Pour arriver à la Côte-Nord, il faut rouler des heures et des heures vers l’est. Ensuite, un contrôle routier nous attend. Avant d’embarquer sur le traversier direction Tadoussac, deux policiers s’arrêtent à chaque véhicule. « Qu’est-ce que vous allez faire sur la Côte-Nord ? » demandent-ils à chaque automobiliste, décourageant ceux qui s’y rendraient par plaisir. La mesure n’est que préventive, mais elle fait partie du plan que chapeaute le médecin-conseil de la Direction de la santé publique de la Côte-Nord, le Dr Richard Fachehoun. Visage des conférences de presse pandémiques nord-côtières, Richard Fachehoun peut aujourd’hui se réjouir du bilan provisoire de sa région. À ce jour, pour 90 000 Nord-Côtiers, les autorités ne recensent que 200 cas de COVID-19 et 2 décès. La région est une des seules régions du Québec, avec l’Abitibi, les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, le Nunavik et une partie de la Baie-James, à demeurer une « zone jaune ». Le chapelet de villages étendu sur plus de 1300 kilomètres de côte offre un avantage certain, admet le Dr Fachehoun. « La densité de la population est faible. Mais, le principal, c’est vraiment le rôle que joue la population. Si on veut contrôler la situation, c’est la population qui va la contrôler. » Originaire du Bénin, l’homme à l’œil vif a dû longtemps cheminer avant d’en arriver à ce poste stratégique. D’abord médecin généraliste en Afrique de l’Ouest, à « [prendre] en charge des patients atteints de VIH », il arrive dans la belle province en 2008. Entre Montréal et Québec en passant par Gatineau, il obtient ses équivalences québécoises avant de s’établir sur la Côte-Nord, il y a trois ans. La neige « qui fait disparaître les maisons » n’a pas manqué de le surprendre, ni les innombrables sentiers pour combler son besoin de course à pied. « Courir, c’est passionnant. Quoique ces derniers mois, non, parce que les gens parlent beaucoup des ours qui se retrouvent sur la piste cyclable… mais c’est passionnant ! » « Passionnant » aussi que de travailler avec les Autochtones, dit-il. Une passion qui s’est transformée en défi lorsque la COVID-19 a forcé la mise en place d’une « cellule innue ». En début de crise, la haute direction du CISSS s’est réunie avec les élus locaux pour protéger ces milieux tissés serrés. « [Les élus innus] avaient des réponses à tout. Ils étaient proactifs », salue le Dr Fachehoun. Rapidement, des points de contrôle bloquent l’entrée de villages à tous les non-résidents. Puis, des enquêtes épidémiologiques « faites en collaboration avec les services de santé des communautés autochtones » tiennent la pandémie en échec chez les quelque 15 000 Innus de la région. Autre défi pour l’équipe du Dr Richard Fachehoun : le fly in fly out ou, autrement dit, le navettage des travailleurs dans les mines dispersées sur le territoire. Pour assurer le contrôle sanitaire de ces industries jugées essentielles par Québec, les minières ont établi des plans : des cycles de travail plus longs, un nettoyage des navettes aériennes et des mesures d’isolement. « Toutes les minières ont été visitées », assure le Dr Fachehoun. Pour les autres recoins d’autant plus isolés, comme Schefferville, Anticosti ou la Basse-Côte-Nord, l’absence de lien terrestre avec le Québec complique l’offre de soins. Pour prévenir toute éclosion, un isolement est imposé aux voyageurs, doublé d’un test de dépistage au premier et au septième jour après leur arrivée sur place. La logistique du dépistage sur ce territoire de 236 000 kilomètres carrés n’a pas non plus été de tout repos. « Au départ, toutes les analyses étaient faites à Rimouski », explique Richard Fachehoun. Avant que l’échantillon ne traverse le fleuve et que le patient connaisse le résultat, cinq jours pouvaient alors s’écouler. Après avoir mis au point un protocole d’analyse sur place, les résultats sont maintenant connus dans un délai de 24 heures, se félicite le médecin. N’empêche, il encense surtout son équipe pour avoir convaincu les Nord-Côtiers de l’importance des gestes barrières, comme la distanciation physique. « C’est la population qui a le rôle déterminant. Si la population respecte les mesures, on n’aura pas de cas », rappelle-t-il, bien au fait que « les gens sont habitués à faire des “collures” ». Cette « chaleur humaine », qu’il tente à regret de dissoudre chez ses concitoyens, l’avait pourtant bien charmé lors de sa première visite sur la Côte-Nord. À l’époque, il se souvient s’être fait interroger en pleine rue par une citoyenne, curieuse de voir un nouveau visage. « Automatiquement, j’ai fait le parallèle », raconte-t-il. « À Montréal, tout le monde se dépasse. À Québec, sur la piste cyclable ou bien quand on fait de la course, on se salue. Mais ce qui frappe sur la Côte-Nord, les gens t’arrêtent pour te parler. C’est plus inclusif. C’est un petit milieu. »Jean-Louis Bordeleau, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
NEW YORK — With police brutality continuing to devastate Black families and the coronavirus ravishing Black America disproportionately, the world was driven to the significance of this year’s Juneteenth more than ever before.And Beyoncé knew she wanted to release a song on that momentous day — so she dropped “Black Parade,” an anthemic jam where she proudly sings about her heritage, hometown and returning to her African roots.Months later, the song — and others focused on protesting, police brutality and the overall Black experience — are taking centre stage at the 2021 Grammy Awards.Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” scored nominations for two of the top awards: song of the year and record of the year. The track will also compete for best R&B song and best R&B performance.“There could have been a different approach as far as releasing the record and capitalizing off of timings of other things, but we really wanted to get it out during a time where we could all remember the feeling and the energy,” Derek Dixie, a longtime collaborator of Beyoncé’s who co-wrote the song with the pop star, said in an interview with The Associated Press.“It’s not always about the money and about catching streaming numbers and things like that. Sometimes it’s just about what it is — which was making our people proud.”“Black Parade” helped Beyoncé land nine nominations, making her the overall top Grammy contender. Dixie earned three Grammy nominations for co-writing and co-producing the song.For song of the year, “Black Parade” will compete with H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe,” the R&B singer’s track about police brutality.Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture,” a protest song he created in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, scored nominations for best rap song and best rap performance. Proceeds from the song will support the Black Lives Matter movement, Breonna Taylor’s attorney, the Bail Project and the National Association of Black Journalists.Anderson .Paak also released a song on Juneteenth — the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free — and it’s competing for two awards. “Lockdown” is nominated for best rap performance and best music video..Country singer Mickey Guyton wrote the track “Black Like Me” a year ago but released it this year because she felt it was extremely relevant. Now, it’s nominated for best country solo performance, giving the performer her first-ever Grammy nomination.“It’s been so hard in the country music community and trying to get country music to even support my music and for me to get a Grammy (nomination), it just goes to show that writing your truth is just the way to go,” Guyton told the AP on Tuesday. “And not only writing your truth, but really bringing your brothers and sisters up with you.”But Guyton admits that everyone’s response to her song wasn’t warm. It features the lyrics, “If you think we live in the land of the free/You should try to be Black like me."“I released it and I did get people that were very angry. There were even radio stations that people were like, ‘Get this (expletive) off of my radio station,’” she said. “I would get people writing me messages like, ‘Well, if you don’t like it here then leave.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it’s just as much my country as it is yours.’”Guyton added that some “radio stations were scared to play (‘Black Like Me’) because they were (angering) their listeners because their listeners didn’t want to hear that.”“But I wasn’t writing that song for them, I was writing that song got the people that understand this exact walk that I’m walking," she continued. “It’s for them."Apart from “Black Parade,” Beyoncé also earned nominations for her film honouring Black art and Black history, “Black Is King,” as well as her ode to dark- and brown-skinned women, “Brown Skin Girl.”Dixie, who has worked as Beyoncé’s music director and has produced, engineered and arranged songs for the singer, said he’s grateful he’s working with an artist who boldly speaks about Black pride in her music.“It’s just good to see that she’s willing to put that type of energy out and not necessarily be thinking about: ‘What’s going to guarantee me a No. 1? What’s going to guarantee me this?' It’s a part of our conversation, it’s a part of the process, but when it’s necessary to put that art out there, to put that energy out there, she’s usually ... leading the pack in that regard,” Dixie said. “So I’m grateful to be associated with her on that path.”Guyton added that it’s comforting to see some many Black musicians reflect the current times in their music, and she’s grateful to the Grammys for acknowledging those kinds of songs.“It’s so important because so often Black people, and Black women especially, are getting overlooked and constantly get overlooked and you’re constantly just trying to get people to remember that you’re there,” she said. “It feels like we’re seen and I don’t think we’ve always felt seen.”“I use this scenario of going into any grocery store — if you go to any grocery store ... and you look for hair products for someone who is ethnic and ... you see an entire aisle full of every and any hair product you can possibly think for someone that is not Black. But whenever it comes to finding hair products for a Black person, we’re designated a shelf. And today, it doesn't feel like we’re designated a shelf.”The 2021 Grammy Awards will air live on Jan. 31.Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
Vendredi dernier, le quotidien Le Journal de Québec a publié l’annonce du retour de l’éolien dans la ligne de mire d’Hydro-Québec pour 2021. Le député de Matane-Matapédia Pascal Bérubé a réagi à cette nouvelle, qu’il définit de majeure pour la région dans un contexte de relance économique du Québec. Le chef parlementaire du Parti québécois a d’ailleurs validé l’article journalistique auprès du gouvernement, dont le ministre des Ressources naturelles, Jonatan Julien, qui lui a confirmé l’intérêt renouvelé de New York pour l’électricité verte du Québec. « Cette nouvelle est importante pour nous, alors qu’elle tend à démontrer un virage du gouvernement de la CAQ sur le développement de l’éolien », a répété Pascal Bérubé. Il réitère que cette relance ouvrira des portes pour le Bas-Saint-Laurent et la Gaspésie. « Il y a également la possibilité d’exploiter d’autres filières pour s’assurer de notre sécurité énergétique », a-t-il rappelé. Des négociations sont en cours pour remettre le projet d’Apuiat sur les rails, ce même projet sur lesquels les élus régionaux misaient pour la survie de Marmen dans l’Est. Pascal Bérubé a doublement confirmé que le premier projet serait Apuiat. « Nous n’avons pas d’échéancier évidemment, mais le gouvernement du Québec me confirme qu’il y a une volonté d’aller de l’avant avec l’éolien, ce qui est majeur dans les circonstances. » Et pour le Parti québécois, cela se traduirait en un éventuel appel d’offres pour un projet de l’Alliance de l’Est. Selon le Parti québécois, l’Alliance de L’Est rapporterait pour l’ensemble des communautés de la région et permettrait la consolidation d’emplois chez Marmen, entre autres. « On ne sait pas si ce sera suffisant à court terme pour relancer Marmen », a toutefois précisé M. Bérubé. « D’autant plus que le coût a considérablement diminué ces dernières années, mais ça on le savait déjà. C’est le gouvernement de la CAQ qui a tardé à le réaliser. » Selon lui, les communautés locales pourraient bénéficier de retombées sur plusieurs décennies. « C’est l’ensemble des communautés de notre territoire qui vont chercher des revenus supplémentaires. De plus, le couplage de l’éolien et de l’hydroélectricité est une bonne combinaison d’énergies vertes », a-t-il lancé. Le Parti québécois suivra le dossier de près. Les députés péquistes continuent d’espérer un appui formel de la part du gouvernement québécois. Ils ont publiquement demandé à la ministre responsable du Bas-Saint-Laurent et de la Gaspésie, Marie-Eve Proulx, de porter ce projet au conseil des ministres, qui pourrait apporter une fortune à ces régions et étant « très faisable », a noté Pascal Bérubé. « Ce serait une des plus belles annonces qu’on pourrait faire dans les prochaines années », a-t-il affirmé.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Le 29 octobre dernier, un étudiant de Techniques d’animation 3D et de synthèse d’images du Cégep de Matane, Anthony Técher, a eu l’honneur de recevoir une mention spéciale pour sa bande dessinée « Monsieur H » à l’occasion de l’édition 2020 du concours CégepBD, réunissant près d’une centaine d’inscriptions cette année. En 3e année au Cégep de Matane et originaire de l’île de la Réunion, Anthony Técher a été félicité pour son oeuvre intitulée « Monsieur H », une bande dessinée de quatre planches traitant de la mélancolie moderne et de la sensation de perdre pied, une œuvre ayant vu le jour à l’occasion du confinement du printemps dernier. Malgré le contexte de l’édition 2020, 94 inscriptions ont été enregistrées au concours, qui est organisé par le Collège de Valleyfield depuis 1996. Les planches soumises ont été évaluées selon différents critères comme la qualité technique, les illustrations, la composition des éléments narratifs et l’originalité du scénario. Si Anthony Técher n’a pas figuré sur le podium, il est parvenu à recevoir l’une des six mentions spéciales accordées par le jury. En effet, le jury a souligné le « récit simple » du bédéiste ainsi qu’un « ton mélancolique soutenu par un dessin efficace et un design des personnages réussi ». L’illustrateur Mathieu Benoit, responsable de l’activité, a félicité M. Técher pour son « utilisation imaginative de la typographie et les couleurs choisies qui appuient l’ambiance claustrophobe » dans le récit. M. Técher a eu l’occasion de développer ses compétences artistiques lors de ses études au Cégep de Matane. « Cela fait longtemps que je dessine, mais jusqu’ici c’était surtout sur du papier. Pour ce projet-là, j’ai pu me mettre à fond dans le dessin numérique et développer de nouvelles compétences acquises au cégep. Sans ma formation au cégep, je n’aurais jamais pu me sentir assez à l’aise en digital painting pour participer au concours », a expliqué l’étudiant. Sa copine, Zoé Marchal, qui étudie en Techniques d’intégration multimédia, l’a notamment beaucoup aidé au niveau de l’histoire de la bande dessinée. « Le confinement du printemps m’a permis d’avoir plus de temps pour me pencher sur ce projet. Avant le confinement du printemps, la réalisation de la première planche, entre les heures de cours et les travaux à rendre, m’avait pris environ deux semaines. Après ça, j’étais capable d’en terminer une en trois jours », a commenté le bédéiste, qui avait accès à des tablettes graphiques pour l’aider.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Canada's main share index is set to extend its rally over the coming year as the likely rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine bolsters prospects for the economically sensitive financial and resource stocks that dominate the index, a Reuters poll found. "The run-up in stocks will likely not end in 2021 as (U.S.) stimulus likely comes early in the new year, vaccines start to get distributed in the second half of the year and most companies go back to normal in the latter part of 2021," said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investments. A vaccine rollout would "benefit Canada more than most countries because of the large proportion of value and cyclical stocks on the TSX," said Matt Skipp, president of SW8 Asset Management.
Despite a global pandemic, Victoria, B.C., is still one of the best "small cities" in the world, according to UK-based magazine Monocle.The magazine, which explores urban culture around the world, looked at cities with fewer than 250,000 people for their second annual Small Cities Index. The cities chosen were described as "well-connected cities that offer great business opportunities, a welcoming culture and access to nature."According to the index, Victoria placed No. 5, making a significant jump from 16 just a year ago. Porto, Portugal, took top honours followed by Leuven, Belgium; Itoshima, Japan; and Lucerne, Switzerland. Tomos Lewis, the Toronto bureau chief for Monocle, says the charm of a small city is not feeling lost in an anonymous metropolis."From having spoken to people from a variety of sectors who have lived in Victoria either for a long time or just moved there, that kind of intimacy comes part and parcel with moving to a city like Victoria," said Lewis to host Kathryn Marlow on CBC's All Points West.Cities were graded according to accessibility to international travellers, having "a good, progressive mayor," access to nature and for being warm and welcoming. Ratings also incorporated sustainability, environmentally conscious planning and opportunities for business. The magazine had compliments for Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps who it said "introduced initiatives to encourage young Canadians and foreigners to relocate here" such as free bus passes for children and bike lanes across the city. It also praised the city's diversifying economy, specifically noting its financial-services and ocean-research sectors, and its literary and food scene.Victoria has seen its fair share of challenges during the global pandemic including increased homelessness, a devastating shut-down of its tourism sector and rising housing costs."We do feel that all cities have their challenges that are particular to that place in question. But we don't think that those should always totally overshadow the other things a city has going for it," said Lewis.He said Victoria's civic attempts to address these issues is what earned it a top spot."This idea of the community first stepping in to try and solve, address and shine a spotlight on what those issues are and try to solve them I think is what gives a place its magic and that's certainly what we found having reported on Victoria for so many years from our vantage point."
VICTORIA — A special prosecutor in British Columbia has declined to approve any further charges against people associated with the community of Bountiful where a fundamentalist Christian sect practises polygamy.The B.C. Prosecution Service said in a statement Tuesday that the decision from special prosecutor Peter Wilson brings the matter to a close after years of investigations and charge assessments.Wilson's mandate included considering the possible prosecution of people accused of sexual exploitation and other alleged offences against minors, as well as polygamy-related offences, the prosecution service said. In assessing charges, Wilson said he considered relevant case law and followed the test set out by the prosecution service, which states Crown counsel must measure all the available evidence against two factors: whether there is a substantial likelihood of conviction and, if so, whether the public interest requires prosecution.The exploitation charges recommended by investigators were, with one exception, the same as those submitted to his predecessor Richard Peck in 2006, Wilson said in a statement."In addition, the complainant statements relied upon were, for the most part, taken during a 2005 RCMP investigation and are, therefore, exactly the same statements considered by Mr. Peck."Wilson was appointed as a special prosecutor in 2012 after Peck decided not to continue his mandate.There was some new evidence relating to allegations of sexual exploitation involving one person, which Wilson said he considered but ultimately found many of the same problems that previous prosecutors had identified with the proposed charges."A significant problem common to all of the proposed sexual exploitation counts is that they would have to be prosecuted with unco-operative witnesses," he said.The complainants, according to their statements and police reports, "seem content with their situation as plural wives," he said, adding the result is a case that would "turn entirely on circumstantial evidence."Wilson said the proposed charges also didn't meet the public interest test."In many instances, the alleged sexual exploitation occurred years if not decades ago. A prosecution would likely cause significant emotional distress to complainants who have emphatically rejected any notion that they are now or were ever victims."James Oler and Winston Blackmore, two rival leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, were convicted in a B.C. court of practising polygamy in 2018 and sentenced to house arrest and probation.Oler was also convicted and sentenced to 12 months in jail last year for taking a 15-year-old girl into the United States to be married.Two other members of the Bountiful community have been convicted for removing a 13-year-old girl across the border.In his statement, Wilson said investigators recommended the prosecution of three suspects and submitted new information earlier this year in relation to the alleged removal of two other children who subsequently married members of the same sect in the United States. In each case, Wilson said, there was no substantial likelihood of conviction, so he declined to approve the charges.Insp. Brent Novakoski, the senior investigating officer for the RCMP’s southeast district in B.C., said the announcement "concludes a lengthy, extensive and complex investigation that has spanned two decades, two countries and involved a number of legal firsts."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s governor says that once coronavirus vaccines become available, they will be optional in the state’s K-12 public schools.Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday that vaccines will be very important for Tennessee to “ultimately really be able to handle” the pandemic. But he says he doesn’t foresee vaccine mandates for school districts in Tennessee.In his words, “Vaccines are a choice and people have the choice and will have the choice in this state as to whether or not they should take that vaccine.”The state’s health commissioner says the first doses could arrive in Tennessee around Dec. 15. The first wave will be reserved for frontline health care workers and first responders. She says widespread availability would likely be in late spring or early summer.___HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:— Tokyo governor: Japan can host Olympics despite virus spike.— Millions in US stick to Thanksgiving travel plans despite CDC warnings.— Keep the mask: A vaccine won’t end the US crisis right away.— Just in time for December holidays, England to cut its mandatory 14-day quarantines for travellers from unsafe virus countries to as little as five days with testing regimen.— Los Angeles on the brink of a stay-home order as coronavirus cases rise.— Drones to the rescue: Berlin lab seeks quicker virus tests.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:EL PASO, Texas — Officials in El Paso County in Texas plan to impose a new curfew in hopes of combatting a surge in coronavirus cases that is overrunning the border area’s hospitals and funeral homes.El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego has said Gov. Greg Abbott’s office has approved the curfew. In a letter sent last week to Abbott, Samaniego said the curfew would be limited in nature and would not interfere with people seeking to access essential or nonessential services.The county judge and state officials have been at odds over Samaniego’s efforts to implement rules to slow the virus’ spread in the border city of El Paso.Earlier this month, an appeals court overturned an El Paso County order that would have closed nonessential businesses, including gyms and salons.___INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has nearly recorded its most COVID-19 deaths for a single month with a week remaining as health officials on Tuesday added 103 more deaths to the state’s pandemic toll.The Indiana State Department of Health’s daily update included the new deaths mostly occurring over the past several days through Monday, and which push November’s total to at least 991.Indiana’s monthly high for COVID-19 deaths was 1,041 in April, when at most the state’s moving seven-day average was 42 fatalities a day. That daily average has now reached 51 as Indiana’s hospitals are treating nearly double the number of coronavirus patients as at any point since seeing their first infections in March.Coronavirus hospitalizations have reached a level where health care leaders say the system is becoming overwhelmed and some hospitals have started rationing care to treat those most severely ill.___ATLANTA — Although White House officials are pushing Georgia to do more to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday that the responsibility rests with individual Georgians, as he implored them to take precautions over Thanksgiving.The holiday comes at a perilous moment for the state. Although the virus is spreading more slowly in Georgia than in 40 other states, according to figures kept by The Associated Press, the number of infections is still rising rapidly and approaching the peak Georgia saw in late July.The Republican governor repeated the same guidance he’s been giving Georgians since summer, that they should wear masks, keep their distance from others, wash their hands, and follow Kemp’s rules, including bans on large gatherings. The governor said he wasn’t planning any other measures, such as a statewide mask mandate, or renewed restrictions on businesses.Also on Tuesday, a second member of Congress from Georgia tested positive for COVID-19.Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Allen of Evans announced Tuesday that a test shows he has the coronavirus. Allen represents the 12th District stretching from Augusta across all or part of 19 counties.He says he has no symptoms and will isolate at home. Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson of West Point tested positive in October after experiencing mild symptoms. U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler had isolated after she got a positive COVID-19 test on Friday, but has since gotten two straight negative tests.___LOS ANGELES — A California judge has rejected a request from a restaurant industry group to block the nation’s most populous county from reinstating a ban on outdoor dining, a plan the group said would devastate businesses and workers.The California Restaurant Association asked a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Tuesday to block the order until county health officials provide medical or scientific evidence that it poses an unreasonable risk to public health.The group challenged an order issued Sunday in light of soaring coronavirus cases that prohibits restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars from providing in-person, outdoor dining.The new rule scheduled to take effect Wednesday would restrict restaurants, bars and other businesses in the county to takeout and delivery.___JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s top health official said he is exhausted trying to convince people in the state to take the coronavirus seriously and follow public health guidelines.“I’ll just to confess to you guys, I’m exhausted trying to convince folks to do stuff. It’s just going nowhere,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s state health officer, said Monday during a meeting with members of the Mississippi Senate.Mississippi, with a population of about 3 million, has reported more than 144,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 3,729 deaths from COVID-19. Hospitalizations are rising, with 946 people hospitalized in Mississippi with coronavirus Monday, compared with 560 on Nov. 4, according to the state Department of Health.Speaking to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Monday, Dobbs said there is no “collective will” among the public to prevent the virus.___ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Atlantic City’s casinos are slowly resuming live entertainment, bringing back a staple of the casino experience as they comply with government-mandated restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Hard Rock on Tuesday announced a series of Motown-themed Christmas shows from Dec. 11-30, saying its customers are getting antsy with months of coronavirus restrictions.“Public demand is looking for activities, especially with outdoor temperatures keeping everyone inside,” said Hard Rock president Joe Lupo. “The large showrooms, with better air circulation and spacious seating, and less than 10% of normal (occupancy) can provide that safe and fun night out.”Tickets will be sold as individual tables of two and four seats to ensure social distancing.___BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s department of health has released figures showing that November has become the state's deadliest month due to complications from COVID-19.State officials confirmed Tuesday a record high of 37 deaths in the last day, bringing the overall death toll to 883 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 317 fatalities in November, surpassing the October tally of 295.Figures released Monday by Johns Hopkins University researchers lists North Dakota’s death count as the 39th highest in the country and the eighth highest per capita at 112 deaths per 100,000 people.State health officials said fatality updates on Tuesday are typically higher because of lag in reporting from the weekends.___MOSCOW — Russia has released new results claiming its experimental coronavirus vaccine is highly effective and will cost less than vaccines made by some Western competitors.Russian Direct Investment Fund, which bankrolled the development of the shot, says Sputnik V will cost less than $10 per dose — or less than $20 for the two doses needed to vaccinate one person — on international markets. The vaccine will be free for Russians. Developers of the vaccine say it was 91.4% effective, according to new trial data.Pfizer and Moderna shots cost about $20 and $15-25 per dose respectively, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.Russia drew international criticism for giving Sputnik V regulatory approval before it underwent advanced testing among tens of thousands of people required to ensure its safety and effectiveness.Russia has reported 2.1 million confirmed cases and more than 36,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.___COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio might get the potential coronavirus vaccine by Dec. 15, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday, citing his office’s conversations with federal officials.Any vaccine candidate must be peer reviewed and get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.The priority would be distribution to health care workers, followed by populations considered at high-risk for the coronavirus. The governor didn’t identify which company’s vaccine the state would receive.Meanwhile, nearly 4,500 patients in Ohio are hospitalized with COVID-19-related symptoms. That includes more than 1,000 on intensive care units and more than 570 on ventilators, according to state Health Department data.The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen from 4,724 cases on Nov. 9 to 8,277 on Monday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.—-MADRID — Spain is reporting a new daily record of 537 coronavirus deaths since the resurgence of the pandemic.The country’s 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 of population fell Tuesday to 362. That’s down from 529 on Nov. 9, at the peak of the resurgence.Spain has since enlisted emergency measures limiting movement and social gatherings.Spain’s total coronavirus cases stands at nearly 1.6 million, with more than 43,600 deaths.___TOKYO — Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike remains firm about safely hosting the Olympics in July.Japan has experienced an uptick in infections this month, with a nationwide daily total exceeding 2,000 as the government tries to balance preventive measures and business activity.International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach spent four days in Tokyo last week trying to assure the public and sponsors the Olympics will take place on July 23.Koike credits widespread use of masks for Japan’s lower infections compared to the United States and Europe. Tokyo topped 500 cases last week. It reported 186 new cases on Tuesday for a total of nearly 38,200.The health ministry says Japan has 135,000 total cases and nearly 2,000 confirmed deaths. The U.S. has 12.4 million cases and more than 258,000 deaths. Britain leads Europe with 1.5 million cases and 56,000 confirmed deaths.___NEW YORK — Governors and mayors are ratcheting up mask mandates and imposing restrictions on small indoor gatherings that have been blamed for accelerating the spread of the coronavirus.Officials are banking on voluntary compliance since such measures are largely unenforceable.Health experts say if people disregard the new state and local restrictions and socialize anyway, that could put greater stress on overburdened hospitals and lead to an even bigger spike in sickness and death after the holidays.The nation is averaging 172,000 new virus cases per day, nearly double since the end of October, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.The U.S. leads the world with 12.4 million cases and nearly 258,000 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.___OMAHA, Neb. — The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus in Nebraska remains near record levels, but the total has remained relatively the past week.The state says 971 people were hospitalized with the virus on Monday. Over the past week, that figure has gone up and down between a low of 961 last Wednesday and Friday’s record of 987.But more social distancing restrictions could be triggered soon because more than 23% of the state’s hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients. Gov. Pete Ricketts has said that more restrictions will be imposed when that figure reaches 25% of the state’s hospital beds.Nebraska reported 1,860 new cases of the virus Monday to reach 115,921. The state reported 25 new deaths for a confirmed total of 934.___GUILFORD, Maine — A Maine medical supply manufacturer has been awarded more than $11 million from the federal government to produce millions of additional testing swabs.Republican Sen. Susan Collins says Puritan Medical Products of Guilford received the money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Collins says the company will increase its production of swabs by three million per month.The White House in June said the federal government was providing more than $75 million for Puritan to double its production to 40 million swabs per month.The company’s total production is at least 90 million per month now, Collins says.The state has reported nearly 10,800 cases and 189 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.___MADRID — Spain officials say health workers and residents in elder care homes will be the first group vaccinated when potential doses arrive.Health Minister Salvador Illa says Spain has signed agreements with five vaccine producers and hopes to do so with two more. Once the vaccines are approved by the European Medicines Agency, Spain hopes to receive 140 million doses.Given most vaccines will involve two doses, he says this should be enough to vaccinate some 80 million people and cover any possible problems with some vaccines.Spain, with a population of 47 million, intends to give vaccines for free and provide the excess vaccines to countries outside the European Union that need them, Illa says.The government hopes to vaccinate some 2.5 million people in the first stage between January and March and the rest of the population by mid-year. The vaccinations will be given in Spain’s 13,000 public health centres.Spain has reported more than 1.5 million cases and more than 43,000 confirmed deaths.The Associated Press
The Yukon government has announced that it will extend its wage top-up program for low-income essential workers until Feb. 15, 2021, in a Tuesday afternoon press release.The program, which was announced in May, was originally supposed to run between Mar. 15 and Oct. 3. Employees using the program must not have received the federal government's Canada Recovery Benefit during the same period of time."To date more than 100 businesses have received more than $1.2 million in funding, benefiting more than 1,300 employees," the release states.The program provides essential workers making less than $20 per hour with a wage top-up of up to $4 per hour for 16 weeks. The release states that essential workers who received the benefit during the initial period, will be eligible to apply again for the second round.Minister of Economic Development Ranj Pillai is quoted in the release as encouraging employers to apply for the program."Yukon workers providing essential services have continued to come to work despite the stresses and risk of interacting with the public, and we thank them for supporting all Yukoners through these challenging times," Pillai said.NDP Leader Kate White welcomed the announcement on Tuesday. She also said it's important that essential workers are able to make a living wage all the time, not just during a pandemic."These workers are doing essential work now, and they were doing it before, and they'll do it after," White said. "I think this program should run until we have a vaccine, and then we can talk about living wages."
“Together, these public servants will restore America globally, its global leadership and its moral leadership,” US President-elect Biden said.View on euronews
More community drop-in spaces, places to make and see art or learn something new, could be coming to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside if council approves a proposal to loosen zoning restrictions on storefronts in the neighbourhoods. Current city rules require storefront spaces be used for retail, health care or law office use. But many storefronts on East Hastings and other streets are sitting empty, even as homelessness has grown and many non-profits have had to limit the number of people allowed inside because of COVID-19 precautions. In May, the Army and Navy department store announced it would be closing after decades of operating in the neighbourhood. Owner Jacqui Cohen said the decision to close came after “insurmountable” losses caused by COVID-19. Tom Wanklin, a city planner who focuses on the Downtown Eastside, said there’s an opportunity to make better use of the closed storefronts. “What we are going to be doing is asking council to see if they would be willing to put it out to a public hearing to allow community-serving uses, including social uses, educational uses, local employment creation,” he said. Arts and cultural space is another potential use. “We’re working... to be able to know how many affordable spaces might be available, what is lying vacant, and talking to interested landlords as to freeing up some of those spaces,” Wanklin said. The request from the city planners is on the agenda for today’s council meeting. If council approves the idea, it will go to public hearing sometime in January, a process that lets people sign up to speak to city council about whether they support or oppose the proposal. The zoning changes are proposed for East Hastings between Carrall Street and Heatley Street; for Main Street between East Hastings and Alexander Street; and Powell Street between Main Street and Jackson Avenue. Organizations like the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre have been calling on the city to fast-track safe outdoor spaces, like patios, to help residents continue to access services in a physically distant way. Wanklin said city staff are now close to approving a patio space for the women’s centre, but many other organizations in the neighbourhood have the same need for more space. “With trying to create distancing, non-profits need more space in order to do that and bring people in,” said Mary Clare Zak, a social planner who has been working with Wanklin on the idea. They probably need twice as much space to do the same programming, she said. While some neighbourhood advocates have questioned whether the Army and Navy storefront could be put to some other use, Zak said city staff have not had any recent talks with Cohen. Zoning for most of Vancouver’s main shopping areas is designed to encourage streets full of retail shops open to the public. But COVID-19 has shown there needs to be more flexibility in how storefronts are used, city planners say. Zak said changes to storefront zoning in the Downtown Eastside could be a model for other areas of the city. “Non-profits, it doesn’t matter where you are, they’re all struggling with space capacity right now,” Zak said. Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
BOSTON — The Coast Guard said Tuesday it called off the search for the four-member crew of a Maine fishing boat that sank off Massachusetts.The Coast Guard searched an area of approximately 2,066 square miles for more than 38 hours, Capt. Wesley Hester said in a release.“The decision to suspend a search is never an easy one," Hester said. “We extend our condolences to the friends and loved ones of these fishermen during this trying time.”The 82-foot (25-meter) Emmy Rose, based in Portland, Maine, went down about 20 miles (32 kilometres) northeast of Provincetown, Massachusetts, around 1:30 a.m. Monday. It was heading for Gloucester, Massachusetts.The crew did not make any sort of mayday or distress call, and the Coast Guard was alerted when the vessel’s emergency beacon made contact with the water and sent out its signal, the Coast Guard has said.The commercial fishing vessel’s owner reported that the Emmy Rose’s satellite phone went unanswered, and the first Coast Guard crews on the scene discovered debris and an empty life raft.A Coast Guard cutter that remained on the scene overnight was joined Tuesday morning by a fixed-wing aircraft, Petty Officer Amanda Myrick said. However, the crew could not be located, the Coast Guard said.The search was hampered Monday by 6- to 8-foot (2- to 2.5-meter) seas and 35 mph (55 kph) winds, but weather conditions had improved Tuesday, Myrick said.The owner, Rink Varian, had told the Bangor Daily News that the boat’s crew was experienced.“This is a horrific accident,” he said.The Emmy Rose was part of the Sustainable Harvest Sector fishing co-operative.“I am holding out hope that the Coast Guard will be able to find these people,” co-operative manager Hank Soul told The Boston Globe before the search was called off.The Associated Press
The Canadian tradition to give thanks on the second Monday in October isn't the only Thanksgiving some in southwestern Ontario celebrate.This year, like almost every other for the last 73 years, members of the Cottam United Church in Essex County will put together a feast.It's normally a big event, even attended by Americans. This year, the COVID-19 restrictions won't allow for that, but the members of the church aren't ready to let go of the tradition."It's more than just a meal. It has been an event that has brought our community together beyond just even the community of the church. It's generally the community of both people who live in the area and our American cousins," said Rick Mayea, an organizer of the event.Deciding to still host the dinner was the easy part, he said. The challenge was how to do it and keep the community safe. In the past, hundreds dined in the 150-capacity hall from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with another 400 to 500 takeout orders. Since that large of a group gathering isn't currently allowed, they came up with a simple plan with the help of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit."Just consider it an average Tim Horton's drive-thru," Mayea said. This year each dinner costs $18. They're filled with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, peas, squash, then a choice of pie, either apple, cherry or blueberry.So far about 800 meals have been pre-ordered, but they expect more. Normally the group serves about 1,200 meals. The event only comes together thanks to dedicated volunteers. Only 50 can be inside of the church at one time, but Mayea said they've been able to make it work. "It'll be a little bit different than trying to serve a person a meal," he said. "People will come through and be packing the meals."He says they can produce and pack 100 meals in about 15 minutes and are prepared for a different traffic situation in the parking lot. "We have people out there controlling things," Mayea said. "We do have people greeting cars as they arrive and kind of directing them where to go."This year all the meals must be pre-ordered for pick up by Tuesday night. Church volunteers will start peeling the potatoes to feed an estimated 1,150 starting Wednesday.
JUNEAU, Alaska — State health officials are asking Alaskans who test positive for COVID-19 to notify people they have been in close contact with because a surge in cases has strained public health resources and created a backlog in contact tracing investigations.Dr. Joe McLaughlin, the state epidemiologist, said contact tracers “have been forced to triage cases to ensure they are reaching the people most at risk for severe symptoms and those most likely to spread the disease.”“For newly reported cases, contact tracers try to make first contact the day the cases are reported, as well as provide monitoring calls to some of the highest risk individuals,” he said in a statement. “However, due to the delays in the process and some calls that can’t be initiated that first day, we recommend Alaskans call their own close contacts.”A state health department spokesperson did not immediately answer questions about the backlog, including whether additional resources announced in late October were in place. At that time, Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state health department said they planned to expand contact tracing using the National Guard and University of Alaska Anchorage staff.The state health department reported 578 new COVID-19 cases among residents, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to nearly 27,670. There have been 115 deaths among residents, including 13 announced Tuesday. Of the newly announced deaths, the department described five as recent and eight as being reported following death certificate reviews.All regions of Alaska are under what the health department refers to as high alert, with widespread community transmission.Health officials previously urged residents to help contact tracers by answering their phones and providing accurate information. Some people don’t want to participate in contact tracing, McLaughlin has said, possibly because of job-related pressures or COVID-19 “fatigue” — being tired of dealing with the pandemic.Anyone can get COVID-19, and there “should be no stigma associated with this highly infectious disease,” Alaska’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, said in a news release.The health department said other states also are facing contact tracing challenges.Health officials are urging Alaskans with a new symptom, such as fatigue, fever or shortness of breath, even if mild, to get tested and stay home while awaiting results. If someone tests positive, they are encouraged to contact those they have been within 6 feet of for longer than 15 minutes so those people can quarantine and get tested.For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
Many who fought to keep Grey Gables as a county long-term-care home were rejoicing last week over news it will be expanding instead. MPP Bill Walker announced that 62 new beds have been assigned to the facility, making a 128-bed home in Markdale. Grey Warden Paul McQueen said that the matter will be coming before county council this Thursday. He sees two possible options, either to add on to the existing building or to build a new building between the current Grey Gables and the new hospital and re-purpose the existing building, perhaps for assisted living. “This is fantastic news for the east side of Grey County,” he said in an e-mail reply “especially with all the growth that is happening.” Among those celebrating are the Knott family, who all feel like Grey Gables is an extension of their home. Rod Knott, a former warden, was part of the fight to save Grey Gables, where his wife Marjorie lives. “We are very thrilled with expanding capacity at Grey Gables,” their daughter Michelle Knott of Dundalk responded when asked for her reaction to the news. “We know how important Grey Gables is to the community and are very pleased that Grey Gables will continue to be able to provide quality care in our area to more residents!” Grey County is planning a completely new build for Rockwood Terrace in Durham, and the county is also looking at putting affordable housing at the site. The county is also looking as a “campus of care” model in Markdale. Mr. Walker made the announcement that the beds would be added as part of the 2020 Budget, described as an action plan to respond to the serious health and economic impacts of COVID-19. “I’m grateful to Minister Fullerton and Premier Doug Ford who personally toured over a year ago and promised to make our seniors a priority.” he said in a press release. Among the 29 new long-term care projects across Ontario, 19 will include campuses of care, where multiple services are provided for residents on the same site. The projects include almost 2,000 new spaces and 1,000 upgraded spaces.M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
TORONTO — The thoroughbred racing season at Woodbine Racetrack might end next month after all.Woodbine Entertainment said Tuesday it continues to have "productive conversations with senior levels" of the provincial government about being able to complete its revamped 2020 thoroughbred racing schedule."We are continuing to have discussions with the government of Ontario about our request to safely complete the balance of the season ending Dec. 13," Woodbine Entertainment said in a statement issued on its Twitter account. "We will provide an update as soon as we can."Based upon the timing of these conversations, Woodbine stated that racing Thursday and Friday nights would be cancelled. If the government decided to permit live racing, the earliest it could resume would be Saturday, which would require entries to be submitted Thursday morning.And if racing is allowed, Woodbine said it will attempt to reschedule the cancelled events.On Sunday, Woodbine Entertainment announced that would be the final day of the '20 season. Several races that were planned for then were cancelled due to weather, including snow, fluctuating temperatures and mixed precipitation.News of the truncated season came two days after the Ontario government revealed its new COVID-19 measures.On Friday, the government moved Toronto and Peel Region -- two COVID-19 hot spots -- into lockdown. That means the shutdown of businesses such as salons and gyms, while restaurants would move to takeout only and retail to curbside pickup.The new restrictions came into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday.Woodbine Entertainment has said it has about 1,300 employees either temporarily or permanently laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It added this shutdown would also negatively impact the about 2,000 horsepeople on the Woodbine backstretch, putting many of them out of work.Under the new restrictions, horses could train only without spectators and not run in actual races. While there's been racing at Woodbine since June, all events have been conducted without fans in the stands.The start of Woodbine's 2020 racing seasons -- standardbred and thoroughbred -- were delayed for several weeks due to the global pandemic before being allowed to begin June 5 with harness racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park.The '20 thoroughbred card began June 6 at Woodbine.Standardbred racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Campbelleville, Ont., will continue. That track is located roughly 64 kilometres west of Toronto and outside of the lockdown boundaries.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
The Township of Carlow Mayo had a public meeting on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. so residents could comment on the passing of the township’s draft cannabis bylaw, and the council could answer their questions about the bylaw. Many municipalities have faced illegal cannabis operations doing business within their borders, including Carlow Mayo, one of them being the illegal cannabis operation that was taken down by the OPP on Hartsmere Road in McArthurs Mills on Sept. 15. Mayor Bonnie Adams stressed that with this amended bylaw, it will impose restrictions on where cannabis operations can be permitted within their township, and hopefully curb these illegal cannabis production facilities from starting up in the first place. After taking and answering residents’ questions on the issue, council voted unanimously to adopt this amended bylaw. Adams thanked everyone for coming and explained that the purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for individuals to comment on the draft bylaw and pose any questions they may have before it was passed by council. The bylaw in question is bylaw 26-2020, which is a bylaw to amend the comprehensive zoning bylaw 33-2004, in accordance with Section 34 of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990. “Without the amendments we are proposing, we would have no authority on where and how cannabis operations could be established that are licenced or registered by Health Canada. Please be assured that council does not take this lightly. It’s a major problem for us and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that our municipality is protected from any illegal operations that could occur within our municipality,” she says. Adams mentioned that back on Aug. 14, she had attended a Hastings County Zoom meeting with Councillor Dan Hughey and deputy clerk and treasurer Jenny Snider to discuss this problem. She said their concerns were addressed to MP Derek Sloan, MPP Daryl Kramp, inspector detachment cmdr. Scott Semple from the OPP, insp. Jim Walker from the OPP Organized Crime and Enforcement Bureau, Warden Rick Phillips with Hastings County and Warden Marg Isbester from Lennox Addington. As a result of the meeting, letters were sent to Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and Federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu to ensure that all three levels of government are working in cooperation toward the issue of addressing illegal cannabis operations. Adams explains that in the letters the municipalities suggested some recommendations including; that Health Canada should share information about cannabis certifications with municipalities so they can ensure that certificate holders are compliant with the township’s zoning bylaw, that police forces have the necessary resources to monitor and take action against cannabis operations that conduct their business illegally, that the province provide means to amend legislation to establish a new provincial offence that creates an offence when unlicensed cannabis operations breaking planning and environmental regulations and when they ignore building codes, and that a suggested $100,000 fine be in place to act as a deterrent. If all else fails, the township would like to be able to collect any outstanding fines through municipal property taxes. While there has been no word from Minister Hajdu yet, Adams had heard that Minister Clark had shared these recommendations with Attorney General Doug Downey, solicitor General Sylvia Jones, the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus and the Association of Municipalities of Eastern Ontario Monica Turner. “As you can see, we are not sitting doing nothing with regards to this awful thing that has come into our community,” she says. This amended bylaw only applies to illegal cannabis operations, not those more limited operations for personal and medical use. Industrial hemp production, which is a larger scale growing endeavor, is also not the target of this bylaw. Industrial hemp is a food and fibre non-drug variety of cannabis with a low THC content of less than 0.3 per cent. In 2014, over 100,000 acres of industrial hemp were grown in Canada. If anyone has any concerns that a larger scale operation is not growing industrial hemp, and is instead growing illegal drug cannabis, they should contact the OPP to investigate. Questions from residents had been submitted in advance of the meeting, so that the council could look into them and provide the most detailed answers possible during the meeting. Residents posed questions to council wondering whether the township knows whether Health Canada issues a licence to a particular property for a cannabis operation, and also whether the township can put a limit on the number of cannabis operations within the township. On behalf of council, Adams answered that Health Canada does not forward this information to the township, and that the township is uninformed about licence approval so they have no idea how many cannabis operations there are so cannot put a limit on them so far. Residents also asked council what regulations are being put in place to prevent cannabis operations from being too close to residential properties, and how the safety of the community is being ensured. Adams replied that with the new bylaw, cannabis operations must be in a permitted zone and must meet the required setbacks from sensitive land use, and adhere to other requirements set out in the bylaw. With regard to safety, Adams urged residents that if they have concerns about illegal and criminal activity, to contact the OPP and they will investigate. Questions also arose about how the township would regulate the smell from cannabis operations and the environmental impacts of cannabis operations with respect to water and waste. Adams replied that operations licenced and registered with Health Canada are permitted indoors only and that they must have an air treatment control system for the building or structure. With regard to water supply, cannabis operation owners are required to provide confirmation that there is adequate water supply for daily usage and for fire suppression. Private septic systems or other onsite disposal systems will be necessary to confirm that discharge from the facility can be handled appropriately. If an offsite handling is needed, the owner will provide documentation of agreements with approved waste handlers to the township’s satisfaction. Residents also asked if pre-existing cannabis operations would be taken care of by this new bylaw, and what these cannabis operations might do to local property values. Adams said that the new bylaw would not apply to pre-existing cannabis operations but that the township was working on a new bylaw that would pertain to the nuisance that may come with a cannabis operation, like the odour for example. With regard to property values, Adams said that they can’t forecast real estate values or MPAC assessments and that there are many factors that determine these values. Also asked by residents was how the township would enforce the amendments if licencing information is not given to the township. Adams answered that the amendment to the bylaw would allow the township’s chief building official and bylaw enforcement officer to have more ability to help them enforce the Ontario building code and the township’s zoning bylaw, and that all illegal operations will need to be reported and handled by the OPP. Having no more submitted questions and none from the gallery, Adams thanked everyone present for coming out, for posing their questions and for their comments. “We’re trying to bring this situation to light and to let you know what we’re trying to do to prohibit it and address the concerns,” she says. Adams then brought forth a motion by Hughey and seconded by Councillor Mike Cannon to adopt bylaw 26-2020. Council passed it unanimously and the public meeting was adjourned.Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
VANCOUVER — An RCMP officer tasked with overseeing the electronics seized from Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou says he doesn't recall a senior officer telling him that he shared information about the devices with American investigators. Const. Gurvinder Dhaliwal was the "exhibits officer" in charge of documenting and securing anything seized from Meng in 2018 during her arrest, which put a chill on Canada's relations with China. Dhaliwal was questioned in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday about a note from his supervisor that said Staff Sgt. Ben Chang had provided serial numbers to Meng's devices to a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and attributed the information to Dhaliwal. "I recall no conversation with Staff Sgt. Ben Chang," Dhaliwal said under cross-examination, adding he only recalls forwarding emails from Chang on to his supervisor. Dhaliwal is testifying as part of an evidence-gathering hearing where Meng's lawyers hope to collect information that will support their allegations that Canadian authorities improperly gathered evidence to aid American officials under the guise of a routine immigration exam. Meng is wanted in the United States on charges of fraud over allegations related to U.S. sanctions against Iran that both she and Chinese tech giant Huawei deny. She is the company's chief financial officer and daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei. Dhaliwal has told the court that after her arrest, Meng's file was transferred to the financial integrity branch of the RCMP's Federal Serious and Organized Crime unit because it was a “complex” case. He said Chang, a senior officer in the branch, told him in an email that the FBI asked for descriptions of Meng's devices, including serial numbers, makes and models, and also asked Dhaliwal to take photos. Dhaliwal told the court that he collected that information with help from an RCMP tech specialist. Under cross-examination, he said he did not consider doing so would constitute a "search" and did not seek prior judicial authority to do so. "Would you not agree with me that this is private information you were obtaining from Ms. Meng's phones?" asked Scott Fenton, one of Meng's lawyers. "It did not occur to me at that time," Dhaliwal said. Fenton also read a line from an email Chang sent that suggested Chang's team would forward some information about the devices to the FBI so they could enter a legal request for further sharing. Dhaliwal said he forwarded the emails to his supervisor but did not recall saying to her that Chang was going to be sharing anything with the FBI. The court has heard that Chang, a key witness, has obtained counsel and will not testify. Meng's legal team has also alleged that a plan was formed the night before Meng's flight arrived for RCMP to board her plane and arrest her there, but that was later changed. Ultimately, Meng's border exam took three hours before it was adjourned so she could be arrested and informed of her rights. Dhaliwal's supervisor Sgt. Janice Vander Graaf testified Tuesday that her own superior, acting Insp. Peter Lea, raised the idea of boarding the plane when they spoke on the phone. She described it as a "strong suggestion" and she communicated it to Dhaliwal that night. However, Vander Graaf said when she arrived at the airport the next morning, a meeting between border services and RCMP officers was already underway and they had determined Meng should go through customs first. Vander Graaf, who previously worked in surveillance at Vancouver's airport, testified that she didn't challenge the plan. "It seemed reasonable to me knowing that customs officers have their customs and immigration process," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
The Fraser Health Authority has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at one of the region's busiest hospitals, which has recorded dozens of cases and a number of deaths.Fraser Health says 55 patients at Burnaby Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19 and 40 staff are under investigation to determine if they have any connection to the outbreak.Five people have died in connection with the outbreak at the 286-bed hospital on Kincaid Street.Officials say the outbreak began on Nov. 9 after a case was transmitted in a medicine unit at the hospital."Upon declaring the outbreak, Fraser Health immediately implemented precautions, including enhanced cleaning, as well as contact tracing," said the authority in a statement.It also offered condolences to people who had "lost loved ones" to the outbreak.The hospital is testing all patients, staff, support staff and medical staff for COVD-19. It has also stopped taking new admissions, with the exception of the intensive care unit, maternity and community palliative care units.Other patients are being sent to neighbouring hospitals while Fraser Health says it expects to open the emergency room to admissions in the next few days.Fraser Health says it has implemented a number of safety protocols to try to stop the outbreak. They include physical distancing and additional measures in the hospital cafeteria, along with staff break rooms and elevators.Fire contributing factorOfficials say a fire at the hospital on Nov. 15 was a contributing factor to the outbreak because it forced some patients to be moved around the facility.Fraser Health said an RCMP investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing.The authority is asking anyone in the region to use its COVID-19 assessment tool and get tested as soon as anyone has symptoms.On Tuesday, the province announced close to 700 new cases of the disease in the region served by the health authority.
Despite the federal government’s commitment to exceed its 2030 climate targets, British Columbians say it’s not doing enough to tackle the climate crisis. A new survey found that 41 per cent of British Columbians think the federal government is not paying enough attention to the environment. And when asked about 10 specific environmental issues, at least three in five British Columbians said they are personally concerned about five of them: the pollution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs; air pollution; the pollution of drinking water; climate change and the contamination of soil and water by toxic waste. “The federal government absolutely needs to do more,” Nikki Skuce, director of Smithers-based Northern Confluence, told The Narwhal. “British Columbians really care about water, particularly those of us who live close to some of these freshwater systems in places where salmon are an integral part of the culture and communities.” Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., the company that conducted the survey, said a key takeaway from the poll is how climate change is becoming a more front-of-mind issue, with 63 per cent of British Columbians saying it’s a personal concern. “We usually see the problems that can have an immediate impact in our lives getting a higher rating,” he said, adding that issues that are perceived as not affecting us yet, such as deforestation and overfishing, typically get a lower rating. “But now we have global warming at a level that is similar to what we see for pollution.” Around 65 per cent of respondents said they were personally concerned about the pollution of rivers, lakes, reservoirs and drinking water, and 60 per cent said they were concerned about the contamination of soil and water by toxic waste. In northern B.C., where many of the province’s industrial projects take place, those numbers were even higher, with at least 80 per cent of people saying they’re concerned about water pollution and toxic waste. “When you live near it, you want to protect it,” Skuce said. “We need to do a better job of taking care of our rivers and lakes and creeks because they really are the veins that travel through this region.” It’s no surprise that British Columbians — and particularly northern British Columbians — care about water and the effects of industrial contamination. In 2014, B.C. made international headlines when the tailings dam at the Mount Polley mine in the central interior broke and spilled 24 million cubic metres of contaminated waste into the surrounding water systems. Since the disaster, the provincial government has done little to improve the laws and regulations to prevent similar disasters. Skuce said the federal government’s role in protecting water lies in legislation and policies that guide provincial decisions on resource extraction and development. Last year, the federal government modernized its Fisheries Act to strengthen protection of fish habitat and support restoration work, including rebuilding depleted fish populations. This follows a previous commitment to protect Pacific salmon through the wild salmon policy, which was developed in 2005 to address declining salmon populations. But according to Skuce, the federal government has yet to fully implement the policy and subpopulations of species like sockeye are on the brink of extinction throughout the province. “As somebody who works on salmon conservation, I think it’s really important that the federal government actually steps up and implements the Fisheries Act that it updated last year and follows through on a bunch of its commitments to restore and protect habitat,” she said. “And within that, there’s the outstanding commitment to implement the wild salmon policy.” Aaron Hill, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society, said the Fisheries Act can help address the concerns of British Columbians reflected in the survey, but it has to actually be followed. “We need both levels of government to step up and, at the very minimum, fully implement the laws and policies that they already have on the books.” He also said the BC NDP’s commitment to develop a water security strategy, which would protect watersheds throughout the province, will require collaboration and buy-in from the federal government. “It’s really important that the prime minister and Premier Horgan support that work.” Skuce agreed and added that protecting water from pollution also requires legal reforms at both the provincial and federal levels. Despite federal mandates to protect salmon habitat, for example, provincial laws permit mining activity in salmon watersheds. “There’s a need to enforce our existing laws and close some loopholes on some of them,” said Skuce. The poll was conducted just after last month’s provincial election and respondents were asked how they voted. Nearly three-quarters of voters who supported the BC Greens or the BC NDP said climate change was a personal concern, but for BC Liberal voters, it was about half. “If you take a couple of Liberal party voters, one of them is going to say, ‘Oh, I don’t care about global warming.’ That’s pretty shocking,” Canseco said. He found that divide particularly interesting because it was the Liberal government that created the provincial carbon tax in 2008. “It’s been 12 years that we’ve had the tax and now you have the BC Liberal voter becoming decidedly less environmentally friendly,” he said. “It’s definitely something that is troublesome. I think they’ve been moving too far to the side of industry in many ways and forgetting that this is about the future of the planet as a whole.” More than a third of British Columbians surveyed believe the introduction of the carbon tax has made people more mindful of their carbon consumption and led them to change their behaviour, a proportion that rose to more than half of respondents from northern B.C. Almost two-thirds of British Columbians said the tax has not negatively impacted their finances. For Skuce, government action on climate change means more than implementing carbon taxes and protecting watersheds. “We need to stop subsidizing pipelines and fossil fuels at both the federal and provincial level,” she said. When asked how they felt about the provincial government, 35 per cent of British Columbians said they thought the province was not focusing as much it should on environmental issues and 38 per cent said their municipal governments also weren’t doing enough. “British Columbians perceive their municipal and provincial governments in a more positive light than Ottawa, especially with all of the commitments that have been announced,” Canseco said, referring to the NDP election promises to strengthen environmental protections in B.C. “We’ll have to wait and see if they get a better rating in the future, and also if the B.C. government keeps this seemingly high rating now that the Greens are no longer as influential in their policies.” Hill and Skuce said given British Columbians’ concerns about water pollution, the NDP’s promise to create a water security strategy likely contributed to the public perception that the province is doing more than the federal government to protect the environment. But both conservationists said this perception may be somewhat skewed in part due to a lack of education. Skuce called it “jurisdictional illiteracy.” “For instance, the federal government has committed to increasing protected areas of land and water to 30 per cent by 2030, and the Government of British Columbia has been reluctant to support that,” she said, pointing out that the province failed to meet its 2020 targets of protecting 17 per cent of land and 10 per cent of marine areas. Similarly, the federal government has clearly defined legislation on species at risk, but as The Narwhal reported last year, B.C. still hasn’t enacted provincial legislation to protect threatened and endangered species like caribou. Hill said governments at all levels need to step up and start working harder, collaboratively, to address the concerns of the public. “Even though water licensing and specific on-the-ground management of water falls to provincial and local governments, the federal government approves things that affect water like pipelines and hydropower projects and they have a lot of regulatory authority as well,” he said. Skuce said one of the ways the federal government could strengthen its commitment to protect the environment is by updating the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which regulates the use of toxic substances and is meant to prevent pollution and protect the environment and human health. The act was legislated in 1999 and has had minor amendments over the years. Early this year, the environmental watchdog Ecojustice called on the Trudeau government to overhaul the act to reflect current science and “reduce our exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals.” Skuce said the act could provide the federal government with the “tools to help protect our watersheds through environmental and climate action.” Hill said the federal government made significant commitments to environmental protection last year in its mandate letter to the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, which promised to create a new Canada Water Agency, strengthen the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and introduce new greenhouse gas emissions reduction programs. Earlier this month, the Trudeau government introduced a bill to support its goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The legislation would require the minister of environment to set five-year emissions reduction targets starting in 2030, along with a plan for meeting those targets. Hill said that in addition to these recent commitments, governments already have the means to strengthen environmental protection. “The premier and the prime minister [need] to give their cabinet ministers and their staff a clear mandate and adequate resources to actually do their jobs and implement the laws that are already on the books,” he said. “Whether it’s mining or fracking or clear-cut logging or extraction of water for various purposes, there’s a whole lot of room for improvement. And people are right to expect that the government will do better.”Matt Simmons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal