A Mama bear and her cubs were spotted playing in the snow beside an Alberta highway.
A Mama bear and her cubs were spotted playing in the snow beside an Alberta highway.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Trump administration on Wednesday effectively killed a contentious proposed mine in Alaska, a gold and copper prospect once envisioned to be nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon and could produce enough waste to fill an NFL stadium nearly 3,900 times — all near the headwaters of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.The Army Corps of Engineers “concluded that the proposed project is contrary to the public interest” and denied a permit to build the Pebble Mine under both the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act, the agency said in a statement.The rejection was a surprise. It's at odds with President Donald Trump’s efforts to encourage energy development in Alaska, including opening up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and other moves nationwide to roll back environmental protections that would benefit oil and gas and other industries.The Corps of Engineers also seemed to signal just a few months ago that after almost two decades of political wrangling, Pebble Mine was on a fast track to approval, a reversal from what many had expected under the Obama administration.But unlike drilling elsewhere in Alaska, the mine proposed for the southwestern Bristol Bay region could have negatively affected the state's billion-dollar fishing industry. Conservationists and even Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., sounded the alarm on the project before the administration changed course again.The CEO of the Pebble Limited Partnership, the mine’s developers, said he was dismayed by the decision, especially after the corps had indicated in an environmental impact statement in July that the mine and fishery could coexist.“One of the real tragedies of this decision is the loss of economic opportunities for people living in the area,” CEO John Shively said in a statement. The environmental review “clearly describes those benefits, and now a politically driven decision has taken away the hope that many had for a better life. This is also a lost opportunity for the state’s future economy.”He said they are considering their next steps, which could include an appeal of the corps’ decision.“Today Bristol Bay’s residents and fishermen celebrate the news that Pebble’s permit has been denied; tomorrow we get back to work,” said Katherine Carscallen, executive director of the group Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay.The group wants Congress to pass laws protecting the region. “We’ve learned the hard way over the last decade that Pebble is not truly dead until protections are finalized,” Carscallen said.In July, the Corps of Engineers released an environmental review that the mine developer saw as laying the groundwork for key federal approvals. The review said that under normal operations, Pebble Mine “would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers and result in long-term changes to the health of the commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay.”However, in August, the corps said it had determined that discharges at the mine site would cause “unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources” and laid out required steps to reduce those effects.Canada-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., which owns Pebble Limited Partnership, said it had submitted a mitigation plan on Nov. 16.Even if the corps had approved the project, there was still no guarantee it would have been built. It would have needed state approval, and President-elect Joe Biden has expressed opposition to the project.Critics saw Pebble Mine as getting a lifeline under the Trump administration. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew restrictions on development that were proposed — but never finalized — under the Obama administration and said it planned to work with the corps to address concerns.However, Trump’s eldest son was among those who voiced opposition earlier this year. After senior Trump campaign adviser Nick Ayers tweeted in August that he hoped the president would direct the EPA to block Pebble Mine, Trump Jr. responded: “As a sportsman who has spent plenty of time in the area I agree 100%. The headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery are too unique and fragile to take any chances with.”The president later said he would “listen to both sides.”“The credit for this victory belongs not to any politician but to Alaskans and Bristol Bay’s Indigenous peoples, as well as to hunters, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts from all across the country who spoke out in opposition to this dangerous and ill-conceived project," said Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League.Alaska’s two Republican U.S. senators, who support oil and gas development and mining, hailed the rejection of the Pebble Mine permit. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the decision affirmed her position that it’s the wrong mine in the wrong place.“It will help ensure the continued protection of an irreplaceable resource — Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon fishery,” she said.Sen. Dan Sullivan said he would remain an advocate for good-paying jobs derived from resource development.“However, given the special nature of the Bristol Bay watershed and the fisheries and subsistence resources downstream, Pebble had to meet a high bar so that we do not trade one resource for another,” he said. “Pebble did not meet that bar.”___Associated Press journalist Becky Bohrer in Juneau contributed to this report.Mark Thiessen, The Associated Press
COVID-19. En date du 23 novembre, 3492 cas actifs de COVID-19 (2847 élèves et 645 membres du personnel) étaient rapportés dans 1023 établissements préscolaires, primaires et secondaires du Québec. Par conséquent, un total de 1139 classes sont fermées. Les élèves concernés suivent donc leurs cours à distance. Le nombre total d’écoles comptant un ou des cas positifs rapportés avec diagnostic depuis le début de l’année scolaire est de 1999. Notons que l’on peut consulter la liste des écoles concernées sur cette page publiée par le gouvernement du Québec : https://cdn-contenu.quebec.ca/cdn-contenu/adm/min/education/publications-adm/covid-19/reseauScolaire_listeEcoles.pdf?1600113647 Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
It's a demonstrably difficult task to find a comic screen partner worthy of standing opposite Melissa McCarthy, so you have to appreciate “Superintelligence" for throwing in the towel. In it, McCarthy plays Carol Peters, a former Yahoo executive who's chosen, purely for her extreme averageness, by a newly liberated, megalomaniacal artificial intelligence that presents her with a three-day test to prove humanity isn't worth destroying. It's the kind of set-up that would have once presided over by the devil or some demigod, but now that role goes to Alexa. That means that for much of “Superintelligence," a new comedy streaming Thursday on HBO Max, McCarthy is walking around on her own, her only foil a disembodied voice (James Corden's) or an occasional talking screen. That's not as good as McCarthy with either of her best recent on-screen partners — Sandra Bullock ("The Heat"), Richard E. Grant ("Can You Forgive Me?") — but it's not bad. It means McCarthy has the movie if not completely to herself (Corden's cheery warmth still comes through, and Bobby Cannavale winningly plays her love interest) then nearly so. Even though the innocuous “Superintelligence” is on the bland side, it remains hard not to enjoy two hours with McCarthy. The more telling companion of McCarthy's in “Superintelligence” is her husband, the director Ben Falcone. This is their fourth film together with Falcone behind the camera, and it may be the best of the bunch. That, however, isn't saying much considering their run of “Life of the Party" (2018), “The Boss” (2016) and “Tammy” (2014). Those films have their moments, and they're always shot-through with affection for their leading lady. But they're easily the weaker, more forgettable side of McCarthy's filmography. “Superintelligence," written by Steve Mallory, is the most high-concept of their films together, and it's ultimately an excuse to bring apocalyptic stakes to a rom-com plot. Faced with the possible end of the world, Carol resolves to reconnect with an old flame (Cannavale). Their chemistry together is easy and relaxed, if not especially funny. The cast overall feels wasted, especially the supporting performances of Brian Tyree Henry (as a computer scientist), Jean Smart (the president) and Sam Richardson — the talented “Veep” performer who I sincerely hope soon gets his own movie. Like a lot of studio comedies of late, it feels like there's space here for jokes that mostly never quite got filled in. The real romance in “Superintelligence” might not be between any of the characters, but McCarthy and Falcone (who also makes his typical cameo). Their collaborations are uneven but warmhearted, and their movies together feel like an almost sweet sacrifice of quality for the sake of family. “Superintelligence,” a Warner Bros. release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for some suggestive material, language and thematic elements. Running time: 105 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
COVID-19 outbreak at St. Martin school continues to grow. The outbreak was first declared at the elementary school in Smithville on Nov. 19. Two new cases were added on Nov. 23, bringing the total to four. The Niagara Catholic District School Board said there are now nine cases. The school has been in official outbreak status since last Thursday when the second case was confirmed. The first case was confirmed Nov. 13. NCDSB said since that time, the number of new cases at the school as grown to nine; however not all the cases so far have been linked to the outbreak, as their origin has not been determined. Niagara Region Public Health continues to investigate the situation. Two classes at the school will now be required to self-isolate for 14 days a result of the newly reported cases. Public health said they are not recommending St. Martin close at this time, as the virus is not widespread through the school community. Onsite testing will be available at the school on Thursday for staff who have not yet been tested and will be provided by public health. NCDSB said testing for staff at St. Martin is recommended, but not mandatory, while any parents of students who wish to have their children tested should do so at a an approved testing centre in Niagara.Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
From learning Inuktitut to appreciating jingle dresses, these videos are a must-watch.
Government and election officials frequently call on shredding companies to dispose of personal and sensitive documents that are no longer needed.But in a suburban county of Atlanta this week, those routine waste removal appointments were twisted into yet another election misinformation story when social media users falsely claimed shredding trucks were destroying ballots and “evidence of voter fraud.”The unfounded allegations continue to spread online as Georgia officials carry out a machine recount of ballots after certified results showed Joe Biden had a 12,670-vote lead over President Donald Trump. Trump requested the recount, which follows a statewide hand tally.L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who had unsuccessfully sued in an attempt to block the certification of Georgia’s election results, on Tuesday shared a series of videos taken by a Georgia resident. They showed a shredding truck outside the West Park Government Center in Marietta.“Evidence of voter fraud is being destroyed in Cobb County, GA TODAY,” Wood captioned one of his tweets. “Many people, powerful & not so powerful, are going to PRISON.”The real explanation for the truck’s visit was far less scandalous: a routine shredding of county tax documents.The county tax commissioner’s office, which shares a building with the county’s main elections office, has documents shredded twice a month, according to Ross Cavitt, communications director for the county.“No items from Cobb Elections were involved,” Cavitt told The Associated Press in an email.The false claims built on similar rumours from last week, when the same Georgia resident captured photos and video of a truck destroying election-related waste outside the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta and claimed it was evidence of “ballots being shredded.”After Wood amplified those photos and videos on Friday, Cobb County officials refuted the claim, explaining that the shredding company was summoned to destroy non-relevant election materials, as happens after all elections.“Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file,” Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, said in a statement.Some of the photos shared on Friday appeared to show a trash can with a paper labeled “ABSENTEE BALLOT” inside. But Eveler said that was an inner privacy envelope used by voters to seal absentee ballots, and had “no evidentiary value.” County officials will hold on to the actual absentee ballots, as well as the outer envelopes signed by voters, for two years.Wood did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.Despite the county’s responses, Wood’s tweets with the debunked claims continued to receive massive engagement on Wednesday, collectively amassing more than 200,000 retweets. And a separate Facebook user’s post falsely claiming a shredding company was “hired by Democrats” to destroy evidence was viewed nearly 150,000 times.County officials told the AP they have not seen any evidence of fraud or anomalies in vote tabulation in the 2020 election.“People nowadays, they post stuff immediately without asking any questions and without any proper context, and it spreads like wildfire,” Cavitt said of the false claims.Jude Joffe-Block And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press
Two men accused of human trafficking appeared in Saskatoon Provincial Court Nov. 24 and Nov. 25. There is now a court ordered ban on publication of the two men’s names. At their first appearance the court placed a publication ban on the identity of the woman who was allegedly being held captive by the two men. One man is a 23-year-old from Kindersley and the other is a 30-year-old from Saskatoon. The Kindersley man is charged with trafficking persons, material benefit from trafficking, two counts of uttering threats, theft under $5,000, breach of a release order, and breach of a conditional sentence order. He was denied bail. The Saskatoon man is charged with trafficking persons, uttering threats, and two counts of breach of a release order. He was granted bail during a show cause hearing in October. The Saskatoon Police Guns and Gang Unit arrested the two men in the 1500 block of Rayner Avenue on July 2. The Guns and Gang Unit became involved after the Saskatoon Police received a report June 29 that a 23-year-old woman was being held at a residence over a period of time. The Saskatoon VICE Human Trafficking Unit assisted police and warrants were issued for the two men. The Saskatoon man is scheduled to appear in Saskatoon Provincial court Dec. 10 to enter a plea and elect how he wants to be tried. The Kindersley man is scheduled to appear in Saskatoon Provincial Court Dec. 9 to enter a plea. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / Battlefords News-OptimistLisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
The Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) has cancelled its senior men’s ‘AA’ 2020/21 season, but league officials are keeping the door open to the possibility of exhibition games in the new year. The league includes the Terrace River Kings and teams in Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Smithers, Hazelton, Williams Lake and Quesnel. “We had a schedule to start December 4th but with recent restrictions feel that in in any circumstances less than a super miracle vaccination, we would probably not return to play with spectators in time to salvage a 20-21 season,” said Ron German, CIHL President, in a media release. German thanked the communities, fans, volunteers and sponsors for their support. He said that if conditions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic change in 2021, the league would explore the possibility of playing exhibition games if BC Hockey and local guidelines could be met.Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
When Treyton Middleton found out who was suspected of shooting his stepfather in the street outside their home on Saint John's lower west side, he looked him up on Facebook. On Wednesday afternoon, the jury heard that Middleton, now 19, sent a message to the man that night, threatening to round up some friends and kill him. In fact, when Const. Connor Bodechon arrived at 321 Duke St. West to take photos about an hour after the shooting, Justin Breau's Facebook profile is on the computer screen photographed in Middleton's bedroom. Breau, 37, is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of 42-year-old Mark Shatford. He is accused of shooting Shatford at about 4:25 a.m. on Nov. 17, 2019. Despite numerous surgeries at the Saint John Regional Hospital, Shatford died on Dec. 18. During testimony on Wednesday, Middleton said he awoke to banging and yelling in the early morning hours of Nov. 17, 2019. He peeked out of his bedroom and saw two masked men moving through the second-floor apartment where he lived with Shatford, his mother, three siblings, and his sister's boyfriend. Middleton said he followed the men down the stairs and managed to grab one of them at the front door. He said he threw the man to the ground outside and started punching him. As he continued to fight with the man, he saw his mother and Shatford pass by, heading to a vehicle parked on the street. Middleton said he continued to fight with the man until he heard a gunshot. As he turned, he said, he saw Shatford fall to the ground. He immediately went to Shatford's side. He testified that the man with the gun then pointed it at him and his mother and told them to shut up. Middleton said he tried to grab a large wrench that Shatford had dropped, but his mother wouldn't let him take it. As the vehicle pulled away, Middleton said, he threw the wrench at it but missed. What became of the wrench before police seized it in January remains unclear.Middleton and his mother, Melissa Daley, both testified they don't know how the wrench got back inside the apartment. But pictures taken by Bodechon, who arrived at the scene at 5:50 a.m., appear to show the item on top of the fridge. Bodechon took several pictures inside the home, including the one that show's the computer screen in Middleton's bedroom. "I did that on my own," Middleton said of the Facebook search. "I just wanted to see him."It was under cross-examination by defence lawyer Brian Munro that Middleton was asked about sending a Facebook message to Breau not long after the shooting. Middleton admitted sending a message that he was going to round up some people and kill Breau. He was also asked about his actions immediately after the shooting. Middleton said he went to a "buddy's" place but the person wasn't at home. He was repeatedly asked to name the "buddy" but he refused each time. "I'm not answering it," he insisted, before the jury was led out of the courtroom. After a short time — and some discussion in the absence of the jury and Middleton — the jury was brought back in and cross-examination resumed. Middleton was again asked to name the person and said it was his ex-girlfriend, Bella McCutcheon. He told the court that he called her "buddy" because they were not dating at the time. The trial is scheduled to resume Thursday morning.
Residents of the city of Halifax say the closure of indoor dining is necessary to stop the recent upward trend in COVID-19 cases in the region. Yeah Yeahs Pizza manager Josh Fagan says the restaurant has plans to boost takeout orders to ensure a steady revenue stream over the coming weeks.
MONTREAL — The percentage of COVID-19 cases in Quebec among people over the age of 70 is increasing, but the number is significantly below what was reported during the peak of the pandemic's first wave.However, Dr. Quoc Dinh Nguyen, a gerontologist and epidemiologist at the Universite de Montreal hospital centre, said he's still worried about the rise in cases among the elderly."It might be slight, but one 85 year old who gets COVID will count for 600 20-year-olds in terms of mortality," he said in an interview Wednesday. "If we use the metric of deaths, even a slight increase in the number of cases is a huge increase in terms of mortality." Data from Quebec's national public health institute indicates 18.4 per cent of Quebecers with active COVID-19 cases since Nov. 22 were over the age of 70, up from 14.9 per cent the previous week.In September, 9.5 per cent of COVID-19 cases involved seniors, while in the first 24 days of November, it was 14.4 per cent. But that number is far below what was reported during the peak of cases last spring, when seniors over 70 years old accounted for 35.2 per cent of total COVID infections in Quebec.More than 90 per cent of people who have died in Quebec from COVID-19 were over 70, according to public health institute data. Many seniors who haven't caught the virus are faring badly as a result of the pandemic and the efforts to slow its spread, said Nguyen, who headed a team of experts appointed by the government last spring to improve COVID-19 prevention measures in long-term care homes.“They are more stressed out and worried about contracting COVID, righteously so because the chances of having a severe form of the disease is much greater,” he said. “So they're very worried, so they really respect this whole idea of social distancing and not seeing anyone, but they're also the most vulnerable to all of these new measures because, as we age, we're more vulnerable to anything that will disrupt our baseline activities.”People who are at the threshold of losing mobility or have few contacts will be more affected by those changes than others, he said. Nguyen said he and other gerontologists are still seeing the effects of the first lockdown in their patients.He said the government needs to do a better job of explaining to older people what activities are risky and how much risk those activities involve. Nguyen said he would also like to see health authorities focus on controlling the number COVID-19 infections in people over 70 and in health-care workers, rather than focusing on schools and the general population."What we'll remember about COVID is not going to the number of schools that had COVID — it's going to be the number of nursing homes residents who've died," he said.Syeda Nayab Bukhari, program coordinator at the Telehealth Intervention Program for Isolated Older Adults in Montreal, said many people using her services are feeling increasingly isolated as a result of the pandemic.Bukhari said volunteers in the program, which is run by the Jewish General Hospital, have told her that the older adults they speak to are no longer able to see friends, neighbours and family members and that some have lost friends to COVID-19.Mental health is a serious issues among older people, Bukhari said. "Some of them are struggling with other mental health issues, for example, stress, late-life depression, dementia," she said in a recent interview. "Losing that connection with the outside world makes it worse."Health authorities said Wednesday there were 18 private seniors residences where more than 25 per cent of residents have active cases of COVID-19. There are public two long-term care homes where more than 25 per cent of residents have confirmed cases of the disease. But Nguyen said that's an arbitrary cutoff. "The need to reinforce infection prevention control, screening, isolation and all of that starts as soon as there's a single case," he said. "If we get to 25, 50 per cent, it's because something has not been done correctly."Meanwhile, public health officials in Montreal said that hospital facilities — which already have a shortage of workers — will face a particular challenge over the holidays.Sonia Belanger, the CEO of the regional health authority that covers much of central Montreal, told reporters more than 200 health-care workers have active cases of COVID-19, while she said more than 150 are waiting for test results. Quebec reported 1,100 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and 28 more deaths attributed to the virus, including 12 that occurred in the past 24 hours. The province has reported a total of 135,430 cases of COVID-19 and 6,915 deaths linked to the virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.———This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Ontario residents should celebrate the upcoming winter holidays only with the people they live with, regardless of the COVID-19 situation in their region, the provincial government said Wednesday.The province issued its initial guidance for the holiday period, saying it knows Ontarians are already making plans.It said those who live alone can join another household to celebrate, but everyone else should stick to their own household and follow public health guidelines for their area."This year isn't like any other," Premier Doug Ford said in an afternoon news conference."We are in the second wave of COVID-19 and we can't take any chances. We have to bend the curve and stop the spread of this awful virus."Critics said the holidays could have looked much different if the government had taken faster, more decisive action to combat rising case counts this fall.“It’s heartbreaking to think about everyone who will be separated from their loved ones during the holidays. It should never have come to this," NDP Deputy Leader John Vanthof said in a statement."Now, thanks to Ford’s choices, we are forced into more shutdowns in more parts of the province, with more people getting sick and many losing their lives."The premier said he listened to the province's top doctor and its health team in making those decisions, noting the government has tried to balance health and economic concerns.Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region were moved into the grey or lockdown level in the province's tiered COVID-19 restrictions system this week, with tougher measures to stay in place at least until the week of Christmas.Public health measures under the lockdown level include a ban on indoor gatherings except with those in the same household, as well as closing down restaurants for all but takeout and delivery.The province's top doctor said earlier this week it seemed unlikely the situation would improve in those regions enough over the 28-day lockdown period to warrant moving them to the red alert level, which is one level lower.Toronto Mayor John Tory said that while there will be some enforcement of the guidelines over the holidays, it will largely be up to residents to regulate themselves."I've been asked for weeks now, were we contemplating having people going around on Christmas Eve and knocking on doors or peering down chimneys or any such thing? And I said, 'Of course not,'" Tory said Wednesday."By and large, people are going to have to enforce this themselves ... because they think it's in their own best interests and the interests of their families, and their neighbours, and their co-workers, and their friends to keep people healthy." Five other regions -- Hamilton, Durham, Halton, York and Waterloo -- are currently classified as red zones, which caps social gatherings at five people indoors and 25 outdoors.The province reported 1,373 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and 35 new deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said 445 of the new cases were in Toronto, while 415 were in Peel Region.Ontario's most recent modelling showed the province is on track to see up to 6,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 by mid-December, though those projections are expected to be updated Thursday.\-- with files from Nicole ThompsonThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA, Ill. — Canada's watchdog for crime victims is calling on Parliament to overhaul their bill of rights, saying the five-year-old legislation has fallen "far short" of delivering on its promise. Rules meant to amplify victims' voices in the justice system have failed to make them heard following "sporadic" implementation of a regime that needs more teeth, clarity and public awareness, federal ombudsman Heidi Illingworth said in a report Wednesday. "The situation of victims of crime has not fundamentally changed since it was passed," she wrote. The previous Conservative government introduced what it called a victims' bill of rights in 2015 that allowed crime victims to get information about offenders in the corrections system and have their views considered when decisions are made about those perpetrators. Illingworth said the legislation should be amended to provide a legal remedy for violations, such as allowing victims to formally challenge authorities on whether their rights have been honoured. "There was no right to appeal, there was no right to seek damages," Illingworth said Wednesday in a phone interview. The 2015 statute was an important firs step but "really more of a statement of principles," she added. "It did not give people real rights, because in law you have to be able to have a remedy for rights to be real." The justice system demands heavy lifting from people subjected to a criminal act, including those involved in the 2.2 million crimes reported to police each year. "They are expected to report the crime, provide evidence, bear witness, be cross-examined on the stand and relive their traumas over and over again as they tell their truths — yet we provide them with little assistance to do so," Illingworth wrote. "Unsupported victims are less likely to come forward. When victims are not treated as full partners in the criminal justice system, the system is less effective." Victims should automatically receive information about their rights, rather than having to ask for it, she said. Up to two-thirds of crime victims do not go to the police, said Irvin Waller, professor emeritus in criminology at the University of Ottawa. Other reforms demanded in the report include a simplified complaint process filtered entirely through the ombudsman's office rather than a patchwork of agencies, more clearly defined obligations for criminal justice officials and more funding to train front-line workers in treating victims with "courtesy, compassion and respect." The ombudsman is also calling for better data collection by courts, prisons and law enforcement agencies to understand police interactions with targeted populations, including Indigenous women and LGBTQ individuals. "We know that there’s distrust, and this is especially concerning among communities of colour, racialized communities, Indigenous people. And how survivors of sexual violence are cheated by the justice system has been very, very problematic," Illingworth said. Waller pointed to England and France as models on training guidelines for officials and restitution for victims, respectively. He said up to half of French criminal cases result in restitution payments, access to which should be guaranteed, according to the ombudsman's report. In contrast to Canada, France also grants victims legal "standing" to appeal to courts for review when their rights are not upheld. "We are a long, long way behind these countries," Waller said. Illingworth's report further recommends amendments that commit to core funding for community-based restorative justice programs as well as a list of officials who have direct responsibilities to crime victims. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
Staff asked and council granted. Penetanguishene's staffing complement will be slightly more robust next year, after approval for two part-time contract positions to become full-time jobs in 2021. The first one was for the position of junior planner, for which Andrea Betty, director of planning and community development, made a case. "Largely, the report shows the volume and complexity of applications has increased," she said. "It's the primary function of development to process those applications and get development moving through. There's not a second full-time position dedicated to planning. It's a gap in our service for people." As well, Betty said Penetanguishene is the lowest staffed planning department as compared to its neighbours. She also made a case for increasing the current part-time bylaw contract position to full-time. With that in mind, Coun. Jill St. Amant asked if staff had looked into sharing services with other municipalities for the planning or bylaw position. "We have had those discussions with the four North Simcoe municipalities," Betty said. "All three other municipalities are pretty lean in their planning staff complement. They don't have the ability to share their current resources in that department. In the bylaw department, Tiny has a large complement in summer, but there's limited ability for us to share those resources." The third request was from recreation and community services director Sherry Desjardins, who asked for an additional 80 attendant hours weekly to make the recreation centre's reopening successful and an additional 40 hours for the 2021/2022 ice season. "This comes as a followup to a previous report with the reopening of the arena," she said. "We had requested we hire additional facility attendants to assist with additional pieces that need to be completed to be compliant with public health. It's been going well. We don't know where we will be later on in 2021." Coun. George Vadeboncoeur agreed and recommended going beyond the request. "I felt there was the need within the rec. and community services department to add another full-time staff member," he said. "I was prepared to consider eight months and move to 12 months as we move through a two-year period. The rationale is to provide full-time assistance at the arena for scheduling and knowledge transfer as some of our senior employees are looking to retire." Vadeboncoeur said a second rationale behind his move was that that facility staff will end up working for the parks department as the ice season winds up. "There are some maintenance issues at the parks," he said, "and one of the responses I've received is with respect to resource constraint and it's particularly acute when the arena and parks are going at the same time." Desjardins said she appreciated the consideration, however, facility attendants are very limited in what they can do in other places. "What would be really impactful would be a facility operator, but that has a greater financial impact," she noted. Vadeboncoeur said his suggestion to phase in a facility attendant was to soften the effects on the budget. But Carrie Robillard, director of finance/treausrer, said her recommendation wouldn't change even if the position changed. "It would still be recommended out of our service delivery review budget line," she said. "The purpose of that was to obviously increase our service levels and improve them. We have been transferring to a service delivery review reserve for the last couple years, so timing wise, this would be good and funding is available through that route." Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau wanted to know exactly what kind of money was included in that budget item. "We have $166,000 in the budget line," said Robillard. "That doesn't include money transferred in the reserves." In the end, the public representatives went ahead with approving funding for a full-time facility operator.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
The town of Fort Frances is being asked to give our local bee population a helping hand next spring. At last Monday night’s town council meeting, mayor and councillors heard a deputation from Reagan Breeze of Dryden in regards to an initiative he is at the forefront of that aims to protect honeybees and give them every possible fighting chance to thrive as the weather begins to warm up in April and May. “We are looking at something that is more than climate change,” Breeze told council. “It’s a decline in our honeybees and as much as somebody may think that that is not that important, we have to understand the fact that there’s a lack of education about honeybees and what they give to us. Every time we have our supper or lunch or breakfast, it’s one third of our food source that comes from our pollinators and our honeybees.” As part of his efforts, Breeze asked the town to declare April and May as Honeybee Appreciation Month, something he said he’s seen movement on from other municipalities he’s spoken with, including Dryden, whose council passed a motion at the end of October declaring April and May of 2021 to be their own Honeybee Appreciation Months. In addition to asking the town to recognize special months for bees, Breeze also took aim at one of the town’s bylaws, asking that council work with him in order to provide a temporary easement of bylaw enforcement to allow more protection for bees. “Your bylaws are very easy... I appreciate that and amongst all of us other beekeepers within Ontario, in Canada... appreciate it as well,” Breeze said. “Within your regulations we also have your bylaws 3.03, subsection 3, which is the weeds for four inches of growth only. I am not asking for everybody within the Fort Frances area to grow a hay field, but I am asking for mayor and council, respectively, to have an easement to show remorse for the fact that we need to sustain our honeybees and our pollinators that are the most viable species for our existence.” According to the Town of Fort Frances bylaw 14/09, Section 3 (General Standards for All Property), subsection 3.03 declares: “Every yard, including vacant lots shall be kept free from: (3) long grass, brush, undergrowth and noxious weeds as defined by the Weed Control Act; a. all grassed and lawned areas shall be maintained to a maximum height of 100mm (4in).” Springtime is generally when honeybees emerge from their hives and are at their most active, with the Sioux Honey Co-op, located in Sioux City, Iowa, explaining that bees will use the season to expand their numbers following the cold winter months. “The first action of business for the colony as the weather changes is increasing its population in advance of summer’s warmth,” they explain on their website. “Spring is the busiest time of year for the bees, not only because of restocking food but it’s also the season when new colonies are started and established colonies re-emerge.” Part of the crop of flowers that bloom in those early months is the dandelion, which is an important food source for bees, but is also viewed as a pesky weed by many homeowners, some of whom go to great lengths to remove them from their yards. The easement of the bylaw would therefore allow homeowners in Fort Frances to grow their lawns out, along with any flowering plants in their yard, during the months of April and May when honeybees are trying to get back on their feet without potentially incurring a fine. Breeze also called on council to amend other parts of bylaws including references to injurious insects, which he said should be reworded in order to exclude honeybees from the likes of wasps and hornets. Honey is also a multi-billion dollar industry on a global scale, according to Breeze, which makes honeybees worth protecting and supporting on an economic level. Mayor June Caul thanked Breeze for his presentation to council and the recommendation was made that his request be presented to the Planning and Development Executive Committee for recommendation. At their meeting on Monday, November 16, the Planning and Development Executive Committee made the recommendation that the town proclaim April and May as Honey Bee Appreciation months in town, but that existing bylaws be left unchanged. The item will return to council at their November 23 meeting for a final decision.Ken Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
Liberal MLA Robert Henderson said he wants to know why the health minister isn't doing more to reduce the wait-list for a family doctor on P.E.I. In the legislature Wednesday, Henderson said the number of doctors being licensed in Canada is on the rise. But on P.E.I., there are still thousands waiting for a family doctor."We're just watching the patient registry, it's like a ticker it just keeps going up and up and up," Henderson said."So why is the minister of health struggling to recruit doctors?"The province recently contracted the Medical Society of P.E.I. to begin recruiting more physicians.The plan is to pay P.E.I. doctors to recruit other doctors to come practise on the Island, and it was negotiated over the last several months.The Health Department and doctors will form a physician recruitment task force. Doctors will consult with the government's existing recruitment team to come up with a marketing strategy, and create a "more efficient and positive" experience for doctors considering moving to P.E.I.P.E.I., like many jurisdictions in Canada, has been experiencing a shortage of doctors and other health-care professionals, and there is currently a waiting list of 14,530 patients on the patient registry seeking a family doctor on P.E.I., according to the province's website. "Islanders without access to a family physician, per capita it's actually the worst record in Atlantic Canada. Even this doctors-recruiting-doctors initiative will need to recruit a doctor to recruit other doctors, which takes a doctor away from providing health-care services to Islanders," Henderson said."When will Islanders expect to see the patient registry begin to decline?"Minister hopes to announce more doctors soonHealth Minister James Aylward said the wait-list does fluctuate, and the province is trying to improve the situation."It is a challenge to recruit doctors here on P.E.I., but you know we made a great announcement the other day for Tignish, which was lacking a family doctor for far too long," Aylward said.Last week, the heath minister announced Dr. Peter Entwistle will begin his practice at the Tignish Health Centre in February. He said the province also has letters of offer out to four other doctors that it's waiting to be signed and sent back.Aylward said government has also introduced other initiatives to help provide care to Islanders."We've done the virtual program with Maple, it has capacity for 10,000 patients to be connected to that service and so far the individuals that have accessed that service have had glowing, glowing reports," Aylward said.Aylward said the province still wants Islanders to have access to a doctor in person. He hopes to be able to announce some new doctors coming to the Island in the near future. More P.E.I. news
P.E.I.'s Department of Justice and Public Safety says it is dealing with a spike in people seeking approval to come to the Island.Officials say since the closure of the Atlantic bubble and the chief public health officer's recommendations to not travel during the holidays, the province has seen five-times the amount of inquiries.Justice and Public Safety Minister Bloyce Thompson says the province was bracing for a spike following the announcement P.E.I. was pulling out of the Atlantic bubble because of increased COVID-19 cases in neighbouring New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. He says people need to be patient, adding the province will get through the backlog within the next couple of days. "We've been doing this for almost eight months now and as every announcement comes there's an influx of inquiries, applications," said Thompson. "So to address this announcement Monday we've brought in six new staff to deal with some of the backlog."On Monday, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer announced P.E.I. was pulling out of the Atlantic bubble and said Islanders should only travel outside of P.E.I. for essential purposes or work. 'They haven't received an approval or denial'Anyone who needs to travel to the Island, including residents of Atlantic Canada, now has to apply for pre-travel approval.Island residents do not require pre-travel approval, but will be required to self-isolate 14 days once they return to the Island. Frustrations over the growing wait times spilled over onto the floor of the P.E.I. Legislature Wednesday. Cory Deagle, PC MLA for Montague-Kilmuir, said he had been contacted by a couple that had been waiting 168 hours for a response, much longer than the 72-hour response time the province tries to achieve.The couple is moving from B.C. to his district, and the couple's parents — who have also reached out to him — are his constituents.Deagle said they first sent their letter to the province on Nov. 18, long before P.E.I. pulled out of the Atlantic bubble. He said the couple was asked for more information on Nov. 21. "It's now Nov. 25 and they haven't received an approval or denial letter and they are travelling across Canada," said Deagle.'What they are going to do when they get here?'"They received approval to enter New Brunswick but they don't know about P.E.I. What they are going to do when they get here?"Thompson said he would get the name of the family and follow up immediately to ensure they have an answer before they get to the Confederation Bridge.Deagle said the family is growing increasingly frustrated."These two individuals are travelling across Canada, they said today they tried calling, no one's answering the phone, they tried leaving voicemail but the inbox is filled."Thompson did admit wait times have increased significantly because of the closure of the Atlantic bubble."We will be back to 72 hours very soon," Thompson said from the floor of the legislature. 'I hate making politics out of something so important'But Deagle fired back saying, "You shouldn't have to contact your MLA to find out if you can get approval to come to P.E.I."Thompson then took a shot at his PC colleague."This is a very important question and I hate making politics out of something so important," said Thompson. "I sat beside this member in caucus, I wish he had brought this to me then."In an interview after question period, Deagle said he makes no apologies for raising the concerns of his constituents."The premier has said that we can ask tough questions, even though it's our own party, we can ask tough questions that are important to our constituents and Islanders," Deagle told CBC News."We've never been told one way or another to not do something, if we feel it's important and we want to ask it, we can ask the questions."More from CBC P.E.I.
A gathering of scholars and activists on Wednesday pointed to soaring test positivity rates on First Nations and suggested that Indigenous colonialism in Canada is alive and well and killing Indigenous people in the midst of a global pandemic. The online discussion with Pamela Palmater, Winona LaDuke and host Dr. Niigaan Sinclair, spoke about how Indigenous people are dealing with ongoing colonization, what has or hasn’t changed due to the pandemic, and where Indigenous people and their allies can go from here. “Racism impacts health and we see that particularly here in Manitoba," said Sinclair. "Fourteen per cent is the test positivity rate in Manitoba. They closed schools in New York for a 3% positivity rate. “On First Nations, it is 23%. That means one out of every four people is testing positive on First Nations for COVID-19. This proves that racism kills.” Palmater, a Mi'kmaq lawyer and professor at Ryerson College, advised Indigenous communities to not forget the power of their sovereignty, peoplehood, nationhood, self-determination and that they are collective. “We have to remember that every single person has something to contribute,” said Palmater. “While the land defenders are out there trying to protect our lands and waters, we also need people behind the scenes supporting the land defenders, advocating in international forums and keeping a close eye on what federal, provincial and municipal governments are doing without our knowledge.” While people were focusing on how the pandemic would impact their communities, Palmater noted that governments not only allowed massive industry projects to continue but were changing laws, legislations and regulations to give them multiple exemptions. “We need people from every skill level and every background to do their part in different forums. I believe that it is one of the most encouraging things that I have seen come out of the pandemic,” said Palmater. “When the Indigenous nations and tribal governments took control of their borders despite the restrictions on gathering, they made sure they were still advocating and defending." Palmater said that by exercising Indigenous voices, they are helping to educate, inform and empower people as well as to raise the alarm on what is happening among Indigenous people. The event also functioned as a launch for Palmater’s and LaDuke’s new books. Both works were published by Fernwood Publishing. “Warrior Life: Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence,” is the second collection of writings by Palmater. In the book, Palmater addresses various Indigenous issues such as empty political promises, ongoing racism, sexualized genocide, government lawlessness as well as noting that reconciliation is a lie. Palmater’s book is available now and can be purchased at the Fernwood Publishing website. “To Be a Water Protector: Rise of the Wiindigoo Slayers,” by LaDuke — an American environmentalist and former vice-president candidate — touches on global, Indigenous-led opposition to the enslavement and exploitation of the land and water. The book also acknowledges several elements of a New Green Economy and outlines the lessons we can take from activists outside North America. LaDuke’s book can be pre-ordered now and will be available in the first week of December. Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
A request for the names, addresses and Farm Business Registration (FBR) numbers of Ontario farmers has been withdrawn. According to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), a Freedom of Information request (FOI) asking for potentially sensitive information on farmers in the province has been withdrawn following a period of mediation led by the OFA and supported by their legal counsel. Initially received by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) in June, the FOI request was made by an unknown individual and sought to access a list of Ontario farmers that included the names of their businesses, where they were located and their FBR number, an identifier that’s is issued to any farm businesses in Ontario that make declare a gross farm income of $7,000 or more. An FOI request can be made by members of the public under Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which says “every person has a right of access to a record or a part of a record in the custody or under the control of an institution,” with exceptions. OFA president Keith Currie celebrated the FOI withdrawal, citing concerns around how the information in the FOI could have been misused to harm farm owners’ businesses. “Together, our farm organizations strongly opposed the release of this information as it has the potential to greatly impact the health, safety and security of our farm operations,” Currie said. “We are very pleased to report that the matter has been resolved, the FOI has been dropped and we can move forward with the significant priorities of the Ontario agriculture sector.” While there was no evidence that the names and FBR numbers that stood to be acquired through the FOI were planned to be used maliciously, the OFA and other farm organizations in the province moved quickly to stall the request when it was first made, citing concerns that bad actors could use the information on a large scale, targeting businesses with protests or making their information public to others. Additionally, online sources speculated that the information could be used to create a database like one created in Australia following a similar information request. That database was subsequently used by activists to stage protests around the country. At the time the FOI request was still pending, Rainy River Federation of Agriculture (RRFA) president Lisa Teeple noted that while the request in and of itself wasn’t reason for area farmers to panic, the uncertainty of who was requesting the information and what they intended to use it for caused the most concern. “The original request, we don’t know where it came from,” Teeple explained at the time. “Who was asking for this information? Is it a university study looking to do a study on farm economics? Is it a think-tank group and how they market more to farm businesses? We don’t know. Is it an environmental activist group? That potentially gives a reason for pause, because we are in a business where environmental and animal activists have been known to be destructive. The big thing is ‘who asked for it’? We can’t find that out.” The OFA, Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO and the National Farmers Union–Ontario (NFU-O) collaborated to file a formal appeal against the FOI before the request was withdrawn.Ken Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
Regina, Shellbrook – Sports have not been shut down entirely, but games have, and practices are now reduced to eight people. All but the youngest of children are now expected to wear masks when appropriate. Those were some of the latest restrictions the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health announced another round of new restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19. Those restrictions in many ways do not go as far as some of what has been implemented in Alberta and Manitoba in recent days and weeks. Saskatchewan’s new cases on Nov. 25 came in at 164, but the 7-day average is now 214.3, a relatively levelling off over the last four days. While Manitoba has entered another lockdown, on Nov. 24, Alberta announced that it would soon be closing junior high and high schools, reverting to online learning as of next week, and extending the winter break for all students until Jan. 11. Saskatchewan will be doing neither, as it stands. Premier Scott Moe, who is personally self-isolating after a possible exposure to COVID-19 at a Prince Albert restaurant 10 days earlier, made the announcement via videoconference on Nov. 25. He was joined by Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, who was in the Legislature in Regina. The new Saskatchewan measures come into effect at 12:01 a.m., Friday, Nov. 27. Moe said, “Our goal is to find the right balance, on behalf of the people in this province to protect Saskatchewan people from the spread of COVID-19, while at the same time, protecting the Saskatchewan people's jobs and their livelihoods. Our goal is to not shut down businesses, services and activities that ultimately put people out of work, and at times, may threaten their mental health. Our goal is to find ways for those things to operate and to do so safely, so that people can continue to participate in athletics and continue to work, while at the same time, continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.” Public gatherings Moe said, “All indoor public gatherings will be limited to 30 people. This includes all types of social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, as well as worship services. No food or drink maybe present or served at these events, and capacity will also be restricted to 30 people at all casinos bingo halls, arenas live performance venues and movie theatres, as well as any other facilities that currently have the capacity of up to 150 people.” He noted that private gatherings in your home are still limited to five people. Restaurants, bars and night clubs will not be shut down, but they will have to space out indoor clientele even more, with limits of four people per table, and three metres between tables unless they have barriers installed, in which case two metres is sufficient. Sports All team/group sports, activities, games, competitions, recitals, practices, etc. are suspended, according to the release on Nov. 25. This includes amateur and recreational leagues for all age groups. Examples include hockey, curling, racquet sports, cheerleading, dance practices in group setting, etc. “All team sports are going to be paused until Dec. 17,” Moe said. “However, athletes under the age of 18 may continue practicing or training in groups of eight or fewer.” Masks strengthened Mask use is now required for all indoor fitness activities, except for swimming. Individual and group fitness activities can continue, but with three metre spacings and limits of eight people in a group. “All students, employees and visitors in schools and daycares are now required to wear a mask, except when they need to eat or drink. And mask use is now required in all common areas of businesses and workplaces,” Moe said. Children ages zero to two years-old are exempt from wearing masks. Children ages 3-12 should wear a mask if they are able to. All employees and visitors in all common areas in businesses and workplaces, even in those areas which the public does not have access (e.g. construction sites, manufacturing facilities). “Large retail stores, must limit their capacity to 50 per cent or four square meters per person, whichever is less,” Moe said. Sports led to school, work infections Shahab explained the reasoning behind the sports restrictions, saying that the nature of play always has a risk of transmission, even if you follow all the guidelines. “But over the last two to three weeks, they were becoming so frequent, and many cases, they were resulting in, for example, in children's sports, multiple cases then being imported into schools. For adult sports, multiple cases and became imported into workplaces. So, it was really important to have that pause for three weeks to slow down transmission in that setting.” Once cases come down, Shahab said the guidelines may be adjusted again. Moe explained how these particular restrictions were chosen, saying, “It would be great if we could just pinpoint or two venues or one or two activities where this spread is occurring, and just restrict those zones. But the reality is, it’s COVID, it’s in our communities, and it has been spreading in a number of different places, both inside and outside of our homes, and that's why we need to enact a number of different measures to get our numbers under control.” As for why the restrictions didn’t go further, such as a complete shutdown, lockdown or circuit breaker, similar to what was done in the spring, Moe said, “We do understand this virus better than we did back in the spring. We do know more about how it is spread. And we know what we need to do to reduce the spread of this virus, to keep ourselves and keep others safe. We need to just slow down a little bit. “The overwhelming majority of Saskatchewan businesses and their employees in this province are operating safely, day to day. So, it would be terribly unfair, and it would have a huge negative impact, to close down all those businesses and put thousands of Saskatchewan people out of work. Yes, that is what we did, temporarily, this past spring. We took a very sweeping, broad brush approach to shutting down businesses, services and activities in our communities,” he said, adding, “But we don’t believe the solution is another wide-scale lockdown. Moe said, “Putting thousands of Saskatchewan people out of work, devastating small businesses and families, ending their livelihoods in many cases; a much better approach for us is to find the right balance; to find ways for us to operate and to do so even more safely than we have. By ensuring, yes, we are following all the existing guidelines that are in place. And by implementing some additional protocols so businesses and services can remain open and can do so safely.” Moe said, “We’re not prepared to look at a shutdown of our economy, in our communities, at this point in time, and we don’t believe it’s imminent that we will have to do a shutdown, here in the province. But, in saying that, if we’re not able to bend the growth and rate of transmission of this disease, obviously, that is a conversation that may come in the weeks and months ahead.” He said the actions taken thus far, and those added today, will hopefully not only flatten the rate of increase of infections, but bend that curve back down. He thanked the business, athletic and worship organizations that took part in recent consultations with regards to these measures. Both Moe and Shahab held out some hope that some restrictions might be lifted in time for the upcoming holidays. One possibility might be some allowable visits to long-term care homes, with multiple levels of personal protective equipment, but we’re not at that point in time, yet. The Ministry of Health is now posting a listing of outbreaks in long-term care homes on the Government of Saskatchewan website. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury