A wind funnel stirs up leaves into a tiny, tiny tornado.
A wind funnel stirs up leaves into a tiny, tiny tornado.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court seemed concerned Tuesday about the impact of siding with food giants Nestle and Cargill and ending a lawsuit that claims they knowingly bought cocoa beans from farms in Africa that used child slave labour.The court was hearing arguments in the case by phone because of the coronavirus pandemic. If the court were to accept Nestle and Cargill's arguments, that could further limit the ability of victims of human rights abuses abroad to use U.S. courts to sue. But both liberal and conservative justices asked questions that were skeptical of arguments made by the companies' attorney.“Many of your arguments lead to results that are pretty hard to take,” conservative Justice Samuel Alito told attorney Neal Katyal, who was arguing on behalf of Nestle and Cargill. The court's three liberal justices were particularly critical of Katyal's position, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor at one point saying it “boggles my mind.”The case before the justices has been going on for more than 15 years. It involves six adult citizens of Mali, referred to only as John Does, who say that as children they were taken from their country and forced to work on cocoa farms in neighbouring Ivory Coast. They say they worked 12 to 14 hours a day, were given little food and were beaten if their work was seen as slow.The group says that Minneapolis-based Cargill and the American arm of Switzerland-based Nestle “aided and abetted” their slavery by, among other things, buying cocoa beans from farms that used child labour. The group is seeking to bring a class action lawsuit on behalf of themselves and what they say are thousands of other former child slaves.Both Nestle and Cargill say they have taken steps to combat child slavery and have denied any wrongdoing.The case involves a law enacted by the very first Congress in 1789, the Alien Tort Statute, which permits foreign citizens to sue in U.S. courts for human rights abuses. The justices are being asked to rule on whether it permits lawsuits against American companies.Justice Brett Kavanaugh was among the justices with tough questions for Nestle and Cargill's attorney. “The Alien Tort Statute was once an engine of international human rights protection,” Kavanaugh said before quoting a brief that argued that the companies' position would “gut the statute.” “So why should we do that?” he asked.Alito, for his part, was also skeptical about this particular case against Nestle and Cargill. “You don't even allege that they actually knew about forced child labour,” Alito told attorney Paul Hoffman.“We do contend that these defendants knew exactly what they were doing in that supply chain,” Hoffman responded.The case had previously been dismissed twice at an early stage, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit revived it. The Trump administration is backing Nestle and Cargill.The high court in recent years has limited the use of the Alien Tort Statute. Most recently, in 2018, the court ruled that foreign businesses cannot be sued under the law. In that case, the court rejected an attempt by Israeli victims of attacks in the West Bank and Gaza to use U.S. courts to sue Jordan-based Arab Bank, which they said helped finance the attacks. Cargill and Nestle are asking the court to take another step and rule out suits against U.S. companies.A decision is expected by the end of June.Jessica Gresko, The Associated Press
VAL-D’OR, secteur DUBUISSON-:La Sûreté du Québec a dévoilé mardi après-midi l'identité des deux conducteurs qui sont décédés lors de l'accident survenu lundi après-midi sur la route 117, dans le secteur Dubuisson, de Val-d'Or. Il s'agit d'Alain Jacques, 43 ans, de Val-d'Or, et de Patrick Chaussé, 47 ans, de Montréal. La collision est survenue vers 13h00 lundi.. Selon les informations fournies par la Sûreté du Québec, l’accident implique un camion semi-remorque, un camion de déneigement et une minifourgonnette. «On ne connaît pas les circonstances exactes de l’accident, indique le Sergent Hugues Beaulieu, porte-parole de la Sûreté du Québec. Une manœuvre de dépassement serait à l’origine de l’accident. Sous la force de l’impact, le poids lourd s’est retrouvé en travers du chemin. Un reconstitutionniste est sur place pour tenter d’expliquer comment s’est produit l’accident.» Selon la SQ, M. Jacques, le conducteur de la déneigeuse, aurait été éjecté de son véhicule au moment de l’impact. Il a été transporté à l’hôpital, où on a constaté son décès. Quant à M. Chaussé, le conducteur de la minifourgonnette, il a lui aussi été transporté à l’hôpital. Son décès a aussi été constaté quelques minutes après l’accident. La route 117 a été complètement fermée pendant plus de 12 heures entre Val-d’Or et Malartic. La route a été rouverte en alternance vers 4h45 mardi, et rouverte dans les deux sens vers 7h00. Michel Ducas, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
BUCKHORN — Banners have been placed on each of the eight lampposts on the Buckhorn lock bridge to help enhance tourism in the region as small businesses continue to struggle through the pandemic. As an initiative through the Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8), Trail Town has made the Trent-Severn Waterway Canada’s first waterway trail, says Leslie Clarkson, vice-chair of the RTO8 board and co-chair of the Buckhorn Trail Town committee. The trail currently connects a total of nine communities on the system, including Buckhorn, Coboconk, Rosedale, Fenelon Falls, Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Lakefield, Hastings and Campbellford, Clarkson said. The concept was taken from the Great Allegheny Passage in the United States; a biking and hiking trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Tourism is one of the main economic drivers in Buckhorn, Clarkson said. “Buckhorn is one of the busiest locks on the entire Trent Severn system, and our welcome centre is generally the busiest in the region,” she said. Buckhorn is one of the only towns of the nine communities that has municipal funding, so some of the funding was used for the banners, Clarkson said. “The main thing really is to get visitors to come to the area and to stay in the area and to stay in the region, and then to get them to want to come back and spend more time in the region,” said Clarkson. Trail Town is a great opportunity to help attract visitors to the area and to let them know that there’s a variety of different things that they can do in the region, said Selwyn Township Mayor Andy Mitchell. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s coming at a time when the tourism industry is facing some challenges,” he said. “Hopefully we can position ourselves as we move forward, particularly in the spring and summer when, from a public health perspective, things will be much better to welcome visitors from across the province and across the world." With boaters travelling down the Trent Severn Waterway as well as cars crossing the bridge, the banners will be seen by many, Clarkson said. However, the banners are just the first step in the Trail Town initiative, Clarkson said. “As we move forward to year two and year three, we will continue to capitalize on the relationship with Parks Canada and look at those other gyms that a visitor would stumble across and develop those as well,” she said. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
HALIFAX — Modest upticks in COVID-19 case numbers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick prompted guarded optimism from one health official Tuesday, while another gave an example of how quickly the situation can change. Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases, which brought its total active case count to 142, while New Brunswick identified seven, bringing its total of ongoing cases to 116. Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said the relatively low numbers seen over the last week in his province were a "positive sign" considering the announcement of 37 cases and sweeping new restrictions for the Halifax area that was made one week earlier. "That's certainly much better than I expected," Strang said of the numbers. "That is a good sign that we are relatively stable, but it's much too early to relax yet." He cautioned that more concerning is the number of close contacts for each new case, which has now grown on average to eight, as compared to three close contacts per case during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring. "So you can see why I keep saying we need to reduce our social contacts," Strang said. In New Brunswick meanwhile, the chief medical officer of health confirmed a super-spreader event in the Saint John area was responsible for more than 80 per cent of that region's current active cases. "We have determined that 34 people that attended this super-spreader event have since contracted COVID-19 and a further 26 cases were contracted indirectly when attendees infected others that they came into contact with," Dr. Jennifer Russell told a news conference in Fredericton. Russell provided no other details, except that the event occurred at two venues in the course of one evening. She said a super-spreader event occurs when a large number of cases are traced to a single gathering or event, with COVID-19 being transmitted from one individual, or a relatively small number of individuals who were in attendance while infectious. Like her counterpart in Nova Scotia, Russell stressed the importance of people maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks. New Brunswick's new cases include four in the Saint John area and three in the Fredericton area. Back in Nova Scotia, all of the new cases were identified in the Halifax area, which has accounted for the majority of the province's cases in the current outbreak. As a result, Atlantic Canada's largest city has been under increased restrictions since Thursday that have seen the closure of in-person dining at restaurants and of public libraries, museums, gyms, yoga studios and casinos. The outbreak led to the withdrawal from the Atlantic regional bubble of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick last week. Strang was asked why there hadn't been an explosion of cases like those seen elsewhere in the country, and he said it was partly due to messaging weeks before about the growing trends in other provinces. "I think a lot of people thankfully, listened to that and started to adjust behaviours," he said. "So I think there was some adjustment . . . even prior to us putting the restrictions in place." Elsewhere in the Atlantic region, Prince Edward Island announced no new cases and has just four active cases. However, the province's chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, said her office still didn't know how a student from Charlottetown Rural High School who was diagnosed on the weekend was infected with the novel coronavirus. Morrison said extensive testing on about 70 close contacts has not turned up a source, although it's likely the student had contact with someone who had travelled off the Island. She said 102 people were in self-isolation as a result of being a positive case or a close contact of a case. Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Health officials said the travel-related case involved a man in his 50s in the eastern health region who had returned to the province from work in British Columbia. The province has 33 active cases with no one in hospital due to the virus. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. — With files from Kevin Bissett in Fredericton Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The civilian official overseeing the Pentagon's campaign to defeat the Islamic State group in the Middle East was forced to resign in the latest jolt to Pentagon leadership in the waning weeks of the Trump administration. The Pentagon said in a written statement that the acting defence secretary, Christopher Miller, on Monday accepted the resignation of Christopher Maier, who had provided policy oversight of the military's counter-IS effort since March 2017. A defence official familiar with the matter said Maier was told Monday that since President Donald Trump had long ago declared the IS militant group defeated, his office was being disbanded and he was abruptly “terminated.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an internal personnel matter. Maier, a career counterterrorism official, was director of the Defeat-ISIS Task Force, whose responsibilities are to be absorbed by counterterrorism staffs headed by appointees who President Donald Trump placed in senior Pentagon positions in a shakeup that included his firing of Defence Secretary Mark Esper on Nov. 9. Maier's departure was first reported by CNN. The New York Times was first to report that Maier had been forced out. In its statement, the Pentagon gave no reason for Maier's departure but said the decision to disband the task force he led was a recognition of the “success of the military fight to destroy” the Islamic State's grip on territory in Iraq and Syria. Critics say that while the militant group has lost its physical empire, it remains a threat and has been biding its time in search of ways to regroup and re-emerge. “The Department of Defence will continue to engage with our partners and allies to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS and encourage the repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters for prosecution,” the Pentagon said. Nearly 900 U.S. troops are still in Syria to work with local groups aiming to prevent an IS resurgence. The U.S. also has about 3,000 troops in neighbouring Iraq working with local security forces toward the same goal. The counter-IS campaign began during the Obama administration and in some respects was accelerated by Trump. Robert Burns, The Associated Press
Norfolk County’s answer to Cruella de Vil is believed to have stolen two puppies from a Delhi home on Friday. Norfolk OPP say the alleged dognappers came to the Tisdale Road property — just south of Delhi — between 6:40 and 8 p.m. on Nov. 27 and made off with two tan-coloured female pups, along with a trail camera. The five-month-old dogs are described as a mix of ridgeback, mastiff, Newfoundlander and shepherd. Police welcome tips from the public to solve this case and get the pups back home. Information about the theft can be left with the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers via 1-800-222-8477 or helpsolvecrime.com.J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Windsor West MP Brian Masse, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce president Rakesh Naidu and members of Windsor's aviation community on Tuesday morning called on the federal government to intervene and have Navigation Canada (NAV Canada) remove Windsor International Airport from a list of six airports being studied for possible removal of air traffic controllers."The Minister of Transportation, Marc Garneau, must provide a clear and definitive answer that the future of Windsor's Airport is secure and that air traffic control services will be maintained," said Masse.Masse said he will have a petition to the federal government online that reads, "Remove NAV Canada's decision to consider closure, or reduction of services of the air traffic control tower at the Windsor Airport or explicitly express opposition to any decision or recommendation of this nature.""The minister can simply intervene and he should do that," said Masse in a news conference in front of the airport terminal and control tower.Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmiercyzk recently told CBC News that Garneau did not have the power to tell NAV Canada what to do, and that he and anyone else opposed to losing air traffic controllers here will have their say when NAV Canada consults with stakeholders.But Masse said there should have been clear signals from the government to NAV Canada before this study, adding that he doesn't believe any of the other airports, including in Whitehorse and Regina, should lose air traffic control either."So even if he says [Garneau] technically can't take them off the list at this point in time, he can still go out and publicly say that he's actually against closing the towers and he's not going to approve them," said Masse. "In fact, if NAV Canada actually does eventually recommend closure or reduction of services, the minister then has to do another study and the study then actually comes back again. So we're into the cycle of study after study after study when it is completely unnecessary," he said.Dilkens also said Garneau can certainly have a conversation with NAV Canada officials.The airport has seen a 300 per cent increase in traffic since 2009 and was serving 383,000 passengers in 2019. Dilkens said losing the air traffic controllers jeopardizes future growth and threatens the continuation of commercial air traffic the airport has now."Moving bodies out of a control tower causes issues for the future prosperity of Windsor airport. It will cut this success story off at the knees," said Dilkens, adding he has not heard back from Garneau, to whom he sent a letter asking that the air traffic controllers remain.Commercial pilots also added their voices of concern for safety, considering the high volume of air traffic in and around Detroit.Corporate pilot Dante Albano likened air traffic control to traffic lights, and when they go out the intersection turns into a four-way stop."In a busy air space like this with Detroit so close it gets kinda of crazy up there sometimes," said Albano.Richard Bradwell, manager of the Windsor Flying Club, said loss of air traffic control is the "first step toward" to closing the airport entirely."Our business has been growing. We've been surviving through COVID. This is absolutely the last thing that we need is to see NAV Canada considering closing the tower and doing this sort of damage to our airport," said Bradwell.Essex MP Chris Lewis has also issued a statement calling on Garneau to remove Windsor airport from the study.Masse's petition is expected to go up on his Facebook page and website Wednesday afternoon.
BERLIN — A man zig-zagged an SUV at high speed through a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on Tuesday, killing five people, including a 9-month-old child, and seriously injuring more than a dozen, officials said. The driver, identified as a 51-year-old German man born in Trier, was arrested at the scene and the vehicle was impounded, Trier police said. The suspect, whose name was not released in line with German privacy laws, had no fixed address and had been living in recent days in the Land Rover that a friend had loaned him, which was used in the attack, said prosecutor Peter Fritzen, who was heading the investigation. He was being interrogated by police and was to undergo a psychiatric examination, Fritzen said, adding that a doctor had recently reached the preliminary conclusion the man could be suffering from mental illness. “We have no indication that there was any kind of a terrorist, political or religious motive that could have played a role,” he told reporters. The suspect had also consumed a “not insignificant” quantity of alcohol before the incident and was well above the legal limit, he added. Mayor Wolfram Leibe, who was brought to tears during the day talking about the horrific scene, said it was difficult to come to grips with what had happened. “I can't understand how someone gets the idea to drive through the city centre with an SUV to kill people,” he said. “Kill people — a baby, 9 months old to a woman 72 years old; what did these people do? They just wanted to go to the city, shop, and now they are dead.” Four people were still in life-threatening danger in the hospital and five others suffered serious injuries, while another six had less serious injuries, state Interior Minister Roger Lewentz said. Police later said one of the injured succumbed, but provided no further details. The others killed were identified as a 25-year-old woman and a 45-year-old man from Trier; the baby's mother was among those hospitalized. Police said the oldest victim was aged 73. “This incident has shaken all of Germany,” Lewentz said. Police were called shortly before 2 p.m. with reports of the attack. Lewentz commended security forces on their reaction, saying that they had located the car, which had stopped at the side of the street, and taken the suspect into custody within four minutes of receiving the first call. The driver, who was alone in the car, resisted arrest but was overpowered by police, authorities said. In a video posted by a local media outlet purportedly showing the arrest, police could be seen pinning a man down on the sidewalk next to a car with Trier license plates. The authenticity of the video could not immediately be verified and it was taken down shortly after police tweeted a request that people do not share photos and videos of the scene. Footage from the scene showed people outside a shop apparently helping someone on the ground lying among scattered debris. Rhineland-Palatinate state governor Malu Dreyer, who comes from Trier, condemned the attack as a “brutal act.” “It was a really, really terrible day for my hometown,” Dreyer told reporters after visiting the scene. Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, tweeted that the incident was “shocking.” “Our thoughts are with the relatives of those killed and with the numerous injured, and with everyone currently on duty caring for them,” he said. Trier is about 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of Frankfurt, near the border with Luxembourg. The city of about 110,000 people is known for its Roman gate, the Porta Nigra, which is near the scene of the incident, and as the birthplace of Karl Marx. ___ Geir Moulson contributed to this report. David Rising, The Associated Press
Statistics from Public Health Ontario (PHO) show the opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are significantly higher than the numbers being reported by Toronto Public Health and some other Southern Ontario locations. For comparison purposes, statistics were compiled in quarterly segments from the end of March 2019, through to the end March of 2020, which was the one-year time period with the latest available information on Emergency Room visits, hospitalizations and opioids-related deaths. In the first quarter of this year, just in the Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) jurisdiction, the rate of opioid deaths was listed at 41.9 per 100,000 population, an increase of 16.7 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 200,424 within the jurisdiction of the Sudbury health unit, which includes the City of Greater Sudbury and several surrounding smaller communities, such as Espanola, Chapleau and on Manitoulin Island. Public Health Ontario said this accounts for 21 deaths in the first three months of this year for the PHSD service area. The Sudbury health unit's own opioid surveillance program reports that from January 2020 to June 2020, opioids have claimed 44 lives. The Sudbury health unit jurisdiction, in the first three months of this year, also had an opioid death rate more than three times higher than the national rate in Canada, which is 12.1 deaths per 100,000 residents. By comparison, for the Toronto Public Health area, the rate of opioid deaths was 11.4 per 100,000 population. It is an increase of 8.6 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 3,090,377. The rate for the last three months of 2019 was 10.5 per 100,000. For the third quarter, the rate was lower at 6.1 deaths per 100,000. The second quarter of 2019 in Toronto, the death rate was 10.5 and in the first quarter the death rate was 11.2 deaths per 100,000. The lower rate was evident in other parts of Southern Ontario. In the jurisdiction of Ottawa Public Health, the rate of opioid deaths was lower at 7.7 per 100,000, the first three months of this year. This was for a population of slightly more than one million. In the Peel region, Peel Public Health reported an even lower fatality rate of 7.6 per 100,000 residents, for a population listed at more than 1.5 million. In the Windsor - Essex County Health Unit, the opioid fatality rate was 15.2 per 100,000 based on a population of roughly 420,000. In the Niagara Public Health Region, the death rate in the first three months this year was reported at 23.1 per 100,000 population for a region of more than 468,000 residents. Back to Northern Ontario, the rates were far higher in general. The Porcupine Health Unit, representing Timmins and several other smaller northern towns, also has a high rate of opioid deaths according to the PHO stats. For the first three months of this year, the death rate attributed to opioids was 32.8 per 100,000 population, three times the Toronto rate. This was for a population of 85,273. Figures for the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) for the first quarter of this year revealed a mortality rate of 28.5 per 100,000 population. This was for a population of nearly 155,000 in the TBDHU jurisdiction. For the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit it was revealed that the rate of opioid deaths was 18.6 per 100,000 population. This was for a region of more than 129,000 residents. The Timiskaming Health Unit, which includes such communities as Kirkland Lake and Temiskaming Shores, the rate was 12.1 per 100,000 for a jurisdiction with a population of more than 33,000 residents. Four deaths occurred in that jurisdiction between March 2019 and March 2020. Further west in the jurisdiction of the Northwestern Health Unit, for communities such as Kenora, Red Lake and Dryden, the mortality rate for the first three months of this year was 9.8 per 100,000, a couple of points lower than Toronto. This was for a population just short of 82,000. A full report on the patterns of opioid-related deaths in Ontario during 2020 the pandemic may be causing some unintended consequences. "In June 2020, Ontario’s Chief Coroner announced a 25 per cent increase in suspected drug-related deaths between March and May 2020, compared to the monthly median reported in 2019. Similar trends have been reported elsewhere in Canada," said the report. "It is expected that this increase in drug-related deaths is being driven by a combination of numerous factors, including an increasingly toxic unregulated (‘street’) drug supply, barriers to access to harm reduction services and treatment, and physical distancing requirements leading to more people using drugs alone."Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
OTTAWA — Provinces are criticizing the federal Liberals for failing to signal more help for health-care systems and strained provincial coffers in its new spending plans, setting up a potential showdown next week between the prime minister and premiers.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet Dec. 10 with the country's premiers, who have been demanding a meeting since September to talk about the annual federal transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care.The fiscal update released Monday, which proposed some $25 billion in new spending to top up and expand existing programs and create new, targeted support for hard-hit industries, did not detail a bump in health-care spending beyond increases planned before the COVID-19 pandemic.Federal health transfers to provinces will rise to $43.1 billion next year from $41.9 billion this year, as part of a prearranged three per cent annual increase.Provinces say the proposal still falls well short of what is needed to properly fund their systems, not including the added costs associated with COVID-19.They want the federal government to boost its share of health-care funding by an extra $28 billion this year with annual increases of $4 billion thereafter. "The primary objective of the premiers to to see a structural change in how health care is funded," Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said Tuesday in an interview. "And I think they're going to be successful because it is the No. 1 thing that Canadians are interested in right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, is making sure we have stable, long-term health-care funding."The Liberals argue they've sent plenty to the provinces for pandemic-related measures, totalling $24 billion to support health-care systems across the country.On Tuesday, Trudeau said he planned to hear out the provinces about their needs during and after the pandemic, but wouldn't commit to added spending.His Liberal government's fall economic statement must first survive a confidence vote in the House of Commons. Failure to gather the necessary support would mean the minority government falls, which could plunge the country into a federal election."I am reasonably confident that none of the opposition parties wants an election right now. We certainly don't want one," Trudeau told reporters outside his Ottawa residence."We want to get these supports out to Canadians. And there are certainly things in this fall economic statement that every party should be able to support in terms of helping Canadians."Spending to date is putting the federal deficit on track to reach $381.6 billion this year, but the government's math says it could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks.Pandemic-related spending has sent total federal transfers this year to $99.7 billion. Next year, the amount falls to $82.1 billion, near where it was before the pandemic, based on figures in the fall economic statement.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said the Liberals' spending binge pre-pandemic has blown the margin now to increase transfers to lower levels of government."There's not a lot of room left for other commitments because of (Trudeau's) irresponsible and insatiable appetite for spending other people's money," Poilievre said.Rebekah Young, Scotiabank's director of fiscal and provincial economics, wrote in an analysis that one-off transfers to provinces were necessary under the circumstances, but there should be a structural shift in the long term to make the country's finances sustainable."And the discussion should be broader than expenditure-shifting, as provinces have been reluctant to take up revenue capacity given up at the federal level in recent years," she wrote.The Liberals are proposing extra help through a revised fiscal stabilization program that sends money to provinces facing a year-over-year decline in non-resource revenues.The economic statement looks to lift funding capped now at $60 per resident up to $170.Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews said his province expects to receive $750 million under the new limits, which falls well short of what Alberta could use. He said he was disappointed the Liberals didn't eliminate the cap as provinces have asked."We're going to continue to seek support from other provinces and we're disappointed in what I would call is really not even a half measure," he told reporters at the provincial legislature.Newfoundland and Labrador's Finance Minister Siobhan Coady said the province still wouldn't qualify for help through the stabilization fund this year despite a 45 per cent drop in offshore oil revenues.She added the increase in the cap is unlikely to be a big benefit.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.— With files from Shawn Jeffords in Toronto, and Dean Bennett in EdmontonJordan Press, The Canadian Press
SASKATOON — Community associations in Saskatoon are being urged to take away nets at outdoor rinks to avoid groups from playing hockey. The provincial government and public-health officials recently suspended all team sports until Dec. 17 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. In a letter to community associations dated Nov. 30, the city says it sought clarification from the province about how the restriction applied to outdoor rinks. The city's letter says it was told that the ban on team sports applies to both indoor and outdoor rinks. It cites the province's public-health order that says organized or pickup hockey games during public skating times are not allowed and asks that hockey nets be removed. As a result, the city is strongly recommending that its community associations not leave out hockey nets that could be used while rinks are unsupervised. "These are recommendations and guidelines to protect the community and to try to address the spread of COVID," said Andrew Roberts, the city's director of recreational and community development. "We realize it's not a normal winter and that there (are) some sacrifices being made." Roberts noted that the public-health order is in place for three weeks and that the city's recommendation around outdoor hockey nets isn't mandatory. Even though team sports are prohibited, the province says athletes 18 and younger can still practise in groups of eight but must take precautions such as wearing masks. The Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association says on its website it checked with the city and nets will remain in place for practices. Health officials reported 181 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and said 123 people were in hospital. The Ministry of Health has said team sports were suspended for three weeks because the activities were leading to COVID-19 cases in schools and workplaces. Recently, health officials warned that nine players and one coach on a teenage hockey team tested positive for COVID-19, and other teams were self-isolating. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. — By Stephanie Taylor in Regina The Canadian Press
GENEVA — The U.N. humanitarian office says needs for assistance have ballooned to unprecedented levels this year because of COVID-19, projecting that a staggering 235 million people will require help in 2021.This comes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and global challenges including conflicts, forced migration and the impact of global warming.The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, expects a 40% increase in the number of people in need of such assistance in 2021 compared to this year — a sign that pain, suffering and torment brought by the coronavirus outbreak and other problems could get worse even if hopes of a vaccine are rising.OCHA made the projections in its latest annual Global Humanitarian Overview on Tuesday, saying its hopes to reach 160 million of those people in need will cost $35 billion. That’s more than twice the record $17 billion that donors have provided for the international humanitarian response so far this year — and a target figure that is almost certain to go unmet.“The picture we’re painting this year is the bleakest and darkest perspective on humanitarian needs we’ve ever set out, and that’s because the pandemic has reaped carnage across the most fragile and vulnerable countries on the planet,” said U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who heads OCHA.“For the first time since the 1990s, extreme poverty is going to increase, life expectancy will fall, the annual death toll from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria is set to double,” he said. “We fear a near doubling in the number of people facing starvation.”Lowcock told a U.N. briefing in New York on the overview that he thinks the U.N. appeal will probably raise a record $20 billion by the end of the year -- $2 billion more than last year. But he said the gap between needs and funding is growing and the U.N. is looking to “new players” coming on the scene in 2021, including U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s new administration.The U.N. aims to reach about two-thirds of those in need, with the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations trying to meet the rest, Lowcock explained.U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said humanitarian aid budgets are now facing dire shortfalls as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen, and said extreme poverty has risen for the first time in more than a generation.“The lives of people in every nation and corner of the world have been upended by the impact of the pandemic,” he said in a video statement. “Those already living on a knife’s edge are being hit disproportionately hard by rising food prices, falling incomes, interrupted vaccination programs and school closures.”The overview, which is billed as one of the most comprehensive looks of the world’s humanitarian needs, has put together nearly three dozen individual response plans for a total of 56 “vulnerable” countries.Lowcock said the biggest problem is in Yemen where there is danger of “a large-scale famine” now, saying a prime reason is lack of funding from Gulf countries that were major donors in the past which has led to cuts in aid and the closing of clinics.He said the biggest financial request is for the Syrian crisis and its spillover to neighbouring countries where millions of Syrians have fled to escape the more than nine-year conflict.OCHA said other countries in need include Afghanistan, Congo, Haiti, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine and Venezuela. Newcomers to this year’s list are Mozambique, where extremist activity has increased in the north, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.Lowcock said it’s not the pandemic, but its economic impact that’s having the greatest effect on humanitarian needs.“These all hit the poorest people in the poorest countries hardest of all,” he said. “For the poorest, the hangover from the pandemic will be long and hard.”Lowcock told the launch of the overview, speaking virtually from New York, that the world faces a clear choice.“We can let 2021 be the year of the grand reversal – the unravelling of 40 years of progress – or we can work together to make sure we all find a way out of this pandemic,” he said.___Lederer reported from the United NationsJamey Keaten And Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
WINNIPEG — Manitobans will likely have to deal with strict COVID-19 measures into the winter, Premier Brian Pallister warned Tuesday.With daily case counts remaining high and intensive care capacity close to the limit, Pallister said some restrictions on public gatherings and business openings will have to continue beyond Friday of next week, when the current orders are to expire."My gut feeling is that as we get into winter, it's going to be critical that we continue with a high level of restrictions for some time," Pallister said."COVID doesn't give up, and we're seeing that all across the country."Manitoba was leading all other provinces in the per-capita rate of new infections until recently, when Alberta surged ahead.To try to bend the curve, the province enacted some of the strictest rules in the country: non-essential businesses have closed, public gatherings have been limited to five people and, with some exceptions for things like medical services, people are not allowed to have visitors in their home.In-person religious services have also been banned — an order that has been met with a small measure of defiance and protests.A church in Winnipeg held four drive-in services last weekend, where people remained in their vehicles while a pastor spoke on a stage. Outside of Steinbach in southeast Manitoba, a church has held in-person services, prompting police to block the parking lot last Sunday.The rules have worked, Manitoba's chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Tuesday.The number of new infections has plateaued and even dropped slightly in recent days — there were 282 new cases Tuesday — and people now testing positive are reporting fewer contacts with others.That effect has yet to trickle through to the health-care system, however. A record 16 deaths were reported Tuesday and intensive care units remained close to full."Our health-care system can't sustain daily counts like this," Roussin said.The government is already working on what restrictions might continue beyond next week, Roussin added, although he did not divulge details.Manitoba has backed up its public health orders with added personnel, including a private security firm, to hand out fines.The two churches that held services last weekend are being fined $5,000, Pallister said, and several individuals involved can expect fines of $1,296 each."It's critical right now that we do not gather with people outside of our households," Pallister said."And we need the full participation of all Manitobans in order for these strict public health measures to work."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Nothing about us, without us: the idea that no policy should be decided, by any representative, without the full and direct participation of those affected by that policy. It’s the main issue that Lisa Long has with the Downtown Task Team, a group hand-picked by Mayor Brian Bigger to tackle the myriad social challenges, from drugs and crime to homelessness, facing the city’s downtown core. The task team has been criticized by some social services organizations for excluding groups that actually work with the homeless. “I believe representation from our vulnerable populations should also be made available,” said Long. “The ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’ philosophy that emphasizes people, our vulnerable population, being valued as integral and essential contributors. “It seems fitting, as the (Downtown) BIA has a seat.” If there is representation on the mayor’s team from the business community, Long wonders why the same courtesy hasn’t been extended to organizations that actually work with vulnerable and marginalized downtown populations. Long is the executive director of The Samaritan Centre and, together with partner agencies the Blue Door Soup Kitchen and the Elgin Street Mission, works with individuals facing multiple social barriers including homelessness, food insecurity, poverty, mental health and addictions, in downtown Sudbury. She, like other downtown community service groups, were not invited to be a part of the mayor’s task team. She first heard of its creation in October from Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc. “He asked me why I wasn’t on it,” she said. Long said not only does she want to ensure a more equitable perspective on the team, one that “represents those who call the downtown core their home,” but that the Samaritan Centre would offer valuable insight. “These are our neighbours,” she said. “This is our neighbourhood.” Prior to the pandemic, The Samaritan Centre would receive a daily average of 300-400 people. The pandemic hasn’t changed that. Though they have been forced to change their methods, the Samaritan Centre still offers meal services, showers, laundry and other grooming opportunities, as well as a weekly nurse practitioner clinic – all with COVID-19 restrictions in place. Additionally, Long said that while maintaining all safety protocols, she is consistently interacting with clients who are waiting for services, as well as moving through the downtown to check in and distribute items like granola bars, vitamins, socks, and winter wear. “I have regular, direct contact with the individuals we serve through the Samaritan Centre, and I’m aware of their needs, challenges and stories.” The most recent meeting of the Downtown Task Team took place Nov. 25. In an interview with Sudbury.com, Mayor Brain Bigger said he was pleased with the progress the task team is making, but he does recognize the need for expert advice. The most recent meeting of the task team focused on hearing more from experts. “Our conversation was: how do we engage effectively with the large number of smaller service organizations? They’re working with the people that are experiencing these challenges and crises in the downtown.” He said the focus now is “trying to understand how we can be strategic, and really drive that value for money from the resources that we do have.” He also said there is a misconception in terms of the knowledge that council already possesses. “Many people seem to have this impression that if you’re a member of council, people think we’re completely unaware of what’s happening,” he said. “That’s far from the truth.” He said that because city councillors are interacting with citizens from their wards on a regular basis, “we’re continually involved in trying to resolve challenges in the community, and looking for opportunities to help people navigate and find support.” Mayor Bigger said this is the impetus for a public engagement forum that the city plans to hold “as soon as possible.” He said it will be a chance to hear from those who have a vested interest: community groups, business owners, those with lived experience, and the general public. But as the mayor himself noted, a pandemic-world does make this a challenge. He said it will be “essentially, a listening experience, and an opportunity to hear the ideas and the solutions — to hear about the challenges, about some of the gaps that we might not think of.” Still, despite the criticism the task team can’t really address issues it doesn’t understand, the mayor said he is “proud of what we’ve accomplished.” Long, however, isn’t quite sure it will be enough to shape the view that is required, one that is built upon the idea of nothing about us, without us. “If you look at issues from the perspective of privilege and power, the perspective will be subject to tunnel-vision, and limited in scope and purpose” she said. “If the objective of the Task Force is to install LED lights downtown, then I am sure they will have a measure of success,” said Long. “If they want to gain an understanding of the people and social issues in our downtown, then I think the framework from which they are problem-solving needs to be reconsidered.”Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it's not clear what can be done.
Holiday shoppers are receiving their own gift from the City of Charlottetown this December: free parking downtown. The city approved the free parking at downtown meters at a special council meeting Monday. Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said letting shoppers park for free fits in with the Love Local P.E.I. campaign currently on. "It sends out a signal that, you know, we're in this bubble, but let's stick to our local merchants," said Brown. "They're going to need the help, just like we're going to need the help as we get through this pandemic."> We're in this bubble, but let's stick to our local merchants. They're going to need the help. \- Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown The idea for the free parking came from the P.E.I. government, which offered $15,000 to replace some of the lost revenue. Brown said the City of Charlottetown will cover the rest of that loss, another $45,000. City officials have had to cancel some holiday activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so Brown said some of the money that would have been used for those activities will help cover the revenue lost from parking meters. "This is a small effort, but I think it'll go a long way," he said. Brown added that he's not worried about people who work downtown taking advantage of the free spots.More from CBC P.E.I.
WATERLOO, Ont. — Shares in BlackBerry Ltd. gained as much as 63.9 per cent in intraday trading on Tuesday following news of a deal with Amazon Web Services to develop and market BlackBerry's intelligent vehicle data platform, called IVY.The stock traded as high as $12.54, up from Monday's close of $7.65, before drifting lower and closing at a new 52-week high of $9.08, up 18.7 per cent.The companies said they had settled on a multi-year, global agreement to develop and market IVY, a scalable, cloud-connected software platform that will give automakers a new way to read vehicle sensor data.They said automakers will be able to use that information to create responsive in-vehicle services that enhance driver and passenger experiences.“Data and connectivity are opening new avenues for innovation in the automotive industry and BlackBerry and AWS share a common vision to provide automakers and developers with better insights so that they can deliver new services to consumers,” said BlackBerry CEO John Chen in a joint news release.“AWS and BlackBerry are making it possible for any automaker to continuously reinvent the customer experience and transform vehicles from fixed pieces of technology into systems that can grow and adapt with a user’s needs and preferences,” added Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy.Financial terms of the agreement were not immediately available. Amazon Web Services is a subsidiary of internet giant Amazon.com Inc. that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms.Modern cars and trucks are built with thousands of parts from many different suppliers and those components produce data in unique and specialized formats, the companies said in their news release.BlackBerry IVY is expected to solve those challenges by applying machine learning to the data to generate predictive insights and inferences.BlackBerry IVY will run inside a vehicle’s embedded systems, but will be managed and configured remotely from the cloud, they said.As an example, BlackBerry IVY could leverage vehicle data to recognize driver behaviour and hazardous conditions such as icy roads or heavy traffic and then recommend that a driver enable relevant vehicle safety features such as traction control, lane-keeping assist or adaptive cruise control, they said.IVY could then provide automakers with feedback on how and when those safety features are used, allowing them to make targeted investments to improve vehicle performance. They added drivers of electric vehicles could choose to share their car’s battery information with third-party charging networks to proactively reserve a charging connector.The companies say they will build upon capabilities of BlackBerry QNX, a commercial Unix-like real-time operating system, for surfacing and normalizing data from automobiles and AWS’s broad portfolio of services, including capabilities for internet of things and machine learning.In September, BlackBerry reported a second-quarter loss of US$23 million on revenue of US$259 million, versus a loss of US$44 million on $244 million a year earlier.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BB)The Canadian Press
There’s a $600,000 hole in Au Chateau’s annual budget West Nipissing may have to help plug with municipal tax dollars. It’s one of several issues coming up on tonight’s council agenda, which includes a general government discussion about ‘ward boundaries’ for the 2022 election. Au Chateau, which has 102 long-term care beds, serves West Nipissing and Temagami, and it can levy their taxpayers to make up any shortfalls. Au Chateau’s funding shortfall is being caused by the Jan. 31, 2021 end of 35-year funding agreement with the federal and provincial government. The issue is critical for both communities as they look at COVID-19 impacted revenue and expenses heading into the 2021 budget deliberations. It was briefly mentioned at the last council meeting with the municipality hoping to set up meetings with representatives of higher levels of government for assistance. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and is live-streamed using Zoom on the West Nipissing YouTube channel. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
TORONTO — The Oscar-nominated Canadian star of the film "Juno" has come out as transgender.The Halifax-raised Elliot Page, formerly known as Ellen Page, made the announcement in a powerful post on social media.The star of the Toronto-shot Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy" says his preferred pronouns are he/they.Page's letter thanks those who have supported him along the journey, and addresses the trauma trans people face from discrimination, hateful acts, and a lack of rights.He says it feels remarkable "to finally love" who he is enough to pursue his "authentic self."And he's been "endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community.""Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society," Page said in Tuesday's post."I also ask for patience. My joy is real, but it is also fragile. The truth is, despite feeling profoundly happy right now and knowing how much privilege I carry, I am also scared. I'm scared of the invasiveness, the hate, the 'jokes' and of violence." Page said he's not trying to "dampen a moment that is joyous" but wants to address the full picture. "The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences," Page wrote."In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women. To the political leaders who work to criminalize trans health care and deny our right to exist and to all of those with a massive platform who continue to spew hostility towards the trans community: you have blood on your hands."Page concluded the post by saying he loves that he is trans and queer."And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive."Page got an Oscar nomination for playing a pregnant teen in 2007's "Juno," and two Emmy nominations for his reality series "Gaycation," which explores LGBTQ experiences around the world.Page often uses his platform to speak out against injustices and amplify underrepresented voices.In his documentary "There's Something in the Water," which hit Netflix in March, he shines a light on marginalized groups in Nova Scotia affected by what's known as environmental racism.Netflix said Tuesday it was in the process of updating all of the titles the performer and producer is involved with on its service to credit Elliot Page.The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD praised Page for delivering "fantastic characters on-screen" and being "an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people.""Elliot will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. We celebrate him. All trans people deserve to be accepted," said a tweet from GLAAD, which also issued a tip sheet for journalists covering Page's story, to help them write it in a respectful and accurate way. Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, thanked Page for sharing his truth and "shining a bright light on the challenges too many in our community face.""We are proud of you, and we love you. And we will never stop fighting alongside you for change," David posted on Twitter.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press