Officials and voters are keenly watching as the presidency hinges on tight races in battleground states. (Nov. 4)
Officials and voters are keenly watching as the presidency hinges on tight races in battleground states. (Nov. 4)
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Canada's third quarter annualized growth soared by a record 40.5%, rebounding from a historic plunge in the second quarter, as businesses and stores reopened from COVID-19 lockdowns, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday. "There was a big import drag that knocked almost six percentage points off GDP growth ... it reflects positive developments but in GDP accounting it acts as a drag on top line GDP growth." "The quarterly increase in GDP in Q3 as a whole was a little bit smaller than expected earlier on but it's still pretty large."
The COVID-19 pandemic made it harder for many to find and afford menstrual products. It also gave Isabela Rittinger and scores of other volunteers in and around Toronto time to do something about it. Rittinger, a first-year student at Queen’s University in Kingston stuck attending virtual classes from home in Pickering, jumped into the fray by creating an international chapter of a U.S.-based period movement in March. By the summer, she and a group of others, including many students, had split off to create Bleed the North and declare Canada’s first ever National Period Day, part of a campaign to fight menstrual stigma and period poverty, the inability to afford pads and tampons, which can cost between $75 and $150 a year. The group, now numbering 80 people, has since collected and distributed more than 10,000 period products, in kits of 11 pads and 7 tampons, enough to cover a typical menstrual cycle. It was all Rittinger could do to feel useful at a time of massive upheaval, and the community and team-building helped get her through the worst of those early days. “I don't know what I would have done with my time and how I would have faced the COVID lockdown if not for the people I had met at Bleed the North,” she said in an interview. “Those few months at the beginning were really, really dire and it was just like, if I didn't have this to pour all my time and my heart into I don't know where I would be.” Bleed the North started off collecting donated pads and tampons and delivering them to shelters and individuals in need in Durham Region outside Toronto, but has since eyed getting student trustees on school boards across Ontario to pitch for them to make period products freely available in all secondary school bathrooms. “We hear all the time from menstruators afraid to go to the bathroom holding a pad or a tampon,” said Mia Medic, who takes a lead on Bleed the North’s advocacy efforts. “That's stigma, that's period stigma.” “No one in school, no teacher, has ever told me to not be ashamed to have a period,” she added, noting the group plans to create a sex education toolkit for teachers in the coming months and recalling her experience learning the biological basics in grades 5 and 6. She said it was important to get products into all bathrooms “so every student who menstruates has access to products,” pointing out that “not all women menstruate and not all those who menstruate are women.” Independent of their efforts, Peel District School Board recently said it would provide free period products after a student trustee push, but there is no provincewide legislation. “Even sparking conversations within school boards and within authority figures is super, super important,” Medic said. “I would love to hear (Education Minister) Stephen Lecce talk about periods and talk about menstruation, even if we don't get anywhere, just to hear people in power speak about it is a win for us, because it's a start.” One-third of the under-25s in a Plan Canada survey of 2,000 cisgender women conducted in early 2018 said they struggled to afford menstrual products. (It did not include the specific experiences of trans men and non-binary menstruators.) Those in Indigenous and rural communities suffer acutely from a lack of affordable access, with a box of tampons costing between $16 and $40 in rural Indigenous communities that Bleed the North is trying to reach. “I think one for us coming into 2021 is figuring out how we can support communities that we don't necessarily live near because obviously a lot of us are young 17, 18-year-olds who in their cars go to different communities and drop off products to shelters,” Rittinger said, noting it might make more sense to fundraise and e-transfer to remote shelters and other sources. Bleed the North itself has largely subsisted on small individual donations of cash and goods to distribute, including a contactless drive-thru drop-off where it raised $500. A peer organization called Menstruation REDefined hosted a virtual art auction and sent them half the proceeds. The federal government proposed to make federally regulated workplaces provide workers with free menstrual products in May last year, while in Ontario a bill tabled by the opposition NDP’s Bhutila Karpoche at around the same time to declare a provincial menstrual hygiene day has stalled at first reading. British Columbia's government issued a first-in-Canada ministerial order requiring all public schools to provide free menstrual products for students in school bathrooms last April. Bleed the North’s monitoring of legislative efforts elsewhere show little to no movement. The group said it has received interest from advocates on university campuses and other sites in other provinces (it has a couple in Quebec already) and is looking to expand across the country next year. “We're hoping to expand nationally next year and having contacts all across the country that we can rely on to start this in their own communities and hopefully reach as many people as possible.”Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
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.
“Eddie’s Boy,” by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press)The hitman known as the butcher’s boy is back, forced out of retirement at age 61 to confront an implacable old enemy who wants him dead.Thomas Perry first introduced him 38 years ago in his Edgar Award-winning debut novel, “The Butcher’s Boy,” but until now, the character has reemerged only twice — in “Sleeping Dogs” in 1992 and “The Informant” in 2011.The new novel, “Eddie’s Boy,” finds him in England, posing as retired American businessman Michael Shaeffer. He’s enjoying life with a charming yet spunky aristocratic British wife until someone discovers his secret and sends a small army of killers to snuff him out.Shaeffer flees to Australia, only to discover that his unknown enemy has managed to track him there. So, he jets to America to find out who has put a contract out on him and to put a stop to it. In his wake, he leaves a trail of dead bodies across much of the English-speaking world. Perry breaks the action-packed narrative with reminiscences about the protagonist’s early life, when a small-town Pennsylvania hit man named Eddie, who spent his off hours operating a fine butcher shop, taught the boy both trades.If fans of Perry’s novels think the plot of “Eddie’s Boy” closely resembles the last two butcher’s boy books, they’d be right, but the saving grace is in the differing details, including how Shaeffer confronts the challenge of engaging in combat with a fit but aging body.Although the butcher’s boy is not — and never been — a likeable character, Perry expects us to admire the skill and meticulous care with which he works. And there is certainly much to admire in the skill with which Perry works, from his flawless plotting to his tight and muscular prose style.___Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”Bruce Desilva, 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
When Johnny Beach was just six years old, something caught his eye."On YouTube, I found a 14-year-old boy playing the Orange Blossom Special and it just moved me and I really wanted to do it," he said.His mother, Jamie O'Donnell, said it was love at first sight."He was captivated by it. He begged us for six months to get him a fiddle, so we got him a fiddle and he took right to it," she said.Now eight, the Riverview boy is passionate about fiddling, takes lessons and practises at least 30 minutes a day.Johnny joined some young fiddle players called the Plucky Pizzicatos, who perform for seniors and take part in some fundraising benefits.JohnnyBut when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that all stopped. Johnny decided to keep on playing."He was just practising in front of our house and as people were walking by on the street they were cheering for him and we even had a few people that ran up and gave him a little tip, so he got this idea to street perform," O'Donnell said. ""It was just a way that he could share his gift with others."And Johnny made a decision about what to do with the money."I just want to help people that need the money, and I don't really need it for anything, so I just like to give it to people that need it," he said.Johnny's first donation was $300 to Riverview P.R.O. Kids, which provides financial assistance to help kids take part in sports, and artistic and recreational activities. The organization has helped Johnny qith his fiddle lessons.O'Donnell said Johnny's next donation was to an organization near and dear to the whole family's heart: Friends of the Moncton Hospital.Johnny received life-saving surgery at the Moncton Hospital at the age of three.Johnny has made two donations of $200.Now with the holidays approaching, he's turned his attention to the Albert County Food Bank."He knows that turkey dinner is something everybody likes to enjoy at Christmastime," O'Donnell said. "Not every family has that opportunity, so he knows that the Albert County Food Bank gives Christmas boxes and turkey dinners to families, so that's his focus right now … to see how much money he can raise for them in time for their Christmas boxes."Donations are also coming in online.With the weather turning colder, O'Donnell hopes they can find some place indoors where Johnny can continue playing and raising money."With COVID, it's really difficult because businesses — there's a lot of guidelines and a lot of restrictions and businesses definitely don't want to be doing anything that could potentially draw any kind of a crowd, and he tends to draw a little bit of a crowd wherever he is."So it's been really hard to find somewhere indoors."But that was far from Johnny's mind as he chose a tune from his songbook and picked up his fiddle. He played with joy, tapping his foot along to the beat.Johnny said he'll keep raising money. And he hopes to become a professional fiddler someday.His mother gets emotional watching him play."I have those happy cries, like, a few times a week. Just the amazing things that people say and seeing that's my little boy — that's just motivating and inspiring people and bringing so much joy everywhere he goes. Proud would be an understatement."
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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
The Alberta government is hiring an outside contractor to review the reasons for an increase in the number of people receiving benefits from disability programs such as Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped.The $75,000 review will look at AISH, Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) and Family Supports for Children with Disabilities (FSCD). According to the document provided to potential bidders, work was set to start Nov. 30 and wrap up by Dec. 23, though the timeline could be extended by three weeks if required. "The caseloads of programs that serve disabled Albertans are increasing," the document said. "The project will enhance understanding of the external and internal factors that are related to these increases and how government can better align policy, program design and delivery with these factors."The findings of the project will be considered as part of the ongoing requirement to review the efficiency and efficacy of all government programs and will support the province's planning and decision making process."The contractor is expected to suggest "practical and feasible recommendations to improve the financial sustainability of the programs."Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney was not made available for an interview. In a statement to CBC News, her press secretary Jerry Bellikka said the contract is part of the government's commitment "to review the efficiency and efficacy of all government programs" and "will support the province's planning and decision-making process."He said the successful bidder will be named and a timeline set once the contract is finalized. Marie Renaud, the NDP critic for community and social services, said she was alarmed by the narrow scope of the review, the lack of consultation and the short timeline, particularly in light of comments made by Premier Jason Kenney and his staff in September.After Kenney mused about needing to look at growing case numbers, Matt Wolf, his executive director of issues management, followed up with tweets suggesting thousands of AISH recipients might not meet the definition of being "severely handicapped" because they have anxiety or ADHD. Renaud said she thinks the government is using a tactic it has tried before to justify changes to eligibility requirements. "The evidence we've seen with this government is that a lot of these panels and reviews are really a way to give themselves cover for the next steps that they're going to take," she said.According to the bidding document, the successful proponent will look at internal government data, socio-economic information and past reviews. There is no indication they are expected to hold consultations with people who use the program or their families. Renaud said the programs in question are old and could use a review, but not in the way the government is attempting. She thinks the contractor's findings will be used to justify cuts in the February provincial budget.
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
When Nikita Toms hears a knock on the front door of her King’s Point home, there are a couple of things it could mean. The first is that it could be the courier dropping off a Christmas gift. The second thing it could be is another courier delivering a piece of her four-year-old daughter Peyton’s Make-A-Wish bedroom makeover. Sometimes, the courier shows up with a mixture of both. When that happens, Nikita is always sure to separate gifts from makeover items. Either way, they’re both equally welcomed by the youngest Toms. “It’s exciting to her,” said Nikita. Pieces for the bedroom renovation have been coming for the past month. The makeover includes a new bedroom set, the repainting of walls with a giant rainbow — Peyton’s aunt and uncle are painting her room — and a host of other upgrades to reflect her love of unicorns and rainbows. Make-A-Wish Canada breaks wishes down into three categories. There are travel wishes, celebrity wishes and item wishes. With the COVID-19 pandemic still going strong, the travel and celebrity wish categories became impossible to fulfill. Some of the children making those wishes chose to wait until they could travel again to make them happen, while others switched their wishes to item wishes. “Some of the wishes have been reimagined,” said Dave Walsh, development co-ordinator with Make-A-Wish Canada in St. John’s. The pandemic meant a shift in the way Make-A-Wish Canada does things. Normally, the foundation would have a team that would assemble and makeover a gift like Peyton’s. However, for safety reasons, the foundation has been sending the items to the family and having them assemble it themselves. “We’ve been forced to do things at a distance,” said Walsh. Make-A-Wish Canada is fulfilling three other wishes in addition to Peyton’s in the province. The other three are all video game-related. All are currently receiving pieces of their gifts. “It’s kind of nice, too,” said Walsh. “They feel like Christmas wishes.” Peyton was one of those who decided to reimagine her wish. A big Disney fan, she had originally wished to visit Disneyland, but that wasn’t possible under current conditions. With travel a no-go, the young girl gave it some thought and decided she wanted a bedroom makeover with an emphasis on two things in particular. “She wanted anything to do with rainbows and unicorns,” said Nikita. Peyton finished two years of chemotherapy to shrink a benign tumour on her jaw that was the size of a baseball in February 2018. Then, her parents Nikita and Jake, marvelled at her strength as she did three chemo sessions a month and 72 treatments over the two years. “She was a lot stronger than we were,” said Nikita. Seeing the bedroom slowly come together with the help of the family has been great for her parents. And, obviously, for Peyton. As pieces of the room continue to trickle in, the family hopes to have everything assembled in the next couple of weeks. “(Peyton) well deserves it,” said Nikita. Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
