After the pandemic forced the cancellation of this year's Boston Marathon, Wayne Young started running around his Ajax, Ont., neighbourhood in a full Spider-Man costume. His appearances have become a highlight for COVID-weary kids and adults alike.
After the pandemic forced the cancellation of this year's Boston Marathon, Wayne Young started running around his Ajax, Ont., neighbourhood in a full Spider-Man costume. His appearances have become a highlight for COVID-weary kids and adults alike.
At least two people were injured Sunday night during three separate shootings in Montreal's Rivière-des-Prairies neighbourhood.Montreal police say it's still unclear whether the three incidents, which happened in the course of an hour, are related.Around 9:30 p.m., a 58-year-old man was shot at a home near the corner of 63e Avenue and Perras Boulevard. Police say the man had just gotten out of his car, which was parked in his driveway, when another car pulled up and someone started shooting.The victim was conscious on his way to the hospital. The suspects fled the scene.About 10 minutes later, someone walking through a residential parking lot opened fire on a man sitting in a parked car on Jean-Rainaud Avenue.The victim fled the scene in the car. Police have no information about the victim's status.And then at 10:20 p.m., another man was shot while standing on a second-floor balcony at a home on Armand-Bombardier Boulevard, near Jean-Vincent Avenue. Police say they believe the shooter was standing in the building's courtyard at the time.The victim was taken to hospital and is expected to survive. Police spokesperson Const. Raphaël Bergeron said in all three cases, there is no information about the suspects. A fourth shooting occurred earlier in the evening in Montréal-Nord. Around 5:30 p.m., police received a call about shots fired near the corner of Lapierre Avenue and Pascal Street.When they arrived, they found bullet casings but no suspects or victims.An hour later, a man showed up at an unspecified hospital with what appeared to be gunshot wounds, but it is unclear whether he was involved in the incident in Montréal-Nord.Police issued a statement Monday evening, saying they would increase their presence and visibility in the area over the next 24 hours.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-female senior communications team at his White House, reflecting his stated desire to build out a diverse White House team as well as what’s expected to be a return to a more traditional press operation. Biden campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield will serve as Biden’s White House communications director. Jen Psaki, a longtime Democratic spokeswoman, will be his press secretary. Four of the seven top communications roles at the White House will be filled by women of colour, and it’s the first time the entire senior White House communications team will be entirely female. President Donald Trump upended the ways in which his administration communicated with the press. In contrast with administrations past, Trump’s communications team held few press briefings, and those that did occur were often combative affairs riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods. Trump himself sometimes served as his own press secretary, taking questions from the media, and he often bypassed the White House press corps entirely by dialing into his favourite Fox News shows. In a statement announcing the White House communications team, Biden said: “Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a President, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House.” He added: “These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better.” Bedingfield and Psaki are veterans of the Obama administration. Bedingfield served as communications director for Biden while he was vice-president, and Psaki was a White House communications director and a spokesperson at the State Department. Others joining the White House communications staff are: — Karine Jean Pierre, who was Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris’ chief of staff, will serve as a principal deputy press secretary for the president-elect. She’s another Obama administration alum, having served as a regional political director for the White House office of political affairs. — Pili Tobar, who was communications director for coalitions on Biden’s campaign, will be his deputy White House communications director. She most recently was deputy director for America’s Voice, an immigration reform advocacy group, and was a press staffer for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Three Biden campaign senior advisers are being appointed to top communications roles: — Ashley Etienne, a former communications director for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will serve as Harris’ communications director. — Symone Sanders, another senior adviser on the Biden campaign, will be Harris’ senior adviser and chief spokesperson. — Elizabeth Alexander, who served as the former vice-president’s press secretary and his communications director while he was a U.S. senator from Delaware, will serve as Jill Biden’s communications director. After his campaign went virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden faced some of his own criticism for not being accessible to reporters. But near the end of the campaign, he answered questions from the press more frequently, and his transition team has held weekly briefings since he was elected president. The choice of a number of Obama administration veterans — many with deep relationships with the Washington press corps — also suggests a return to a more congenial relationship with the press. ___ Taylor reported from Washington. Alexandra Jaffe And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Students returned to Charlottetown Rural High School on Monday morning for the first time since they found out one of their peers had tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.Norbert Carpenter, acting director of the Public Schools Branch, spoke with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin about how that day went.Santa Claus began a series of drive-by tours of Charlottetown Monday night, accompanied by bright lights and sirens. The emergency operations centre is back up at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown in preparation for more COVID-19 cases.A Montague couple has adapted to ensure the weekly free meal offered at a local church is still on the table during the pandemic.Despite the pandemic, P.E.I. restaurants offering takeout and delivery registered some growth in September, according to Statistics Canada restaurant sales data.The P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities is cautioning Islanders about making assumptions regarding people who don't wear masks.P.E.I. has seen a total of 72 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Nova Scotia reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, giving the province a total of 138 active cases.New Brunswick reported six new cases, bringing its number of active cases to 120.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
If there's one thing Sheila Levy-Bencheton took for granted, it's that the safety deposit box her father rented from a big bank was secure. That's until her dad passed away in 2017 at age 103.The Toronto woman went to TD Canada Trust to empty the box a few months later, and discovered the bank had already done it years ago — forcing it open by drilling the lock then emptying the contents.The bank drilled open and emptied thousands of safety deposit boxes across the country in 2012 in an effort to get rid of those no longer being used or paid for. It says its policies require the contents to be set aside for safe keeping.But Levy-Bencheton says she's still missing her family's most valued possessions and fighting for compensation. And she's not the only one. Go Public also spoke to an Edmonton man who lost thousands of dollars' worth of irreplaceable 22-karat gold jewelry, who says the bank did the same thing to him."Once it is gone, it's gone," said Suraj Khatiwada.Both he and Levy-Bencheton say they can't believe the bank would open the boxes and remove their possessions."The reason you have a safety deposit box is to specifically put things in a very safe place and not to be tampered with. This was clearly tampered with," Levy-Bencheton said.Missing, she says, is her mother's diamond ring, an 18-karat gold watch bought in 1947, gold and silver coins and thousands of dollars in cash. Those are the items her father — still lucid in his older age — told her he'd stashed at the bank for safe keeping.She's not sure exactly how much cash, but says her father kept it there because her parents were Holocaust survivors, so were always anxious about having easy access to money and valuables in case they needed to run."That's the kind of mentality they lived with," she said.WATCH | Safety deposit boxes emptied:But instead of getting cash and jewelry, the bank handed Levy-Bencheton a pile of paperwork and receipts, a few silver dollar coins and an empty ring box, saying that's all that was in there.Experts say banks operate safety deposit boxes as a side business, with few rules except those they set for themselves."It's called the safety deposit box, but really it's just a contract that has all sorts of provisions in it to protect the banks from liability," said Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, an advocacy group for corporate responsibility and law reform.Levy-Bencheton says TD's rules mean it didn't need to prove anything.She asked for the bank's records showing who had accessed the box before it was drilled open, and for a copy of the registered letter the bank said it sent her father before opening it. The bank didn't have either, she says."It made me suspicious," Levy-Bencheton said. "God knows what happened there."TD tells Go Public the family's box was opened by accident, as part of a "network wide reconciliation process" — one of the 16,000 boxes it drilled open in 2012 for reasons including overdue rent, lost keys or where "required by law." The bank says it has one million boxes across the country and the need to drill them open is rare.Levy-Bencheton fought for more than a year to get any compensation.At first, a bank manager told her the box never existed, but she says that "didn't feel right" since the family had two sets of keys and her dad had told her all about it. So, on a whim, a family member called TD customer service about a week later and asked again."And within five minutes, he got back in the line. He said, 'Yeah, it was here [but] it was drilled in 2012,'" said Levy-Bencheton. "I couldn't believe it."When the family asked why it had been given two different stories, the bank said the manager "was newer to the role and not as resourceful" as the employee on the phone.The bank said there would be no compensation since the family couldn't prove what was in the box and the bank didn't have any records.Instead it offered $250 as a "goodwill gesture."Levy-Bencheton turned the offer down and then moved her complaint up to TD's ombudsman.That went nowhere. Three complaint levels later, in October 2018, the private national mediation company that handles TD complaints — ADR Chambers — said there was a 50-50 chance valuables and cash were missing.After doing a loose accounting, the company found the jewelry was worth about $8,400, and recommended TD to pay Levy-Bencheton and her family half that amount. ADR has been criticized for being biased toward the banks it investigates because they pay fees for its service.Levy-Bencheton turned down the offer, saying it doesn't begin to cover the family's losses. She also wants the bank to have to pay a hefty penalty."We really don't know how much was in there [but] it was more than that for sure," she said."It really caused us a lot of aggravation. We've lost a lot of sentimental things and the only language the bank knows is money … so we have to hit them where it hurts."The family has hired paralegal George Berger to help get answers from TD — and maybe file a lawsuit."They refused to provide information about what exactly happened," Berger said.'Once it is gone, it's gone'Suraj Khatiwada of Edmonton is still missing his wife's 22-karat gold wedding bangles, necklace and wedding ring after TD Canada Trust also "inadvertently" opened his safety deposit box without his permission.He says it happened sometime between 2015, the last time he opened the box himself, and 2017, when he discovered the bank had drilled the lock. After months of back and forth and an investigation by the bank's ombudsman, TD apologized and awarded him $12,000 for the missing jewelry. He says he didn't have any proof, but did provide photos of the jewelry to the bank.At the time the bank promised to investigate, but has yet to explain how the items went missing. "That is a very unfortunate thing … we cannot replace the sentimental value of those things," said Khatiwada, who immigrated from Nepal in 2010. "In Western culture, the wedding ring is very valuable. But in our culture, it's the necklace and also the ring. We have a special ring ceremony, so they are not replaceable."TD spokesperson Carla Hindman says the bank has protocols for forcing open safety deposit boxes including, "ensuring at least two employees, one of whom must be a manager, are always present as they [staff] remove, catalogue, package and securely store the contents." But she didn't say if those rules were followed in the two cases Go Public looked at.Banks have been reprimanded for not taking enough care with safety deposit boxes.In 2002, a B.C. court awarded a woman more than $20,000 in damages after TD drilled hers open, having wrongly concluded her rental was in arrears.And in 2001 and 2006, Canada's privacy commissioner broadly criticized banks for inaccurate record-keeping and for breaking privacy rules related to boxes being opened.The commissioner didn't name which bank or banks were involved in those complaints. Conacher, at Democracy Watch, says bank customers are forced to fight these long battles because rules for how banks manage safety deposit boxes are not part of Canada's Bank Act and are largely unregulated.He says the lack of government rules makes it hard for Canadians to get fair compensation when banks mishandle boxes.Provincial estate laws do mention safety deposit boxes but are limited to how beneficiaries gain access after someone dies."If [something] goes missing, then not only do you have a contract that protects the bank, but you also have the burden of proof to prove that the bank has not handled that box properly."That's a really big hurdle for any consumer to try and climb over to get accountability," Conacher said. He's calling on the federal government to update the Bank Act to include safety deposit boxes.Go Public asked the Department of Finance if Ottawa plans to make changes. In a statement, it would only say it regularly reviews laws, "to ensure that Canadians have the protections they need."Unlike regular bank deposits, Conacher says, the contents of safety deposit boxes aren't insured by financial institutions, so owners need to insure valuables themselves as part of home insurance policies and to regularly document what's inside with photos and witnesses.Both Levy-Bencheton and Khatiwada say, after their experiences, they're done with safety deposit boxes.Khatiwada says he still has an account with TD which includes the use of a deposit box, but he told Go Public it's sitting empty."I lost my trust," he said.Submit your story ideasGo Public is an investigative news segment on CBC-TV, radio and the web.We tell your stories, shed light on wrongdoing, and hold the powers that be accountable.If you have a story in the public interest, or if you're an insider with information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, contact information and a brief summary.All emails are confidential until you decide to Go Public. 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Wisconsin finished its two-county presidential results recount on Sunday, confirming Democrat Joe Biden's victory over President Donald Trump. The Dane and Milwaukee County totals found Biden adding 87 to his 20,000-plus lead over Donald Trump. (Nov. 30)
The provincial government has barely made a dent in adopting a sweeping series of recommendations coming out of the Muskrat Falls inquiry, and one of the consequences could be another blunder with the new adult mental health and addictions facility in St. John's, says an outspoken critic.Meanwhile, the minister leading the effort to implement the instructions of Justice Richard LeBlanc says his recommendations will be adopted "across the board."But with the province still in the grips of a global pandemic, converting those recommendations into government policy will take longer than expected, said Andrew Parsons, Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology."I would be more worried about whether we do it, or not, rather than how fast we can do it, because the goal is to do these recommendations," Parsons said.Of the 17 recommendations, only three have been implemented, though none of the seven "key" recommendations have been adopted.Being built in a flood plainA critic of the over-budget, long-delayed project, and whose many warnings have become reality, is not happy about the progress, and the government's use of the pandemic as an excuse."Not every public official or minister is engaged in the pandemic. It doesn't appear to have effected their announcement of all kinds of new programs spending money we don't have. Must be an election coming," said Ron Penney, one of the earliest and most outspoken opponents of the Nalcor-led Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.In fact, Penney, who chairs the Muskrat Falls Concerned Citizens Committee, said the province could be stumbling into another problem with the new mental health and addictions facility in St. John's, which will replace the Waterford Hospital.The $330 million hospital is being constructed through a public-private partnership and will be located adjacent to the Health Sciences Centre, on a flood plain.The No. 1 recommendation from Justice LeBlanc is that the province hire an independent external expert to review any public project with a budget of $50 million or more.If that were the case with the new mental health facility, it would never had been approved for the current location, said Penney, a former St. John's city manager."If anybody independent had looked at that decision, no doubt they would have changed because it's in a flood plain, and the province does that mapping for the flood plain, and it's just totally an unsuitable location for the Waterford Hospital," he said.In the past, government officials have said two new berms will protect the site from flooding.And in a statement, an official with the Department of Transportation and Works said "contracts were awarded to independent financial and procurement, fairness, and technical advisors prior to the start of the project."Meanwhile, the final report from the public inquiry investigating the Muskrat Falls project was released in early March, more than two years after the commission of inquiry was established by former premier Dwight Ball.The report included some scorching criticism of former Nalcor leaders like Ed Martin, whom LeBlanc said took "unprincipled steps" to get the project approved. And LeBlanc also criticized senior politicians and bureaucrats for failing to keep a close watch on what one insider called a runaway train.The report, entitled "Muskrat Falls: A Misguided Project," also included 17 recommendations by Justice LeBlanc to ensure the series of missteps that allowed what Dwight Ball once described as the "biggest economic mistake in Newfoundland and Labrador's history" would not be repeated.LeBlanc's recommendations are aimed at, among other things, ensuring major public projects undergo unfettered scrutiny by independent external experts, that the Department of Finance oversee the financing negotiations and cost control of any large project, and that the public utilities board carry out a review whenever there's a possibility electricity ratepayers may be affected.LeBlanc also called for changes to ensure public servants can "speak truth to politicians" in order to provide "complete and objective advice," and advised that legislative changes be made to ensure public bodies like Nalcor cannot withhold information from senior politicians and bureaucrats on the grounds of legal privilege or commercial sensitivity.LeBlanc advised that some of his recommendations should be adopted in as little as six months.But just days after the report was released, it was quickly overshadowed by the growing presence of a worldwide pandemic, and unprecedented societal upheaval in Newfoundland and Labrador as much of the province was shut down in order to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.During a recent fall session, the legislature was consumed by the financial and public health crises griping the province, with the priority on adopting a budget. And for months, a majority of public servants were working from home."So no, I don't think we're as far ahead as we'd like to be. But at the same time it's not sitting on a shelf," said Parsons, adding that an implementation committee that he chairs has been meeting regularly.Parsons expects many of the recommendations that involve legislative changes will be adopted during next spring's sitting of the House of Assembly.And he said some recommendations involving access to information laws will be examined by retired chief justice David Orsborn, who is leading a statutory review of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which is expected to be completed next year."There's urgency here, but at the same time, I'm a true believer in doing the proper analysis to make sure it's right, because sometimes these quick decisions are what got us into trouble in the first place." The three recommendations that have been adopted include: * a joint Nalcor-Newfoundland Power Inc. effort to review the reliability of the power grid in the Muskrat Falls era; * A review of whether recommendations made by the Joint Review Panel were being followed. This relates largely to methylmercury concerns in Labrador; * And minutes of cabinet meetings are now much more detailed than they were years ago whenever politicians discussed Muskrat Falls.Penney said that's not good enough."I'm disappointed, but I guess not surprised," said Penney.So what does LeBlanc think about what's happened since the release of his report?He's not saying, and directed questions to lawyer Barry Learmonth, who served as commission co-counsel during the inquiry.Learmonth said it was part of Justice LeBlanc's mandate to deliver recommendations, and whether and when they are adopted is up to the government."They're not binding," said Learmonth.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Joyce Quist-Therson's COVID-19 relief package came after months of stretching her pension cheque to cover her groceries."It was really God-sent," she said of the package from the African-Canadian Association of Ottawa (ACAO).The ACAO box includes staples like rice, pasta, potatoes and cooking oil, some of which Quist-Therson said have lasted more than a month so far.Quist-Therson lost her part-time job in March and has been reluctant to go from store to store, hunting for bargains. She's been taking COVID-19 seriously after her brother was hospitalized with the illness this spring. She said he has since recovered, but is still not back to his normal, energetic self."It was very close to home, so I'm not taking any chances at all," she said.Black community harder hit by COVID-19The ACAO, a collection of 53 community organizations, is distributing relief packages — including grocery staples — to help people who've lost income or are required to isolate due to public health restrictions.The city's Black community has been disproportionately affected with COVID-19 diagnoses. Data released last week by Ottawa Public Health shows Black people account for 37 per cent of cases, but just seven per cent of the city's population.Quist-Therson now volunteers for ACAO, scheduling the delivery of those relief boxes.She said she's spoken to parents juggling home schooling their children and nurses who've lost the second jobs they used to make ends meet.Help goes a long wayKerry Ann Thompson, project coordinator for the relief package program, said she tried to think like a recipient in designing the packages."We went through the list and said, what would stretch the most? As opposed to frozen things or even attempting poultry, when some people are vegetarian — we tried to stick to staples," she said.Thompson said they're responding to the needs of larger families and trying to help recently arrived immigrants overcome communication barriers.What's rewarding, she said, is "delivering to a single mom with four kids and just knowing that help will go such a long way."People don't expect that much food. They really think it's going to be a small ration … It's always, 'Wow!'"More help needed, ACAO saysThe program is using Africa World Market's warehouse to assemble and distribute the packages."When ACAO approached us asking for donations, asking to help them source the products at a lower cost so we could reach more families ... we jumped on board," said Mory Kaba, chief operations officer of the store on Cyrville Road.John Adeyefa, president of ACAO, said more donations and volunteers are needed."We have served over 100 families in the Ottawa community, we are expecting to serve much more," he said. "We have so much demand for assistance and we intend to do that."Adeyefa said the group is also distributing cloth masks and coordinating virtual mental health seminars. Those initiatives and the relief packages were funded, in part, by a $60,000 grant from the federal government distributed through the Red Cross.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania state senator abruptly left a West Wing meeting with President Donald Trump after being informed he had tested positive for the coronavirus, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano had gone to the White House last Wednesday with like-minded Republican state lawmakers shortly after a four-hour-plus public meeting that Mastriano helped host in Gettysburg — maskless — to discuss efforts to overturn president-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Trump told Mastriano that White House medical personnel would take care of him, his son and his son’s friend, who were also there for the Oval Office meeting and tested positive. The meeting continued after Mastriano and the others left, the person said. The person spoke to the AP on Sunday on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private session because the matter is politically sensitive. Positive coronavirus cases are surging across the United States and the nation's top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. may see “surge upon surge” in the coming weeks. The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 200,000 for the first time Friday. Everyone who will be in close proximity to the president must take a rapid test. Trump was himself hospitalized in October after he contracted the virus. Dozens of White House staffers and others close to the president have also tested positive, including the first lady and two of the president’s sons. All participants in Wednesday's meeting took COVID-19 tests, but the positive results were not announced until they were in the West Wing of the White House, the person said. “The president instantly called the White House doctor in and he took them back to, I guess, the medical place,” the person said. The meeting with Trump was to strategize about efforts regarding the election, the person said. After Mastriano and the others left, the discussion with Trump continued for about a half-hour. Mastriano did not return to the meeting. Mastriano sought the meeting of the Pennsylvania Senate Republican Policy Committee earlier Wednesday that drew Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, a second Trump lawyer, several witnesses and a crowd of onlookers. Only a few of them were masked. The committee let Giuliani and others, for several hours, air their beliefs that there had been problems with how the Pennsylvania vote was conducted and counted. All claims were baseless; no evidence was presented to support any of the allegations they made. Trump even participated, calling from the White House while one of his lawyers held a phone up to a microphone. He reiterated the same unfounded claims of fraud he's been tweeting about for weeks. Those beliefs have persisted despite Trump losing repeatedly in state and federal courts, including a Philadelphia-based federal appeals court's decision Friday that said the Trump campaign’s "claims have no merit," and a state Supreme Court decision Saturday that threw out a legal challenge to the election and effort to stop certification of its results. Mastriano, a conservative from a rural district in central Pennsylvania and outspoken Trump supporter, did not return several messages left Sunday seeking comment. Republican state Sen. Dave Argall, who chairs the policy committee, declined Sunday in a text message to discuss Mastriano’s medical condition and the White House visit. “I’ve received some conflicting information that I’m trying to resolve,” Argall said in the text. “It’s my understanding a Senate statement later today will help us all to understand this better.” Argall said he would not talk publicly about the matter “until I know more.” Senate Republican spokeswoman Kate Flessner declined comment, describing it as a personnel matter. The person with knowledge of the White House visit said several people rode in a large van from Gettysburg, where the policy committee met in a hotel, to the White House. Mastriano, his son and his son’s friend drove in another vehicle. It's not clear why Mastriano's son and his friend accompanied the state senator to the meeting, which the person said was also attended by Trump and the president's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who tested positive in early November. Mastriano has aggressively opposed policies under the administration of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and keep people safe. He has led rallies where he advocated to reopen businesses despite the risk of infection and he has repeatedly and sharply denounced Wolf’s orders. Mastriano also spoke to a few thousand Trump supporters who gathered outside the Capitol on Nov. 7, hours after Democrat Joe Biden’s national win became evident. ___ Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report. Mark Scolforo, The Associated Press
BANGKOK — Five leaders of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement reported to police Monday to acknowledge charges that they defamed the king, the most serious of many offences of which they stand accused.The five are part of the student-led movement that for several months has been campaigning for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic and the monarchy be reformed to make it more accountable.The demand about the monarchy is the most radical and controversial, because by tradition the institution has been considered untouchable, the bedrock element of Thai nationalism. It is considered taboo to publicly criticize the monarch, and insulting or defaming key royals is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under a lese majeste law known as Article 112.The protest movement has nevertheless emphasized reform of the monarchy as a key demand, and made it the theme of several of its protest rallies, which have attracted thousands of people. They believe the king holds too much power in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy."When people criticize the monarchy and they listen, people will consider them open-minded. But if they use 112 to shut our mouths, not only Thai people but also the world will know they are afraid of the truth,” Parit Chiwarak said to reporters ahead of reporting to police. “This won’t stop our movement. On the contrary, it will make more people join us.”Article 112 is controversial, because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint, so it in the past had been used as a weapon in political vendettas. But it had not been employed for the past three years, after King Maha Vajiralongkorn informed the government that he did not wish to see it used. The king has not publicly commented on the law since then.But after a protest last week included crude chants and graffiti that could be considered derogatory of the king, Prayuth declared that the protesters had gone too far and could now expect to be prosecuted for their actions, including with charges under Article 112. While protest leaders have faced dozens of charges over the past few months, they have generally been freed on bail, and none have yet come to trial.Despite Prayuth’s threat, protest leaders have continued to include strong criticisms of the monarchy at rallies.The other four who reported Monday to Bangkok’s Chana Songkhram police station were Arnon Nampha, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong Jadnok and Patiphan Luecha. Patiphan, a traditional folk singer also known as Patiwat Saraiyaem, served 2 1/2 years in prison after being arrested under Article 112 in 2014.Most of the protest leaders face multiple charges already, ranging from blocking traffic to sedition, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison.Anon, a lawyer, said he was indifferent about being charged under Article 112, because it is an “unjust law.”“If we speak the truth and they stop us with 112, it reflects how abnormal this law and this country are,” he said.Also reporting to police Monday were Benjamaporn Nivas and Lopnaphat Wangsit, leaders of the mockingly self-named Bad Students group of secondary school students, which seeks major reforms in education and supports the broader aims of the pro-democracy movement as well.They are accused of violating a state of emergency decree that was briefly in effect in October by taking part in a rally in central Bangkok.___Associated Press journalists Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul and Grant Peck contributed to this report.Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press
A piece of Marysville history will disappear when part of the old cotton mill is demolished in the coming weeks. The old mill, which is currently a government building known as Marysville Place, is the heart of the neighbourhood's rich heritage. Built in the mid-1880s by Alexander 'Boss' Gibson, the large brick building overlooks the Nashwaak River in the Fredericton suburb .A two-story annex attached to the rear of the building, formerly the dyehouse when the mill was operational, is currently fenced off.A demolition crew is already on site and they're ready to take it down the week of Dec. 7.That part of the building hasn't been used in recent years because it's no longer structurally safe. Terry Arnold, co-chair of the Marysville Heritage Committee, said it's always sad to see part of the old mill go. "It's hard to see it happen, but I can understand why it's happening — if it's unsafe and there's no resources available for fixing it up," Arnold said.He said he believes the annex hasn't been used since the late 1970s, when the mill shut down and the building was acquired by the provincial government.Arnold, who has lived in Marysville his whole life, said he never worked at the mill but remembers being inside it once as a teenager, and remembers its distinct smell. Years later, when Arnold and other members of the Marysville heritage committee, were given a tour of the Annex, Arnold said the building's unique aroma was still there. "It smelled exactly the same as it did to me back in the early 1960s," he recalled. "It still had that — I call it cotton mill smell," adding that it wasn't a bad smell — just distinct.The provincial government has renovated the main building over the years and currently uses it for offices.Jill Green, New Brunswick's minister of transportation and infrastructure, said the former dyehouse is in rough shape."The roof has collapsed, the beams inside are deteriorated to the point where the structure is not safe, so it's time to bring it down so that nobody gets hurt," Green said. Green said she worked at Marysville Place in the late 1980s and remembers the annex was sometimes used for storage.Green said there it still contains old drums that were used to store dye, and added that they will be removed and properly disposed of as part of the project. A small section that connects the mill with the annex will not be torn down, and crews are working to block that section off now. Green said that some of the bricks and the beams in the annex will be reused to build a bicycle storage for people who work at Marysville place.The contractor doing the demolition is also planning to reuse some of the materials in other projects around the province.And while there is no commitment on how the land will be used, the province is considering extending the community garden that's already on site. CNF Maillet is the company doing the demolition. The project will cost the government $426,000 — that includes the demolition and the work to support the remaining wall.The debris will be cleaned up by the end of the year.
WASHINGTON — The coronavirus vaccine inching toward approval in the U.S. is desperately anticipated by weary Americans longing for a path back to normal life. But criminals are waiting, too, ready to use that desperation to their advantage, federal investigators say.Homeland Security investigators are working with Pfizer, Moderna and dozens of other drug companies racing to complete and distribute the vaccine and treatments for the virus. The goal: to prepare for the scams that are coming, especially after the mess of criminal activity this year with phoney personal protective equipment, false cures and extortion schemes.“We're all very excited about the potential vaccine and treatments,” said Steve Francis, assistant director for global trade investigations with Homeland Security Investigations. “But I also caution against these criminal organizations and individuals that will try to exploit the American public."No vaccine has yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has approved the first treatment for COVID-19, the antiviral drug remdesivir. With vaccines and treatments both, it has warned about the potential for fraud.“The FDA is particularly concerned that these deceptive and misleading products might cause Americans to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious and life-threatening harm,” the agency said in a recent statement.The drug companies are to have safeguards and brand-protection features in place to help avoid fraud, but that may not be available until the second generation of vaccine because everything is operated on such an emergency basis, said Karen Gardner, chief marketing officer at SIPCA North America, a company that works as a bridge between the government, businesses and consumers. She said that makes it more important to educate health care providers on what the real thing looks like.“When you have anything in high demand and limited supply, there is going to be fraud,” she said. Desperation will drive people around normal channels.Meanwhile, investigators are learning about how the vaccine will be packaged and getting the message out to field agents, creating a mass database of information from more than 200 companies, so they can be prepared to spot fakes and crack down on dangerous fraud. They are monitoring tens of thousands of false websites and looking for evidence of fake cures sold online.Earlier this year as cases exploded, hospitals and governments grew short on masks, gloves and other protective gear. Scams grew, too. Tricksters preyed on unwitting citizens to hand over money for goods they'd never receive.Homeland Security Investigations started using its 7,000 agents in tandem with border, FDA and FBI officials to investigate scams, seize phoney products and arrest hundreds of people. The effort is headquartered at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a government watchdog aimed at enforcement of its international trade laws and combating intellectual property theft.The agency has already analyzed more than 70,900 websites suspected as being involved in some type of COVID-19 fraud. Millions of fake or unapproved personal protective equipment products and antiviral pharmaceuticals were seized. Homeland Security Investigations made more than 1,600 seizures of products worth more than $27 million and made more than 185 arrests.Home test kits, for example, were only recently made available to the public in the past few weeks. But investigators seized tens of thousands of fake kits in the months before. On the dark web, scammers were selling domain names like “coronaprevention.org," attractive to counterfeiters. In the U.S. alone, more than 1,000 fake websites a day have been removed during the pandemic.A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases have topped 13 million in the U.S. and many cities have started restricting movement again as the country heads into winter. The pandemic has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide, more than 266,000 of them in the U.S., according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. But Francis and other investigators are worried that desperation will make Americans more susceptible.If the FDA allows emergency use of a vaccine, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year.Gen. Gus Perna, in charge of the government’s efforts to distribute the vaccine, said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” the government was prepared to distribute the vaccine within 24 hours of approval. There’s a stockpile of the prospective vaccine itself plus kits of needles, syringes and alcohol swabs needed to give the dose. The secret stash is watched by armed guards.“We have taken extraordinary precaution in this area,” he said. "It’s such a commodity to us, we’re taking the full steps to make sure that the vaccine’s secure.”Who is first in line has yet to be decided. But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the hope is that enough doses are available by the end of January to vaccinate adults over age 65, who are at the highest risk from the coronavirus, and health care workers. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-diseases expert, said it may take until spring or summer before anyone who is not high risk and wants a shot can get one.States already are gearing up for what is expected to be the biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history. First the shots have to arrive where they’re needed, and Pfizer’s must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures — around minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 70 degrees Celsius. Moderna’s vaccine also starts off frozen, but the company said it can be thawed and kept in a regular refrigerator for 30 days, easing that concern.Governments in other countries and the World Health Organization, which aims to buy doses for poor nations, will have to decide separately if and when vaccines should be rolled out broadly.Meanwhile, Homeland Security investigators and others are trying to send the message now to the public before the vaccines are approved and begin distribution. They say people should only get a vaccine from an approved medical provider. They shouldn't respond to calls seeking personal information. And they shouldn't click on social media posts purporting to sell cures.“If it sounds too good to be true, it is," Francis said.Colleen Long, The Associated Press
BAMAKO, Mali — The cities of Kidal, Gao and Menaka in northern Mali were hit by simultaneous attacks on Monday against military camps housing international forces, according to residents and a United Nations official.Kidal resident Souleymane Ag Mohamed Ali said he heard more than 10 explosions coming from the direction of the camp for U.N. peacekeepers and soldiers for the French Operation Barkhane.A U.N. official confirmed the attacks on three cities, saying rockets fell Monday morning on the camp in Kidal, and at the same time there were similar attacks in Gao and Menaka. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to press on the matter.There were not further details.No group has claimed responsibility for the simultaneous attacks, but they bear the mark of jihadist groups linked to al-Qaida that carry out attacks in both northern and central Mali.Attacks on the camps of international forces are frequent, but this is the first time that towns several hundred kilometres apart have been attacked around the same time — a sign of the co-ordination capabilities of jihadist groups in Mali.Baba Ahmed, The Associated Press
TOKYO — A brightly burning meteor was seen plunging from the sky in wide areas of Japan, capturing attention on television and social media.The meteor glowed strongly as it rapidly descended through the Earth's atmosphere on Sunday.Many people in western Japan reported on social media seeing the rare sight.NHK public television said its cameras in the central prefectures of Aichi, Mie and elsewhere captured the fireball in the southern sky.A camera at Nagoya port showed the meteor shining as brightly as a full moon as it neared the Earth, the Asahi newspaper reported.Some experts said small fragments of the meteorite might have reached the ground.The Associated Press
An 80-year-old man who is visually impaired and received a $13,000 bill from Virgin Mobile is no longer on the hook for the large sum."I think right now they could be doing a little better, but I'm satisfied with that," said Willie Guerard, who lives in Amherstburg, Ont. "They're not going to get my best wishes, you know what I mean?"Guerard and his wife, Yvonne, who by their own admission are not tech-savvy, told the CBC earlier this month that they don't really even use the internet on their phone.They said it was their understanding that their service would be cut off if their account balance reached $200 in any given month, so they were surprised when they received two bills, for approximately $5,000 and $7,000, respectively.Virgin Mobile said it had removed spending caps such as those after the pandemic began up until the beginning of July but it continued to charge for any costs for overages people incurred.Guerard and his wife said they contacted Virgin Mobile after receiving the large bill and were told they had to pay it. It was only after CBC made inquiries published in a web story earlier this month that the company took a second look at the massive bill."At least they're paying attention now. Before that I couldn't get nobody [to look into it], I just got the runaround," Guerard said.Significant reductionInitially, Virgin Mobile said that Guerard, who was an active data user, had twice requested to increase the amount of data on his account and consented to it. The company was unaware of Guerard's visual impairment and that it would be significantly reducing the outstanding balance in his account.Last week, they said they'd reduced the amount he owed to what his usual monthly bill would have been."We took another look at Willie's account and couldn't verify that he received the notice about removing spending caps during COVID," a written response from the company read.Guerard said after he called them, he found out the amount he now owes is $281, which he plans to pay. But he said he'll only be doing so once he gets it in writing.
Food bank usage across Ontario was already increasing in the year leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, says a new report. Then came a further surge in demand as people grappled with unemployment, closures, and loss of income throughout the pandemic. Feed Ontario's annual hunger report released on Monday analyzes food bank usage across the province, makes recommendations, and also looks at the impact of the pandemic on food banks and vulnerable populations. Following a year where people made 3.2 million visits to food banks, the number of first-time food bank visitors spiked by 26.5 per cent during the first four months of the pandemic, the report says. "That means that we're seeing brand new people who have never come to our services, and those who have already accessed our services experiencing further difficulties in life than they've already had to deal with," said executive director Carolyn Stewart. "It's extremely concerning for us."Before the pandemicBetween April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, the report said 537,575 people accessed food banks — an increase of 5.3 per cent over the previous year — and that one third of those visitors were children. Total visits amounted to 3,282,500, which is up 7.3 per cent from last year.Feed Ontario lists a lack of affordable housing, insufficient social assistance programs, and a growth in precarious employment (like part-time and casual work) as the top three drivers of food bank usage.Ontario also has the highest number of minimum wage workers in the country, Stewart added, noting precarious work has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. The report says 65.7 per cent of food bank visitors cite social assistance as their primary source of income. There has also been 44 per cent more employed people accessing food banks over the past four years. "As these numbers continue to grow, it really creates concerns for us that the income is not keeping up with what everyone needs to afford their most basic cost of living," Stewart said. "Things are becoming increasingly out of reach for everyone."Paying for housing means no financial cushionPrior to the pandemic, people were already living with the extreme stress that comes with living in poverty, stretching dollars and potentially being unable to make ends meet, Stewart said.Around 86 per cent of food bank visitors are rental or social housing tenants spend most of their monthly income on housing. Feed Ontario notes this makes it near impossible for low-income people to have savings or a "financial cushion" to offset losses during times of emergency.Coupled with a year that prompted further anxiety and called for additional expenses — like PPE, staying home for health reasons, and the loss of social services — "hundreds of thousands of people" were without the means to afford basic needs. The top three reasons people would skip meals was to help afford rent, utilities, and phone or Internet bills, the report says."I think it's extremely problematic. No one should have to make those choices. Those are impossible choices for anyone to have to make," said Stewart. Surge in demandDuring the first two months, access to food and meal support also became the number one reason people called Ontario 211 — the community and social services help line.Stewart said this might have been out of fear these essential services would be closed. But food banks have been working around the clock, she said, with limited resources and staff to meet pandemic guidelines. None have shut down. They've implemented new emergency food support programs, and upped the amount of food provided to reduce number of visits. Some also put in a home delivery service and opened a drive-thru service. Here's a look at how demand increased at different centres across the province once the pandemic hit: * The Daily Bread Food Bank in the GTA serviced nearly 20,000 people a week. * The Mississauga Food Bank saw a 120 per cent increase in first time users. * Ottawa Food Bank had 400 per cent more calls from people needing food support. * The Unemployed Help Centre in Windsor had double the amount of households access their services. * The Salvation Army in Owen Sound saw over 400 people in the first nine days of the pandemic, which is near the number of people it would service in a month. * Community Care West Niagara in Lincoln had a 20 per cent increase in those using their services. * A Sudbury Food Bank agency saw a 150 per cent jump in people accessing emergency food support.Eviction, financial challengesIn September alone, there was 10 per cent more visits to food banks compared to the same time last year. When Feed Ontario surveyed around 200 food bank visitors in September, it found one out of two food bank visitors said they were worried about facing eviction or defaulting on their mortgage in the next two to six months.One participant said, "Everything is hard. Paying rent is hard, going to the doctor is hard, accessing groceries and food are hard. Everything is so much harder now."Over 90 per cent were also navigating extreme financial challenges due to the pandemic and incurring a significant amount of debt. Ninety-three per cent of respondent were borrowing money from friends and family, accessing payday loans, or using a credit card to help pay bills. Though Feed Ontario doesn't collect data related to race, immigration or refugee status, it notes that Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by poverty and food insecurity, and are three times more likely to be food insecure than non-racialized households. Support from provincial and federal governments helped food banks meet an initial surge at the start of the pandemic, said Stewart. But as these supports wound down through summer and into fall, the numbers have increased again. The supports showed that "investing in income supports for individuals can provide that essential safety net that people need," she said. Stewart pointed to the 2008 recession where food bank usage went up by almost 30 per cent over two years. "It's never gone back down," she said, adding that the network is "quite fearful" that without those supports food bank use will grow "exponentially" over the coming months."While food banks do their very best with very little to meet the need in their communities, and they do incredible work, they do not replace good, public policy," she said. "We are not a solution to poverty." Feed Ontario says it's calling on the provincial government to: * Provide immediate support to low-income families, including developing a rent relief or payment program for tenants facing rent arrears or eviction. * Reinstate the emergency benefit for social assistance recipients. * Align Ontario's social assistance rates with the national standard set by CERB. * Develop stronger labour laws and policies, like reinstating paid sick days and quality jobs with a livable wage.
A prominent Canadian forecaster says the country's residents could experience everything from winter wonderlands to spring-like spells in the months ahead. The Weather Network says cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures off the coast of South America, also known as "La Niña," will create a strong jet stream separating warm southern air masses from their colder northern counterparts. Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott says this means most Canadians can brace for a wildly variable winter with major departures from seasonal norms. In British Columbia and the Prairies, for instance, Scott says forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels and temperatures below seasonal norms. He says major swings in both temperatures and precipitation levels are on tap for Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, with stretches of both extreme cold and unusually mild air forecast alongside a mix of storms and dry spells.Scott says Newfoundland and Labrador and northern Canada are slated to buck the trend, with the eastern-most province set to experience a more typical winter while colder than average conditions are expected across all three territories. But Scott said the long-term patterns may not be evident at first, since the December forecast is calling for conditions that defy the overall forecasts. In broad strokes, he predicted an overall milder month for western Canada with more wintry conditions likely in Ontario and points east. "It's going to be quite a winter," Scott said in a telephone interview. "A lot of extremes within the given regions. And if you're talking to your friends or family back east or out west, you're probably going to have a very different experience from week to week as the weather changes across the country."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
It was during one of the early planning sessions for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics that Chief Gibby Jacob heard a provincial government official talking about the Callahan Valley, which would eventually host cross-country skiing and ski jumping during the Games.Jacob, who participated in the bidding process for the Olympics and was a member of the Games organizing committee board, finally put up his hand."I asked who the hell is this Callahan and how the hell did he get his name on our lands," the Squamish Nation hereditary chief said with a chuckle. "They all looked at each other. I said find out and let us know."It turns out the Callahan Valley, located near Whistler, B.C., was named after one of the early surveyors in the region."That was the start of our big push to get our names back on places," said Jacob.Indigenous groups had a voice in organizing and hosting the 2010 Games. But Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart has suggested any movement to bring another Games to the city should be headed by Indigenous leaders.In early November, Vancouver city council voted to postpone a decision on whether it wants to explore making a bid. City staff are expected to present a report to council in early 2021.Stewart has said one of his conditions for supporting a bid is that the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh — the three Indigenous First Nations whose traditional territory includes Vancouver — head the Olympic bid committee."I have talked to the Nations about this and there's interest there," the Vancouver Sun reported Stewart saying in a state-of-the-city address to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.Emails to Stewart's office asking to explain the mayor's proposal were not immediately answered.Khelsilem, a councillor with the Squamish Nation Council, isn't aware of any formal talks about leading a bid."We haven't had any formal discussion about it," he said. "We haven't made any formal decision about whether we want or don't want. And we haven't had any formal discussions with our neighbouring nations."Representatives of the Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh did not respond to interview requests.Khelsilem said before any decision is made, the pros and cons of hosting an Olympics must be weighed."The reality is that something like hosting an Olympics requires a significant amount of investment and support from both the federal and provincial governments," he said. "While there are a number of reported advantages, there's also a number of drawbacks."I think a lot of that workflow needs to be figured out, especially in the context of the challenges that we're going to face over the next decade and the challenges that we're facing on a number of fronts."Furthermore, Jacob said: "there's a lot to be gained by being involved [in a bid] for our people.""I don't think that our nations, given what we have as far as leadership resources and how fast they seem to change, would be able to take things right from scratch to completion," he said.Creating a common agendaWith 15 of the venues used for the 2010 Olympics built on First Nation traditional territories, Indigenous support was crucial for the Games success. The Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Lil'Wat nations formed The Four Host First Nations, a non-profit organization with the goals of uniting Canada's Indigenous people and encouraging inclusion across the country."I think it created a common agenda," said Jacob. "By doing that and achieving what we set out, it was totally outstanding."I think it showed leadership that the four separate First nations could work together for a common purpose and get benefits from it."WATCH | President of 2010 Games says Vancouver should bid for 2030:Involvement in the Games raised awareness of Indigenous issues across Canada, he said."When we first started out, we were pretty invisible in our own territories," said Jacob.Indigenous groups did "fairly well in compensation for the use of our lands," he said. The Olympics also led to traditional Indigenous names being returned to locations and landmarks plus recognition of First Nation arts and culture.John Furlong, who was head of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), is part of the group looking at the 2030 Games. He said any bid would be impossible without Indigenous participation."I see no scenario at all in which First Nations are not involved," he said. "They were a difference maker in 2010."First Nations are in multiple new business since 2010. My instincts tell me they will be keenly interested in being involved again."
Recently, Caroline Arsenault watched parcels being stolen in her own neighbourhood — and didn't even realize. "I happened to see a couple of people walking by the window where I sit for my work and then rapidly walk back toward the street and I didn't think anything of it really," said Arsenault. She later found her husband attempting to contact the police after observing the same people also pace up and down their driveway. He got suspicious. He was right. "He found Amazon packages in our green bin," she said.The thieves had taken two packages. One was emptied of its contents while the other was left torn open with the stuff still inside.Arsenault's North End Halifax neighbourhood had just been hit by a porch pirate. It's not just happening in Halifax."The porch pirate has been a little busier this year unfortunately and now a third of Canadians stated in 2020 that they have been victims of a package theft," FedEx spokesperson James Anderson told CBC News.FedEx has published a survey of 1,500 Canadians this holiday season and found that one in three online shoppers say they have experienced package theft in 2020, up from one in four in 2019. It also found that three in 10 are worried about their online purchases being stolen when delivered. Jon Hamilton, spokesperson for Canada Post, said they haven't seen a noticeable increase in complaints about packages being stolen, but cautioned that doesn't mean it's not a threat. He also noted that many people are now working at home and are able to get their parcel as soon as it is delivered.In other parts of the country, such as Toronto, where lockdown restrictions are more prevalent, more people are able to stay at home to receive their deliveries. In Nova Scotia many businesses and schools remain open in the province so some people are frequently not home and cannot receive their packages.Arsenault posted about the porch bandit on social media and was surprised by the reaction."I had quite a few neighbours chime in and say that they too had found open and empty boxes in their driveway or thrown somewhere it didn't really belong." After Arsenault's neighbour reported the incident to the police, Arsenault herself received a follow up call. "The police confirmed this is something that they see quite a bit of. It's something that we should all be mindful of if we're expecting to receive packages when we might not be available to answer the door or pick them up quickly," she said.Halifax Regional Police have not yet responded to a request for an interview. FedEx, along with Canada Post, DHL courier service, UPS, Amazon Canada and Purolator all offer tracking information online, which FedEx's James Anderson said is one of the primary ways to keep your package safe."We give package recipients digital tools to use at your disposal," said Anderson. "If you got a tracking number you can get a notification sent to you when you expect those packages to arrive so you can stay on top of it."Bob Mann, acting chair of the neighbourhood watch in Wilmot, Annapolis County, N.S., said there are more low-tech ways to protect your deliveries. He said you can try asking a neighbour to pick it up or leave the radio on. Mann said one of his favourite home safety tools is photosensitive lights."If you don't have one yourself, take note," said Mann, who has been with his neighbourhood watch since its creation in 1995. "They light up probably half of my driveway ... at dusk the bulbs will come on and they'll go off in the morning." Cpl. Lisa Croteau of the RCMP said package theft doesn't appear to be a big issue at this time, but that could change, so she does have some advice. "Have a different method to pick it up. Instead of dropping it off on your front porch, if you could go to a different location to pick up the package that would be a little safer."Arsenault said she wanted to make people aware of the incident but she also understands the situation."We know there are probably more packages being delivered at this time of year. Holidays are coming up and times are hard for people so we know this is something that happens," said Arsenault.MORE TOP STORIES
Encore très reconnaissant de la chance qu’il a eu de jouer Denis Lemieux, le fameux gardien de but des Chiefs de Charlestown dans le film culte Slap Shot, alors que l’œuvre a su résister à l’épreuve du temps. Vivant à Saint-Léandre depuis près de 47 ans, Yvon Barrette a conservé plusieurs liens avec ses fans et le monde du hockey. Et pour démontrer cela, Yvon Barrette décide de raconter la fois où il avait été invité à Toronto pour signer des autographes une journée de 2001. Il avait alors pris l’avion à Mont-Joli, lorsque cette option de transport était encore disponible à l’époque, ce qu’il faisait plutôt fréquemment. Avant de signer des autographes, il devait se rendre à une entrevue à une radio locale sportive. Moins de 10 minutes après son arrivée que l’animateur lui a déjà demandé subtilement de lui sortir une des répliques du film, encore iconique à ce jour (voir : « trade me right f***ing now »). « J’ai bien vu que le personnage était connu. Le monde trippait dessus depuis 1977, mais il y a eu un regain depuis le début des années 2000 », a relaté Yvon Barrette. Après son entrevue, il a pu assister à une partie de hockey de la ligue nationale. À sa sortie, un des joueurs de l’équipe américaine de hockey aux Olympiques s’est avancé vers lui pour le prendre dans ses bras. En effet, son personnage de Denis Lemieux aurait inspiré sa carrière au hockey. Yvon Barrette a été absolument foudroyé, mais selon ses dires, son personnage aurait marqué plusieurs joueurs de hockey ou, généralement, plusieurs athlètes. Slap Shot serait un des films les mieux aimés des sportifs à travers le monde. Tant et si bien que la folie a commencé à Toronto, mais s’est ensuite poursuivie avec des expositions de collection et d’autographe. Pourquoi est-ce que tout le monde aime autant Denis Lemieux? D’après Yvon Barrette, le personnage n’était heureusement pas l’interprétation d’un joueur professionnel déjà connu, tel Maurice Richard. Denis Lemieux était donc unique. « C’est à cause de ma façon de créer et d’interpréter ce personnage, il était attachant et a rejoint beaucoup de monde », a-t-il dit. Les fans du film se souviennent premièrement de Denis Lemieux. « C’est moi qui ouvre le film. Ça commence, il n’y a même pas de générique, c’est moi dans une entrevue télévisée qui explique “les finer points of hockey” et je dis des conneries », a lancé M. Barrette. « Il parle mal anglais, alors ça fait rire », en nommant en exemple la scène avec Paul Newman au bar. « On a été obligés de reprendre la scène 25 fois parce que Newman riait trop », a-t-il rigolé. L’idée du concept est venue entre autres de la scénariste Nancy Dowd. Son frère Ned, joueur de hockey pour les Jets de Johnstown en Pennsylvanie, l’a contactée afin qu’elle vienne voir d’elle-même les développements de l’équipe. Ayant une carrière prometteuse, Ned a finalement reçu un coup dans le dos qui l’a empêché de continuer à jouer, tellement le sport était violent. Nancy Dowd a donc placé des micros dans la chambre des joueurs pour bien cerner la dynamique de l’équipe. Elle s’est rapprochée du club sportif, au point où le film est finalement devenu un réel documentaire, tous les détails respectant la réalité. « C’est pourquoi, je crois, que le film a rejoint autant les gens », croit Barrette. « C’est la grande qualité du film. » Il amène un bon point, selon lequel l’histoire est axée sur une équipe, et non sur un seul joueur. « Les films de hockey ne décrivent jamais l’histoire d’une équipe de bons à rien qui doivent se serrer les coudes pour gagner la coupe », a-t-il dit. Étant une comédie, elle n’est pas nécessairement vue ainsi, car la violence est proéminente. « Mais ce n’est pas ça, ce film est beaucoup de choses. Un film féministe même, les femmes de joueurs sont très présentes. » Un père exigeant Né en septembre 1946 à Alma au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Yvon Barrette est né au sein d’une très large famille. « À Noël, juste avec les cousins, on devait être au moins 70 personnes », a-t-il affirmé. Son père était entrepreneur électricien, travaillant avec son propre père qui lui avait originellement lancé l’entreprise, appelée « Barrette et fils ». Sa mère, elle, était fleuriste et détenait une âme d’artiste. Elle a aussi traîné un problème d’alcool pendant plusieurs années. Son père espérait fortement que Yvon reprenne les rênes de son entreprise, mais ce dernier a toujours eu une forte aversion pour l’électricité depuis sa tendre jeunesse. Un diplômé de l’École nationale de théâtre, André Saint-Denis, est venu donner des cours de théâtre amateur à Alma, et M. Saint-Denis a rapidement vu son potentiel et l’a poussé à appliquer à l’École nationale. Yvon Barrette est donc parti sur le pouce d’Alma jusqu’à Québec un beau jour de 1968, accompagné d’un ami. Après une audition stressante et forte en émotions, il a été choisi sur plus de 500 candidats. Mais cela ne faisait pas l’affaire de son père, qui n’y voyait que l’insécurité financière. Mais Yvon savait que ce n’était pas une coïncidence : il n’avait pas le choix d’accepter une telle offre. La première fois qu’il a visité le Bas-Saint-Laurent fut lors d’une présentation de pièce de théâtre à Rimouski, nommée « Pas de TV ». Rapidement et pour la première fois, il est tombé amoureux de la région. Il n’a toutefois pas été surpris, car sa mère était originaire de Saint-Irénée dans Charlevoix, « donc j’avais ça dans le sang ». La deuxième fois, ce fut dans un contexte de vacances estivales. Habitant à Montréal, lui et deux amis sculpteurs, Serge Otis et Robert Émard, fréquentaient le même bar, la Taverne Cherrier, sur le boulevard Saint-Denis. « Serge nous a proposé, “cet été on devrait partir les trois et louer un chalet en Gaspésie pour l’été », a-t-il expliqué. Et c’est ce qu’ils ont fait. La troupe a décidé de visiter Saint-Léandre, parce que le neveu de Serge Otis y était propriétaire d’une maison au village. Tout d’abord, ils ont commencé leur séjour en passant la soirée au bar Le Vieux Loup de Matane pour ensuite se rendre à la demeure. Arrivant sur place, Yvon est monté sur une butte tout près de la maison, et c’est là qu’il y reçoit un « message céleste » – explique-il en se bidonnant – de rester à Saint-Léandre. Bref, il a eu le coup de foudre pour l’emplacement. En deux temps trois mouvements, il achète sa première petite maisonnée à Saint-Léandre pour le coût modeste de 900 $. Et aujourd’hui, cela fait 47 ans qu’il réside au sein de la municipalité, depuis 1973, et il n’a jamais regardé en arrière. Et même s’il continuait à jouer dans des productions télévisées ou cinématographiques, il faisait toujours le transport aller-retour de Saint-Léandre. Pendant les années 1970, ce fut l’époque du retour à la terre. « C’était l’amour libre. Nous étions bien accueillis par les gens du village, mais ostracisés par certains. » Quelques années plus tard, il a eu l’opportunité de racheter la propriété du neveu de Serge Otis, d’une superficie d’un lot de terre, où il y reste encore. Il loue la partie cultivable aux agriculteurs voisins, et le tiers de la parcelle de terre est boisé. M. Barrette s’est ouvert sur le problème d’alcool sévère qu’il a trimballé jusqu’en 1984 environ. Tout a commencé lorsque la mère d’Yvon est décédée des complications de son alcoolisme. À 16 ans seulement, il commence à boire pour mieux comprendre l’attrait de la boisson. Son problème se développe avec les années, l’alcool comblant un besoin. Quelques années après Slap Shot, quelqu’un lui a fait réaliser que la raison pour laquelle il possède une addiction à l’alcool est que son foie ne filtre plus l’alcool. Il va directement au cerveau. « Tu arrêtes alors de penser que t’es con. Quand tu fais cette réalisation-là, tu comprends qu’en arrêtant de boire, tu coupes le problème. Et automatiquement, c’est réglé », a-t-il analysé. Il est désormais sobre depuis plus de 35 ans. Pendant la poursuite de sa carrière de comédien, Yvon Barrette a longuement travaillé dans les théâtres d’été. Il a joué deux différentes pièces à Amqui avec Jean Cossette, ainsi qu’une autre à Trois-Pistoles. Également, pendant plus de 15 ans, Yvon a été responsable d’une troupe de théâtre de Saint-Léandre, leur permettant d’écrire des textes et de créer. Pour jouer, ils ont même dû transformer le sous-sol de l’église du village en théâtre. Le théâtre le plus intéressant qu’il n’a jamais fait était en région bas-laurentienne. Par exemple, il a participé à une pièce écrite par Gilles Rémond pour les Opérations Dignité prévue de jouer 30 fois au Bas-Saint-Laurent et en Gaspésie. Ils ont été emmenés à la présenter dans les petites municipalités pour encourager les gens à investir dans leur municipalité et créer de l’emploi. Finalement, la pièce a été victime de son succès, et ils l’ont joué 175 fois. Bien plus qu’un comédien Outre son jeu d’acteur et le théâtre, Yvon Barrette est également copropriétaire d’une entreprise travaillant le moulin à scie, la Scierie L’Ancèdre de Saint-Léandre. Il y travaille aux côtés de René Tremblay depuis 1994. Leur saison haute est estivale. « Je commence tôt. Déplacer quotidiennement quelques tonnes de bois à 74 ans, mon travail me tient en forme », a-t-il dit. La fille de René Tremblay, Camille Therrien-Tremblay, propriétaire de CAMM Construction d’Abris et de Micro-Maisons, s’est associée à la compagnie. Ils sont présentement en train d’agrandir le moulin et de bâtir un atelier pour permettre la construction des mini-maisons à l’intérieur. Le moulin a permis à des citoyens de travailler à Saint-Léandre, et ils ont eu jusqu’à 15 employés. L’opération est même devenue une coopérative à un moment donné. « Aux premières crises du bois-d’œuvre, ça a tout foiré, mais on a réussi à soutenir l’entreprise et régler les problèmes financiers », a-t-il ajouté. L’arrivée de Camille a donné une nouvelle vie à leur moulin. Avec la pandémie, l’année fut tranquille pour Yvon Barrette comme il ne pouvait voyager. Il passe beaucoup de temps avec sa douce moitié, Nicole Lacroix. Son fils unique, Blaise Barrette, qui soufflera prochainement ses 50 bougies, habite également à Saint-Léandre. Son fils a élevé ses deux enfants au village aussi, un des deux étant l’influenceuse Lysandre Nadeau, qui se retrouve donc à être la petite-fille de Yvon. Et au travers, il prend le temps de parler aux fans de Slap Shot, qui sont toujours aussi nombreux qu’il y a trente ans. « Contrairement aux joueurs professionnels, si je suis invité à un salon de hockey ou peu importe, je ne reste pas pendant 2-3 heures, mais toute la journée », a-t-il pointé. Il dit prendre le temps de revenir sur le film et de parler de tout et de rien avec eux. « Ce n’est pas mon rôle d’acteur qui a pris la place. C’est la possibilité que j’ai trouvée à travers de communiquer avec des gens », a-t-il conclu. Yvon Barrette privilégie l’expérience humaine qui s’est dégagée de son rôle au cinéma en tant que Denis Lemieux, gardien de but des Chiefs. Et il demeure très reconnaissant d’avoir pu participer à ce projet, qui a certainement changé sa vie.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
The Niagara Falls of news releases into any journalist's in-box attest that there is always plenty of contention for the moving spotlight of media attention.As early as March of this year, the Pew Research Institute, a think-tank that studies media trends, observed that people had become "immersed in COVID-19 news."And while other issues have occasionally nudged the pandemic and its economic impact off centre stage, it is hard to think of many subjects that have so consistently hogged the limelight for so many months in a row.According to one of Canada's leading environmental economists, that single-minded focus has both diverted and delayed attention on a subject that he expected in 2020 would finally get its moment in the sun: climate change.Shut out by pandemic"For two months or even three, people like me were shut right out because ministers were dealing with aspects of COVID in cabinet," said Mark Jaccard, one of Canada's foremost climate scientists who is often described as an architect of the pioneering carbon-pricing scheme introduced by the B.C. Liberals back in 2008.With what may have turned out to be bad timing, the Simon Fraser University professor's political manual, The Citizen's Guide to Climate Success, finally hit bookstores in February — just before the pandemic began to dominate the news agenda.While inevitably disappointed, the longtime adviser to governments on practical climate economic policy remains philosophical. Jaccard's biggest idea — one that some climate activists may find frustrating — is that the only realistic path to defeating climate change is political action to install "climate-sincere" politicians and governments and then hold their feet to the fire.While personal attempts to eat less meat, say, or buy an electric car make individuals feel good about themselves and may influence a few others, Jaccard insists that the short-term economic advantages of adding carbon to the atmosphere are so lucrative that they require concerted government action to push things the other way.And putting political pressure on governments means garnering media and public attention, something harder to do when the whole world is worried about something that seems far more pressing — namely a deep economic recession caused by a deadly health crisis that just won't go away."You have policy windows," Jaccard said, referring to those moments such as after Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and the surrounding area in 2005, or following the past year's devastating forest fires in Australia and the U.S. west, when the public and politicians are forced to take climate issues seriously.He said COVID-19 is just the 2020 version of a series of global events that have redirected attention away from the climate change issue just as it was beginning to take off.'We got really excited'"We got really excited about the Kyoto Protocol in the late 1990s, and then along came 9/11 — and everyone got diverted with the U.S. wanting to invade countries in the Middle East," Jaccard said, referring to terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001."And then you could say the same thing when we got excited about Hurricane Katrina, and you had Republicans and Democrats in the mid-2000s putting together policy ... and China started to say, 'Uh-oh we better get going.' And then along came the  financial crisis."As the world, and especially Canada, seemed to be getting the pandemic under control during the summer, climate advocates were hoping their issue would come to the top of the agenda. But subsequent waves of the disease once again pushed COVID-19 stories to the top of the "most read" columns, narrowing the news hole for climate coverage.While political analysts were expecting a nod to green spending in Monday's fiscal update, they say short-term allocations will mostly be diverted, quite reasonably, to bailing out parts of the Canadian economy devastated by a new round of pandemic lockdowns.Jaccard says that has added to delays, as the latest government plan — to use post-pandemic economic recovery spending to advance the green agenda in a way that will finally put Canada on a path to Paris 2030 — has meant previous policy plans and spending have been deferred.Despite the latest postponement, Jaccard remains hopeful. Conversations with conservatives have left him with the impression that even a change of government would not prevent Canada from moving forward on the climate change agenda.And while he thinks the Trudeau government remains "climate-sincere," he says media attention is essential to keep pressure on the Liberals not to spend too much money on political feel-good plans, such as tree planting, at the expense of real measures to cut carbon output. As The Economist reported recently, growing trees in one place doesn't mean they aren't being cut down elsewhere, and natural systems tend to return their carbon back to the atmosphere."If you're allowing someone to keep polluting and then you're sort of convincing yourself that you have offset that or compensated it," Jaccard said, "the careful evidence doesn't support that."Part of Jaccard's continued optimism is due to the election of what looks like a climate-sincere Democratic government south of the border that — even without the support of a Republican Senate — can begin to make greenhouse gas-limiting regulations.The election of a Joe Biden presidency may have created a new "policy window," he said, as the U.S. moves toward existing Canadian schemes such as the coal phaseout regulation, where Canada is a leader. Meanwhile, Jaccard expects a U.S. push toward such things as the clean fuel standard, which will coax Canada into following suit as manufacturers insist on one set of rules for all of North America.Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis