hearing their concerns. “We are pleased that council took the initiative to require the developer to reduce their north building at Fourth Street from four storeys to three storeys so that it fits in better with the rest of the duplexes on this street,” she said. McConchie said while the community was disappointed council did not require the developer to reduce the building heights on Third Street, they were pleased that there was some discussion on changing the practice of measuring the height of buildings, which she said had led to a lot of confusion for community members. When it came to the commercial laneway, she said she “really hopes the city and the developer will ensure that agreements for a commercial loading zone and good neighbour agreements can be put in place so that this ends up being a positive experience.” Buchanan said she recognized this process was emotional for people in the Moodyville neighbourhood and mentioned it wasn’t all that easy on council either. “The concerns from the residents that we've heard over the last two nights as well as over the year are real and we understand that, but they're also very real for the people who came forth to say that they would really like to be in this neighbourhood, they’d really like to be part of this city, they'd really like to downsize or get into homeownership,” she said. Buchanan said the city had a responsibility to look at innovative ways to deliver new housing, and this project would make it a reality through the rent to own and affordable home ownership programs. “What we're all trying to do is make it [the city] the best place for all of us, but we're also looking at how can we make it the best place for people in the future as well,” she said.Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
There was a death reported in the South Zone from COVID-19 reported on Friday. This marked the second consecutive day with a death reported in that zone and the third consecutive day in which at least one death was reported. The individual was in the 80-years-old and over age group. The number of deaths in the province is now 55. The province also reported another 283 cases on Friday. The current seven-day average is 262, or 21. 7 cases per 100,000 population. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported 47 new cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 189 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 214 active cases and North Central 3 has 40 active cases. The North Central zone is third in the Active Case Breakdown with 403 active cases. Of the 9,527 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 4,116 are considered active. Of the 126 people in hospital in the province, 101 are receiving in patient care including 12 in the North Central. Of the 25 in intensive care four are in the North Central. The recovered number now sits at 5,356 after 183 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 9,527of those 1,927 cases are from the north area (692 north west, 916 north central and 319 north east) Yesterday 3,504 COVID-19 tests were processed in Saskatchewan. As of today there have been 357,142 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. In other zones there were 83 cases reported Friday in Regina, 50 in Saskatoon, 12 each in the North West and South West, 11 in the Far North East, nine each in the South East, South Central and Far North West and seven in the North East. There are 18 cases with pending residence information. Two cases, one from Nov. 15 and one from Nov. 22, with pending residence information have been assigned to the North West Of the 126 people in hospital elsewhere in the province; 36 are in Saskatoon, 21 in the South East, 20 are in Regina, seven in the North West, three in the South West and one in the North East are receiving in patient care. Elsewhere in the province in intensive care there are 11 in Saskatoon, nine in Regina and one person in the North West. The Saskatoon zone leads the Active Case breakdown with 1,324 cases. In second place is Regina with 974 active cases. Over 90 active cases of COVID-19 in youth in North Central On Thursday the province released the updated numbers on cases in youth. The total active cases in youth provincially in all locations are 834, six have no known location and 828 have a location reported. Provincially there is an 8.5 per cent test positivity rate in youth. Data on positive tests in youth is updated every Thursday. Currently in the North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, there are 96 active cases in youth. Last week there were 316 tests performed across the North Central zone. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 47 active cases in youth. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 45 active cases and North Central 3 has four active cases. Cumulative tests performed since Sept. 7 in the North Central zone is 2,933. There were 4,119 tests performed in total in the province in the last week. The cumulative number of tests performed since Sept. 7 is 44,261. Case of COVID-19 connected to Wesmor Public High School On Thursday evening the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been identified in an individual at Wesmor Public High School in Prince Albert. “The division is hoping the recovery is quick and thorough and we extend our get-well wishes to this member of our school community and offer our support to the surrounding family. We also extend our support to the staff and students in our schools affected by the isolation,” the release stated. As has been the case in the past, this case was not school-acquired. The learning program will continue remotely for those students affected. Wesmor will remain open for in-person classes for students who are not required to self-isolate. Due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
A new chamber of commerce partnership program designed to help businesses connect with new talent, and gain access to financial incentives, has just launched. The 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Magnet and the Talent Opportunity Program (TOP) to connect chamber of commerce members to the Magnet platform, a digital social enterprise out of Ryerson University. Through Magnet, businesses can get connected with new talent, and get access to business growth opportunities and tools to navigate the impacts of the changing labour market and the COVID-19 pandemic. Key to the partnership between Magnet and local chamber is access to wage subsidies through the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP). Funded by the Government of Canada, SWPP lets employers tap into wage subsidies of up to $7,500 when they hire a Canadian post-secondary student, in a co-op style environment . "The combination of a national recruitment platform and the SWPP wage subsidy will be an important lifeline for our members," said Amy Kirkland, executive director of the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. This chamber partnership initiative brings together local chambers and boards of trade, small and medium-sized enterprises, job-seekers, and post-secondary institutions to support opportunities for student job seekers from coast to coast, across Canada, in an effort to boost economic recovery. "The initiative represents an innovative and necessary approach to helping small businesses grow, connecting early talent to new opportunities to emerge from this challenge stronger and better," said Kirkland. Creating an account with the Magnet Business Growth Portal is free for businesses of all sizes and industries. The Magnet Business Growth Portal helps small and medium enterprises strategize, adapt, and grow with notifications about funding, wage subsidies, training and hiring programs, market research, and COVID-19 support, according to the portal. "Ensuring a strong economic recovery depends on the success of our students and youth. Programs like the Student Work Placement Program exist to provide post-secondary students with the chance to grow professionally and develop new skills while working in sectors that are in line with their interests and field of study," Carla Qualtrough, the federal minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, said in a statement. The SWPP can help business, working towards recovery, offset the cost of hiring, while giving youth an opportunity to gain work experience. "Our government's investment in Magnet will go a long way in helping young Canadians gain meaningful placement opportunities in a variety of disciplines including health care and other high demand sectors, all of which play an especially important role in responding to the current pandemic," said Qualtrough.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
The union for blue-collar workers in Montreal says it wants to put pressure on the city to speed up negotiations and says it has issued a strike notice that will come into force in the next couple weeks. The city's 6,500 blue-collar workers have been without an employee contract since Dec. 31, 2017. In a news release sent by the union representing the workers, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said, "discussions are ongoing but we want to put some pressure to get things done.""Blue-collar workers want a new employment contract that is fair and respects the work they provide on a daily basis," the release said. It said in mid-November 2,846 members voted 97.2 per cent in favour of a mandate giving them the right to exercise pressure that could go as far as a general strike.The assembly was held in a temporary drive-in installed on the site of the Royalmount project, where members arrived by car. The City of Montreal says it is aware of the union's decision but that it has not been informed of the pressure tactics workers plan on taking, or which essential services they will continue to offer.
