MILTON, Ga. — In a black face mask and cap, activist Garrett Bess walked up driveway after driveway of million-dollar homes in suburban Atlanta on a recent afternoon, placing a flyer in each door, ringing the bell and stepping away to make a socially distanced pitch to vote for the conservative candidates in Georgia's pivotal U.S. Senate runoff elections.Bess' group, Heritage Action for America, plans to knock on half a million doors before the state's two Jan. 5 contests that will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate.“Everyone in Georgia knows the candidates,” said Janae Stracke, a colleague of Bess’ who also canvassed the subdivision. "There’s not a lot of convincing to do. They’ve made up their mind. It’s mostly knowing when to vote, how to vote, encouraging them to vote.”This election season, the coronavirus pandemic has upended traditional get-out-the-vote efforts where campaign workers go door to door to encourage people to cast ballots. With people staying at home and limiting contact with outsiders, an extended conversation with a campaign worker who shows up uninvited may actually encourage people to vote for someone else.But it's a sign of how important the two Senate elections are that both parties and independent advocacy groups are going all in on their in-person get-out-the-vote efforts.After the GOP lost the presidential election in Georgia for the first time in 28 years, conservatives are urging Republicans to get more aggressive with their turnout efforts in the state to match the outreach of former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.After Abrams lost the 2018 governor's race, she devoted herself to voter outreach, convinced that the state was a genuine battleground if Democrats galvanized young voters, minorities and people moving in from other states. She raised millions of dollars to organize and register hundreds of thousands of voters in the state — efforts credited with helping Democrat Joe Biden win Georgia.Republicans have to catch up, Republican operative Karl Rove told Fox News.“Let’s not kid ourselves: This is a real race,” said Rove, who is leading fundraising efforts for the runoffs.The National Republican Senatorial Committee expects to have 1,000 staffers on the ground in Georgia. For comparison, the Republican National Committee had a total of 3,000 paid field staff across the whole country during the presidential race.Democrats carry their own baggage into the runoff. In many parts of the country, they limited face-to-face campaigning ahead of the Nov. 3 election because of the pandemic, arguing that was the responsible thing to do. But that decision was second-guessed in places such as Florida.The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to spend millions on voter registration and turnout efforts.Outside groups are also hitting the ground, and the in-person appeals will be supplemented with a fusillade of phone calls, text messages, mailers and ads aimed at boosting turnout for the races pitting Republican Sen. David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock.Turnout tends to drop precipitously in runoff contests in Georgia. And activists fear there might be even more of a falloff this time, when the excitement of the Trump-Biden race is over. So getting voters to come back to the polls becomes more of a focus than “trying to find new voters or win over voters who voted for your opponent,” said Charles Bullock, an expert on Southern politics at the University of Georgia.Historically, that drop-off has disproportionately affected Democrats, so the party faces strong headwinds heading into January. The Republican candidate has beaten the Democrat in seven out of eight runoff elections since 1992, including two U.S. Senate races.Democrats have reason for optimism after Biden's win, but his margin of victory was tiny — less than 13,000 votes of nearly 5 million cast — and it’s been 20 years since the state elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate.But groups whose efforts tend to favour Democrats are charged. On Friday, representatives of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America went door to door in a neighbourhood just outside Atlanta encouraging people to vote for Ossoff and Warnock.“If we don't get those two seats in Congress, everything we did to flip Georgia blue is not going to help us,” Phyllis Morrow told a couple that pulled over in their car.The African Methodist Episcopal Church in Georgia, which has more than 150,000 parishioners in the state, is asking members to call eligible voters in their congregations, encourage them to vote early and assist with rides if they need help getting to the polls on Jan. 5.Bishop Reginald T. Jackson said Black voters are excited and “realize the eyes of the nation are on Georgia.”"They know people are going to be looking to see whether or not Blacks turn out,” he said.The New Georgia Project, a group founded by Abrams, will try to register some of the estimated 35,000 people who have finished their felony sentences and can requalify to vote as well as some of the estimated 23,000 people who are turning 18 before the runoff, Executive Director Nse Ufot said.Ufot said the group also aims to knock on 1 million doors before the runoff, up from 500,000 before the general election, and is training volunteers to take coronavirus precautions.In Milton, Bess and Stracke were in friendly territory. The affluent, mostly white city about 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of Atlanta showed strong support for President Donald Trump in the November election. The neighbourhood they canvassed last week featured manicured lawns and spacious homes set back from the street.“Oh, you have no problem here,” Holly McCormick, 73, told Bess after he rang her doorbell. The flyers he carried warned that Georgia was the country’s “last line of defence from a socialist takeover.”McCormick called the outcome of the presidential race “rigged” though there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and she said Trump’s claims of illegal votes made her more energized to vote for Perdue and Loeffler in January.“We have to hold the Senate,” she said.___Associated Press writer Jeff Amy in Atlanta contributed to this report.Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press
After 46 years running his business, Brian Quinn of Quinn’s Meats in Yarker, Ont. is preparing to retire. He’s hoping to sell the commercial property to someone that will keep the abattoir and meat retail business intact, proving a challenge as fewer young people enter the industry. “The trade hasn’t passed down from generation to generation,” Quinn said. “Pretty much everybody here is in their 50s. There are no young kids stepping up.” Quinn describes his industry as “recession-proof, pandemic-proof and good, solid business.” “We don’t work nights, we don’t work Sundays. It’s a good, solid, full-time job and it pays really competitively,” he said. Still, during his career, Quinn said he has watched as abattoir after abattoir have closed all around him. “When I started there were six within 25 miles,” he said. His clients bring livestock from Perth, Smiths Falls and Frontenac County — anywhere within 100 mile radius, he said. If the person who buys his property does not maintain the abattoir, he said he doesn’t know what those farmers will do. Demand for his services is incredibly high, he explained. “In Eastern Ontario, east of Toronto, every abattoir is booked up a year in advance.” Quinn learned the trade from his uncle and grandfather when he was in high school. After completing a few years at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, he said the business came up for sale so he bought it. “The work is not that hard,” he explained. “It’s just when you mention ‘slaughter house’ or ‘abattoir,’ or ‘butcher,’ it just turns people off. It’s not a bad go. We have a modern facility, heated floors, all the modern equipment, so it’s not as labour intensive as it used to be. It’s repetitive work.” “If you’re working on the kill floor for example, there’s obviously going to be a smell there, and the stuff that goes on with the slaughter of an animal. It’s not a pleasant task by any means, no matter who you are. But it has to be done for the process,” he said. “I think that’s a major thing that people just can’t get their mind passed. That’s just my thinking.” He also cited increasing government regulation as a factor pushing existing business owners out of the industry. “A lot of the plants were older and weren’t up to standard, they weren’t willing to make the financial commitment to [update].” Quinn said that he has essentially rebuilt his entire facility over the years to keep it in compliance. The sale or distribution of uninspected meat is illegal in Ontario. Animals must be inspected and approved prior to slaughter, processed in a licensed facility and then stamped, labelled or tagged with an inspection license. “Most of the older plants that we’re talking about that have closed up, they were built before meat inspection was even compulsory. They were grandfathered in and regulations kept getting stricter and stricter. You either had to get up to standards, or get out,” he said. Quinn’s business, as well as the home on the adjacent property, are listed together for $1.3 million, including all equipment, license, existing inventory, a smokehouse and a stand alone generator. The processing area is suited to the custom cutting of beef, pork, lamb and goat. The retail area includes meat counters and coolers to sell beef and pork by the cut, as well as chicken and other products. According to the government of Canada, the beef industry reached retail sales of $5.4 billion USD in 2018, with beef representing 29.1 per cent of the overall retail Canadian meat sector. The sector is expected to grow by 2.4 per cent by 2023. “Meat substitutes,” or soy-based products such as burgers and grills, meatballs, sausage and other portions represented only $102.0 million USD in 2018. “Nevertheless, the sales of ‘meat substitute’ product categories are all growing faster than sales of most meat product categories… between 2014-2023,” says the federal sector overview of meat in Canada.Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
Marketing students at Burnett secondary are giving back to their community. Inspired by the sacrifices and generosity of frontline workers, they were tasked with contributing through three goals: reinforcing the government’s COVID-19 safety guidelines, starting a non-profit fundraiser to give back to frontline organizations and workers, and developing a project to create or revitalize community spirit. “Normally the marketing classes would run a school store as part of their experiential learning experience, but with COVID it just wasn’t possible,” says marketing teacher Chris Lee. “As an alternative, I changed this component to be more of a social non-profit pop-up venture format.” The students developed a mechanical hand sanitizer that uses a gravity-enabled foot pump. A virtual social gathering focused on a pre-recorded talent show as well as an online gaming tournament aimed at bringing people together. “In terms of the actual concepts regarding sales and marketing, the students really go through the entire gambit,” says Lee. “They learn to develop, source, cost, market, sell and provide customer feedback wherever applicable.” They also raised funds for the Richmond Hospital and Vancouver Covenant House through several initiatives. Student-designed Burnett clothing and tote bags were sold online, as well as a “pandemic kit” including masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. The last fundraising item was glass poster art, which was inspired by an online trend fusing art with music. Customized pieces of glass art capture favourite songs or artists designed to look like a Spotify music player. “All of these projects really focus on experiential, hands-on learning,” says Lee. “Given our limited time with the students in this new 10-week quarter system, the projects were designed to be like a pressure cooker, where basic entrepreneurial and marketing skills would be developed in a very short period of time. It is my personal belief that such an environment challenges students to learn in a very active way, while reinforcing what they’ve learned in class lessons.”Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Kneehill County councillors heard a presentation from a non-profit society that aims to educate kids about finances and business during their regular meeting Nov. 24. Reeve Jerry Wittstock and Coun. Debbie Penner attended the meeting virtually, with Deputy Reeve Faye McGhee chairing the meeting. Junior Achievement, represented by staff member Melanie Willerth, made a presentation to council with three goals in mind, she said: raising awareness of the organization, recruiting volunteers and funding opportunities. Willerth stated the organization offers courses in host schools intended to teach student about finances and business. She provided a summary for councillors listing programs such as More Than Money, Our Business World, A Business of Our Own, Dollars With Sense, Stronger Together, Economics for Success, Investment Strategies and World of Choices. Willerth noted three communities within Kneehill County currently have Junior Achievement programming including Linden, Trochu and Three Hills. The 16 programs are offered to about 400 students. She noted the organization would like to get more awareness of the programs’ value, all of which are offered free of charge to schools, and ideally recruit more volunteer instructors. She explained the programs are offered to students by community members who are knowledgeable about business, and would include one night a week for about 16 weeks. Junior Achievement is a non-profit society which is always happy to see more sponsorship stated Willerth, who added that sponsors are always recognized on program materials. Deputy Reeve McGhee asked about the organization's structure and funding. Willerth answered Junior Achievement has a board of directors and relies heavily on fundraising, with some funds coming from communities and some from the provincial government. The business sector also supports the program she noted. Reeve Wittstock asked how much it costs to offer the programs in Kneehill County. Willerth answered that courses include expenses such as materials and volunteer training, adding up to about $200 to $250 per course. Coun. Penner stated her kids participated in Junior Achievement programming and learned valuable skills like budgeting. She asked if courses are currently accepting, and Willerth answered that there are still courses registering for December and also next year. Coun. Glen Keiver asked if all of the courses must be completed or in a specific order, to which Willerth answered no, they are all stand-alone courses developed for certain school grades. Deputy Reeve McGhee stated she also had kids who completed Junior Achievement courses. After Willerth completed her presentation, councillors discussed the Junior Achievement program. Reeve Wittstock asked if Kneehill County has funded this group in the past. County Chief Administrative Officer Mike Haugen stated in the current year Kneehill County has budgeted $3,000 for the Junior Achievement program, and it has been funded in the past as well. Wittstock noted that should pretty much cover the local programs compared to the figure Willerth gave of about $200 per program. “I would say that’s $200 of well-spent money,” said Deputy Reeve McGhee in support of the program. Penner added she also supports the program but hears that they have trouble finding volunteer speakers to help. Coun. Ken King asked that since Kneehill County is currently funding the group, is the county being credited for its support, and also wondered if Willerth knows Kneehill County is currently funding the program. CAO Haugen stated he will follow-up with Willerth to clarify those details. The presentation was accepted for information.Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
After a summer of informing people about COVID-19 rules, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says it's time for a stricter approach."The time for education is now mostly over. Any egregious non-compliance will and should be met through fines and other measures," Dr. Saqib Shahab said at a news conference Thursday. Shahab also asked people to flag infractions by others."There's [a] public health safety number. So, you know, it is important to report noncompliance," he said. Shahab's comments came as the province reported 299 new cases of the virus, Saskatchewan's third highest daily bump. It also came as officials at the Saskatchewan Health Authority warned of emergency rooms that are nearing their full capacity and the need for people to follow public health guidelines. Since the pandemic began, the province has favoured educating people on the rules, instead of immediately issuing fines. Individuals can face fines of up to $2,000 (not counting a victim surcharge) for failing to self-isolate or breaking gathering limit rules. For corporations, the fine can reach $10,000 (also not including a victim surcharge). "Where we've seen some of this stuff happen over the summer, typically, we start with an educational approach," said Scott Livingstone, the health authority's CEO, at the same news conference. What health officials do when told of an eventShahab and Livingstone made the remarks in response to questions about whether the increased challenge of contract tracing might be causing the virus to spread and a report of a planned large event in Saskatchewan this weekend. "If we're made aware of a large event, typically public health inspectors would come out and have a conversations with the organizers about what they're doing and how what they're doing or planning would fit or not fit current public health orders," Livingstone said. "If it was obvious that the event was not meeting current public health orders, the event organizers would be advised as such and there would be recommendations from public health inspectors to not go ahead with that event."If the event went ahead and was found to have broken the rules, "there are remedies with respect to fines," Livingstone said. 42 charges under public health act The province has occasionally publicly announced some instances of fining, particularly in September and October.The recipients varied from a Saskatoon home owner who hosted a private gathering with 47 people when the limit for private meetings was 30 (it's now five), to the pastor of a gospel outreach centre in Prince Albert where singers went unmasked. The gospel centre was cited as a multi-jurisdictional superspreader.Between March 1 and Oct. 31, RCMP members in Saskatchewan received a total of 2,912 COVID-related calls for service — an average of 364 calls a month.The vast majority of the calls were resolved "by educating members of the public of the potential health and enforcement consequences that can result from non-compliance with the public health order," an RCMP spokesperson said Friday.However, 42 charges for summary violations were issued under the province's public health act, including for people who held large gatherings or did not self-isolate.What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Three funeral workers have been fired for posing for photos alongside the body of soccer star Diego Maradona shortly before his funeral.The images distributed across social media created outrage, even death threats, across a nation that venerated Maradona, who died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 60. Tens of thousands lined up for a chance to file past his body at the nation's presidential palace on Thursday.Claudio Fernández confirmed to Radio Diez on Friday that he'd lost his job at the Pinier funeral home, along with his son Ismael and Claudio Medina.One of the images shows Fernández and his son — smiling and with thumb raised — alongside Maradona's body in the coffin on Thursday. Medina appears in another in the same pose.Fernández insisted that he hadn't known they'd planned to take a photograph, much less distribute it. “It was something instantaneous. I'd just raised my head and my son did it like any kid of 18,” he told the radio station.He said he had been receiving threats from others living in the El Paternal neighbourhood where Maradona debuted as a professional in 1976 with the Argentinos Juniors team.“They know me. I'm from the neighbourhood," Fernández said. “They say they are going to kill us, break our heads.”The team issued a statement saying it was considering expelling Fernández from its membership rolls.ience (asterisk)The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Forget the high-performance sports cars, the luxury Rolls-Royces and all those other classic automobiles in which Jerry Seinfeld ushers his fellow comics to the diner on television’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."The most valuable things Seinfeld owns are the thousands of pieces of paper — yellow, scribbled over, sometimes crumpled — that for years he's been cramming into those brown accordion folders that were once a staple of storage until something better came along called the laptop computer.They contain the jokes Seinfeld has been writing and telling since that first day he walked into a New York nightclub as a 21-year-old wannabe comic who accepted free hamburgers in lieu of a paycheque. They continue right up to the present-day musings of a 66-year-old man wondering how the world keeps getting more crowded when he doesn't see any more cemeteries being built.“Flights, restaurants, theatre shows sell out all the time. Cemetery? Anyone croaks, send them in. We just had an opening. What happened? Somebody came back to life and walked out. You're very lucky.”He's compiled them all in a new book, “Is This Anything?,” the title taken from the question every comic asks every other comic when he or she is about to try out new material.Assembled in chronological order, they provide not just a trove of laugh-out-loud one-liners but also a timeline, beginning with a kid commuting from his parents' home on Long Island to New York City to try to make strangers laugh. It continues through a career during which Seinfeld became arguably the greatest stand-up comic of his era and the pivotal figure of the funniest TV sitcom of its time.Still, why did he save every joke of his career? Or at least every one that got a laugh?“A lot of people ask me that question and I always say I don't know why I saved anything else,” he replies with a chuckle in a phone interview. Then he adds more seriously, “This is the most valuable thing I have.”Hunkered down in the family home with his wife and their three children in East Hampton, New York, he is continuing to add to those folders. He's also working on another project that for the moment he isn't discussing except to say it involves the people with whom he made the hit 2007 animated comedy film “Bee Movie.”Even quarantined from the coronavirus, Seinfeld says he finds no shortage of new material.“A lot of material just comes out of being constantly irritated by something else, and that seems to go on endlessly,” he says, especially when staying home with four other people."It's usually one good fight per day, I would say, is our basic routine. Two meals and one good fight.”Still, unlike his bachelor days in Manhattan, being a family man puts a limit on just how much irritation he can vent.“When I lived alone when I was single, I would fill up an entire house with complaints, but now I have to share it,” he jokes. “I'm on a complaint diet.”When the pandemic finally ends, he's looking forward to going back out on the road, rescheduling the stand-up gigs he had to cancel. But don't look for him to fill them with coronavirus jokes, although several good ones fill the last chapter of “Is This Anything?”"I think people are going to be so sick of it that they’re going to move on and want us to talk about other things," he says of that and politics, although he admits he's been consumed by both during the months stuck at home.Still, he's never been much for political jokes, saying that, one, he's not good at them and two, they don't hold up over time.“It's like politics ages and spoils very quickly," he continues. "But a great piece of stand-up can live a long life.”One other thing he'll be doing is heading back to his second home in his beloved Manhattan and dropping by the diners and comedy clubs again.“That’s kind of my New York lifestyle, diners and comedy clubs.“Like on the TV series," he adds of the character he portrayed on "Seinfeld” from 1989 to 1998.“Funny thing is,” he continues, during the TV series "I never went to diners, really, and had coffee in those days. And now I do. I'm living the life of the character on the show.”John Rogers, The Associated Press
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit Se faire des amis, et pas grâce à ses politiques Le ministre de l’Éducation Stephen Lecce ne quitte pas l’Assemblée législative immédiatement après une longue journée de travail. Souvent, il y reste pour s’exercer au piano à la disposition du public dans le lobby, dans l’aile Est de l’établissement, près des escaliers. Selon une source sûre de son bureau, M. Lecce aurait appris à connaître plusieurs membres de l’opposition, des gens «qui n’aiment peut-être pas ses politiques, mais qui apprécient sa musique». Les arcs-en-ciel nouveau genre Plutôt que d’afficher le classique arc-en-ciel dans la fenêtre de son bureau de députée à Queen’s Park, la progressiste-conservatrice Goldie Ghamari a choisi de lancer un message clair à l’un de ses collègues qui organise depuis plusieurs mois des manifestations anti-masque, le député indépendant Randy Hillier. Elle a récemment collé à sa fenêtre, lettre par lettre, les mots «Pandemic isn’t over just because you’re over it!!!», ce qui signifie «la pandémie n’est pas terminée simplement parce que vous en avez assez». Ce message, plus accusateur que celui d’encouragement qu’implorent les dessins d’arcs-en-ciel, la députée l’a aussi traduit dans une vidéo TikTok. Dans la vidéo, on aperçoit le député, devant Queen’s Park, participant à une manifestation anti-confinement de la COVID-19. D’où il est, M. Hillier peut voir clairement le message inscrit dans la fenêtre de Mme Ghamari. À la toute fin de la vidéo, la députée a pris soin de coller un emoji de masque au visage de son collègue Hillier, qui ne le porte habituellement jamais dans les couloirs de l’Assemblée législative. C’est une blague? «Monsieur le Président, les théâtres quotidiens du premier ministre ressemblent beaucoup à un feuilleton bon marché vendant du drame et de la peur.» C’est nulle autre que le député indépendant Randy Hillier, qui se questionne depuis plusieurs mois sur la sévérité de la pandémie de COVID-19 et qui s’oppose aux mesures sanitaires imposées par la province pour protéger la population contre le virus, qui a posé cette question au gouvernement Ford, en Chambre cette semaine. Comme il l’a fait plusieurs fois déjà, Randy Hillier a aussi comparé la COVID-19 à la grippe. «You must be joking. You MUST be joking», de répondre la ministre de la Santé Christine Elliott, qui est convaincue que le député Hillier se fout de sa tête. C’est à se demander si la ministre Elliott a eu la même réaction lorsque sa collègue, la ministre des Soins de longue durée Merrilee Fullerton, a elle aussi comparé le coronavirus à une «mauvaise année de la grippe». Fordisme de la semaine «Je ne crois pas au fait de changer de partenaire au beau milieu de la danse… Surtout quand ton partenaire est un danseur aussi incroyable.» Doug Ford était aux prises avec une décision importante, cette semaine: le prolongement du contrat du médecin hygiéniste en chef de l’Ontario, le Dr David Williams. Ce dernier devait prendre sa retraite en février 2021, mais le gouvernement Ford a décidé de prolonger son contrat jusqu’en septembre 2021. Les partis d’opposition n’ont pas du tout aimé que le gouvernement progressiste-conservateur ne les ait pas consultés pour cette décision.Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
The mother of homicide victim Preston Thomas made a rose to honour her son and said she plans to take the rose with her to every court appearance of the man charged with his murder. “This rose is a symbol of the justice I want for my son,” Lillian Thomas posted on social media. Joel Yuzicapi, 28, appeared in Saskatoon Provincial Court Nov. 17. He has been in custody since his arrest on Aug. 4 in the 200 block of Avenue S North. Police charged him with second-degree murder in connection to the death of 27-year-old Preston Thomas. According to Saskatoon Police, they were called to a hotel on Airport Drive at about 7:20 a.m. on Aug. 1 for a report of an injured man in one of the hotel rooms. When they arrived they found Thomas deceased. Police say the victim and accused were known to each other. Yuzicapi is scheduled to appear again in Saskatoon Provincial Court on Dec. 2 for case management. Saskatoon Police Major Crimes continues to investigate. If anyone has information they are asked to contact the Saskatoon Police at 306-975-8300 and to ask to speak with an investigator in Major Crimes or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / The Battlefords News-OptimistLisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
TORONTO — The number of reported new cases of COVID-19 and related deaths surged in Ontario on Friday, a day after officials expressed cautious optimism the spread of the dangerous virus was moderating. Figures released show a record 1,855 new infections, a whopping increase of 25 per cent from the previous day. Public health authorities also reported 20 new deaths. There were slight decreases in the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital and on ventilators. The surge in new cases comes as the province grapples with how best to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in an effort to keep the health-care system functioning. Health Minister Christine Elliott said the sharp spike was not unexpected, given that stringent measures in the hard-hit Toronto area only kicked in on Monday. It would likely take two full weeks before the numbers start dropping, she said. "We're still seeing the results from some of the events that have happened and some of the celebrations that have happened in the last few weeks," Elliott said. Premier Doug Ford spent much of Friday's briefing looking forward to the day when an anti-COVID vaccine might be available. Former chief of national defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier will oversee a distribution task force, Ford said, as he called on the federal government to provide details as soon as possible about the doses the province can expect. "We need a clear line of sight into the timelines of the shipments," Ford said. Several hospitals have now experienced outbreaks, including a major facility in London, Ont. Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Ont., became the latest hit after three patients and two staff tested positive. The facility said it had closed its clinical teaching unit to new patient admissions and was pondering whether to close one of its eight operating rooms. It also said it was suspending in-person visits in favour of virtual connections. Staff at high risk of exposure had been tested and asked to self-isolate, Cheryl Evans, a Grand River spokeswoman, said. In recent weeks, the provincial government and local health authorities have reimposed increasingly stringent anti-pandemic measures, forcing businesses to close and strongly advising people in hot spots to all but isolate. On Thursday, police ticketed a provincial politician, Randy Hillier, for his role in an anti-lockdown protest at the legislature. Supporters carrying placards that suggested the pandemic was fake did not wear masks. Ford called the politician totally "irresponsible." "Folks that believe this is just a big hoax, which I've never figured that out, this is a very serious virus, we're seeing it around the world, around our country," Ford said. Four of the hardest hit regions all saw significant case increases, with Elliott reporting 517 new infections in Peel, 494 in Toronto, 189 in York Region, and 130 in Halton. The most recent provincial projections indicate the province was on track to see more than 9,000 new daily COVID-19 cases by mid-December without the more stringent measures. Ford has warned against planning Christmas or other celebrations, while Elliott has said it would be "very optimistic" to expect much of an improvement in time for the holidays. While schools have remained open, the education minister has warned that an extended winter break or move to remote-only learning may be needed. "We are thinking ahead to be able to mitigate any increase of transmission in our schools because we've fundamentally, in this province, been able to keep that rate down,'' Education Minister Stephen Lecce said on Thursday. Latest figures show 122 new cases in schools, bringing the total infections to 4,470, with at least 2,769 involving students, and at least 614 involving teachers and staff. Public health authorities on Friday closed the private Northside Christian School in Listowel, Ont., until at least Dec. 1 after an outbreak. Huron Perth Public Health said the school reported one case but others might be connected. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The federal government is sending $542 million to Indigenous groups to help them set up welfare services for children and families, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday. The Canadian government has been promising to transfer control over child and family services to Indigenous governing bodies so they don't need to rely on outsiders to protect children in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. In 2019, Parliament passed a law to reform the system, requiring that children on reserves have access to services equal to those who live off reserves. The legislation also recognize that Indigenous Peoples' constitutional right to self-government includes the right to run their own welfare agencies. "We are keeping our promise to give them the support they need to keep children within their families and their communities, so they can grow up surrounded by the strength of their culture to achieve their full potential," Trudeau said. Child-protection agencies have often removed Indigenous children not just from their parents but out of their communities entirely when workers decide the kids aren't safe — often because a lack of funding left them with few other options. That's broken up families and hurt children's connections to their heritage. Federal census figures say Indigenous children make up more than half the kids in foster care across the country, despite being fewer than eight per cent of the children in Canada. "Behind these devastating numbers, there are real children, real and terrible stories," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Friday in a separate news conference. The new money is for everything from research and expert advice to consultations on how those Indigenous governments will establish and run their own child and family services, as well as to support their negotiations with provincial and federal authorities. Miller said this is an "essential step to correct the errors of the past" and will help unleash the potential of Indigenous young people who have been held back for generations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. The Canadian Press
Paralympian and world champion Maude Jacques has announced her retirement from the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team.Jacques first cracked the national team lineup and helped Canada capture a gold medal on home soil at the 2014 IWBF Women’s World Championship in Toronto.She also represented Canada at the London Paralympic Games, and helped her team earn a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, which have been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.The Sherbrooke, Que. native competed at the inaugural IWBF under-25 Women’s World Championship, which was held in St. Catharines, Ont. She was an all-star at the 2015 edition of the tournament in Beijing.“Sometimes tough decisions have to be made, and I knew retiring would never be easy because basketball has been a part of my identity for so long," Jacques said in a release. "But I leave the team with my head held high and I am proud of everything that I have accomplished. I wish Team Canada the best for Tokyo 2021.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government made sure to sign deals with a variety of potential COVID-19 vaccine producers to ensure Canadians would get one that works. He says that if everything goes according to plan, most Canadians will receive their immunization by next September.
Colin Ratushniak has a lot to be excited about right now. The new mayor of La Ronge took the election with 406 of the 777 votes cast in the northern town. The remaining 371 votes split among the three other mayoral candidates. Former mayor Ronald Woytowich did not seek re-election. The 35-year-old is the first openly gay mayor in Saskatchewan and only the second west of Winnipeg with Mayor of Whistler Ted Nebbeling being first elected in 1990. Ratushniak said he has always strived to be his authentic self and has always promoted everyone having that ability to do that, even when growing up in Gillam, Man. where he did not see other people who were like him. While being gay is part of Ratushniak’s identity, he does not consider it a big deal in his new role, he said. “My sexuality does not deter or improve my ability to act as an official, nor does it give me the ability to work hard and make change within the community.” Being new to the council, Ratushniak sees people who also want to see positive change especially at the council table, he said. Ratushniak and the new council, which includes two incumbents and four newly elected council members, were sworn in on Nov. 12. “We all have the same wholeheartedness for positive change and new things to come into our town and I'm really excited for this new council that's coming into place.” Based on the results from the Nov. 9 election, Ratushniak said the people wanted a go-getter and someone who would listen to their concerns. During his campaign he knocked on 99 per cent of doors in La Ronge, he said, so he showed residents that he wants to listen. Safety and crime reduction in the tri-community, which includes the Town of La Ronge, the Village of Air Ronge, and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, were major concerns that residents discussed with Ratushniak. As a young person himself, what is evident in La Ronge is the lack of programming for young people, he said, which has led to the problem with crime in the community. In the coming term, Ratushniak said the town needs to invest in the community and focus on economic development. There is no reason why La Ronge is not already a northern tourist destination, he said, especially considering the success of Waskesiu resort which is located 180 km from La Ronge in Prince Albert National Park. The biggest approach they will have to take is stronger communication and being transparent with residents, Ratushniak said, something that was lacking in previous councils. Ratushniak first moved to La Ronge in 2019 and got involved in municipal politics when he helped organize a rally in support of a pride flag being flown at La Ronge town hall in June of that year. The original resolution to fly the flag for pride month in 2017 was struck down five votes to one after it was brought forward by councillor, Jordan McPhail. McPhail knew this outcome did not represent what the community wanted, he said, so he decided to continue pushing for more awareness and events within the community. The first La Ronge Pride Parade was held that year. McPhail kept the issue at the council table as well and brought the flag-raising motion forward again in 2018. The motion was not seconded and therefore did not reach any vote or discussion, he said, but he contributed that to a lack of understanding among the councillors and not the will of the people of La Ronge. He could not let the issue lie and used it as a chance to raise awareness in his community and eventually start the Lac La Ronge Regional Pride Committee. There were already gender and sexual diversity groups in La Ronge, including in the schools that were alive and well and getting people involved in the group took very little organizing effort, he said. With a similar result anticipated in 2019, a small Facebook post and word of mouth brought a possible rally to the public’s attention. It had turned into a much bigger crowd than Ratushniak was expecting, he said. McPhail said they had about 100 people at the rally, and he was told later that it was the biggest public meeting that was ever held in the town. The success of the rally resulted in council passing a flag policy for a flag pole in Patterson Park for special interest groups. While Ratushniak is taking this as a win, he said, the LGBTQ2S community does not exactly fall under that definition of a special interest group. You have to pick your battles though, he said. The rally did much more than just ensure the pride flag would be visible in La Ronge. It showed Ratushniak the community wanted to support people like him, he said, and since then, even before his run for mayor, Ratushniak dove right into growing more programming in La Ronge through both his work and volunteering. “What that showed me was that this town wanted a council that was open-minded and wanted some change from what the traditional narrative was. So ever since that moment, I think that I took on a more political stance.” In 2020, the vote was unanimous to fly the flag at Patterson Park, as well as in other parts of the tri-community. This was something that both the councils of Air Ronge and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band supported long before La Ronge town council brought it to a vote, Ratushniak said. While there is no flag pole in Air Ronge, they jumped at the chance to put one up in their office and painted two pride crosswalks in front of their school. The band office raised up a two-spirited pride flag as soon as they could, he said.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
THUNDER BAY — A Thunder Bay man accused of an armed robbery of a pizza delivery driver in late August appeared in court this week to plead guilty to several, unrelated charges connected to fraud from earlier this year. Colton Herneshuhta, 21, pleaded guilty to a total of 13 charges relating to fraud, forgery, a break and enter and breaching probation orders on Thursday, Nov. 26 in a Thunder Bay Zoom courtroom. Court heard several instances where Herneshuhta used fake cheques to defraud several agencies in the city from January to April. On Jan. 6, Herneshuhta attended a loan agency business on Red River Road and presented a forged cheque for $1,139. A few days later, the business learned the cheque was fraudulent and alerted police who identified Herneshuhta as the person who cashed the cheque. He was also on probation at the time. On Jan. 9, Herneshuhta again used more fake cheques at two different businesses on Red River Road totalling $900. In a different case, another complainant gave Herneshuhta her debit card and pin number after he lied about why he needed it, according to Herneshuhta lawyer's George Joseph. “Mr. Herneshuhta made attempts to withdraw money that were outside the perimeters of the representation he made to (the complainant),” Joseph said. He initially attempted to withdraw $1,499, but was only able to take out $500, court heard. In April, Herneshuhta used a fake cheque of $850 to defraud the Children’s Aid Society. A few months later in August, Herneshuhta was identified as a suspect of a break and enter at a business on Victoria Street on Aug. 2. The Crown stated there was no estimate provided by the business of the damage caused or items stolen. Joseph told the court his client has struggled with a cocaine addiction for 10 years which has fuelled his criminal behaviour. Since being in custody, Herneshuhta has remained sober and has been working on his education as well as taking advantage of programs while in custody, Joseph said. Herneshuhta was sentenced to a joint submission of six months in custody, less pre-sentence custody. Crown counsel Piera Pasloski said Herneshuhta’s criminal record is limited and acknowledged his addiction which has been driving his criminal behaviour. “Mr. Joseph shared with me at the counsel pre-trial that Mr. Herneshuhta has had an extremely hard-wired addiction problem since age 11,” she said. “The hope is he will get himself the treatment he needs once he is released and that this behaviour will cease.” Herneshuhta was given credit at an enhanced rate for the time he has spent in pre-sentence custody of 136 days. He has 44 days left to serve going forward. After his custodial sentence, he will be placed on probation. Part of his probation conditions include participating in any assessments for counselling and substance addictions as well as completing any treatment programs if he is directed by probation. He is also not to contact any of the complainants or enter the businesses he defrauded. He will have 12 months to pay a victim surcharge fine for each of the 13 counts. Herneshuhta was not ordered to pay a restitution order. Herneshuhta also has outstanding charged connected to an alleged armed robbery from Aug. 24 of a pizza delivery driver. He is scheduled to return to court for these matters in early December.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Public health officials say the COVID-19 outbreak linked to Nipissing University's athletic community has grown to 16 cases.The outbreak was first declared on Tuesday when six people tested positive for COVID-19.North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit did not say how many were students or staff.The health unit says the growth in cases is expected as high-risk contacts are tested.It says close contact tracing has been completed for positive cases.The health unit had said that the individuals interacted with other people at the university's gym and at social gatherings in the community.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Medicine Hat College students are doing their part to help the community this winter. Operation Warm the Hat is running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, encouraging people to donate new or used winter clothing at the college. Second-year social work student Gabriela Carreon says the event is COVID-safe. “We’re going to do this as a drive-thru at the parking lot of the main entrance at the college,” she said. “We want to collect used and new winter gear for kids and adults.” The college students are asking for all sizes from newborn to adults. The gear will be donated to three different places: the city, the Miywasin Friendship Centre and Nurture Pregnancy Centre. “We just wanted to help the community of Medicine Hat,” she said. “For us students, our passion is to help others.” The drive-thru event will allow for physical distancing. It is running as first-come, first-served. After the coats are donated, residents in need will be able to contact each of the three organizations to get information on getting a coat. Coats will be quarantined for a week before people can get them, due to COVID-19. More information can be found on the Medicine Hat College Facebook feed.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
ELORA/FERGUS – Shoppers in Elora and Fergus are still in the holiday spirit as they go downtown, in reasonable numbers, for evening shopping nights. Starlight Shopping Elora and Late Night Sip and Shop in Fergus are an opportunity for residents to get some holiday shopping in with extended hours at downtown stores. “It’s sort of an opportunity to encourage people to get a head start on christmas shopping,” said Maclean Hann, Elora BIA chair and owner of The Evelyn in Elora. “It encourages people to keep their Christmas dollars local.” In Elora, downtown streets have closed off to cars to allow for more distancing much like was done on weekends in the summer. Unlike previous years, where Starlight Shopping takes place over two evenings, this year is four evenings on the last two Thursdays and Fridays in November. Hann said the stores are still offering the same kind of experience as previous years but gives people less of a rush to get out. “Combined with the streets being closed, it really gives people I think a sense of comfort,” Hann said. “It’s not going to be as crowded as it normally would be. You have more time to look after it so there’s less of a panic, you don’t have to condense all of your shopping into one evening.” Hann said the stores in Elora still have seen a good amount of people coming through. In Fergus they’re taking the same approach by spreading their shopping evenings into four Thursday and Friday nights. Melinda Croft, owner of The One and Only, explained that keeping stores open later allows people who would normally be working during their weekday hours to spend locally. “The shops being open until 10 gives them something to be able to come out to and social distance and not be so rushed to get their shopping done but then also support local stores,” Croft said. Croft said it could also skew people away from purely online purchasing. “One of the biggest things is online is so convenient, so we’re trying to make it a little bit more convenient too,” Croft said, adding that a lot of the downtown Fergus stores have gone online as well for those who don’t feel comfortable shopping in-store. Normally, Sip and Shop is a bigger event with a tree lighting ceremony but some aspects of it couldn’t go forward this year. However, downtown Fergus is still decorated, Santa Claus can be spotted around and you can take a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown. Croft said she doesn’t think those shopping will be from out of town and doesn’t think locals should be concerned about visitors from out of town. “I don’t think on a Thursday and Friday night they’re really coming out from the cities,” Croft said. “We mostly get local traffic during the week versus a Saturday when we get visitors from out of town more.” In regards to visitors coming from lockdown regions, Hann said the best they can do is to follow and enforce public health guidelines as much as possible. “It is safe to say there likely is some worry that’s happening but there’s also the reality of there’s really not a whole lot we as small business owners can do there,” Hann said, noting that tourists are crucial to the local economy. “Everyone is cautious but ultimately everybody wants to sell things in their stores. If that takes people from other regions then I guess that’s just how it is.”Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
The Ontario government announced that five regions of the province will be moved into more restrictive measure of the province’s COVID-19 safe opening framework.
Two people have been charged with possessing a gun after police were called to a hit and run in the area of Mic Mac Boulevard in Dartmouth on Thursday night.Halifax Regional Police say in a news release they received a call at 9:10 p.m.A vehicle on Mic Mac Boulevard ran into the back of another that was turning onto Horizon Court.The driver fled the area, but officers later located the vehicle in the parking lot at Mic Mac Mall. While arresting the driver for failing to stop at the scene of a collision, officers noticed a long gun as they searched the car.Police say they then also arrested a female passenger in relation to the gun.A 21-year-old man from Cole Harbour, the driver, is facing one count each of: * Possession of a firearm in a vehicle. * Possession of a firearm — no licence or certificate. * Unauthorized possession of a firearm. * Unlawfully carrying a firearm or weapon. * Failure to stop after an accident. * Resisting arrest. * Failure to attend court.The driver was also given summary offence tickets for driving with a suspended licence and driving without insurance, according to police.The 17-year-old female passenger from Lawrencetown, Halifax County is facing charges of possession of a firearm in a vehicle, possession of a firearm without a licence, unauthorized possession of a firearm and unlawfully carrying a weapon.Police say both people were released on conditions to appear in court at a later date.MORE TOP STORIES