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
Alberta's streak of mild weather is expected to stretch into at least the first few weeks of December, but Environment Canada says the province is in for a colder than normal winter come the new year.The agency's long-range forecast for winter in Western Canada predicts the overall average temperature will be a bit above normal, but that's because it's expected to stay warm in December before a cooler, more seasonal pattern takes over for January and February, says Dan Kulak, a meteorologist with Environment Canada."We are expecting a La Niña this winter to be affecting the weather across Western Canada, which does typically bring the colder and snowier winter, especially after the new year, to the Prairie provinces," he said. La Niña is the opposite of El Niño, which is characterized by warm waters in the tropical Pacific. La Niña is associated with unusually cool ocean temperatures.Kulak said La Niña affects the jet stream, bringing about a greater prevalence of colder air across Western Canada.And while every La Niña season differs, not surprisingly, the farther north you are, the colder it's going to be."In that respect, probably Edmonton will have more cold and Calgary will have more spells of warmer weather with the warm westerlies breaking through, than would the central part of the province."'We might have more periods of snow for Calgary, but overall, it probably will be warmer than Edmonton." Kulak says there's a good chance, at least, that the warm spell will let up in time for there to be some snow on the ground for the holidays."On average, I would suggest that you should expect a white Christmas in southern Alberta," he said.
OTTAWA — Canadians may wish to forget the year 2020 ever happened, but across the country, museums and archives are working furiously to ensure a full record of the COVID-19 pandemic is in place. "If it happens 50 years from now, again, we want to be able to have information to give the perspective of the challenges," said Sylvain Belanger, a director general at Library and Archives Canada. But figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges. One is the ephemeral nature of where so much of people's experiences are taking place: the internet. Social media posts come and go, news headlines change hourly, and new sources of information and disinformation appear or disappear, Belanger said. At Library and Archives Canada, a team of six people hoover up as much of the official record as possible. The amount of data they've currently collected is the equivalent to the data a person would use up if they streamed more than 2,000 movies on Netflix. At the Canadian Museum of History, and similar institutions, the work is broader. Capturing the language of the pandemic is one part: words like "social distancing," the lockdown cocktail known as the "quarantini" and the "you're on mute" uttered in nearly every single video conference call. Saving photos and videos is another element, whether it is Canadian musicians streaming impromptu concerts from their living rooms, teachers wearing masks in the classroom, soldiers entering long-term care homes or portraits of what isolation looks like in the Northwest Territories. Then there are the physical artifacts: homemade masks, crafts made from toilet paper rolls, colourful rocks painted by children to be strewn along paths, even the little sticky signs on sidewalks asking people to keep their distance. What among those will become as iconic to the pandemic as the photo of a sailor kissing a woman in Times Square at the end of the Second World War remains to be seen, said Dean Oliver, the museum's director of research. Knowing what to collect and how much of it evolves over time, Oliver said. "There isn't a checklist that says here's the magic number," he said. Documenting the pandemic is difficult because Canadians are still living through it, said Anthony Wilson-Smith, president and CEO of Historica Canada, which among other things runs "The Memory Project" to record the stories of war veterans. "It'll take awhile for people to come out the other end, much like post-traumatic stress disorder, where, when it's too immediate, you can't talk about it at all," he said. But he said that what people will want to know decades from now is what they ask veterans today: how did you feel? What was it like? Oliver suggests Canadians who want to make a record document those feelings. "Many of the other aspects of your experience — where you moved, what you bought, your tax return, your census record — the future historian or your descendant will be able to get at in an impersonal way," he said. "But they will not be able to see you and feel you and understand how you saw and felt unless you tell them." One emerging issue is figuring out how to reflect the experiences of those whose lives have been disproportionately impacted, including racialized communities and women. "There are a lot of data sets, but the voice of women is missing in numeric data sets," said Yoo Young Lee, the interim head of information technology at the University of Ottawa, who also works on digital initiatives for the school's library. "We need the stories." She and her colleagues have launched an archive specific to women's experiences, but it is a slow process. One challenge is that a reliance on using what people post online means those who don't have access or choose not to use social media are missed. The other reality, said Michelle Gewurtz, supervisor of arts and culture at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives, is that people tend to only post the lighthearted moments online. Her region, just outside Toronto, is currently in the midst of second lockdown, due to a rise in cases. There, multi-generational families are locked down in cramped quarters, and getting a sense of what that looks and feels like is difficult, she said. It's become clear, she and others said, that what initially began as a project to document COVID-19 in the year 2020 will stretch far beyond. "This isn't going away." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
A couple arrested by the North Battleford RCMP gang unit had more appearances in North Battleford Provincial Court Nov. 30 but the matters were adjourned. Danielle Becker, 36, of Saskatoon, and Tyson Goller, 33, of North Battleford, were arrested Sept. 10 after the RCMP Gang Task Force/Street Enforcement Team raided a residence in North Battleford on the 1300 block of 96 Street. At the residence police seized a prohibited handgun, ammunition and other weapons. They also seized about $6,000 in Canadian currency, 276 grams of cocaine, one kg of illicit marijuana, four grams of MDMA and quantities of other unidentified substances believed to be illicit drugs. Becker and Goller were charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of property over $5,000 obtained by crime, and several firearms offences. The Battlefords RCMP Detachment and the North Battleford Provincial General Investigations Section assisted the RCMP gang unit with the arrests. Anyone with information regarding drug trafficking, or any other crime in the Battlefords, is urged to call the North Battleford RCMP at 306-446-1720 or Saskatchewan Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Becker and Goller are scheduled to appear next in North Battleford Provincial Court on Jan. 18, 2021, to elect how they want to be tried. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Statistics from Public Health Ontario (PHO) show the opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are significantly higher than the numbers being reported by Toronto Public Health and some other Southern Ontario locations. For comparison purposes, statistics were compiled in quarterly segments from the end of March 2019, through to the end March of 2020, which was the one-year time period with the latest available information on Emergency Room visits, hospitalizations and opioids-related deaths. In the first quarter of this year, just in the Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) jurisdiction, the rate of opioid deaths was listed at 41.9 per 100,000 population, an increase of 16.7 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 200,424 within the jurisdiction of the Sudbury health unit, which includes the City of Greater Sudbury and several surrounding smaller communities, such as Espanola, Chapleau and on Manitoulin Island. Public Health Ontario said this accounts for 21 deaths in the first three months of this year for the PHSD service area. The Sudbury health unit's own opioid surveillance program reports that from January 2020 to June 2020, opioids have claimed 44 lives. The Sudbury health unit jurisdiction, in the first three months of this year, also had an opioid death rate more than three times higher than the national rate in Canada, which is 12.1 deaths per 100,000 residents. By comparison, for the Toronto Public Health area, the rate of opioid deaths was 11.4 per 100,000 population. It is an increase of 8.6 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 3,090,377. The rate for the last three months of 2019 was 10.5 per 100,000. For the third quarter, the rate was lower at 6.1 deaths per 100,000. The second quarter of 2019 in Toronto, the death rate was 10.5 and in the first quarter the death rate was 11.2 deaths per 100,000. The lower rate was evident in other parts of Southern Ontario. In the jurisdiction of Ottawa Public Health, the rate of opioid deaths was lower at 7.7 per 100,000, the first three months of this year. This was for a population of slightly more than one million. In the Peel region, Peel Public Health reported an even lower fatality rate of 7.6 per 100,000 residents, for a population listed at more than 1.5 million. In the Windsor - Essex County Health Unit, the opioid fatality rate was 15.2 per 100,000 based on a population of roughly 420,000. In the Niagara Public Health Region, the death rate in the first three months this year was reported at 23.1 per 100,000 population for a region of more than 468,000 residents. Back to Northern Ontario, the rates were far higher in general. The Porcupine Health Unit, representing Timmins and several other smaller northern towns, also has a high rate of opioid deaths according to the PHO stats. For the first three months of this year, the death rate attributed to opioids was 32.8 per 100,000 population, three times the Toronto rate. This was for a population of 85,273. Figures for the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) for the first quarter of this year revealed a mortality rate of 28.5 per 100,000 population. This was for a population of nearly 155,000 in the TBDHU jurisdiction. For the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit it was revealed that the rate of opioid deaths was 18.6 per 100,000 population. This was for a region of more than 129,000 residents. The Timiskaming Health Unit, which includes such communities as Kirkland Lake and Temiskaming Shores, the rate was 12.1 per 100,000 for a jurisdiction with a population of more than 33,000 residents. Four deaths occurred in that jurisdiction between March 2019 and March 2020. Further west in the jurisdiction of the Northwestern Health Unit, for communities such as Kenora, Red Lake and Dryden, the mortality rate for the first three months of this year was 9.8 per 100,000, a couple of points lower than Toronto. This was for a population just short of 82,000. A full report on the patterns of opioid-related deaths in Ontario during 2020 the pandemic may be causing some unintended consequences. "In June 2020, Ontario’s Chief Coroner announced a 25 per cent increase in suspected drug-related deaths between March and May 2020, compared to the monthly median reported in 2019. Similar trends have been reported elsewhere in Canada," said the report. "It is expected that this increase in drug-related deaths is being driven by a combination of numerous factors, including an increasingly toxic unregulated (‘street’) drug supply, barriers to access to harm reduction services and treatment, and physical distancing requirements leading to more people using drugs alone."Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Nancy Beaudoin devait se faire emboliser un anévrisme au cerveau en février, mais les médecins ont remarqué qu’elle en avait plutôt trois, ce qui a forcé le report de l’opération. Celle-ci a ensuite été retardée à d’autres reprises. Cette fois, c’était la COVID-19 qui justifiait les annulations. «Je ne paniquais pas, mais, en pleine pandémie, j’avais hâte que l’opération se fasse, mentionne la résidente de Sainte-Rose qui avait déjà subi un accident vasculaire cérébral (AVC) en 2006. À l’été, je pensais à la deuxième vague et j’espérais que ça n’allait pas être retardé à nouveau.» Elle n’est pas la seule personne ayant vécu un AVC qui a pu développer certaines craintes en cette période de pandémie. Selon une étude émise par Cœur + AVC, 14 % des personnes sondées vivant avec des séquelles d’un AVC ont déclaré que leurs symptômes avaient changé ou s’étaient aggravés depuis le début de la crise. Chez les proches aidants, 26 % estimaient plutôt avoir remarqué des changements. Le sondage révèle également que trois personnes sur quatre touchées par une maladie du cœur s’inquiètent de contracter la COVID-19, tandis que la moitié d’entre elles jugent que les rendez-vous de soins virtuels sont autant efficaces qu’une interaction en personne, tout en permettant de réduire les contacts. Nancy Beaudoin a subi son AVC en mai 2006. À l’époque, elle allait avoir 34 ans, était en pleine forme et travaillait à son compte. Elle n’avait aucune prédisposition. L’accident est survenu alors qu’elle était au spa avec sa mère. En sortant de la rivière, elle a immédiatement ressenti un mal de tête. «Je n’avais jamais ressenti un mal aussi épouvantable, assure-t-elle. Je me suis rendue jusqu’à ma mère qui m’a proposé d’aller me reposer. En arrivant près d’un hamac, je me suis mise à vomir et faire des convulsions. Je me suis réveillée une semaine plus tard à l’hôpital.» La Lavalloise ajoute qu’elle a alors vécu beaucoup d’hallucinations. Elle a aussi dû réapprendre à s’asseoir et marcher après être restée couchée très longtemps. Quelques années plus tard, Nancy est tombée enceinte pour une quatrième fois depuis son AVC. Le cœur des trois premiers bébés avait malheureusement arrêté de battre pendant la grossesse, mais la quatrième fut la bonne. Bien qu’il y eût un certain risque en raison de son anévrisme au cerveau, elle a décidé qu’elle voulait y aller jusqu’au bout. L’accouchement s’est bien déroulé. Toutefois, elle a rapidement vécu de nouveaux défis avec son poupon. «Nous ne savons pas comment c’est arrivé, mais nous avons eu la coqueluche, précise celle qui est maintenant porte-parole pour le programme La vie après un AVC. Elle a dû être réanimée cinq fois. Le médecin m’a dit que je lui ai sauvé la vie deux fois: la première quand je croyais qu’elle s’étouffait durant l’allaitement et la seconde lorsque j’ai refusé d’écouter le premier diagnostic que j’avais reçu d’un médecin, préférant poursuivre mes recherches.» Dans les semaines ayant précédé son opération, Nancy s’est assurée d’éviter tout risque d’infection à la COVID-19 en se rendant à sa roulotte avec sa fille. Elles ont fait du vélo, se sont baignées et ont évité tout contact non essentiel. «Je n’avais pas de contrainte précise, mais attraper la COVID-19 n’aurait pas aidé ma cause», note-t-elle. L’intervention a finalement eu lieu en juin. En raison d’une petite hémorragie, elle est restée à l’hôpital durant quatre jours, mais le tout s’est bien déroulé. Mme Beaudoin continue de faire un suivi par téléphone avec son médecin traitant. Elle a d’ailleurs recommencé à faire du sport avec sa fille dès que son médecin lui a donné le feu vert. Maintenant, elle prépare la reprise du programme dont elle est porte-parole. «Nous allons reprendre en virtuel probablement à partir du printemps, ajoute-t-elle. Je suis contente que ça revienne, car certaines personnes sont seules et n’ont pas d’aide. Il faut être fort pour passer à travers ce genre de défi.»Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
MONTREAL — Bombardier and Alstom say they have received all the necessary regulatory approvals required to complete the US$8.4-billion sale of the Canadian company's railway division to Alstom.The companies say they now expect the transaction to close on Jan. 29, 2021.Bombardier has been working to transform itself from a maker of trains and aircraft into a company focused on business jets. Alstom shareholders voted to approve the deal on Oct. 29.The sale is expected to make Alstom the second-largest manufacturer of rolling stock, behind China's CRRC.Alstom has committed to establish its North American headquarters in Montreal, which will oversee 13,000 employees, set up a research centre and improve production at the Bombardier Transport plant in La Pocatiere, where the order book is almost empty. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BBD.B)The Canadian Press
COVID-19. Avec 6500 employés du réseau de la santé absent du travail et le nombre de cas qui reste élevé, le premier ministre a émis des réserves sur la possibilité que les Québécois puissent se réunir du 24 au 27 décembre. La décision finale sera prise d’ici le 11 décembre. «On ne va pas dans la bonne direction. Si le nombre d’hospitalisations continue d’augmenter malheureusement, ça ne sera pas possible d’avoir les deux rassemblements à Noël», a reconnu François Legault. «Il faut poursuivre nos efforts pour protéger notre personnel du réseau de la santé. C’est d’abord à eux qu'on va penser pour prendre la décision finale pour les réunions de Noël», explique-t-il. Le premier ministre a également invité à la prudence dans les centres commerciaux en rappelant que la distance de deux mètres se doit d’y être respectée . Par ailleurs, François Legault s’est montré ouvert à la suggestion du Parti libéral du Québec d’entendre Horacio Arruda dans le cadre d’une commission parlementaire qui permettrait aux députés de le questionner sur la gestion de la pandémie. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