An Edmonton man who was convicted for manslaughter in the deaths of an elderly couple has had his sentence increased by five years. Edward Roberts, 35, was serving a 15-year sentence for the deaths of Joao Nascimento, 93, and Maria Nascimento, 81 after he admitted to stabbing them to death in a random attack in September 2016. Roberts was originally charged with two counts of first-degree murder, but he instead pleaded guilty in November 2018 to two counts of manslaughter and break and enter. Last year, Roberts was sentenced to 15 years in jail for each manslaughter count and 10 years for break and enter to be served concurrently. On Friday, a three-judge panel ordered the 15-year sentence to increase on each count of manslaughter to 20 years, which was the sentence length the Crown asked for during the trial. "We are of the view an increase in sentence is warranted to properly serve the aims of deterrence and denunciation and to reflect Roberts' moral culpability," the Court of Appeal of Alberta's decision said on Friday. "We are limited to the sentence sought by the Crown below. The appeal is allowed and the sentences on each count of manslaughter are increased to 20 years, to be served concurrently." The Crown appealed the original sentence, arguing that the sentencing judge characterized the crimes as a single event and that a 20-year sentence would better reflect the loss of two lives. Roberts had confessed to breaking into Nascimentos' Queen Mary Park home and stabbing the couple while in a psychotic state. He was intoxicated by drugs and alcohol, and had binged on crystal meth in the week leading up to the killings. At the time of the Nascimentos' death, Roberts thought he was destined to become a king and believed he had to kill everyone in a house to achieve that goal. Expert consensus diagnosed Roberts with amphetamine, alcohol, cannabis and cocaine use disorders, according to the decision. They also confirmed a history of substance-induced psychosis from cannabis and methamphetamine. During the Court of Appeal hearing in September, Roberts said he had reason to believe his life was in danger and he was in a psychotic state at the time. "It wasn't exactly the drugs that led to that state of mind," Roberts said during the hearing. "It was more of an energy." Stacey Purser, Roberts' defence lawyer, argued at the Court of Appeal hearing that Roberts' psychosis lowered his moral culpability, and that he was acting under the direction of various voices telling him to kill or be killed.
A palliative care facility in St. Albert met an act of vandalism with a renewed spirit of giving after Christmas trees and memorial plaques were damaged this week. On Sunday, the St. Albert Sturgeon Hospice Association (SASHA) lit trees on the hillside outside of the the Foyer Lacombe palliative care facility. Community members were invited to tune in online or participate in a drive-by viewing. "We certainly had tears in our eyes and what a tender gentle moment ... to see all those lights coming on outside the room where my mother died," recalled donor Sharon Ryan, whose mom spent her final days there last summer. A day or two later, vandals struck — damaging memorial plaques and several trees while stripping lights off others. But Ryan said what should have felt like a punch in the gut sparked the opposite reaction. "We just rolled our eyes, and we rolled up our sleeves and we got to work immediately to rebuild those light displays," said Ryan, who has also founded an advocacy group for seniors. "It was just such an automatic reaction — nobody's going to hold us back." Joheanna Buisman, president of SASHA, said she was saddened by the incident — especially because the lights were meant to honour loved ones and caregivers. But she said the overwhelming support from the community, which included $25,000 in donations for end-of-life-care, only grew after the incident. "I can't believe the outpouring," said Buisman. "People reaching out and saying 'could we do something for you, can we help you, can we help pay for the lights, can we give you lights, can we help string lights'." Support has included donations from local business owners to buy new lights for the trees. RCMP have no leads but want to hear from anyone with information.
A bill that will criminalize international doping conspiracies became law Friday with President Donald Trump's signature, closing out a two-year legislative process during which the only true opposition to the bill came from outside the United States.The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act had earlier passed both houses of Congress on voice votes. It passed despite lobbying efforts from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which said it will “disrupt the global legal anti-doping framework.”The bill is designed to allow U.S. prosecutors to go after doping schemes at international events in which Americans are involved as athletes, sponsors or broadcasters. It is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow lab director who helped uncover widespread cheating directed by the Russian government to help the country's athletes at the Sochi Olympics and other major events.It was the response to the Russian scandal from WADA, the IOC and other international sports federations that led the U.S. to pursue the law. Representatives from the U.S. drug-control office bristled at WADA's efforts to lobby for extensive changes in the bill.Rodchenkov's attorney, Jim Walden, said the law gives “the Department of Justice a powerful and unique set of tools to eradicate doping fraud and related criminal activities from international competitions.”The law is in line with others that have helped U.S. authorities crack down on international corruption in different areas. It calls for fines of up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 10 years for those who participate in schemes designed to influence international sports competitions through doping.It is not designed to go after individual athletes.Among WADA's concerns is that this law will tempt other countries to consider similar legislation that could undermine the harmonization of the global anti-doping rules.Eddie Pells, The Associated Press