Government and election officials frequently call on shredding companies to dispose of personal and sensitive documents that are no longer needed.But in a suburban county of Atlanta this week, those routine waste removal appointments were twisted into yet another election misinformation story when social media users falsely claimed shredding trucks were destroying ballots and “evidence of voter fraud.”The unfounded allegations continue to spread online as Georgia officials carry out a machine recount of ballots after certified results showed Joe Biden had a 12,670-vote lead over President Donald Trump. Trump requested the recount, which follows a statewide hand tally.L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who had unsuccessfully sued in an attempt to block the certification of Georgia’s election results, on Tuesday shared a series of videos taken by a Georgia resident. They showed a shredding truck outside the West Park Government Center in Marietta.“Evidence of voter fraud is being destroyed in Cobb County, GA TODAY,” Wood captioned one of his tweets. “Many people, powerful & not so powerful, are going to PRISON.”The real explanation for the truck’s visit was far less scandalous: a routine shredding of county tax documents.The county tax commissioner’s office, which shares a building with the county’s main elections office, has documents shredded twice a month, according to Ross Cavitt, communications director for the county.“No items from Cobb Elections were involved,” Cavitt told The Associated Press in an email.The false claims built on similar rumours from last week, when the same Georgia resident captured photos and video of a truck destroying election-related waste outside the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta and claimed it was evidence of “ballots being shredded.”After Wood amplified those photos and videos on Friday, Cobb County officials refuted the claim, explaining that the shredding company was summoned to destroy non-relevant election materials, as happens after all elections.“Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file,” Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, said in a statement.Some of the photos shared on Friday appeared to show a trash can with a paper labeled “ABSENTEE BALLOT” inside. But Eveler said that was an inner privacy envelope used by voters to seal absentee ballots, and had “no evidentiary value.” County officials will hold on to the actual absentee ballots, as well as the outer envelopes signed by voters, for two years.Wood did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.Despite the county’s responses, Wood’s tweets with the debunked claims continued to receive massive engagement on Wednesday, collectively amassing more than 200,000 retweets. And a separate Facebook user’s post falsely claiming a shredding company was “hired by Democrats” to destroy evidence was viewed nearly 150,000 times.County officials told the AP they have not seen any evidence of fraud or anomalies in vote tabulation in the 2020 election.“People nowadays, they post stuff immediately without asking any questions and without any proper context, and it spreads like wildfire,” Cavitt said of the false claims.Jude Joffe-Block And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press
The P.E.I. Fishermen's Association is working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to recover lobster traps left behind in the Northumberland Strait.Lobster fishing gear can be moved around by storms or by passing ships, and then lost. The traps are known collectively as ghost gear, and they are a problem because they continue to catch lobster in unknown numbers — and that could have an impact on the health of the stock.The project is divided into two parts. The first, already completed, saw 15 volunteer fishermen scanning the waters of the central Northumberland Strait for any visible buoys or lines showing where lost gear might be.The second part digs deeper. PEIFA has borrowed a large grapnel from the Maritime Fishermen's Union. The system of hooks and chains is designed to snare lines or the nets around a trap."We talked to fishers about key areas or hot spots that might have had some gear lost that they weren't able to retrieve," said Jennifer Dewland, administration and funding coordinator with the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association."Any gear that's lying on the bottom, without any buoy lines, if it catches that net or line or anything, it's going to haul [it] up."The hauled gear will be stored for 30 days, giving fishermen a chance to reclaim their own items.Dewland said it is possible they will recover illegally set gear during the process; that will be left up to DFO to resolve.Managers of the project will choose four fine-weather days in the first two weeks of December to do the sweep.More from CBC P.E.I.
TORONTO — A judge accused of lying about his involvement in a Black activist organization will face a disciplinary hearing starting next month, the Ontario Judicial Council has announced. The four-person panel will delve into whether Judge Donald McLeod committed perjury at a previous misconduct hearing into his involvement with the Federation of Black Canadians. McLeod was cleared in the earlier process and denies the current unproven allegations. If the complaints are proven, the panel could impose punishment up to suspension with or without pay. It could also recommend to the attorney general that McLeod be forced from the Ontario court bench. In its notice of hearing filed earlier this year, the council alleges the judge behaved in a manner "incompatible with the due execution of the duties of his office." The earlier hearing focused on McLeod's involvement with the non-profit federation, which advocates on legal and policy issues affecting the community. Key was his role in the group's advocacy related to a Somali child refugee, Abdoulkader Abdi. In December 2018, the panel dismissed the complaint based on an agreed statement of facts and McLeod's evidence that he was no longer involved in Abdi advocacy. That wasn't true, the new complaint alleges. Among other things, McLeod is alleged to have either arranged or taken part in a meeting with then-refugee minister, Ahmed Hussen, on the federation's behalf. "Contrary to his evidence at the hearing, Justice McLeod was involved in (the federation's) efforts in this regard," the hearing notice states. "In light of the above, His Honour committed perjury and/or misled the hearing panel regarding his involvement in the Abdi case." Similarly, the notice alleges the judge resumed his leadership role during which time the federation sought funding from government and met various officials. It also says he spoke at a political summit in Ottawa in February 2019. At one point, a security guard ordered a group of Black attendees to leave the Parliament Hill cafeteria in an allegedly racist incident. McLeod, according to the notice, counselled two witnesses against speaking out about the incident which, the complaint asserts, amounted to giving legal advice or using his position to influence them. Overall, the complaint alleges, McLeod's conduct could undermine public confidence in the judiciary. In his response, the judge maintains his meeting with Hussen in January 2018 was not about Abdi. He also states the allegations are based on claims from people who did not directly witnesses the various events. "The evidence will show Justice McLeod did not commit perjury or intentionally mislead the 2018 hearing panel," his response states. "(He did not) engage in impermissible advocacy or lobbying, or attempt to pressure or intimidate two youth delegates." McLeod says the earlier panel recognized that racialized judges "legitimately feel and act upon a moral obligation to serve as leaders and role models" in their communities. His return to the federation in a "limited capacity" was in line with the panel's decision and his advice to the youth delegates about the cafeteria incident was based on his personal experience as a Black man, he says. "The choice not to investigate this matter thoroughly led to a notice of hearing that contains unnecessary allegations," his response states. The hearing panel will comprise an Appeal Court and a Superior Court justice, a lawyer and a community member. The virtual hearing, scheduled for 20 days over three weeks, is set to begin Dec. 7 and will be open to the public. Several groups of Black Canadians have called for the misconduct charges to be dropped. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
TEMAGAMI – With COVID-19 not going away anytime soon, Temagami council has begun discussing some options when it comes to winter recreation opportunities at the Community Centre. With all the uncertainties surrounding COVID, and with current arena restrictions, the municipality had yet to determine if the ice plant would be operational for the 2020-21 winter season. Council looked at a pair of options at the November 19 regular meeting. The first option would be for the town to start up the ice plant and have the ice ready for the Christmas season. Staff would ensure that the municipality would continue to follow current health regulations while offering public skating, pick-up hockey, and other events for which revenue could be generated. “To proceed with this option we would need to develop health and safety protocols, cleaning protocols and purchase additional protective equipment,” recreation manager Kelly Hearn wrote in his report to council. “The start-up procedures for the ice plant would also need to be completed.” The second option would be that the municipality does not start up the ice plant this winter. Staff would consider other options for recreational programming for the community to stay active and healthy. “From the operational funds that are not utilized on the start-up, shut down and maintenance of the ice surface, staff would find alternate means of providing recreation to the community,” said Hearn. Hearn noted that staff are also considering the purchase of a made-to-measure, rubberized floor for the arena surface. “This would increase the options of non-ice arena use,” he reasoned. Councillor John Shymko was in favour of the second option, suggesting that the town “could plow a few rinks on Net Lake and Lake Temagami” so that they could still offer public skating. Treasurer-administrator Craig Davidson said he didn’t disagree with Shymko’s idea, but that it might not be something the municipality could do itself based on its insurance coverage. “It might need to be something that’s done at arm’s length (from council) volunteers,” he explained. Davidson added that he has always thought an outdoor rink, along with a bonfire, by the municipal office would be a good idea “as long as the fire doesn’t melt down into the lake.” Shymko then said he wouldn’t mind plowing the potential rink himself. Councillor Margaret Youngs was also in favour of the second option while Councillor Jamie Koistinen said she was leaning towards favouring the first option because of how “depressing” Northern Ontario winters can be. “If we’re removing any kind of recreation from the kids here in town, or even families to have some kind of outings that are safe within the community, then what does that do for the community members there?” she questioned. “Christmas is coming, there’s the two-week (school) break and possibly extensions beyond that. So I tend to think that some families might benefit from going to the arena, especially during a time where you’re not quite able yet to go ski-dooing, you can’t go ice fishing, there’s different things that can’t happen in the community at that time.” Councillor Barret Leudke stated that he didn’t feel the municipality should be encouraging group gatherings of any kind because of the increasing risks and uncertainty associated with the coronavirus. “We need to go into a full lockdown and other municipalities have suggested to stay directly home. I’m not in support of (group gatherings), I see this virus getting worse long before it gets better,” he said. “I want to encourage more distancing and no group gatherings.” Deputy Mayor Cathy Dwyer said she would be in favour of the second option as long as the municipality looks into other recreational possibilities for its residents. She said she has heard from some parents who understand the municipality might not put ice in the arena but were concerned about a lack of activities for their kids this winter. Council agreed on a motion to choose the second option and not start up the ice plant this winter. Hearn said that staff would work on seeking out other recreation opportunities to keep the community active this winter.Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit La vice-première ministre de l’Ontario et ministre de la Santé Christine Elliott est en désaccord avec « certains aspects » du plus récent rapport de la vérificatrice générale, dévoilé mercredi. Le document de 260 pages qui porte sur la préparation et sur la gestion du gouvernement Ford face à la COVID-19 déposé mercredi matin par la vérificatrice générale « est à bien des égards une description erronée de la réponse de la province à la pandémie », selon la ministre Elliott. À LIRE AUSSI : Le gouvernement Ford a réagit plus lentement que les autres Le Dr David Williams sous la loupe de la vérificatrice générale Malgré les nombreuses failles soulignées par la vérificatrice à l’endroit du médecin hygiéniste en chef de l’Ontario, la ministre de la Santé continue de se porter à sa défense et de réitérer son appui. « J’ai une confiance complète envers le Dr Williams. Il a plus de 30 ans d’expérience, non seulement au niveau provincial mais aussi local. Il a le savoir de continuer et de nous mener à travers la pandémie. Il a été un vrai leader à travers cette pandémie. » Elle réfute aussi l’affirmation de la vérificatrice générale selon laquelle le Dr David Williams n’a pas dirigé l’intervention du gouvernement face au virus. « Il nous a fourni des recommandations depuis la première journée. » Ce n’est pas vrai que l’Ontario a réagi plus lentement que les autres provinces, a aussi relaté Mme Elliott. Quelques minutes après le dépôt du rapport, le bureau de la ministre a envoyé aux médias un tableau qui compare les données de la COVID-19 de l’Ontario à celles des juridictions autour, afin d’appuyer son argument voulant que la situation en Ontario est l’une des moins pires en Amérique du Nord. La vérificatrice générale surprise par cette réponse Bonnie Lysyk s’est dite un peu surprise par les propos de la ministre Elliott en réponse à son rapport. La vérificatrice a fait savoir en conférence de presse que des bureaucrates de haut niveau du gouvernement Ford ont approuvé son rapport. Elle aussi rappelé que son objectif n’est pas de blâmer personne, mais bien de répondre aux failles mises en lumière par son Bureau.Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
Nathan Hann has been a long-time member of GoodLife in Grimsby, and lately has been seeing a lot of new faces at the gym on 9 Industrial Drive. Hann, a health-care professional and pharmacist by trade, said he began noticing changes at the gym just as restrictions in Hamilton increased, limiting the number of people allowed to book appointments at gyms and fitness centres as the region moved from orange to red under the province’s COVID-19 alert system. “When I have been going to book an appointment, I have been noticing that it has been really full and I haven’t been able to get in. I gave GoodLife a call to ask why, and they told me a lot of Hamilton people are coming down to the gym.” The potential influx of gym-goers from Hamilton, where cases of COVID-19 are higher than here in Niagara, has Hann concerned, not just for his own personal safety, but also about the potential spread of the virus across regions, as people living in areas with higher restrictions travel to cities with fewer limitations. In Niagara, which currently sits in the orange ‘restrict’ category, a maximum of 50 people are allowed in gyms at a time, while in Hamilton, the number is 10. Hann said he has already seen the impact first-hand. “I know people who usually go to the Hamilton location, they are all coming to the Grimsby location now, because they can’t get into the extremely limited appointment slots available in Hamilton. “My concern is that if they keep doing this, then Niagara is going to get hit even harder than we already are.” Tracy Matthews, vice-president of operations for GoodLife Fitness, said with gyms in Hamilton still open, the company has currently not placed any restrictions on members, and which locations they may choose to visit. "Gyms in Hamilton are not closed, and we did not ask Hamilton members to limit travel because their gyms are still open.” Matthews did add though that in previous situations where gyms have closed in certain regions across the province such as the GTA, GoodLife has placed members living in those areas on a temporary freeze, asking they refrain from visiting clubs outside of their region. With gyms and fitness centres still open in Hamilton though, GoodLife members are free to travel to other locations in Grimsby, or anywhere in Niagara where booking an appointment is easier, and spaces are more plentiful. Of course, that could change if Hamilton is moved into the lockdown measures currently seen in the GTA, or if GoodLife updates its policies as conditions develop, something Matthews said is possible in the future. “We will continue to review and update policies and procedures where needed to ensure we are providing our members with the best experience possible while meeting or exceeding government and public health protocols in relation to health and safety." In the meantime, Hann said he will continue to take all safety precautions necessary, including wearing a mask at all times, and keeping distance from other members, adding that he continues to see potential public health risks with a system that puts people in a position to move from region to region during a pandemic. “The virus is not going to spread on its own. It is only going to go where people take it. By putting people in a position where they travel outside of their region, it is really just creating the possibility for more cases in Niagara.” Story behind the story With COVID-19 restrictions being increased in Hamilton, reporter Bryan Levesque looked at the impact on gyms in Grimsby, where some have concerns that an increase in Hamilton visitors could lead to further spread of the virus in Niagara.Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
Trying to make sense of the shakeup at city hall? It's a bit of a puzzle, but a comparison of the old and new organizational charts - aided by a memo from acting city manager Walter Babicz that was leaked to CKPG - provides a certain amount of clarity. In essence, one half of a department has been scrapped and another has taken on a significantly bigger workload under a COVID-induced revamping at city hall. At its centre, the infrastructure and services department is being eliminated and replaced, in part, with a new civic operations department that will take on five divisions largely related to the public works side of its predecessor: transportation and technical services, project delivery (previously named infrastructure delivery), parks and solid waste, roads and fleet, and utilities. With the move, the old department's general manager, Dave Dyer, has gone into retirement and public works director Gina Layte Liston and infrastructure services director Adam Homes are no longer on the payroll. In turn, the planning and development department has been renamed the planning, development and infrastructure services department and has taken on two divisions previously under infrastructure and services - asset management and infrastructure and planning and engineering. As well, Babicz said in the memo that the environmental services division, previously part of infrastructure and services, has been reduced and split between civic operations through its utilities division, and the development services division within the planning, development and infrastructure services department. The bylaw services division, meanwhile, has been moved to the community services and public safety department from planning, development and infrastructure services department, while the financial services department has taken on the financial management functions for both the community services and public safety department and the old infrastructure services department. In an email, city spokesperson Mike Kellett confirmed that in addition to their roles as acting city manager and acting deputy city manager, Babicz and Ian Wells will continue as the heads, respectively, of the administrative services and planning, development, and infrastructure services departments. Blake McIntosh, who has been manager of the roads and fleet division, is acting director of the civic operations department, while Kris Dalio remains head of finance, Adam Davey head of community services and public safety and Rae Ann Emery head of human resources, now known as human resources and corporate safety. And strategic Initiatives and partnerships, which is led by Chris Bone, now reports to Wells in planning, development, and infrastructure services. Babicz has said the changes were made to reduce costs in the face of a major hit to revenue due to the pandemic. He has declined to say publicly who has lost their jobs as a result but in an emailed statement to the Citizen early this month, he did say six management and four unionized positions were eliminated. One of the management positions was to be refilled and one of the unionized jobs was vacant prior to the changes. Exactly how much savings they will deliver will be known as part of a bigger presentation staff will make to council's finance and audit committee meeting on December 7 at city hall.Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
The Black Cultural Society of P.E.I. is holding a town hall this Friday to ask Black Islanders how it can help them.President Tamara Steele says the group is putting together a strategic plan and wants to make sure it represents the community, whether it's newcomers or people whose families have been here for generations."I think the biggest challenge we have right now is connecting with everyone, so we know that there are people that we're not reaching and just figuring out how to reach them," she said."I don't hesitate any more to just ask people if they've heard about the society and get involved if they want to."Steele said the group has identified three main themes to discuss at the town hall — financial security, mental health and community engagement.The event will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, there is only room for 100 people. Pre-registration is required.For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.More from CBC P.E.I.
In the face of what advocates say is a growing housing crisis that includes ballooning rent costs forcing people out of their homes, the Nova Scotia government is stepping in with a cap on increases and a ban on so-called renovictions."Too many Nova Scotians are struggling to afford a place they call home," Housing Minister Chuck Porter said Wednesday."Now is not the time for people to be worrying about keeping a roof over their heads or being forced to find a new home for their family, but unfortunately that is exactly the situation many people are in."Effective immediately, rent increases are capped at two per cent per year without exception. The change is retroactive to September 2020 and will remain in place until Feb. 1, 2022, or whenever the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted. Porter said anyone whose rent has already gone up within the defined time period would receive the difference as a future credit.Landlords will be banned from evicting tenants for the purpose of renovating their buildings. Porter said unless an eviction order has been issued by the residential tenancy board, it will not be enforceable, and that includes notices already provided.Marites Sumat was thrilled by the news."I'm so thankful," she said.Sumat recently received six months notice that the Clayton Park apartment she shares with her husband, three children and mother was going to see the monthly rent go up from $850 to $1,250, a 47 per cent increase that would have priced the family out of their home.The new cap is "a big help for renters," she said.COVID-19 has exerted a major toll on many people, said Sumat. While she's been fortunate not to have her hours reduced at work, she said the pandemic has made what was an already difficult situation for many people all the more challenging.She's still waiting to speak with her landlord, but under the rules announced today the increase scheduled for March 2021 would not be permitted.Change in tuneThe rent cap is a stark departure from previous assertions by Premier Stephen McNeil and his government that rent control is not an effective tool for combating housing challenges.For months, there have been a litany of stories about people being forced from their homes due to renovictions or rent increases as high as 90 per cent. Porter acknowledged it took time to arrive at Wednesday's announcement, but said the government was trying to find the most effective way to deal with the situation.Although he said the main problem is one of supply, the minister noted that cannot be addressed quickly."It is incumbent on us as government to enact something in the interim," said Porter.Two of the candidates vying to be the new Liberal leader and premier recently proposed forms of rent control. Porter, who has endorsed candidate Iain Rankin, said those plans had no bearing on Wednesday's announcement.Affordable housing commission struckWednesday's announcement also included the creation of the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission, which is charged with making recommendations about affordable housing strategies and actions. Their first list of recommendations is due in six months.The commission includes: * Catherine Berliner, Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing (co-chair) * Ren Thomas, Dalhousie University (co-chair) * Chief Sidney Peters, Tawaak Housing Association * Karen Brodeur, Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada * Fred Deveaux, Cape Breton Community Housing Association * Jim Graham, Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia * Mike Dolter, Association of Municipal Administrators Nova Scotia * Jeremy Jackson, Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia * Alex Halef, Urban Development Institute * Gordon Laing, Southwest Properties * Kelly Denty, Halifax Regional Municipality * Michelle MacFarlane, Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services * Joy Knight, Department of Community ServicesRepresentation will also include people to be appointed from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the justice and health departments.Another measure Porter announced is $1.7 million to replace 30 beds removed from the homeless shelter system as a result of changes required by Public Health protocols for physical distancing.The minister said meetings are imminent with service providers to determine how to get as many people off the streets as soon as possible. Advocates estimate homelessness numbers in the Halifax Regional Municipality have more than doubled in the last year and Porter said the government is committed to finding ways to address the issue.Should have come soonerOfficials with the housing advocacy group ACORN issued a news release calling the government's decision "an overdue first step" that comes following prolonged lobbying."We would not have seen any movement on rent control if it were not for the tireless work of our members, tenants across Nova Scotia and activists who have been fighting for our communities for years — organizing works," said the release.NDP housing critic Lisa Roberts said her party has put forward multiple pieces of legislation in recent years intended to address the issue, none of which received support from the governing Liberals."This is good, but, frankly, it shouldn't have taken a global pandemic for us to recognize the housing crisis," she said.Roberts said she hopes the new commission spends time looking at rent control on a longer-term basis and helps bring in some kind of permanent check, be it through new legislation proposals or use of the existing Rent Control Act, which was passed in the 1990s.Industry concernsKevin Russell, executive director of the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia, said the size of the cap is a concern because it falls "well under" the operational cost of rental buildings.He predicted it would have the biggest effect on people who rent in older buildings, which make up the majority of housing stock in Halifax and are nearing "the end of their life cycle.""It will have an impact on operations," he said. "To what degree, that will be up to each individual landlord. It may put off some repairs and maintenance, it may affect other areas of operation."Russell said he's optimistic about the affordable housing commission and what it could do. Whatever changes come must be long term, he said."We've been trying to talk [about] affordable housing with the government for over 10 years and now it takes a crisis for everybody to come to the table. I guess that's how it works."MORE TOP STORIES
As controversial as he was talented, Maradona is a gigantic loss for the beautiful game. View on euronews
ORILLIA — Police across the province are reminding motorists of the consequences of getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol and drugs as the annual OPP Festive RIDE campaign kicks off this week. Ontario Provincial Police have received more than 21,000 calls related to suspected impaired drivers so far this year, according to a news release issued on Wednesday, Nov. 25. The seasonal campaign runs from Nov. 26 to Jan. 3, 2021. “As Ontarians celebrate this physically-distanced holiday season, an important part of staying safe is ensuring you have a solid plan that prevents you and your family from driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs,” OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said in the release. “The OPP encourages citizens to continue reporting impaired drivers to the police. Combined with the dedication of our frontline officers, our collective efforts can significantly help keep you and your loved ones safe on our roads during the holidays and throughout the year.” Last year, OPP conducted more than 8,800 RIDE stops and charged more than 600 drivers with impaired driving. Police are reminding motorists that officers regularly conduct mandatory alcohol screening procedures with drivers who are lawfully pulled over and will be ramping up this measure including at RIDE stops throughout the campaign. OPP also praises proactive citizens for doing their part and calling in suspected impaired drivers. Nearly 3,300 calls were placed during last year’s Festive RIDE campaign. An officer with an alcohol screen device can demand a breath sample from any driver without having reasonable suspicion they have consumed alcohol, OPP said in the release. Officers also have drug screening equipment that detects cannabis and cocaine in a driver’s saliva. These devices are used to enforce provincial zero-tolerance sanctions which apply to drivers under the age of 21. “Impaired driving continues to be the leading criminal cause of death and injury on Ontario’s roads and these dangers remain a threat to our communities as we continue to face COVID-19 this holiday season. We all want a safe and happy holiday season and it is important to remind our friends and family to plan ahead and make alternative arrangements to get home safely. The decision to get behind the wheel impaired can be a matter of life and death,” Solicitor General of Ontario Sylvia Jones said in a statement. Forty-two people have died on OPP-patrolled roads so far this year in collisions involving alcohol or drug-impaired driving, according to OPP statistics.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
The Sexsmith Wellness Coalition is seeking space for its programming in early 2021, with council granting the coalition up to $7,000 to rent a facility. The space is needed for January to April and council granted the amount during its regular meeting last week. “Due to COVID, we can’t access the buildings we would normally be renting,” said Melody Sample, Sexsmith wellness co-ordinator. “We are on the hunt for a larger space to run our programs out of.” According to Sexsmith administration, at council’s Nov. 2 meeting council granted the coalition $6,800 to rent the former hardware store on 100th Ave. The plan to use that location fell through when the space was rented out to another party, according to administration. At last week’s meeting Coun. Clint Froehlick’s motion to add up to $7,000 to the coalition’s budget for a rental was carried unopposed. The previous $6,800 was rescinded. Sample is based in the town office but programming takes place in a variety of locations, including school gyms which are now closed to the public, she said. The coalition used the Peace River Bible Institute gym for pre-kindergarten playtime, St. Mary’s School for family gym nights and Robert W. Zahara School’s gym for pickleball, she said. The civic centre and community centre are also occasional venues, but some of the rooms aren’t set up for events like pickleball, Sample added. The coalition currently uses the civic centre for its few programs still operating, namely the seniors community kitchen and upcoming food and nutrition workshops, she said. Provincial restrictions and exercise classes wouldn’t prevent pickleball from restarting with sufficient space, she said. She said larger space in the civic centre is rented out, with the Sexsmith Tumbling Club having a home there. To observe physical distancing requirements the coalition needs space as large as a typical school gym, she said. Sample said the coalition is eyeing a few potential locations in town but couldn’t comment on which ones. A challenge is spaces available for rent are limited, with some already being rented and others not large enough, she said. After April, Sample said she envisions more outdoor programming. She also plans for some outdoor programming like a snowshoe group in December and January, she said. At this point, Sample said the coalition isn’t looking for permanent new space, although it’s possible a location secured for 2021 could become a regular venue. “We’re keeping in mind long-term solutions,” she said.Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
Après avoir été le théâtre de deux éclosions majeures dans les dernières semaines, la situation semble se stabiliser dans la péninsule gaspésienne, alors qu’on rapporte peu de cas dans les communautés au cours des derniers jours. Si la bataille n’est pas encore gagnée, la région est sur «la bonne voie», selon le directeur de la santé publique. En début de deuxième vague, la Baie-des-Chaleurs s’est rapidement retrouvée témoin d’une importante éclosion de COVID-19, touchant autant la communauté que les centres d’hébergement pour ainés, plaçant la zone en tête de liste des régions les plus infectées de la province. Quelques semaines plus tard, la Côte-de-Gaspé était à son tour touchée par une éclosion majeure, notamment au Manoir Saint-Augustin, où plus de 100 personnes ont contracté la maladie. Dans les derniers jours, le virus semble être moins virulent dans la péninsule, une vingtaine de cas ont été recensés, dont plusieurs dans des milieux fermés tels que le centre de détention de New Carlisle. Selon le directeur de la santé publique gaspésienne, le Dr Yv Bonnier-Viger, le travail de sensibilisation fait par les équipes de la santé publique a porté ses fruits. «Nos équipes ont beaucoup travaillé avec les milieux pour expliquer la notion de famille, qui n’est pas la même pour tous. Une ‘’famille’’, c’est un groupe de personnes vivant à la même adresse», note-t-il. Des fêtes sous haute surveillance La santé publique gaspésienne reste tout de même méfiante pour les prochaines semaines, notamment avec la période des fêtes. «Techniquement les gens ont le droit de fêter sans limites pendant quatre jours. Si on réfléchit en termes de droits plutôt qu’en prévention, ça peut être inquiétant», croit le Dr Bonnier-Viger, qui fêtera de son côté avec sa conjointe et une de ses filles, plutôt que la fête familiale habituelle rassemblant près de 70 personnes. Selon lui, le contrat moral proposé par le premier ministre était nécessaire, même s’il comporte certains risques. « Les gens ont besoin de se rencontrer. C’est un risque qu’on pouvait se permettre. De toute façon, on aime mieux mettre un certain cadre que d’opter pour un non catégorique où les gens se rencontreraient sans balises», conclut-il. Bilan quotidien Le CISSS de la Gaspésie rapportait 15 nouvelles infections de COVID-19, mercredi. «Mais plusieurs sont en milieu fermé», note la porte-parole de l’établissement, Clémence Beaulieu-Gendron. «Dans une petite région, c’est normal que ça varie d’un jour à l’autre, mais on est sur la bonne voie», soutient le Dr Bonnier-Viger. Les cas sont répartis un peu partout dans la péninsule, la MRC de Rocher-Percé ayant la plus forte hausse avec six nouveaux cas. Cinq infections s’ajoutent dans la Côte-de-Gaspé, deux dans Bonaventure et un seul en Haute-Gaspésie. Une personne supplémentaire est décédée de la COVID-19 dans la région, portant le total à 40 décès. Elle résidait au CHSLD Mgr-Ross de Gaspé, où cinq résidents et «moins de cinq» employés ont reçu des diagnostics positifs à la maladie. Sept personnes sont actuellement hospitalisées en Gaspésie et aux Iles, qui comptent 114 cas actifs. Il y a une semaine exactement, c’était 209 personnes qui étaient atteintes de la maladie dans la péninsule. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
CALGARY — A Canadian company developing new control products to improve efficiency and performance in electric motors and powertrains is aiming to raise between $30 million and $36.5 million through a public offering of its shares.Exro Technologies Inc., which closed a lab in Victoria and opened a new innovation centre in Calgary over the summer, says it has priced the shares at $3.25 each.The offering is to be conducted on a “best efforts” basis by a syndicate led by Raymond James Ltd. and Gravitas Securities Inc., with an overallotment option of up to 15 per cent. The offering is to close on or about Dec. 8.The news comes a few days after Exro reported the engineering validation of its 100-volt coil driver, which it said was a "key milestone" for its entry into supplying commercial products to manufacturers in the electric car market.It said it is on schedule to deliver a prototype to Potencia Industrial, S.A. DE C.V., a Mexican manufacturer of electrical motors and generators.In a recent interview, CEO Sue Ozdemir said the company relocated to Calgary because of its relatively low cost industrial space and availability of engineers, some of whom are former oil and gas workers, as employees. She said the company has doubled its staff count to about 20 since last year and is still hiring. “We’re a publicly traded company so we were on a tight budget. We wanted a large space to be able to welcome in customers and shareholders to be see our tech and how it works," she said.“Calgary had that opportunity with commercial rates that are less than Vancouver and Victoria and we knew there was a big engineering base here so we thought we would be able to pull in and train people and so far so good.”The proceeds from the offering are to be used for research and development of the company’s battery management system and electric vehicle programs, as well as other corporate purposes.Exro says its coil driver controller makes electric motors "smarter" by enabling multiple power settings in a single motor and can potentially be used in a wide variety of applications including electric bicycles, buses, generators, appliances, elevators and fans.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020Companies in this story: (TSXV:EXRO)The Canadian Press
After expressing outrage, disgust and regret over reports of Coun. Rick Chiarelli's egregious conduct, Ottawa city council unanimously voted Wednesday to impose the harshest penalties available to them to sanction the veteran councillor.Council was united in its call for the College ward councillor to resign immediately, and to ask the minister of municipal affairs and housing to change the law to allow a councillor found to have committed serious misconduct to be removed from office.> There are not enough apologies to make the pain … go away. \- Mayor Jim WatsonMany council members appeared shaken by the details of integrity commissioner Robert Marleau's most recent report on Chiarelli's behaviour, which Marleau called "offensive and disreputable.""I know many of you share my concerns that the behaviour outlined in this report are repugnant and are completely inconsistent with what is expected of anyone in a position of power or trust," said Mayor Jim Watson. "There have clearly been a number of gross violations of the trust the public placed in this elected official."The mayor issued a formal apology to all the women who came forward, and to others who may have been harassed but didn't feel able to tell their stories."I know that there are not enough apologies to make the pain of these events go away, but I would like to publicly apologize and [offer a] sincere gesture of recognition that this should not have happened and that we have listened and heard you," Watson said.Many councillors joined the mayor in apologizing to the former staffers and job applicants.Coun. Diane Deans had many dealings with Chiarelli's College ward office because their wards are next to each other, and said she had met Chiarelli's staffers on numerous occasions."I just wanted to say to the women involved that I am sorry," she said, her voice breaking. "And I am sorry I did not see the signs."Pay suspended for 15 monthsTwo separate integrity commissioner reports found Chiarelli violated the code of conduct for councillors when dealing with job applicants and staff by engaging in shocking behaviour, including speaking to women about going braless to work, pressuring them to go to bars to hit on men as a way of recruiting volunteers, and commenting on their bodies.Marleau recommended council suspend Chiarelli's pay for a total of 15 months — 90 days for each of the five formal complainants — as well as remove him from any committees and take away his delegated authority to hire staff or spend his own office budget.Minister not changing lawBut Chiarelli's council colleagues did not believe the sanctions went far enough. They've been hearing from many people in the community that they'd like to see some sort of mechanism to remove the councillor from office."If I go home, my own wife will be asking, 'Is that all that you guys can do?' or, 'Can't you do more?'" Coun. Eli El-Chantiry said.Council passed a motion looking for changes to the Municipal Act that would include some sort of process "for the vacating of the seat of a member of council who has been found on clear and convincing evidence to have committed serious misconduct."But that doesn't seem in the cards right now.In a statement issued late Wednesday afternoon, Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark said "the ministry is not considering any changes to the Municipal Act ... however, I am taking the unprecedented move of, in the strongest terms possible, urging Councillor Chiarelli to resign his position."Chiarelli's access restrictedThey approved a motion by Coun. Jenna Sudds directing city staff to report back on ways to restrict the councillor's access to city property, including in council chambers when in-person meetings resume. "I ask that his seat at the council table be moved so that none of us have to sit beside him," Sudds said. "His actions as detailed in the report and the very lengthy appendix is enough to turn one's stomach. It is appalling, and no woman should ever have to deal with this type of behaviour."A number of councillors said their staff would be uncomfortable encountering Chiarelli in their workplace. Council also agreed to donate Chiarelli's suspended pay to a non-profit organization that deals with violence against women.Chiarelli going to court in JanuaryThe College ward councillor last year denied all allegations against him, and is challenging the jurisdiction of the integrity commissioner in provincial court. In fact, Chiarelli, who was present for the start of Wednesday's meeting, said a hearing date is set for Jan. 13, 2021.Chiarelli did not participate in the year-long inquiry, nor has he responded to the specific allegations against him, of which he was made aware in September 2019 by CBC News. Last December, the councillor had bypass surgery and some post-op complications, but did participate in a number of virtual council meetings in 2020.The mayor called his silence a further affront to the women involved."Stonewalling is just another form of the type of manipulation the integrity commissioner has identified in his detailed report to council," Watson said. "Coun. Chiarelli, I would like to say that your silence speaks volumes."Chiarelli's office respondsIn a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Chiarelli's office said the councillor will not resign."Councillor Chiarelli will not be resigning. He was democratically elected to serve a 4yr term and he intends to do so," the statement reads."This report is based on an investigation that only heard from one side of the story. Neither Councillor Chiarelli nor his lawyer were provided with information as to how witnesses were selected, their identities nor what testimony they gave which would only be natural justice in a fair forum. "This is important because Councillor Chiarelli was not medically able to participate following his open-heart surgery, and subsequent severe bacterial chest infection and stroke. The Integrity Commissioner refused to accommodate Councillor Chiarelli during his recovery despite having been provided with numerous medical notes."According to the statement, the divisional court hearing on Jan. 13 "will be the first time where both sides are heard in a fair and unbiased forum. Until then the Councillor has been advised by his legal team not to comment on the issue any further."
As Alberta grapples with the second wave in the COVID-19 pandemic, Sexsmith reduced the number of staff working at its town office last week. Five staff members at the Sexsmith town office are working remotely but there have been no layoffs, said Rachel Wueschner, chief administrative officer (CAO). “This will have no effect on town services,” Wueschner said. Residents frequently access the office for development and building permit applications and bill payments and these services will continue to be provided, she said. There are still two full-time staff at the office with others coming in as needed, she said. Wueschner consulted council about her plans to reduce in-person staff at the office during the meeting last week. Meanwhile in Beaverlodge, Nichole Young, an executive assistant in administration, said on Monday night no staff have been sent home so far. There are eight staff at the town office, including two in Family and Community Support Services, Young said. The Beaverlodge office continues to provide all services, she added. Hythe’s village office remains open and typically has two to three staff at a time, said CAO Leona Hanson. There have been no layoffs in village operations, Hanson added. In Wembley, all four staff members continue to work at the town office but have the option to work at home if they feel it’s necessary, said CAO Noreen Zhang. “We have taken steps such as mask wearing in common spaces and sanitizing stations throughout the office to ensure that we curve the spread of the virus,” Zhang said. County of Grande Prairie administration has also made working from home an option for staff, said CAO Joulia Whittleton. County administration also recently implemented a strategy to have masks in common areas and meeting rooms when physical distancing can’t be followed, she said. Whittleton said county administration remains “committed to providing essential municipal services.” Under the state of public health emergency declared Tuesday office workers are encouraged to work at home if possible. Masks in indoor working places are only mandatory in the Edmonton and Calgary zones.Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
It's been a long time coming, but the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) is building a hut in the Robson Pass area at the end of the Berg Lake trail. The site has been cleared and, if all goes to plan, the dorm-style hut will be built by next summer and usable by the fall. It will be open seasonally and accommodate 16 overnight guests: four bunks of four. Matt Reynolds, a professional mountaineer and president of the Jasper/Hinton section of the ACC, said the location is sought by "hikers and mountaineers alike”. "It's a really popular hiking destination for people who don't want to camp in the elements,” he said “It really will be quite a good thing for the community as a whole." The ACC got word of their permission to build the hut on Oct. 6 and the next day, a crew of ACC volunteers and two McElhanney survey technicians flew up to the site armed with chainsaws, fuel and other equipment to prepare and clear the area, which had already been marked with tape. Claire Levesque, a mountaineer and a Jasper/Hinton section member said she dropped everything when she found out the hut was a go-ahead and was happy to help. She said the crew worked all day. "There was a lot of work,” she said. The hut at Robson Pass will be the first one to be maintained by the ACC in B.C. Provincial Parks, though the club has had a presence in that area for more than 100 years - The first ascent of Mt. Robson was on an ACC camp. Lawrence White, ACC executive director in Canmore, and an avid mountaineer and backcountry skier, said the bid to get permission to build the hut started in 2005. The process was a three-way consultation between B.C. Parks, First Nations groups and the ACC. It's a World Heritage site. "We have a great partnership with B.C. Parks,” White said. “This seemed like the next natural step.” Next, the ACC will be working with the province and avalanche specialists to categorize the access route. The Jacques Lake cabin The ACC is now about a year into its 16-month trial agreement to manage the Jacques Lake patrol cabin, formerly managed by Parks Canada. As a not-for-profit operator, the ACC operates a number of cabins throughout the mountain national parks including four in Jasper. Steve Young, communications officer for Jasper National Park, said, "The addition of the Jacques Lake cabin provides an introductory level winter backcountry experience to novice visitors who may not otherwise experience Jasper’s backcountry at this time of year. The cabin offers visitors rustic accommodation along a moderate non-technical trail." Young said Parks Canada’s backcountry operations in Jasper National Park have changed over the years, reducing the frequency of use of patrol cabins such as Jacques Lake. The cabin was identified as a viable option to be used for public enjoyment as it is no longer required for operations during the winter months. Parks Canada retains ownership of the cabin while the ACC is responsible for the booking, management and maintenance of the cabin during the winter months. Established in 1906, the ACC head office is in Canmore and there are 25 local sections across the country, including the Jasper/Hinton section. The ACC promotes alpine experiences, knowledge and culture, responsible access and excellence in mountain skills and leadership. Currently there are 35 backcountry huts maintained by the ACC across the country.Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Following Chief Administrative Officer Brent Kittmer's overall summary of the draft budget and some of its key elements, it was Town Treasurer Andre Morin's turn to speak more specifically on the high-level aspects of the 2021 draft capital budget. It is important to note that this is still a draft budget, meaning the budget is not finalized yet. With that in mind, this will give you a glimpse at how the 2021 budget is beginning to take shape. Morin began his presentation by noting that it's expected that revenues across the board will be down in 2021, due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic. These revenues that are expected to decrease include the largest, fees and charges, as well as ice rentals, rents and leases, and sales. Morin also pointed out that the carry-over from the 2020 Safe Restart funding the Town has yet to spend is about $250,000, which will help cover the extra costs and lost revenues. The draft capital budget also reflects several increases in expenses for the Town. The first that Morin touched on was an increased investment in the community safety and policing plan, as well as parks patrol. The expense increase for those areas is approximately $45,000. Most of the other increases proposed in the budget are spread over other departments within the municipality and are fairly standard and routine. The Town is seeing an increase in debenture payments in 2021, but not as large of an increase as they likely expected. The net increase of about $68,000 is largely due to an increase in debenture payments related to the fire hall, but there is also a debenture payment related to wastewater services that is coming off the books. The materials and services line of the budget did reflect a large increase of $140,000, however, that is largely due to its reflection of additional costs brought on by the pandemic. Lastly, an increase in salary and wages is also included in the budget, and the Council asked Town staff to report back later on the implications of a 1.5 percent increase in salary and wages. Morin then touched on the tax increase for St. Marys residents, which, thanks in no small part to the Town's handling of the pandemic, is not going to be as substantial as other municipalities. The net tax levy, according to Morin, will result in the average St. Marys resident paying approximately 0.82 percent more in taxes. Morin also said that the Town is projecting a 0.97 percent increase for the average municipal dwelling, as well as increases of between 2-2.5 percent for water and wastewater services. No increase is predicted for garbage and recycling wheelie bin services.Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovo’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic would not be allowed to visit the country until he apologized for “genocide” against Kosovo's population.Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla also posted on Twitter that no entry permission would be granted for Serb officials until Serbians are held accountable for “genocide” in an international court.“I repeat once again the only and permanent response to all future demands from Vucic and others: there is no permission for you to visit Kosovo if you do not apologize for the genocide committed on our people and until responsible persons of this genocide are held accountable,” she said.Vucic and other Serb officials have to ask Kosovo's permission before visiting ethnic Serb minority areas in the former Serbian province.Kosovo’s 1998-99 war, which ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign, left more than 10,000 people dead, mostly ethnic Albanians.Haradinaj-Stublla reacted following Vucic' presence at the inauguration of a hospital in Belgrade where a mass grave of 744 ethnic Albanians killed in 1999 has been found.Several mass graves with the bodies of Kosovo Albanians killed by Serb troops during the 1998-99 war have been discovered in various parts of Serbia. Moving victims from Kosovo to Serbia was part of a coverup operation by Serbian authorities at the time to try to hide evidence of war crimes.Last week the European Union’s mission to ensure the rule of law in Kosovo said human remains that appear to be a mass grave of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo have been found in a disused coal mine in Kizevak in southern Serbia.Vucic said on Tuesday that Haradinaj-Stublla had asked to be present at the Kizevak works “in order to create a political show.”Although several of its top military officers have been sentenced by a UN court for war crimes during the 1998-99 war, Serbia has never admitted committing atrocities in its former province.Meanwhile, an international court based in The Hague, Netherlands has indicted and arrested on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity the former Kosovo president and four other top ex-commanders of ethnic Albanian guerillas who fought for independence from Serbia.Last week Vucic asked to visit Kosovo but was denied permission by Pristina.Kosovo-Serbia relations remain tense despite EU-mediated talks on normalization of their ties and efforts from the United States too.Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia has not recognized that.——-Semini reported from Tirana, Albania; Dusan Stojanovic contributed from Belgrade.Zenel Zhinipotoku And Llazar Semini, The Associated Press
Brexit: Irish Prime Minister "hopeful" of deal but says "trust has eroded" - Euronews speaks to Taoiseach Micheál Martin in this week's Global Conversation.View on euronews