Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton discusses the importance of following COVID-19 guidelines after a teacher was charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for allegedly not wearing required personal protective equipment (PPE).
Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton discusses the importance of following COVID-19 guidelines after a teacher was charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for allegedly not wearing required personal protective equipment (PPE).
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Nova Scotia announced a COVID-19 case connected to an elementary school late Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the province announced 10 new cases of the coronavirus.In a news release issued Tuesday evening, the province said St. Margaret's Bay Elementary will be closed Wednesday for deep cleaning.The school is located in the central zone and is the fifth school in the province where a case of COVID-19 has been reported.Parents and staff will be notified when the school is going to reopen.The news release said all close contacts in the school have been identified. They will be notified by public health and told to self-isolate and get tested.School-based casesThe other schools in the central zone where cases have been reported are: * Graham Creighton Junior High in Cherry Brook. * Auburn Drive High in Cole Harbour. * Bedford South School.Two cases have been identified at Northeast Kings Education Centre in the western health zone.Earlier Tuesday, Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases of COVID-19, all in the central zone. With the St. Margaret's Bay Elementary case, that brings the province's total active cases to 143.No one is in hospital related to COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.At Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said he's heartened the new case numbers are stabilizing, but added that each new positive case has an average of eight close contacts. In the first wave, that number was just three.Nova Scotia labs completed 4,138 tests Monday, the highest number of daily tests conducted since the start of the pandemic.An additional 275 tests were administered at a rapid-testing site in Halifax and 585 at a similar site in Wolfville. There were no positive results at either site.Mobile testing unitsPremier Stephen McNeil said to date over 5,000 people have been given the rapid test, with 21 of them, all without symptoms, testing positive. Those people were told to self-isolate and instructed to take the standard test to verify their result. Strang said two six-metre mobile units have been outfitted for deployment to outbreak areas. The mobile units will administer the standard test and not the rapid test."This mobility is it gives us a much better tool to be agile and flexible as needed across the province," Strang said.One of these new units will be in place Wednesday at the Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, where two positive cases were identified, one last week and another on Sunday.A full list of exposures in the province can be found here.New restrictions in effectNew restrictions came into effect last week in most of the Halifax Regional Municipality and parts of Hants County. Strang urged people to observe travel restrictions into and out of the Halifax area."If you live in the Halifax areas, stay in the Halifax area unless it's for work, school or medical treatment. If you live outside the Halifax areas, don't come in unless it's for work, school or medical treatment."The restrictions include stopping dine-in service at bars and restaurants and closing gyms, libraries, museums and casinos until Dec. 9. Masks are also mandatory in common areas of multi-unit dwellings like apartments and condos.At the briefing, Strang addressed people who are resistant to wearing masks when they have no valid reason for not wearing one. "Stop looking for loopholes, stop making excuses, stop arguing with the people who drive our buses, who work in our access centres and who manage our retail stores when they ask you to put on a mask," he said.A list of what's open and closed in the Halifax region can be found here.Across the province, visitations to long-term care facilities are no longer allowed unless the person is a volunteer or designated caregiver.All other Atlantic provinces, most recently New Brunswick, have brought back mandatory 14-day self-isolation for travellers. Nova Scotia's policy on regional travel remains unchanged.Very different holiday seasonStrang said holiday traditions are going to be very different this year, with "smaller and fewer gatherings and less travel." He said the spirit of the holiday season was more important than ever."I really encourage people to focus on what we have around gratitude and generosity, kindness and community, compassion and caring. Focus on those and how you give those, not what we're not able to do."COVID cases in the Atlantic provincesThe latest numbers from the Atlantic provinces are:SymptomsAnyone with one of the following symptoms should visit the COVID-19 self-assessment website or call 811: * Fever. * Cough or worsening of a previous cough.Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also asked to visit the website or call 811: * Sore throat. * Headache. * Shortness of breath. * Runny nose.MORE TOP STORIES
MONTREAL — Bombardier and Alstom say they have received all the necessary regulatory approvals required to complete the US$8.4-billion sale of the Canadian company's railway division to Alstom.The companies say they now expect the transaction to close on Jan. 29, 2021.Bombardier has been working to transform itself from a maker of trains and aircraft into a company focused on business jets. Alstom shareholders voted to approve the deal on Oct. 29.The sale is expected to make Alstom the second-largest manufacturer of rolling stock, behind China's CRRC.Alstom has committed to establish its North American headquarters in Montreal, which will oversee 13,000 employees, set up a research centre and improve production at the Bombardier Transport plant in La Pocatiere, where the order book is almost empty. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BBD.B)The Canadian Press
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown.In “Let Us Dream,” published Tuesday, Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.”The 150-page book was written in collaboration with Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, who said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers.At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits.But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour.At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini.“But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013.The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world.At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies.“Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.”People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.”Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.”But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue.“Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote.Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!”He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem.“You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.”He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state."“There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them."In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course.The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order.“I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote.The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it.The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country.“I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote.But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.”“Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote.Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour.“We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakNicole Winfield, The Associated Press
A man is dead and a woman is in life-threatening condition after a shooting in the west end on Tuesday afternoon, Toronto police say.The shooting happened near Dufferin Street and Glencairn Avenue. Emergency crews were called to the scene at about 3:30 p.m.Const. Laura Brabant, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said it appears that the two victims were in a vehicle at the time..When police and paramedics arrived, they found the man and woman in life-threatening condition.The man died on the scene, while the woman was rushed to a trauma centre on an emergency run, according to Steve Henderson, deputy commander of Toronto Paramedic Services.Police said the homicide unit will take over the investigation. Officers have taped off the area as they investigate.No age range of the victims was available.Officers are seeking a suspect described as a Black male, wearing a grey sweat suit with a hood. He reportedly left in a grey hatchback.Duty Insp. Michael Williams told reporters at the scene that police are appealing for witnesses to come forward.They urging anyone with dashboard camera footage that may shed light on what happened to call police.
In a part of B.C. with a long history of gold mining, a revival of the industry is stirring up conflicting opinions. Dave Jorgenson and his wife Cheryl own two guesthouses and a gift shop in the central Interior community of Wells, B.C., where gold was king until the 1930s.Over the past two decades, the Jorgensons have been working hard to maintain the small town as a tourist destination, but they fear an underground gold mine a Montreal-based company proposes to build near Wells will put an end to that.Wells is seven kilometres from the National Historic Site of Barkerville which preserves the streetscapes of the gold-rush town that boomed in the 1860s making it one of North America's largest living museums.Technological changes later made underground mining the area's key industry.Now, Osisko Gold Royalties, which owns the Barkerville Gold Mines (BGM) based in Wells, plans to launch the Cariboo Gold Project which is still going through the provincial government's environmental assessment process.Part of the plan is to construct a 16-hectare ore-processing concentrator complex — with a 12-storey waste rock treatment tower — near a visitor information centre in western Wells.Big eyesore to townJorgenson says the building will be a big eyesore and will scare many travellers away along with noise from mineral carrying trucks."That [tower] will dominate the landscape as you drive into town," he told Carolina de Ryk, host of CBC's Daybreak North.BGM has been doing mine exploration for the Cariboo Gold Project over the past four years. Jorgenson says the company and its contractors have already bought up 80 per cent of the hotel rooms in Wells and neighbouring Barkerville and turned them into staff housing, but workers don't stay in town long-term and accommodations are often left empty for most of the year."The result is that people [tourists] don't come to our stores to shop or eat … don't have the opportunity to extend their stay," he said. "All tourism dollars have stopped flowing in our community."COVID proves tourism unsustainable in WellsIan Douglas, a gold prospector who has lived in Wells for seven years, agrees that BGM shouldn't be under-using the hotel rooms it's purchased but says it doesn't really matter right now. The pandemic has already dealt a severe blow to local tourism, an industry he once worked in."Tourism isn't going to be able to sustain Wells as it used to," Douglas told Matt Allen, guest host of CBC's Daybreak North. "The [Cariboo Gold Project] mine in its current planning position will help subsidize our existence." Douglas says he is eagerly awaiting the job opportunities at BGM."I would love to use it as a foot in the door to the rest of the industry," he said. "[Training] at BGM and working there for a few years could get you a job anywhere else in the industry."Jorgenson has suggested BGM build the gold mine 600 metres away from Wells, but he says the company is resisting the idea."They've chosen the place that's the most economical for Osisko shareholders in other parts of the world, but I don't believe that they've chosen the best place for the stakeholders that are the people in our community," he said.Douglas says relocating the mine somewhere else may not be feasible."I … don't think that there is any other place to put such a complex, readily available nearby, that wouldn't take more time or energy to construct," he said.In a written statement to CBC News, Barkerville Gold Mines says it has been listening to Wells residents and has made adjustments to the Cariboo Gold Project.Tap the link below to listen to Dave Jorgenson's interview on Daybreak North:Tap the link below to listen to Ian Douglas' interview on Daybreak North:Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The province is hoping a new web page will make it easier for people to buy and ship Island seafood products locally and across Canada. Staff with the Department of Fisheries and Communities have consolidated product and ordering information for companies that sell goods such as lobster, mussels and oysters. Jamie Fox, the minister of fisheries and communities, said having the information all in one place makes the transaction simpler for potential customers. He said about 10 companies are involved so far, which have links on the site princeedwardislandseafood.com."If you want to buy seafood, you better go on to that page and then you'll get to bring up that company and connect immediately to their store virtually or their company and have products shipped for you fresh, in market."Fox said he hopes it will be used locally and also offer access to a taste of home for those who can't get back to the Island because of the pandemic.More from CBC P.E.I.
À la suite de la publication d'un article sur le site de Radio-Canada portant sur les relations de travail et un climat toxique à Hockey Québec, l'organisation a mis en place un comité indépendant qui sera chargé d'enquêter sur la situation. Celui-ci sera dirigé par Michel B. Fournier, un avocat retraité expérimenté en relations de travail. «Dès que l’information m’a été communiquée, j’ai informé mon conseil d’administration de cette situation que nous prenons très au sérieux, a mentionné Yve Sigouin, président du conseil d'administration, par voie de communiqué. C’est pour cela que nous avons immédiatement décidé de la mise en place de ce comité qui aura toute la latitude pour rencontrer confidentiellement les employés, faire la lumière sur la situation et effectuer des recommandations.» Le texte publié dans le média national rapportait des «directives contradictoires, réprimandes écrites pour des peccadilles, employés subrepticement délestés de leurs dossiers, microgestion de vétérans en poste depuis plusieurs décennies, absence de communication, climat de suspicion et conflits entre la direction et des partenaires de longue date de la fédération». Au total, une quinzaine d'entrevues ont été réalisées par le journaliste Martin Leclerc auprès de membres actifs ou démissionnaires du personnel de Hockey Québec. Par ailleurs, l'organisation a précisé, par voie de communiqué, qu'aucune plainte formelle provenant du syndicat des employés ne lui a été adressée depuis l'arrivée en poste de Paul Ménard à titre de directeur général. Deux directeurs auraient quant à eux rencontré le conseil d'administration pour émettre certains désaccords. Selon l'instance provinciale, la situation aurait ensuite été réglée.Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
Statistics from Public Health Ontario (PHO) show the opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are significantly higher than the numbers being reported by Toronto Public Health and some other Southern Ontario locations. For comparison purposes, statistics were compiled in quarterly segments from the end of March 2019, through to the end March of 2020, which was the one-year time period with the latest available information on Emergency Room visits, hospitalizations and opioids-related deaths. In the first quarter of this year, just in the Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) jurisdiction, the rate of opioid deaths was listed at 41.9 per 100,000 population, an increase of 16.7 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 200,424 within the jurisdiction of the Sudbury health unit, which includes the City of Greater Sudbury and several surrounding smaller communities, such as Espanola, Chapleau and on Manitoulin Island. Public Health Ontario said this accounts for 21 deaths in the first three months of this year for the PHSD service area. The Sudbury health unit's own opioid surveillance program reports that from January 2020 to June 2020, opioids have claimed 44 lives. The Sudbury health unit jurisdiction, in the first three months of this year, also had an opioid death rate more than three times higher than the national rate in Canada, which is 12.1 deaths per 100,000 residents. By comparison, for the Toronto Public Health area, the rate of opioid deaths was 11.4 per 100,000 population. It is an increase of 8.6 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 3,090,377. The rate for the last three months of 2019 was 10.5 per 100,000. For the third quarter, the rate was lower at 6.1 deaths per 100,000. The second quarter of 2019 in Toronto, the death rate was 10.5 and in the first quarter the death rate was 11.2 deaths per 100,000. The lower rate was evident in other parts of Southern Ontario. In the jurisdiction of Ottawa Public Health, the rate of opioid deaths was lower at 7.7 per 100,000, the first three months of this year. This was for a population of slightly more than one million. In the Peel region, Peel Public Health reported an even lower fatality rate of 7.6 per 100,000 residents, for a population listed at more than 1.5 million. In the Windsor - Essex County Health Unit, the opioid fatality rate was 15.2 per 100,000 based on a population of roughly 420,000. In the Niagara Public Health Region, the death rate in the first three months this year was reported at 23.1 per 100,000 population for a region of more than 468,000 residents. Back to Northern Ontario, the rates were far higher in general. The Porcupine Health Unit, representing Timmins and several other smaller northern towns, also has a high rate of opioid deaths according to the PHO stats. For the first three months of this year, the death rate attributed to opioids was 32.8 per 100,000 population, three times the Toronto rate. This was for a population of 85,273. Figures for the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) for the first quarter of this year revealed a mortality rate of 28.5 per 100,000 population. This was for a population of nearly 155,000 in the TBDHU jurisdiction. For the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit it was revealed that the rate of opioid deaths was 18.6 per 100,000 population. This was for a region of more than 129,000 residents. The