Dec. 1 marks Giving Tuesday, the follow-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday that encourages people to consider where they can make a charitable donation or find some other way of giving back to the community.With the COVID-19 pandemic this year, however, there's a renewed focus on the needs of the most vulnerable, says Kate Bahen, the managing director at Charity Intelligence, a non-profit that evaluates the Canadian charity sector."We're putting the basic necessities back to the forefront. The women's shelters. The food banks," Bahen said on CBC's B.C. Today. "We're hearing from a lot of donors who used to give to, you know, symphonies, art museums, etc., and we're seeing a real rotation in giving back to the community and back to the essential services." Bahen has a few tips for those interested in giving back this season. Do your research and give with intention. It's important to know what impact your donation is having in the community, says Bahen, especially at a time when dollars need to be stretched. Bahen says Canadians give $17 billion to charities each year, but early estimates show that giving is likely going to be down by about 37 per cent due to hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic. "When you're giving at this time, we need donations to do the most good possible," she said, pointing out that Charity Intelligence has research and analysis available on its website that can help inform a giving decision. She said going through previous statements can help you judge whether a charity needs help this year, or whether another one might be better served."Just like some people are very well off and are going to be fine and some people are really struggling, there are some charities that are really well off. They have tens of millions of dollars in the bank, they'll be able to come through COVID fine, absolutely fine," she said. "There are lots of other charities that are really trying to keep their lights on."Sometimes, cash is best. Bahen says pay attention to what people need. She notes that food banks would much rather have cash than items purchased at a grocery store and then donated. "A local food bank ... has its purchasing power. It can buy four times as much food with that dollar as you could spending it retail. It knows its clients. It knows what it needs," she said. The same goes for gift cards or cash vouchers for families in need. "Giving cash has dignity with it. It's a trust, it's a respect. It's saying to them … get what you need, rather than what we think you should have," she said.It's a tough year. Take care of yourself, too.Finally, Bahen said, not everyone will be able to give in the same capacity as previous years — and that's perfectly fine."When you've lost your job, when you've faced financial uncertainty, you cannot make a charitable donation. You have to take care of yourself," she said. "[For] those who are in a position to give, it's time for us to dig deep and help out our neighbours."On Dec. 4, join us virtually for special broadcasts and digital Meet and Greets with your favourite CBC British Columbia hosts, and donate to Food Banks B.C. from the comfort of your own home. For more, visit cbc.ca/openhouse
The B.C. government has ordered a review of spending after insiders alleged that the province's health authority squandered millions on useless face masks, executive meals and unneeded renovations.
New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization is warning residents to pay close attention to Tuesday's rainfall warnings.Environment Canada has marked the first day of December by issuing a rainfall warning for more than half the province.Central and southwestern parts of New Brunswick can expect between 40 and 120 millimetres of rain Tuesday into Wednesday morning.However, some regions in southwestern New Brunswick could see up to 180 millimetres. "No one should be caught off guard at this point, so stay informed through trusted sources and make sure you are prepared to react if needed," said Geoffrey Downey, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick EMO.Downey said people should also check their storm drains and rain gutters and have an emergency kit ready.Special weather statements issuedThe national weather agency has also issued a special weather statement for eastern New Brunswick, where up to 50 millimetres of rain is expected. Those areas include: * The Acadian Peninsula. * Bathurst and Chaleur region. * Kent County. * Kouchibouguac National Park. * Miramichi area. * The Moncton area.Environment Canada said similar rainfall events in the past have caused road washouts and localized flooding in low-lying areas."Heavy downpours can cause flash floods and water pooling on roads," the agency said in a statement."Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Don't approach washouts near rivers, creeks and culverts."Environment Canada says the storm is similar to one that caused severe flooding in December 2010.This year, however, the ground is not frozen so it should be able to absorb a lot more rain."We've been running a water deficiency throughout the province for pretty much all of 2020," said Jill Mapea, a meteorologist with Environment Canada."The ground is not very saturated at all."After a bit of a lull Tuesday morning, Mapea said the heaviest rain was expected Tuesday afternoon and evening."Fingers crossed it doesn't come down too hard," she said, "but I think a lot of people with wells are welcoming this rain." However, Mapea wasn't ruling out the possibility of flooding."You never know. Sometimes a big downpour can raise those levels really quick."Populated areas might expect some street flooding, she said if storm drains are overwhelmed.
Ten fishermen out of Shippagan, N.B., were testing ropeless trap technology during the spring crab fishery that is designed to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales.A recent report from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts found that fishing gear entanglements were the leading cause of right whale deaths from 2010 to 2015. There are only about 360 right whales remaining in the world.The report recommended ropeless gear as a solution. Standard gear connects traps on the bottom to a buoy on the surface. With ropeless gear, the ropes lie on the bottom until they are released by an acoustic signal from the fisherman, then float to the surface so the traps can be hauled.Robert Hache, director general of the Acadian Crabbers Association, said previous experiments with ropeless gear did not go well."The main issue was the reliability and user-friendly aspect of the acoustic release mechanism," said Hache.This most recent technology is working better, he said, but there are still issues. In particular, the system relies on cellular networks for locating the underwater traps, and the signals are not that strong out on the fishing grounds.Eventually, a system would also need to be set up so the Department of Fisheries and Oceans can keep track of all the traps in the water."Fishermen that have been involved with the testing and have used these devices have found it sufficiently interesting to do further experimentation," said Hache.Fishermen investedInterest in the devices is growing, Hache said.Five of the 10 fishermen this year invested their own money to buy the devices."That was a very good sign for us, because when you get these people interested in an equipment, that are willing to invest, then it means they are looking at this issue seriously," said Hache.New methods need to be found. Currently, conservation means just shutting down the fishery when whales are spotted.Ropeless traps can stay in the water, because they pose no danger to the whales.More from CBC P.E.I.
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.
In a regulatory filing, Airbnb set a target price range of between $44 and $50 apiece to sell 51.9 million shares, which would pull in $2.6 billion. Of the shares being sold, Airbnb founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk will together sell nearly $100 million worth of shares in the IPO launch. The San Francisco-based firm also gained from increased interest in renting homes away from major cities.
Gambler First Nation first came to The Brandon Sun’s attention in May. An off-reserve member, Darlene Gerula, sent the Sun an email describing a variety of issues with leadership she believed placed on-reserve members’ lives at risk. Among these concerns was the use of Akwaton multipurpose wipes, the product of a company the leadership at Gambler was hoping to purchase. Health Canada recalled the wipes in late June because the product both expired in 2015 and contained polyhexamethylene guanidine hydrochloride, an ingredient not approved for use in Canada. In the months since Gerula’s email, the Sun has met and spoken numerous times with several Gambler members and heard their stories. This is part two of a three-part series. GAMBLER FIRST NATION — The drive into Gambler First Nation, which is along the Assiniboine River valley approximately two hours northwest of Brandon, unveils a visually idyllic location. Vern Kalmakoff — an off-reserve member and longtime Brandon businessperson — drove this Sun reporter to the reserve. As he approached the heart of one area on the reserve with houses, he pointed out Chief David Ledoux’s "compound," as some Gambler members call it. The large well-kept lot includes two impeccable-looking houses, a shed that looks better than the surrounding homes of Gambler members, and many, many vehicles — several all-terrain vehicles, a motorhome, a pontoon boat and assorted other vehicles — while two horses hang out at the rear. Surrounding the compound are other members’ houses which, upon entry, are practically unliveable. The Sun visited several. Some were unfinished, though clearly older and not new builds. This year was the first since at least 2012 that a new house had been built, according to former Chief Gordon Ledoux and several other Gambler members. In one, the plumbing was in such disrepair, pipes were held up with a laundry detergent bottle. One had zero plumbing, and has not had water for two years. Our first stop was to visit Sean Ledoux, David Ledoux’s brother, where Sean, frail and frightened, showed a video he had taken in February. Sean maintains he is terrorized by his brother. On Aug. 20, Sean received a communication from the income assistance administrator, Tara Tanner. "I am writing this letter to remind you that the house you are living in is not safe and was deemed condemned. You have gotten letters and notices stating this as well. I am asking you to please find another dwelling that is considered safe for you to live in," she wrote. But Sean has nowhere to go. The Gambler First Nation reserve is the only home he knows. "You have been multiple letters from Housing Department, Sims and Company as well as verbal notices from Social," wrote housing manager Dana Tanner on Oct. 28. Sean and his other siblings, the now-deceased former chief Gordon and Roxanne Brass, suggested David wants the house condemned because there are problems with the electrical wiring, which he allegedly installed himself. Sean, as well as several other members, say that duplex was gutted and rebuilt roughly 10 years ago before Sean moved in. General problems appear to be mostly cosmetic — broken windows and the remains of a small fire when Sean was assaulted. The Sun has a January 2017 letter from Manitoba Justice stating: "Please note that we have also advised Gambler First Nation that you should not be responsible for the damage that was done to your home during the criminal incident and that they should be recovering the money from the offender that caused the damage to your property." To this day, the damage to Sean’s home has not been repaired. In the video Sean made, he walks out his front door at Gambler First Nation and pauses at his duplex unit’s neighbouring door. The video records the sound of rushing water behind the padlocked door. Sean trudges, in -40 C weather, to the back of the duplex, demonstrating how he must turn off the water from its source at the water tank, or the water will run out. He trudges back to the front of the duplex, and pauses at the door, padlocked by the band leadership. Silence. He re-enters his own home and turns on his taps. No water. He trudges back to the rear of the duplex, turns on the water supply, trudges back to the front, pausing at the neighbouring door, again. Again, the sound of rushing water. He re-enters his unit and, now, he has water. But he can’t leave the water valve on the tank open because the water for the two units will run out. That’s reason for concern because if the water runs out, there’s no telling when the tank will be refilled. Many houses on the reserve require a water truck to fill water tanks. Sean recorded the whole process a second time. This was the only way, he thought, that he could prove the remarkable and frightening treatment his own brother David visits upon him. And that’s just one story of several. The week of Nov. 16, after two weeks without water delivery, Sean was admitted to hospital for terrible stomach pain. It’s not the first time he has gone without water for long periods of time or the first time he has been admitted to hospital. His former neighbour — his and David’s niece, Lisa Marie Ledoux — has her own story to tell. An off-reserve member of Gambler, Lisa Marie accepted an invitation from David and his wife Rose to work in the community in 2016. She took on the role of National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program worker. She was also offered the duplex unit neighbouring Sean’s. Lisa Marie told the Sun of a toxic work environment, similar to Darlene Gerula’s account. "They were constantly calling me in and reprimanding me and calling me out at meetings and putting me down. They were really horrible with the staff, and I didn’t like it," she said. Lisa Marie said she also didn’t like how the trio — which includes Coun. Kellie Ledoux, David’s daughter — treated members, and what they were doing as leaders in the community. She reported them to Canadian Accreditation Council. She said there was an investigation, but no followup. "That made them retaliate even more," she said. "They started putting restrictions on my programs until I couldn’t run them. When I finally left, if I ran a program, they had to be there overseeing, and nobody wanted to be around them. So nobody would come. They weren’t letting us spend our program dollars on the programs. They cut all the programs. I don’t know what they were doing with the money if they’re not spending it on the programs." The Sun sent questions to the accreditation council to learn whether a former Gambler staff member made reports about alleged issues related to programming and programming dollars. We asked if the Canadian Accreditation Council received such reports, and whether an investigation was carried out and, if yes, what was the outcome. We also asked if an accreditation staff member named Nadine Lafferty heard the chief’s wife, Rose Ledoux, state outright that she moved money out of Jordan’s Principle funds and used those funds in unrelated areas. "In following with CAC’s processes, we were satisfied that Gambler First Nation Health Centre was meeting the requirements of the standards and was following what was in the purview of CAC’s accreditation during their accreditation," stated chief operations officer Amanda Ellis. "As per our agreement with Gambler First Nation Health Centre, we are bound by confidentiality for any other matter and therefore cannot speak to anything other than their current accreditation status. They are currently in the process of accreditation." Asked whether there is an on-site visit related to use of funds, board member Cheryl Whiskeyjack stated by email: "There is an onsite. We don’t assess the use of funds however." Lisa Marie quit her position in May 2018, and collected employment insurance until finding a job in Brandon. Meanwhile, at home, she and her uncle Sean would go a week at a time without water. Being without water was the last straw for Lisa Marie. "I can’t live like this. I need water. I need to use the bathroom. I need to wash my dishes. I need to clean my house and shower. It just got to be too much," she said. During her absence from the reserve, the leadership padlocked her door with its own lock, while her belongings were still on the premises. A new housing agreement states that if a member is going off reserve for more than five days, they must notify the band. Lisa Marie saw Sean’s video, which he posted to Facebook, and thought her place was flooding because of a broken pipe. She had friends and family help her break the padlock. "I didn’t want to go there alone. I knew that they (David, Rose and Kellie) would give me trouble. All the taps are on and they were running, and that’s why he (Sean) kept running out of water and it sounded like it was flooding." Kalmakoff said two RCMP cars, with two officers in each, were there in a flash, within 20 minutes. "With sirens going," said Brass. RCMP charged Sean with breaking and entering — one of several acts he believes are intended to intimidate him to leave his unit, he said. An Oct. 21 court date was cancelled due to weather, but he said he has been pressured by RCMP multiple times to admit his guilt. He also said he was told he had to attend a meeting at a church to "take responsibility for his actions." Lisa Marie said she called the RCMP Feb. 26, the day after her uncle was charged, to tell them she was entirely responsible. "I did it," she said. "It was my place." She left that message with one officer at the Russell detachment. She was told she would get a call back. She never did. She tried calling several more times, but the officer she needed to speak with was never in. The RCMP have a different perspective. "Russell RCMP has fully investigated the matter to which you refer. In no way do RCMP officers try to influence the outcome of an investigation. It is our job to gather evidence and follow where that leads. When we have gathered enough evidence to determine what happened, we provide our findings to the Crown," stated Manitoba RCMP media relations officer Tara Seel by email on Nov. 26. "You have been provided a lot of information that we, as law enforcement, cannot speak to directly for several reasons: the Privacy Act, the case is before the courts, investigative process, to name a few. However, we do feel the need to provide some clarity on a few points that you mentioned. We cannot provide names of complainants or those involved in an investigation who are not charged with an Information sworn before a court of law." Seel stated RCMP received a complaint on Feb. 25 from the band’s bylaw officer, who personally witnessed the event in progress. "Several witnesses from the community also contacted investigators and corroborated this information, having also seen the event personally. Names of those seen committing the act were provided to investigators. We cannot provide you with names of everyone we spoke to concerning this matter, but we can confirm many people were spoken to throughout this investigation," Seel stated. Darlene Gerula and her husband, Greg Wakin — a retired Winnipeg Police Service officer — dispute the RCMP statement. They say Gambler does not have a bylaw officer. Gerula said Harlene Swain, who was the housing manager at the time, witnessed the event. "You refer to a restorative justice meeting that was scheduled and did not take place. I can confirm that is the case," Seel further stated. "However, for several reasons, including COVID-19, that meeting was cancelled. Restorative justice often needs people to come face-to-face as part of the process, and this is just not the time for those types of gatherings. I will add that since then, no other restorative justice meetings with the Russell RCMP have taken place for any investigation." Wakin said he spoke with Michelle Funk, a restorative justice facilitator with the John Howard Society, after Sean asked Wakin to represent him. "She said, I’ve been trying to get information on this case and I can’t get anything. There’s something fishy going on. And I told her that Sean’s in the dark, the RCMP have been harassing him, telling him they’re going to pick him up and telling him to say that you’re sorry, you did this, and you are guilty of it," Wakin said. Wakin told her Sean was not guilty of anything, but police keep coming to his door and harassing him. According to Wakin, Funk told him she would look into it. "We talked after that and she said that she was going to cancel everything, because I said, number one, Sean doesn’t want to go to this. He’s not going to plead guilty, and he didn’t commit this offence. So he doesn’t want to go, he doesn’t want to be harassed anymore." Wakin said he told Funk he hoped the RCMP were not going to go to Sean’s door in future. According to Wakin, Funk said she would make sure that didn’t happen anymore. "And she did everything. She did all that and that was the end of it. It wasn’t cancelled because it COVID. It was cancelled because of the way the RCMP handled it," Wakin said. When The Sun reached Funk by phone, she denied knowledge of the matter, including the people involved. "I do not know what you’re referring to," she said. "I cannot confirm or deny anything, she added when asked if she had spoken to Wakin. "I am unable to talk about my work in this capacity." Wakin maintains Harlene Swain, Gambler’s housing manager at the time, stirred up the issue. "She saw people in front of the house, but there was no offence. The homeowner was there trying to get into her own suite, to get her property and get access to her suite. So, whatever you saw, wasn’t a break and enter. It was the owner of the suite trying to get access to it. It’s just so ridiculous. It’s gone so far for nothing. There was no offence. There was no criminal intent," Wakin said. Lisa Marie has also tried to remove her name from the address at the reserve with Manitoba Hydro, to no avail. To this day, she receives Hydro bills for her side of the duplex unit. The Sun has a photo of the October bill. The relationship between the RCMP and the First Nation is unclear, as is the relationship between the band and Manitoba Hydro. When the Sun was asking questions of the RCMP in October related to Gambler, as well as David and his close family, we received a call from the policing organization. On that call, concern was expressed that the Sun was targeting David, who sits on the Prairie Mountain RCMP’s Safer Communities Committee. The RCMP did confirm, however, that a report was made to them concerning allegations related to sexual and physical abuse at Gambler. The question posed involved the Ledoux family members — David, Rose and Kellie. "However, for privacy reasons, we will not confirm who made the report or who these allegations are related to as these allegations are still being investigated and remain allegations at this point," stated Seel. Ronnie Ducharme, who hasn’t had water at his house for two years, also has Manitoba Hydro issues. While he was away at Brandon University, the leadership tried to take his house, he said. Roxanne Brass, David’s sister, was present when Ducharme spoke with the Sun. She said this allegation is truthful, but that the members of Gambler who were offered the house declined the offer to take over the home. "They (band members) won’t do it because they won’t do that to him (Ronnie)," Brass said. This report of attempts of a house being seized is supported by other similar reports, based on interviews with the Sun. "I had no control over my electrical, my power, and they racked it up. I was a student, and they didn’t pay the bill. I had no control over my hydro bill because they were in charge of it. They sent me the bill afterwards. But they paid that off now, they cleared that up — after I argued over it," Ducharme said. During that time, however, the housing manager sent him a letter dated Dec. 31, 2019. "The band will be removing the transformer from the pole, therefore there will be no Hydro at this location. I will inform you of when this will be taking place and you will have 7 days to remove your personal belongings from the property," Gambler’s then housing manager Harlene Swain stated. The Sun sought clarification via email from Manitoba Hydro. Manitoba Hydro stated, "as this appears to be a matter between the band and one of its members. Manitoba Hydro is not in a position to comment." A further question about which entity the transformers belong to has gone unanswered. Questions about Lisa Marie’s billing situation also went unanswered. Part three of this series on Gambler First Nation will appear in the Sun later this week.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Les propriétaires de véhicules maniaques de propreté, même en hiver, disposent maintenant d’un nouveau service à L’Anse-Saint-Jean, avec l’ouverture de Lave-auto CG, au 166 route 170, tout près de l’épicerie Bonichoix. Le couple formé de Pierre-Luc Côté et Audrey Gagné a décidé d’investir l’été dernier dans la construction d’un nouveau garage commercial afin d’offrir aux citoyens du Bas-Saguenay la possibilité de nettoyer leur véhicule en libre-service ou encore avec l’aide d’un professionnel attitré pour le lavage intérieur et extérieur, explique en entrevue Audrey Gagné, copropriétaire du commerce. « Il y a déjà eu un service de lave-auto, mais depuis quelques années, ç’a disparu, puisque la personne qui l’opérait a décidé d’arrêter. Il y a beaucoup de véhicules au Bas-Saguenay pour utiliser ce type de service », explique Mme Gagné. C’est avec ce potentiel de marché que M. Côté et Mme Gagné ont fait construire, sur le terrain adjacent à leur résidence, un imposant garage de 28 pieds par 40 pieds sur dalle de béton. Selon l’offre de Lave-auto CG, un propriétaire d’auto ou de camionnette a la possibilité de nettoyer lui-même son véhicule en réservant une période de deux heures pour accomplir la tâche. Le tarif inclut les produits de nettoyage, l’utilisation d’équipements comme une laveuse à pression, balayeuse, la disponibilité d’eau chaude, des seaux, brosses, linges d’essuyage, etc. Le tout dans le confort d’un bâtiment chauffé. La formule libre-service est disponible sur réservation 24 heures à l’avance, en raison des obligations de la Santé publique, les lundis, mercredis et vendredis, parmi l’une des cinq plages horaires, ainsi que le samedi à 8h et 10h30. Mme Gagné ajoute que la formule professionnelle est disponible sur réservation 72 heures à l’avance, selon quatre types de lavage. « Pour l’offre de ce service, on a embauché Richard Rousseau, de Rivière-Éternité, qui était capitaine du bateau-mouche. L’été dernier, il n’a pu travailler en raison de la COVID-19 », affirme Mme Gagné. Relève À en juger par leur dynamisme, le couple Gagné-Côté est en voie de constituer une partie de la relève d’affaires au Bas-Saguenay. En entrevue, M. Côté explique que l’investissement de 80 000 $ pour le garage ne constitue par l’unique motivation pour aller de l’avant. L’an dernier, il a acquis une route de distribution de pain et de produits laitiers opérée autrefois par Sylvain Dallaire, qui dessert tout le Bas-Saguenay entre Petit-Saguenay et Laterrière. Depuis cette acquisition, M. Côté a négocié la distribution des produits Vachon. Quotidiennement, il doit livrer ses victuailles dans 45 commerces du secteur, de sorte que le garage utilisé pour abriter son camion peut être utilisé et rentabilisé en cumulant les vocations de garage et de lave-auto. S’ajoute à la liste le fait que Pierre-Luc Côté et Audrey Gagné ont acquis la majorité des parts du restaurant L’Est Anse Ciel. « J’ai acheté les parts de mon beau-père Antonin Côté, dernièrement. Je suis propriétaire avec Pierre-Luc ainsi qu’avec Caroline Martel, Bruno-Pierre Houde et Jean-Éric Lavoie », explique Mme Gagné. La pandémie actuelle limite les heures d’ouverture du restaurant, sauf que l’établissement continue d’opérer à certaines heures avec le service de nourriture prête à emporter. L’ambition des entrepreneurs ne s’arrête pas là puisque M. Côté envisage également de lancer une entreprise de réparation et de remplacement de pare-brise mobile chez les clients au printemps prochain.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
The United States' anti-drug policy in Latin America needs to change if Washington is to effectively combat a problem worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, a U.S. congressional commission will say in a bipartisan report coming out this week. The 117-page report urges "smarter" interagency policies led by the U.S. State Department to reduce the supply of dangerous drugs. It is the result of 18 months of research into the "war on drugs" that has cost billions of U.S. taxpayers' dollars without ending high rates of violence and corruption in much of the western hemisphere.