WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Charlottetown's Santa Claus tour through Sherwood-Parkdale and the city centre scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed to Saturday due to rain and high winds.The new Santa tour schedule is: * Wednesday, Dec. 2: City centre (north of Brighton Road-Euston Street, west of University Avenue, south of Capital Drive). * Thursday, Dec. 3: East Royalty, Hillsborough Park, and Sherwood-Parkdale (between Brackley Point and St. Peters roads). * Friday, Dec. 4: Winsloe and West Royalty. * Saturday, Dec. 5: Sherwood-Parkdale (between Mount Edward and Brackley Point roads) and city centre (north of Euston Street, east of Spring Park Road, and south of Kirkwood Drive-Allen Street).All tours will begin at 5:30 p.m. and take approximately two hours to complete. Detailed route maps are available at charlottetown.ca/santatours.The ferry crossings from P.E.I. to Nova Scotia were also cancelled Tuesday due to weather.More from CBC P.E.I.
Megan Gail Coles, a writer whose debut novel Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club became a Canadian literary sensation, has been named ArtsNL's artist of the year.Coles was named the winner Tuesday afternoon at a physically-distanced ceremony held at the LSPU Hall in downtown St. John's.The novel, which was published in 2019, was a contender in the most recent Canada Reads competition, and was short-listed for the Giller prize.The book, set on a stormy winter's night in and around an upscale St. John's restaurant, circles around a set of characters who work there and their often dysfunctional relationships."I would especially like to thank the Great Northern Peninsula, the island of Newfoundland, who are responsible for my best and bad bits, whether they want to really acknowledge that sometimes or not," said Cole, who grew up in Savage Cove. In a short speech, Cole also thanked her "friends and family, who put up with my antics during the creation period, which can sometimes be taxing for everyone." Cole, who is also a playwright, won the 2019 BMO Winterset award for the novel. She won the same prize in 2014 for her short fiction collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome.ArtsNL usually holds a gala for its annual awards ceremony. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a scaled-back ceremony was held on Tuesday afternoon, and live streamed over the internet.Other winners of the 35th ArtsNL Awards included:Danielle Irvine, a veteran theatrical director and the artistic director at the Perchance Theatre in Cupids, received the Artists' Achievement Award.Emily Bridger, an actor, writer and director who has been making films in the St. John's area, received the CBC Emerging Artist Award.WATCH | We prepared this video about nominees of the 2020 ArtsNL awards: Joanna Barker, a singer-songwriter and a music teacher at the Mushuau Innu Natuashish School, received the Arts in Education Award.David Hood, a retired chartered accountant who has volunteered his time for numerous arts organizations, including Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, the Bonavista Biennale, St. Michael's Print Shop, MusicNL and the Garrick Theatre, received the Patron of the Arts Award.Bernice Morgan, the bestselling author of Random Passage and many other books, received the Hall of Honour Award. "I am deeply, deeply honoured to be here today," said Morgan, who thanked the artists who came before her for inspiration, as well as for public support of the arts and the library system she credited for nourishing her mind. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced on Tuesday that Johnson & Johnson has applied for Health Canada to get approval for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, making it the fourth vaccine candidate pending approval alongside Pfizer’s, Moderna’s and AstraZeneca.
Canada is readying a new tax on foreign home buyers to help tamp down on speculative purchases from overseas, cited as a factor behind sharp rises in housing prices in some markets that have left many Canadians unable to afford homes. "Speculative demand from foreign, non-resident investors contributes to unaffordable housing prices for many Canadians," the government said in its Fall Economic Statement. "The government is committed to ensuring that foreign, non-resident owners, who simply use Canada as a place to passively store their wealth in housing, pay their fair share."
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy posted its best three-month stretch on record during the third quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 40.5 per cent on the back of household spending.The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, Statistics Canada said, but unlike 55 years ago, the rise last quarter was fuelled by a record drop during the preceding three-month stretch.Wide parts of the economy effectively shut down in March and April, creating a pent-up demand among consumers as the savings rate soared in the second quarter.The lifting of lockdowns and further restriction rollbacks during the three-month stretch of July, August and September opened an economic relief valve.Statistics Canada said Friday that there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates, driven down by the central bank in a bid to prod spending, as well as on home renovations.Households also spent more on goods like cars, as consumer spending jumped, although it still remains five per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, leaving a lump of cash in bank accounts as households don't have their pre-pandemic spending options.The savings rate stood at 14.6 per cent, a drop from the record-high 27.5 per cent in the previous quarter, but still far higher than the two per cent at the end of 2019.CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said that suggests Canadians will have the resources to spend post-pandemic. "Over the next year, I think the focus still needs to be on returning Canadians to a more normal way of life," he said in an interview. "That will return Canadian spending habits to a more normal way of life, and that will return the Canadian economy to a more normal way of life."Despite the overall increase, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.How the next few quarters play out may rest on households continuing to spend, and whether government aid is toned down as the federal Liberals have indicated would happen if economic conditions improve.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking outside his Ottawa residence, said the positive third-quarter figures showed that federal spending has helped families and businesses stay afloat. "There are still tough times ahead," he said. "So we'll continue to be there for people, especially those who are hardest hit by this crisis."The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada said, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.Economists suggested the economy could limp to the finish line of 2020 amid the tightening of restrictions and threats of localized lockdowns. Overall, the economy is likely on track to contract by over five per cent this year, economists say."There is a good chance that the economic recovery doesn’t just stall, but shifts into reverse this winter," TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote."While light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccine distribution, it will not cure the near-term pain in store for the Canadian economy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Northern environmentalists say the federal government's fiscal update on Monday was a missed opportunity — and it should have done more to help the region hardest-hit by climate change to emerge from COVID-19 with a greener economy.The wide-sweeping update includes promises to fund reconciliation efforts, speed up universal broadband access and body cameras for RCMP officers.It says $380 million is going to a support fund for Indigenous communities during the second wave of the pandemic. It also points to $272 million that the government has given airlines and businesses to keep the North's supply chains connected, along with more funding for environmentally-friendly home retrofits, money for consultations on electrical infrastructure projects, and more electric charging stations for cars.An organizer with a group that advocates for a "Green New Deal" in Canada, or a proposed package of government investments that build an environmentally-friendly economy by reducing social inequality, says that plans to promote greener homes, electric vehicles and tree-planting don't create meaningful change.Ellen Gillies, the organizer with Our Time Yellowknife, said on Facebook to CBC that the update "is very much in line with the Liberal's playbook to date — progressive language and lofty promises with little to no transformative commitments or actions on social, economic and climate justice."For example, the budget update promises $1.5 billion for closing the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities, but the government is actually spending more than $16 billion on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline alone, Gillies notes.Gillies also says there is no mention of where the money will come from — and she and her organization want it to come from the wealthiest people and corporations."It's really disappointing to me that even with so many people in need, Trudeau's government shies away from taking on the billionaires who have been profiting from the pandemic," she said.Planet on a 'bad trajectory'William Gagnon, a green building engineer and former campaigner for Green Party leadership candidate Courtney Howard, agrees that the proposal doesn't go far enough. He compares the update to "when you crave moose meat … and someone delivers you cucumber sushi."Gagnon points to the many jobs in the oil and gas sector that were lost because of the pandemic, saying this is the moment to help more people get jobs in renewable energy instead.He also says that according to estimates he has done with other advocates for green building, making every building carbon neutral in the territory alone would cost almost half of the budget the country has set aside to pay for building retrofits across Canada.Sebastian Jones, with the Yukon Conservation Society, says certain green efforts like those on habitat restoration and tree-planting won't apply to the North — home to sparse boreal forests and rocky tundra, where habitat loss in the vast region has been minimal."Our planet is in a really bad trajectory," he said."I probably wouldn't have whinged about this if it weren't for the signals we did get from the federal government … that this crisis is a chance to build back greener and better."The fiscal update says an upcoming climate plan from the government "will highlight further work and investments in areas like renewables, clean fuels and hydrogen."The fiscal update says $64.7 billion is also "proposed" to help the territorial governments with pandemic response for 2020 and 2021.
BERLIN — The European Union drug agency said Tuesday it may need four more weeks to approve its first coronavirus vaccine, even as authorities in the United States and Britain continue to aim for a green light before Christmas.The European Medicines Agency plans to convene a meeting by Dec. 29 to decide if there is enough safety and efficacy data about the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for it to be approved. The regulator also said it could decide as early as Jan. 12 whether to approve a rival shot by American pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc, which submitted its request to U.S. and European regulators this week.If its vaccine is approved, Germany-based BioNTech said the shot's use in Europe could begin before the end of 2020 — but that seems quite ambitious, given that the EU Commission usually needs to rubber-stamp the regulator's decision. Still, the agency has also left open the possibility that the date of that meeting will be brought forward if data comes in faster.Any approval granted by the European regulator will be conditional on companies submitting further information to confirm the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks.The date now being eyed would be later than some European countries had hoped. Germany, which has given BioNTech 375 million euros ($450 million) in funding to develop the vaccine, has been preparing to start immunizing people from mid-December onward.On Tuesday, officials in Germany, France and the Netherlands cautioned that vaccine programs likely won't start until the end of the year.“With the information we got in recent days we have to assume that approval will only happen around the turn of the year,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said.“It has moved because some studies obviously need a little longer to be submitted," he said. "What’s important is to be prepared.”His comments were echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, who said authorities in those countries are working to begin vaccinating people in the first week of January.“It won’t be a vaccination policy for the broader public” during the first few months, Macron said at a news conference.BioNTech and U.S. partner Pfizer have said that clinical trials showed their vaccine is 95% effective. The two companies have already submitted data to regulators in the United States and Britain, and approval might come from them first.Hospitals in England have been told they could receive the first doses of the Pfizer shot as early as the week of Dec. 7 if it receives the OK, the Guardian and Financial Times reported. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s scientific advisers are holding a public meeting Dec. 10 to review Pfizer’s request to allow emergency use of its vaccine, and a decision could come shortly thereafter.Stephen Evans, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that although the main drug regulators will all analyze the same data, the European regulator's decision-making process is slowed by the bureaucracy of the 27-nation bloc.He explained that approval at the EMA “requires co-operation from member states, who each have a say in the authorization of a vaccine.”British regulators also are assessing another vaccine developed by researchers from Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca.Whichever of the three regulators — American, British or European — acts earliest would be giving the first approval of a COVID-19 vaccine that’s been that’s been rigorously tested in tens of thousands of people in trials that meet common scientific standards.Numerous other vaccines are also being worked on. Russia and China have even begun administering shots of locally developed vaccines and selling them to other countries but have not published evidence from advanced studies proving the vaccines are safe and effective.Globally, every country that has a drug regulatory agency will have to issue its own approval for any COVID-19 vaccine, although countries with weak systems usually rely on the World Health Organization to vet the shots. In the EU, countries typically accept EMA approval for vaccines and drugs unless there is a specific issue the country wants examined further.Multiple successful vaccines will be needed to end the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in Europe and the U.S. and so far left more than 1.4 million people worldwide dead.Authorities and drugmakers have pledged to work together to immediately begin rolling out the first shots once approval comes in, whether that’s in the United States or Europe.“Depending on how the authorities decide we can start delivering within a few hours,” said BioNTech's chief operating officer, Sierk Poetting.But officials caution that while some people may receive a vaccine in the coming weeks, it will likely take years to give billions of people around the world the shot, or two if a booster is necessary, meaning that people will be living with some virus control measures at least well into next year.While the three major vaccines so far submitted for approval seem to prevent people from getting sick, it is still unclear whether they prevent people from picking up the virus entirely — and crucially — passing it to others.The EU's top official said Tuesday around 2 billion doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines have been secured for the bloc's 27 nations and called hope for their quick approval "a huge step forward toward our normal life."EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, however, urged EU citizens to remain “disciplined till we have reached finally a vaccination that is appropriate to eradicate this virus.”Even after vaccines are approved, manufacturers and regulators will be monitoring how well they are received by patients to determine the frequency of rarer side effects that may only appear when millions are immunized.___Cheng reported from London and Petrequin from Brussels. Associated Press writers Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___This story has been updated to correct that Pfizer and BioNTech asked for expedited approval of their vaccine, not an emergency use authorization.Frank Jordans, Maria Cheng And Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 177 nouveaux cas, pour un nombre total de personnes infectées de 143 548. Elles font également état de 28 nouveaux décès, pour un total de 7 084. De ces 28 décès, 3 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures, 22 sont survenus entre le 24 et le 29 novembre, 1 est survenu avant le 24 novembre et 2 sont survenus à une date inconnue. Le nombre d'hospitalisations a augmenté de 26 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 719. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a augmenté de 4, et s'élève maintenant à 98. Les prélèvements réalisés le 29 novembre s'élèvent à 20 326, pour un total de 3 917 699. Tableau synthèse de l'évolution des données Date Cas confirmésDécèsHospitalisationsHospitalisations aux soins intensifsPrélèvements réalisés24 novembre1 1003565593 (-3)33 02325 novembre1 46428675 (+20)90 (-3)32 26626 novembre1 26925669 (-6)9029 65227 novembre1 48022678 (+9)93 (+3)24 45028 novembre1 39519665 (-13)92 (-1)27 11529 novembre1 33325693 (+28)94 (+2)20 32630 novembre1 1773719 (+26)98 (+4)ND Nombre de cas par région Régions sociosanitaires29 novembre 202030 novembre 2020Total des cas01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent142784302 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean116785 28603 - Capitale-Nationale16211911 89704 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec84657 03205 - Estrie96624 74606 - Montréal40030651 46207 - Outaouais11153 58008 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue0126909 - Côte-Nord5-120910 - Nord-du-Québec005411 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine631 37512 - Chaudière-Appalaches23595 39913 - Laval9612011 58414 - Lanaudière1068911 36715 - Laurentides46357 98416 - Montérégie16519620 29817 - Nunavik002818 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James0016Hors Québec33116Région à déterminer003Total1 3331 177143 548 Nombre de décès par région 01 - Bas-Saint-Laurent1902 - Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean13003 - Capitale-Nationale44604 - Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec27305 - Estrie6406 - Montréal3 62807 - Outaouais8108 - Abitibi-Témiscamingue409 - Côte-Nord210 - Nord-du-Québec011 - Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine4012 - Chaudière-Appalaches13413 - Laval72614 - Lanaudière33015 - Laurentides33616 - Montérégie87017 - Nunavik018 - Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James1Hors Québec0Région à déterminer0Total7 084 Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The first region-wide social needs assessment and strategy in the Regional District of Nanaimo is now underway. The partnership between the RDN, Town of Qualicum Beach, District of Lantzville, City of Nanaimo and Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee will turn a lens on what families, children and youth need as well as how to improve social supports and address housing and homelessness, access to services, safe affordable transportation and discrimination and stigma. The project has been made possible in part thanks to a $125,000 grant from the B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction as administered by the Union of BC Municipalities. An additional $60,000 from the RDN’s 2020 budget rounds out the total amount devoted to the project. In November, a $140,000 contract was awarded to Kelowna-based Urban Matters, an advisory company that focuses on social and community development projects. An engagement plan is underway and will include working with community health networks (like the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative) and individuals with lived experience in poverty as well as consulting with the community. The plan will be presented to the RDN board early next year for endorsement. The RDN’s senior long-range planner, Courtney Simpson, said staff are also “in ongoing conversation with First Nations to understand how they would like to be involved in the process.” The RDN is situated within the traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw, Snaw-Naw-As and Qualicum First Nations. Simpson explained there are a few phases to the project. The assessment phase includes a scan of existing services, including “checking with service providers to ensure nothing is missed.” A baseline study follows, which will “measure social needs of the community such as data related to the social determinants of health.” Social determinants of health are social and economic factors that determine health and can include income, education or employment as well as experiences of discrimination, racism and historical trauma. After the baseline study, a gap analysis will be conducted followed by development of a strategy on how to address those gaps. The project’s request for proposals highlights Island Health’s 2019 Local Area Profile for Greater Nanaimo, which shows, among other insights, that “measures of low income, housing affordability and vulnerability in children are lower than the Island Health and B.C. average,” and the “the proportion of persons who are members of a low-income household in the RDN is higher than the Island Health and B.C. average for all age groups except for seniors.” Project staff will consult information collected via the soon-to-be-released Regional Childcare Assessment as well as the Regional Housing Capacity Assessment, which identified a critical need for housing for single income and lone-parent households among other needs. The Islands Trust has conducted several studies over the years that will inform the project, including a 2019 report on strategic actions for affordable housing in the Trust Area and the 2018 Northern Region Housing Needs Assessment. Gabriola LTC Trustee Scott Colbourne said the regional approach to address needs like housing and social services is vital work. “If you can’t get a service on Gabriola, you end up in Nanaimo, if you can’t get a service in Oceanside or Parksville, you end up in Nanaimo or Victoria. If we kind of get a handle on how this all works together, that causes less stress for people and families.”Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
Quebec's plan to allow people to gather over the Christmas period may be scrapped, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Premier François Legault said Tuesday."We have hospitals that are approaching their limit of COVID patients," he said."We are not going in the right direction."Legault said that if the number of hospitalizations continues to increase, it will be "difficult to take that risk."A final decision will be made Dec. 11.Quebec's rolling seven-day average of cases has climbed back up in recent weeks, and there are now more than 700 people in hospital with the virus.The premier has tempered expectations for the holiday season since announcing on Nov. 19 that gatherings would be permitted over a four-day period — provided those meeting isolate for the week before and after.Last week, following consultations with public health, Legault said only two gatherings would be allowed during the four-day period.The province is expected to announce additional guidelines for holiday shopping later this week.
Three men accused of killing a Battleford man had more court appearances but the matters were adjourned again. Isaac Melko, 22, Charles Michael Lewis MacLean, 23, of North Battleford, and Jacob Joseph Ballantyne, 25, of Edam, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court Nov. 25 via CCTV but the matters were set over to Jan. 13, 2021, to be spoken to. The three, along with a young offender, are charged in connection to the murder of 27-year-old Ryan Gatzke. A badly injured Gatzke was found in a house in Battleford in October 2019. He was taken to the North Battleford hospital where he was declared deceased. Maclean was charged with manslaughter, a firearms offence, and break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence. Melko, Ballantyne and the young offender - who can’t be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act - were charged with second-degree murder, break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, disguise with intent, carry a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, possession of a firearm without a license, and unauthorized possession of a firearm.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Weather is getting cooler and beards are getting bushier as some Canadian men look to add an extra layer of warmth to their faces this winter.Others, motivated by lockdown measures and extended work-from-home terms, may view this as a perfect time to see how unruly those whiskers can get before a trim is needed.But as long as mask-wearing is encouraged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, should they worry about facial hair interfering with the effectiveness of face coverings?Some experts say men should shave their beards in order to obtain the best mask fit, but others say it depends how long the stubble gets, and if their job requires a tighter-fitting respirator.The CDC has an infographic on facial hair and N-95s on its website, outlining styles that are safe, including handlebar mustaches and soul patches. Other looks — like extended goatees, muttonchops and Van Dykes — cross the seal of the mask and need to go. Dr. Christopher Labos, a Montreal-based physician, says that advice is fine for health-care workers, but when it comes to regular cloth masks, breaking a seal isn't as much of a concern."If it's covering your mouth and nose, it's doing what it's supposed to do," he said. "Whether there's a gap on the side isn't really here or there because there's always a gap." Dr. Jane Wang, a clinical instructor at UBC who has studied face masks extensively, disagrees.Wang's recent research suggests men with beards experience more leakage — droplets expelling through gaps in the mask — than those without. Leaky areas of masks are most prominent around the nose, chin and the cheeks, and pleated masks tend to leak more than other styles.Having facial hair jutting out of a mask increases that leakage zone, she said. So the most effective way to ensure a cloth mask fits around the face is to remove the beard."Having more leaks decreases the filtration," Wang said, adding that research on mask fit and leaks date back to the 1990s. "So the air we breathe will go through the leak and not the filter of the mask."Dr. Lisa Bryski, an emergency-room physician in Winnipeg, has seen many colleagues shave off their beards in order to properly wear masks in the health-care field. While a cloth covering doesn't provide the same level of protection as an N-95, Bryski suggests men outside front-line work settings might want to pick up the razor too."It's a personal choice, but anything you do to increase your own protection and protection of others is appropriate in these times," she said. "Where shaving is not an option, keeping the beard groomed and trimmed may reduce the amount of hair and help with mask seal."Bryski acknowledged that for some men, like those in the Sikh community, beards may be an integral part of religious identity.Sukhmeet Sachal, a second-year medical student at UBC, recognized that and is offering a solution. Sachal is part of a group that has been handing out modified face masks to Sikh men at gurdwaras, or places of assembly and worship. The masks, made by volunteers, wrap around beards and tie over turbans, offering Sikh men a better alternative than a regular face mask they could buy at a store.Sachal said he got the idea when he walked into a gurdwara with his father and saw hardly anyone wearing a mask. While he says there may have been a combination of reasons for that, the beards played a part."We heard from people directly that there were no masks available for them," Sachal said. "When they went to the store, they didn't find any."Sachal says hair, whether it's on your face or head, is seen in Sikhism as a gift from God. Turbans are wrapped around hair to protect it, and most Sikh men refrain from cutting their hair or shaving their beards."That's why these masks are important," Sachal said. "They allow people to practise their religion while being safe."Colin Furness, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, looks at beards as a "variable" in how well a mask fits, but "not a determiner."A mask can be ill-fitting whether you have a beard or not, he explained. And while the length of facial hair will impact fit further, he says mask-wearing is only one safety precaution we should be practising."I don't think beards should be demonized, because it's not just about wearing a mask," he said. "You're also maintaining physical distance, you're also not doing large crowds... "It's when you start thinking that masks protect you completely that beards become more risky."Wang says those keeping their beards should still wear face masks."It'll be less effective, but it's better than nothing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
The COVID-19 pandemic made it harder for many to find and afford menstrual products. It also gave Isabela Rittinger and scores of other volunteers in and around Toronto time to do something about it. Rittinger, a first-year student at Queen’s University in Kingston stuck attending virtual classes from home in Pickering, jumped into the fray by creating an international chapter of a U.S.-based period movement in March. By the summer, she and a group of others, including many students, had split off to create Bleed the North and declare Canada’s first ever National Period Day, part of a campaign to fight menstrual stigma and period poverty, the inability to afford pads and tampons, which can cost between $75 and $150 a year. The group, now numbering 80 people, has since collected and distributed more than 10,000 period products, in kits of 11 pads and 7 tampons, enough to cover a typical menstrual cycle. It was all Rittinger could do to feel useful at a time of massive upheaval, and the community and team-building helped get her through the worst of those early days. “I don't know what I would have done with my time and how I would have faced the COVID lockdown if not for the people I had met at Bleed the North,” she said in an interview. “Those few months at the beginning were really, really dire and it was just like, if I didn't have this to pour all my time and my heart into I don't know where I would be.” Bleed the North started off collecting donated pads and tampons and delivering them to shelters and individuals in need in Durham Region outside Toronto, but has since eyed getting student trustees on school boards across Ontario to pitch for them to make period products freely available in all secondary school bathrooms. “We hear all the time from menstruators afraid to go to the bathroom holding a pad or a tampon,” said Mia Medic, who takes a lead on Bleed the North’s advocacy efforts. “That's stigma, that's period stigma.” “No one in school, no teacher, has ever told me to not be ashamed to have a period,” she added, noting the group plans to create a sex education toolkit for teachers in the coming months and recalling her experience learning the biological basics in grades 5 and 6. She said it was important to get products into all bathrooms “so every student who menstruates has access to products,” pointing out that “not all women menstruate and not all those who menstruate are women.” Independent of their efforts, Peel District School Board recently said it would provide free period products after a student trustee push, but there is no provincewide legislation. “Even sparking conversations within school boards and within authority figures is super, super important,” Medic said. “I would love to hear (Education Minister) Stephen Lecce talk about periods and talk about menstruation, even if we don't get anywhere, just to hear people in power speak about it is a win for us, because it's a start.” One-third of the under-25s in a Plan Canada survey of 2,000 cisgender women conducted in early 2018 said they struggled to afford menstrual products. (It did not include the specific experiences of trans men and non-binary menstruators.) Those in Indigenous and rural communities suffer acutely from a lack of affordable access, with a box of tampons costing between $16 and $40 in rural Indigenous communities that Bleed the North is trying to reach. “I think one for us coming into 2021 is figuring out how we can support communities that we don't necessarily live near because obviously a lot of us are young 17, 18-year-olds who in their cars go to different communities and drop off products to shelters,” Rittinger said, noting it might make more sense to fundraise and e-transfer to remote shelters and other sources. Bleed the North itself has largely subsisted on small individual donations of cash and goods to distribute, including a contactless drive-thru drop-off where it raised $500. A peer organization called Menstruation REDefined hosted a virtual art auction and sent them half the proceeds. The federal government proposed to make federally regulated workplaces provide workers with free menstrual products in May last year, while in Ontario a bill tabled by the opposition NDP’s Bhutila Karpoche at around the same time to declare a provincial menstrual hygiene day has stalled at first reading. British Columbia's government issued a first-in-Canada ministerial order requiring all public schools to provide free menstrual products for students in school bathrooms last April. Bleed the North’s monitoring of legislative efforts elsewhere show little to no movement. The group said it has received interest from advocates on university campuses and other sites in other provinces (it has a couple in Quebec already) and is looking to expand across the country next year. “We're hoping to expand nationally next year and having contacts all across the country that we can rely on to start this in their own communities and hopefully reach as many people as possible.”Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Almost exactly three years have passed since the night Mahdi Al-Hasnawi stepped out of a crowd to lift his dying, big brother off the sidewalk. He tried to bring him to the stretcher, he said, "cause the paramedics weren't doing their job." In a landmark case, former Hamilton paramedics Christopher Marchant, 32, and Steven Snively, 55, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for 19-year-old Yosif Al-Hasnawi. On the night of Dec. 2, 2017, the teen was shot with a .22-calibre hollow point bullet. The paramedics thought it was a BB gun, the court has heard. Mahdi Al-Hasnawi, who testified on Tuesday, was 15-years-old back then. He spent that last day with his brother at the mall with a friend, and went to the Main Street E. mosque that night. Al-Hasnawi said his older brother asked him to go outside, but he said no. Later, his other brother Ahmed came and found him."He came inside kind of panicked, and whispered in my ear, 'Yosif got shot,'" he said.'Faking it'Al-Hasnawi found his brother down the street, lying on his back. When he tried to go near him, one of the two police officers who were there put a hand on his chest to stop him. "I know you're panicked and I know you're scared," Al-Hasnawi remembered the officer said. He said they told him, "he'll be okay."When Al-Hasnawi asked his older brother, "are you good?" the teenager mumbled back, "I can't breathe."Al-Hasnawi said he told the officer this, but they repeated he'd be okay.He also remembers them saying that Yosif was "faking it." He didn't say anything back "because they convinced me that he was fine."Patterson asked how it felt to see his brother in that moment."Not good. I don't think there's a way to describe what I felt," Al-Hasnawi said.He said he saw a hole on his brother's stomach, which had dried, brown blood.Mahdi ran to the mosque to get their father, Majed. The defence finished their cross-examination of him earlier on Tuesday.'He should win an Oscar'He went straight to Yosif when he came back. His brother wasn't responding as much as before and was blinking a lot, he said. People in the crowd that gathered were aware he couldn't breathe, Al-Hasnawi said, but there wasn't a paramedic attending to him."They were going around asking questions like they were the cops or something," he said.When a paramedic did examine Yosif, he used two fingers and pressed down on the wound for about 30 seconds. He remembers one of the paramedics said, "he should win an Oscar for how good he was acting."Brother recalls paramedic saying, 'don't touch me'Footage of the scene shows that an officer and paramedic tried to lift Yosif by the arms, but couldn't do it. Al-Hasnawi stepped in and put his arms under his brother, even though he was older, bigger and heavier. In the video, a group assists him, but Al-Hasnawi doesn't remember that. Jeffrey Manishen, who represents Marchant, told Al-Hasnawi that he didn't have to watch that footage, and council could describe it to him. But Al-Hasnawi told him, "play the video."He remembered struggling to get him on the stretcher, and said that's when the paramedics helped. But when one of Yosif's legs came of the stretcher and touched the paramedic, Al-Hasnawi said they replied, 'Don't touch me,' and threw his leg back on. It definitely didn't hit the paramedic hard, he said. It also happened again with an arm. "I don't think someone who's dying can do much damage to someone who's perfectly fine," he said. Al-Hasnawi also said that "the officers were a lot nicer than the paramedics." Even though they said Yosif was faking, Al-Hasnawi remembers them eventually treating it more seriously than the paramedics. The paramedics went into the ambulance with Yosif. Al-Hasnawi tried to join his brother, but they told him no, he said. The ambulance stayed for around 15 minutes, he remembered.The teen was pronounced dead at St. Joseph's Hospital at 9:58 p.m.Defence questions memoryIn their cross-examination, the defence compared Al-Hasnawi's responses on Tuesday with those made in a February 2018 interview with Niagara Regional Police and paramedic one in May 2018.Manishen said Al-Hasnawi had to check some details by reading these in court. He suggested that his memory "might be incomplete" because he didn't mention that the paramedic checked his brother's wound in one interview."Everything that I've remembered, I've remembered it the same way," Al-Hasnawi said. He just would have forgotten to talk about those 30 seconds, he said. Manishen asked whether Al-Hasnawi remembered his brother "thrashing" on the stretcher. He spoke about the paramedic moving Yosif's limbs, and each time the younger brother corrected him by saying the paramedic "threw" them."I don't know what he was doing with his leg, but a paramedic shouldn't do that to a dying person," Al-Hasnawi said.Michael DelGobbo, who represents Snively, asked if someone directed him to lift his big brother, specifically the father. Al-Hasnawi said no one did, and commented that he shouldn't have done it and that it was the paramedic's job.'Please help me'Steve Ryan, who called 911 at a nearby convenience store that night and said he heard a gun shot, also took the stand. He remembered seeing people running, followed by a loud bang like a "firecracker."He said a boy with red hair was telling everyone that night that his brother had been shot. He was saying it "continuously, pleading with the paramedics." Yosif Al-Hasnawi was on the ground, saying "please help me."Ryan said he heard someone say the teen might be "faking," and said it was "disgusting" because paramedics were chuckling.Ryan testified in the trial of the person who shot Al-Hasnawi, Dale King. He was acquitted last year of second-degree murder, and that case is being appealed. He read this transcript to refresh his memory. Both defence lawyers questioned why he told police in a 2017 interview that he didn't think it was a gun shot, and might have been a pellet gun. Ryan said he heard those words from the crowd, and they must have stuck in his mind. But the crack was too loud to be a pellet gun, he said. Regardless of whether it was a gun shot or even a stabbing, Al-Hasnawi should've been transported to hospital immediately, Ryan said, and he wasn't. Father cross-examinedWhen he completed his cross-examination, Manishen showed the father, Majed Al-Hasnawi a video of the scene, which contradicted some of his memories from that night. Among the things that differed, he remembered his son on the ground for 20 to 30 minutes. But it was over two minutes on the video his son was lifted up, and a couple minutes later, Manishen pointed to wheels that rolled by. Al-Hasnawi agreed it seemed to be a stretcher.When Crown Scott Patterson re-examined the father, he noted the defence said on Monday that Al-Hasnawi never brought up the action where a paramedic pressed his son's knees into his own chest up in his 2017 interview with police. Patterson read out a section of that transcript."Yes one arm, hanging him, then close his legs. And imagine when you cross legs, lifting legs, how much pressure will be here on stomach," Al-Hasnawi had told the detective. The father wasn't shown this section in court.Mahdi Al-Hasnawi was also asked by the defence if he saw this pushing action. "It was supposed to help him," he said, but couldn't remember who did it.The court has heard that Yosif Al-Hasnawi was shot at 8:55 p.m. near Main Street East and Sanford Avenue South. The paramedics arrived at 9:09 p.m., and left for the hospital at 9:32 p.m. The trial in Hamilton superior court is expected to last five weeks, and Justice Harrison Arrell will render a verdict.
COVID-19. Avec 6500 employés du réseau de la santé absent du travail et le nombre de cas qui reste élevé, le premier ministre a émis des réserves sur la possibilité que les Québécois puissent se réunir du 24 au 27 décembre. La décision finale sera prise d’ici le 11 décembre. «On ne va pas dans la bonne direction. Si le nombre d’hospitalisations continue d’augmenter malheureusement, ça ne sera pas possible d’avoir les deux rassemblements à Noël», a reconnu François Legault. «Il faut poursuivre nos efforts pour protéger notre personnel du réseau de la santé. C’est d’abord à eux qu'on va penser pour prendre la décision finale pour les réunions de Noël», explique-t-il. Le premier ministre a également invité à la prudence dans les centres commerciaux en rappelant que la distance de deux mètres se doit d’y être respectée . Par ailleurs, François Legault s’est montré ouvert à la suggestion du Parti libéral du Québec d’entendre Horacio Arruda dans le cadre d’une commission parlementaire qui permettrait aux députés de le questionner sur la gestion de la pandémie. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
It’s been a different year for Gander Fire Rescue. Normally, members’ calendar would be filled with things like handing out Halloween candy to children at the hospital or opening the fire hall for tours. However, things like that were scuttled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the fire department was hoping to do something this year. With that in mind, some members of the department came up with the idea of collecting winter clothing for children. “We just thought we were going to get jackets and stuff, but people were asking if they could donate certain items and we said, ‘Certainly, go ahead,’” said Addison Quilty, Gander Fire Rescue’s assistant deputy fire chief. The department’s goal was to collect the same number of winter clothing as there are fire hydrants in Gander. That set their aim at 427 pieces of clothing. They didn’t care if it was mittens, gloves, toques, jackets or boots, as long as the department was able to get what they aimed for. It turns out they got all of those things in abundance — they’ve collected 432 pieces of clothing. “We’ve been really impressed,” said Quilty. “We’re still getting things now.” The pandemic has changed the way organizations handle donated items, and Gander Fire Rescue is no different. The department put a pair of bins outside the fire hall and once an item was placed in the bin, it stayed there for 24 hours. When it entered the building, the clothing was cleaned again. In the next little while, the department will start bagging up what they’ve collected and delivered it to the Salvation Army. From there, the church’s community and family services division in Gander will distribute the items where they are needed. “The Salvation Army is certainly very grateful for that kind of partnership with us, to be able to provide that kind of practical donation to help people for the cold winter months,” said Maj. Rene Loveless, public relations and development secretary with the provincial Salvation Army. “That's fabulous.” Loveless said he was impressed with the number of items the Gander fire department collected in a short period. Ensuring children have adequate clothes for the winter months, which can be harsh at times in central Newfoundland, was at the heart of the Gander Fire Rescue clothing drive. To see that effort to help children was something that stood out for Loveless. “It’s a beautiful thing, really,” said Loveless. The department isn’t done collecting clothing just yet. They’ve set a deadline of Dec. 6 and then they will stop collecting. In the meantime, their final number could be even higher by the time they call it off next week. “People are still not afraid to help others out,” said Quilty. “It is a good thing to see.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
China successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon's surface on Tuesday in a historic mission to retrieve lunar surface samples, Chinese state media reported. China launched its Chang'e-5 probe on Nov. 24. The mission will attempt to collect 2 kg (4-1/2 lbs) of samples in a previously unvisited area in a massive lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or "Ocean of Storms".
The remains of a 17-year-old soldier were unearthed four years ago in Belgium — and it turns out they are those of a member of the Newfoundland Regiment, who fought in the First World War and died 103 years ago. The details of the discovery and identity were announced Tuesday at an event at The Rooms in St. John's, with the provincial archivist being acknowledged as having played a major role in the process. Pte. John Lambert died Aug. 16, 1917. He was born July 10, 1900, in St. John's, according to officials with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. His remains were discovered during an archeological dig near St. Julien, Belgium. There were three other sets of human remains found, but it's not clear if the others have been identified. Lambert's name was memorialized on the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in Bowring Park, which commemorates soldiers from Newfoundland who died during the First World War and have no known grave. Lambert lied about his age to fight in warAccording to a biography on the federal government's website, Lambert lied about his age and claimed he was 18 years old when, in fact, he was 16. He joined the 2nd Battalion in Scotland, and made his way to France, where he joined the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment in June 1917. Members served with the 88th Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division of the British Expeditionary Force.On Aug. 16, 1917, an attack was launched by the Newfoundland Regiment — in what become known as the Battle of Langemarck — with members successfully overtaking the enemy's trenches and bunkers. Lambert suffered wounds during the attack, and later died from them. Another 26 men were killed in that battle. N.L.'s provincial archivist played key roleLambert's remains were found alongside a number of artifacts in 2016. Those included a shoulder title of the Newfoundland Regiment, an Inniskilling Fusiliers cap badge, two Hampshire Regiment shoulder titles, general service buttons, British bullets and a few other small items.DNA samples from the soldier's descendants made it possible to confirm Lambert's identity — making it the first time a Newfoundland Regiment soldier has been identified by this process, according to the provincial government. It was Greg Walsh, the provincial archivist and director of The Rooms' provincial archives, who "provided vital archival research to locate Private Lambert's direct descendants," according to a Newfoundland and Labrador government media release. Walsh, speaking to reporters at Tuesday's event, praised Lambert for being "so courageous."When pressed about the fact that this was the first local case of its kind, Walsh acknowledged the significance, but noted it was a team effort. "I just feel like it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, I have ever been asked to do, and I'm so proud of the work I did, and the work we did as a team," he said. "I do feel like we have put a name to a face and that's a huge part of what we do as archivists and we don't get to do that everyday."Patience and tenacityHow Walsh got to the point of identifying the remains was a lesson in patience and tenacity. "Military records confirmed there were 16 Newfoundland Regiment soldiers who had fought in the vicinity, with no known grave. Walsh, began his year-long search with this list of 16 soldiers and proceeded to find living descendants for 13 of the 16," reads a statement. Walsh combed through many information sources, including vital statistics registers, census records, newspaper records, phone books and online search engines, to find anything that might help with the process. Ultimately, it was a combination of historical, genealogical, anthropological, and DNA analysis that helped the Casualty Identification Review Board identify Lambert, according to the government's website.Col. Perry Grandy, who is chairman of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council, said identifying Lambert, and the process that led to that, are both significant. "This has connected our modern day life with something that happened in history that we only read about," Grandy said. Burial to come at 'earliest opportunity'The Canadian Armed Forces have notified Lambert's surviving next of kin, and are providing them with ongoing support, according to the government. Lambert, who was born to Richard and Elizabeth Lambert, will be buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's New Irish Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, as the "earliest opportunity," according to the federal government. It's expected that family members, along with representatives from the Canadian, United Kingdom and Belgian governments will attend, as will representation from the Canadian Armed Forces. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Two cohorts from a Catholic elementary school in Lakeshore were dismissed Monday after two confirmed cases of COVID-19. One cohort of 23 students and another of 29 students were dismissed from St. William Catholic Elementary School in Emeryville Monday, the board said in a news release. A total of 52 students are required to self-isolate for the next 14 days, the board said. According to the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board's website, there are three student cases from St. William and three classes have been dismissed. The board said in a news release that the cases from Monday are not connected to the same cohort that was dismissed on Nov. 19. The health unit will be contacting individuals who may have been directly affected by the new cases and provide them with any next steps. If parents have not been contacted by the health unit, they have not been identified as close contacts and can continue sending their children to school.In the Catholic board, there are 11 active COVID-19 cases across six schools. All schools remain open, except for W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary school, which is completely closed due to an outbreak. In the Greater-Essex District County School Board, there are 20 active cases across 14 schools. In addition to that, Frank W. Begley remains closed and in outbreak, with 40 students and nine staff positive for the disease.