Timiskaming Health Unit, which includes such communities as Kirkland Lake and Temiskaming Shores, the rate was 12.1 per 100,000 for a jurisdiction with a population of more than 33,000 residents. Four deaths occurred in that jurisdiction between March 2019 and March 2020. Further west in the jurisdiction of the Northwestern Health Unit, for communities such as Kenora, Red Lake and Dryden, the mortality rate for the first three months of this year was 9.8 per 100,000, a couple of points lower than Toronto. This was for a population just short of 82,000. A full report on the patterns of opioid-related deaths in Ontario during 2020 the pandemic may be causing some unintended consequences. "In June 2020, Ontario’s Chief Coroner announced a 25 per cent increase in suspected drug-related deaths between March and May 2020, compared to the monthly median reported in 2019. Similar trends have been reported elsewhere in Canada," said the report. "It is expected that this increase in drug-related deaths is being driven by a combination of numerous factors, including an increasingly toxic unregulated (‘street’) drug supply, barriers to access to harm reduction services and treatment, and physical distancing requirements leading to more people using drugs alone."Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania's highest court questioned Tuesday whether Bill Cosby's alleged history of intoxicating and sexually assaulting young women amounted to a signature crime pattern, given studies that show as many as half of all sexual assaults involve drugs or alcohol. Cosby, 83, hopes to overturn his 2018 sex assault conviction because the judge let prosecutors call five other accusers who said Cosby mistreated them the same way he did his victim, Andrea Constand. The defence said their testimony prejudiced the jury against the actor and should not have been allowed.“That conduct you describe — the steps, the young women — there’s literature that says that’s common to 50% of these assaults — thousands of assaults — nationwide,” Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor asked a prosecutor during oral arguments in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. “So how can that be a common scheme?”The prosecutor, in response, offered more precise details about the relationships, saying Cosby used his fame and fortune to mentor the women and then took advantage of it. And he sometimes befriended their mothers or families.“There was a built-in level of trust because of his status in the entertainment industry and because he held himself out as a public moralist,” said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, of suburban Philadelphia's Montgomery County, where Constand says she was assaulted at Cosby's estate in 2004.“The signature was isolating and intoxicating young women for the purpose of sexually assaulting them," Jappe said.Cosby has served more than two years of his three- to 10-year prison sentence for drugging and molesting Constand, whom he met through the basketball program at his alma mater, Temple University.Courts have long wrestled with decisions about when other accusers should be allowed to testify in criminal cases. It's generally not allowed, but state law permits a few exceptions, including to show a signature crime pattern or to prove someone's identity. The state's high court appears eager to address the issue, and in doing so took on the first celebrity criminal case of the MeToo era. The court typically takes several months to issue its opinion.Judge Steven T. O'Neill had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby's first trial in 2017, when the jury could not reach a verdict. The MeToo movement took hold months later with media reports about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other men accused of sexual misconduct.O'Neill then let five other accusers testify at Cosby's retrial in 2018, when the jury convicted him of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand.Cosby's appellate lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said prosecutors exploited “all of this vague testimony” about his prior behaviour and his acknowledgement that he had given women alcohol or quaaludes before sexual encounters.“They put Mr. Cosby in a position where he had no shot. The presumption of innocence just didn't exist for him,” Bonjean said in the arguments Tuesday, which were held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.Constand went to police in 2005, about a year after the night at his home. The other women knew Cosby in the 1980s through the entertainment industry, and they did not go to police.The defence also challenged the trial judge's decision to let the jury hear damaging testimony Cosby gave in a lawsuit Constand filed against him in 2005, after then-prosecutor Bruce Castor declined to arrest Cosby.The testimony was sealed for nearly a decade until The Associated Press asked a federal judge to release documents from the case as more Cosby accusers came forward. The judge agreed, and Castor's successor reopened the case in 2015, just months before the statute of limitations to arrest him would have expired.Cosby, a once-beloved comedian and actor known as “America’s Dad,” has said he will serve his entire 10-year term rather than admit wrongdoing to the parole board.Criminal law professor Laurie Levenson believes it's important for the court to scrutinize Cosby's conviction given the publicity the case attracted, the legal questions it raised and the potential influence of the MeToo movement.However, she was less sure there's data to show that intoxication was as prevalent in sex assault cases in the 1980s through 2004 as it is today.“We have heard a lot more about doping types of sexual assaults (recently), but I'm not sure how common it was at the time of this offence,” said Levenson, of Loyola Law School. “I think the court’s doing the right thing, which is asking, ‘Did he get convicted on legitimate evidence?'"The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.___Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale.Maryclaire Dale, The Associated Press
Tuesday marked the first snow day that wasn't in Windsor-Essex, as school transportation was cancelled but secondary students in the public school board still had to do a full day of remote learning.The Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) announced the policy last week, saying that students would be expected to do a full day of remote learning for the 2020-21 school year even if transportation is cancelled."For the current school year (2020-21), in the event that student transportation is cancelled in the city and/or the county, all secondary students will participate exclusively in remote on-line learning for that day," the news release says. Shelley Armstrong, the superintendent of business and treasurer at the GECDSB, said the board felt the decision made sense given the "quadmester" remote learning system students are using this year."It's really important that we do the best that we can to support their learning in the classrooms, and it's challenging to do that if there's a missed day," she said. "We really want to make sure that we're supporting them the best that we can with their education."Schools are still open for staff and elementary school students. But elementary students who stay home are not expected to do online work.Armstrong says that the board made the decision for this year only, and she's not certain snow days for secondary students are facing extinction."I don't know necessarily that that would be the case," she said.Armstrong added that if anyone has any questions about the new policy, they can reach out to school administrators."If anyone has specific questions for it, certainly they can reach out to the board office or the school principal, and we'll do our best to help them with any questions they may have," she said.
Originally scheduled to be completed in December, further construction of Gabriola Island’s Village Way Path is now on hold until spring 2021. Asphalt surfacing meant to go in through the Village Core section of the 1.5 km long, two-metre wide path has been delayed “due to weather conditions and paving material availability,” according to Yann Gagnon, the Regional District of Nanaimo’s manager of parks services. “The path will be in a usable condition over the winter, much like a widened gravel road shoulder,” he said. The RDN confirmed delay of completion of the Village Way will not delay the start of the construction of the Huxley Park skatepark in 2021. Work completed so far on the Village Way includes survey layout, tree assessment and removals, retaining wall construction, clearing and path base construction on sections between the Gabriola Professional Centre and Church Road. In the fall, staff determined fewer trees needed to be removed than planned. Using a hydro-excavator, crews exposed the root systems of trees in close proximity to the work site to assess if they would be damaged by further excavation work required to install the path. “This exploratory digging consequently allowed more trees to be retained as opposed to removing trees based on the assumption that the construction of the new path will damage their root system beyond their ability to recover,” Gagnon explained. As a result, trees have been saved in front of the Madrona Marketplace. Adaptations have also been made to parts of the path that will run in front of Gabriola Elementary School. Staff decided to reorient the path to “meander around live trees.” The adjustment will see dead trees or ones identified as declining removed instead. The construction method has also been adapted so that the gravel is “floating” overtop of the existing soil and root masses “as opposed to using a traditional path building method which includes excavation to sub-grade, which considerably damages healthy root systems,” Gagnon said. The completed path will run along the north side of the road from the junction of North and South roads to the 707 Community Park entrance at Tin Can Alley. The RDN has been working with the Ministry of Transportation since 2014 to make the path a reality. In July, the RDN board awarded the $971,349 construction contract to Windley Contracting. The project is entirely funded by the Electoral Area B Community Works Fund.Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it's not clear what can be done.
WINNIPEG — Manitobans will likely have to deal with strict COVID-19 measures into the winter, Premier Brian Pallister warned Tuesday.With daily case counts remaining high and intensive care capacity close to the limit, Pallister said some restrictions on public gatherings and business openings will have to continue beyond Friday of next week, when the current orders are to expire."My gut feeling is that as we get into winter, it's going to be critical that we continue with a high level of restrictions for some time," Pallister said."COVID doesn't give up, and we're seeing that all across the country."Manitoba was leading all other provinces in the per-capita rate of new infections until recently, when Alberta surged ahead.To try to bend the curve, the province enacted some of the strictest rules in the country: non-essential businesses have closed, public gatherings have been limited to five people and, with some exceptions for things like medical services, people are not allowed to have visitors in their home.In-person religious services have also been banned — an order that has been met with a small measure of defiance and protests.A church in Winnipeg held four drive-in services last weekend, where people remained in their vehicles while a pastor spoke on a stage. Outside of Steinbach in southeast Manitoba, a church has held in-person services, prompting police to block the parking lot last Sunday.The rules have worked, Manitoba's chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Tuesday.The number of new infections has plateaued and even dropped slightly in recent days — there were 282 new cases Tuesday — and people now testing positive are reporting fewer contacts with others.That effect has yet to trickle through to the health-care system, however. A record 16 deaths were reported Tuesday and intensive care units remained close to full."Our health-care system can't sustain daily counts like this," Roussin said.The government is already working on what restrictions might continue beyond next week, Roussin added, although he did not divulge details.Manitoba has backed up its public health orders with added personnel, including a private security firm, to hand out fines.The two churches that held services last weekend are being fined $5,000, Pallister said, and several individuals involved can expect fines of $1,296 each."It's critical right now that we do not gather with people outside of our households," Pallister said."And we need the full participation of all Manitobans in order for these strict public health measures to work."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Canadians may wish to forget the year 2020 ever happened, but across the country, museums and archives are working furiously to ensure a full record of the COVID-19 pandemic is in place. "If it happens 50 years from now, again, we want to be able to have information to give the perspective of the challenges," said Sylvain Belanger, a director general at Library and Archives Canada. But figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges. One is the ephemeral nature of where so much of people's experiences are taking place: the internet. Social media posts come and go, news headlines change hourly, and new sources of information and disinformation appear or disappear, Belanger said. At Library and Archives Canada, a team of six people hoover up as much of the official record as possible. The amount of data they've currently collected is the equivalent to the data a person would use up if they streamed more than 2,000 movies on Netflix. At the Canadian Museum of History, and similar institutions, the work is broader. Capturing the language of the pandemic is one part: words like "social distancing," the lockdown cocktail known as the "quarantini" and the "you're on mute" uttered in nearly every single video conference call. Saving photos and videos is another element, whether it is Canadian musicians streaming impromptu concerts from their living rooms, teachers wearing masks in the classroom, soldiers entering long-term care homes or portraits of what isolation looks like in the Northwest Territories. Then there are the physical artifacts: homemade masks, crafts made from toilet paper rolls, colourful rocks painted by children to be strewn along paths, even the little sticky signs on sidewalks asking people to keep their distance. What among those will become as iconic to the pandemic as the photo of a sailor kissing a woman in Times Square at the end of the Second World War remains to be seen, said Dean Oliver, the museum's director of research. Knowing what to collect and how much of it evolves over time, Oliver said. "There isn't a checklist that says here's the magic number," he said. Documenting the pandemic is difficult because Canadians are still living through it, said Anthony Wilson-Smith, president and CEO of Historica Canada, which among other things runs "The Memory Project" to record the stories of war veterans. "It'll take awhile for people to come out the other end, much like post-traumatic stress disorder, where, when it's too immediate, you can't talk about it at all," he said. But he said that what people will want to know decades from now is what they ask veterans today: how did you feel? What was it like? Oliver suggests Canadians who want to make a record document those feelings. "Many of the other aspects of your experience — where you moved, what you bought, your tax return, your census record — the future historian or your descendant will be able to get at in an impersonal way," he said. "But they will not be able to see you and feel you and understand how you saw and felt unless you tell them." One emerging issue is figuring out how to reflect the experiences of those whose lives have been disproportionately impacted, including racialized communities and women. "There are a lot of data sets, but the voice of women is missing in numeric data sets," said Yoo Young Lee, the interim head of information technology at the University of Ottawa, who also works on digital initiatives for the school's library. "We need the stories." She and her colleagues have launched an archive specific to women's experiences, but it is a slow process. One challenge is that a reliance on using what people post online means those who don't have access or choose not to use social media are missed. The other reality, said Michelle Gewurtz, supervisor of arts and culture at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives, is that people tend to only post the lighthearted moments online. Her region, just outside Toronto, is currently in the midst of second lockdown, due to a rise in cases. There, multi-generational families are locked down in cramped quarters, and getting a sense of what that looks and feels like is difficult, she said. It's become clear, she and others said, that what initially began as a project to document COVID-19 in the year 2020 will stretch far beyond. "This isn't going away." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Eighty per cent of Canadian manufacturers surveyed in a new report are facing an immediate labour and skills shortage that was made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.A Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters survey of 563 companies across 19 sectors released Tuesday found the need for skilled labourers has been growing rapidly for years, but COVID-19 government relief, health concerns and family responsibilities are making the situation even more troublesome."Our skills gap that existed before the pandemic was just exacerbated by the pandemic and we need to make sure that everybody is working toward getting that next generation of workers in the sector," said Dennis Darby, president of the CME.His organization, which represents more than 2,500 companies across the country, said 70 per cent of manufacturers had a shortage of labour and skills in 2018, up from 40 per cent in 2016.The CME believes government support measures for Canadians during the pandemic may be discouraging people from seeking jobs in manufacturing. Others, it said, may be disinterested in the sector or working altogether because they fear for their health and safety as the virus spreads or because they have childcare obligations. A national daycare program and more support for women, immigrants and temporary foreign workers would help reverse the trends, said Darby."We also need to have a very solid commitment to actually getting the people whose jobs may have been displaced from other sectors trained up to be able to do jobs in manufacturing," he said.Addressing these problems quickly is important because the lack of qualified workers is impeding growth and limiting manufacturers' ability to innovate and invest in technology which it will need to serve future needs and keep up with competitors, said Darby.His report also contains a glimpse of how the pandemic has been impacting manufacturers.It said many experienced a simultaneous fall in demand and rise in supply chain disruptions in the early weeks of the pandemic. While 30 per cent of manufacturers have seen production return to the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020 and another 6 per cent believe they'll reach that threshold by the end of the year, not everyone is so fortunate.About 10 per cent of those manufacturers surveyed say they are very pessimistic about the outlook of their businesses, including 5 per cent that predict that their sales will never fully recover.The recovery has looked so different across the sector because manufacturing touches so many different industries and locations, Darby said. In many cases, the supply chains have yet to fully recover."In sectors like food and consumer products … they have been at capacity in many cases right across the country because a lot of those parts or ingredients are located or sourced in North America and the supply change smoothed out," he said."In those industries that bring a lot of stuff in from overseas, a lot of those supply chains slowed down and they're not completely back up yet."Alberta is facing the worst of the pandemic because of the impacts it has seen on the oil and gas sector, but areas of southwestern Ontario or Quebec have experienced decreased demand for items too, Darby said.Across the country, all manufacturers were forced to adapt quickly to protect their staff.About 60 per cent of those surveyed are purchasing personal protective equipment to keep workers safe. Their average PPE costs were estimated at $201,500 but are expected to reach $373,400 by the end of the year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Oscar-nominated actor Elliot Page, the star of “Juno," “Inception” and “The Umbrella Academy,” came out as transgender Tuesday in an announcement greeted as a watershed moment for the trans community in Hollywood. “I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer," Page said in a statement on social media. Page, the 33-year-old actor from Nova Scotia, said his decision to come out as trans, which also involved changing his first name, came after a long journey and with much support from the LGBTQ community. “I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self,” Page wrote. “I’ve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community. Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place.” “The more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive,” added Page, who said his pronouns are “he" and "they.” Page signed his statement with the words, “All my love, Elliot.” The announcement was celebrated widely on social media by LGBTQ rights advocates and many in the film industry. Netflix, maker of the comic book series “The Umbrella Academy," said, “So proud of our superhero! We love you Elliot!” "Elliot Page has given us fantastic characters on-screen, and has been an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people,” said Nick Adams, GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Media. “He will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. All transgender people deserve the chance to be ourselves and to be accepted for who we are. We celebrate the remarkable Elliot Page today.” Page broke out in Jason Reitman's 2007 film “Juno” in a performance as a pregnant teenager that earned him an Academy Award nomination. Page has frequently worked to bring the lives of LGBTQ characters to screen, including the 2015 film “Freeheld,” which he produced and starred in as the partner of a dying New Jersey police detective who had been denied pension benefits. Last year, he made his directorial debut with the documentary “There's Something in the Water,” about environmental damage on Black and First Nations communities in Nova Scotia. Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
Norfolk County’s answer to Cruella de Vil is believed to have stolen two puppies from a Delhi home on Friday. Norfolk OPP say the alleged dognappers came to the Tisdale Road property — just south of Delhi — between 6:40 and 8 p.m. on Nov. 27 and made off with two tan-coloured female pups, along with a trail camera. The five-month-old dogs are described as a mix of ridgeback, mastiff, Newfoundlander and shepherd. Police welcome tips from the public to solve this case and get the pups back home. Information about the theft can be left with the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers via 1-800-222-8477 or helpsolvecrime.com.J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
* Ottawa has 34 more COVID-19 cases and one more death. * At least one key indicator is verging on red zone levels. * Renfrew County is down to zero known active cases.Today's Ottawa updateOttawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting 34 new cases of COVID-19 and the death of another retirement home resident. OPH has declared a 26 more cases resolved.Numbers to watch26.8: Ottawa's per capita rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days is slightly down from Monday, but still above the rate of 25 — the difference between yellow and orange on Ontario's pandemic scale.1.19: The average number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t), remains above one, suggesting the coronavirus is spreading faster than it can be controlled. The threshold between orange and red is 1.2.9: The number of long-term care homes with active COVID-19 outbreaks.Researchers measuring levels of the coronavirus in Ottawa's wastewater continue to report a slight upward trend. Across the regionFifteen more western Quebec residents have tested positive and one more has died of COVID-19.Renfrew County now has no known active COVID-19 cases.
MONTREAL — Zorhan Bassong wants to be part of building something new with the Montreal Impact. And it doesn't hurt that joining the club will bring the young Canadian defender back home. Bassong said he had several offers and discussed the options with his family before signing a two-year contract with the Impact on Tuesday. The deal includes two additional option years. “As soon as I spoke with (Impact sporting director) Olivier Renard, I felt convinced about this project. I felt like he was ready to build a new project where young players will play," said the 21-year-old Montreal-raised fullback."This is what convinced me to come here. I just wanted to be part of this new project. And at the same time, I will be close to my family, close to my friends, close to my homeland.”Bassong was 14 when he left home to train in Europe. He returns to Canada after playing for Cercle Brugge in Belgium's Jupiler Pro League, and previously played 31 games for Lille's reserve team in France.The five-foot-nine defender made his debut for the Canadian national team in January, and was later named to the U-23 national team roster for the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. Work on bringing him to Montreal has been underway for some time, Renard said in a release."We preferred to wait to make the announcement to avoid destabilizing the players in his position, and achieve our 2020 goals," he said. Veteran Montreal defenders Rod Fanni, Jukka Raitala and Jorge Corrales all have contracts that expire at the end of 2020. While Renard described Bassong as a versatile player who can fit in anywhere along the backline, the young defender said his preferred position is left back.“I like to do the runs back and forth," he said. "When I play left back, I like to attack. I like to participate offensively, to help the team score goals, to get some assists.”Bassong won't be available to join the Impact for the team's upcoming CONCACAF Champions League fixture. Though he has returned to Montreal, he's currently in quarantine with his family.The Champions League tournament will see the Impact face Honduran club CD Olimpia on Dec. 15 in Orlando. The matchup is the second leg of the quarterfinal, coming after Olimpia beat the Impact 2-1 when the teams played the first leg at Montreal's Olympic Stadium in March. The tournament was then postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The winner of the series will face either New York City FC or Mexico's Tigres UANL in the semifinals on Dec. 19. The tournament's finale will be played on Dec. 22. The rest of the Champions League games will be played without fans.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press