CBC's Faith Fundal says we are "at a time where more and more people are feeling safe to come out". And they are "excited" by Elliot Page's news.
Three Oaks Foundation will be remembering victims of the L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal with a pre-recorded virtual vigil on December 6th, in honour of this year’s annual National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. On December 6th of 1989, a lone gunman entered the L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, where many students take classes in affiliation with the Université de Montréal. After entering a classroom telling men to leave, he proceeded to express his hatred of feminism to the women he held inside, saying that women were to blame for his inadequacies. The gunman began shooting and roaming the halls, leaving 14 innocent women dead and many others wounded. “There has been an alarming rise in the incidents of gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic,” explained Three Oaks Foundation executive director Sandy Watson-Moyles. “This has not gone unnoticed and has raised serious questions about the safety of women both locally in the Quinte community and worldwide.” In 2019, the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability reported that 136 women were murdered in Canada, and these numbers continue to rise in 2020. “Last year, it was the Toronto van slayings that brought violence against women to the headlines again, and this year the Nova Scotia massacre,” stated Watson-Moyles. “It is not just the obvious victims who can fall prey to an abuser but any one of us. Maybe realizing that will help make people realize just how awful the acts are and how far the perpetrators will go.” Although community members cannot physically come together this year, the pre-recorded virtual event page can be found on Facebook by searching for the December 6th Virtual Vigil Quinte & PEC. The vigil will read off the list of the 14 women whose lives were taken during the L’Ecole Polytechnique massacre. 14 red roses will be laid under the three oak trees on Keegan Parkway in memory of each woman. “We would think 31 years after the Montreal Massacre and hundreds of murders of women before and after that tragic date we would have made some movement towards ending this most insidious crime,” said Watson-Moyles. “Yet, each year more lists of murdered women in Ontario and Canada continue to be published with astounding numbers. Once we all take this matter seriously, we will see violence come to an end, or at least reduce significantly. When the most unsafe place for a woman to be is her in her own home, we need to pay better attention.” Residents looking for more information about the local National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women event are encouraged to contact Three Oaks’ training and education coordinator Kristin Farrell at 613-242-6524 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown.In “Let Us Dream,” published Tuesday, Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.”The 150-page book was written in collaboration with Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, who said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers.At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits.But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour.At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini.“But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013.The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world.At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies.“Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.”People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.”Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.”But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue.“Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote.Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!”He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem.“You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.”He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state."“There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them."In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course.The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order.“I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote.The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it.The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country.“I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote.But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.”“Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote.Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour.“We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakNicole Winfield, The Associated Press
Thanks to École catholique Sacré-Coeur students, people in need will have socks to keep their feet warm this winter. In just a week, students from Grade 5 to 8 donated 343 pairs of socks to SOCKS Timmins. The organization will then distribute donated items to local shelters and food banks. The idea came to the school’s student council president Jenna Kim. She said she wanted to do something to help the community and the school. “We made lots of signs, I made a video and spread the word and made announcements to the whole school to get everyone involved,” Kim said. Students could either bring socks or donate $2. “Thank you to all students, teachers and organizer (of SOCKS Timmins) who were involved in this big project, it means a lot,” Kim said. "It makes me really happy to think all these students would like to help their community by just donating even $2 or a pair of socks. It makes a big difference.” The school’s principal René Gaudreau said the student council is doing a good job of looking out for others and he was extremely proud of his students. “Sometimes, it’s about thinking about others. That mindfulness, that spirit of giving all around Christmas is really important because this has been such a tough year for everybody,” he said. “Because of COVID, it’s even more reason why we need to think outside the box and do these sorts of things.”Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
Students across Alberta started learning from home again Monday and will continue to do so until Jan. 11. In an attempt to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the province forced all students in Grades 7-12 to go back to at-home learning. All students will go on winter break on Dec. 18. In January, in-person classes will resume on Jan. 11 after a week of online learning to begin the New Year. Grade 8 St. Mary’s student Bethany Taylor says online learning is naturally different than in-class learning, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. “I’m still able to communicate with my friends and have a good time,” she said. “Learning online is good for me and I’m able to learn new things and communicate with everyone I need to.” When schools shifted online in March, they did not have much time to plan for the online aspect of learning. Taylor says things seem more structured this time around. “We have to be at a specific meeting at a specific time,” she said. “We have a schedule every day and it’s pretty similar to a normal day at school.” Alexandra Middle School student Rowan Hughson says online learning has its ups and downs. “It’s alright learning online and I don’t mind being at home,” Hughson said. “It’s just confusing sometimes trying to figure out what is going on. “I really like being around other people, so that is really hard at times, too.” The Grade 9 student says things seem much smoother this time around. “This seems much better than the emergency learning we had in March,” Hughson said. “I think they’ve had a lot more time to plan this time around and to listen to feedback from parents and students.” Jackson Harnett is a Grade 8 student at Notre Dame says online learning is a good experience. “I actually do like it – it’s really good,” he said. “I like that you get to work at your own pace and there aren’t as many distractions this way.” Harnett agrees that things are going better this time. “Everyone is showing up to class,” he said. “Things seem a lot more organized.”Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
The Northwest Territories' first private retailers of cannabis will open their doors soon, after the government announced final approval in a press release Tuesday morning.Two stores, ReLeaf NT and Trailblazers Cannabis Shop, were named in the release.ReLeaf has been operating as a cannabis accessories store since early April of last year from a storefront at 5123 51st St. in Yellowknife. Luke Wood, the proprietor, has been a vocal advocate for private retail since legalization.ReLeaf won the right to operate as a private retailer after completing an extensive application process for the territory's single license, issued as a request-for-proposals in May.Trailblazers Cannabis Shop, by contrast, appears to be the creation of the Yellowknife Liquor Shop, which has been the city's sole retail cannabis location for the past two years.Responding to concerns identified more than two years ago that selling alcohol and cannabis in the same place could lead to abuse, the territorial government "and the Yellowknife Liquor Shop agreed to separate liquor sales and cannabis sales," the release reads.The new, cannabis-only retailer will occupy a nearby unit in the same strip mall as the Yellowknife Liquor Shop at 100 Borden Drive in Yellowknife."Cannabis will no longer be available for purchase at the Yellowknife Liquor Shop," the release reads.Big plans for cannabis shop, says ownerAt his shop Tuesday evening, Wood was doing some final preparations before opening for business with cannabis for sale.Before COVID-19, Wood's shop sold accessories, records, and tools for growing cannabis. The store still has remnants of that inventory, like a single brightly-coloured panel of mood lights for sale and a display of glass pipes.But Wood said there's a major difference between running a cannabis-lifestyle store and a shop that also actually sells the product: "Customers.""We wanted to hit the ground running so we opened this [store]," he said. "But it's been very slow. And then COVID[-19] hit."Now that the store has its retail licence, Wood wants to bring in books on safe consumption and cooking and bolster the shop's record collection. He said he's even thinking about starting an internet radio station.He also wants to start selling products from local artists, a move he hopes will "reach out to the community ... and get rid of the stigma" around cannabis.High hurdles for new operatorsIn the last year, cannabis sales generated more than $3.5 million worth of revenue in the N.W.T., according to numbers from the NTLCC. More than $2 million of that was spent in Yellowknife alone.In the N.W.T., the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC) is the only legal wholesaler of cannabis. Private retailers must purchase their stock from the commission's limited selection and comply with strict health and safety requirements to operate.Any would-be retailers must follow a 23-page information guide in preparing their application to operate, which includes getting the government's final sign-off on everything from the store's displays to its name.Wood said his licence took 18 months to secure. Now that he's got it, he said he expects his biggest competition will be with the grey market.People who buy weed from non-licensed suppliers say they find the product is cheaper and more consistently available, he said. But Wood hopes his shop can "take away the mystery" for people who are new to the drug. "There's.a huge, bright future," he said. "It's just the beginning of the whole thing."
LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, will spend Christmas at Windsor Castle instead of their Sandringham estate for the first time in decades. Buckingham Palace officials said Tuesday that the monarch and her husband may see some members of their family briefly in accordance with guidelines, but Christmas celebrations will likely involve just the couple. “Having considered all the appropriate advice, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have decided that this year they will spend Christmas quietly in Windsor,” a spokeswoman said. The queen is not expected to attend church on Christmas Day to avoid large crowds of well-wishers gathering. The royal family spent many Christmases at Windsor Castle when the queen’s children were small, but since the 1980s the royal family has celebrated Christmas and New Year at the queen’s country estate, Sandringham, in Norfolk, eastern England. Hundreds of people typically gather near the historic church at Sandringham on Christmas Day to greet the royal family as they arrive for their morning service. Officials in the U.K. say coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed for five days over the festive season to allow people to travel to see friends and family. Three households can form a “Christmas bubble” and socialize from Dec. 23 to 27. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
Au moment de prendre sa retraite en 2008, Marien Landry, qui travaillait dans le domaine de la métallurgie, songeait à faire du bénévolat dans un pays en voie de développement. Jamais ce Verchèrois n’aurait pu imaginer à quel point son projet allait prendre une telle importance dans sa vie. « J’avais toujours pensé que l’aide humanitaire, c’était pour les docteurs, les infirmières, admet le fondateur de Projet Guatemala qui a gardé, de sa jeunesse, le chaleureux accent des Îles de la Madeleine. J’ai commencé par travailler sur une école au Guatemala. Je croyais qu’une fois construite, ce serait terminé. Finalement, ç’a continué et, à ce jour, nous en avons construit vingt! » Loin de vouloir mettre un frein à ses activités qui le retiennent d’ordinaire en Amérique centrale durant la moitié de l’année, Marien s’est attaqué à d’autres projets humanitaires lors de ses derniers voyages, incluant la construction d'une clinique médicale. « Je pense que j’ai trop de projets pour mon âge, s’amuse le retraité. Je suis vraiment tombé en amour avec les gens du Guatemala, avec les enfants. Plusieurs d’entre eux ont la trisomie 21. Je me suis attaché à eux, et eux se sont attachés à moi. C’est comme ma seconde famille. » S’il croyait retourner au Guatemala en janvier, la pandémie a, comme on peut s’y attendre, mis du sable dans l’engrenage. Si bien qu’il doit aujourd’hui suivre les travaux à distance et amasser des fonds pour financer le projet, sans savoir à quel moment il pourra y remettre les pieds. « Je suis fébrile d’y retourner, avoue Marien Landry. Avant de quitter en mars, j’ai estimé qu’il fallait 9 000 $ pour terminer les travaux. Et puis, je suis aussi parrain là-bas d’une association qui aide les enfants handicapés. C’est quelque chose qui me tient à cœur. On a depuis quelques années des médecins qui viennent gratuitement pour les soigner, redresser leurs pieds. Un physiothérapeute aussi. » C’est d’ailleurs afin de permettre à d’autres médecins de venir s’occuper des enfants que fut mis en branle le projet de clinique qui occupe actuellement les pensées du Montérégien. En attendant son retour dans son pays d’adoption, Marien continue d’amasser des biens qu’il peut envoyer par conteneur en Amérique latine. Une première cargaison a pris la route au cours des dernières semaines et une seconde pourrait bientôt suivre. Mais au-delà des marchandises, sa plus importante quête demeure la collecte de fonds qui pourrait lui permettre de terminer l’important projet qu’il a entrepris. « C’est la raison pour laquelle je travaille ici, sans salaire. J’amasse des heures et, plutôt que de me payer, ceux qui m'emploient remettent de l’argent à l’organisme. » Si M. Landry admet qu’il est difficile de laisser ses parents, toujours vivants, derrière lui quand il part pour de longs séjours, le sentiment de venir en aide à ces enfants lui rappelle pourquoi il s’est engagé. « Quand je quitte le Guatemala, j’ai les larmes aux yeux, admet-il. Ma philosophie, c’est que l’éducation est la base de tout. Ce qui est triste au Guatemala, c’est qu’il n’y a pas d’ouvrage et ceux qui travaillent ont des salaires de crève-faim. Si tu ne veux pas travailler pour 10 $ par jour, il y a une file de personnes qui attendent pour te remplacer. Ils se font exploiter. S’ils ont une instruction, peut-être qu’ils vont décider un jour de faire rentrer un syndicat. J’ai espoir qu’ils s’en sortent, mais ça n’est pas évident. » Pour obtenir plus d’information ou faire un don, visite le site marienlandry.com Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
Décidément, la deuxième vague de COVID-19 n’a en rien freiner les ardeurs des dirigeants de Cominar qui vont de l’avant avec la première phase d’un vaste projet de développement industriel au nord de l’autoroute 440 ouest. Dès le printemps, le fonds de placement immobilier mettra en chantier un immeuble d’une superficie locative de 200 000 pieds carrés à l’angle nord-ouest des boulevards Saint-Elzéar et Curé-Labelle, dans Chomedey. À Laval, les espaces industriels disponibles se font rares, explique Bernard Poliquin, vice-président exécutif secteur immeubles de bureaux et industriels et chef des opérations immobilières. «Le taux de disponibilité est inférieur à 2 %», dit-il. En d’autres termes, il n’y aurait rien actuellement sur le marché pour accueillir un éventuel locataire à la recherche de 50 000 pieds carrés ou plus. Son collègue Jean Laramée, vice-président exécutif Développement chez Cominar, précise pour sa part que le rythme de construction sera dicté par le marché. Les plans prévoient deux bâtiments jumeaux à 30 M$ la copie en retrait du boulevard Curé-Labelle, entre la rue Philippe Lebon et le boulevard St-Elzéar, après quoi on creusera les fondations de bâtiments de plus petits gabarits en bordure de Curé-Labelle selon la demande. Une fois complété, ce développement totalisera quelque 600 000 pieds carrés d’espaces locatifs pour un investissement avoisinant les 80 à 100 M$, soutient M. Laramée. «C’est un site extrêmement convoité», reprend M. Poliquin, qui en donne pour preuve l’intérêt manifesté autant par d’éventuels utilisateurs que des investisseurs qui auraient bien aimé en faire l’acquisition. Le terrain en question, qui couvre 1,7 million de pieds carrés, se trouve tout juste au nord du bâtiment occupé par Wolseley Canada inc., principal distributeur de plomberie et de systèmes de chauffage, ventilation, climatisation et réfrigération au pays. Incidemment, cet établissement situé au 4200, rue Louis-B.-Mayer, est le plus récent immeuble industriel appartenant à Cominar. Parmi les plus importants fonds de placement immobilier diversifiés au Canada, Cominar est un propriétaire foncier incontournable à Laval. À preuve, il détient à lui seul 42 % de la superficie locative totale des immeubles à bureaux avec plus de 1,8 million de pieds carrés répartis en 19 édifices. Toujours à Laval, Cominar possède 20 bâtiments industriels pour 1,6 million de pieds carrés, un portefeuille qui devrait s’enrichir d’une demi-douzaine d’immeubles et de 600 000 pieds carrés additionnels d’ici les prochaines années. Enfin, le plus important propriétaire et gestionnaire d'immeubles commerciaux au Québec est également un poids lourd dans l’industrie du commerce au détail de Laval comme en témoignent ses trois propriétés au cœur du centre-ville que sont le Centre Laval, le Quartier Laval et le Centropolis.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy posted its best three-month stretch on record during the third quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 40.5 per cent on the back of household spending.The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, Statistics Canada said, but unlike 55 years ago, the rise last quarter was fuelled by a record drop during the preceding three-month stretch.Wide parts of the economy effectively shut down in March and April, creating a pent-up demand among consumers as the savings rate soared in the second quarter.The lifting of lockdowns and further restriction rollbacks during the three-month stretch of July, August and September opened an economic relief valve.Statistics Canada said Friday that there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates, driven down by the central bank in a bid to prod spending, as well as on home renovations.Households also spent more on goods like cars, as consumer spending jumped, although it still remains five per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, leaving a lump of cash in bank accounts as households don't have their pre-pandemic spending options.The savings rate stood at 14.6 per cent, a drop from the record-high 27.5 per cent in the previous quarter, but still far higher than the two per cent at the end of 2019.CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said that suggests Canadians will have the resources to spend post-pandemic. "Over the next year, I think the focus still needs to be on returning Canadians to a more normal way of life," he said in an interview. "That will return Canadian spending habits to a more normal way of life, and that will return the Canadian economy to a more normal way of life."Despite the overall increase, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.How the next few quarters play out may rest on households continuing to spend, and whether government aid is toned down as the federal Liberals have indicated would happen if economic conditions improve.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking outside his Ottawa residence, said the positive third-quarter figures showed that federal spending has helped families and businesses stay afloat. "There are still tough times ahead," he said. "So we'll continue to be there for people, especially those who are hardest hit by this crisis."The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada said, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.Economists suggested the economy could limp to the finish line of 2020 amid the tightening of restrictions and threats of localized lockdowns. Overall, the economy is likely on track to contract by over five per cent this year, economists say."There is a good chance that the economic recovery doesn’t just stall, but shifts into reverse this winter," TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote."While light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccine distribution, it will not cure the near-term pain in store for the Canadian economy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
The Kawartha Land Trust has raised enough funds to purchase and protect a property just south of Burleigh Falls. In just seven weeks, the KLT raised more $750,000 to acquire an “environmentally important parcel of land” on Stoney Lake, the organization announced Monday. John Kintare, executive director of the KLT, said for years, the local community has been working to protect the property. When the opportunity ensued to purchase it, the community asked for the KLT’s help in organizing a campaign. The KLT works to protect natural spaces that might otherwise be sold for development, usually through donation. This was the first time the organization has bought land. “This was truly a community initiative that was supported by KLT,” Kintare said in a statement. “KLT has led very successful campaigns to support the stewardship needs of specific properties such as Big Island in Pigeon Lake in 2015, but never a campaign to support a purchase.” Referred to as the Clear Lake North Wetland, the 137-acre property will officially be named after the late Christie Bentham in recognition of a financial gift she left to the KLT. Bentham, who died in 2015, was very well known on Stoney Lake, the organization stated. Her daughter, Margaret, a volunteer with the KLT who is also on the KLT’s development committee, said she’s sure her mother is watching from above and is tickled pink, humbled and so happy to be a part of preserving the piece of the lake. Margaret said Bentham spent all of her summers on the Stoney Lake. Bentham’s grandfather, Richard Russell, had purchased a T-shaped island toward the north side of the lake in 1910. Bentham’s father, Keith, later inherited the property, called Spree Island. While Bentham spent the remainder of the year in Toronto, Stoney Lake was her home, Margaret said. Bentham spent her summers at the lake swimming, canoeing and sailing, with cousins and friends. When she grew up and married, a condition of the marriage was that her future husband Will must love Stoney Lake and Spree Island as much as she did, she said. Fortunately, he did and the couple went on to marry, adopt six children and raised their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren teaching them to swim, canoe, sail and bail on the lake, Margaret said. For more information visit https://kawarthalandtrust.org/. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
Three men accused of killing a Battleford man had more court appearances but the matters were adjourned again. Isaac Melko, 22, Charles Michael Lewis MacLean, 23, of North Battleford, and Jacob Joseph Ballantyne, 25, of Edam, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court Nov. 25 via CCTV but the matters were set over to Jan. 13, 2021, to be spoken to. The three, along with a young offender, are charged in connection to the murder of 27-year-old Ryan Gatzke. A badly injured Gatzke was found in a house in Battleford in October 2019. He was taken to the North Battleford hospital where he was declared deceased. Maclean was charged with manslaughter, a firearms offence, and break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence. Melko, Ballantyne and the young offender - who can’t be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act - were charged with second-degree murder, break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, disguise with intent, carry a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, possession of a firearm without a license, and unauthorized possession of a firearm.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist