President Donald Trump and administration officials on Friday offered a rosy update on the race for a vaccine for the resurgent coronavirus as he delivered his first public remarks since his defeat by President-elect Joe Biden. (Nov. 13)
President Donald Trump and administration officials on Friday offered a rosy update on the race for a vaccine for the resurgent coronavirus as he delivered his first public remarks since his defeat by President-elect Joe Biden. (Nov. 13)
WASHINGTON — Outgoing Attorney General William Barr's decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of the Russia probe ensures his successor won't have an easy transition.The move, which Barr detailed to The Associated Press on Tuesday, could lead to heated confirmation hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's nominee, who hasn't been announced. Senate Republicans will likely use that forum to extract a pledge from the pick to commit to an independent investigation.The pressure on the new attorney general is unlikely to ease once they take office. With the special counsel continuing to work during the early days of the Biden administration, it may be tough for the Justice Department's new leadership to launch investigations of President Donald Trump and his associates without seeming to be swayed by political considerations.Barr elevated U.S. Attorney John Durham to special counsel as Trump continues to propel his claims that the Russia investigation that shadowed his presidency was a “witch hunt.” It's the latest example of efforts by Trump officials to use the final days of his administration to essentially box Biden in by enacting new rules, regulations and orders designed to cement the president's legacy.But the manoeuvring over the special counsel is especially significant because it saddles Democrats with an investigation that they've derided as tainted. Now there's little the new administration can do about it.“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy,” Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.A special counsel can only be dismissed for cause. And as was the case during Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, such probes can sometimes stray from their origins.The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment on the special counsel appointment.But Barr's decision could influence whom the president-elect puts forth as a nominee for attorney general. One leading candidate, Sally Yates, was already viewed skeptically by some Trump-aligned Republicans for her role in the early days of the Russia investigation. Her nomination could face even greater challenges because she's connected to some of the work that Durham is examining.As deputy attorney general, Yates signed off on the first two applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor communications of ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a process that has been among the focuses of the Durham investigation.A Justice Department inspector general report found significant flaws and omissions in the four applications to the court, though it also found no evidence that Yates or any other senior Justice Department officials were aware of the problems.Some Democrats have privately expressed concerns – likely to deepen with Durham’s appointment as a special counsel – that nominating Yates would lead to a messy confirmation process that focuses on the Russia investigation, instead of focusing on reforms and shifting priorities at the Justice Department, people familiar with the matter have said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.Others potentially in the mix for the role include Lisa Monaco, a former homeland security adviser and senior Justice Department official in the Obama administration, and outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who famously prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a Birmingham church in the 1960s.The question for Biden, however, is how to balance top Cabinet picks as he attempts to fulfil his pledge for racial, ethnic and gender diversity. Many of Biden's leading nominees so far have been white, which could work against Yates, Monaco and Jones.Some Black Democrats are attempting to elevate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is Black and led the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Bill Clinton, in discussions about potential attorneys general.Whoever emerges as the nominee will be pressed to demonstrate independence from the new White House after Biden campaigned on a pledge to depoliticize the Justice Department.That could be tough, however, if the future attorney general faces calls for new probes into the Trump administration. Some investigations into Trump have been frozen because of the immunity he enjoys as president. Others swirling around members of his family and associates have been simmering for years.On Tuesday, an unsealed court filing revealed an investigation into a potential plot to solicit political donations in exchange for the president using his pardon power.Barr, for his part, insisted that he was trying to keep politics out of the Durham probe, explaining that is why he delayed announcing the special counsel appointment until a month after the election.“With the election approaching, I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Muller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election,” Barr said in an interview with the AP on Tuesday.“I wanted to have the team, both Durham and his team understand that they be able to finish their work,” Barr said.Durham has already been a huge disappointment for Trump and his allies, and prompted a dispute with Barr over why things weren’t moving faster and why the investigation did not yield major prosecutions in the weeks before the election. The investigation wasn’t expected to result in many more criminal charges, and there has only been one so far — a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to a single charge.But the investigation is worth more politically than practically.A nearly 500-page inspector general report chronicled in great detail the errors and omissions FBI agents made in a series of applications to surveil Page. Declassified documents released by congressional Republicans have raised additional questions while not undercutting the overarching legitimacy of the Russia probe. And the facts of the one criminal case Durham has brought so far, against an FBI lawyer who admitted altering an email, were already mostly laid out in the watchdog report.There’s also been a degree of turmoil within Durham’s ranks as one of the team’s leaders, Nora Dannehy, resigned months ago, a significant departure given the active role she had played.___Miller reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Colleen Long in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
The recommended quarantine time for close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case is being reduced by up to a week in the United States, but while some of Canada's health experts say a similar approach could be useful here, others aren't so sure.The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Wednesday it had shortened the recommended length of quarantine after exposure from 14 days to 10 — or seven days with a negative test result.Health Canada was still recommending a 14-day quarantine period as of Wednesday, but Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at McMaster University, says cutting that time in half would be beneficial."It would be super important for the sake of incentivizing people to actually quarantine after exposure," he said. "And there's a lot of different things that could theoretically open up — getting health-care workers back to work, getting kids back to school — a lot of ways where this could ease the burden of potential exposure in society."The CDC had previously said the incubation period for the COVID virus could extend to 14 days, but the organization now says most people become infectious and develop symptoms between four and five days after exposure.Chagla says the 14-day window was likely inspired from SARS data, where the incubation period was longer.While isolation and quarantine are sometimes used interchangeably, Chagla says there's a difference in the terms. Isolation is for those who have tested positive, while quarantine is for people who may or may not actually have the virus, like close contacts of positive cases or those travelling into Canada. Isolation recommendations for positive cases vary, but are typically 10 days after symptom onset. Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, says a change in quarantine guidance reflects our evolving understanding of COVID-19."If you're exposed, it takes a couple days for you to become infectious, so (seven to 10 days) should be enough to tell whether you've got the virus," Tuite said. "But of course, that's assuming your experience is reflective of the typical course of infection."The key to the CDC's new guidance for Tuite is having the option to end quarantine at seven days with a negative test result. She suspects that's in place to stop people who have the virus but no symptoms from ending the quarantine period too early. A positive test at Day 7 would mean that person should continue to isolate, Tuite said, while a negative result would mean they could safely end quarantine, knowing enough time has passed since exposure to confidently assume they won't still get sick.Dr. Don Sheppard, the founder and director of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4), says the CDC's plan makes sense scientifically, but there would be logistical issues in testing every COVID contact in Canada who wanted to end their quarantine at Day 7."It's impossible to do that," he said. "It's either 14 days of proper isolation, or it's seven days with a negative test, and right now our system cannot offer seven days plus testing to the public at large."Testing capacity does exist in certain situations, Sheppard said, like for health-care workers and other front-line staff that need a quicker quarantine to get back to work. He cautioned, however, that taking a test on Day 7 still means isolating for an extra day or two while awaiting results.Quarantine also needs to be done solo in order to work, Sheppard added, warning that the CDC guidance isn't meant as a loophole for holiday gatherings if your family isolates together for seven days before an event.He used an example of military recruits in the U.S. who were told to quarantine for 14 days before reporting to camp. A handful of positive tests (0.9 per cent) were caught upon arrival, suggesting true quarantine hadn't been followed. Those recruits were sent home while the rest underwent another group quarantine. When tested again two weeks later, the positivity rate had grown to 1.3 per cent."Why? Because there were people incubating and they turned positive. And those people infected others in their groups," Sheppard said. "So if you don't do strict, single-person isolation, you don't actually break the cycle of transmission, you just pass it around in your group."Tuite says that further illustrates the usefulness of a shortened quarantine period. A mother with young children, or someone who shares a small apartment with another person will find it harder to properly quarantine for longer periods, she said, as will someone who can't afford to take a full two weeks off work."It really comes down to having the means to do it," she said. "Can you survive for two weeks if you're not getting income? Can you isolate in a household with multiple people? "We need to have support in place so that people can quarantine, and that doesn't change whether it's for a week or 14 days. But it becomes much more challenging when it's for longer periods." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday struggled with whether to require new trials for potentially thousands of prisoners who were convicted by non-unanimous juries before the court barred the practice earlier this year.The high court ruled 6-3 in April that juries in state criminal trials must be unanimous to convict a defendant. Previously, Louisiana and Oregon as well as the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico had allowed divided votes to result in convictions. In striking down the practice, the court said Louisiana and Oregon had originally adopted their rules for racially discriminatory reasons. Now, juries everywhere must vote unanimously to convict.But the Supreme Court's decision affected only future cases and cases in which the defendants were still appealing their convictions when the high court ruled. The question for the court now is whether the decision should be made retroactive. That would benefit prisoners convicted by non-unanimous juries whose cases were final before the court's ruling, but the states and federal government said it would also be incredibly burdensome.Several justices noted the very high bar past cases have set to making similar new rules retroactive while also suggesting this case might clear it. And the case did not seem to be one that would split the court along traditional liberal-conservative lines.“Why isn't unanimity basic?” Justice Stephen Breyer asked during arguments, which the court heard by phone because of the coronavirus pandemic.But Justice Samuel Alito expressed skepticism that the court should make this decision retroactive. He suggested the court has been hard pressed to find a similar case that should be made retroactive, comparing it to a “quest for an animal that was thought to have become extinct, like the Tasmanian tiger.”And Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted that the court has “a long line of cases ... where we have declined to apply a new rule retroactively” once cases have become final.Louisiana, Oregon and Puerto Rico could be forced to retry hundreds or thousands of people if the court’s decision were to be made retroactive, Louisiana has said. And several justices pressed the lawyers before them on how many people might need to be retried, with one lawyer saying it could be 1,000 to 1,600 in Louisiana alone.The Trump administration, for its part, has sided with the states and told the court that applying the decision retroactively would be “massively disruptive” in both Louisiana and Oregon and may mean “the release of violent offenders who cannot practically be retried.”The court's ruling in April produced an unusual lineup of justices, with liberals and conservatives on both sides of the decision. That’s because a key part of the case was whether to overrule a 1972 decision, and overturning precedent is a particularly charged issue on the court.This time around, it seemed votes could shift. Justice Elena Kagan, who was in dissent last time, siding against the inmate challenging a non-unanimous jury, seemed nonetheless sympathetic to the idea that the decision should be made retroactive, saying at one point: “How could it be that a rule like that does not have retroactive effect?”The case before the justices involves Louisiana prisoner Thedrick Edwards. A jury convicted Edwards of rape and multiple counts of armed robbery and kidnapping. The jury divided 10-2 on most of the robbery charges and 11-1 on the remaining charges. Edwards, who had confessed to police, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Edwards, who is Black, has argued among other things that prosecutors intentionally kept Black jurors off the case; the lone Black juror on the case voted to acquit him.Jessica Gresko, The Associated Press
CENTRE WELLINGTON – Centre Wellington’s Business Improvement Areas (BIA) are calling 2020 a challenging year but one that saw some successes that they want to expand on going forward into a new year. Tuesday’s Centre Wellington committee of the whole meeting heard delegations from Elora BIA and Fergus BIA. Micaela Campbell, Elora BIA administrator, called it a strange year and obviously not what they were anticipating. She explained that much of their budget was redirected to shop local and stay safe campaigns during the early months of the pandemic. Fred Gordon, Fergus BIA administrator, said the COVID crisis definitely had a detrimental effect on downtown Fergus. “In 2020, we decided to take that negative and turn it into something positive,” Gordon said, adding that they too shifted their budget toward shop local campaigns. Campbell said the most successful project that went forward was the weekend street closures downtown, calling it very successful for local businesses. From June until Thanksgiving, sections of Metcalfe Street and Mill Street were closed to vehicle traffic on the weekend which allowed for better social distancing and restaurants could expand their patios into the street. “It also was very effective in accommodating what felt like a massive influx of tourists this summer, mostly from areas outside of Elora, Fergus or Centre Wellington,” Campbell said, adding that a drop in international travel probably led to travel within the province. This was tried in Fergus as well by closing Provost Lane and St. Andrew Street. “Closing St. Andrew Street did not work for our members at all,” Gordon said. “Downtown Fergus has a heavy service oriented profile, many of which rely on seniors. They just couldn’t get close enough parking.” However, Gordon said Fergus BIA is interested in expanding on closing Provost Lane with some beautification at the historic weigh-scale building. “We can’t wait for the new year to get that project going,” Gordon said. Campbell said the Elora BIA would also like to see the weekend closures happen beyond the emergency situation. She admitted however that there are some logistical issues involved and the reopening of the Badley Bridge could complicate this as well. Campbell explained that for the most part, the reception to it has been positive. “I will be supporting downtown street closures at the county level as long as I’m there,” said mayor Kelly Linton. “I think it was just fabulous, it had a great feel. We have to make sure we address some of the parking issues but overall, from what I heard, it was well received.” In spite of the pandemic, both Elora and Fergus have had new businesses come to town this year. Gordon said there are no vacancies in downtown Fergus going into winter which is unusual. When asked about loss of revenue or employees, Gordon said it was a difficult time for members but wasn’t aware of any permanent job losses. Campbell said the tourism in Elora has made retail stores recover well but restaurants are struggling due to limited seating allowed under public health guidelines. Going forward, both BIAs are looking to make downtown Elora and Fergus known as destinations. Campbell said the Elora BIA will be looking to promote to wider markets to lean into the tourism expansion they’ve seen and to beef up beautification and events next year. In Fergus, Gordon said they are reaching out to the many new developments that are going up in town to let new residents know they have a thriving downtown. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is confirming that potato wart fungus has been found in soil from two fields on a farm in Queens County, Prince Edward Island.In an email to CBC News, CFIA said the potato wart was found on October 16, 2020, in soil that was being collected for routine export testing. It said there are approximately 20 hectares, in the two fields combined, on the farm where the fungus was found. The agency has not indicated where exactly the farm is located, other than specifying it was Queens County.Investigation continuesFollowing the detection, CFIA said it took immediate action to secure the farm and prevent potential spread. Potato wart poses no risk to humans or food safety, but it can be a serious disease for the infected potatoes, which become disfigured, making them unmarketable.It also prevents tuber production and can affect export markets.CFIA said potato wart can remain dormant in a field for more than 20 years. It is spread through the movement of infested tubers, soil and farm equipment.CFIA indicated it has sampled material from the fields affected to determine the possible sources of the fungus.Testing of the source fields that supplied the seed potatoes for the positive fields in 2020 has also been completed, and they are negative for potato wart. The agency said the testing of other samples continues, as does the investigation.CFIA said no seed potatoes from the 2020 harvest have been shipped from this farm, and it has prohibited movement of seed potatoes or soil from this farm to other locations.The CFIA has identified the fields where the potatoes produced in previous years were planted, and has conducted soil sampling there as well.Export suspendedIn a notice to producers in November, CFIA reported that "to address concerns raised by the United States, the export of seed potatoes originating from P.E.I. and destined to the United States has been suspended, as of Friday, November 20, 2020." It noted that this suspension does not apply to tablestock potatoes or potatoes for processing.CFIA said there have been no changes in inter-provincial movement of seed potatoes originating from P.E.I.The National Potato Council represents U.S. potato growers and supply chain partners.In response to the CFIA announcement, the council's CEO Kam Quarles released a statement about the situation on P.E.I."The National Potato Council supports CFIA's immediate action to stop all P.E.I. seed shipments into the United States and are working with our state potato organizations to inform U.S. growers who may be intending to source seed from P.E.I. for the upcoming year," the statement said. "We have been advised that no seed from the identified areas has been shipped to the United States in four years. However, we are working closely with USDA to monitor recipients of seed in years-past out of an abundance of caution."We are in communication with APHIS regarding CFIA's ongoing survey work to comprehensively determine the level of threat within Canada and are also urging CFIA to prohibit all domestic seed shipments out of P.E.I. to prevent spread within Canada until they can confirm no other farms have been jeopardized."CFIA said in its statement to CBC News that "the government of Canada will continue to work closely with the P.E.I. potato industry, the government of Prince Edward Island and the United States to resolve this trade disruption as quickly as possible."Other discoveriesIn 2000, potato wart shut down trade between P.E.I. and the United States, when it was first found on the Island. Since then, new protocols have been introduced for monitoring and controlling the spread of potato wart, and there have been no trade issues after subsequent discoveries of the fungus, including in 2012 and 2014.The border closure in 2000 cost P.E.I. potato farmers $22 million in sales.When reached for comment, the P.E.I. Potato Board referred all questions to CFIA.A spokesperson for the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture and Land said that because there is an ongoing investigation by CFIA, it won't be commenting on this case.According to the department, about 15 per cent of the potatoes grown on P.E.I. are used for seed, and about 80 per cent of that seed is used on Island farms.It said seed exports account for two per cent of P.E.I.'s international potato exports.The U.S. was the single biggest international buyer. In 2019, they bought $3.1 million worth of seed potatoes from P.E.I., out of $4.5 million exported.More from CBC P.E.I.
Internal U.S. Census Bureau documents indicate that it will be unable to meet a year-end deadline for handing in data used for allocating congressional seats as it deals with irregularities found in the numbers-crunching phase of the count, according to a Wednesday letter from the chair of the U.S. House committee that oversees the bureau.The letter from Democratic U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross accuses Republican President Donald Trump's administration of “a dangerous pattern of obstruction" in withholding documents about state population totals required to reallocate seats in the House.Maloney wrote that the Commerce Department — which oversees the Census Bureau — missed a Nov. 24 deadline to give the documents to the committee. However, the committee has received internal bureau documents from an unnamed source that indicate that addressing the data anomalies “impacts overall end date by 20 days” and anticipates that the population count will not be complete until between Jan. 26 and Feb. 6, the letter said.Those dates are significant because they would come after the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20, likely leaving crucial decisions about the apportionment of congressional districts in the hands of a Democratic administration.Maloney threatened a subpoena if “a full and unredacted set” of the requested documents are not given to the committee by Dec. 9. The Commerce Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.“By blocking the production of the full set of documents requested by the Committee last month, the Trump Administration is preventing Congress from verifying the scope of these anomalies, their impact on the accuracy of the Census, and the time professionals at the Census Bureau need to fix them,” the letter said. “Your failure to co-operate with the Committee’s investigation appears to be part of a dangerous pattern of obstruction with the Census.”Missing the Dec. 31 deadline for turning in the apportionment numbers would be a blow to Trump’s unprecedented efforts to exclude people in the country illegally from being counted in the numbers used to determine how many congressional seats each state gets and how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed.Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Census Bureau switched its deadline for wrapping up the once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident from the end of July to the end of October. It also extended the deadline for turning in apportionment numbers from the end of December to the end of next April, giving bureau statisticians five months to crunch the numbers.However, in late July and early August, officials at the Commerce Department announced field operations would finish at the end of September and the apportionment numbers would stick to a congressionally-mandated deadline of Dec. 31.The Census Bureau already was facing a shortened schedule of two and a half months for processing the data collected during the 2020 census — about half the time originally planned. The bureau has not officially said what the anomalies were or publicly stated if there would be a new deadline for the apportionment numbers.In a Nov. 19 statement, Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham said processing anomalies have occurred in past censuses and he was directing the bureau to use all resources available to resolve the issues as quickly as possible.One of the internal documents cited by Maloney is a Nov. 19 presentation for senior bureau officials that describes 13 anomalies that affect more than 900,000 census records. They include a problem related to duplicate non-response follow-up records in every state, a data error from the count of group quarters that affects more than 16,000 records, and a coding error affecting about 46,000 records in nine states.The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this week in a case about Trump’s move to exclude people living in the country illegally from the population count.Federal courts in California, Maryland and New York have ruled that Trump’s plan violates the Constitution, which provides that “representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State.” A fourth court, in Washington, D.C., held this past week that a similar challenge to the administration plan was premature, an argument that also has been made to the high courtAdrian Sainz, The Associated Press
Food blogger Rebecca Coleman has seen a sharp uptick in the number of restaurant businesses approaching her over the last month, and she says it’s all because of TikTok. “These restaurants that are reaching out to me, they have websites, they have Instagram, but very few of them have TikTok,” Coleman says. TikTok is still a new enough social media platform that businesses haven’t yet fully embraced it, she says, but influencers have. “And they’re taking full advantage of that,” says Coleman, who is an Instagram and TikTok food blogger and a full-time instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, where she teaches social media marketing for business. The pandemic led to the shutdown of businesses as well as widespread layoffs affecting the food and beverage industry as a whole. According to a Restaurants Canada survey, Canada’s April food service sales were the lowest in more than two decades. However, when restaurants reopened for business, owners began to turn to influencers to help attract new customers both for in-house and takeout dining. “I think that the potential is limitless,” says Sophia Hu, a Vancouver digital creator who goes by the username sopheats on TikTok and Instagram and has more than 21,000 followers combined. “As more restaurants see the power, the impact and the reach of social media as a new way, new-age marketing, they're going to be using food bloggers and content creators all the time.” Hu says restaurants will favour influencer marketing over conventional methods because it’s more personable, engaging and authentic. “We are real people and we actually love food. We go to the restaurants and we try it. I engage (with) my audience like they're my friends. And I'm just sharing genuinely what I love,” she says. Content creator Ceci, who has around 10,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram and goes by the username purplechives, says restaurants in Vancouver have adapted well to this style of marketing. After the initial lockdown was lifted and restaurants shifted to a takeout program, she saw they needed help with promotion. Restaurants tried to lure influencers by sending them food packages to taste and review, she explains. “I think the ones that were able to cultivate a good relationship with influencers have been able to do quite well,” she says. In provinces like B.C., where restaurants remain open to in-house dining, restaurateurs have invited influencers and food bloggers to visit, which sends a message they are open for business and operating safely. Influencer marketing is also a relatively low-cost option for business owners with funding constraints. While many food bloggers don’t get paid for their promotions and reviews, they do get to taste the food for free and make content for their audience. For Coleman, who goes by the username findbex on TikTok, it is also an opportunity to build her brand. Promotional videos are an opportunity for content creators to raise awareness around issues and businesses they want to support, she says. To keep her reviews fair, Ceci is upfront with restaurants when they invite her in to talk about their food. “I'm going to write what I think about your food. If I don't like it, I just post about it,” she says. “But I do usually give them feedback, first, if it's really bad.” Although all three content creators began their journey on Instagram, their audiences are now shifting to TikTok. “There’s a place for everything on TikTok,” says Coleman, who has almost 40,000 followers on TikTok and around 4,300 on Instagram. What has made the platform so popular in the past few months? Both Coleman and Ceci attribute TikTok’s wider reach to its share feature. “If I'm on TikTok, and I see a video, and I like that, I can share that video to my Instagram Stories effortlessly,” Coleman says. The application allows users, including restaurants, to send videos across platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, email, Snapchat and Messenger. It also allows them to save the video and react to it by making duets. Hu transitioned to TikTok when she realized she could repurpose content she had already secured for her Instagram and use it to engage in a different way. “It's fast and it's also casual,” she says, adding that unlike Instagram, TikTok does not require high-definition photos or footage. Priya Bhat / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverPriya Bhat, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
REGINA — The Saskatchewan government is apologizing for using a photo of two men to promote World AIDS Day. The government posted the picture showing the men standing side by side with their heads touching on social media on Tuesday. An accompanying message said HIV infections were on the rise in Saskatchewan and encouraged people to get tested. Social media users condemned the government's use of a same-sex couple to talk about HIV as perpetuating the myth of AIDS being a "gay disease." Saskatchewan struggles with high rates of HIV. Many infections come from injection drug use. The government removed the photo and apologized. "Yesterday, in marking World AIDS Day, government of Saskatchewan social media pages used a photo that stigmatized HIV/AIDS and those that live with the disease. The photo has been deleted, and we unreservedly apologize," it said in a tweet Wednesday. Health Minister Paul Merriman said he found the message disappointing. He said he plans to reach out to leaders in the LGBTQ community and those who work in harm reduction to personally apologize for the photo. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. The Canadian Press
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A noontime boom that was heard and felt from southern Ontario to Virginia was likely caused by a disintegrating meteor, according to an organization in western New York that keeps track of such phenomena.Witnesses across the area reported hearing the boom or seeing a fireball in the sky shortly after noon on Wednesday, said Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society in Geneseo. By 5 p.m., the organization had recorded 90 reports of the fireball seen in Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ontario, Pennsylvania and Virginia.Police agencies and fire departments around central New York received 911 calls reporting a boom that shook windows, but clouds prevented sightings in much of the area. Since most reports of the boom were around Syracuse, that's likely where the meteor blew to bits, Lunsford said.On the society's website, an observer in western New York reported the fireball was bright white with shades of yellow. An observer in Hagerstown, Maryland reported a fireball with red and orange sparks, smoke and a persistent train. A report from Welland, Ontario, described a long, bright green train.“Sunny day so it looked like a gold metallic flash against the blue sky,” said a report from Winchester, Virginia.“Astonishing, amazing, still get goosebumps talking about it,” wrote an observer in Port Dover, Ontario. “The train was flaming white, wide and long, no smoke.”“We tend to notice fireballs more at night because they stand out better, but it's not terribly unusual for very bright ones to be noticed during the day. It happens several times a year over populated areas,” said Margaret Campbell-Brown, a member of the Meteor Physics Group at Western University in London, Ontario.All fireballs, which are bright meteors, produce sound waves, sometimes detectable only by sensitive microphones, Campbell-Brown said by email. A large one may produce a thunderlike sonic boom with possible extra bangs from fragmentation, she said.The Associated Press
CALGARY — Police in Calgary have ticketed three organizers of an anti-mask rally held over the weekend. The province has banned outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19. Media have reported that hundreds attended the rally in the city's downtown. Artur Pawlowski has been charged under the Public Health Act with contravening a public health order, failing to wear a face covering where required and failing to have a permit for an event. David Pawlowski and Ryan Audette are also charged with contravening a public health order and failing to wear a face covering. A Calgary police spokeswoman says the public health order charges each come with a $1,200 fine and there is a $50 fine under Calgary's mask bylaw. The charge for failing to have a permit does not have a set fine but is to go to court on March 16. Investigators are seeking three additional people who face charges. The Calgary Police Service says in a statement that it's not always safe for officers to issue a ticket at the time of an alleged offence, like during a protest where "emotions are high." "In many instances, tickets are issued in the hours or days after an infraction based on evidence obtained at the time of the event," police said. "We know everyone is struggling right now and our intent is not to punish, but to protect the safety of Calgarians as we work together through this pandemic." This report by The Canadian Press was first published December 2, 2020. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story; a previous version had incorrect charges and fines.
Around 50 people set up at the intersection of Great George and Grafton streets on Tuesday evening holding signs as part of a demonstration of support for farmers protesting in India.Organizers say they are hoping the series of planned rallies in Charlottetown will help raise awareness of those protests.Thousands of farmers in India have been protesting, requesting the government scrap three new laws they say could devastate crop prices.The farmers say the laws could cause the government to stop buying grain at guaranteed prices and result in their exploitation by corporations that would buy their crops for less money.But government says the legislation brings about much-needed reform in agriculture that will allow farmers the freedom to market their produce and boost production through private investment.The organizers of the Charlottetown rally said it could be devastating for farmers in India."They're afraid that they might not get enough price for their crop and eventually this will put their future in danger as well," said Manpreet Singh."Farming is the main source of income for us ... if they're going to lose their rights and if we don't have farming in the future, I think that's the biggest impact they're going to have on our families, including ourselves as well."More than half of India's 1.3 billion population is connected to agriculture and farming, so it's a huge issue for the country and involves a significant voter block.Singh said the group is holding the rallies to let people know about what is happening in India — especially for those with families back home who farm."They're really worried about this because, as I told you, we mostly depend on the farming … all of my relatives, my family, they're all going to Delhi to protest against these laws," Singh said."They are blocking the roads and everything over there so that they can bring the attention of the government towards them."Singh said they are hoping to get the attention of the Canadian government as well.They plan to hold more rallies this week, with a bigger demonstration this weekend involving supporters from all over the Island.More from CBC P.E.I.
The protest comes as the French government proposes "random border checks" to be put in place over the holiday season targeting people trying to get to foreign resorts.View on euronews
Ahuntsic-Cartierville - Des éclosions de COVID-19 sont survenues ces dernières semaines dans plusieurs milieux de soins sur le territoire d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville, a appris Journaldesvoisins.com. Au 1er décembre, la Direction régionale de la santé publique de Montréal (DRSP) recensait six éclosions actives dans le réseau de la santé sur le territoire du Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Nord de l’île de Montréal (CIUSSS). Plusieurs éclosions à Sacré-Cœur Le CIUSSS assure que la situation est sous contrôle, mais la situation inquiète le Syndicat des travailleurs et travailleuses (STT) du CIUSSS du NÎM (STT du CIUSSS du NÎM). Le syndicat dit notamment avoir été informé, il y a environ deux semaines, de deux éclosions majeures dans des unités à l’Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal (HSCM). Elle indique par ailleurs que des membres du personnel du Pavillon Albert-Prévost ont également été testés positif à la COVID et ont été retirés du milieu. Le syndicat, qui dit avoir eu vent d’au moins huit éclosions à HSCM et à Albert-Prévost, n’est cependant pas convaincu que les règles sont toujours bien appliquées. Les milieux de soins pour aînés aussi touchés La DRSP rapporte également deux autres éclosions actives dans des milieux de soins pour aînés sur le territoire du CIUSSS du Nord, soit une en CHSLD et une en ressources intermédiaires (RI). Le CIUSSS confirme une éclosion à la RI Grenet (Centre Notre-Dame-des-Anges), qui apparaît sur la liste des établissements sous haute-surveillance du ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. On y rapportait sept cas au 30 novembre, soit 18 % des résidants infectés. Le CHSLD Cartierville est pour sa part sur la liste des établissements sous surveillance du MSSSS, mais l’éclosion qui comptait quatre cas actifs au 29 novembre, semble en voie de se résorber étant donné qu’il ne reste aujourd’hui que deux résidants atteints. La vigilance reste de mise Aucune éclosion n’est rapportée en Résidences pour aînés (RPA), mais deux RPA d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville comptent chacune un cas : la résidence ORA et le Manoir Saint-Joseph. En ce qui concerne les hôpitaux et les CHSLD, même si le problème de la mobilité du personnel entre les installations semble avoir en grande partie été résolu, le STT du CIUSSS du NIM souligne qu’il faut tout de même redoubler de vigilance concernant les mouvements de personnel dans les installations, en particulier lors du recours à du personnel d’agence. Simon Van Vliet, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal des voisins
TORONTO — Ontario's hospitals are warning that the rising number of COVID-19 patients in their wards are making it increasingly tough to continue other procedures. The Ontario Hospital Association urged residents Wednesday to follow public health measures in an effort to help address capacity issues, particularly in intensive care units across the province. That came as the province reported 656 people in hospital due to COVID-19, including 183 in intensive care, and 106 people on ventilators. Health experts have previously said having more than 150 patients in intensive care could lead to cancelled surgeries. "Ontario hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain access to vital surgeries and procedures with COVID-19 cases rising," the hospital association said in a statement posted on social media. "Hospitals are doing everything they can, but they need your support. Help stop the spread by making better practical choices every day."The OHA has been warning of capacity issues for months as hospitals are pressed to fulfill all of their regular duties while also caring for COVID patients, running testing centres, and assisting some long-term care homes.Hospital capacity has been an issue in COVID-19 hot spots, such as Peel Region, for weeks, but those pressures have also spread to other areas. The Grand River Hospital in Waterloo Region paused elective surgeries this week after its intensive care unit reached capacity.In Windsor-Essex, the Windsor Regional Hospital said high patient numbers were challenging the entire regional health-care system and had made it necessary to impose strict visitor restrictions in an effort to reduce transmission of the virus. NDP Legislator Catherine Fife, who represents a Waterloo riding, pressed the government Wednesday for further resources to bolster hospitals."What is the premier going to do to ensure that our hospitals have the support they need to get through this crisis? Do it now, we're at the tipping point," she said. Health Minister Christine Elliott insisted that hospitals are not in crisis because the province has allocated money for new beds. She said while Ontario's numbers are nothing to brag about, the province is flattening the curve."Ontario is not in crisis right now," Elliott said. "You want to speak about who is in crisis ... we're taking a look at Alberta where they're doubling up patients in intensive care units. We're not doing that in Ontario."Liberal House Leader John Fraser slammed Elliott for the remark, and said the province should be focused on its response at home."What's she going to do next, compare us with South Dakota?" he said.Meanwhile, the province sent two dozen contact tracers to Windsor-Essex as the region grapples with numerous outbreaks of COVID-19. Earlier in the week, the region's top doctor warned that Windsor-Essex was "at risk of going into a lockdown.""Given the increasing case counts ... we will be on the verge of collapsing the public health capacity and also the acute care system capacity now that we have two outbreaks in the hospital system," said Dr. Wajid Ahmed.Elliott acknowledged the situation on Wednesday and said the province was working with the region. "We are aware that there is a considerable concern regarding public health resources in Windsor-Essex," she said. "There is some more significant community transmission there, which is why we've been putting further restrictions in that area."The region entered the red level of the province's tiered, colour-coded pandemic response framework on Monday -- just two weeks after advancing from the green level to yellow, and then to orange. The red level is one short of a lockdown.As of Wednesday, there were 17 active outbreaks in the region, Ahmed said, noting that the public health unit was sending regular updates to the province.Of particular concern, he noted, is the impact on schools, with two elementary schools currently closed due to outbreaks.At one school, 29 students and nine staff tested positive for the virus. "When you have more background cases in the community, it does pose risk inside the school system," Ahmed said, adding that more schools could be forced to close. The Windsor-Essex Public Health unit recorded 41 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, along with two new deaths. The province as a whole, meanwhile, reported 1,723 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and 35 new deaths due to the virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Shawn Jeffords and Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Premier Dennis King says he's willing to begin a discussion with his Maritime counterparts about whether P.E.I. should stay on daylight time year-round.Progressive Conservative MLA Cory Deagle, from Montague-Kilmuir, raised the issue in the legislature Wednesday, saying he intends to table a bill this week that would do just that."There are many compelling reasons to consider making a change to daylight savings time," he said, citing a growing amount of evidence on physical and mental health impacts, as well as vehicle crash and workplace injury rates. "I think that this is a change whose time has come and I look forward to a good conversation with Islanders over the next few months." In Canada, most provinces move their clocks ahead one hour on the second Sunday in March and back one hour on the first Sunday in November.After Deagle raised the issue, Tignish-Palmer Road Liberal MLA Hal Perry noted that he had called for this previously and pressed the premier for a clear commitment."There's been concerns regarding the impact of long dark evenings and what it can do to one's mental health," he said. Input from other Maritime provincesStudies have shown an increase in heart attacks just after the time change in the spring due to lack of sleep and altered medication times, he noted. King said he's interested in starting a conversation on the matter but would not take Prince Edward Island in that direction without input from the other Maritime provinces. King said he will raise the issue at an Atlantic premiers meeting before the end of the year. New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said he likes the idea of using daylight time year-round and will adopt it if the other Maritime provinces go along. Higgs was responding to Liberal Leader Roger Melanson, who suggested the idea in a news release Tuesday morning.Ontario considering itOntario's government recently passed legislation to make the change as long as Quebec and New York agreed to do the same thing. The Doug Ford government said it was important that the province not be out of step with its neighbouring jurisdictions. B.C. Premier John Horgan has signalled the province won't stop changing its clocks until Washington, Oregon and California do the same.Currently in Canada, Yukon and most of Saskatchewan do not move clock settings back or forward two times a year. Some regions in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Nunavut also don't observe daylight time.More from CBC P.E.I.
BRUSSELS — The European Union is grasping the imminent arrival of the Biden administration as a key moment to reset relations with the United States after four years of trans-Atlantic acrimony. With a series of initiatives, the 27 nation bloc is seeking to rekindle the spirit of co-operation that has long defined global diplomacy. But the EU but also acknowledges that future relations will have to adapt to a multi-polar world where China is an ever bigger player. EU partners are seeking a change from Trump’s go-it-alone credo and back a multilateral approach to better deal with global crises. The EU has already invited President-elect Joe Biden to visit Brussels at the earliest opportunity next year.Raf Casert, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The Liberals have officially started the clock toward a key vote that will determine the fate of billions of dollars in new pandemic-related aid — and the minority government.The federal government introduced a bill in the House of Commons Wednesday that would enact spending measures proposed in this week's fall economic statement.The Liberals will make passage of the legislation a confidence vote, meaning the minority government could fall and trigger an election if it doesn't garner the necessary support.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said his party would carefully read the bill to make sure it does what the government claims.Monday's update outlined just over $25 billion in new spending to top up and expand existing programs and create new, targeted support for hard-hit industries.The Liberals are also promising $1,200 per child under six for families earning up to $120,000, and $600 for families earning over that amount. The first payment is supposed to happen right after the bill passes, but the government is only suggesting it needs to introduce the legislation, not pass it, before MPs go on a winter break, Poilievre said."The government needs to tell us how it plans to make that payment if it doesn't have the legislation passed," he said after a morning caucus meeting.The economic statement also noted the deficit was on track to hit $381.6 billion this fiscal year, but warned the figure could close in on $400 billion if public health restrictions are extended or expanded in the coming weeks.The federal debt is set to push past $1.2 trillion, with more on the way in the coming years before accounting for the government's proposed three-year stimulus fund the Liberals say will be between $70 billion and $100 billion.Credit rating agency DBRS Morningstar, in an analysis Wednesday, said the cost of extra spending and debt could be worth it to avoid long-term scarring to the economy, which could take the form of people permanently out of jobs and more businesses closing for good.The agency added that the government will have to "recalibrate public finances" to keep deficits from becoming permanent. That won't be easy with a long list of policy promises, the agency said, pointing to a national child-care system, reform of the employment insurance system, green infrastructure spending and demands from provinces for increased health-care transfers."Given the medium-term fiscal outlook, there is limited space to fund sizable increases in permanent spending in a sustainable way without also raising revenues," the report said. "The government will face difficult fiscal (and political) choices as it prepares the 2021 Budget."A majority of MPs in the House of Commons on Wednesday backed a Bloc Quebecois motion that called on the federal government to increase its share of health-care spending before the end of the year.The vote isn’t binding on the government.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.The Canadian Press
Known Terror Squad gang member Kevin George Ackegan pleaded guilty in Prince Albert Provincial Court to weapons and drug-related charges avoiding a trial. Forty-year-old Ackegan was arrested by Prince Albert RCMP Integrated Crime Reduction Team during a traffic stop on Feb. 26, 2020. When police searched the vehicle they found two firearms, ammunition, a machete, a knife, bear spray, hydromorphone, methamphetamine, and Gabapentin pills. They also found U.S., Jamaican and Canadian currency. On Nov. 30 Ackegan changed his plea from not guilty to guilty. Before Ackegan’s trial, his lawyer Dale Blenner-Hassett, filed a Charter application asking the court to exclude the evidence seized during the traffic stop. Blenner-Hasset challenged whether the arresting officer had a reasonable belief that an offence was being committed. The court heard that the arresting police officer was working for the RCMP Integrated Crime Reduction Team that investigates gangs, guns and drugs. At about 8 a.m. on Feb. 26, 2020, the officer got a call from a source that told him Ackegan was in possession of guns and told him where he was in Prince Albert. The officer had used the source on eight previous occasions. The officer testified that the source has a criminal record. The court heard that the arresting officer also knew Ackegan. He had charged Ackegan previously in 2017 with breaching his parole by associating with known gang members and at the time of that arrest, Ackegan was a member of the street gang Terror Squad. On Feb. 26, 2020, when the officer received the information about Ackegan, he conducted surveillance at a residence on the 800 block of 14 Street West in Prince Albert. Another officer testified that he watched the residence for about three hours and at about 11:20 a.m. Ackegan came out of the residence and started loading several bags into the back seat and trunk of a vehicle. A woman was driving the vehicle and Ackegan was the passenger. Both officers testified that in their experience, guns could be concealed in bags. The officer who took the call from the informant testified that he conducted a CPIC inquiry on Ackegan, which confirmed he was prohibited from possessing firearms. The woman and Ackegan drove a few blocks before stopping at another residence. At this point the officers made a traffic stop and arrested Ackegan. One of the officers drove the vehicle to the police station where it was searched and police found guns in the bags, ammunition, drugs, and a cell phone. Crown Prosecutor Andreanne Dube argued that the search of the vehicle was justified as a search incidental to the lawful arrest of Ackegan. During cross-examination, Blenner-Hassett asked one of the officers the identity of the confidential informant. Judge H. M. Harradence, however, said the informant’s identity shouldn’t be disclosed and the court must ensure confidentiality is maintained. Judge Harradence dismissed the defence’s Charter application to have the evidence thrown out. He said he accepted that the arresting officer had information from a source that the accused was in possession of guns and that the information was current and firsthand because the source actually saw what was reported. Judge Harradence said there was some indication of past credibility of information from the source, three hours of surveillance that corroborated Ackegan was at the residence and was loading bags into the trunk and back seat of the vehicle. Judge Harradence also said that police testified they have investigative experience that guns have been concealed in bags and the arresting officer had personal knowledge of Ackegan’s history with illegal firearms and association with known gang members. “I find a number of factors persuasive of a strong connection between Ackegan and the illegal possession of firearms,” said Judge Harradence. Judge Harradence ruled that Ackegan’s rights weren’t violated. “In these circumstances, I find that the arrest and search of this accused and the vehicle was reasonable and lawful.” Ackegan will be sentenced in Prince Albert Provincial Court on Feb. 2. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
OTTAWA — Amanda Sully had tried to get pregnant for six years, but she's grateful that her "miracle" son arrived six days after Ontario became the only province to start a newborn screening test that revealed he had a progressive and irreversible disease.In January, Aidan Deschamps became the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as part of a new test added to Ontario's newborn screening program.Sully said she and her husband, Adam Deschamps, were surprised to get a call from Newborn Screening Ontario advising them that their son, who was 10 days old at the time, had tested positive for the genetic neuromuscular condition, which is the most common cause of death in childhood due to an inherited condition."If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different," Sully said Wednesday on a Zoom call from the family's home in Ottawa as Aidan squeezed out of his mom's arms before his dad took over and tried to keep up with the energetic child."As terrible as the news was we were so fortunate to find out early because delaying treatment would have meant long-term irreversible consequences for him," Sully said.Sully said she was initially worried that her baby may not be able to roll over if he had the illness, but at 10 months, Aidan is healthy and quite the dancer who loves to throw and chase balls after starting early treatment.The couple had never heard of spinal muscular atrophy but the morning after the call they were in the office of Dr. Hugh McMillan, a neurologist at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, a pediatric health and research centre based in Ottawa.Adam Deschamps said he and his wife held their breath a few days later as their little boy was given an injection of the drug Spinraza just below his spinal cord. The first medication to treat children with spinal muscular atrophy administered through repeated spinal taps was approved by Health Canada in 2017.McMillan said the drug, which is paid for to varying degrees in different provinces, increases the amount of an essential protein in order to keep motor neurons and motor nerves alive and without it the progression of the disease is irreversible.He also applied for and was granted use of a gene replacement therapy on compassionate grounds for Aidan when the boy was five weeks. The one-time intravenous treatment worth millions of dollars is one of two medications that Health Canada is considering for approval, with an announcement expected in the coming weeks, said McMillan, who is also a clinical investigator at the CHEO Research Institute.It's too early to tell what the little boy's future holds but he is meeting all of his developmental milestones, McMillan said.Dr. Pranesh Chakraborty, chief medical officer of Newborn Screening Ontario, said the province started the program, which tests for 28 conditions, in 1965 and includes all babies born in Ontario and most of Nunavut.Chakraborty said each province decides on its own whether to screen for certain conditions but the cost for the test that helped Aidan was low because Ontario already had the technology to add it to its existing program."I can say from speaking with my colleagues across the country that every province is looking at this and we're hoping that they'll be making decisions soon," he said.The severity of spinal muscular atrophy depends on when symptoms appear and some children may start showing signs early on when they cannot roll over. British Columbia's newborn screening program tests for 24 disorders, a spokeswoman at the Provincial Health Authority said.The provincial Health Ministry did not respond to requests on whether it would include testing for spinal muscular atrophy as part of its newborn screening program.Susi Vander Wyk, executive director of Cure SMA Canada, said the organization is working to get all provinces to test for the condition and that Aidan's story based on Ontario's lead should compel all jurisdictions to act.-- By Camille Bains in VancouverThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. The Canadian Press
GUYSBOROUGH – There’s nothing like the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree. But if you don’t get one soon, you might not get one at all. The first thing on your Christmas shopping list this year should be the tree, according to the buzz on the lot at the Northeastern Christmas Tree Association (NECTA). Norman MacIsaac, the association’s manager of marketing, told The Journal last week that they will soon stop shipping because they are getting low on trees. And, while the association ships to the United States and doesn’t sell locally – when they can’t find enough trees to ship, that indicates a shortage in supply across the entire market. The NETCA, located on South River Lake Rd. near Goshen, procures trees for the U.S. market mainly from growers in Guysborough, Antigonish and Pictou counties. The association has 100 members and markets trees for approximately 60 of those members. This year, MacIsaac said, there is a big demand for trees,but not much of a supply. But that, according to him, has nothing to do with the pandemic; it’s due to competition and the plight that faces most of the agricultural sector – the demographic involved in the industry. “The average age of the grower is between 65 and 70 years old; people are getting out of it.” And the competition, that’s coming from below the border. “There are buyers from the U.S. coming in offering more money in some cases,” said MacIsaac. The draw for U.S. buyers is profit, of course. MacIsaac told The Journal that “prices are going up definitely; probably about 10 per cent more than last year and last year was probably about 10 per cent more than the year before.” The actual price per tree varies based on size and grade,but MacIsaac said, “If you’re dealing with premiums, you’ll get a pretty good dollar for them … a 7-8-foot tree of the highest grade would probably get $18 or more [wholesale].” MacIsaac said he isn’t seeing any difference in the tree business this year as far as COVID-19 is concerned, but he does expect it will be a good year for retailers. “I think there is going to be a big demand because people are going to be stuck in their homes because they can’t travel. Retailers are going to do really well, I think.” And he’s not the only one who’s predicting a good season. All over North America the Christmas tree market is booming. Shirley Brennan, the executive director of the Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association told Global News, “People realize ‘I’m not going away for Christmas this year, so I am going to get a real tree.’ Families want a tradition and want to embrace this holiday season because they missed so much this year because of COVID.” While the pandemic might be making you rethink your holiday traditions, it might make you rethink your career choices as well. If that’s the case, here’s some potential advice from MacIsaac. “There are some young people in it, and they are going to reap the benefits of the low supply. They are doing a lot of planting and a lot of grooming. I think they are going to be set up pretty good. Any younger people that manage a Christmas tree farm properly will do well.”Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal