A woman was killed in a Thanksgiving Day crash after a speeding minivan plowed into the McKinley Monument in downtown Buffalo, New York, police said. The unidentified male driver was in critical condition after the crash Thursday morning. (Nov. 27)
A woman was killed in a Thanksgiving Day crash after a speeding minivan plowed into the McKinley Monument in downtown Buffalo, New York, police said. The unidentified male driver was in critical condition after the crash Thursday morning. (Nov. 27)
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law. The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations. That includes Biden, who used the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month. “Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic. Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Some have had their Bibles opened to personally relevant passages during their ceremonies. Bill Clinton, for example, chose Isaiah 58:12 — which urges the devout to be a “repairer of the breach” — for his second inauguration after a first term marked by political schisms with conservatives. Others took their oaths on closed Bibles, like John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who in 1961 used his family’s century-old tome with a large cross on the front, similar to Biden’s. The tradition of using a Bible dates as far back as the presidency itself, with the holy book used by George Washington later appearing on exhibit at the Smithsonian on loan from the Masonic lodge that provided it in 1789. Washington’s Bible was later used for the oaths by Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But not every president has used a Bible. Theodore Roosevelt took his 1901 oath without one after the death of William McKinley, while John Quincy Adams used a law book in 1825, according to his own account. Some have employed multiple Bibles during their ceremonies: Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump chose to use, along with others, the copy that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. Harris did the same for her vice-presidential oath, using a Bible owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Harris has spoken of her admiration of Marshall, a fellow Howard University graduate and trailblazer in government as the high court’s first African American justice. “When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted Tuesday, referring to Marshall and friend Regina Shelton, whose Bible she swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. Harris, who attended both Baptist and Hindu services as a child, worships in the Baptist faith as an adult. While U.S. lawmakers have typically used Bibles for their oaths, some have chosen alternatives that reflect their religious diversity. Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2007 used a Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, prompting objections from some Christian conservatives. Jefferson’s Qur’an made a return in 2019 at the oath for Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chose a Hebrew Bible in 2005 to reflect her Jewish faith. Newly elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also Jewish and who swears in Wednesday, used Hebrew scripture belonging to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, opted for the Bhagavad Gita in 2013 after becoming the first Hindu elected to Congress. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the only member of the current Congress who identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” took her oath on the Constitution in 2018. ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Elana Schor, The Associated Press
COMMUNAUTÉ. C’est finalement un montant de 40 235 $ qui aura été amassé via Gofundme afin de créer une bourse d’études pour Jacob, le fils de l’urgentologue Karine Dion. «Je suis vraiment émue. Je pensais faire une petite campagne pour mon hôpital, mais c’est tout le Québec qui est solidaire pour aider Jacob et honorer la mémoire Karine», constate avec reconnaissance la Dre Geneviève Simard-Racine qui s’était d’abord fixé un objectif de 10 000 $ à recueillir pour créer une bourse d’études pour le fils de son amie. «Il y a eu aussi le 13 janvier, en soirée, un parcours commémoratif dans l’hôpital de Granby. Nos gens pouvaient se recueillir et déposer une étoile dans un cadre. Il y avait également un livre qui sera remis à David, le conjoint de Karine, où l’on pouvait laisser un mot», rapporte-t-elle. À son tour, la Dre Simard-Racine a invité «les aidants à accepter de se faire aider». Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
MANCHESTER, England — Bernardo Silva finally broke Aston Villa’s resistance by scoring off Manchester City’s 36th effort at goal before Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty sealed a 2-0 victory on Wednesday that extended the winning run of the Premier League’s form team to six matches. An end-to-end match in which City lost Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker to injuries looked to be heading for a draw, despite the home team’s dominance, when Silva received a pass from Rodri and smashed home a shot from the edge of the area in the 79th minute. The goal was contentious because Rodri was returning from an offside position when he dispossessed Villa defender Tyrone Mings before releasing Silva. No offside was given, though, with the officials seemingly feeling a new phase of play had started when Mings controlled the ball on his chest before being picked off by Rodri. Villa manager Dean Smith was sent off for protesting against the awarding of a goal he described as “farcical” and “pathetic.” “I said to the fourth official, David Coote, ‘Did you get juggling balls for Christmas?’" Smith said, explaining when he was shown a red card by referee Jonathan Moss. “I don’t think any other manager would get sent off for that.” Gundogan wrapped up the win in the 90th minute by converting a spot kick after Matty Cash raised his hand to block a goalbound header from Gabriel Jesus. City moved above Leicester to the top of the league, although Manchester United can reclaim first place by beating Fulham later Wednesday. It was Villa’s first league match since Jan. 1, after which there was a coronavirus outbreak in the squad that led to the training ground being closed. Villa reported that nine players contracted COVID-19 in that period but Smith was able to field a full-strength lineup against City, with the squad only back in training since Sunday. Villa, however, was on the back foot for the entire match, which was played in driving rain, only holding on thanks to a series of last-ditch blocks and some fine goalkeeping from Emi Martinez. City is in its best form of the season, having won nine straight games in all competitions. Pep Guardiola's team in unbeaten in 15. “No one else has won five, six in a row but it’s still the first leg of the season," Guardiola said. "A lot of games to do but the important thing is that the feeling is good.” Walker was substituted with an apparent leg muscle injury in the 27th minute, while De Bruyne hobbled off in the 59th shortly after being fouled by Jack Grealish. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin says he's rethinking his role on an all-party COVID-19 committee because of inconsistent pandemic guidelines that he is finding hard to justify to New Brunswickers. Austin said the recent watering down of red-phase restrictions, and the lack of information being provided to opposition party leaders, causes him to question the value of the committee. "That is something that frankly I have thought about," he said. "At what point do you throw up your hands and walk away?" The Alliance leader said he's not ready to quit yet but his support for the committee is "waning." And he said that's in part because it's difficult for opposition parties to both have a role in recommendations and at the same oppose COVID-19 policies they disagree with. "I'm honoured to be on the committee, and to be able to speak and to be a part of the discussion that happens … but at the same time, as opposition parties we have to have the flexibility to speak when we don't agree." He is also questioning whether moving four health zones to the red phase of restrictions this week was necessary. "I think we should have stuck it out in orange for a bit longer and see where we can go from there." Premier Blaine Higgs struck the all-party committee last March, the same week the first case of COVID-19 appeared in New Brunswick. It includes Higgs, key ministers and the leaders of the three opposition parties in the legislature. I was under the understanding that red meant lockdown, that there was no extra lockdown. - Kris Austin, People's Alliance leader Higgs had a minority government at the time and the committee was a way for the government to present a unified public health message to New Brunswickers that would not be undermined by partisan bickering. The premier kept the committee in place even after he won a majority in last September's election and told CBC News he hopes Austin won't break from the consensus. "It's important that we stay together as a team in our cabinet committee," he said. "This is no time after a successful 10 months to have diverse opinions in the public." But Austin said he's increasingly disenchanted with how the body works and is calling for "a real reset of this committee to determine how it's going to be done better." It has no decision-making power but gives feedback and advice on various COVID-19 measures. Only the actual Progressive Conservative cabinet has the power to approve pandemic measures. Higgs says though that the three opposition parties are getting "all the information" that he is given as premier by Public Health officials. "There's nothing new or different from what I'm presented." Consensus not always reached This isn't the first time cracks have appeared in the consensus. Last spring Green Party Leader David Coon broke ranks with Higgs over restrictions on temporary foreign workers that were later rescinded. At the time, Coon complained that the confidentiality oath taken by him and the other party leaders prevented him from discussing publicly what concerns he raised about the decision in the committee. And this week Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said the committee was given little notice of the change to red-phase rules to allow schools to stay open, a shift that Education Minister Dominic Cardy said had been in the works for some time. Austin said he supports schools staying open but questioned why the red-phase rules were being changed now. Consistency is the key to giving New Brunswickers confidence in COVID-19 measures, he said. But now the government is talking for the first time this week about a new, stricter lockdown phase beyond red. "I was under the understanding that red meant lockdown, that there was no extra lockdown. But now red seems to be another version of orange. Schools are remaining open, and yet we're targeting churches and hair salons." Among other rules in the red phase, only drive-in religious services are allowed, salons, gyms and entertainment centres must close, and restaurants are not allowed to provide in-housing dining. Higgs said keeping schools open is the only change to the red rules and described it as "a bridge" between red and orange restrictions. "The challenge becomes that we're all a bit frustrated with where we are now .. and how far do we go to shut this down?" The Alliance leader said he gets calls from New Brunswickers asking him, as a member of the committee, to explain certain decisions, but without "relevant, specific information" it's often hard to justify them. Austin's riding is part of Zone 3, which saw one new case on Tuesday when it was put in the red phase. The zone had a single new case again Wednesday. "People can't grasp that," he said, and it's made more difficult when he isn't even told where in the zone — which stretches from Minto and Chipman all the way to Perth-Andover and Plaster Rock — the cases are located. Higgs says he understands Austin is getting pushback and believes it's a reflection of rising case numbers. "In two weeks time, if this absolutely turns around, everybody's going to be thankful we made the moves we did. And if it doesn't turn around, people are going be saying 'do more.'"
La tempête automnale du 1er novembre 2019 restera gravée dans la mémoire de bien des Cowansvillois. Et l’inondation qui l’a suivie laissera des marques permanentes sur le paysage du boulevard des Vétérans et de la rue Bonnette, à Cowansville. Quelques maisons ont disparu tandis que d’autres seront démolies dans les prochains mois en vertu d’un décret provincial qui permet à une municipalité de refuser l’émission d’un permis de rénovations et d’obliger la démolition. « Lorsque les gens de ces zones-là viennent nous voir pour des demandes de permis, on doit vérifier ce qu’ils veulent faire comme travaux et suivre le décret, explique Manon Moreau, inspectrice en bâtiment et règlementation à Cowansville. On a une certaine démarche à suivre et ça peut arriver que les travaux soient trop importants. À ce moment-là, on demande la démolition du bâtiment. » Ensuite, les propriétaires se tournent vers la Sécurité publique du Québec pour obtenir une subvention qui permettra de rembourser la perte de la propriété. Une entente est prise entre la Ville et les propriétaires privés pour que le terrain soit remis à l’administration. Avenir incertain pour les terrains vacants Deux adresses ont déjà été démolies sur le boulevard des Vétérans et la rue Bonnette. Les terrains ont été légués à la Ville. Des demandes sont en cours d’étude pour quelques autres immeubles. « À cause de la COVID-19, le délai a été prolongé. Le ministère a accepté que ça attende jusqu’à l’été, ajoute Mme Moreau, le temps que les gens se retrouvent une maison et se relogent. » Ce secteur est majoritairement composé de résidences unifamiliales, de jumelés et de duplex. Pour l’instant, la Ville n’a pas prévu de nouvelle vocation pour les nouveaux terrains vacants. S’ils étaient tous adjacents, un parc ou un accès à la rivière pourrait être envisagé, mais ces terrains sont éparpillés jusqu’à présent.Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first speech as majority leader. “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Forest areas in Jasper and close to it are being thinned to reduce the risk of wildfire. Crews from Landmark Solutions Ltd. started work in November. This is part of the FireSmart Forest Fuel Reduction Project, a partnership between the Municipality of Jasper and Parks Canada. “It has to be done in the winter because of the impact on the ground and safety in burning piles,” said Greg Van Tighem, director of protective services for the Municipality of Jasper, and a project manager alongside Landon Shepherd with Parks Canada. Van Tighem emphasized it’s important not to disturb the understory, the layer of vegetation beneath the main canopy, as the ground has to be frozen. “(The crews) deal with the understory and the bigger trees,” he said. “They’re targeting the mountain pine beetle-killed trees.” Alan Westhaver, a former Park warden, runs ForestWise Environmental Consulting Ltd. and develops the prescription for each Fire Management Unit (FMU). “Parks Canada provides a surveillance officer, Christine Brown, to monitor the work (including) the criteria of FireSmart prescription on a daily basis and adhering to environmental requirements,” Van Tighem said. “Each unit is different in the prescription.” There are seven units and nine subunits in the project that cover a total of 27.5 hectares. This includes the industrial area, places around the municipality and Parks Canada compounds and the Lake Annette/Lake Edith day-use areas. “Our objective is to provide a higher level of safety to the community in the event of a wildfire, so we reduce the fuel located around the community and the infrastructure that surrounds the community,” Van Tighem said. Portions of some units have been completed. Van Tighem said work will continue until the ground begins to thaw and snow starts to melt in March. The trees cut down in some of the units are used for firewood. With a $10 fire permit, folks can pick up the wood onsite. “It’s a way to reduce waste,” Van Tighem added. Since the early ‘90s, FireSmart Canada has worked to reduce the risk that wildfires present to populated areas by facilitating interagency co-operation to promote education and awareness. Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Est-ce que les camps seront ouverts pour la semaine de relâche? C’est ce que se demandent plusieurs organisations, dont l’Association des camps du Québec (ACQ). « On n’a pas beaucoup d’informations, convient la coordonnatrice aux communications de l’ACQ, Valérie Desrosiers. On est en contact avec la direction de la santé publique pour certaines choses, mais on ne décide pas de leur ordre du jour et on respecte ça. » Les dernières instructions officielles que l’organisation a reçues datent du temps des fêtes. « On nous a annoncé que les camps de jours étaient interdits en zone rouge. On ne nous a pas écrit ce qui en était pour la semaine de relâche. À ce moment, la pandémie prenait des proportions extraordinaires », rappelle Mme Desrosiers. « L’été dernier, parmi les quatre mesures que les camps devaient mettre de l’avant, il y avait d’être dehors, poursuit-elle. Mais là on ne peut pas avoir cette consigne en plein hiver. » Dans un sondage effectué auprès de ses membres qui ne sont pas des organismes municipaux, l’ACQ dit avoir plusieurs camps qui préfèrent se concentrer sur l’été. « C’est difficile pour eux de prévoir et d’embaucher. Et durant la semaine de relâche, c’est parfois difficile de trouver du personnel », confie-t-elle, ajoutant que les camps mélangeraient des élèves d’écoles différentes, ce qui ferait éclater des bulles-classes. Les organisations sondées disent avoir entre le 22 janvier et le 12 février pour avoir une réponse du gouvernement. « Ce sont des gens qui ont de l’expérience ou de petits camps qui sont déjà organisés qui sont capables de se rendre jusque-là », pense Mme Desrosiers. Pour l’instant, l’ACQ n’a pas été mandatée pour obtenir une compensation financière du gouvernement. « Pour une grande partie de nos membres certifiés, les camps de la relâche sont davantage un service aux familles et aux citoyens et un moyen de garder un contact avec leurs clientèles qu’une opération commerciale », confirme Mme Desrosiers, qui pense que des camps pourraient offrir une opération minimale pour les employés de la santé, à titre d’exemple, « si les modalités étaient connues et les autorisations officielles sont données ». « Mais plus le temps passe, plus le nombre de camps prêts à offrir un camp à la relâche diminuera », prévient-elle. À Ascot Corner, le camp de jour ne sera pas annulé tant que le gouvernement ne l’interdira pas. « On se prépare à ouvrir un camp de jour à la semaine de relâche, assure la mairesse de la municipalité, Nathalie Bresse. Pour l’instant, on fait comme si elle avait lieu. » À Sherbrooke, la Ville n’est pas prête à dire si elle tiendra ou pas des camps de jour. Pas de camp de jour à Danville Il n’y aura pas d’OTJ à Danville durant la semaine de relâche. Contrairement à plusieurs autres municipalités, les élus ont décidé de ne pas offrir ce service à cause de la pandémie et des travaux qui sont effectués dans la bibliothèque. En entrevue avec La Tribune, le maire de Danville, Michel Plourde, explique que la COVID-19 n’est pas la seule raison de l’annulation du service de camp de jour. « Il y a la disponibilité des emplois. Des jeunes qui ont un travail n’ont pas la garantie à long terme. Par exemple, un jeune aurait pu prendre un arrangement avec son employeur pour venir travailler au camp de jour. Mais en ne sachant pas s’il y en aura ou non, il va préférer ne pas prendre ces arrangements. Devant ces incertitudes, il y a des enjeux de main-d’œuvre », indique-t-il. D’ailleurs, des travaux ont actuellement lieu à la bibliothèque de la municipalité – qui est habituellement utilisée par le camp de jour. « C’est un local de moins pour respecter la distanciation sociale, cogite le maire. On a des pieds carrés de moins. La logistique était compliquée. On était aussi bien d’annoncer nos couleurs tout de suite pour que les parents planifient en conséquence à la place d’espérer qu’il y ait quelque chose à Danville. » « Je sais que c’est plate, je sais que c’est décevant, a mentionné la conseillère municipale Nathalie Boissé en conseil municipal, lundi soir, lorsqu’elle a annoncé la décision. Mais si on veut s’assurer d’un bon service, il faut avoir tous les effectifs nécessaires et cette année, c’est beaucoup plus compliqué. Les parents pourront donc se préparer à l’avance pour cette semaine de relâche. »Simon Roberge, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
OTTAWA — A majority of Conservative MPs have voted to remove Derek Sloan from the party's caucus, according to sources not authorized to speak publicly about caucus business. The vote follows revelations Sloan accepted a donation to his leadership campaign from a white nationalist. Party leader Erin O'Toole initiated the caucus removal process late Monday after news of the donation surfaced. Sloan did not dispute he received the money but has said he was unaware of it, and it was unfair to expect him to scrutinize the backgrounds of all donors. Sloan was first elected to the Ontario riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington in 2019 and unsuccessfully ran for leadership of the party last year. His socially conservative views have been a thorn in the party's side and O'Toole had faced pressure for months to kick him out to prove the Tories are the moderate party the leader claims. More Coming... The Canadian Press
Après l’annonce d’une aide financière de Québec pour lancer les travaux du chantier de construction du Port de Contrecoeur, la semaine dernière, on apprend maintenant l’identité des entreprises qualifiées en vue de décrocher ce lucratif contrat. Trois consortiums se feront la lutte dans le cadre d’un appel d’offres. Par voie de communiqué, l'Administration portuaire de Montréal (APM) a annoncé, mercredi, que trois consortiums ont été retenus à la suite d’un appel de qualification. Les trois groupes s’identifient sous les noms Ancre Contrecoeur, CAP Contrecoeur et Kiewit-Pomerleau. Derrière Ancre Contrecoeur, on retrouve un partenariat des entreprises Dragados Canada et AECOM Consultants. Sous CAP Contrecoeur, ce sont Eurovia Québec Grands projets, Janin Atlas, Soletanche Bachy International, VINCI Infrastructure Canada, GHD Consultants, COWI North America et CH2M Hill Canada qui se sont associées. Finalement, le groupe Kiewit-Pomerleau est composé des entreprises Construction Kiewit et Pomerleau ainsi que CIMA+, Englobe, Hatch et Solmatech. D’après le communiqué de l’APM, cinq dossiers ont été reçus et trois ont été retenus. Ces consortiums seront donc invités à participer à l’appel d’offres pour la conception et la construction du futur terminal de Contrecoeur. En entrevue à La Presse Canadienne, la vice-présidente affaires publiques de l'APM, Sophie Roux, a affirmé que l'appel d'offres devrait être lancé «dans les prochains mois» sans pouvoir donner plus de précision. La semaine dernière, le ministre des Transports, François Bonnardel, et la ministre responsable de la région de Montréal, Chantal Rouleau, ont dévoilé une aide financière de 55 millions $ pour appuyer la phase de démarrage du projet. Le chantier n’a cependant pas encore obtenu le feu vert du ministère fédéral de l'Environnement, alors que des inquiétudes persistent au sujet de l'impact sur certaines espèces menacées, dont le chevalier cuivré. Dans l’éventualité où l'APM reçoit l'approbation nécessaire, les travaux devraient débuter dès l'automne, avait fait savoir le président-directeur général Martin Imbleau. Sophie Roux a réitéré, mercredi, que les démarches progressent dans le but de lancer les travaux dès que le gouvernement fédéral donnera son accord final. «On est sur un échéancier critique, a-t-elle soutenu. Nous savons qu'avec nos installations portuaires en manutention de conteneurs sur l'île de Montréal, nous opérons à quasi pleine capacité présentement.» L'APM plaide donc l'urgence d'agir pour bonifier sa capacité d'accueil de conteneurs. À la fin de l'ensemble des travaux, que l'on prévoit pour 2024, le terminal devrait être en mesure d'accueillir 1,15 million de conteneurs afin de permettre au port de Montréal de poursuivre sa croissance. D'après les projections du gouvernement, le terminal devrait permettre la création de 1000 emplois lorsqu'il sera en pleine opération. La facture totale du projet est estimée entre 750 millions $ et 950 millions $.Ugo Giguère, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
Curiosity about a free newspaper in his mailbox turned into surprise when former St. John's mayor Dennis O'Keefe found his name printed inside — in a story that said he, along with the mayor of Calgary and other officials, was a target of interest for the Chinese Communist Party. "I couldn't believe it," said O'Keefe outside his St. John's home while holding a recent copy of the Epoch Times, which was distributed this month for free to households in the region. "I mean, I've had a lot of surprises in my life, believe me. But this one really takes the cake." The article said O'Keefe's name was found in a 2019 document that came from the Foreign Affairs Office in Daqing, a city in northeastern China. The paper said it obtained the document that included names "spanning a wide range of sectors and countries in which the Chinese regime seeks to cultivate talent." O'Keefe retired as mayor before the 2017 municipal election. "It's just inexplicable," said O'Keefe who called the article "terribly misleading," and said nobody from the Epoch Times contacted him for comment. The Epoch Times has been distributing free copies of its paper throughout Canada over the course of the last year in an effort to grow subscribers. The newspaper has often been controversial for publishing articles that promote unfounded conspiracy theories, some of them embraced by alt-right groups, and many of them about China. The newspaper has, for instance, promoted the belief that the novel coronavirus was produced in a lab in China, and that the American deep state stole November's presidential election from Donald Trump. What is the Epoch Times? The Epoch Times started 20 years ago in what the paper called a "response to communist repression and censorship in China." The paper is headquartered in New York and says it operates in 22 languages in 36 countries. Simon van Zuylen-Wood, a New York based journalist who recently did a deep dive on the paper's embrace of Donald Trump for The Atlantic magazine, said the paper has found favour with the conspiratorial strains of the American right wing. His Atlantic article was called "MAGA-land's Favorite Newspaper," with the subhead, "How the Epoch Times became a pro-Trump propaganda machine in an age of plague and insurrection." In a phone interview with CBC News, Zuylen-Wood called the Epoch Times a fast-growing newspaper that changed tack in the Trump era. He said what makes it unique is that it's backed and run by members of the Falun Gong sect — a spiritual movement that was persecuted and banned by the Chinese government in the late 1990s. The paper's connection to the Falun Gong has been widely reported in mainstream publications, including CBC News. When Trump ran for president, the paper saw that for "the first time in decades a major party's presidential nominee was running an overtly protectionist campaign, with China in his crosshairs." He wrote the "Falun Gong came to see Trump as a kind of killer angel, summoned from heaven to smite the Chinese government." The article goes on to say "The Epoch Times ramped up its spending on Facebook ads and hitched its wagon to the 45th president." That hitch has also proven lucrative. Van Zuylen-Wood said the paper's revenues have quadrupled in the last four years. The paper also has a large online presence. A recent NBC News report said the Epoch Times now has one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet. Van Zuylen-Wood says the paper has become one the "leading purveyors of content suggesting that the American election was stolen." He noted it also prints recipes, lifestyle stories and wellness tips. "So it's a strange mix of pedestrian and often kind of irrelevant news and then sort of hard right, often sort of conspiratorially laced content," he said. 'Utter nonsense' concerns resident That mix is what worries Lesley Burgess about the paper she found in her St. John's mailbox recently. She is among those who have voiced their concerns on social media about the paper and its content. "It has all these kinds of health and lifestyle stories woven in with all of this misinformation, basically," said Burgess. She said she had heard about the paper before but it wasn't until she looked through that she realized there was "utter nonsense" everywhere. CBC's request for comment from the Epoch Times has gone unanswered. "If you don't know any better, you might think this is a run-of-the-mill paper. And I think that's really dangerous," Burgess said. Kurt Phillips, a board member with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, has been following the subscription drive of the Epoch Times. He said the paper's content is of concern because it keeps disseminating disinformation about conspiracy theories on the far right such as "Spygate" and QAnon. Phillips said he's seeing stories from the paper shared in some mainstream conservative circles, which has the potential to radicalize people with misinformation. "It is contributing to an ever-growing divide between reality and a fictionalized version of the world that is especially dehumanizing and dangerous," he said. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The Nova Scotia Police Review Board is looking into claims from convicted murderer Christopher Garnier's family that accuse Cape Breton Regional Police officers of conducting an illegal arrest and seizure of evidence in 2017. Garnier was taken into custody for breaching bail conditions after failing to present himself to the municipal force at his mother's basement door in Millville, N.S. during a compliance check His mother, Kim Edmunds, said she does not believe police were at her home as they have stated. "I honestly don't think they were," Edmunds told members of the board's three-person panel. "When somebody knocks on the door, it wakes me up." Alleged breach In February 2017, while awaiting trial for murder, Garnier took a trip to Cape Breton, where his mother lives. He was allowed to live at his father's house in Bedford or at his mother's residence in Millville as part of his bail conditions. Garnier was to submit to regular compliance checks from either members of the CBRP and Halifax Regional Police. Before his trip, Garnier called a Halifax police answering service to advise he was going to stay at his mom's place, although he did not leave his cell phone number with the service at that time. A CBRP officer testified under oath at a bail revocation hearing that he went to the Millville home in the early morning hours of Feb. 18, 2017, but Garnier did not present himself at the door. A Supreme Court judge later ruled Garnier did not intentionally breach his conditions, as he was likely asleep. That same year, Garnier was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of off-duty Truro police officer Catherine Campbell. Complaint launched Christopher Garnier's father, Vincent Garnier, is representing himself as a complainant at the police hearing into the actions of four officers. The men accused of misconduct are Const. Steve Campbell, Const. Gary Fraser, Const. Dennis McQueen and Const. Troy Walker. Each officer is represented by a lawyer, while a member of Cape Breton Regional Municipality's legal team is acting on behalf of the police organization. "We'll dig deep into the practices of the [CBRP] which I believe violate the constitution, violate the charter and violate aspects of the criminal code. Those are the informations I would like to bring forth over the next two weeks," Vincent Garnier said during a break in the proceedings. "The police, without a warrant, and without any consent of the property owners, accessed private property, walked into a private residence and placed a person under arrest." The board heard that photographs of the property were taken without the knowledge of the homeowner. Hearing continues Vincent Garnier said his family incurred more than $35,000 in legal fees as a result alleged breach. After his son's arrest, he filed a complaint with CBRP. An internal investigation found that if a breach had occurred, it was only minor. Members of the police review board, Hon. Simon J. MacDonald, Stephen Johnson and chair Jean McKenna are hearing arguments on both sides of the case at a Sydney hotel. Police will have a chance to explain their actions on the weekend in question once Vincent Garnier finishes calling witnesses. In total, 14 people are expected to testify at the hearing that is slated to run over two weeks. So far, the board has heard from Christopher Garnier's mother and stepmother, his uncle, and his former common-law partner. MORE TOP STORIES
GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany — American teenager Matthew Hoppe scored for the third consecutive Bundesliga game but couldn’t prevent Schalke from slumping to a 2-1 loss to fellow struggler Cologne on Wednesday. Jan Thielmann struck in the third minute of injury time for Cologne to end its five-game run without a win and leave the relegation zone. Schalke remains in last place with seven points at the halfway stage of the season. The 19-year-old Hoppe grabbed his fifth goal of 2021 in the 57th minute, nipping in to sweep home the equalizer after Amine Harit combined with Suat Serdar. Hoppe is the third American to score in three consecutive German league games after Eric Wynalda with Saarbrücken in 1992 and Clint Mathis with Hannover in 2004. He already has more goals this year than compatriot Weston McKennie managed as Schalke’s top scorer with three in 2020. Hoppe started up front for Schalke despite the club re-signing veteran Dutch striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar from Ajax the day before. A calf problem prevented the 37-year-old forward making his second Schalke debut. Cologne defender Rafael Czichos scored in the 31st after the home team failed to properly clear a corner. It was Cologne’s first goal in six games. Kingsley Ehizibue almost made it 2-0 shortly afterward but was blocked at close range by Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Calgary– Before President Biden was even inaugurated, TC Energy let it be known they would be stopping work on the Keystone XL pipeline. In recent days, it has been widely expected that Biden would use an executive order in his first days in office to rescind the Presidential Permit for the pipeline. Approving that pipeline was one of outgoing-President Donald Trump’s first acts after he took office. Once Alberta announced it would contribute $1.5 billion to begin construction, plus billions more in load guarantees, one of the first acts of construction was the building of a 2.2 kilometre section of pipe that actually crossed the Canada-U.S. border, ensuring there would already be pipe in the ground if there were further difficulties. Work on several pumping stations has already begun, including at least one completion, and 145 kilometres of pipe are in the ground in Alberta. Major construction in southwest Saskatchewan was supposed to take place this year. In a press release the morning of Jan. 20, inauguration day, TC Energy “announced it is disappointed with the expected action to revoke the existing Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The decision would overturn an unprecedented, comprehensive regulatory process that lasted more than a decade and repeatedly concluded the pipeline would transport much needed energy in an environmentally responsible way while enhancing North American energy security. “The action would directly lead to the layoff of thousands of union workers and negatively impact ground-breaking industry commitments to use new renewable energy as well as historic equity partnerships with Indigenous communities. The release continued, “TC Energy will review the decision, assess its implications, and consider its options. However, as a result of the expected revocation of the Presidential Permit, advancement of the project will be suspended. The company will cease capitalizing costs, including interest during construction, effective Jan. 20, 2021, being the date of the decision, and will evaluate the carrying value of its investment in the pipeline, net of project recoveries. Absent intervening actions, these steps could result in a substantative, predominantly non-cash after-tax charge to earnings in first quarter 2021. TC Energy will also modify its previously announced financing plans as it would no longer expect to issue hybrid securities or common shares under its dividend reinvestment plan to partially fund the project. “Our base business continues to perform very well and, aside from Keystone XL, we are advancing $25 billion of secured capital projects along with a robust portfolio of other similarly high quality opportunities under development,” said François Poirier, TC Energy’s president and chief executive officer. “These initiatives are expected to generate growth in earnings and cash flow per share and support annual dividend increases of eight to ten per cent in 2021 and five to seven per cent thereafter.” The release concluded, “While today’s news is very disappointing, TC Energy is thankful to its customers, American and Canadian workers, our partners the Government of Alberta and Natural Law Energy, labor organizations, industry, the Government of Canada and the countless supporters of this important energy infrastructure project.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Paramedics across B.C. responded to more calls to help someone who had an overdose in 2020 than any other year since record keeping began, according to dispatchers. B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) on Wednesday said they were called to 27,067 overdoses last year — an average of 74 calls every day, or one call around every 20 minutes. The total is up 12 per cent from 2019, according to a statement. "It's hard for every paramedic who goes to those scenes," wrote Pat Hussey, paramedic unit chief in Penticton, which saw an 87 per cent increase in calls last year. The sobering statistics are further confirmation the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the overdose crisis that has devastated the province for years. The overdose death toll for the year surpassed 1,500 in November, solidifying 2020 as a record-breaking year for lives lost due to a lethally toxic illicit drug supply. A drop in Vancouver BCEHS said every one of B.C.'s five health regions saw an increase in overdoses last year, except one: Vancouver Coastal Health saw calls drop slightly, by four per cent. The Downtown Eastside, which has historically seen more than 5,000 overdose calls in a year, saw about 760 fewer calls last year than the year before. A reason for the drop was not immediately confirmed by the service. Brad Cameron, a paramedic manager with BCEHS, said from anecdotal evidence and his own experience, one reason for the drop could be due to the higher availability of naloxone in the Downtown Eastside. "Pretty everybody down in that particular area knows of somebody who's got naloxone or who carries themselves. It's freely available among the safe consumption sites, harm reduction sites," Cameron said. He also noted that there appears to be greater awareness among drug users in the neighbourhood noting, for example, that many people were becoming more aware that they shouldn't be using opioids alone. "If somebody is with you when you're using and notice that you're going into respiratory distress or into arrest, they're there readily to give the naloxone and call 911 for the presence of an ambulance," he said. Dramatic increases outside Lower Mainland The increases in other rural communities were dramatic, relative to the population. There were 20 calls for an overdose in Fort Nelson, up 233 per cent from last year. Keremeos and Sechelt saw increases of 167 and 112 per cent, respectively. Terrace and Houston also saw double the number of calls compared to previous years. The BC Coroners Service said Wednesday it is not yet finished compiling monthly overdose statistics for December, nor has it finished the yearly data for 2020. Those numbers are expected in February. Even with incomplete annual data, the overdose crisis continues to be deadlier than the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. More than 1,540 people died of an overdose in 2020, compared to 1,090 people who died of COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the existing overdose emergency. The supply of illicit drugs bought and sold across the province became more toxic when the U.S.-Canada border closed in March and forced suppliers to find other sources. Toxicology findings show a larger number of those who died between April and November had extreme concentrations of fentanyl, compared with previous months, according to the coroners service. Public health measures to combat COVID-19 have also hindered access to key harm-reduction services like supervised consumption sites, meaning more people are using alone. More than half of illicit drug toxicity deaths last year — 55 per cent — happened in private residences. Hussey, the paramedic in Penticton, said overdose calls have become more complex with such a high level of drug toxicity. Overdoses require multiple doses of naloxone and patients often have breathing and neurological complications.
European leaders described the 46th President's inauguration speech as "inspiring" and said it was time to bring "conviction and common sense" to help rejuvenate their relationship with the US.View on euronews
OTTAWA — The economy will go in reverse for the first quarter of 2021, the Bank of Canada said Wednesday as it kept its key interest rate on hold, warning the hardest-hit workers will be hammered again on a path to a recovery that rests on the rollout of vaccines.Workers in high-contact service industries will carry the burden of a new round of lockdowns, which the central bank warned will exacerbate the pandemic’s uneven effects on the labour market.The longer restrictions remain in place, the more difficult it may be for these workers to find new jobs since the majority move to a new job but in the same industry. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said in his opening remarks at a late-morning news conference that the first-quarter decline could be worse than expected if restrictions are tightened or extended.The central bank kept its key rate on hold at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday, citing near-term weakness and the "protracted nature of the recovery" in its reasoning.The short-term pain is expected to give way to a brighter outlook for the medium-term with vaccines rolling out sooner than the central bank expected.Still, the bank said in its updated economic outlook, a full recovery from COVID-19 will take some time. Nor does the Bank of Canada see inflation returning to its two per cent target until 2023, one year longer than previously forecast, and the bank's key rate is likely to stay low until then.Overall, there is reason to be more optimistic about the economy in the medium-term, but it will still need extraordinary help from governments and the central bank to get there, Macklem said.The bank’s latest monetary policy report, which lays out its expectations for economic growth and inflation, forecast that COVID-19 caused the economy to contract by 5.5 per cent last year.Despite an upswing over the summer and fall that may have spared the country from a worst-case economic scenario, the drive to a recovery will hit a pothole over the first three months of 2021.The bank forecasts real gross domestic product to contract at an annual pace of 2.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, before improving thereafter if severe restrictions start easing in February.The bank expects growth of four per cent overall for 2021, then 4.8 per cent next year, and 2.5 per cent in 2023.Trevin Stratton, chief economist at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, was more dour on lockdowns, saying the group doesn't expect them to ease until well into March."During this period, we need to provide the right kind of support to individual Canadians and to businesses to get them through the lockdowns, recognizing that neither group is in the same financial position as it was in March 2020," he said in a statement.For the central bank, that help could come through ramping up its bond-buying to force down interest rates, or a small cut to its key policy rate among options Macklem mentioned Wednesday.Keeping the door open to such a "micro" rate change is a shift in tone, as Macklem has previously said the current 0.25 rate is as low as it would go.The bank said the path for the economy will be like riding a roller-coaster as resurgence in COVID-19, or new, more virulent strains, weigh down a recovery in one quarter before leading to strong upswing in the next.Inflation may be equally rocky.Gasoline prices, which have weighed down the consumer price index during the pandemic, will by March be “well above their lows of a year earlier,” the bank’s report said. That should significantly bump inflation, the report said, possibly to two per cent in the second quarter.The bump will even out over the rest of the year. The bank forecasts inflation for 2021 at 1.6 per cent, then 1.7 per cent in 2022 and 2.1 per cent in 2023.Statistics Canada reported Wednesday the annual pace of inflation cooled in December to 0.7 per cent compared with 1.0 per cent in November. The agency also reported that the average last month of Canada's three measures for core inflation, which are considered better gauges of underlying price pressures and closely tracked by the Bank of Canada, was 1.57 per cent.The central bank’s lookahead rests on efforts to vaccinate Canadians by the end of the year without any hiccups in that timeline, which would mean broad immunity six months sooner than the bank previously assumed."It's going to be very important that Canada get the vaccines, we get them distributed to Canadians and that Canadians take the vaccine," Macklem said.A shorter timeline for vaccinations should mean less scarring overall for the economy in the form of fewer bankruptcies and fewer workers out of jobs for long stretches, which makes it more difficult for them to get back into the labour force.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the first quarter decline in real gross domestic product was 2.9 per cent.
CALGARY — The lawyer for a teen charged with first-degree murder in the hit-and-run death of a Calgary police officer says it will likely be a difficult case because of the high level of scrutiny it is already generating. Kaysi Fagan spoke to reporters at the conclusion of a two-day bail hearing Wednesday for her client, who was 17 at the time Sgt. Andrew Harnett was killed on Dec. 31 and cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Police have said Harnett was hit and dragged while attempting to stop an SUV after noticing its plates didn't match its registration. They allege the accused youth was driving the vehicle and a 19-year-old man, also charged with first-degree murder, was a passenger. "Certainly any time there's a death, whether it be an officer or a member of the public, certainly it's more difficult. The exposure's greater, the attention is greater, scrutiny is greater," Fagan said. She said the fact that Harnett was a police officer, killed in the line of duty, will add to the divisiveness when it eventually goes to trial. "When the police kill someone it takes a year to investigate it, maybe there's charges laid, maybe there aren't. Here's we've got a first-degree murder charge laid against a youth within 12 hours. So I think it's a bit of a double standard," Fagan said. "Certainly the fact an officer was killed here is concerning to the public and obviously it's going to be very divisive." Youth court Judge Steve Lipton has reserved his decision on bail for the teen suspect until Jan. 28. Crown Prosecutor Doug Taylor is opposed to his release. "The young person ought to be detained for both the safety and the protection of the public, and to maintain confidence in the administration of justice," Taylor said. He told court Tuesday that the Crown will seek an adult sentence for the youth if he's convicted. That would mean life in prison with no eligibility of parole for 10 years. The co-accused in the case, Amir Abdulrahman, is to appear in court on Feb. 4. His lawyer, Balfour Der, has said he intends to seek bail on Feb. 12. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021 — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Overnight, St. Albert had six new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in the city. On Tuesday, the province released new COVID-19 data, showing active cases in the city dropping from 173 on Monday to 157 on Tuesday, representing a drop of 16 active cases. Newly diagnosed cases climbed by six, from 1,824 to 1,830 on Tuesday. Recoveries jumped from 1,623 on Monday to 1,645 on Tuesday, representing an increase of 22 cases recovered. In Sturgeon County, active cases sit at 33, while 521 people have recovered from the virus since the pandemic began. Morinville has 22 active cases with 318 people having recovered from COVID-19. Across Alberta, there were 456 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed with 8,200 tests run. The positivity rate sits at 5.6 per cent, which Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said is still a high rate compared to the one- to three-per-cent seen in Alberta in the summer and fall. Hinshaw said the province isn't sure why so few people are getting tested but said it could be because fewer people are feeling ill. Hinshaw encouraged anyone who is feeling symptoms to get tested for COVID-19. There are current 154 active alerts in schools across the province with outbreaks in two schools, representing a total of six per cent of schools. There are 212 total cases linked to schools in the province. Hinshaw said hospitalizations remain high in Alberta with 740 people currently in the hospital and 119 of them in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). "Our health system is still under severe strain,” Hinshaw said. In the past 24 hours, another 17 deaths were reported to Alberta Health. As of Jan. 18, the province has given out 92,315 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
WASHINGTON — A former congressman who pocketed millions of dollars in bribes from defence contractors. A Republican fundraiser who paid handsome sums to illicitly lobby a presidential administration. An influential voice in conservative circles accused of duping donors who supported a border wall. Donald Trump’s final batch of more than 140 pardons and sentence commutations, issued in his last hours as president, benefited an ignominious list of defendants whose swindles, frauds and public corruption made them unlikely candidates for executive clemency. The recipients included people who not only abused their own positions of power but who also leveraged well-placed connections to pursue pardons from a president willing to use his authority to bless patrons and friends. “It wasn’t about draining the swamp. It was the swamp,” said Sanjay Bhandari, a former Justice Department prosecutor who in 2005 secured a guilty plea from Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the former California congressman who was pardoned early Wednesday despite having accepted more than $2.4 million in homes, yachts and other bribes in exchange for government contracts. The White House cited his post-prison volunteer work, military career and the support he received from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally. But that support was troubling to Bhandari, who said it appeared that Cunningham and others in a “rogue’s gallery” of recipients benefited more from their proximity to power than from the actual merit of their cases. “On a personal level, it’s hard to hold any personal animosity or venom toward the individual,” Bhandari said. But, “as a citizen looking at the process and looking at who has been chosen for a pardon and on what grounds — that’s what’s really disturbing.” To be sure, presidents have broad discretion in their use of the pardon power and many have exercised it, albeit sparingly, on defendants to whom they have personal or political ties. George H.W. Bush pardoned Reagan administration officials implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal, and Bill Clinton pardoned fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose ex-wife was a substantial donor. And many of the names on Trump’s last list were conventional and non-controversial selections, including relatively anonymous drug offenders seen as having rehabilitated themselves during long stays in prison. Those types of defendants were also pardoned en masse by previous administrations. Even so, “Trump has had a much higher percentage of his pardons be the sort of well-connected, personally connected-to-him kind of folks,” said Michigan State University law professor Brian Kalt, an expert on pardons. There were also notable omissions from the clemency list, not least Trump himself. Despite speculation that the president might pardon himself in the face of potential legal jeopardy once he leaves office, and even though he had claimed that he had the absolute power to give himself one, Trump apparently opted not to do so. He also did not pardon any of his children or his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has faced an investigation in New York, though the status of that probe is unclear. Other allies, though, got a boost. For instance, joining Cunningham on the pardon list was Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist. He was pulled from a yacht off the Connecticut coast in August and brought to Manhattan to face charges that he duped thousands of donors who believed their money would be used to fulfil Trump’s chief campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border. Instead, he allegedly diverted over a million dollars, paying a salary to one campaign official and personal expenses for himself. His co-defendants were not pardoned. The pardon was notable not only because Bannon has steadfastly asserted his innocence — the Justice Department pardon process values acceptance of responsibility — but because the criminal prosecution was still in its early stages. The pardon nullified the case while the trial was still months away, eliminating the prospect for any punishment for Bannon. Another recipient was Elliott Broidy, a major Trump fundraiser and former Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman. Prosecutors said Broidy collected millions of dollars in a back-channel but ultimately unsuccessful lobbying scheme aimed at getting the Trump administration to drop an investigation into embezzlement from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund and to extradite a Chinese dissident wanted by the government in Beijing. He pleaded guilty last fall to acting as an unregistered lobbyist and was awaiting sentencing. William “Billy” Walters, a prominent Las Vegas professional gambler who prosecutors said was worth millions and who was convicted in an insider trading case linked to pro golfer Phil Mickelson, had his sentence commuted. So did former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who has served more than seven years of a 28-year sentence for corruption crimes that involved bags of cash from city contractors and kickbacks hidden in the bra of his political fundraiser. In the final minutes of his term, Trump pardoned Al Pirro, the ex-husband of Fox News Channel host Jeanine Pirro, in a tax evasion case. Cunningham’s case was especially eye-popping, involving $2.4 million in cash, trips and other gifts from defence contractors in exchange for government contracts. President George W. Bush rebuked him for the “outrageous" conduct, though that didn’t stop Cunningham from seeking clemency from Bush before he left office. “It’s not often that the president of the United States comments on an ongoing case and this had that level of corruption, where even the highest officials in the land looked at this and said, ’This is deeply disturbing,” Bhandari said. He added: “When you have something that is that disturbing, I think you need to have something that is really compelling to offset it, particularly given that there are thousands upon thousands of people who have very compelling circumstances who apply for pardons as part of the normal process who are not granted pardons with far more compelling facts” than Cunningham’s case. ____ Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire and Jill Colvin contributed to this report. Eric Tucker, The Associated Press