Officials say Henry Ford Health System in Michigan was a key site for enrolling minority volunteers for Moderna vaccine trial. (Nov. 16)
Officials say Henry Ford Health System in Michigan was a key site for enrolling minority volunteers for Moderna vaccine trial. (Nov. 16)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met its crown prince, an Israeli official said on Monday, in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader as the countries close ranks against Iran. Earlier, Israeli media said Netanyahu had secretly flown on Sunday to Neom, on the Red Sea, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Reports of the meeting between the crown prince and Netanyahu were denied by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday became the latest world leader to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory, saying she offered to share her nation's expertise on dealing with the coronavirus. Ardern said the tone of the 20-minute phone call was warm and that Biden spoke very favourably about how New Zealand was handling the pandemic. “What has been really at the centre of our response has been some fundamentals around testing, contact tracing, isolation,” Ardern said. “That’s over and above what we’ve done at our borders.” New Zealand has been largely successful in eliminating the virus after imposing a strict lockdown in March and closing its borders. Only 25 people in the nation of 5 million have died from COVID-19. Ardern said Biden wanted to pursue the discussion on New Zealand's response further. But she cautioned that the nation's model may not be able to be replicated everywhere. “While New Zealand has a number of natural advantages that have assisted us in managing the virus, I do absolutely believe that international co-operation continues to be key to getting the virus under control," Ardern said. "We are happy to work with any country to share our knowledge and data if its helpful.” Ardern said she and Biden also discussed trade issues and climate change, and talked about the president-elect's Irish heritage and his fond memories of visiting New Zealand a few years ago. She said she invited him to come visit again. In a statement, Biden praised Ardern's “extraordinary leadership” following a 2019 mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques, and as a working mother and role model. Nick Perry, The Associated Press
Island Nature Trust staff knew there was garbage in the Culloden forested natural area, but when they started to clean it up about a week ago, they were surprised with what they found.The site in eastern P.E.I. has a large pit in it that was once used as an illegal dump. Island Nature Trust took ownership of the land in 2003. Normally, the pit is covered in water, but this year it wasn't, providing staff the perfect opportunity to start cleaning it up."We knew that there would be quite a bit of garbage based on what we could see at the surface," said Amy Frost-Wicks, land stewardship program co-ordinator with Island Nature Trust. But once staff and volunteers started to clean it up, they realized there was a lot more garbage than expected."We were pulling out bags that were kind of buried under a foot or a foot and a half of soil," said Frost-Wicks."None of us realized how extensive it actually was."By the time the team's first effort at cleaning up the site was done, about 635 kilograms of garbage was removed, said Frost-Wicks. If staff continue to find garbage on the site, professional remediation might be needed."That would involve a lot more work. That could even involve having heavy machinery come in and just completely dig out the whole site," said Frost-Wicks. Island Nature Trust staff estimate the dump site is at least a couple of decades old."We were also finding some really old gas cans and old chewing tobacco containers and old gum containers, like the metal tins. So it could have been as old as the 60s," she said. Frost-Wicks said the garbage poses numerous problems."The plastics, as it ages in the sun, it can become brittle and it breaks apart. And then you get all these smaller pieces of plastic, which are even harder to clean up. Also, wildlife can mistake that plastic for food," she said. Finding sites of this scale on P.E.I. is uncommon, said Frost-Wicks. "At least on natural areas that Island Nature Trust owns, thankfully, we don't find them too often. I mean, there are inevitably some sites that you find that have kind of older piles of garbage, like at the back of fields and stuff like that, or you'll find an old car in the woods every once in a while," she said.More from CBC P.E.I.
HONG KONG — Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and two other activists were taken into custody Monday after they pleaded guilty to charges related to a demonstration outside police headquarters during anti-government protests last year. Wong, together with fellow activists Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow, pleaded guilty to charges related to organizing, taking part in and inciting protesters to join an unauthorized protest outside police headquarters last June. The trio were members of the now-disbanded Demosisto political party. They were remanded in custody at a court hearing Monday, and the three are expected to be sentenced on Dec. 2. Those found guilty of taking part in an unlawful assembly could face as long as five years in prison depending on the severity of the offence. “I am persuaded that neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us from activism,” Wong said, ahead of the court hearing. “What we are doing now is to explain the value of freedom to the world, through our compassion to whom we love, so much that we are willing to sacrifice the freedom of our own. I’m prepared for the thin chance of walking free.” Wong rose to prominence as a student leader during the 2014 Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests and is among a growing number of activists being charged with relatively minor offences since Beijing in June imposed a sweeping national security law on the territory that has severely restricted political speech. Pro-democracy supporters have said the legal charges are part of a campaign to harass and intimidate them. Lam, who also spoke ahead of the court hearing, said he too was prepared to be jailed. Wong wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday that he and Lam had decided to plead guilty after consulting with their lawyers. The two previously pleaded not guilty to the charges. Chow had already pleaded guilty to charges of inciting others and taking part in the protest. “If I am sentenced to prison this time, it will be the first time in my life that I have been in jail,” Chow wrote on her Facebook page on Sunday. “Although I am mentally prepared, I still feel a little bit scared. However, compared to many friends, I have suffered very little. When I think of this, I will try my best to face it bravely,” she wrote. On June 21 last year, thousands rallied outside the police headquarters to protest what they said was excessive police force against demonstrators Zen Soo, The Associated Press
As the price of bitcoin soars, Chinese cryptocurrency asset managers are looking to expand in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore, skirting an intensified crackdown at home. Cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds have grown assets under management and registered hefty gains this year thanks to bitcoin's recent surge to over $18,000, close to its 2017 high. At the same time, Beijing has been tightening already strict scrutiny over cryptocurrencies as the People's Bank of China (PBOC) prepares to launch its own digital currency, partly a response to the threat from currencies like bitcoin, officials say.
MANILA, Philippines — U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration provided precision-guided missiles and other weapons to help the Philippines battle Islamic State group-aligned militants and renewed a pledge to defend its treaty ally if it comes under attack in the disputed South China Sea. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien represented Trump in Monday’s ceremony at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, where he announced the delivery of the missiles and bombs to the Philippine military. Trump pledged to provide the $18 million worth of missiles in a phone conversation with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in April, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said. O’Brien expressed condolences to the Philippines after back-to-back typhoons left a trail of death and devastation in the country and outlined U.S. help to the country to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. assistance projects normalcy in Washington’s foreign relations as Trump works to challenge the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election, claiming he was a victim of fraud. Duterte had asked Filipino Americans to vote for Trump but congratulated Joe Biden, through his spokesperson, for winning the election. Asked in an online news briefing if any of the officials he met in Vietnam and the Philippines voiced concern about the post-election situation in the U.S., O’Brien said nobody did. “There will be a transition if the courts don’t rule in President Trump’s favour,” he said. O’Brien represented Trump in a recent online summit between the U.S. and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and an expanded East Asia summit of heads of state attended by China and Russia that was also held by video and hosted by Vietnam. In his remarks at the turnover of the U.S. missiles in Manila, O’Brien cited the Trump administration’s role in the defeat of the Islamic State group in the Middle East and last year’s killing of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in Syria, and renewed its commitment to help defeat IS-linked militants in the southern Philippines. “President Trump is standing with President Duterte as we combat ISIS here in Southeast Asia,” O’Brien said. “This transfer underscores our strong and enduring commitment to our critical alliance.” He expressed hope for the continuance of a key security agreement that allows American forces to train in large-scale combat exercises in the Philippines. Duterte moved to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. early this year but later delayed the effectivity of his decision to next year, a move welcomed by O’Brien. He said the U.S. stands with the Philippines in its effort to protect its sovereign rights in the South China Sea. The Philippines announced last month that it would resume oil and gas explorations in or near Reed Bank, which lies off the country’s western coast and is also claimed by China. “They belong to the Philippine people. They don’t belong to some other country that just because they may be bigger than the Philippines they can come take away and convert the resources of the Philippine people. That’s just wrong,” O’Brien said. He repeated U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement early this year that “any armed attack on Philippine forces aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger our mutual defence obligations.” The allies have a 69-year-old mutual defence treaty. In July, Pompeo escalated the Trump administration’s attacks against China by declaring that Washington regards virtually all Chinese maritime claims in the disputed waterway as illegitimate. China reacted angrily by accusing the U.S. of sowing discord between Beijing and neighbouring Asian states. Jim Gomez, The Associated Press
During Nova Scotia's fall municipal elections, two mayoral candidates said Cape Breton Regional Municipality was either bankrupt or nearly so.That's not the case, say others."We're a bankrupt municipality. People know. This whole island knows that," mayoral candidate Archie MacKinnon said during one of the election debates.Chris Abbass said during a debate that CBRM is "on the verge of financial collapse." In another, he said the municipality is not sustainable."We're slowly going bankrupt and if we don't do something about our cost-effectiveness and our efficiency in government, we're going to become ... a ward of the province or something, but we won't be anymore."But Mark Gilbert, a retired finance expert who was with the Department of Municipal Affairs and is a retired local government professor at Dalhousie University, said CBRM's financial statements show otherwise.The municipality does have net debt of roughly $145 million, but Gilbert said if you add in non-financial assets, it is more than $300 million in the black."This doesn't look like a municipality that doesn't have the wherewithal to continue operating," he said.With that much debt, a big question is future infrastructure needs and the municipality's ability to pay for the cost of borrowing through taxes or user fees, Gilbert said.However, CBRM's debt-service ratio is just over 10 per cent and the province doesn't red flag that until it hits 15 per cent or more.Gilbert said that means the municipality could borrow if it needed to finance large projects."If they were interested in borrowing, the capacity would certainly be there," he said."The thing that most municipalities are concerned about, and I did some research in this area for Infrastructure Canada, is not so much being able to borrow, but it's being able to service the debt."Jennifer Campbell, CBRM's chief financial officer, said the municipality would only be in trouble under extraordinary circumstances."For example, all of our long-term debt would have to be called at once, resulting in an immediate financial obligation of over $80 million and … that is not going to happen," she said.CBRM has long-term debt financing through the province's Municipal Finance Corporation that spread payments out over 10 years, Campbell said."If you're going to look at our net debt through the lens of immediate pressure, that's going to overinflate that and make it look like we aren't solvent, when, in reality, that obligation is due over a long period of time and we're well positioned to meet those obligations over that term."We have not defaulted on those terms, nor are we even close to defaulting on those terms."Municipality a going concernIt would be a struggle if all the debt came due in one year, because non-financial assets can't be easily liquidated, she said.Vehicles and buildings could be sold, but some non-financial assets would be more difficult to convert into cash."How do you sell a used municipal road or used municipal sewer pipes? There's simply no market for that," Campbell said.Last year's audited financial statement shows the municipality is a going concern. CBRM ended the year with a slight surplus of $12,000.It's not yet clear what the pandemic's impact will be on this year's finances, but a current statement is due to be unveiled at Tuesday's council meeting.MORE TOP STORIES
Recent developments:What's the latest?Ottawa has just 40 of Ontario's record 1,589 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases Monday.Western Quebec has 48 more cases Monday and is averaging more new cases a day than Ottawa, despite having about one-third the population. The region also has more patients being treated in hospital for COVID-19.Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for the long-awaited federal commercial rent relief program, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy.The Ontario government is bringing in the former head of the Canadian Armed Forces, Rick Hillier, to oversee distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The province also wants to extend the term of chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams until September.How many cases are there?As of Monday, 8,212 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 347 known active cases, 7,498 cases now considered resolved and 367 people who have died of COVID-19.Public health officials have reported more than 13,200 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 11,800 resolved cases.Eighty-eight people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 71 in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do?Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Travel from one region to another discouraged throughout the Outaouais. Ontario says people shouldn't travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.Ottawa is currently in the orange zone of the provincial pandemic scale, which allows organized gatherings and restaurants, gyms and theatres to bring people inside.Ottawa's medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches has said Ottawa's situation is stable and people should focus on managing risks and taking precautions, such as seeing a few friends outside at a distance, to bring the spread down further.Communities in the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) and Eastern Ontario health units have been moved to yellow. The rest of eastern Ontario remains in the province's green zone.In Gatineau and the surrounding area, which is one of Quebec's red zones, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential.Indoor dining at restaurants remains prohibited and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.The rest of western Quebec is orange, which allows private gatherings of up to six people and organized ones up to 25 — with more in seated venues.Last week, Quebec announced what it will take to have a small holiday gathering next month. Rules won't be loosened until mid-January at the earliest.What about schools?There have been about 200 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.WATCH | Third major drug company gives late-stage vaccine trial update:Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province.Anyone seeking a test should now book an appointment. Different sites in the area have different ways to book, including over the phone or going in person to get a time slot.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.Ottawa has eight permanent test sites, with additional mobile sites deployed wherever demand is particularly high. A test site should open at the McNabb Community Centre tomorrow.Kingston's test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area's other test site is in Napanee.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test site visiting smaller communities.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.In western Quebec:Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne has had its most known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic this month. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel.Akwesasne schools are temporarily closed to in-person learning and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre has also closed. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte reported its first confirmed case this month.People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.For more information
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Two people died and multiple others were injured in a stabbing Sunday night at a church in California where homeless people had been brought to shelter from the cold weather, police said. The stabbing happened at Grace Baptist Church in San Jose, where police said on Twitter that no services were taking place. “Unhoused individuals were brought into the church to get them out of the cold,” the department tweeted. It was unclear exactly how many people were wounded, but some of the injuries were life-threatening, police said. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo initially tweeted that a suspect had been arrested, but police later said no arrest could be confirmed. KTVU-TV reported that a 22-year-old man was apprehended in the stabbing. Video shown by news outlets near the church showed several ambulances and police cars, and police tape and traffic cones cordoning off the road. The Associated Press
Angelique Kidjo and Skip Marley are among several global artists performing social justice anthems for an online fundraising concert celebrating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. The Dec. 1 event on Facebook Live is called Peace Through Music: A Global Event for Social Justice. (Nov. 23)
Ownership changes in New Brunswick apartment complexes that in some cases have been generating eviction notices for tenants in entire buildings is causing anxiety among those displaced.It has led to calls for the province to delay the practice, at least while COVID-19 is surging."We're in the orange zone now," said Tara Cripps, who was told last week by National Bank she, her partner and their five children were being put out of their Saint John home of seven years."We can't even say, 'Hey, can we stay at your house?' We're supposed to be all in one family bubble thing again."She said she's going to need friends to help her pack up."And I'm going to need their trucks and their cars and stuff to move. Is somebody going to call the police and be, like, 'There's multiple people going in and out of this house?'"National Bank recently foreclosed on the Saint John apartment building owned by Cripps's landlord and, on Nov. 12, sent a lawyer's letter to her and her partner ordering them and their children to get out two weeks after Christmas."National Bank requires immediate vacant possession of the above noted property," read the notice from its Fredericton lawyer, Paul White. "On behalf of our client we hereby demand vacant possession on or before Wednesday January 6, 2021."Should you not vacate … it will be necessary for us to make court application to have you evicted and we will be asking for costs on behalf of [National Bank].""I've been here seven years and I've never been late on my rent," said Cripps."I've come to the understanding I need to find a new home. OK. But wait until it's a safer time. Wait until we're not in the orange zone. Wait until it's a little bit warmer. I'm hoping someone at the bank has a heart."The eviction of tenants unable to pay rent was halted by the Higgs government in the early days of the pandemic in March but those restrictions were lifted June 1. Since then, a new type of eviction has emerged as large numbers of New Brunswick apartment buildings have changed hands with some of the new owners wanting current tenants out.Ron Blache-Fraser, a local property manager, said out-of-province investors have taken an interest in New Brunswick income properties as attractive real estate investment opportunities."There's a lot of interest from out-of-town buyers for all sorts of buildings in Saint John because the prices are lower, the returns are better," he said. "It's pretty straightforward."In October, two five-unit buildings on Sherbrooke Street in Saint John were purchased by a group of Vancouver-area investors who paid $470,000 for the properties — 35 per cent above their assessed value. The group then issued eviction notices to tenants in one of the buildings so renovations can be done and rents increased.Blache-Fraser is managing those buildings and said they were in poor condition and needed significant work. He expects rents, which were between $475 and $650 per month prior to the purchase, will climb to $975 for a two-bedroom unit once renovations are complete."We issued notice that we would be doing major renovations and gave tenants three-months notice, which we did not have to do," said Blache-Fraser."They need to be out at the end of January. Some are already leaving and we're in the process of renovating because the buildings are in deteriorated condition." Across the city on Jack Street, an Ontario company bought a pair of 24-unit buildings. In September, it issued eviction notices to tenants in one of the buildings to be out by Nov. 30.That deadline is next week. Although most tenants have gone elsewhere, at least one woman remains. Dave Cormier is her son.He said she has been in the building for 10 years. He said finding a two-bedroom unit for her for the $750 per month she currently pays has been difficult with vacancy rates falling and rents increasing all over Saint John."It's almost impossible unless you've got $1,400, or $1,600 or $2,000 [for rent]," he said."Even $1,100 for a two-bedroom apartment is a lot of money for low-income [people]."Cormier has been speaking with the province about public housing and is hopeful something is happening, but with the eviction deadline just a week away and COVID-19 suddenly spiking in the community, it has been a stressful experience."It's scary. You know, COVID-19 is not making this any easier at all. It might be a little bit easier if that wasn't going on, but it is. And because of that, things are difficult."Last week, a surge in COVID-19 infections across southern New Brunswick caused the province to downgrade communities from Sackville to St. Stephen, including Moncton and Saint John, from the yellow phase to the orange phase of pandemic recovery. That requires the public to limit contacts with people outside of their household bubble.Premier Blaine Higgs was asked Friday if there are any additional protections for tenants in orange-phase areas who are being put out of their buildings. His answer was no."No, not at all," said Higgs. "Not at this time."That causes worry for tenants like Cripps. Her landlord owns multiple buildings and she said the letter carrier who delivered her eviction notice told her he had several others to hand out.A spokesperson for National Bank said it was not involved in other evictions and has already contacted Cripps about allowing her family to stay where it is."Other cases were with other lenders," said Jean-Francois Cadieux. "Our legal external counsel has contacted the tenants. He presented them solutions and informed them that we will not be asking that they vacate their apartment."'Kids can't sleep in a car'But Cripps said the bank's solution involves her making an offer to buy the building. She said she doesn't have a down payment and doubts she could afford the building.She does not want to uproot her children before Christmas but is worried about what comes after, especially if large numbers of other evicted renters are suddenly in the market at the same time looking for a place to live."There are good tenants that are being penalized and now they're being put out," she said."All these families now need to find a home. We're all going to be fighting for an apartment. There are going to be people who are probably going to end up homeless. What are parents going to do? Kids can't sleep in a car."
MONROE, Iowa — This swath of southeast Iowa isn't supposed to be a nailbiter for Democrats.For more than a decade, voters in the college town of Iowa City powered Democratic candidates to Congress. But that changed this month when conservatives who dominate the more rural parts of the district turned out in droves, eager to support President Donald Trump and other Republicans on the ballot.Nearly three weeks after Election Day, a winner hasn't been declared in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District. That's a sign of the unexpected strength Republicans demonstrated in House races across the country, taking down at least 10 Democratic incumbents and dashing Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bold prediction of expanding her majority by double digits.Instead, it appears Democrats made a serious miscalculation in assuming their antipathy toward Trump would fuel victories across the country. They failed to anticipate that Trump's supporters would show up, too, with even greater force than before in rural areas.“It’s the Trump factor,” Jasper County Republican Chairman Thad Nearmyer said on his farm outside Monroe. “People were super excited to vote for the president.”Of course, Trump lost the presidency and Democrat Joe Biden will move into the White House in January after winning nearly 80 million votes nationwide, a historic high. But the enthusiasm for Biden — or for defeating Trump — didn't trickle to other Democrats down ballot.That leaves the party confronting a reckoning over how to move forward. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which supports the party's House candidates, is beginning a “deep dive” examination into what happened.Early interpretations blame a series of missteps. Chief among them was allowing Republicans to portray Democrats as radical, which overtook the party's messaging in some cases on guaranteeing health insurance during a pandemic and rebuilding the economy. Democrats also failed to grow their appeal among some Latinos, particularly Cuban Americans in south Florida.Other strategic decisions are coming under scrutiny. Democrats scaled back in-person campaigning and canvassing because of the novel coronavirus, seeking to protect their candidates and staff, and to model good behaviour during a public health crisis.But that gave Trump an opportunity to rally his supporters. The president's nearly 74 million votes is the second-highest in history and fed massive turnout that helped reshape House races, especially in rural areas.In the final stretch of the campaign, Iowa was seen as competitive. But Trump's visit to the capital of Des Moines two weeks before the election is credited with helping him build momentum to carry the state by 9 percentage points.That dominance lifted downballot Republicans, including Mariannette Miller-Meeks in the 2nd Congressional District. Miller-Meeks' vote total was 15 percentage points higher than the Republican who ran for the seat in 2016, when Trump also won Iowa.The same dynamic helped Republican Ashley Hinson beat first-term Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer in northeast Iowa and, perhaps most notably, lifted Republican Michelle Fischbach to unseat 30-year Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson in rural southern Minnesota.“The poison of Trump was deeper into the bloodstream of the electorate than anyone noticed,” said Bradley Beychok, who ran an advertising program for the Democratic super PAC American Bridge targeting Trump in northern swing states.There were few bright Democratic spots beyond rural areas, as the party's congressional candidates around the country fell short.Democrats gave up seats in south Florida and California, and failed to gain any in Texas, despite targeting 10. Rep. Max Rose lost on New York's Staten Island and Rep. Joe Cunningham couldn't win reelection in South Carolina territory that includes Charleston, nor did Utah's only congressional Democrat, Rep. Ben McAdams.That's fueling an intense round of finger-pointing among Democrats. Some say the enthusiasm for Trump was compounded by unease among voters about some of the most progressive ideas that were debated during the Democratic presidential primary, including the Medicare for All health care plan and the Green New Deal to combat climate change.When demonstrations over institutional racism swept the country, many Democrats also struggled to respond to false Republican attacks that they supported “defunding” the police. Voters for months watched Republican ads featuring unrest with narrators ominously attacking Democrats as anti-police, often with little response.“The defund-the-police thing was not helpful at all,” said Democratic strategist James Carville, an architect of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign.Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, countered “there is just no way forward” for Democrats unless they confront the central challenges in American life, including systemic racism and inequity. She urged the party to embrace a national truth commission to probe racism in the U.S. along with a group to study reparations.“Running away from these things is never going to work. We have to actually do bold things, brave things,” Jayapal said. “Anybody who thinks that elected officials at any level, especially the congressional level, can or should control the messages and the demands and the urgency of movements that erupt on the street for justice are really fooling themselves about their power and their role."Still, Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from the Texas-Mexico border city of Laredo, said the combination of suggestions that his party opposed police, embraced socialized medicine and would sacrifice jobs in key industries like oil and gas to combat climate change gelled into a narrative that doomed candidates.“The progressives, I admire their passion, their commitment, their energy,” said Cuellar, who beat back a primary challenger from the left. “Nobody’s trying to silence anybody. All we’re saying is, within the Democratic Party, there will be different thoughts on ways of doing things.”Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, one of the House’s more conservative Democrats, was more blunt. He called the debate over defunding the police “toxic.”“Our national brand, with the exception of the president-elect, is in really tough shape,” Schrader said.The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC which spent $140 million promoting general election Republican House candidates, claimed success tailoring broader attacks on Democrats on issues like defunding the police to individual races.In Rose’s Staten Island district, for instance, ads focused on how his support for demonstrations against systemic racism insulted local police.To help defeat Democratic challenger Christina Finello in suburban Bucks County, Pennsylvania, meanwhile, an ad featured a mom speaking about how funding cuts to police could jeopardize her ability to “pick up the phone and know that a police officer could be there at a moment’s notice.”“We needed to move out of the national, charged language and make this about peoples’ individual lives and how this would affect them,” said CLF President Dan Conston, who also praised GOP efforts to recruit more women and people of colour to run.Ads criticizing the Green New Deal warned of tax increases in many areas, but highlighted the potential impact on the oil and gas industry in energy-rich places where Republicans ousted Democratic House incumbents, including New Mexico and Oklahoma.By contrast, Democrats' focus on health care proved less influential than during the 2018 midterms, after Republicans had unsuccessfully sought the repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act. According to the AP's VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate, voters' top concern was the pandemic, followed closely by the economy, which favoured Republicans.Democrats needed to further embrace major reforms and “counter messages from the opposition," said Wendell Potter, a former health care industry executive who leads the progressive Center for Health and Democracy, which supports Medicare for All.“You’ve got to make sure people understand that what we’re talking about here ain’t anywhere close to socialism," Potter said.Though Democrats have soul searching ahead, Jasper County Republican Nearmyer notes one GOP advantage will be gone in 2022 — Trump's name on the ballot.“That's one thing that makes me nervous," he said.___Weissert reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.Will Weissert And Thomas Beaumont, The Associated Press
A row over a Thai woman who held up a placard alleging sexual abuse in schools has put a spotlight on harassment in the education system even as she draws threats of legal action for misrepresentation and attacks for soiling Thailand's image. The issue is the latest on which discussion has become more vocal as an anti-government protest movement seeking reform of the monarchy also emboldens people in a society where conservatism has often constrained criticism of the powerful. "I hope my case will raise awareness for people in society, for students in schools, for adults who send children to schools, for teachers and for the Ministry of Education," Nalinrat Tuthubthim, 20, told Reuters.
Lawyers for two former IWK Health Centre executives are still trying to get the most appropriate witnesses on the stand as part of an effort to obtain documents from the office of Nova Scotia's auditor general.Defence counsel for Stephen D'Arcy and Tracy Kitch questioned witnesses in Nova Scotia provincial court on Thursday and Friday but ended those days with little to show for their efforts.On Thursday, acting auditor general Terry Spicer was on the stand for several hours when it became apparent he couldn't answer any detailed questions related to the performance audit of the children's hospital his office completed in 2018. That's because Spicer, who was deputy auditor general at the time, recused himself from the work because his wife worked at the health centre.The revelation and lack of progress that day prompted Judge Elizabeth Buckle to question why Spicer was put forward as a witness in the first place. None of the lawyers were aware he'd recused himself from the work until Thursday.On Friday, Michael Pickup, the province's former auditor general, appeared for two hours via video link from British Columbia, where he now works as that province's auditor general.Although Jacqueline King, Kitch's lawyer, spent the time mainly cross-examining Pickup about the process of how and when audits are performed, how the topics are selected and record keeping for audit work, Pickup, like Spicer, had little direct involvement with the performance audit work.King and Christie Hunter, D'Arcy's lawyer, are hoping to get one or two people who were active in conducting the audit on the stand for upcoming dates in December.Kitch, the former CEO of the children's hospital, is facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust. D'Arcy, the hospital's former chief financial officer, is charged with breach of trust, unauthorized use of a computer and mischief to data.Both resigned from their posts in 2017 following an audit by Grant Thornton that showed Kitch billed about $47,000 in personal expenses to corporate accounts. She eventually repaid the money.Meanwhile, D'Arcy repaid $17,000 in expenses to the hospital just before resigning.Reporting by CBC first raised questions about Kitch's expenses and D'Arcy's involvement. At the time, both attributed the findings to unintended errors.Documents being soughtThe hospital's board then ordered the audit by Grant Thornton. The board chair at the time, Karen Hutt, then called in the auditor general and Halifax Regional Police.The application for access to records from the auditor general was made in June. It's not clear from court testimony so far what information defence lawyers are seeking, although a May 2020 letter from Crown attorney Peter Dostal to the auditor general provides possible insight."I recently received a request from defence counsel for Mr. D'Arcy to inquire for communications and meeting notes in your possession or control that relate to contact between your office and Karen Hutt and/or employees within the IWK concerning the review of the IWK CEO expenses of Tracy Kitch between 2014 and 2017 and any related involvement of Stephen D'Arcy," reads a portion of the letter, which was included as part of an affidavit by Spicer filed in court on Thursday.Part of what's at issue is whether the defence request trumps the privacy practices the office of the auditor general applies to its work. The office is not subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.Trial date could be in jeopardyWith Pickup scheduled to return to the stand on Dec. 3, and the defence still trying to secure other witnesses, there are also questions about whether the effort will affect the start of Kitch's trial.The trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4.But with only two dates remaining before then, concerns were voiced Friday that if Buckle rules in favour of disclosing documents to the defence, there might not be enough time for lawyers to get those documents and prepare before the start of the trial.The issue would be moot, however, if Buckle rules against the defence.D'Arcy's trial is scheduled to begin next June.MORE TOP STORIES
Abolition is a vision that aims to eliminate imprisonment, policing and surveillance, and pushes for the creation of vital systems of care that many of our communities lack. For some, prison abolition and feminism do not go together. As a Black feminist, I believe otherwise. My years of organizing within the Quebec feminist movement, specifically the movement to end sexual violence, have convinced me that abolition is feminist at its core.My experience as a survivor of intimate partner and gender-based violence, moreover, has taught me that the police cannot protect us and that the struggle to end violence cannot be found within punitive and carceral systems.But what does abolition mean for feminist struggles? For starters, it helps to distinguish between abolitionist feminism and carceral feminism. Carceral feminists rely on increased punitive state power in the fight to end violence against women (VAW). They believe that we can stop gender-based violence by putting perpetrators in prisons and imposing harsher sentences.One problem with this position is that it ignores and leaves unchallenged the ways patriarchal and racialized violence is exercised through policing and prisons. This position is also based on the false assumption that the threat of punishment will stop violence from occurring. Whereas abolitionists within the feminist movement centre non-punitive, transformative community-based responses rooted in care, such as investing in life-affirming social services.They call for equipping communities with the tools they need to disrupt and intervene in patterns of harm, but also developing accountability processes for those who enact it.But if we defund the police, who will protect us?One of the most common questions I get as an anti-carceral feminist is "what will we do with rapists?" and "how will we keep each other safe?" After working with survivors and hearing testimonies from women who have been victims of gender-based violence, my answer is simple and straightforward. The police have proven their inability to protect us, which explains why an overwhelming majority of victims do not report their assault to the police.Recognizing the violence and re-victimization survivors face when they report their assault and considering the number of police officers accused and convicted of intimate partner and gender-based violence, many victims believe that reparation cannot be obtained through the criminal justice system.On the other hand, divesting from the police and carceral systems and investing in transformative community-based strategies can create innumerable possibilities for obtaining reparation and healing. Imagine investing in mental health services, shelters and sexual assault centres that are accessible and where Black, Indigenous, Trans, Disabled and other survivors of gender-based violence that face systemic discrimination can seek support.Imagine investing in education, social housing and the creation of unarmed service teams outside the police to address mental health, drug-related crises and gender-based violence. All these efforts would address the root of systemic violence.Alliances between anti-prison and VAW movement?Working for rape crisis centres, along with my own personal experiences with the justice system, have led me to explore abolitionist frameworks within feminist organizing. Unfortunately, there isn't much collaboration between anti-prison and feminist anti-violence movements here in Quebec. Considering the ways in which these two struggles intersect and how sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence are reproduced by the carceral state, convergence seems necessary.Over time, the Quebec VAW movement has grown through state funding, becoming institutionalized, increasing professionalization and undermining its capacity to effectively address gender-based violence. In the process, there has also been a strong shift toward dependence on punitive responses.These groups also pushed forward governmental agendas that conceptualized sexual violence within a framework of criminal law reinforcing broader trends erasing the systemic nature of gender-based violence. Grassroots movements such as INCITE in the United States, have tied the rise of carceral feminisms to the state's co-optation of women's anti-violence movement by attaching funding to collaboration with law enforcement.Healing through transformative justiceAs a movement, where do we go from here? If we are to move forward, we must start acknowledging how gender-based violence is situated within structures of state violence. Our social movements can't claim to be intersectional and support institutions that enact and uphold racism, sexism, colonialism and violence.We need to mobilize and switch responses to gender-based violence from the carceral state to community-based responses rooted in care. We must invest in transformative approaches to gender-based violence prevention that not only help us heal, but prevent further harm.This is our moment. Black Lives Matter, alongside other racial justice movements have pushed abolition out of the margins. Movements to defund the police have gained unprecedented support across North America. Through abolitionist frameworks, the possibilities for ending gender-based violence are endless.On Nov. 26, Marlihan Lopez is organizing an online event tracing how violence against women movements in Quebec have come to rely exclusively on the criminal punishment system to respond to gender-based violence, thus perpetuating a racist, sexist and violent system. Lopez will present an overview of this history and the impact of carceral feminisms in Quebec, Nneka MacGregor will discuss transformative justice as a tool to address violence and Nathalie Batraville will give an introduction to prison abolition. ASL interpretation and translation provided. Please register here.This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read our FAQ. CBC Quebec welcomes your pitches for point-of-view essays. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
A Halifax dance studio hopes that temporarily closing its doors might slow the city's recent spike in COVID-19 cases, and keep it alive in the long run.Some businesses outside the food industry are changing how they operate. This follows the lead of some restaurants and bars who have closed their doors temporarily, without being asked to do so by public health.Haliente Creative Studio on Barrington Street offers salsa, bachata and other styles of classes, as well as social nights for people to practise their moves.But owner Moses Diallo said that even while wearing a mask, physical closeness and the nature of touching hands while dancing increases their risk.On Saturday evening, the day 22 exposure notices were issued by authorities, Diallo announced Haliente would close for the next two weeks.He said even though staff and clients were following public health rules, it felt like a matter of time before someone contracted the coronavirus."It's not an easy decision, but it's one that makes sense and it's better we do this than have an exposure," Diallo said Sunday."Myself, along with many people, have vulnerable individuals in their families and … the risks are just too high at this point."As of Sunday, there were 44 known active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. Premier Stephen McNeil has singled out young people as driving the recent exposures. He said there are 18- to 35-year-olds going out when they feel sick, and in large groups without distancing.New restrictions also start Monday, where residents in the Halifax Regional Municipality are limited to only five people gathering in a social group without physical distancing, down from 10.Closing down 'is a sacrifice,' says business ownerWhen asked whether the government should mandate that businesses close for a short time to get a handle on COVID-19, Diallo said he's "all for it," since short-term pain is bearable if it brings a long-term gain of keeping the economy open over the next few months.Diallo said they nearly didn't survive the last shutdown, when their studio was closed for nearly five months."The two weeks is a sacrifice that we made in order not to close down forever," Diallo said. "I can't afford to close down for more than a month."The Freedom Kitchen & Closet in Lower Sackville has decided to stop clothing donations for now due to the community spread, while the Fall River Animal Hospital has returned to curbside appointments.Many restaurants and cafés in the Halifax area have either closed entirely or announced over the weekend they are now only offering takeout and delivery. People are advised to check with restaurants before visiting.Paul MacKinnon, CEO of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, said Sunday he's heard a broad mix of feedback from members about how to navigate the current spike in cases.He said his organization won't weigh in on whether certain sectors should shut down again. But, MacKinnon predicted many owners will close on their own to protect staff and patrons over the next few days, just like in the spring."It's a business decision that the owner has to make. And if they think they're not going to get a lot of business anyway, in some cases, it may actually save some money," MacKinnon said.Although it's a tough situation coming into the holiday season, MacKinnon said the timing actually puts businesses at an advantage because people will be stocking up on presents and gift cards no matter how high the case numbers climb.Also, MacKinnon said most shops and eateries have active online stores or delivery models that they put in place during the first shutdown earlier this year."Hopefully it won't be as big of an impact as it was before. But of course, it's unchartered territory," MacKinnon said.He said there's some "light at the end of the tunnel" with the recent news that vaccines are close to being ready.MORE TOP STORIES
For many of them, it was the defining professional experience of their lives.But Canada's legacy in Afghanistan is also something deeply personal for the more than 140 Canadian former diplomats, aid workers and police officers who have signed an open letter urging the international community — Canada included — not to abandon Afghanistan as its tentative peace process drags on.Among the signatories is former Conservative cabinet minister Chris Alexander, who was also the country's ambassador in Afghanistan and a UN representative in the war-weary nation. He was joined by another former ambassador, William Crosbie, and Canada's former head of aid and development Nipa Banerjee."This letter's signatories wish to remind Canadians that Afghanistan's absence in the recent past from our news headlines should not mean its absence from our hearts," said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by CBC News."Afghanistan is no longer a topic of political debate in Canada. Yet, we think it is essential to remind our fellow citizens and our political representatives that our continuing engagement does not go unnoticed, and we should remain engaged."'We mustn't give up'Alexander said the plight of the war torn country is "intimate and personal" for many who served there because, in the beginning, it represented much of what the world wanted to accomplish — peace, equality and the elimination of poverty."We mustn't give up. These are the kinds of things we set out to do in the 21st century," said Alexander, who served as Canada's ambassador in Kabul between 2003 and 2005 before becoming the United Nations deputy special representative in the country."I think it is personal for many of us who gave a good portion of our professional lives to it. It is certainly personal for the Afghans."The letter, which was presented last week to the prime minister's office, is seeking the wider "endorsement" of the Canadian public."We are not an organized, registered group, but [we] are bound by our common interest to see the Afghan people achieve peace," Banerjee told CBC News."To some extent, it is an issue of passion. I am not able to explain to you why, as opposed to working in other countries, there is a special passion that grows about Afghanistan."Although the letter has been in the planning stages since the late summer, the plea comes in the immediate wake of a Trump administration decision last week to further draw down U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and on the cusp of a major aid donor conference in Geneva this week.The letter also released as other countries, notably Australia, grappled with the bloody legacy of the intractable guerilla war that has dragged on for almost two decades.Peace negotiations, now taking place in Doha, Qatar between the Afghan government and representatives of the Taliban, have stalled and violence is raging across the country."Our specific objective is to endorse an inclusive peace process," said the letter, which went on to state that it is critical for "the international community to not abandon Afghans as they navigate the difficult path to a better future."Alexander said that's a crucial point, because "the peace talks are not succeeding."And while the problems of Afghanistan may seem to pale in comparison with the worldwide pandemic and the political fissures in the United States, he said, Canada put "an enormous of energy into stabilizing the country" and it should not be forgotten.Canadian troops spent over a dozen years in the country, fighting a brutal guerrilla war with Taliban extremists. The combat operations, and subsequent training mission, cost the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers.Among the civilian casualties was Glynn Berry, a seasoned diplomat who was killed in a suicide bombing in Kandadar in 2006.
High stress, exhaustion, heartbreak: that is how some high school teachers describe working through the second wave of COVID-19. High school teacher Courtney Scratch worries that the current system isn't working for students or parents, and might be doing them a great disservice."To try to keep up with the expectations that were put both on students and on teachers has just been, honestly impossible," Scratch said. The new quadmester system used by the Greater Essex County District School Board splits the school year into four periods, to allow students to be split into two groups — or cohorts. It makes for longer classes and condensed curriculum. Courses that used to be taught over the course of five months are now being taught in eight weeks."It's virtually impossible in certain cases for the students to keep up," Scratch said. "And the feedback that we're getting from them is that they're just getting through it. They're just scraping by. They're not really retaining anything. It just feels like one hurdle after another."Scratch was assigned to teach mathematics completely online for her first quadmester. She was responsible for two classes and a total of 60 students.'Equity issues'A key challenge for teachers, Scratch explained, is lack of preparation time. She explained that the way the school year is split up, teachers get prep time for only two of the four quadmesters. She said, for her first quadmester, she got none. To make up for that, Scratch said she would wake up every morning at about 4 a.m. to prepare her lessons in time for the start of the school day. She would teach throughout the day, taking her lunch hour to meet with students and speak with parents. Once she got home, she would continue marking assignments and preparing lessons into the evening. "Eventually I would just work until I had to fall asleep and then I'd set an early alarm to get up and do it all again," she said. She said students were asking for more review, more assessments, one-on-one time, and so on, which she often wasn't able to accommodate because there simply wasn't enough time. "One of the things I think is not being discussed enough is the equity issues that arise because of this," Scratch said. "Imagine if these students had a teacher who was only working with 30 students and had prep time during the day. The experience of those students would be getting would be absolutely night and day. So it's really not fair to them that this is what they're getting because of the expectations that were piled up on their teachers."'Breaks my heart'Feeling like she's been unable to give her students everything they need has been "heartbreaking," Scratch said. "I just think about what could I have done differently had I had more time during the day to work with them in small groups, to work with them individually, how much more dynamic my lessons could have been had I been able to plan them," she said. "To think that in any way I have failed to equip them for the next steps of their mathematical journey — it breaks my heart in more ways than I can say."New challengesThat heartbreak and sadness is not unique. Erin Roy, the district president for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, says she's heard hearing similar stories from many teachers. "We put our a survey to our members and some of the comments were heartbreaking and brought tears to my eyes," said Roy. In addition to the difficulties around the curriculum, Roy added that teachers are missing the connections and interactions that come during a typical school year, even though they understand the restrictions are to keep everyone safe. "Even our most seasoned teachers, they're somewhat broken because they're not able to do those things."Further to that, Roy explained that teachers are dealing with challenges like never before, "stress on top of stress," from struggles with technology, to dealing with parents who are angered by the challenges the school year has presented for their kids."It's typically the front line worker that's getting that frustration taken out on them. And I feel like that's happening with our teachers a lot," Roy said. Union asking for changesRoy said the union is working to make improvements moving forward. She's calling for better technology for teachers, more technical support for students and parents, more training for virtual delivery of curriculum, and additional attendance counsellors to assist with disengaged virtual learners. She said she's also advocating for the board to reconsider the quadmester teaching model, and to look at other models being used in other parts of the province that might be more successful.For Scratch's next quadmester, she's shifted to in-person teaching, and her schedule now includes preparation time. Having more time to plan "feels almost surreal to feel such euphoria over something that should be an expectation," she said. She's grateful for the time, but also worried for her colleagues who are now in her shoes, experiencing the burden of not having any prep time for the first time.Scratch said she feels the Ministry of Education put the school boards and staff in an impossible situation but said she's hopeful for a solution that can still keep schools safe, while creating a better learning environment. Neither the Greater Essex County District School Board or the Ministry of Education responded CBC's request for comment by deadline.
On a calm day off the shores of Folkestone, a port town in southeast England, the waves slowly lap against the pebble shore. But there is a false sense of peace because of the danger a drastically growing number of migrants are putting themselves in to get here.Nearly 8,000 people have arrived on Britain's shores this year, crossing the English Channel by boat from northern France — four times the number in 2019."I think the busiest day, 400 made the crossing," said Tony Smith, a former head of the U.K. Border Force, which carries out immigration and customs controls.A large number of the people arriving have travelled from conflict zones such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Some travel via Libya to Italy and then on to such countries as France or Germany, while others travel through Turkey to Greece and then on to France.For some, once they arrive in northern France, the final leg of their journey involves crossing the water that separates it from the United Kingdom.In previous years, the crossing was often made hiding in the back of trucks that were loaded onto ferries or in shipping containers, but Smith said that method is becoming difficult."We've introduced a lot more security in the ports. It's much harder now for illegal or irregular migrants to get on board vessels," he said, which is why they are using dinghies and kayaks organized by smugglers in France.The crossing by boat has been deadly this year. In late October, a Kurdish family of five, fleeing Iran, lost their lives when the boat they were in capsized two kilometres off the coast of France. In all, about 10 people died last year making the crossing.Following that tragedy, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to crack down on smugglers.Earlier this year, the government even suggested stopping boats mid-crossing and returning them to France to limit the number of people making it to the U.K.Reaching Britain is a goal for a number of different reasons, including reuniting with family already there and the belief that the U.K. will offer them a better future. As well, it's not uncommon for migrants to have at least a basic grasp of the English language.WATCH | UN urges safe harbour for Banksy-funded migrant rescue boat, other vessels:Supporters call for compassion, better housingThe increased numbers have created issues for housing while the migrants wait for their asylum claims to be processed.Some are now being housed in former military barracks, including the Napier Barracks in Folkestone, a town of about 46,000 people. The barracks were home to Canadian troops during the First World War, where soldiers were staged before heading off to fight on the Western Front."We would like to see people moved to appropriate accommodation, and we would like to see claims processed really quick," said Bridget Chapman, who is with the advocacy group Kent Refugee Action Network. The barracks, she said, are not suitable accommodation, have been empty for years and were earmarked for demolition. Chapman said the situation for the migrants is made worse by tough talk from the government about cracking down on illegal migration. Instead, she would like to focus on providing safe ways for people to claim asylum."It adds to the hostile environment and a very unpleasant atmosphere for people, and I think it's shameful, frankly," Chapman said, pointing out that protesters regularly harass migrants in the community by videotaping their every move.To counter that reception, hundreds of people showed up outside the barracks on a Saturday afternoon in October to give the migrants a warm welcome.With the song We Are Family blaring, supporters waved and cheered at the men through the fence. A group gathered in the compound waved back.Folkestone resident Liberty Carre made a cardboard sign that read "Welcome" in Kurdish."I feel it's important to welcome people coming to this country, to make them feel safe," Carre said.That's what Peter Carroll says his community has been doing for generations, and he doesn't see why this current situation is any different."Folkestone is an area that is usually supportive of people who have come here in the past," he said. "Before the First World War, we welcomed 40 to 50 thousand Belgians. It has a long history of supporting refugees." Migrants bring out protestersBut not long after the friendly crowd left, a smaller group of protesters arrived outside the barracks.One man wearing a red "Make Britain Great Again" hat shouted "go home" at the men, while a woman in the crowd yelled to the media, "These barracks should be housing our homeless veterans, not illegal immigrants."When asked for comment, no one in the group would speak directly with CBC News.In town, that sentiment was echoed by some, though drastically toned down."I just feel like we should look after our own first," said pub owner Steve Barrett. It is a topic that comes up often with customers over a pint, he said, noting that while people feel sorry for the migrants, communities are struggling with COVID-19."I think they should be looked after — everyone deserves a home and somewhere to live — but the country is in a bit of a state at the moment.""We really need to have an open discussion and acknowledge people's concerns from both sides," refugee Ahmad al-Rashid said when asked about the tension over migrants in Folkestone.He left his wife and children in Syria when he came to Britain in 2015. He said the journey was difficult, and he relied on smugglers to get passage on boats and space to hide in the back of trucks.At multiple points, al-Rashid said, he feared for his life and was duped by smugglers, but staying in war-torn Syria wasn't an option for him.Al-Rashid, whose wife and daughters have now joined him in England, said part of the reason he chose the U.K. was because family reunification happens quickly once refugee status is granted."I wanted a place for my children to grow up where I don't have to worry about them being bombed or shelled or killed or kidnapped — or raped," he said, referring to his young daughters.
A perfect storm is brewing for the homeless in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, advocates fear, one that threatens to leave people alone and wandering during the cold winter days.The informal network of daytime supports — a drop-in warming room, the library, the once-monthly soup kitchen — have been cut back or cut entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.It's left homeless men and women with few options for basic needs and a growing fear of the cold Labrador winter that's on the way."It's really scary, I'm frightened for this year's people," said Amos Semigak.At 8 a.m. each morning, the town's only emergency shelter closes its doors and sends its clients outside. They're let back in for what the shelter calls "purpose-driven" visits — to access particular services, drink water or use the washroom. But beyond that, the clients are on the street — and in the woods — until 8 p.m., when they can get back into the shelter.On weekends, the Housing Hub is completely closed, and there's no staff to answer the door.Last year, many of those daytime hours could be spent watching TV at the Labrador Friendship Centre's common room, or on the computer in the public library. While some of those services are slowly resuming, others — like the Labrador Friendship Centre — see no easy return until the pandemic has ended.The common room at the Centre has been transformed into a COVID-19 screening area. It's a necessity, according to executive director Jennifer Hefler-Elson, for them to continue safely operating the medical hostel on-site."It was a very difficult decision," she said."We have to have that space to be able to get people to come here, to stay here, and know that they are protected as well, because the people that are coming here are vulnerable as well."Anyone who wanted to operate a warm room this winter would need a properly equipped space and properly trained staff — probably more that usual, due to COVID-19, she said. That's a set of conditions that wouldn't just appear overnight.So instead, many homeless men and women walk along the town's trails, Semigak said, where drinking is a common way to keep warm and pass the time.The remnants of make-shift camps can be seen throughout town, and they've drawn the ire of the municipal government — which wrote to the provincial government last year to complain about a growing homeless and transient population."As a council, we have received complaints of indecent exposure and acts," wrote Mayor Wally Andersen in 2019."Many consume alcohol in public at all hours of the day, and it's common to see an individual passed out on the side of the road or along trails within the community."For the past few months, Semigak has been living in a room in the Labrador Inn, a motel in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which is being used as overflow space for the town's shelter.For him, that means he has somewhere to stay during the cold days. And, he says, he's been able to avoid the campsites along the trail where drinking is common — a fact he's proud of.But he knows what it's like to be there.Semigak is facing two charges in provincial court, relating to a fire he set in July. Court documents allege he set a fire too close to a forested area within the fire season.Semigak said he set the fire because he had been drinking and had just fallen into water. It was cold outside and was too late for him to access the homeless shelter."I could have perished that night," he said. "What could I do about this? There's nowhere I could go, there's no heat or nothing."He said he was forced into an impossible situation and fears others in the community will face those same pressures this winter."What else is there to do? There's nothing else to do here but [drink]," he said."There's no programs or anything for us people to be doing here." Staff at the Housing Hub shelter in Happy Valley-Goose Bay say they're doing everything they can to accommodate and help the homeless population, but are still struggling with a growing issue.Krystal Saunders, a coordinator and housing liaison worker at the shelter, said it seems like the need exploded earlier this year."We definitely had a rough summer in trying to provide … quality support to the clients," she said. "We didn't want to leave balls hanging in the air, but we were being forced to because we were ran so short staffed, the volume just blew up overnight."Its numbers have fallen — as some people move to other rural areas in the winter — but the shelter is still full, stretched beyond its COVID-19 capacity, and filling rooms at the Labrador Inn."This should be a temporary place for people to stay when they have no housing, and then they should be moving on," added Michelle Kinney, the deputy minister of health and social development for the Nunatsiavut Government. "At the moment, there's very little moving on."Kinney and Saunders said even as clients are making progress, there's limited spaces, long wait lists, not enough funding and not enough options for people trying to leave the shelter's care.It's all adding up to an ongoing cycle: homeless men and women shuffling into the shelter at 8 p.m., and shuffling out at 8 a.m."If there's a snowstorm at 8 o'clock in the morning, you feel really guilty about putting them out through the door," Kinney said. "But we don't have the staffing or capacity from this perspective to do any more about it.""It's a huge issue."It's an issue Dawn Crocker knows all too well.Crocker is a bartender at the Sandbar Lounge in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. She was working the night she last saw her friend, Susanna Rich."I asked her if she had a place to go, she told me she had a place, she was going to a friend's,"Rich was at the bar, but not drinking, Crocker said."She was just a kind soul, she was a peaceful lady. She just wanted to be somewhere where she felt she could be, and be herself."That was Friday night. Monday morning, police found Rich's body on the trail."It still hurts me yet to think about how she died," she said, fighting back tears. "Cold, and alone, and froze to death in a trail. And she was sober that night. She just had no place to go."The RCMP say they can't release Rich's cause of death — and the province's Chief Medical Examiner said there were no instances where hypothermia or exposure was formally registered as a cause of death in the town last winter.But Crocker believes the extreme temperatures caused — or at least contributed to — the death of her friend, and others in the community last year. And so do some of the men who stay at the emergency shelter."I'm hurt about those people that perished here due to the winter cold," said Semigak. "It wasn't right for those people to pass away. We need a proper shelter, we need the Newfoundland government to listen to us people, because we matter too, we matter as human beings.'"People keep freezing outside and dying," added Tobey Noah, a homeless man in the community.Noah's welcome to stay at the shelter, but said he doesn't feel comfortable there because of trauma he's felt over the death of his girlfriend and child, and ensuing struggles with alcoholism.The COVID-19 pandemic has scared him too. In the shelter, he'd have to sleep in a room with three or four other people."I usually just get a tarp and blankets, they usually give me blankets here to sleep outside," he said. "I make a little house, and take boughs and put them inside, and sleep in there."He could stay with family and friends, but he decided to give up his home and move to Happy Valley-Goose Bay to escape some of the demons.Crocker is terrified at the thought of another person dying alone on the trails and has started a project to help people like Noah.She's distributing sleeping bags all across Labrador, in hopes of getting them to people suffering in the cold, but said the issue needs serious attention."It's going so slowly," she said. "It's like staring into the [barrel] of a gun, knowing it's going to go off, but not knowing when…. We need to put things in place now. It should not be this way, it should never be this way."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador