Montana's governor is putting some new restrictions in place as cases of COVID-19 continue to surge with a daily record of 1,500 cases reported Tuesday and as hospital resources are strained. (Nov. 17)
Montana's governor is putting some new restrictions in place as cases of COVID-19 continue to surge with a daily record of 1,500 cases reported Tuesday and as hospital resources are strained. (Nov. 17)
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
Along with bread-baking and closet reorganizing, another nesting trend on the home front is “cottagecore” style. “The cottagecore esthetic swarmed the internet this year with its revival of traditional ideals and the glorification of a simple yet charming cottage lifestyle,” says Amanda Brennan, trend expert for Tumblr. Engagement on the social platform for cottagecore began spiking in early spring and hasn't abated, she reports. Now it's flowing into the holiday season, she says, “with posts of farmhouse-inspired holiday decorations, homestyle seasonal recipes, warm winter décor, and knitting.” Etsy.com trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson agrees: “The nostalgia-inspired movement is all about bringing back pastoral esthetics and activities.” Characterized by romantic, nature-oriented themes and homespun design elements, cottagecore started around the mid-2010s. But it’s taken off this year as the pandemic kept people at home. “It’s no surprise that the trend’s extending into the holidays,” says Isom Johnson. “Shoppers are opting for décor that’s reminiscent of a time that was filled with simpler pleasures in life, from baking to crafting.” Etsy saw an increase in early fall in searches for crocheted, knitted and embroidered ornaments, as well as holiday quilts, she says. They’ve seen a nearly 200% increase in searches for DIY kits. Kits come at all levels, for kids, beginners and skilled crafters, and with a variety of holiday-friendly themes. For instance, Fancy Tiger’s felting kits offer alpacas, squirrels and sheep, and cross-stitched mini holiday ornaments. Stitchery.com has simple kits for making embroidered tree table-runners, tiny stockings and snow globes. Many Etsy shops, like Lark Rising, Rene Creates and Barmy Fox, offer templates of designs for download. Creativity for Kids has holiday snow globe kits, while Paper Source has kits to craft dog nutcrackers and Hanukkah bears in winsome sweaters. Lorna Aragon, home editor for Martha Stewart Living, suggests some easy holiday projects for home and gifting that fit the esthetic: “Think about stenciling or stamping a tablecloth, runner or napkins with a simple geometric motif. You can make a tree skirt the same way," she says. "Create some homemade stockings from simple dishcloths. Use baskets under the tree to hold gifts. You can also get some quilting squares at the craft store and make sachets to gift friends. I’m loving simple fabrics like ticking, gingham, denim, muslin and calico small florals and prints.” The magazine’s team created some items for the December issue based on quilt designs and folk-art motifs, evocative of the cottagecore look. Minted’s Founder Mariam Naficy likes ‘furoshiki’, the Japanese technique of gift wrapping with fabric. She says it’s a great way to wrap oddly-shaped items, and re-purpose fabric scraps or old scarves. She’s also making garlands this year out of various materials, including fragrant dried orange slices. “You can display them on a mantle, bookcase, or drape one on your dining table surrounded by tea candles for a simple, aromatic centerpiece,” she says. Naficy also suggests making garlands out of last year’s holiday cards and scraps of wrapping paper. Wreath frames from garden centres and art stores offer crafting parties the opportunity to make indoor or outdoor décor. “Eucalyptus doesn’t scream Christmas, and will work all winter,” says Stephanie Pollard of Hello Nest. Dried or faux greenery, pompoms, cotton balls, or colorful ornaments and a primed hot glue gun are all you need. To get the cottagecore look, add burlap or velvet ribbon, or wrap the wreath in cloth. Ashley Martin, a sixth-grade teacher and mom of two who lives in Green Township, New Jersey, transformed a scrounged vintage wooden Coke crate into a rustic succulent garden to decorate her home through the holidays and beyond. Martin says she’s always loved arts and crafts projects, but became obsessed with cottagecore décor when she and her husband bought an 1850s farmhouse. Turning her ideas into custom art and signs became a side gig, and she’s working on holiday orders now. “I really enjoy working on something creative any time that I can,” she says. Other ideas for DIY holiday decorations with a cottagecore feel: Gather a stack of blank cards, markers and essential oils and make aromatherapy cards. Clear glass or acrylic ball ornaments can be jazzed up with a coating of Mod Podge and a dip in a bowl of snowy glitter. (Keep a lint roller handy to clean up the sparkles. ) Use a glue gun to seal seams on cut-out felt mittens, trees or stars, then stuff the open end with a gift card or small treat. Kim Cook, The Associated Press
Santa will be able to make his visit to P.E.I. on Christmas Eve, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison informed Islanders at her regular weekly briefing Tuesday morning that Santa had been pre-approved for travel."I received a special alert this morning to tell me there is no COVID-19 in the North Pole. Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, the elves and the reindeer are all safe and healthy. They know that COVID-19 has been very hard for children and families around the world," said Morrison.Santa is still asking his elves to practise physical distancing and wash their hands regularly, she said.As for Elf on the Shelf, Morrison noted that the annual visitor arrived at her house Tuesday morning, having qualified as a rotational worker who is to become part of her family bubble. Other families' elves will be treated the same way.Holiday guidelinesThe Chief Public Health Office will be posting guidelines for Islanders celebrating Christmas and New Year's later this week, Morrison said.With the Atlantic bubble suspended, Morrison said Islanders need to avoid unnecessary travel."I urge Islanders to not travel off-Island over the holidays," she said."I urge families, including students who live off-Island, to consider not coming home for the holidays, and that's hard to say."For those who do wish to come to the Island, pre-travel approval will be required and arrivals will need to be prepared to self-isolate for 14 days.Morrison is recommending levees not be held this year. As with any gathering, any levee that is held will require an operational plan.More from CBC P.E.I.
The number of empty units in Toronto community housing has “steadily increased” in the last few months, despite efforts to fill those vacancies rapidly with people living in city shelters. While the agency reached a historically low vacancy rate of 1.78 per cent last November, by this fall it rose to 2.35 per cent. The rate for market rent units was still less than one per cent, but the rate was 2.54 per cent for rent-geared-to-income and 3.04 per cent for seniors housing. Coun. Ana Bailao, Mayor John Tory’s housing advocate, said it was “crucial” to address the swelling vacancies as quickly as possible, given the need for affordable housing in Toronto. “With the situation we have in the city, we can’t afford to have empty units,” Bailao said. Sheila Penny, chief operating officer with Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), attributes the increase in empty units to a pause in seniors housing rentals during the pandemic, city rules about filling vacancies, and a lack of supports in the city's northwest corner and Scarborough West Hill area for high-needs tenants. “It might be counselling for alcohol addiction, it might be mental health counselling,” Penny said of the missing supports. There was also an issue with “desirability” along the Sherbourne strip, she said, with one building in the downtown area showing a vacancy rate of around six per cent. In one case this summer, before a former Toronto shelter resident was moved into a Sherbourne-area apartment, the unit had sat vacant for a year — in part, because no tenants being relocated from a Regent Park building slated for demolition chose to move there. After COVID-19 hit, the city and TCHC implemented a strategy to move people from shelters into vacant social housing units, and provide various supports like furniture and food. Spokesperson Bruce Malloch said the first phase filled 300 vacant units across their properties. A second phase will target the northwest corner, Scarborough West Hill and Sherbourne areas specifically, Penny said, with the city approving around 300 more units for the program. As for the city rules, Penny said TCHC is usually required to offer empty units to overhoused tenants — those living in too-large homes — before turning to its protracted wait list. For a subsidized bachelor unit, the city warns of seven-plus year waits; for a one-bedroom, it can be 12-plus years. Because of a higher vacancy rate part way through 2019, TCHC was allowed to bypass the over-housed list for several months. That led to the historic low the agency reached last November. Now that the vacancy rate has risen again this fall, the city has agreed to let TCHC bypass the overhoused list once again while working on better processes for filling vacancies, she said. Coun. Paula Fletcher, who sits on TCHC’s tenant services committee, said pausing the priority on moving overhoused tenants was an “emergency response,” but it’s one she doesn’t think can last without jeopardizing access to bigger units. “There’s only so many two-bedroom, three-bedroom or four-bedroom places…If somebody is filling one, (and) they don’t have enough people to live in it, then it’s people on the waitlist who need a three- or four-bedroom place that aren’t going to be able to get it right away.”Victoria Gibson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
Speaking at the company's annual re:Invent conference, executive Andy Jassy announced Amazon Connect Voice ID, which uses machine learning software to authenticate customers who dial into call centers. Jassy, who runs the firm's cloud computing division Amazon Web Services, said AWS builds a voice print for customers who opt in to save time on calls.
Prior to the pandemic, Artem Polyvyanny used to choose where he wanted to live and work pretty much on a whim. “Africa was going to be a place I wanted to go but it’s mostly closed, Asia is almost completely closed too,” says the 34-year-old from Toronto. He had settled on going to Europe to see friends, but had to change plans recently as countries there began to implement new COVID-19 lockdowns.He now finds himself in Mexico, a destination that came about through a process of elimination.“I can’t go to many of the places I want to go.”Canadians living the digital nomad lifestyle say remote work in foreign countries has become cheaper as a result of the pandemic, but the freedom to go where they wish has been heavily limited. Digital nomads, who often freelance or work remotely full-time, are accustomed to a lifestyle where they can pick and choose where they’d like to live. However, travel restrictions are one of the biggest changes they’ve had to come to terms with.Polyvyanny says what he loses in choice, he’s getting back in value as the price of housing and flights has dropped dramatically as regular tourist traffic plummets across the world. He snagged a one-way ticket from Toronto to Playa del Carmen for only $170, and was able to negotiate prices while picking a place to stay.Vanessa Perez, a freelance marketing consultant from Montreal, says she was used to working abroad for seven months every year prior to the pandemic.This year, she worked in Paris for only one month in September. She made the choice to travel to Western Europe because she felt governments there were more serious about implementing safety measures for COVID-19.It’s not a typical destination for digital nomads, who usually opt for cheaper regions like Southeast Asia where they have the added benefit of a favourable currency exchange rate. Perez, who previously lived in Columbia and El Salvador, says it was worth the extra cost to continue the nomadic lifestyle.Now back in Montreal, Perez says she’s planning to work abroad in February, but is careful about committing.“I can’t buy a ticket now for February because I don’t know how things will even turn out in December,” she says, adding that insurance coverage and visa restrictions are a constant concern.“It’s day to day, week to week to see what will be the next step.”For Canadians, Mexico has proven to be a convenient destination where a visa is easy to come by.Lisa Shiller, a Torontonian who currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, said she’s able to live in the country with a six-month tourist visa that she received on arrival.She said renewing her visa is as simple as leaving the country and coming back again, which is much cheaper during the pandemic because of lower living costs.“Mexico has this stance where it’s like, ‘yes, come here, bring your dollars, spend your money,’” said Shiller, who has lived in Mexico throughout the pandemic, only returning home once after seven months to renew her visa.But she said the lifestyle isn’t quite the same, as she's avoiding air travel and can't explore the country like she had planned to. The silver lining is that she’ll save more money and can still travel by vehicle. Polyvyanny, who returned to Toronto at the start of the pandemic, says he decided to go back to Mexico because he felt it wasn’t worth spending so much to live in Canada’s largest city when most events are cancelled and city life is disrupted.“Pretty much all of the good things about Toronto were taken away,” he says.“There’s no reason to pay a premium on everything if I’m not able to enjoy this city.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press
Nonfiction1\. A Promised Land by Barack Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio)2\. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, narrated by the author (Random House Audio)3\. Unf—k Your Brain by Faith G. Harper, PhD LPC-S ACS ACN, narrated by the author (Blackstone Audio, Inc. )4\. The Art of War by Sun Tzu, performed by Aidan Gillen (Audible Studios)5\. Atomic Habits by James Clear, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio)6\. Mind Power Mixtape by Common, performed by the author (Audible Originals)7\. Smokey Robinson: Grateful and Blessed by Smokey Robinson, performed by the author (Audible Originals)8\. Habits for Happiness by Dr. Tim Sharp, performed by the author (Audible Original)9\. Becoming by Michelle Obama, narrated by the author (Random House Audio)10\. Be Calm by Jill P. Weber, PhD, narrated by Bernadette Dunne (Blackstone Audio, Inc.)Fiction1\. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton (Random House Audio)2\. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, narrated by Amy Landon (Blackstone Audio, Inc.)3\. The Awakening by Nora Roberts, narrated by Barrie Kreinik (Macmillan Audio)4\. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Kate Reading & Michael Kramer (Macmillan Audio)5\. Dead Acre by Rhett C. Bruno & Jaime Castle, performed by Roger Clark (Audible Originals)6\. 1984 by George Orwell, narrated by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio, Inc.)7\. The Weirdies by Michael Buckley, performed by Kate Winslet (Audible Originals)8\. A Christmas Carol: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry by Charles Dickens, performed by Tim Curry (Audible Studios)9\. Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle & Stephen Fry - introductions, performed by Stephen Fry (Audible Studios)10\. American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (A Full Cast Production) by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Ron McLarty, Daniel Oreskes & full cast (HarperAudio)The Associated Press
China successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon's surface on Tuesday in a historic mission to retrieve lunar surface samples, Chinese state media reported. China launched its Chang'e-5 probe on Nov. 24. The mission will attempt to collect 2 kg (4-1/2 lbs) of samples in a previously unvisited area in a massive lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or "Ocean of Storms".
Alberta hospitals are preparing to double-bunk critically ill patients, revamp operating and recovery rooms and reassign staff to treat an expected surge of COVID-19 patients destined for intensive care units. The measures are so far beyond the normal standards, it shows that Alberta is preparing for a crisis, says a long-time critical care doctor. "This is something that would only be carried out if there's a concern that we're going to get something close to what would be a disaster situation, or something that you would prepare for in a war," said Dr. Noel Gibney, referring to double-bunking ICU patients in a room designed for one. As Alberta hit a new record of 96 COVID-19 patients in ICUs on Monday, it also reached another ominous landmark — a record number of new daily cases, at 1,733. COVID's presence in Alberta ICUs has more than tripled during the last month. On Oct. 30, 24 people were critically ill with an infection. Provincial chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the data show Alberta is not yet at its peak of hospitalizations or patients critically sick with COVID. "We do need to make sure we're bending the curve early enough that we never get to that point where we don't have capacity to care for everyone," she said at her daily media briefing. Hospitals across the province are working to dedicate 2,200 beds for COVID patients, as they did last spring, Premier Jason Kenney said in the legislature. "Let us hope it is not necessary," Kenney said. "And ultimately, that's up to Albertans to respond positively to both the restrictions and guidelines articulated by the government last week." He also said the government will release data within days showing the projected impact of the pandemic on Alberta's health-care system. The effort to ramp up ICUs Dr. David Zygun, medical director for the Edmonton zone with Alberta Health Services, said hospitals can and will handle the growing caseloads of people sick with the potentially fatal strain of coronavirus. The goal is to add more than 250 general ICU beds within weeks, bringing the provincial total to 425, up from the previous 173. To do it will require some "unconventional" moves, he said. The University of Alberta's hospital's ICU is already accommodating two COVID patients in a room designed for one, a practice AHS calls "cohorting." Spokesperson Kerry Williamson said in an email the practice is not happening in other hospitals yet, but the measure is part of pandemic adaptation plans to meet increasing demand. The Misericordia Hospital in west Edmonton has moved their ICU to their cardiac care unit to allow for better isolation of patients, he said. The Grey Nuns Hospital in Mill Woods has moved its cardiac care unit to a different part of the hospital building to allow more space for the ICU, he said. Although Calgary ICUs were over capacity on Monday, Edmonton ICUs had about 18 spare beds at last count. AHS director Zygun said hospital staff are trying to proactively discharge hospital patients, move stable patients to less taxed facilities, open decommissioned space in buildings and reduce non-urgent surgeries to prepare for an influx. To make space in intensive care, they're also postponing surgeries that aren't urgent or emergencies and staffing previously unused beds, he said. If ICU and cardiac care beds are full, staff will then turn convert operating theatres and recovery rooms to temporary ICUs, Zygun said. "Obviously, the space is not ideal, but certainly we feel that we can manage it safely," he said. Gathering adequately trained staff to care for so many critically ill patients is one of the key challenges AHS faces, he said. They turn first to people who recently retired or transferred away from jobs in the ICU. AHS has also proactively trained some employees who work in related areas, such as emergency and in operating rooms or recovery units. Those professionals would be matched with teams of experienced ICU employees, he said. Staffing scramble, cramped spaces But Dr. Darren Markland, an intensive care physician at Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital, says it's not as simple as teaching professionals new skills. Critically ill patients are complex and demanding, and staff are continually making judgment calls. ICUs have never operated in the way the contingency plans are suggesting, he said. "It's going to be a challenge, and the first couple weeks that we transition will have unfortunate consequences as we're learning how to do this model," he said. He repeated a previous call for a lockdown to take pressure off hospitals. "Waiting to see if these things work is a liability," he said. Gibney likened managing a critically ill patient to flying a jumbo jet 24 hours a day. ICU nurses typically train for six months and spend a couple of years on a unit before they feel confident, he said. He said it will also be difficult to give patients the best possible care if they are cramped for space. "They're not doing everything they can," Gibney said. "They still have restaurants open. You can still go to the casino tonight and play the slots and have a few drinks. Go to the bar. To have those things open while the hospital is preparing for a disaster situation is madness."
CALGARY — Shares in Imperial Oil Ltd. were rising after it announced late Monday it would write down up to $1.2 billion on Canadian assets it doesn't think it will ever develop.In a brief news release, it said it has reassessed the long-term development plans of its unconventional natural gas portfolio in Alberta and no longer plans to develop a "significant potion" of those assets.It says that will result in a non-cash writedown of between $900 million and $1.2 billion in the current quarter.In Toronto, Imperial shares rose by as much as 94 cents or 4.2 per cent to $23.42 on Tuesday morning, despite falling benchmark U.S. oil prices.Imperial said the exploration lands it is shelving haven't been developed and aren't producing, adding the move doesn't include natural gas prospects that are also rich in petroleum liquids.Last week, the Calgary-based company said it would lay off about 200 of its 6,000 employees across Canada as part of a cost-cutting initiative due to low oil prices, adding it has reduced the number of contractors it employs by about 450 since the start of the year."We did not expect the company to allocate much to its unconventional assets in 2021 (or beyond) given its focus on the oilsands as well as cash returns to shareholders," said CIBC analyst Dennis Fong in a report.He added he expects Imperial's move to be "immaterial" to his financial estimates.Imperial is 69.6 per cent owned by U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil Corp., which said in October it would cut its global workforce by about 15 per cent, equating to about 14,000 jobs.Exxon announced Monday it would take an after-tax impairment of US$17 billion to US$20 billion thanks to removing certain natural gas assets from its development plan.Imperial committed in March to cut spending by $1 billion, including a $500 million reduction in capital spending plus $500 million in lower operating expenses, due to lower energy demand caused by lockdowns to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:IMO)The Canadian Press
It isn't one of Santa's reindeers. But a deer spotted on Bowen Island, B.C., has the makings of one thanks to Christmas lights strung around its antlers.Residents of the island, a 20-minute ferry ride from Vancouver, have shared photos online of the deer's festive, albeit worrisome, attire.Resident Shari Ulrich was out for a walk Saturday afternoon in the Cates Hill neighbourhood when she spotted the deer from afar."I thought, 'Is that really Christmas lights on its head?' " she recalled Monday. She approached, and sure enough, discovered a tangle of lights ensnaring the deer's antlers — nearly 10 metres worth — with wires dangling down its neck."It looked odd and uncomfortable and wrong," she said.Ulrich thought about freeing the deer from the lights. But once she stood a metre away, Ulrich stopped and noted the deer's "very pointy" antlers. Officers monitor deerConservation officer Erich Harbich said that the lights aren't endangering the deer, but officers are keeping an eye on the animal. "It's still able to eat, drink and feed itself and run away from danger if need be," he said."If there's anything concerning related to its mobility or ability to ... survive, then we step in at that point."Harbich said the deer is middle-aged and likely picked up the lights while walking through a resident's yard. He said conservation officers have received several reports about the deer in recent weeks.Harbich said residents should hang their lights at least two metres above the ground to avoid any deer getting tangled.If the lights do need to be removed, Harbich said conservation officers would prefer to not sedate the deer.It isn't the first time a deer in B.C. has been spotted with a new headpiece. Last month, a deer in Prince Rupert was seen with a bright pink exercise ball stuck between its antlers.And in 2017, a deer known as Hammy — also from Prince Rupert — sported the purple fabric of a hammock on its antler in 2017, drawing international headlines.And now, there's Rudolph from Bowen Island. "It's something you don't see every day," Harbich said.
Community concerns surrounding the future of the moose population near a small, remote First Nation west of Williams Lake has led its newly-elected chief to ink a five-year memorandum of understanding with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS). Yunesit’in government (Stone) is the latest First Nation to reach such an agreement with the COS to promote wildlife sustainability through joint communication, collaboration and enforcement. “It’s going to open the door to have some meaningful meetings, and taking better jurisdiction and care of our moose and deer population out west,” Chief Lennon Solomon said Nov. 30 outside the Tsilhqot’in National Government office in downtown Williams Lake. Solomon, who was elected chief of Yunesit’in in Sept. 2020, said the community voiced their concerns to him after seeing a decline in moose numbers in recent years. COS Insp. Len Butler of the Thompson Cariboo Region said working with Solomon is a real benefit. “We have the same concerns, and it’s the unlawful hunting of cow moose and if we’re working together, it’s much better than working apart on these issues,” Butler said. “Having that backing and us working together is good for the moose populations but also all the species of wildlife.” This year has seen an increase in illegal hunting activity such as hunting on private lands and trafficking, Butler noted, stating there has also been a lot of ‘unfortunate’ night hunting activity within the area. Butler and Solomon both agreed there is more than one factor leading to the moose population’s decline, including predation and logging. Tsilhqot’in National Government Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse described the Yunesit’in caretaker area as prime moose habitat that has been heavily logged. The area was also heavily impacted by wildfires that tore through the region in 2017. “They’d say that our hunters used to go out in the wilderness and get lost, now there are so many logging areas out there they go out on the logging roads, and they get lost,” Alphonse said. Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
The remains of a 17-year-old soldier were unearthed four years ago in Belgium — and it turns out they are those of a member of the Newfoundland Regiment, who fought in the First World War and died 103 years ago. The details of the discovery and identity were announced Tuesday at an event at The Rooms in St. John's, with the provincial archivist being acknowledged as having played a major role in the process. Pte. John Lambert died Aug. 16, 1917. He was born July 10, 1900, in St. John's, according to officials with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. His remains were discovered during an archeological dig near St. Julien, Belgium. There were three other sets of human remains found, but it's not clear if the others have been identified. Lambert's name was memorialized on the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in Bowring Park, which commemorates soldiers from Newfoundland who died during the First World War and have no known grave. Lambert lied about his age to fight in warAccording to a biography on the federal government's website, Lambert lied about his age and claimed he was 18 years old when, in fact, he was 16. He joined the 2nd Battalion in Scotland, and made his way to France, where he joined the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment in June 1917. Members served with the 88th Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division of the British Expeditionary Force.On Aug. 16, 1917, an attack was launched by the Newfoundland Regiment — in what become known as the Battle of Langemarck — with members successfully overtaking the enemy's trenches and bunkers. Lambert suffered wounds during the attack, and later died from them. Another 26 men were killed in that battle. N.L.'s provincial archivist played key roleLambert's remains were found alongside a number of artifacts in 2016. Those included a shoulder title of the Newfoundland Regiment, an Inniskilling Fusiliers cap badge, two Hampshire Regiment shoulder titles, general service buttons, British bullets and a few other small items.DNA samples from the soldier's descendants made it possible to confirm Lambert's identity — making it the first time a Newfoundland Regiment soldier has been identified by this process, according to the provincial government. It was Greg Walsh, the provincial archivist and director of The Rooms' provincial archives, who "provided vital archival research to locate Private Lambert's direct descendants," according to a Newfoundland and Labrador government media release. Walsh, speaking to reporters at Tuesday's event, praised Lambert for being "so courageous."When pressed about the fact that this was the first local case of its kind, Walsh acknowledged the significance, but noted it was a team effort. "I just feel like it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, I have ever been asked to do, and I'm so proud of the work I did, and the work we did as a team," he said. "I do feel like we have put a name to a face and that's a huge part of what we do as archivists and we don't get to do that everyday."Patience and tenacityHow Walsh got to the point of identifying the remains was a lesson in patience and tenacity. "Military records confirmed there were 16 Newfoundland Regiment soldiers who had fought in the vicinity, with no known grave. Walsh, began his year-long search with this list of 16 soldiers and proceeded to find living descendants for 13 of the 16," reads a statement. Walsh combed through many information sources, including vital statistics registers, census records, newspaper records, phone books and online search engines, to find anything that might help with the process. Ultimately, it was a combination of historical, genealogical, anthropological, and DNA analysis that helped the Casualty Identification Review Board identify Lambert, according to the government's website.Col. Perry Grandy, who is chairman of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council, said identifying Lambert, and the process that led to that, are both significant. "This has connected our modern day life with something that happened in history that we only read about," Grandy said. Burial to come at 'earliest opportunity'The Canadian Armed Forces have notified Lambert's surviving next of kin, and are providing them with ongoing support, according to the government. Lambert, who was born to Richard and Elizabeth Lambert, will be buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's New Irish Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, as the "earliest opportunity," according to the federal government. It's expected that family members, along with representatives from the Canadian, United Kingdom and Belgian governments will attend, as will representation from the Canadian Armed Forces. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
TORONTO — Awards season is in full swing on streaming services this month, even if the Oscars and Golden Globes have been pushed further into 2021 due to the pandemic. Several likely contenders are making their at-home debut over the holidays, including Chadwick Boseman’s final role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom." The film hits Netflix on Dec. 18 and Boseman is considered one of the frontrunners for a best actor nomination at the Academy Awards. There’s also “Mank,” David Fincher’s three-hour passion project about “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. The Netflix film may secure Fincher his third director Oscar nod after it arrives Dec. 4. Here are some other picks to add to your watchlist in December: "FUNNY BOY" Sri Lankan-Canadian author Shyam Selvadurai's acclaimed novel is brought to the screen by Deepa Mehta in this vibrant coming-of-age tale set in the leadup to the deadly Tamil-Sinhalese conflict. A Tamil boy, growing up in a wealthy Sri Lankan family, comes to terms with his sexual identity as a gay teen while simmering political tensions threaten to upend everything he holds dear. The film is Canada’s submission for best international film at the Oscars. (CBC Gem, Dec. 4) "SELENA: THE SERIES" The tragic story of Mexican-American pop singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, who was gunned down by her fan club manager in 1995, is retold through a romanticized lens in this dramatic series that’s being released into two packages of episodes. The first round of nine episodes centre on her family’s rags-to-riches story as they work to make their band, fronted by Selena, bridge the gap between Tejano music and pop radio. Stuffed with feel-good ‘80s hits and an understated performance by Christian Serratos as the titular singer, the series offers a new perspective on a rising star first portrayed by Jennifer Lopez in a 1997 biopic. (Netflix, Part 1, Dec. 4) "YOUR HONOR" “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston is a New Orleans judge who built his career on truth and justice until his only son confesses involvement in a hit-and-run. Tossing aside his moral high ground, he begins to bury the evidence, hoping to tip the scales in his son's favour. Of course, everything quickly goes off the rails in this 10-episodes limited series. (Crave, Dec. 6, episodes weekly) "PALM SPRINGS" Andy Samberg is a slacker who stumbles into a time-loop while trying to evade mingling with guests at a desert wedding. But once he gets comfortable in the cyclical monotony of his new reality, a surprise arrives that could turn his entire world upside down again. Built on a script that's a cross between “Groundhog Day” and “Russian Doll,” this lively flick, co-starring J.K. Simmons and Cristin Milioti, takes the traits of a typical rom-com and creates a timely reflection on life’s relationship routines. (Amazon Prime Video, Dec. 18) QUICK TAKES: "SMALL AXE" - "12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen delivers five distinctly different films in this anthology series about West Indian immigrants in London, mainly during the 1970s. "Mangrove" and "Lovers Rock" have already received rapturous reviews. (Amazon Prime Video, updated Fridays) “LENNON'S LAST WEEKND” – The BBC’s Andy Peebles was the last journalist to interview John Lennon and he returns to New York in this documentary to revisit that experience. (BritBox, Dec. 8) “LET THEM ALL TALK” - Meryl Streep plays an acclaimed author forced to confront her troubled relationships while on a cruise. (Crave/HBO, Dec. 10) This report by The Canadian Press was first published December 2, 2020. David Friend, The Canadian Press
The Town of Banff is bringing in a number of new bylaws and health measures as it copes with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita in Alberta.On Nov. 30, the Banff-Lake Louise area had 196 active cases of COVID-19, which translates into the second highest number of per capita in Alberta. In the most recent census data, in 2017, the Town of Banff estimated it had a population of close to 10,000, although that has been affected by the pandemic.The town announced Monday it is opening up a facility for those who test positive and need somewhere to get out of their shared accommodations.It's also increasing its capacity for testing and will be opening up a permanent Alberta Health Services site this week."This testing to me is absolutely a huge part of our solution moving forward and so welcomed," said Mayor Karen Sorenson.Council also spent several hours Monday debating new bylaws, voting in the end to reduce restaurant capacity by 50 per cent, require liquor and cannabis stores to close by 10 p.m. and expand the area where outdoor masks must be worn to include all of Banff Avenue and more of the downtown core.The new bylaws are temporary measures and will be reviewed later in December.Banff's communications and marketing director, Jason Darrah, said the town is also working with Alberta Health Services and local organizations to increase its COVID-19 testing capacity."Thankfully, we have two great medical clinics in Banff that have volunteered to conduct testing for our residents. The town recently secured space so the clinics could expand the amount of testing they can provide on Bear Street," Darrah said."We now have an AHS mobile testing unit in Banff working with employers that have clusters of cases and close contact among their staff. On Wednesday, we also set aside municipal space to conduct up to 1,000 tests in one day. This will be coordinated with employers and the employees will be contacted directly."The town also announced Monday that it has set up a 23-room isolation space for Banff residents to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community.The emergency housing will be available beginning Dec. 1 and is available to Banff residents who live in a shared accommodation, have tested positive for COVID-19, or have been notified they have been a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the virus.Hotel industry impactedTrevor Long, president of the Banff and Lake Louise Hospitality Association and general manager at the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, says the industry is struggling as cases surge in mountain communities."We're doing our best to try and manage our business and keep in mind the safety and welfare of our community and workforce. So it's very difficult to manage that right now," he told the Calgary Eyeopener.He says at the Rimrock, there are currently only two positive cases, but he knows that can turn into a ripple effect."We did have one case in our dining room with one of our kitchen staff … so we ended up having to shut our entire dining room down for two weeks," he said."It ended up being over 45 staff from the Rimrock that had to go and get tested for COVID because of one case that happened."Long says despite the staff members testing negative, the hotel is not able to open up the dining room until 14 days pass."We're being very cautious with this," he said. "One or two cases can shut down a business completely."Long says he's happy about the large scale testing that will be happening in the community and that staff at Rimrock will be getting tested again. "All of our staff are being done on Wednesday. And as I say, it's better to know than not know because you can make some decisions when you are aware that you have positive cases or negative cases," he said."We're appreciative of the province stepping in and helping out our community."
TORONTO — Canadian bank executives say an economic rebound is on its way after months of governments and financial institutions working to offset turmoil with loans, deferrals, interest rate cuts and subsidies.The chief executives of Bank of Nova Scotia and BMO Financial Group said Tuesday that they are starting to see signs of improvement and are feeling reassured by countries like Canada, the U.S., Chile and Peru, which have spent on average 17 per cent of their gross domestic product on relief measures. "We are seeing clear evidence that the stimulus is having the desired impact," Scotiabank's Brian Porter said on a conference call to discuss the bank's latest financial results."In Canada, retail spending has reached pre-pandemic levels, the housing market is experiencing robust growth and auto sales have largely recovered." Porter, who called himself "cautiously optimistic" about 2021, hadn't factored in the potential rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, but if Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca get the go-ahead to inject people with their early vaccine candidates, he said his optimism would grow even more.Meanwhile, BMO chief executive Darryl White was also feeling positive about 2021, but warned that troubles are still lingering as many countries, including Canada, plunge into a second wave of COVID-19."While the path of the pandemic and the economic recovery remains uncertain, we now know that vaccines will be available relatively soon, and there's good reason to be optimistic about the associated economic recovery accelerating as 2021 progresses," he said.The remarks came as their companies started to see the expiration of consumer relief programs they launched to help Canadians hit hard by the pandemic. Scotiabank offered $120 billion worth of relief for customers throughout the pandemic, while BMO said it granted payment deferrals to more than 256,000 retail accounts in Canada and the U.S. since March. Both spent much of the pandemic stowing away cash to protect themselves from bad loans, but were able to ease up in recent months.Scotiabank's provisions for credit losses in its latest quarter totalled $1.1 billion, up from $753 million a year ago, but down from nearly $2.2 billion in the third quarter.BMO's amounted to $432 million, up from $253 million a year ago, but down from nearly $1.1 billion in its third quarter.BMO also looked to protect itself further by winding down its non-Canadian investment and corporate banking business in the energy sector — a move White said would help better allocate resources in places where they can deliver strong returns now and in the future."Going forward, BMO Capital Markets' energy business will be focused on the Canadian energy market, where we believe our competitive positioning is strongest and where we will continue our deep and long-standing commitment to supporting clients," he said.BMO reported a fourth-quarter profit of nearly $1.6 billion or $2.37 per share, up from nearly $1.2 billion or $1.78 per share a year ago.On an adjusted basis, BMO says it earned $2.41 per share, down from an adjusted profit of $2.43 per share in the same quarter last year.Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $1.90 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.Revenue totalled nearly $6 billion, down from almost $6.1 billion in the same quarter last year.The results pushed BMO's stock up by 3.6 per cent or $3.33 to reach $96.66 in late morning trading.Meanwhile, Scotiabank reported a fourth-quarter profit of $1.9 billion or $1.42 per diluted share, down from $2.3 billion or $1.73 per diluted share in the same period a year earlier.On an adjusted basis, the bank earned $1.45 per diluted share for the quarter ended Oct. 31, down from an adjusted profit of $1.82 per diluted share last year.Analysts on average had expected Scotiabank to earn an adjusted profit of $1.22 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.Revenue totalled $7.5 billion, down from nearly $8 billion in its fourth quarter last year.Scotiabank's stock climbed by 2.9 per cent or $1.83 to reach $65.03 in late morning trading.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BNS, TSX:BMO)Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
Some nurses who left their jobs at Health PEI to take positions with Veterans Affairs Canada asked for, but were denied, a secondment from their provincial jobs, according to the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay.That's from the latest in a series of letters between MacAulay and P.E.I. Health Minister James Aylward. Aylward wrote to MacAulay in October, expressing concern about a hiring campaign by VAC by which the federal department had lured away at that time, according to Aylward's numbers, 25 registered nurses, two social workers and one psychologist from Health PEI.Health PEI said this week that the number of nurses who have left for VAC has now reached 32.As part of its effort to clear up a backlog of tens of thousands of disability claims, a spokesperson for VAC told CBC the department has hired 125 nurses across Canada, including 55 on P.E.I. Overall the federal department plans to hire 300 temporary staff and aims to clear up the backlog by March 2022. However the Parliamentary Budget Office says the job will require more staffing and an extra year to complete."Given the size of our province and corresponding size of the nursing workforce within our health-care system, this recruitment campaign has had a significant negative impact on our health human resources," Aylward wrote to MacAulay in the first of two letters the health minister tabled in the P.E.I. Legislature.Aylward went on to say some long-term care facilities also lost positions, and were operating with "a skeleton staff."Aylward told MacAulay it was "counterproductive" for a federal department to be taking nurses from provincial health care while Ottawa was at the same time sending additional resources to the provinces to help them deal with COVID-19.> I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada. — Lawrence MacAulay"The number of nurses that have migrated from our system to your department has left a potential significant nursing gap should we experience a second wave resulting in a critical situation," Aylward wrote in a followup letter dated Nov. 17.In that letter, Aylward asked about the possibility of Health PEI receiving some of the nurses back from VAC on secondment.Nurses denied requests for leave, says MacAulayBut in response, MacAulay said some of the nurses hired by VAC had asked for a secondment working the other way around: they had asked Health PEI to be allowed to temporarily leave their provincial positions to help VAC clear up the backlog, but that request was denied."My department offered this option for consideration at the time of the recruitment campaign, recognizing the pressures that all health systems were facing," MacAulay wrote to Aylward."I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada."MacAulay said the positions are only temporary, and that he'd instructed his department "to be as helpful as possible on this matter." He said VAC is "willing to assist the province with its pandemic response should the current situation change."Nurses in search of 'work-life balance': unionMona O'Shea, the head of the P.E.I. Nurses' Union, said she found it "interesting" Aylward reached out to MacAulay over the nursing shortage. She said the province was already facing a significant number of nursing vacancies even before VAC started recruiting.She said Aylward might have done better to take his concerns to the union. She said nurses are looking for "better work-life balance," and are being denied requests for "temporary leave of absence for education, for movement within the system, vacation, being called back to work when on vacation."O'Shea said nurses are feeling "undervalued, not appreciated and always being asked to do more with less."More from CBC P.E.I.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Yukon Premier Sandy Silver announced a total of 47 active cases of COVID-19 in the territory.
CHARLOTTETOWN - Sukhmeen Caur is concerned about the impact India's farm reforms will have on its farmers, she said. "It's harming people," she said. "Because of these laws, there's going to be no food on the table." Caur, who's originally from Punjab, India, was one of about 10 to 15 people demonstrating by the Charlottetown cenotaph on Nov. 30 - many of whom were members of P.E.I.'s Sikh community. They were raising awareness and showing their support for the Punjab and Haryana farmers protesting a series of laws imposed by India's government in September. The farmers believe their livelihood will be affected by the reformed laws, and when about 300,000 attempted to march into the city of Delhi last week they were met with police barricades, tear gas, and water cannons, demonstrator Manpreet Singh said. "They were stopped forcefully," he said. "They were beaten, they were harassed." Singh, who's also from Punjab, said farming is a primary source of income for India. While the goal of the reforms was to give more control to farmers, the farmer's main concern with them is that a minimum price for what their crops can sell for is no longer guaranteed or regulated, potentially giving corporations more control and profit. For example, one Indian farmer reported selling his wheat crop for 7 rupees per kilogram, after which the buying corporation processed and sold it for 150 rupees per kilogram, Singh said. "They're not treated like people. They're treated like animals," he said. While rising tensions have resulted in a meeting to be called between some of the country's farm unions and the Indian government on Dec. 3, the Charlottetown demonstration was to oppose the police and government's violent response to the protests for showcasing a lack of democracy, Singh said. "I have my right of speech in this country," he said. "But in my country right now, it is not trying to listen to the farmers." Caur added that accurate news coverage on the protests out of the country is difficult to find due to social media censorship, so the Charlottetown demonstration was to inform Islanders of what was going on. "I am here, I should also know what's going on here," she said. "(And) they should know what's going on in India." While only a maximum of 20 people was permitted to gather at the Nov. 30 demonstration due to COVID-19 protocol, Caur noted a larger rally may be held in the near future pending the Chief Public Health Office's approval. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
Canada will not agree to lifting a ban on non-essential travel with the United States until the coronavirus outbreak is significantly under control around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday. Trudeau's comments were a clear indication that the border restrictions will last well into 2021. The two countries have highly integrated economies and Canada sends 75% of its goods exports to the United States every month.