Hundreds of bikers made their traditional Friday the 13th pilgrimage to Port Dover, Ont., despite pleas from officials to stay away because of COVID-19.
Hundreds of bikers made their traditional Friday the 13th pilgrimage to Port Dover, Ont., despite pleas from officials to stay away because of COVID-19.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Friday a resolution to a bitter dispute with Qatar seemed "within reach" after Kuwait announced progress towards ending a row that Washington says hampers a united Gulf front against Iran. The United States and Kuwait have worked to end the dispute, during which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar since mid-2017.
A Liberal MLA wants to know if the province would consider creating supervised injection sites on the Island.Heath MacDonald raised the issue in the legislature Thursday. He said he's watched overdose deaths increase across the Atlantic region over the years, and thinks it's time to take a closer look at the supports being offered here.According to the province's opioid web page, there were 12 confirmed accidental opioid-related overdoses between April and September of this year in P.E.I., nine of which involved fentanyl."These sites provide a basic level of safety and dignity for those suffering from addictions and would help mitigate the number of overdoses," MacDonald said. He asked Minister of Health and Wellness James Aylward whether or not establishing the sites here is something his department is willing to explore."Is it possible for you to put on your agenda to talk to your bureaucrats and those in charge about introduction of safe injection sites here on P.E.I.?" he said.Aylward said supervised injection sites are something his department is willing to look into."It's certainly a lens that we'll put on and take a look and do a jurisdictional scan," Aylward said.Many benefits Speaking to reporters, MacDonald said supervised injection sites can do more than just prevent overdose deaths, and help people connect with other important social services and supports. "They can access even additional programming and things like that, that they might not even be attempting to access now," he said. Green MLA Trish Altass agrees. She said in other places across Canada the sites also act as a safe community space and can often be the first step a person takes toward accessing mental health and addictions support. She said she hopes it's something government acts on soon."At those safe injection sites there's staff that are available to help guide people and to be there to listen and provide supports as a next step to get the treatment that people need when they are facing addictions," Altass said."It's really important that we have this discussion now and that action is taken as soon as possible," Altass said. Alyward said while his department is willing to study supervised injection sites across the country and look into how to establish one here, now is not the time."Safe injection sites is definitely not off the table, it's something that we'll certainly consider. But at this present time, [the Chief Public Health Office] and Health PEI, their main focus is on protecting Islanders from COVID-19," Aylward said.During question period, MacDonald asked the health minister if there could be space for a pilot project at the new mental health campus. Aylward said he doesn't think that would be the best fit. He said if a site were to be created he thinks it should be in a more accessible location like downtown Charlottetown. Overdose hotline in the worksAylward said while there are currently no supervised injection sites on P.E.I., the province does offer other resources and supports, including needle exchange programs and opioid reduction therapy.He said the province is working with PEERS Alliance to set up an overdose prevention hotline. People would be able to call in and speak with a peer — someone who understands substance-related issues and would stay on the line with them while they use to ensure they are safe as they use. If there was an issue, the person on the other end of the line would be able to dispatch first responders to that location.Aylward said there isn't a launch date for the hotline yet, but it will be available soon.More from CBC P.E.I.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020.There are 396,270 confirmed cases in Canada._ Canada: 396,270 confirmed cases (69,255 active, 314,608 resolved, 12,407 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.There were 6,495 new cases Thursday from 86,875 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,168.There were 82 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 608 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 87. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.01 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,739,689 tests completed._ Newfoundland and Labrador: 340 confirmed cases (29 active, 307 resolved, four deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 420 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,583 tests completed._ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 584 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.17 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 61,621 tests completed._ Nova Scotia: 1,343 confirmed cases (119 active, 1,159 resolved, 65 deaths).There were 11 new cases Thursday from 1,300 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.85 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 86 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 12.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 150,559 tests completed._ New Brunswick: 520 confirmed cases (111 active, 402 resolved, seven deaths).There were six new cases Thursday from 1,179 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.51 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 55 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is eight.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 103,791 tests completed._ Quebec: 146,532 confirmed cases (13,198 active, 126,179 resolved, 7,155 deaths).There were 1,470 new cases Thursday from 11,594 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,638 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,377.There were 30 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 208 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 30. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.33 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,215,810 tests completed._ Ontario: 121,746 confirmed cases (14,795 active, 103,239 resolved, 3,712 deaths).There were 1,824 new cases Thursday from 51,144 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,769.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 137 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,197,157 tests completed._ Manitoba: 17,751 confirmed cases (9,130 active, 8,268 resolved, 353 deaths).There were 367 new cases Thursday from 2,804 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,463 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 352.There were 11 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.91 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.78 per 100,000 people. There have been 354,449 tests completed._ Saskatchewan: 9,244 confirmed cases (4,017 active, 5,173 resolved, 54 deaths).There were 262 new cases Thursday from 1,696 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 15 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,882 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 269.There was one new reported death Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 14 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.17 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.6 per 100,000 people. There have been 265,300 tests completed._ Alberta: 63,023 confirmed cases (17,743 active, 44,705 resolved, 575 deaths).There were 1,854 new cases Thursday from 8,049 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,145 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,592.There were 14 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 65 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is nine. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.21 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,495,622 tests completed._ British Columbia: 35,422 confirmed cases (10,013 active, 24,928 resolved, 481 deaths).There were 694 new cases Thursday from 7,929 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.8 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,449 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778.There were 12 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.48 per 100,000 people. There have been 815,367 tests completed._ Yukon: 50 confirmed cases (20 active, 29 resolved, one deaths).There was one new case Thursday from 89 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been 11 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,488 tests completed._ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).There were zero new cases Thursday from 48 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,482 tests completed._ Nunavut: 198 confirmed cases (75 active, 123 resolved, zero deaths).There were five new cases Thursday from 39 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 13 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is six.There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,384 tests completed.This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
A resounding no from council will force Georgian Bay Snowriders to find an alternative for the strip near Port McNicoll. A couple months ago the club’s agreement was up for renewal. At that time, when the request came to council, the club asked for access to a part of the municipal trail along Highway 12 towards Triple Bay Road. The agreement was renewed before its Nov. 1 deadline, however, a new request from the club came forward at a later council meeting asking for access to approximately 400m of the TransCanada Trail, just east of Triple Bay Road. “Due to recent water level increases from Hog Bay, the ditch parallel to the highway is incredibly flood sensitive and has become very difficult to maintain,” reads the letter to council. “It also has a new utility line running through the centre that may become difficult to navigate around.” But their request wasn’t enough to melt the hearts of council members. “With me, it's a hard no,” said Coun. Mary Warnock. “I would not even entertain this. There's no recourse to get repairs done to the trail after it's been used and we all know what happened last time they were allowed a little stretch, it got torn up.” She had support from other council members, too. “It's not worth the risk for our bikers, our walkers and our roller-bladers,” said Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle. “I'm not in favour of this. We spend a lot of time and money on that trail and I'm not about to let it go at this point.” Coun. Paul Raymond said he could understand the club’s frustration at having to reimagine a trail on a temporary basis, but he was still against it. “We all know the damage (that) will happen,” he said. “What are we saying when we allow a motorized vehicle on the trail when we spend so much time trying to prevent motorized vehicles on trails? “Sorry to the Snowriders, but they have the ability to find alternate routes, I think,” added Raymond. Council voted to take no further action on the request. The Georgian Bay Snowriders did not respond to a request for comment.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
Senior Health Canada officials said Thursday they could be just days away from approving a COVID-19 vaccine as many provinces reported increasing hospitalizations and Quebec cancelled plans to allow gatherings over the Christmas holidays.Chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said final documents from the American drugmaker Pfizer are expected Friday. They are to include which production lots of the vaccine will be shipped to Canada and when. Sharma wouldn't put an exact date on approval or delivery, but said once the "key information" is delivered from Pfizer, she will be able to tell Canadians the news they have been longing to hear.Moderna's vaccine is expected to receive approval soon after. The supply will initially be limited to about three million people. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Thursday they are targeting priority groups that will most benefit from an earlier vaccine while reducing the spread of the virus.“In a country as geographically large and diverse as ours, we are facing some logistical complexities,” he said, including reaching remote communities and co-ordinating between various levels of government.The Canadian Armed Forces received formal orders last week to start planning for the distribution of COVID-19 in the most ambitious and complex vaccine rollout in the country’s history. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading the country's distribution effort, said the speed, scope and scale of this plan makes it unique. A planning directive for Operation Vector includes preparations on vaccine-storage facilities and notes the possibility of flying doses on short notice from Spain, Germany and the U.S.Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals and front-line workers during the second wave of the pandemic as they prepare for upcoming distribution of the vaccine. Premier Francois Legault announced Quebec will no longer go forward with a plan to permit multi-household gatherings of up to 10 people over four days during the holidays. Hospitalizations declined slightly in that province to 737, but the number of people in the intensive care unit remained unchanged at 99 on Thursday.Legault said it was not realistic to think the numbers will go down sufficiently by Christmas.Ontario reported 666 people were in hospital Thursday with COVID-19, with 195 in intensive care — a 34 per cent increase from the week before. There were 1,824 new cases and 14 more deaths due to the virus.Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said there is a team working with the federal government on vaccine distribution. “It’s still early day. We are going to start this process as soon as we can to make strides," he said. "Everything we do is a step in the right direction.”The seven-day rolling average of new cases nationally is 6,044.The Prairie provinces have been a hot spot for COVID-19 in recent weeks. Saskatchewan and Alberta recently brought in more restrictions, with the latter making a request to Ottawa and the Canadian Red Cross for field hospitals to help with the surge.Alberta recorded 1,854 new infections Thursday — a new daily record. There were 511 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 97 in intensive care.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the contact tracing system is struggling under the volume of new cases.Manitoba reported 367 new infections and 12 additional deaths. Premier Brian Pallister called for more clarity in Ottawa's vaccination rollout, specifically when it comes to how doses will distributed on First Nations.The premier also expressed frustration with people who still don't believe the novel coronavirus is a threat, even though more than 250 Manitobans died from the virus in November alone."If you don't think that COVID's real right now, you're an idiot," Pallister said.Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, announced 694 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 12 additional deaths as she outlined the early details of the province's plan for immunization.Seniors in long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized, she said, but more details on the plan won't come out until next week.Henry said health-care workers are tired from the pandemic and it's important to get through the next few months before vaccines are available."We know that our long-term care homes, in particular, are most vulnerable, and we know right now it's the biggest challenge that we are facing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.— With files from Mia RabsonKelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Urban design guidelines to help steer new builds in long-established local communities were formally endorsed by Council last week. The extensive list of guidelines provides parameters on everything from size to materials in order to ensure the new builds fit into what is already in the Regency Acres and Aurora Heights communities, as well as neighbourhoods on Temperance Street and around Town Park. Along with the guidelines, Council approved a semi-annual report that will outline to lawmakers the variance applications that have come forward and what has been approved. “The report will allow staff to identify trends and allow Council to better understand what development activity is taking place within the established Stable Neighbourhoods,” said the Town in a statement. “Under the Official Plan, stable neighbourhoods are protected from incompatible forms of development, and new development in these areas must respect and reinforce the area’s existing physical character and uses.” While a semi-annual update to Council was a request made by residents, particularly those in the Regency Acres neighbourhood, the report process as approved did not go far enough. They requested the semi-annual updates include a list of what applications were denied and why, a process which staff said would be too “onerous” to compile. Council agreed while sitting at the Committee level the previous week and when their decision came up for ratification on November 24, Councillor Wendy Gartner renewed the call. The main concerns of residents, she said, stemmed from privacy, particularly concerning rear yards, and the maintaining of the existing streetscape. Privacy concerns included minimizing the location of second floor balconies on rear side elevations. Additional issues ranged from the protection of trees to setting a maximum of three entrance steps to “encourage low profile entrance features close to the ground.” “The residents have requested reporting when consistency with the design guidelines is not adhered to by the developer,” said Councillor Gaertner, making a motion that the report “include instances where staff-approved variances regarding front and side yard setbacks, privacy and streetscapes are not consistent with the stable neighbourhood guidelines.” “Staff should be keeping a record of what they recommend to developers, that the developers aren’t interested in following,” she continued. “I think it is information Council should know and the residents want to have.” But this motion was ultimately unsuccessful with other lawmakers stating they were unsure what was hoped to be achieved by the report. “I am always happy to provide the residents with more information [but] I just fail to see the value it will get by doing this,” said Councillor John Gallo. Also casting doubt on including that in the report was Councillor Michael Thompson, who said as what was being recommended were guidelines for developers, the ultimate tools for compliance are the Town’s zoning bylaws. “The guidelines [are] meant to be able to shape the design, but there is a degree of flexibility in it,” he said. “If we want compliance in these areas, let’s reopen the zoning bylaw and put it back in the zoning bylaw and go down that road. Guidelines are just a tool and what Councillor Gaertner refers to in all those [areas] are subjective terms and they are open to interpretation. “The design guidelines are not meant for that kind of compliance. They are just meant to shape it and that is why producing this report would be so onerous because then it becomes a question of debating the subjective determination of what each term means and whether it was correct or incorrect. I don’t want to go down that road at all.” Councillor Harold Kim agreed, noting that the motion would take these guidelines in the direction of a bylaw. “I want to keep it high level and even if we went to that level of detail, what are we going to do with that information? I suspect we’re going to try and create bylaws out of that and we go back to Square 1 where we started two or three years ago. It is for those reasons as well intended as the amendment is, I cannot support that,” he said. Keeping an eye on how the guidelines go was something Councillor Rachel Gilliland said she supported, and that she understood what the residents were looking for, but what was being asked was too broad. “I feel if they came with their Top 2 or Top 3 concrete things that were the most important [and] relevant, maybe we can have a conversation, but it is almost the entire urban design guidelines that are being asked here,” she said. “It is so subjective and it is so many topics. I would think it would be very a very onerous thing for our staff to be reporting back on. “We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place here with some subjective opinions, but it is not really going to do us any service.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
On Wednesday evening the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been identified in an individual at John Diefenbaker Public School. “The division is hoping the recovery is quick and thorough and we extend our get-well wishes to this member of our school community and offer our support to the surrounding family. We also extend our support to the staff and students in our schools affected by the isolation,” the release stated. As has been the case in the past, this case was not school-acquired. The division was informed on Wednesday of the positive COVID-19 test result and communication is being shared with the classroom/cohort, the connected staff, as well as with the school community. The learning program will continue remotely for those students affected. John Diefenbaker will remain open for in-person classes for students who are not required to self-isolate. The division, in this case, did not announce the length of the isolation. As is the circumstance in all cases in the division due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared. The school’s COVID Response Plan contains many important measures, processes and protocols that add layers of protection for students and staff. School personnel will continue to be informed and guided by SHA as they manage this case. Staffs at schools in the division remain vigilant in ensuring proper safety measures are in place and personnel from the SHA continue to guide and inform school administration and staff. The division explained that although there has been no evidence that transmission has occurred within any Sask. Rivers schools and we all share responsibility to minimize the risk of COVID transmission. “The division deeply appreciates the support that students, parents and community members have demonstrated, especially as the number of cases in our region climbs.” The SHA’s local public health team continues to provide expert advice and strong support for our dedicated staff as we manage the pandemic in our communities. “The division is thankful to have such a cohesive team of administration and staff supported by our partners in Health.”Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
RED DEER, Alta. — Alexis Lafreniere will not play for Canada in the world junior hockey championship.Hockey Canada said in a statement Thursday that the NHL’s New York Rangers will not loan Lafreniere to Canada’s team for the tournament in Edmonton.The Rangers selected Lafreniere with the No. 1 pick this year in the NHL draft.Lafreniere led Canada to a gold medal at the 2020 junior championship in the Czech Republic. He had four goals and six assists in five games and was named tournament MVP.All activity at Canada’s camp has been suspended from Nov. 25 until at least Sunday after two players and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.The Associated Press
A fellow councillor's negative opinions about staff and peers are indicative of confrontational and unnecessary hostility, says complainant. Coun. Jon Main told MidlandToday people are missing the point by focusing on Bill Gordon's 'snowflake comment' that was part of a series of communications and dialogue shared with the integrity commissioner. Main said he just rolled his eyes at Gordon's 'lame and corny' snowball comment directed at him. "At the end of the day, we were discussing an issue we both agreed on," he added. And even though it did happen earlier in the year, Main said he wasn't 'sitting' on information or gathering evidence to present to the integrity commissioner. "We went in communication with the integrity commissioner in summer," he said. "The complaint would have been filed in the middle of summer and we've been discussing it this fall." Providing context to the dialogue, Main said it was a back-and-forth exchange about responding to the pandemic and what council and the town were going to do. It was spurred by a warning from him, cautioning Gordon to be careful about communicating to all of council. "We're not supposed to be discussing issues with each other over email because of closed door policies and all," said Main. "We were talking about what's the best way of bringing information forward. It was a simple exchange of information and it kind of spiralled and clearly crosses a line." But he said he would like to bring attention to the fact that it's part of a larger pattern of disrespectful of conduct from councillor to councillor. And a second matter of concern: disrespect in council and staff relations. It's indicative of a personality, confrontational and unnecessary hostility. "This isn't a Main vs. Gordon issue," said Main. "This is really a Gordon vs. code of conduct issue." And, he added, it certainly isn't (that) he, Coun. Jim Downer, and Deputy Mayor Mike Ross are out to get Gordon. "There's no animosity between us," said Main. "We're really just trying to work with our colleague to make him step up his game so we don't see these code of conduct lapses and issues." Another key point that he said residents need to realize is that of undue influence on town staff. "I don't have any instances of that happening before," Main said, talking about the one set of circumstances quoted in the report. "I think this incident is quite important to review to make sure we follow the rules around council roles and responsibilities and staff responsibilities and make sure we don't cross the wires." Main said prior to lodging the complaint, he had approach Gordon peer about his communication style. "From my communication, I've said it in the nicest way possible to soften his approach and offered constructive criticism on how to go about raising issues and who to contact (for town-related matters)," said Main. "Those suggestions and advice have not been heeded or appreciated." Ross played to a similar tune. "Coun. Main reached out to Coun. Gordon and was pretty much told to go away and (Gordon said), 'I'll do politics my way and you do it yours way,'" he said in a conversation with MidlandToday. "I give Coun. Main credit for doing that. I was surprised by Coun. Gordon's response." Ross added that in his opinion, Gordon could be one of the best councillors the town has. "But unfortunately, he doesn't want to follow the rules," he said. "I have no idea why not. Maybe he's upset due to the fact that council of the day took him to court around the Midland Police Services Board. I would hope that isn't it, but he's said it in the past that it was his motivation to get on council." And it's not a question of Ross against Gordon, said the deputy mayor. "It's the code of conduct we all agreed to follow," he elaborated. "Unfortunately, things have happened that it's not been followed or adhered to. We all want to work together." And where there are no conversations between the two included in the report, Ross said, he felt he had to back up his colleagues. Addressing Gordon's suspicions around monetary sanctions, Main said, that wasn't up to him alone, adding he wasn't thinking of going that route anyway. "I think people need to understand what a reprimand is," he said. "Financial sanction isn't the end-all and be-all of the integrity commissioner's report. The reprimand is really the only tool that council now has to censure somebody for misconduct. "We're not looking to recall somebody or have anyone impeached or a special election called. This is basically saying we all agreed to this certain set of rules and we want to make sure everyone follows it. We are paid to agree or to disagree. The community expects us to work collaboratively and put all differences aside." Ross was in the same corner. "I'm not looking to push for monetary sanctions," he said. "I just want him to realize he's breaking the rules that were set out for all of us to follow. Be respectful to others, that's all I'm looking for. It breaks my heart that it came to this." The code of conduct, Ross said, are rules all elected officials agreed to follow. But why even have a code of conduct then? To that, Ross said he didn't have an answer. "I try go the other way and avoid being on social media," he added. "I do not want to be in a position that anything like this would happen. I don't want to be engaged with constituents there. If you want to talk to me, give me a call. I conduct town business that way. I think social media and the rest of it is so easy to get away with comments people won't say to you to your face." Both said they want the matter to end on a hopeful note with all of council working together on common goals for the betterment of the town. The matter will be discussed at council's Wednesday meeting.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
OTTAWA — Federal Liberals are accusing the Conservatives of thumbing their noses at a looming court deadline by filibustering a bill to expand access to medical assistance in dying.Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez made the accusation Thursday as Bill C-7 inched closer to passing the House of Commons.MPs voted 213-103 to accept the bill as amended by the Commons justice committee. Only Conservatives, including leader Erin O'Toole, voted against it.However, 16 Conservatives joined Liberal, Bloc Quebecois, New Democrat, Green and Independent MPs in support of the committee's report on the bill.The government had hoped to have a final vote on the bill last Monday, in order to give the Senate time to deal with it before the court-imposed Dec. 18 deadline.It is now at least a week behind schedule due to Conservatives talking out the clock during debate on the committee report.Shortly after Thursday's vote, Rodriguez announced that final debate on the bill will begin Friday. If the Conservatives allow debate to wrap up Friday, that would pave the way for a final vote on Monday, leaving just two weeks for the Senate to consider the bill before the deadline.However, the Conservatives have shown no sign so far of letting the bill come to a final vote that quickly.Indeed, O'Toole shrugged off the deadline earlier Thursday, contending that "protecting the most vulnerable is more important than a court's timeline."The bill is meant to bring the law into compliance with a Quebec Superior Court ruling last fall which struck down a provision allowing assisted dying only for Canadians whose natural death was reasonably foreseeable.It would make it easier for those near death to receive an assisted death but would set up more restrictive conditions for those not near death.The court ruling was prompted by individuals with disabilities fighting for their right to end their suffering with medical help. But disability rights groups have condemned the bill, contending that it sends a message that the lives of people with disabilities are not worth living.O'Toole and most of his MPs have echoed the concerns of those groups, arguing that the bill does not provide adequate safeguards to protect vulnerable individuals from being pressured — either directly or indirectly by a lack of disability supports — into ending their lives prematurely.Rodriguez has not so far threatened to impose closure to cut off debate on the bill. He listed Thursday a number of other bills the government would like to move on next week "if the Conservatives stop filibustering" C-7 — implying that progress on them will be impeded if the filibuster continues."We're in this position because our Conservative friends are continuing to block the adoption of this important bill," Rodriguez told the Commons."I have the impression that they don't care about the deadline imposed by the Superior Court of Quebec, which is quite regrettable."Conservative House leader Gerard Deltell countered that it's the government's own fault if the court deadline is missed. He argued that it would have had 25 additional days to debate C-7 had Prime Minister Justin Trudeau not prorogued Parliament in August for six weeks.Two amendments proposed by the Conservatives were defeated Thursday. One would have restored the required 10-day reflection period, which the bill proposes dropping for people who are near death. The other would have increased the proposed 90-day period for assessing requests for assisted dying from individuals not near death to 120 days.While the NDP is supporting the bill, two New Democrats wrote Thursday to Justice Minister David Lametti and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough with a proposal they argued would help calm the fears of disability rights groups.Daniel Blaikie and Randall Garrison proposed a $2,200-per-month benefit for people with disabilities who currently qualify for federal or provincial income support."Swift action on this proposal would be a sign to Canadians with disabilities that your government will not put them in the impossible position they rightly fear: having to choose either a life of poverty and suffering or a premature death," they wrote.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
Attorney General William Barr is coming under criticism from members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who are demanding a full review of the presidential election won by Joe Biden. (Dec. 3)
WASHINGTON — Three former presidents say they'd be willing to take a coronavirus vaccine publicly, once one becomes available, to encourage all Americans to get inoculated against a disease that has already killed more than 275,000 people nationwide. Former President Barack Obama said during an episode of SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show" airing Thursday, “I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it.” “I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed," Obama added, “just so that people know that I trust this science.” That may not be possible for a while. The Food and Drug Administration will consider authorizing emergency use of two vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna later this month, but current estimates project that no more than 20 million doses of each vaccine will be available by the end of this year. Each product also requires two doses, meaning shots will be rationed in the early stages. Health care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line, according to the influential Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. That encompasses about 24 million people out of a U.S. population of around 330 million. Still, former President Bill Clinton would “definitely” be willing to get a vaccine, as soon as one is "available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials,” spokesman Angel Ureña said. "And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same,” Ureña said in a statement Thursday. Ureña declined to say whether Clinton's team has been in touch with other former presidents about perhaps setting up a joint public immunization session, whenever that might be possible. Former President George W. Bush's chief of staff, Freddy Ford, told CNN that Bush recently asked him to meet with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response co-ordinator, to let them "know that, when the time is right, he wants to do what he can to help encourage his fellow citizens to get vaccinated.” “First, the vaccines need to be deemed safe and administered to the priority populations," Ford told the network. "Then, President Bush will get in line for his, and will gladly do so on camera." The only other living former president, Jimmy Carter, who at 96 is the oldest ex-president in U.S. history, also encouraged people to get vaccinated, but stopped short of pledging to do so himself in public. “Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, said today that they are in full support of COVID-19 vaccine efforts and encourage everyone who is eligible to get immunized as soon as it becomes available in their communities,” the Carter Center said in a statement. The voice of support comes as the U.S. recorded more than 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, far outpacing the record set last spring. The number of Americans hospitalized with the virus also has eclipsed 100,000 for the first time. President Donald Trump was asked this summer if he would consider being the first to take the vaccine to send a message that it was safe. The president said that going first could also lead to accusations that he was being selfish, but that he would take it if recommended to do so. “I would absolutely, if they wanted me to, if they thought it was right. I would take it first or I would take it last,” Trump said during a July interview with Fox News. “You know that if I take it first, I will be, either way, I lose on that one, right?” Making Trump among the first to get the vaccine could indeed be controversial, given that he tested positive for the virus so recently. Vaccine trials excluded volunteers who had diagnosed infections — including those who had gotten treatment for the virus, which Trump had in October. Still, Trump is promoting the vaccine. At the ceremony for the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, which was taped Monday and streamed Thursday evening, Trump said, "It is truly a Christmas miracle, one of the great achievements medically, they say, ever in history.” During a Thursday roundtable in Memphis, Tennessee, with Vice-President Mike Pence, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the U.S. must restore national trust in immunizations. “There’s been a great deal of challenge over the years of this growing concern of what I call ‘vaccine hesitancy,'" Redfield said. "It’s really sad as an infectious disease physician to see many people choose to leave vaccination on the shelf for themselves, their family and the community.” Asked if he’d personally be taking a vaccine, Pence gave a thumbs up and replied, “Absolutely.” President-elect Joe Biden said months ago that he'd take “a vaccine tomorrow” as soon as doing so was possible. Biden told CNN during an interview Thursday that he too would be happy to get his vaccine publicly to encourage people to follow suit. “People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work," Biden said. "Already the numbers are really staggeringly low, and it matters what the president and vice-president do.” That follows Biden's warning on Wednesday that the spread of the coronavirus pandemic over the next two months could kill as many as 250,000 more people, though he didn't offer details to back up such a bleak assessment. “You cannot be travelling during these holidays,” Biden told the public "as much as you want to.” ___ Associated Press Writers Kevin Freking and Darlene Superville in Washington and Adrian Sainz in Memphis contributed to this report. __ This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Birx. Will Weissert, The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With coronavirus cases surging at a record pace, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new stay-at-home order Thursday and said if people don't comply the state's hospitals will be overwhelmed with infected patients. Newsom's latest effort to keep people from gathering with others from outside their households divides the state into five regions and links business closures and travel restrictions to hospital ICU capacity. When a region has fewer than 15% of its ICU beds available, new restrictions are imposed. Newsom said four regions — all but the San Francisco Bay area — could meet that threshold “within a day or two." A litany of changes would take effect, including closing hair salons, barber shops and movie theatres. Restaurants may only serve takeout and delivery, and playgrounds will be off-limits. Retailers and shopping centres would have to limit stores to 20% capacity during the busy holiday shopping season. The order takes effect Saturday and, once triggered, regions would have 24 hours to implement the rules, which stay in effect at least three weeks. The rules don't apply to public schools with in-person learning. “The bottom line is if we don’t act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said during an online news conference from his home, where he has quarantined with his family for the past two weeks after his children were exposed to the virus. “This is the most challenging moment since the beginning of this pandemic.” The announcement was a gut punch for retailers and restaurants counting on the shopping season to boost a dismal year. “The loss of revenue many small businesses will experience as a result of this latest shutdown could be catastrophic,” said Allan Zaremberg, California Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. The new rules are the Newsom administration's latest attempt to control a virus that is spreading at rates that astonished health experts. In the last month, the state has pulled the “emergency brake” by imposing restrictions in 52 of the state's 58 counties, including asking people not to leave the state and implementing an overnight curfew. The curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. had little impact, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's top public health officer, acknowledged Thursday. He said data shows people have not curtailed trips outside their homes during the period that is only supposed to be for essential trips. “We of course had hoped and wanted to see more from that already, but we haven't,” he said. Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health, said such a broad shutdown wouldn’t be necessary if the state had better data on where people are contracting the virus. “We do not have adequate data to know where transmissions are occurring and that reflects a failure of public health,” he said. Better understanding the data could, for example, show the state if transmissions are occurring at grocery stores, barber shops or restaurants and better target interventions. Klausner likened the current approach to shutting down food production, restaurants and grocery stores because of a salmonella outbreak. “That’s not the way we traditionally work in public health,” he said. California imposed the nation's first statewide stay-at-home order in March. It was open-ended and much more aggressive — all but essential businesses were closed. The order was widely praised by public health experts, but it came with a heavy cost: California lost 2.6 million jobs in March and April, overwhelming the state with claims for unemployment benefits. Since then, California has gotten 44% of those jobs back in a modest recovery as new cases fell dramatically after large gatherings ceased, and people wore masks and distanced in public. But by fall people were congregating more as cooler weather drove them inside, where the virus flourishes. A new wave of cases that began in late October has dwarfed anything the state had seen. California is now averaging nearly 15,000 newly reported cases daily. Unlike in March, when the pandemic was in its infancy and people were more willing to follow rules, the latest mandate will be met by a frustrated population entering its 10th month of restrictions. Some counties have bucked the rules, following cues from state and local elected officials who have criticized the governor for going too far. Shannon Grove, Republican leader in the state Senate, criticized Newsom on Thursday for continuing “to disrupt life as we know it without releasing the full data behind his decisions.” “And to be clear, it’s not just about the numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations he runs through in his almost-daily press conferences, but the data and facts about the toll his shutdown orders are taking on Californians’ mental health, on our children’s education, including the achievement gap, on domestic violence and child abuse rates,” she said. In San Luis Obispo, hairstylist Amy Lovece said she was angry because “salons are not the problem.” “I just go between home and work. I don’t go to parties or bars and I just want to keep working,” she said. California’s virus hospitalizations have nearly quadrupled since mid-October and now stand at 8,240, including 1,890 in intensive care units. California Hospital Association President and CEO Carmela Coyle said 80% of ICU beds in the state are occupied. “Hospitals are doing everything possible to address this crush of acute care needs but are challenged by a lack of needed critical care nurses, worldwide shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies,” Coyle said, adding hospitals support the governor's new restrictions Newsom acknowledged the difficulty in following the rules. But he urged people to stay vigilant, promising the worst is almost over. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are a few months away form truly seeing real progress with the vaccine,” Newsom said. “We do not anticipate having to do this again but we really all need to step up. We need to meet this moment head on.” Adam Beam And Kathleen Ronayne, The Associated Press
When a COVID-19 vaccine is approved by Health Canada and becomes available, Dr. Lorne Tyrrell plans to be first in line when it's his turn to get it.But the virologist says data about the vaccine must be transparent to the public, so that enough people can also feel they can safely trust it.Tyrrell, founding director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology at the University of Alberta, is a core member of Canada's COVID-19 task force."We need to be very transparent, very clear with the science and clear with the data so people can have trust in science in this area, and that these vaccines, when they go into people, will be very safe and very effective," he said in an interview Thursday with CBC's Edmonton AM.Premier Jason Kenney unveiled part of Alberta's vaccine distribution plan Wednesday. Paul Wynnyk, deputy minister of municipal affairs, is leading the provincial task force.Phase 1 of Alberta's vaccine rollout is projected to happen in the first three months of 2021. Phase 1 will focus on the province's most at-risk populations including long-term care home residents, staff in these facilities, on-reserve First Nations people and other health-care workers.Phase 1 will focus on the province's most at-risk populations including long-term care home residents and staff, on-reserve First Nations people over age 65, seniors age 75 and older, and health-care workers most needed to ensure workforce capacity and who are most likely to transmit the disease to those at greatest risk.Phase 2 will run from April to June, the province projects, with the goal of getting 30 per cent of the population immunized by the end of that period. The province said on Thursday the specific groups immunized during this phase will be determined after Phase 1 has begun."Clinics will be set up by AHS across the province where people who are in one of the identified priority groups can go to get their immunization," Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said in emailed statement."Long-term care and designated supportive living residents will be immunized in their facilities and will not need to travel. More information will be shared once vaccines are ready to be distributed."Phase 3 will involve rolling out vaccinations to the general Alberta population. It's expected to start by fall 2021.Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and author of The Germ Files, said the province's Phase 1 timeline is realistic.Once the vaccine is approved by Health Canada, Tetro expects a rapid rollout where the most vulnerable people will be immunized within a couple of months.Vaccine development often takes years to complete. So the availability next year of COVID-19 vaccine is quicker than some expected, which Tetro attributes to improving technology.He and Tyrrell both said they trust any vaccine approved by Health Canada will have undergone enough scrutiny to be effective and safeBut Tetro said he'd still like to see more public information about the vaccine."At the moment, we are running off of very limited data in the public," he said. "We hear about the regulators going line by line or case by case to better understand how these vaccines work. I, personally, would like to see those."Tetro said the distribution timeline is dependent on pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Moderna not experiencing any setbacks.On Thursday, Pfizer lowered the number of doses it expects to produce this year, days after it was approved for use in the United Kingdom.Kenney said Wednesday any COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory. Because of the pushback against mandatory measures like masking, Tetro said governments would be best served to not worry about that, and focus effort instead on getting the vaccine to the people who want it."As soon as you bring up mandatory, you're going to immediately annoy probably 20 to 30 per cent of the population who believe it's their right to do what they want," Tetro said."We can start talking about mandatory vaccinations and other things like that when we're at a point that we're not worried about our ICUs being double-bunked, and the elderly all of a sudden dying simply because of inadvertent infections because somebody went to a house party. It's prioritizing."Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alberta, agreed the vaccine and the provincial government's plans for distribution look promising. On the point of mandatory vaccination, he emphasized it doesn't need to be discussed because nobody is calling for the measure."This isn't on the table, nobody has suggested it, nobody supports it," Schwartz said."The most important thing to emphasize is this is a safe and remarkably effective vaccine, and it's potentially getting us back to a point where life can return to normal."
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — Police in Abbotsford, B.C., say a federal inmate is back in custody following a brief escape. They say in a statement that they responded to a report of shots fired Thursday just before 3 p.m. Police say Correctional Service Canada officers were escorting a federal offender to a medical appointment when he escaped.Police say that while officers tried to apprehend the offender, a correctional officer shot a gun but no one was injured. They say the inmate, who was not identified, was found with the help of police, police dogs and an RCMP helicopter.Police say the public is not at risk and major crime detectives are investigating.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020. The Canadian Press
Three Métis researchers have been directed by the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) to undertake a “deep dive” into the communities the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) has extended citizenship to as historic Métis communities. In a yet-to-be-released report, Will Goodon of the MMF, says work undertaken by researchers Darryl Leroux, Darren O’Toole and Jennifer Adese indicates the connections in the Mattawa/Ottawa River Métis community that the MNO claims as their own are actually ancestral connections to Algonquin and Nipissing First Nations. “So basically the MNO is claiming the same ancestors that the First Nations are claiming. It’s a bit of a mess. Actually quite a bit of a mess. And it’s a bit of a tangle as well to try and pull all these things apart,” said Goodon. In 2017, the MNO and Ontario government jointly released a statement saying that after studying historical reports and based on the criteria provided by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Powley decision, historic Métis communities went beyond Rainy River/Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario. The MNO and Ontario government identified Sault Ste. Marie (where the Powleys resided), Northern Lake Superior, Killarney and Georgian Bay (which comprise the Great Lake Métis), as well as Abitibi Inland and Mattawa/Ottawa River as historic Métis communities. The Métis National Council (MNC) has accepted the Rainy River/Lake of the Woods Métis community as part of the Métis homeland, but they reject the rest. As far as the MNC is concerned, the historical Métis homeland includes the entirety of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, and only parts of British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and in northwestern Ontario. Their homeland map excludes the Powleys’ community, although it was the Powley decision in 2003 that affirmed Métis hunting rights were protected under Sect. 35 of the Constitution. The MNO helped advance the Powley harvesting case all the way to the Supreme Court. The map is in keeping with the MNC’s definition of Métis: “a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation.” That definition was adopted in 2002 by the MNC. The MNO and the MMF, along with the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, Métis Nation of Alberta and Métis Nation-British Columbia, are the five Métis governments that comprise the MNC. In 2018, the MNC put the MNO on probation for accepting into its membership people from the Métis communities that resided outside of northwestern Ontario. Since then angry words have flown between MNO President Margaret Froh and various MNC representatives, including MNC President Clement Chartier and MMF President David Chartrand, who often serves as spokesperson for the MNC. Froh, however, does not stand alone. MNO has garnered the support of the presidents of the MNA and MN-S. The three Métis governments entered into a tripartite agreement in 2019. Goodon says the MMF has spent a lot of money and energy battling MNO. The research paper to be released in the coming weeks is the second such paper commissioned by MMF. He says while housing, his portfolio for MMF, and education are priorities, so is this. “To me it’s about the integrity of the Métis Nation. If MNO gets to decide who’s a citizen without the input from the rest of the Métis Nation then we have abdicated our rights to decide who we are,” he said. “Obviously Indigenous people have the right to self-determination, self-identification, and the Métis Nation have done that, but the problem is that the MNO is affiliated with the Métis Nation through the MNC,” said Goodon. Had MNO presented these additional communities to the MNC for political affiliation, that would have been a different matter, he said. “Even though we know they’re not part of the Métis Nation, they are a different people, but we will affiliate with them. They never asked us. They never asked the Métis Nation if that would be appropriate. “To me that would be one of the first things they do. To say, ‘We’re not you… we are our own peoples, but we want to be affiliated with you’,” he said. Presently, MNO is suspended from MNC. That decision was taken unilaterally by Chartier, says Froh, and should not have been made. Should MNO remove itself from the MNC and want a political affiliation instead, Goodon says that would be a difficult conversation “because there are some pretty hard feelings on both sides.” “I think if cooler heads were to settle down and say, ‘Hey, maybe we could have that conversation.’ Maybe. I think it could have been handled a little more properly on MNO’s side to say, ‘Look, we know, we understand nationhood. We understand who you are. This is us. Can we have a conversation?’ I think that could have happened and that still could happen if there’s good will. Good will is kind of hard to find at this point, I think,” said Goodon. However, a political affiliation is not what Froh is after. In an open letter on Nov. 27 to the Métis Nation leaders and citizens Froh addresses being “cut off” by the MNC. “It is apparent to the MNO that the current MNC leadership’s next steps will be to suggest that funding to the MNO and the Great Lakes Métis, including the Powley community, be cut off because of the new MNC map. “Let’s be clear, the MNO and Canada won’t allow for these types of crass political games, which disregard the Crown’s constitutional duties owing to the Powley community and other Ontario Métis communities, to happen.” In 2019, the MNO and Canada signed a Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement. At the MNO’s annual general meeting in November, the MNO informed membership of steps it was taking to implement that agreement. “The MNO will continue to represent, defend, and stand up for the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community, the Great Lakes Métis, as well as the other Métis communities it represents within Ontario as it has for the last 28 years,” Froh wrote in the November open letter. Goodon admits that MNO’s claims aren’t new, but MMF had its attentions focused on other matters. However, when MNO started accepting new communities, the issue was pushed. “We the Métis Nation decides who the Métis Nation is and a small part of the Métis Nation, maybe MNO, the small part of Ontario that is a part of the Métis Nation, maybe five, 10 per cent. That 10 per cent can’t decide they’re going to expand by 90 per cent. The Métis Nation should make that decision on who is the Metis citizen,” said Goodon. Froh points out in her letter that the MNC benefited from the Powley decision. “From 2003 to the present, Canada has provided well over $150 million… to the MNC and its Governing Members because of the Powley case to support Métis registries, Métis harvesting laws and policies, and research on other Métis Nation communities,” she wrote. As far as Froh is concerned, the MNC has “become dysfunctional … controlled by a few individuals.” MNO’s open letter is accompanied by a series of fact sheets, which Froh wrote are “to set the record straight ...(so) … people can make their own informed decisions.” She also wrote that the MNO would not be “engaging in a subsequent back-and-forth” with the MNC over what is presented in the letter. Windspeaker.comBy Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
The Aurora Farmers’ Market had a late start this spring due to uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but did they ever make up for lost time. As the Market wound down on Hallowe’en, they were looking back on a season of firsts – and some impressive numbers. Last year, the Aurora Farmers’ Market, which runs each Saturday morning from May through October, welcomed 13,493 visitors to Town Park. This year, they logged a staggering 18,306. “At the beginning of each Market day, I would get my team of volunteers together – we had 32 volunteers that helped us over the course of 24 Market days – and say, ‘This is probably going to be the last day that we’re allowed to be running, so make it a good one,’” recalls Market Manager Anna Kroeplin. “Every week we had tally sheets at the dedicated entrance (on Larmont Street) and at Wells Street as well, and we would count every single person in and out at 15-minute increments. “At the beginning, we were only allowed 32 people in and we had 13 vendors. Once the Market Board started talking more and more to Public Health and Farmers’ Markets Ontario, restrictions were lifted and they based it on our square footage of where customers would actually be.” It turned out to be a winning system this year, and one other municipalities looked to when trying to get their own markets up off the ground. “In March, there was a state of emergency and then in April they closed the schools and businesses, but it was incredibly important that the Government deemed Farmers’ Markets essential services,” says Ms. Kroeplin. “That was able to help the Board pre-plan and be ready. They got in touch with York Region Public Health, the Town of Aurora and Farmers’ Markets Ontario to get all of their approvals – and they did so we could set up on May 23. We were only a couple of weeks out of our normal season to start. I was so pleased that the Farmers’ Market was deemed safe. We actually had so many people come and we had about 99 per cent of people wear masks. It was mandatory for vendors to wear their masks or face shields, but everybody wore masks and felt so comfortable and safe there. “What really surprised me and blew me away is that other towns got in touch with us and either their staff or their market managers came to the Market after the first three weeks because we had built some great reputation that they wanted to model the Market after them. The biggest one was the City of Toronto.” Having that “incredible exposure” to new customers really helped the Aurora Farmers’ Market reach such impressive numbers, with each customer being respectful of one another and exercising patience while waiting in line to get in. Helping them to pass the time before they could get in to buy their fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods and artisan crafts were space markers drawn out on the pavement in chalk to not only promote social distance but put smiles on faces. Volunteers drew smiley faces instead of simple circles more than two metres apart. Once things were deemed safe enough to allow students in to volunteer and collect their community service hours, these markers started to get a bit crafty. “We started with 13 adult volunteers because of the health risk at the beginning of the season,” says Ms. Kroeplin. “We weren’t comfortable having students there until we started proving our safety measures were incredibly important. [In the end] we had 19 students come to get their hours an they came from Aurora, Pickering, Sutton, and it was just crazy because there weren’t a lot of opportunities for these kids to earn heir hours. What I found interesting this year is the majority of the time parents would come with their child the first day they were on shift and I would make sure they had my phone number and the parents felt safe leaving their kids there. In all, they earned a total of 939 hours.” Although the Aurora Farmers’ Market’s outdoor season has come to a close, there will still be a few more chances to meet market vendors in the lead-up to the holiday season. On December 5 and 12, many Market favourites will be on hand for the Town’s annual Christmas Market, which will be held at Town Park for the first time this year, a perfect opportunity to shop local as the holiday season approaches. “A lot of Towns didn’t support their markets, so they stayed closed or they did not open long,” says Cathy Williams, Board Chair for the Aurora Farmers Market. “Aurora supported us, made sure things went well for us, gave us volunteers from their staff, and they wanted us to open, which was just really good. When our numbers started going up and we had lineups and the vendors were coming to us to say they were sold out, I thought, ‘You know what? This is going to work.’ “I would like to thank the Town for being so supportive. I would like to thank the volunteers for being so wonderful and for helping out so much – and the Board of the Market for working so hard to get it open, for Public Health being behind us, and for the people of Aurora for coming out and supporting us.”Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
On Wednesday the Government of Saskatchewan announced a $400,000 commitment to provide mental health first aid training to at least one staff member in each Saskatchewan school. This would make mental health first aid available to students, when needed, similar to physical first aid. The intention to launch such a program was announced earlier this year, but Wednesday’s amount is the first time the project has had a dollar figure attached to it. “Our goal is to have at least one staff member in each school receive mental health first aid training by the end of 2021,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said in a release from the province. “We are excited to support schools in ensuring students have access to mental health resources, and I encourage all provincial school divisions to take part to help remove the stigma around mental health.” Since 2017-18, the government has offered up to $9,000 in grants to school divisions for training to build capacity in their schools related to mental health and student safety and they say this new funding builds on that commitment. Mental health first aid is a training program developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). The in-person training is currently being transitioned to be available online in 2021. The Ministry of Education will work with Saskatchewan school divisions to coordinate the training sessions, with little disruptions to the school day. Online delivery will help keep the sessions safe for staff in these uncertain times. “We commend the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education for its timely investment and commitment to providing Mental Health First Aid training for each of the province’s Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools,” MHCC President and CEO Louise Bradley said. “We are delighted to hear that the ministry intends to create an online option for school division staff to take mental health first aid training.” The mental health first aid training was a recommendation from the Minister’s 2019-20 Youth Council. “The mental well-being of students is a crucial part of positive and effective learning environments,” 2019-20 Youth Council member Sandra LeBlanc said. “The new mental health first aid initiative will be a good first step in ensuring that all Saskatchewan students have access to the support they need, one of the priorities of the 2019-20 Youth Council.” Mental health first aid can be provided to a person who is developing a mental health concern or who is in a mental health crisis. The training teaches individuals to recognize the symptoms of mental health problems, how to provide initial help and guide a person toward appropriate professional help. Studies show that mental health first aid training results in improved mental health literacy and decreased stigmatization toward mental health concerns.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald