WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared Tuesday 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 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
While COVID-19 numbers in the Prairie Mountain Health region remain at a plateau, as with the rest of the province, two deaths were reported Monday linked to the Fairview Personal Care Home. That brings the region’s pandemic-related death toll to 16. A spokesperson with Prairie Mountain Health reported that there are 26 residents who have tested COVID positive at Fairview, as well as 12 staff. Six deaths are now associated with the Fairview outbreak. As well, two schools in the Brandon School Division announced over the weekend there are cases of COVID-19 — Vincent Massey High School and J.R. Reid School. The public letter related to J.R. Reid School does not contain the usual line, "The infection was not believed to be acquired at school." Nevertheless, the province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, continues to maintain there isn’t "much transmission in schools." Because Roussin has never divulged statistics, The Brandon Sun followed up with a question to Manitoba Health. We asked for those numbers, but they were not available by deadline. Meanwhile, Roussin is telling Manitobans to obey public health orders to bring fatality numbers down. Saturday’s daily provincial bulletin announced the death of a child under the age of 10, and Monday saw two deaths also unrelated to the elderly — a man in his 30s and a woman in her 40s, both from the Winnipeg health region. "We continue to announce many deaths every day. Today, again into the double digits. I think we all know that we can’t continue along these lines. We have to bring these numbers down," Roussin said. Roussin acknowledged the restrictions the province has instituted are hard. "We’ve heard from a number of Manitobans that they want these restrictions lifted. Again, it’s not a matter of wanting these restrictions. I don’t think anyone wants these restrictions in place," he said. "It’s what the consequences of lifting them ... the consequence of lifting these restrictions right now is a much longer page of Manitobans that we lose with this virus, overwhelming of our health-care system, more strain on our health-care workers." He said while all Manitobans don’t want the restrictions, none want the consequences. Manitoba numbers appear to have reached a plateau, with daily numbers lingering between 300 to 400 for days. These numbers indicate the worst-case scenario — with no restrictions and no buy-in by Manitobans – won’t come to pass. Modelling predicted the province could reach a peak of 1,000 COVID-positive cases per day by Dec. 6. So far, it seems that model won’t become reality, but Roussin said it’s not enough to plateau. The numbers still need to come down. Contacts still need to be kept to only essential contacts.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
MADRID — Emergency services in Spain's Canary Islands say 68 people from North Africa have been the first migrants to arrive in the Atlantic Ocean archipelago since authorities dismantled a squalid makeshift camp that had brought criticism and shame to the government. One boat with 34 men was rescued by Spain's Maritime Rescue Service, while another boat with 33 adults and one teenager, all men, docked in Maspalomas beach on Gran Canaria Island, the 112 emergency service tweeted Tuesday. The migrants were taken to the Arguineguín dock on the same island, which closed as a processing centre Monday after three months of criticism for holding thousands of Africans in squalor, some times for weeks, while they were identified and tested for the coronavirus. Spain's ombudsman had ordered the makeshift camp’s closure, where potential asylum-seekers had difficulty accessing legal counselling. A minimal structure has been left to deal with new arrivals before the migrants and asylum-seekers are distributed between military barracks — where they can be only held for up to 72 hours — empty hotels or other facilities. More than 20,000 people seeking a better life have arrived so far this year in the Spanish archipelago across from the northwest African coast, up from 1,500 in the same period of 2019. At least 500 people have died in their attempt to reach Europe through the Canary Islands. The Associated Press
While outdoor rinks will continue to open across Saskatoon this year, hockey games will not be allowed on them.At Saskatoon city council's monthly meeting on Monday night, councillors asked administration about reports that hockey nets were being removed from outdoor rinks. Lynne Lacroix, the city's general manager of community development said that hockey games are not allowed under provincial COVID-19 rules."If you leave the nets out randomly, the chance of scrimmages happening or games picking up will probably be high," said Lacroix. "So they're trying to minimize that as public skating is permitted, games are not permitted under the new regulations."Last week, the province suspended all team and group sports in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19. Under-18 hockey players are still allowed to practise, but only in groups of eight players.Outdoor rinks operated by community associations will still allow up to 30 skaters on the ice at any given time.Andrew Roberts, director of recreation and community development with City of Saskatoon, said the new rules on hockey nets are in effect because the province is only allowing practices for under-18 players."So based on that, we're requiring that nets not be outside on our outdoor rink during public skating time," Andrews said."We are recommending to our community associations — we're not mandating, we're just recommending — that the nets be removed when there's unsupervised time just to mitigate the risk of hockey being played with groups bigger than eight."The policy is in effect until Dec. 17, when the province will be providing updates to the recommendations.Andrews said community associations can still rent out rinks for hockey practices under the new restrictions, and would be able to use hockey nets in those circumstances.The city has received plenty of feedback from citizens and community associations, mostly looking for clarification, he said. "We're providing the requirements and the documentation to our community association so that they can share them among the community as well."Indoor rinks aren't really affected, Andrews said, because nets aren't on the ice during public skating and all rental times are supervised."The difference is everyone must wear a mask indoors — it is just recommended to wear masks at outdoor rinks," he said.Kelly Boes, executive director of the Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association, said the new city guidelines don't really affect organized minor hockey.Boes said their practices, for the most part, are indoors and they are allowed to have nets."I really think this is designed around the kids that are, you know, hanging around and just want to go and have some fun and start playing, and a shinny game breaks out," he said."I think that's why they're doing it, to try to stop that from happening."Coun. Randy Donauer (Ward 5) worried there might be confusion between indoor and outdoor venues."I don't know if it's sending the right message to say we're going to have hockey facilities inside for practices, but you can't even have a net out for kids to shoot on in the neighborhood," he said. Brad Holler, who was out Tuesday shooting pucks at the Sutherland rinks, thinks removing the nets is going too far."It sucks for kids," he said. "This is Saskatchewan. Hockey's a huge part of our culture, it's how kids stay active."I realize there's a pandemic at hand. But when you look at some of the other regulations that are in place right now, like you can go eat at a restaurant, five people per table and take off [your] masks … to take away hockey nets, I think it's a little ridiculous."Roman Todos, president of the Caswell Hill Community Association, said they are still getting the rink prepared, so it isn't open yet.How big a deal the no-net policy will be depends on how long the restriction stays in place, he said."We should be close to getting our rink up and running and then we'll have to follow the guidelines as much as possible," said Todos, adding they'll need some more people to help to put up signage up and co-ordinate the new policy. Meanwhile, Lacroix said other winter activities, like Optimist Hill, are expected to open soon, as is the Meewasin outdoor rink near the Bessborough Hotel.During the city council meeting, Pamela Goulden-McLeod, the city's director of emergency planning, continued to ask people in Saskatoon to stay at home and limit the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the city.On Monday, there were 1,318 active cases of COVID-19 in Saskatoon, almost double the number from Regina."Our ICUs are currently operating over capacity and our resources are stretched," she said. "We need all residents to return to following the guidelines of [Chief Medical Health Officer] Dr. [Saqib] Shahab as closely as possible."
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to donate money this year, plenty of causes need your attention.In a year like 2020, choosing where to direct your dollars is like picking your favourite child. Should your money go toward nonprofits providing basic needs, organizations fighting for social justice or a campaign to help local small businesses stay afloat? If you prefer donating your time, how do you give back when volunteer events are limited by the pandemic?Here’s a guide to prioritizing your donations, taking advantage of special tax deductions for 2020 giving and using your holiday spending to make a difference.TAX BENEFITS OF GIVING DURING THE PANDEMICDec. 1 is Giving Tuesday, a day earmarked for generosity during the holiday season. This year, in addition to helping those in need, you may be eligible to receive added tax benefits for your donations.As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, taxpayers who take the standard deduction are allowed an additional deduction of up to $300 for charitable donations made in cash. Previously, charitable contributions could only be deducted if taxpayers itemized.Taxpayers who itemize can deduct up to 100% of their adjusted gross income for cash donations (up from 60%) made in 2020.These incentives don’t apply to all contributions — only those made to qualifying public organizations, which the IRS defines as “those that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific or literary in purpose.” Contributions to donor-advised funds, nonoperating private foundations and support organizations don’t qualify for the deduction.The IRS website has a tool to look up tax-exempt organizations.USE YOUR VALUES TO INFORM YOUR GIVINGChoosing which cause to support is deeply personal. If you haven’t already, make a list of your values and what you’re grateful for. This list is the basis for your giving plan that can help you determine which causes to prioritize and which ones you can say no to, says Jeannie Sager, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University.Sager says you can also use a giving plan to frame your actions outside of hitting the “donate” button.“What kind of volunteerism are you doing? What messages are you sending as you retweet or share things on social media? How does that tie into your philanthropy and your values?” she suggests asking yourself.Early in the pandemic, you may have committed small acts of generosity such as buying gift cards to support your local coffee shop or paying your hairstylist when the salon was shut down.Keep the community spirit going, says Eileen Heisman, president and CEO of National Philanthropic Trust, a public charity that manages donor-advised funds and is based in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. “I’m a big fan of small grassroots charities,” she says. “A lot of everyday neighbourhood arts organizations, small ones, are disappearing.”Research by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute during the early months of the pandemic showed that organizations dedicated to basic needs and health fared better than those focused on religion, and especially better than those serving all other purposes, such as education, the arts and the environment.Resources such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar help you research a charity’s financial health, tax-exempt status and practices. Your local community foundation website can also give you an idea of nonprofits to support.“We encourage people to give deeply to a few causes rather than spreading money out to many causes,” says Grace Chiang Nicolette, vice-president of programming and external relations at the Center for Effective Philanthropy in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Unrestricted gifts are typically the most useful to charities, Nicolette says, referring to donations that don’t come with requirements on how the money can be used.GIVE BACK WHILE SHOPPINGThis holiday season, 65% of Americans say the pandemic will have an impact on the way they plan to give gifts. At least, 3 in 10 Americans (30%) say they’ll send money or gift cards, and 28% say they’ll ship gifts to loved ones they typically give gifts to in person, according to NerdWallet’s 2020 Holiday Shopping Report.Around 1 in 8 Americans plan to spend more on charitable donations, and almost 1 in 5 plan on spending less on donations in 2020 than they did in 2019, the report says.If you cannot set aside money for donations, use your online holiday purchases to give back. Many online retailers make it easy to donate as you’re checking out or buying gift cards, such as through the Paypal Giving Fund or Amazon Smile program.Heisman suggests using apps that round up your purchases and donate the difference to charity. Boomerang Giving, ChangeUp For Charity and GiveTide are some examples.You can also donate your unused airline miles or credit card rewards to charity, but be aware of the downsides. The charity may not always receive the full amount of your donation and you cannot apply this contribution toward the CARES Act tax deduction.________________________________-This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Amrita Jayakumar is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ajbombay.RELATED LINKS:NerdWallet 2020 Holiday Shopping Report https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-shopping-reportIRS Tax-Exempt Organization Search https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-searchAmrita Jayakumar Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
Two battleground states, Wisconsin and Arizona, certified their presidential election results in favour of Joe Biden, even as President Donald Trump's legal team continued to dispute the results.Biden’s victory in Wisconsin was certified Monday following a partial recount that only added to his 20,600-vote margin over Trump, who has promised to file a lawsuit seeking to undo the results.Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, signed a certificate that completed the process after the canvass report showing Biden as the winner following the recount was approved by the chairwoman of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. Evers’ signature was required by law and is typically a procedural step that receives little attention.“Today I carried out my duty to certify the November 3rd election,” Evers said in a statement. “I want to thank our clerks, election administrators, and poll workers across our state for working tirelessly to ensure we had a safe, fair, and efficient election. Thank you for all your good work.”The action Monday now starts a five-day deadline for Trump to file a lawsuit, which he promised would come no later than Tuesday. Trump is mounting a longshot attempt to overturn the results by disqualifying as many as 238,000 ballots. Trump’s attorneys have alleged without evidence that there was widespread fraud and illegal activity.Biden’s campaign has said the recount showed that Biden won Wisconsin decisively and there was no fraud. Even if Trump were successful in Wisconsin, the state’s 10 Electoral College votes would not be enough to undo Biden’s overall victory as states around the country certify results.Earlier Monday, Arizona officials certified Biden’s narrow victory in that state.Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey both vouched for the integrity of the election before signing off on the results.“We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong,” Ducey said.He did not directly address Trump’s claims of irregularities but said the state pulled off a successful election with a mix of in-person and mail voting despite the pandemic.Hobbs said Arizona voters should know that the election “was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s laws and election procedures, despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary.”Biden is only the second Democrat in 70 years to win Arizona. In the final tally, he beat Trump by 10,457 votes, or 0.3% of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast.Even as Hobbs, Ducey, the state attorney general and chief justice of the state Supreme Court certified the election results, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis met in a Phoenix hotel ballroom a few miles away to lay out claims of irregularities in the vote count in Arizona and elsewhere. But they did not provide evidence of widespread fraud.“The officials certifying have made no effort to find out the truth, which to me, gives the state Legislature the perfect reason to take over the conduct of this election because it’s being conducted irresponsibly and unfairly,” Giuliani said.Nine Republican state lawmakers attended the meeting. They had requested permission to hold a formal legislative hearing at the Capitol but were denied by the Republican House speaker and Senate president.Trump berated Ducey on Twitter Monday night, asking, “Why is he rushing to put a Democrat in office, especially when so many horrible things concerning voter fraud are being revealed at the hearing going on right now.”Elections challenges brought by the Trump campaign or his backers in key battleground states have largely been unsuccessful as Trump continues to allege voter fraud while refusing to concede.There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.___Bauer reported from Madison, Wis.; Cooper and Tang reported from Phoenix.Scott Bauer, Jonathan J. Cooper And Terry Tang, The Associated Press
Social determinants of health – such as discrimination, proper housing and occupation – are critical factors for public health officials when considering how to target resources at those whose risk of contracting the novel coronavirus is highest. As health interventions aim to address these social liabilities in the short-term, the pandemic is also exposing how environmental determinants of health are often overlooked. Air pollution, for example, produces worse health outcomes and occurs more intensely in areas with poorer social and economic conditions, according to research cited in a study published earlier this month by health data non-profit ICES and the University of Toronto. The paper notes that previous studies “have also implicated environmental pollution as having a biological relationship to the risk and severity of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.” Environmental factors affecting local public health may emerge as a larger discussion in the coming weeks, as Mississauga’s climate plans resurface during budget committee presentations which resumed Monday. Estimated to cost more than $460 million in the next decade, or about $46 million per year, the City is slow to commit funding in its first year of budgeting for a greener future in Mississauga. In June 2019, following the lead of several other Canadian cities, Mississauga’s Council passed a motion to declare a climate change emergency and approved an ambitious Climate Change Action Plan six months later. In the summer, as the 2021 budget document was being considered by City staff, The Pointer asked Mayor Bonnie Crombie about the ambitious goals she championed in the Climate Action Plan just prior to the pandemic, including some $160 million that would be needed in the short term for hybrid and electric buses. "Certainly, the greening of our economy is the right direction to move and I think we all agree with that," she said at the time. "We are very hopeful that the impact of COVID will be contained to the next three-year horizon and that we will still move forward with our Climate Action Plan. It is very dependent on the ICIP money (Ottawa's Invest In Canada Plan for infrastructure) – money coming from the provincial and federal government – to assist us to green our fleet and implement many of the recommendations that you found in that report." Now, implementing the climate plan is a highlight of the City’s 2021 budget. The two-pronged climate change solution universally advocated by scientists – mitigation and adaptation – is reflected in the City’s strategy to promote green energy, and retrofit or build resilient infrastructure. The plan sets out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in the next ten years and by 80 percent ahead of 2050, with the long-term goal of reaching zero emissions. The second pillar is to “build resilience” against the effects of climate change, including severe weather damage to City infrastructure. Next year’s ‘pandemic’ budget, has leaned out capital project funding to help weather the City’s major revenue losses in transit and recreation due to the ongoing public health emergency. Parks, Forestry and Environment staff are proposing a net $37.5 million operating budget, or a $1 million increase from last year, to maintain service levels, support higher fleet costs and kick-off climate protection goals. “Now, having a bold plan is very different than action. This is where the City now has to try and follow through on that, and I don't see that in this year's budget yet,” said Marc Johnson, Director of the Centre for Urban Environments at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He cited urbanization data that shows 82 percent of Canadians live in cities, with significant greenhouse-gas emissions and resource extraction linked to oil, lumber and other materials that support urban development. Though projects including infrastructure lifecycle maintenance, tree planting, stormwater drainage, trail upkeep, parks construction and pedestrian bridge replacement may relate to climate change, the budget does not directly connect these developments to the City’s climate strategy. “I want to see earmarked in [the budget] which of these investments in staff, in green technology, and infrastructure refurbishment are aligned with their Climate Action Plan,” he said. Perhaps the clearest funding link to execute the Climate Change Action Plan is the addition of another full-time staffer, a climate change specialist, in next year’s operating budget, with a salary of $92,000, and $121,000 forecast in 2022. No funding has been allocated until 2023 for the Climate Change Plan Implementation in corporate buildings, with budget documents recommending about $216,000 be set aside. In budget presentation documents, staff acknowledged the City requires resources to fulfill its climate plan and parkland growth expansion. However, parkland growth is not funded until 2022, with a recommended $291,000 budget. Capital projects in the Parks, Forestry and Environment departmental budget will also face deferrals, with an overall budget of about $32.3 million for 2021, forecast to more than double in 2022 to $66 million, and drop slightly to $51 million the following year. There is also a modest budget for parkland acquisition in 2021, at $120,000, compared to $26 million forecast for 2022. Corporate building retrofits as part of the climate plan are also being set aside, not being requested in the budget until 2023, with staff forecasting $216,000. More than 40 percent of parks and related infrastructure will need capital funding for replacements and maintenance over the next decade. Funding in other service sectors will affect Mississauga’s climate change goals, most prominently in transit, which accounts for about 70 percent of the City’s emissions. MiWay Director Geoff Marinoff said, during Tuesday’s transit presentation to the committee, that 40 percent of the fleet would be turned over to hybrid energy buses in the next four years. MiWay is proposing $440.6 million to replace 409 buses over the next 10 years. However, staff are proposing only a small fraction of the annual investment needed if 40 percent of a new hybrid fleet is to be acquired in the next four years. The bus replacement budget for 2021 is just $2 million, even though MiWay reaffirmed its commitment to “no longer purchase any conventional diesel buses, and will be required to purchase hybrid-electric and zero emission vehicles.” The budget does not specify if the bus replacement budget will be solely for hybrid-electric vehicles. (The City currently has 36, and the remaining 475 buses run on ultra-refined diesel.) The federal government, as Crombie highlighted in the summer, could provide a significant contribution, as clean energy infrastructure is one of the priorities in its infrastructure investment policy and Ottawa has already approved large sums to municipalities and provinces for clean transportation since the plan was adopted under the Liberals in 2015. The budget also notes the City’s training program for fleet operation will be amended to train drivers in reducing idling and fuel consumption to align with climate goals. Initiatives linked to fighting climate change can also be found in the increased stormwater tax. Mississauga has seen its share of extreme weather in the past decade, with heavy rain and flash floods last spring and fall. Human activity connected to climate change is leading to more extreme rainfalls in North America, according to a study published this June. A stormwater tax raise, which will range from $2.20 to $3.68 per year, is slated to help generate $43.5 million toward the City’s stormwater reserve funds for unpredictable weather caused by changing environmental conditions. Natural disasters and severe weather events demand crucial consideration when making urgent local policy shifts, said Lauren Latour, a coordinator at Climate Action Network Canada. “A lot of the time when we talk about climate policy, we're talking about federal level policy, but the effects are going to have to be dealt with by municipal governments,” Latour said. “They become those frontline protectors for their communities.” Email: email@example.com Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Canada's economy notched record growth in the third quarter, with real GDP expected to climb 0.2% in October, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday, though analysts cautioned the rebound would stagnate in coming months amid renewed COVID-19 restrictions. Canada's Q3 annualized growth soared 40.5%, rebounding from a historic plunge in the second quarter, while September real GDP rose by 0.8%. Despite the gains, total economic activity remains about 5% below February's pre-pandemic levels, Statscan said.
TORONTO — BMO Financial Group says it is winding down its non-Canadian investment and corporate banking business in the energy sector as the bank topped expectations with a $1.6-billion profit in its latest quarter.Chief executive Darryl White said Tuesday the move is part of BMO's efforts to better allocate resources in places where they can deliver strong returns now and in the future."Going forward, BMO Capital Markets' energy business will be focused on the Canadian energy market, where we believe our competitive positioning is strongest and where we will continue our deep and long-standing commitment to supporting clients," he told analysts on a conference call to discuss the bank's latest financial results.White's remarks come as Canadian banks and the country's economy are trying to stage a rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted governments and financial institutions to streamline their processes and dig into their coffers to offer relief.Despite the added pressures and a recent second wave of the virus, BMO reported Tuesday a fourth-quarter profit of nearly $1.6 billion or $2.37 per share, up from nearly $1.2 billion or $1.78 per share a year ago.On an adjusted basis, BMO says it earned $2.41 per share, down from an adjusted profit of $2.43 per share in the same quarter last year.Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $1.90 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.Revenue totalled nearly $6 billion, down from almost $6.1 billion in the same quarter last year.White indicated that things continue to look up for the bank — one of the reasons why it was able to start paring back the amount of money it is putting aside to account for bad loans.Total provisions for credit losses amounted to $432 million, up from $253 million a year ago, but down from nearly $1.1 billion in its third quarter.BMO will continue to be disciplined with its expense management and efforts to bring efficiency to its operations, White said."While we expect revenue growth in parts of our business could remain constrained in the near term, we are committed to our financial objectives over the medium term," he said.The bank, White added, has already strengthened its competitive and capital position and identified opportunities to grow as business investment and consumer spending recover and the globe gets better at managing COVID-19."Looking ahead to 2021, while the path of the pandemic and the economic recovery remains uncertain, we now know that vaccines will be available relatively soon, and there's good reason to be optimistic about the associated economic recovery accelerating as 2021 progresses."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BMO)Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
In this video, I demonstrate how I make a human bust cake. But not just any human bust cake, this one is a #SelfieCake!
MONTREAL — Supremex Inc. says it is closing its Edmonton facility and cutting 39 jobs in a move to reduce costs.The envelope maker says the cuts represent about five per cent of its total workforce.The move is expected to result in annual cost savings of about $2.4 million, before taxes.The company says the savings will begin to materialize in the current quarter and throughout the first three quarters of 2021 as operations wind down in Edmonton. Supremex says it will take a one-time charge of about $2.5 million, before taxes, on its fourth-quarter results.The company operates 13 facilities across six provinces and three facilities in the United States employing a total of about 850 people. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:SXP)The Canadian Press
KYIV, Ukraine — Belarus' opposition will compile a register of law enforcement officers accused of abuses against peaceful demonstrators protesting the reelection of the country's authoritarian leader, an opposition leader said Tuesday. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition challenger in Belarus' August presidential vote, said in a video call from Vilnius, Lithuania, that the “book of crimes” will include accounts of police abuse that will be verified by independent lawyers. “Impunity will not last forever,” said Tsikhanouskaya, who was pressured by Belarusian authorities to leave for neighbouring Lithuania after the vote. “No one will be able to deprive hundreds of thousands of people who are striving for justice from speaking out." Belarus has been swept by mass protests that were triggered by President Alexander Lukashenko's reelection to a sixth term in office by a landslide in the Aug. 9 election that the opposition said was riddled with fraud. Police have cracked down hard on the largely peaceful demonstrations, using stun grenades, tear gas and truncheons to disperse protesters. Thousands of people have been detained — and many of them badly beaten — since the protests began, human rights advocates say. The rallies, the biggest of which drew up to 200,000, have continued despite the increasingly tough police response. The United States and the European Union have introduced sanctions against Belarusian officials accused of involvement in vote-rigging and the post-election crackdown. Tsikhanouskaya said that the opposition will use the register of law enforcement officers accused of abuses to push for Western sanctions against them. ___ Read all AP stories about the protests in Belarus at https://apnews.com/Belarus The Associated Press
Refinery owner Philadelphia Energy Solutions later told regulators that the blasts released nearly 700,000 pounds of hazardous chemicals, including butane, and about 3,200 pounds of hydrofluoric acid, which can cause fatal lung injury in high concentrations. The score was based on readings from part of the federal network of air quality monitoring devices, which are operated by the city of Philadelphia with oversight from state regulators and the EPA. “To say there was no impact to air quality was crazy,” said Peter DeCarlo, an environmental engineering professor at Johns Hopkins University who lived in Philadelphia at the time and studied the city’s monitoring system.
A lawyer for Bill Cosby on Tuesday told the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the judge at the entertainer's 2018 sexual assault trial should have barred five prosecution witnesses who testified that Cosby had also drugged and raped them. Two years ago the once-popular comedian and actor was found guilty of drugging and raping a one-time friend, Andrea Constand, at his home near Philadelphia in 2004. The hearing on Tuesday took place about a year after a lower appellate court rejected a petition by Cosby, now 83, to have his conviction overturned.
Council members told staff to keep the blended tax rate for 2021 low – with requests ranging from zero to “two or three” percent. As it presented by staff, the draft budget contained a three percent increase in the Southgate levy for capital projects, which would likely be a two percent in the blended tax rate. CAO Dave Milliner asked council for direction at the end of the special meeting on the proposed capital budget held on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Coun. Michael Sherson said his ideal would be to give residents a zero increase this year. Coun. Barbara Dobreen said she didn’t want to see township reserves depleted to keep the increase “artificially low.” She suggested a 1.5 percent increase – “keep it under two (percent) for sure.” Deputy-Mayor Brian Milne asked if the 2020 impact of growth was known. The more building in the township, the more property owners to share the burden of the tax levy. Treasurer Liam Gott said it would be a few weeks before he had final figures but he expected 2020 added about $159,000 in taxation dollars based on the value of building permits issued (lower than the $280,000 projected). The deputy-mayor said that while a zero increase is desirable – “I don’t think that it’s reasonable or even responsible.” “Our costs are going up,” he said, naming fuel, hydro, insurance and payroll. Given that, he said he’d like to see something around 2.5 to 3 percent. At that point, the treasurer asked whether councillors were talking about the increase for local use or the overall or “blended” increase that includes taxes Southgate collects and passes on to the county and the school boards. At this stage in the budget process, council has seen and discussed capital costs, with the operating budget still to be seen. Coun. Martin Shipston said that a 2.5 to three percent increase would be reasonable, and not leave residents paying more down the road to make up for a lower increase in 2021. Coun. Jason Rice said he would like to see a zero increase. Coun. Dobreen had mentioned the Cost of Living increase for employees, which would be based on the inflation rate of 0.7 percent. Coun. Rice said that maybe for one year, township employees could do without the COLA increase. ”I’m not going against them (staff) – they do a fantastic job,” he said. “It’s this year, this specific year – this pandemic we’re dealing with,” he said. “It’s not our money in this time of need,” he said. He said many Southgate residents never get a Cost of Living increase. Deputy-Mayor Milne said perhaps this was the year to pull back on COLA or “step” increases based on performance and years served. He said that council needs to see the operating budget estimates to make its final decision. To achieve zero would take cuts to services, he said. “What services are we going to cut back on?” “Fuel, hydro, insurance – other expenses like that we have no control over and we have to pay." Coun. Rice asked the CAO for his reaction. Mr. Milliner replied, “if I didn’t hear a comment from council like that I would be surprised.” He did speak in defence of merit or “step” pay increase, adding that he himself is not affected by that policy. Mayor John Woodbury said that council had to balance the need for restraint in the present moment with the risk of postponing needed changes and mortgaging the future. “Overall, two to three percent is acceptable,” he said.M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
Wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your distance. Those familiar bits of advice were issued "urgently" by Ontario doctors Thursday as the best way to get through the holiday season. With the Christmas season less than one month away, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) issued the plea to all Ontario residents and said that taking the right precautions is the only way to get ahead of COVID-19, especially for those living in Ontario hotspots. "If every single one of us doesn't do our part, things could get even worse as we enter the holiday season," said Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association. "More people will get sick and die. Our hospitals will be overwhelmed. We all have a responsibility – and the power – to prevent this from happening." Everyone, including doctors working on the front lines, is suffering from pandemic fatigue and yearning to return to "the way things used to be" Hill said in the OMA news release. "We're now appealing to the public directly to help us," said Hill, adding that Ontario's doctors are endorsing the efforts by the Ontario government to do whatever is needed to try to bring things back to normal. Hill said the best and fastest way to return to the "new normal" is to follow public health guidelines during this holiday season even if it means staying home throughout the holidays and celebrating only with members of your own household. If you are a student or another person travelling home for the holidays, please quarantine for 10 to 14 days said Hill. She repeated the familiar precautions of hand washing, mask wearing, physical distancing and keeping away from any crowds. The OMA release said doctors believe that stopping the spread and reopening Ontario safely and for a sustained length of time will require better testing, contact tracing and isolation of everyone who has or might have COVID, and the doctors have offered to work with Premier Ford to make this happen. "There are many reasons to be optimistic about turning the corner next year," said OMA CEO Allan O'Dette. "There is positive news about the effectiveness of vaccine candidates. But we must continue to physically distance and look after one another to get the spread under control. I just want to remind everyone that we are all in this together and together we will conquer this.Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Germany, France and Britain urged the Trump administration in late October to reconsider broad, new sanctions against Iran’s banks, arguing that the move would deter legitimate humanitarian trade and hurt the allies’ common interests, diplomatic correspondence shows. Germany’s Bundesbank also kept a multi-billion-euro deposit facility open for Iranian banks, including two that faced fresh U.S. sanctions, giving Tehran a much-needed banking lifeline at a time its access to the global financial system was largely cut off, according to central bank data and interviews with bankers, Western diplomats and officials. The behind-the-scenes pushback to Washington and the extent of Germany’s support to Iranian trade in the face of U.S. sanctions have not been previously reported, and shed new light on the divergent approaches to Iran taken by President Donald Trump and the U.S. allies.
Downtown Indian Head, Sask., is a quiet place these days as residents stay home in an attempt to stem the tide of COVID-19 infections there.Mayor Steven Cole estimates there are about 100 cases in the town of about 2,000, meaning about one in 20 people are infected."The numbers are going up more drastic than what anybody wants to see in their community," Cole said. "Nobody wants to see that."On Monday, the Government of Saskatchewan reported 133 active cases in the South East 1 zone, the sub-zone where the town is located.It also listed outbreaks in Indian Head at Little Castle Child Care Centre, Hayes Haven Personal Care Home and Golden Prairie Home. Indian Head is located about 70 km east of Regina.Schools in the community were originally slated to open Nov. 30 but will remain shut down for another week, Cole said.'Always a reactionary response'The surge in cases started mid-month, before the mandatory mask recommendations came into effect across the entire province.But local yoga studio owner Robin Hilton said she doesn't know if an earlier mandatory mask order would have made a difference."It does seem like ... we're kind of just continually playing catch up with this. It's like it's always a reactionary response to increased cases. So it seems like we're chasing it down, not sort of stopping it in its tracks."She said even before the mandatory mask order came into effect, "everyone just started wearing masks.""We all understand that this increase in cases is something that we need to take seriously in our town. And it looks like that's really what's happening."Her mom tested positive for COVID-19 in November but didn't have any symptoms. Her daughter was also exposed but a test came back negative.'The resilience of rural Saskatchewan'Hilton said everyone she knows in town is "hibernating," her family included."They are there just, you know, doing what they did in March. They're staying home. They're working from home."She said she's surprised cases have continued to climb considering that folks in town seem to be doing a good job following all of the guidelines."We've done well in Indian Head," she said. "And it actually shows the resilience of rural Saskatchewan as a whole."When she thought her family might have to self-isolate, she said multiple people offered to bring or groceries or help in any way they could."That community, cooperative spirit is still really alive in Saskatchewan."What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
A city councillor is hopeful Calgary could soon join the ranks of cities with bylaws against harassing women in public places.Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell said the City of Calgary has a responsibility to support the well-being and safety of all people in public spaces.So, she'd like to see the city engage with Calgarians on the issue of street harassment and draw up a bylaw to help control it.She said street harassment includes unwelcome comments, gestures and actions forced primarily upon women by people who aren't known to them. Typically, they are sexually charged comments which are disrespectful, alarming or insulting."It's most frequently an attack, a verbal attack on women but it's also against many LGBTQ people," said Farrell."We certainly see that harassment happening in Calgary."Widespread problemShe cites a Statistics Canada report that found one-in-three girls and women were victims of unwanted sexual behaviour in the previous 12 months.Farrell has a motion which will be discussed at council's priorities and finance committee on Tuesday.As per council's screening process, if the motion is properly drafted, it will go on to be discussed at a city council meeting later this month."With all of our bylaws, we look at education first and then establish a social norm. It's not OK to harass strangers on the street," said Farrell.Her motion states that other Canadian cities including Edmonton, Vancouver and London have already passed bylaws to regulate street harassment.> Statements like this from governments essentially saying we hold ourselves accountable for your safety and we're going to work towards it, I think that they make a difference. \- Andrea Silverstone, SagesseThe executive director of the Sagesse Domestic Violence Prevention Society, Andrea Silverstone, said a bylaw is a step toward increasing public safety."Everyone can relate to an experience of feeling harassed or an experience of doing something different to try and experience greater safety on the street because they don't believe that it might exist because of their gender or their sexual identity," said Silverstone.She said street harassment is an example of coercive control which can erode a person's feeling of safety, even if they haven't been hit or threatened.That kind of harassment can make women or targeted people rethink the choices they make about where they go for dinner or where they choose to work because they may feel unsafe. "I think that you can't underestimate just how pervasive a lack of a sense of personal safety is on the streets and how it can actually relate to all aspects of one's life," said Silverstone.From her vantage point, it's important that government realizes it can play a role in helping all citizens feel safer and welcome in public places — a bylaw can be a piece of that puzzle."Statements like this from governments essentially saying we hold ourselves accountable for your safety and we're going to work towards it, I think that they make a difference."Farrell's motion calls on the city to assess Calgary's jurisdiction to draw up a defensible bylaw to address street harassment.If council approves it, there would be a report back to council by administration by the first quarter of 2022.
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