The Canadian government has stepped up its efforts to prepare for any result following the U.S. election, including a contested result.
The Canadian government has stepped up its efforts to prepare for any result following the U.S. election, including a contested result.
WASHINGTON — Outgoing Attorney General William Barr's decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the handling of the Russia probe ensures his successor won't have an easy transition.The move, which Barr detailed to The Associated Press on Tuesday, could lead to heated confirmation hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's nominee, who hasn't been announced. Senate Republicans will likely use that forum to extract a pledge from the pick to commit to an independent investigation.The pressure on the new attorney general is unlikely to ease once they take office. With the special counsel continuing to work during the early days of the Biden administration, it may be tough for the Justice Department's new leadership to launch investigations of President Donald Trump and his associates without seeming to be swayed by political considerations.Barr elevated U.S. Attorney John Durham to special counsel as Trump continues to propel his claims that the Russia investigation that shadowed his presidency was a “witch hunt.” It's the latest example of efforts by Trump officials to use the final days of his administration to essentially box Biden in by enacting new rules, regulations and orders designed to cement the president's legacy.But the manoeuvring over the special counsel is especially significant because it saddles Democrats with an investigation that they've derided as tainted. Now there's little the new administration can do about it.“From a political perspective, the move is so elegantly lethal that it would make Machiavelli green with envy,” Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.A special counsel can only be dismissed for cause. And as was the case during Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, such probes can sometimes stray from their origins.The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment on the special counsel appointment.But Barr's decision could influence whom the president-elect puts forth as a nominee for attorney general. One leading candidate, Sally Yates, was already viewed skeptically by some Trump-aligned Republicans for her role in the early days of the Russia investigation. Her nomination could face even greater challenges because she's connected to some of the work that Durham is examining.As deputy attorney general, Yates signed off on the first two applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor communications of ex-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, a process that has been among the focuses of the Durham investigation.A Justice Department inspector general report found significant flaws and omissions in the four applications to the court, though it also found no evidence that Yates or any other senior Justice Department officials were aware of the problems.Some Democrats have privately expressed concerns – likely to deepen with Durham’s appointment as a special counsel – that nominating Yates would lead to a messy confirmation process that focuses on the Russia investigation, instead of focusing on reforms and shifting priorities at the Justice Department, people familiar with the matter have said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.Others potentially in the mix for the role include Lisa Monaco, a former homeland security adviser and senior Justice Department official in the Obama administration, and outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who famously prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a Birmingham church in the 1960s.The question for Biden, however, is how to balance top Cabinet picks as he attempts to fulfil his pledge for racial, ethnic and gender diversity. Many of Biden's leading nominees so far have been white, which could work against Yates, Monaco and Jones.Some Black Democrats are attempting to elevate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is Black and led the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Bill Clinton, in discussions about potential attorneys general.Whoever emerges as the nominee will be pressed to demonstrate independence from the new White House after Biden campaigned on a pledge to depoliticize the Justice Department.That could be tough, however, if the future attorney general faces calls for new probes into the Trump administration. Some investigations into Trump have been frozen because of the immunity he enjoys as president. Others swirling around members of his family and associates have been simmering for years.On Tuesday, an unsealed court filing revealed an investigation into a potential plot to solicit political donations in exchange for the president using his pardon power.Barr, for his part, insisted that he was trying to keep politics out of the Durham probe, explaining that is why he delayed announcing the special counsel appointment until a month after the election.“With the election approaching, I decided the best thing to do would be to appoint them under the same regulation that covered Bob Muller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election,” Barr said in an interview with the AP on Tuesday.“I wanted to have the team, both Durham and his team understand that they be able to finish their work,” Barr said.Durham has already been a huge disappointment for Trump and his allies, and prompted a dispute with Barr over why things weren’t moving faster and why the investigation did not yield major prosecutions in the weeks before the election. The investigation wasn’t expected to result in many more criminal charges, and there has only been one so far — a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to a single charge.But the investigation is worth more politically than practically.A nearly 500-page inspector general report chronicled in great detail the errors and omissions FBI agents made in a series of applications to surveil Page. Declassified documents released by congressional Republicans have raised additional questions while not undercutting the overarching legitimacy of the Russia probe. And the facts of the one criminal case Durham has brought so far, against an FBI lawyer who admitted altering an email, were already mostly laid out in the watchdog report.There’s also been a degree of turmoil within Durham’s ranks as one of the team’s leaders, Nora Dannehy, resigned months ago, a significant departure given the active role she had played.___Miller reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Colleen Long in Washington and Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
COVID-19. En prévision de la période achalandée du magasinage des Fêtes, un resserrement des mesures entrera en vigueur dans les commerces à compter du 4 décembre, afin de limiter les risques de transmission du virus et d'assurer le bon déroulement des activités dans le respect des consignes sanitaires. Les commerçants devront, entre autres, réduire le nombre maximal de clients pouvant se trouver dans leur établissement. «L'achalandage du temps des Fêtes est bien commencé dans nos commerces. Nous magasinons pour nos êtres chers, et c'est tout à fait normal. Cependant, vu la croissance du nombre d'hospitalisations et la courbe des cas qui ne fléchit pas, nous avons décidé de resserrer les mesures préventives en place afin de limiter autant que possible les risques d'éclosion. Nos forces policières seront également plus présentes. J'invite nos citoyens à favoriser l'achat local et à investir dans nos entreprises d'ici, qui ont travaillé très fort au cours des derniers mois dans un contexte difficile. Il ne reste que quelques semaines avant Noël, alors si chacun y met du sien, nous pourrons peut-être passer des moments précieux avec nos proches», souligne Geneviève Guilbault, vice-première ministre et ministre de la Sécurité publique en précisant que la capacité d'accueil, calculée en fonction de la superficie de plancher accessible aux clients, devra être affichée bien à la vue. Également, en fonction de la superficie de plancher utilisable par les clients, les exploitants devront limiter l'accès aux lieux, contrôler le nombre de personnes à l'intérieur et prévoir des mesures de gestion de l'achalandage (p. ex. : marquage au sol, corridor de circulation à sens unique, gestion des files d'attente). Ils devront continuer de s'assurer du respect des consignes sanitaires par les clients et le personnel, notamment la distanciation de 2 mètres entre les personnes et le port du couvre-visage. Afin d'assurer la sécurité de tous, la présence d'employés de la Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail, de la santé publique et des corps policiers sera intensifiée dès ce vendredi. Enfin, des mesures limitant les rassemblements continueront de s'appliquer pour la période du jour de l'An. Dans ce contexte, les policiers assureront une plus grande présence sur le terrain et continueront d'être vigilants et d'intervenir au besoin, particulièrement les 31 décembre 2020 et 1er janvier 2021. Ils disposeront des pouvoirs nécessaires pour faire cesser les infractions à la Loi sur la santé publique. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
As Alberta rolls out COVID-19 vaccines in three phases next year, most members of the public will likely have to wait until summer for their shots, Premier Jason Kenney says.Paul Wynnyk, a deputy minister in the municipal affairs department, has been appointed to lead Alberta's vaccine task force, which will be a multi-disciplinary team drawn from across the public service, Kenney said at a news conference Wednesday.Phase 1 of the vaccine roll out will happen in the first three months of 2021, he said, when it's anticipated that vaccines will been given to about 435,000 people, a little more than 10 per cent of the population.Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses to be fully effective, with three to six weeks between doses, which means vaccinating 435,000 people would require 870,000 doses."Not all of this will arrive at once," Kenney said. "We've been assured by the federal government that shipments will begin to arrive by Jan. 4 and continue to arrive in waves throughout the early part of next year."Phase 1 will focus entirely on the province most at-risk populations, he said, which includes residents of long-term care homes and designated supported-living facilities, staff who work in those facilities, on-reserve First Nations people, and other health-care workers.Each dose 'represents an Albertan'Wynnyk served as an officer in the Canadian Forces for more than 38 years, rising to command of the Canadian Army, before joining Alberta's public service."I look forward to the challenge ahead, and I want to be very clear that I do not look at these vaccines simply as objects to deliver or a work task to complete," he said at the news conference."Each and every dose of vaccine represents an Albertan who needs to be protected, and is vital to protecting not just their health but their livelihoods as well. My commitment to Albertans is that we will do everything within our control to ensure no Albertan has to wait any longer than absolutely necessary."WATCH | Kenney and Hinshaw discuss vaccinesPhase 2 of the roll out will run from April to June, with the goal by the end of the period to have 30 per cent of the population immunized, Kenney said."By the summer, we plan to begin Phase 3, where vaccine will be offered to all Albertans. And that means it will be months before vaccine is available to the general population. This is the unfortunate reality that Canadians across the country face, and people around the world."The risk of hospitalizations and COVID-19 deaths will decline significantly once the most vulnerable people are vaccinated, he said."I know people are getting tired and frustrated, but this is evidence that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we can see this critical juncture, when we will get past the terrible damage that COVID-19 has caused for our society."So my message to Albertans today is this: We are ready for the vaccine, and we have a plan to get it out to you as quickly and safely as possible."Latest case numbersThe province reported 1,685 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 10 more deaths.The total number of active cases in the province reached 17,144, an increase of 516 from the day before.A total of 561 people have now died from the disease since the start of the pandemic.On Wednesday, Alberta hospitals were treating 504 patients with the illness, including 97 in ICU beds.The province has now surpassed 61,000 total cases, meaning about one in every 73 Albertans has so far contracted the disease."Around the world, there has been great progress on the development of COVID-19 vaccines," Premier Jason Kenney said at a news conference on Wednesday. "We know that effective vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will be ready for distribution here in Canada within weeks."While the province cannot control when those vaccines arrive in Alberta, it will be ready to roll them out as quickly as possible, Kenney said.Vaccine will not be mandatoryQuick and effective distribution of the vaccine will be essential to the province's economic recovery, Kenney said, and will be a matter of life and death for many Albertans and their families."Before I continue, I want to be clear, Alberta's government will not make any mandatory vaccination," the premier said. "Some think that this is controversial but we don't live in a country where government can inject you with something against your will.The government will soon amend the Public Health Act to remove the power of mandatory inoculation that has been on the books since 1910, Kenney said."But we need as many Albertans as possible to get vaccinated. And let me be clear about that I will certainly choose to receive this vaccine when it's my turn, and I strongly urge others to do so."Alberta prepared for vaccine distributionAlberta is well-prepared to receive, distribute and administer vaccines as soon as they arrive, Kenney said.Alberta Health Services has 13 vaccine depots throughout the province, all of which can receive and distribute the Moderna vaccine, which needs to be stored and transported at -20 C.Another 17 facilities in the province are also able to handle vaccine storage, meaning there are a total of 30 depots across Alberta."The Pfizer vaccine, on the other hand, requires ultra-cold transportation and freezing, at 80 degrees below zero Celsius," Kenney said."Currently, three of our 13 vaccine depots can receive and store the Pfizer vaccine, and AHS is working to expand that capacity as we speak, ordering additional freezers and related equipment."Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, attended the news conference with Kenney and Wynnyk."We must continue to work together over the coming months to keep our numbers down, until enough Albertans have received their full series of vaccine to keep COVID under control," Hinshaw said."The actions each of us take right now are vital in slowing spread and bending the curve, as we are each others' vaccine until the vaccine arrives."The regional breakdown of active cases on Wednesday was: * Edmonton zone: 7,857 * Calgary zone: 6,331 * Central zone: 1,226 * North zone: 967 * South zone: 663 * Unknown: 100 Albertans need to prepare themselves for smaller Christmas celebrations, top doctor says
TORONTO — Ontario's hospitals are warning that the rising number of COVID-19 patients in their wards are making it increasingly tough to continue other procedures. The Ontario Hospital Association urged residents Wednesday to follow public health measures in an effort to help address capacity issues, particularly in intensive care units across the province. That came as the province reported 656 people in hospital due to COVID-19, including 183 in intensive care, and 106 people on ventilators. Health experts have previously said having more than 150 patients in intensive care could lead to cancelled surgeries. "Ontario hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain access to vital surgeries and procedures with COVID-19 cases rising," the hospital association said in a statement posted on social media. "Hospitals are doing everything they can, but they need your support. Help stop the spread by making better practical choices every day."The OHA has been warning of capacity issues for months as hospitals are pressed to fulfill all of their regular duties while also caring for COVID patients, running testing centres, and assisting some long-term care homes.Hospital capacity has been an issue in COVID-19 hot spots, such as Peel Region, for weeks, but those pressures have also spread to other areas. The Grand River Hospital in Waterloo Region paused elective surgeries this week after its intensive care unit reached capacity.In Windsor-Essex, the Windsor Regional Hospital said high patient numbers were challenging the entire regional health-care system and had made it necessary to impose strict visitor restrictions in an effort to reduce transmission of the virus. NDP Legislator Catherine Fife, who represents a Waterloo riding, pressed the government Wednesday for further resources to bolster hospitals."What is the premier going to do to ensure that our hospitals have the support they need to get through this crisis? Do it now, we're at the tipping point," she said. Health Minister Christine Elliott insisted that hospitals are not in crisis because the province has allocated money for new beds. She said while Ontario's numbers are nothing to brag about, the province is flattening the curve."Ontario is not in crisis right now," Elliott said. "You want to speak about who is in crisis ... we're taking a look at Alberta where they're doubling up patients in intensive care units. We're not doing that in Ontario."Liberal House Leader John Fraser slammed Elliott for the remark, and said the province should be focused on its response at home."What's she going to do next, compare us with South Dakota?" he said.Meanwhile, the province sent two dozen contact tracers to Windsor-Essex as the region grapples with numerous outbreaks of COVID-19. Earlier in the week, the region's top doctor warned that Windsor-Essex was "at risk of going into a lockdown.""Given the increasing case counts ... we will be on the verge of collapsing the public health capacity and also the acute care system capacity now that we have two outbreaks in the hospital system," said Dr. Wajid Ahmed.Elliott acknowledged the situation on Wednesday and said the province was working with the region. "We are aware that there is a considerable concern regarding public health resources in Windsor-Essex," she said. "There is some more significant community transmission there, which is why we've been putting further restrictions in that area."The region entered the red level of the province's tiered, colour-coded pandemic response framework on Monday -- just two weeks after advancing from the green level to yellow, and then to orange. The red level is one short of a lockdown.As of Wednesday, there were 17 active outbreaks in the region, Ahmed said, noting that the public health unit was sending regular updates to the province.Of particular concern, he noted, is the impact on schools, with two elementary schools currently closed due to outbreaks.At one school, 29 students and nine staff tested positive for the virus. "When you have more background cases in the community, it does pose risk inside the school system," Ahmed said, adding that more schools could be forced to close. The Windsor-Essex Public Health unit recorded 41 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, along with two new deaths. The province as a whole, meanwhile, reported 1,723 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and 35 new deaths due to the virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. Shawn Jeffords and Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Pakistan's lonely elephant Kaavan began his new life in a Cambodian wildlife sanctuary on Tuesday, the result of years of campaigning for his relocation by U.S. singer Cher. The 36-year-old elephant had spent most of his life at a zoo in Islamabad, before being moved on Tuesday to the Kulen Prum Tep Wildlife Sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey Province, to start a new life with some 600 other elephants. Cher had written songs pressing for Kaavan's release from grim, isolated conditions at Islamabad Zoo.
NEW YORK — National lawmakers introduced a joint resolution Wednesday aimed at striking language from the U.S. Constitution that enshrines a form of slavery in America’s foundational documents. The resolution, spearheaded and supported by Democratic members of the House and Senate, would amend the 13th Amendment’s ban on chattel enslavement to expressly prohibit involuntary servitude as a punishment for crime. As ratified, the original amendment has permitted exploitation of labour by convicted felons for over 155 years since the abolition of slavery. The 13th Amendment “continued the process of a white power class gravely mistreating Black Americans, creating generations of poverty, the breakup of families and this wave of mass incarceration that we still wrestle with today,” Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon told The Associated Press ahead of the resolution's introduction. A House version is led by outgoing Rep. William Lacy Clay, of St. Louis, who said the amendment “seeks to finish the job that President (Abraham) Lincoln started.” It would “eliminate the dehumanizing and discriminatory forced labour of prisoners for profit that has been used to drive the over-incarceration of African Americans since the end of the Civil War,” Clay said. In the Senate, the resolution has Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland signed on as co-sponsors. “This change to the 13th Amendment will finally, fully rid our nation of a form of legalized slavery,” Van Hollen said in an emailed statement. constitutional amendments are rare and require approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate, as well as ratification by three-quarters of state legislatures. Should the proposal fail to move out of committee in the remaining weeks of the current Congress, Merkley said he hoped to revive it next year. The effort has been endorsed by more than a dozen human rights and social justice organizations, including The Sentencing Project, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and Color of Change. “It is long past time that Congress excise this language from the U.S. Constitution which should begin to put an end to the abusive practices derived from it,” said Laura Pitter, deputy director of the U.S. program at Human Rights Watch, which also endorsed the amendment. The proposed amendment comes nearly one month after voters in Nebraska and Utah approved initiatives amending their state constitutions to remove language that allows slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments. In 2018, Colorado was among the first U.S. states to remove such language by ballot measure. Although nearly half of state constitutions do not mention human bondage or prison labour as punishment, just over 20 states still include such clauses in governing documents that date back to the 19th century abolition of slavery. In Merkley’s Oregon, voters in 2002 approved the elimination of constitutional language that prohibited Black Americans from living in the state unless they were enslaved. He said the movement toward a federal amendment is “kind of saying to the world, let’s not forget this big piece of injustice that’s sitting squarely in the middle of our Constitution, as we wrestle with criminal justice reform.” Many Americans will recognize modern-day prison labour as chain gangs deployed from prison facilities for agricultural and infrastructure work. The prevalence of prison labour has been largely accepted as a means for promoting rehabilitation, teaching trade skills and reducing idleness among prisoners. But the practice has a much darker history. Following the abolition of slavery, Southern states that lost the literal backbone of their economies began criminalizing formerly enslaved Black men and women for offences as petty as vagrancy or having unkempt children. This allowed legal re-enslavement of African Americans, who were no longer seen as sympathetic victims of inhumane bondage, said Michele Goodwin, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Irvine. “These people became criminals, and it became very difficult for many abolitionists to use the same kinds of emotional messaging about the humanity of these individuals,” Goodwin said. Today, incarcerated workers, many of them making pennies on the dollar, work in plants, manufacturing clothing, assembling furniture and even battling wildfires across the U.S., much of it to the benefit of large corporations, governments and communities where they’ve historically been unwelcome upon release. Researchers have estimated the minimum annual value of prison labour commodities at $2 billion, derived largely through a system of convict leasing that leaves these workers without the legal protections and benefits that Americans are otherwise entitled to. And while prison work is largely optional for the 2.2 million individuals incarcerated in the U.S., it’s a grave mistake to disassociate their labour from the original intent of the penal system, Goodwin said. “Your freedom has been taken away — that’s the punishment that society has assigned,” she said. “The punishment is not that you do slave work, that is unpaid labour or barely paid labour.” ____ Morrison is a member of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/aaronlmorrison. Aaron Morrison, The Associated Press
There were fewer people present in person as the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board of education met on Monday. The first meeting with the new format came after the division procured some new technology, including Chromebooks and a microphone and camera system to insure a secure remote meeting format. “It worked well. I was quite nervous about how the technology would work but it seemed to be really effective. We will work on it and we will make it smoother, it wasn’t perfect yet,” director of education Robert Bratvold said. The room was cut in half from the setup they had previously used beginning in June. The board moved from the board room to the Seminar Room which made social distancing possible in the larger space. “It’s bigger than the board room for sure,” Bratvold said. He explained that a survey was being sent out on Tuesday to trustees to see if any changes needed to be made. “Last week we had it set in a way and we made some slight adjustments and changes, refinements to it. So it was slightly different today in terms of cameras, but process was a little better,” Bratvold said. He gave credit to the school division’s IT department for the work that they had done to prepare since the board’s last meeting on Nov. 16 in their new form. Trustees Bill Gerow, Arne Lindberg, Alan Nunn, Michelle Vickers, Bill Yeaman and vice chair Darlene Rowden were present. Board chair Barry Hollick, Cher Bloom and Jaimie Smith-Windsor attended the meeting remotely. The idea to create a method for remote meetings was discussed by the board earlier this year. As well, Saskatchewan Rivers Students for Change trustees Kelly Lam and Emily Zbaraschuk, attended the meeting remotely. “We had all of the admin council just in their offices so we could have trustees closer. I mean they are still six feet apart but closer,” Bratvold said. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
When Jonathan Ferguson found out the Atlantic travel bubble had ended, his plans to spend the holidays with family in Charlottetown went up in the air.The president of Mount Allison University's student union said many of his peers are also waiting to see if travel restrictions continue when exams end on Dec. 12. But many are expecting to stay in Sackville for the holidays."Now with the collapse of the bubble a lot of Maritimers, a lot of Atlantic students are more in favour of the idea of staying, because we know that we have friends around that we might be able to see once we go back to the yellow phase," Ferguson said.Universities across the province have decided to extend school break for the Christmas season, pushing back the start of January classes. With many students expected to leave New Brunswick, the extension is designed to provide enough time to self-isolate after returning.People travelling to Newfoundland and Labrador, or Prince Edward Island are now required to self-isolate for 14 days. Nova Scotia does not require Atlantic Canadian residents to self-isolate. That rule also applies when returning to New Brunswick. That means a student returning home to Prince Edward Island would need to spend 28 days total in isolation.Those requirements prompted several Nova Scotia universities to also make calendar changes.More time to self-isolateMount Allison decided to adjust its academic calendar earlier this term to allow students to have a longer break and time to self-isolate before classes resume for the winter semester. The next term will start on Jan. 18.Ferguson said students have welcomed the change."That was done with out-of-bubble international students particularly in mind, but thankfully it's really forward-thinking planning that was done," he said.About 60 per cent of Mount Allison's more than 2,000 students are from outside the province.The university had a mix of virtual and in-person classes, before the remainder of the fall term went online last week in response to rising COVID-19 cases in the region. Exams will also be held entirely online.The University of New Brunswick will be starting the winter term a week late, on Jan. 11. Classes will also only be online for the first week to allow for students to continue their isolation period.Kathy Wilson, UNB's associate vice-president academic, said students were encouraged to stay for fall reading week because of isolation requirements. Now the longer break will make it easier to head home."It also gave our staff an opportunity for a bit of a reprieve over the holiday time," she said. "Everybody is working really hard."Break from 'virtual fatigue'St. Thomas University is not offering in-person classes this academic year, but also decided to push back the start of the winter term. Classes will resume on Jan. 11 instead of Jan. 6.Ryan Sullivan, the associate vice-president of enrolment management, said the university wanted to offer more of a break from "virtual fatigue" after adapting online learning for the fall."We felt there was an opportunity there to give students and faculty a bit more time between the two semesters," he said.Professors are teaching online, although they are allowed under the yellow phase to organize some optional, in-person activities with physical distancing. The second semester will also be delivered remotely.Sullivan said the longer break will also allow more time to complete self-isolation for students who return home for Christmas. Only about 25 per cent of St. Thomas students are from outside New Brunswick."We have students who are still trying to figure out what their plans are," he said. "I think most, from our general sense of things, are still planning to head home."The University of Moncton is also delaying on-site courses by one week in January, but continuing to deliver classes online starting on Jan. 11. Spokesperson Nathalie Haché said the change was made to allow students and staff to be able to spend time with family for the holidays. Practical courses, which are offered in-person, won't start until Jan. 18, allowing students who need to self-isolate to begin after New Year's Day.'It has created uncertainty'As New Brunswick students prepare to write exams, many are waiting to see how the pandemic will play out in the days ahead.If travel restrictions continue, Ferguson is unsure if he'll return home for the break if it means self-isolating after his return. "I understand that obviously that might not be possible, and we've just kind of got to play it by ear as Maritimers and see how the COVID cases continue," he said.Wilson said some UNB students have decided to stay to avoid isolation. For those who decide to travel, the university will work with them to develop an individualized self-isolation plan."It has created uncertainty. I think we have students who are still perhaps revisiting their plans to go home," she said.Both the Fredericton and Saint John campuses are currently under orange-level restrictions, which includes a single-household bubble.Ferguson said he is hopeful Sackville will return to the yellow phase, as community members often invite students who can't make it home to a holiday meal."We hope that the community will be there to support students that are here alone, and we hope students will support other students that are on their own," he said.
Residents of a Lambton County township dealing with a massive outbreak of gypsy moth caterpillars will be left on their own to fight the tree-destroying critters. Lambton Shores, located along Lake Huron, won’t spray private properties to control the pests next summer but has agreed to take “control measures” on some municipal land. Council voted unanimously to support a contentious gypsy moth action plan Tuesday night, adding a new recommendation that funds be included in the 2021 budget to undertake spraying on municipal land adjacent to private properties. “Where the people are going to spray theirs, we'll spray ours,” said Coun. Jeff Wilcox, who proposed the added recommendation. “It’s a good first step.” Other approved recommendations include creating a webpage to advise residents of resources to tackle gypsy moths, a $10,000 mail-drop to create awareness and not objecting to any spraying on private property. The gypsy moth citizens' action group, a coalition of some 4,000 residents across 12 subdivisions, lambasted the plan, arguing it doesn’t go far enough to protect the region’s trees and environment and calling it a “do-nothing approach.” They were pushing for the municipality to take the lead on a targeted aerial spray, as has been done in other municipalities, such as Sarnia and Pelham, and parts of Toronto and Hamilton. Romayne Smith-Fullerton, a group spokesperson, said their option wasn’t considered and felt the report wasn’t fully discussed at council. “The appearance of (our group) being heard wasn’t even met,” she said. “How many people need to speak up?” Wilcox called the added recommendation a compromise, adding staff will need to monitor how well this approach works next year and adjust for any future outbreaks. “It’s a tough situation . . . I can see why some people would be upset. They have every right to be,” he said. “We’re at least trying to get something done, and at least council now has acknowledged that we are responsible for our property.” The gypsy moth report was originally sent to council Nov. 10, but was deferred until Dec. 1 to receive more public feedback. More than 300 pages of correspondence were submitted to council, most advocating for more municipal involvement in tackling the outbreak. Smith-Fullerton was denied a presentation request to council, with officials citing COVID-19 safety protocols. Lambton Shores’ procedure bylaw disallows public presentations at electronic meetings. Tuesday night, councillors and staff met in person in Thedford. A written delegation was accepted, but not read aloud at the meeting. “I was honestly disappointed that they couldn’t come and speak,” Wilcox said. “I’m a firm believer that we need to listen to the people. In a democracy, you may not get your way, but you need to get your say.” Wilcox said he's submitted a motion for the next council meeting to consider amending the procedure bylaw to allow some form of public delegations at future meetings. In the months leading up to council’s report, many neighbourhoods already had been planning to spray their properties with a bacterium — bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki, referred to as Btk — but said that was their fallback approach. “That is what we are going to have to do because we have no choice,” Smith-Fullerton said. Gypsy moths are an invasive species, the larvae of which can cause rapid defoliation. An environmental assessment on the extent of the damage the insects caused this year was never ordered by the municipality. The 2020 outbreaks were most severe in the Port Franks, Deer Run and Pinery Provincial Park areas of Lambton Shores, a region that’s home to some rare ecosystems, such as oak savanna and pine barren. Many residents said beyond destroying trees, the moth larvae devastated their quality of life this summer, with the sheer volume of caterpillars making it impossible to be outdoors. “It’s like head lice in a public school. It spreads like wildfire,” Smith-Fullerton said. “Why are we not caring about this as a community?” MaxMartin@postmedia.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
Purolator has teamed up with emerging Canadian artists to help spread a little holiday cheer this year. The shipping company has selected 13 artists from across the country – one from each province and territory – to design a unique and festive shipping box that will be made available at Purolator shipping centres and Michaels craft stores for anyone looking to send a little extra cheer along with their gifts to their friends and families this holiday season. With the country boasting a population of more than 37 million people, choosing one artist from each province and territory in Canada could have proved to be quite daunting, but Patrick Hunter, a Two Spirit Ojibwe artist, said he thinks the online community he has already amassed helped to secure him the spot as Ontario's representative. “I have a pretty nice following of people on Instagram, and I think that's how they reached out when they were trying to find diverse artists to be a part of this project,” Hunter explained. “It was a quick turnaround to get the project off the ground, I think we started in November or the end of October, but with really cool emails like that, 'Purolator wants to work with you on such-and-such,' it's a pretty quick response. I think it took me all of ten seconds to say 'yes, I'm in.'” While he is currently working out of Toronto, Hunter is originally from Red Lake. His art in the Woodland style takes inspiration from his hometown and the work of famed Woodland artist Norval Morrisseau, and he brought the same sensibilities he brings to his painting to the art he was inspired to create for Purolator's box, along with his own wishes for the holiday season. “It's all digital artwork, so you have to know how to use some graphic design-y programs,” Hunter explained. “We were given a template to work within the edges and back and top sides. Why I chose the imagery I chose, which is Ojibwe florals, is because it's a holiday season, it's one of my favourite gifts to give, and one of the best gifts First Nations folks give their friends are beaded moccasins or gloves, so my hope for these boxes is when someone gets a box that they have that feeling of 'oh my god, beautiful box' but then 'what's inside?'” Being chosen by Purolator to be the representative for Ontario also carries added heft for Hunter. Knowing the boxes have the potential to wind up almost anywhere in the world, Hunter said that it was like a personal responsibility to answer Purolator's call for his art. “I'm a First Nations gay man from Red Lake, Ontario,” he explained. “When things like this come along you have an obligation to the people that are coming behind you to try and illuminate the path. So my goal with this is to show other First Nations kids and gay artists can have opportunities like this too and not be afraid of them. As well, to bring some visibility. I don't think First Nations culture is always put in the forefront in a mainstream way and Purolator has done a good job of asking not just me but other diverse people in Canada to come up with box designs.” Laurie Weston is the director of retail for Purolator who was on the team searching for artists to take part in the campaign. She noted that part of trying to find emerging artists to design a box was ensuring they were a good fit for both where they came from and the peoples and cultures they represented. “What's really interesting about this is we actually went grassroots and we scoured social media,” Weston explained. “We went through social media and we narrowed it down to the ones that we felt their artwork represented not only the province but their culture. I think with Patrick, we were so incredibly lucky he wanted to do this with us because I think his floral motif and his indigenous background and what it represents for Ontario is pretty special. So it resonated with us. So that's why we picked him.” In a year when the shipping company expects far more packages to be delivered over the holiday season – Weston said their busy season began in August this year, when it usually starts to pick up in November – the drive to showcase original Canadian art on special holiday boxes was to help spread that sense of community and Christmas spirit that might otherwise be hard to come by in 2020. “People are not able to travel, and what's happened with us is the increase in shopping online, but people are coming in and shipping packages to loved ones,” Weston explained. “They're not able to travel and see their loved ones this holiday season so we really wanted to share some of the Christmas spirit from a Canadian lens. Purolator does support small businesses and entrepreneurs, but this is a different evolution of that. We just really wanted to showcase these new artists.” As part of Purolator's partnership with Michaels craft stores, the companies are also holding a Design-A-Box Sweepstakes. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the Michaels website in order to download a box template they can then design, photograph and submit for the chance to win a $1,000 Michaels gift card and free shipping with Purolator for a year. Hunter has been doing his work professionally for the past six years, and in the near future he's also looking at moving out of Toronto to be a little bit closer to home, and begin producing more items in his line of houseware products. He noted the opportunity to be a part of Purolator's holiday campaign helped to confirm in his mind that pursuing the career path he did was a good choice and hopefully help to spread awareness of Indigenous artists even further abroad. “It makes me feel like I'm on the right path and I did choose a good career in graphic design,” he said. “To have [the art] put on these boxes in such a public way, it means a lot and I'm so thrilled just to be a part of the project, but then to have this kind of message of like 'hey, we're Indigenous people, we haven't gone anywhere, we're still here' I think it's great to illuminate the path for people to ask questions.” For more information on Purolator's holiday boxes visit their website and to take part in the Design-A-Box sweepstakes, visit the Michael's website. For more information on Patrick Hunter and his artwork, visit his website at patrickhunter.ca or follow him on Instagram @patrickhunter_artKen Kellar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
OTTAWA — The Liberals have officially started the clock toward a key vote that will determine the fate of billions of dollars in new pandemic-related aid — and the minority government.The federal government introduced a bill in the House of Commons Wednesday that would enact spending measures proposed in this week's fall economic statement.The Liberals will make passage of the legislation a confidence vote, meaning the minority government could fall and trigger an election if it doesn't garner the necessary support.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said his party would carefully read the bill to make sure it does what the government claims.Monday's update outlined just over $25 billion in new spending to top up and expand existing programs and create new, targeted support for hard-hit industries.The Liberals are also promising $1,200 per child under six for families earning up to $120,000, and $600 for families earning over that amount. The first payment is supposed to happen right after the bill passes, but the government is only suggesting it needs to introduce the legislation, not pass it, before MPs go on a winter break, Poilievre said."The government needs to tell us how it plans to make that payment if it doesn't have the legislation passed," he said after a morning caucus meeting.The economic statement also noted the deficit was on track to hit $381.6 billion this fiscal year, but warned the figure could close in on $400 billion if public health restrictions are extended or expanded in the coming weeks.The federal debt is set to push past $1.2 trillion, with more on the way in the coming years before accounting for the government's proposed three-year stimulus fund the Liberals say will be between $70 billion and $100 billion.Credit rating agency DBRS Morningstar, in an analysis Wednesday, said the cost of extra spending and debt could be worth it to avoid long-term scarring to the economy, which could take the form of people permanently out of jobs and more businesses closing for good.The agency added that the government will have to "recalibrate public finances" to keep deficits from becoming permanent. That won't be easy with a long list of policy promises, the agency said, pointing to a national child-care system, reform of the employment insurance system, green infrastructure spending and demands from provinces for increased health-care transfers."Given the medium-term fiscal outlook, there is limited space to fund sizable increases in permanent spending in a sustainable way without also raising revenues," the report said. "The government will face difficult fiscal (and political) choices as it prepares the 2021 Budget."A majority of MPs in the House of Commons on Wednesday backed a Bloc Quebecois motion that called on the federal government to increase its share of health-care spending before the end of the year.The vote isn’t binding on the government.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.The Canadian Press
Great Enlightenment Buddist Institute Monks at the campus in Heatherdale received more requests for food box donations this month than ever before. “They really pulled through,” said Venerable Dan about the group of monks who spearheaded the project. Enough funds were raised to offer 332 food boxes compared to the usual 200. Venerable Dan said the monks were unsure if they would be able to roll out so many boxes, each filled with 10 of their signature puffy rolls, an assortment of dried goods and organic vegetables. To raise funds they got creative. On top of fresh baked buns, they sold homemade apple sauce and eloquently decorated pen holders to support the initiative. In the end the group was able to bake about 1,000 extra fresh rolls and provide a full box to each Islander who requested one. Venerable Dan noticed more people seemed to reach out this year because they were impacted by the pandemic. He also saw more young people and single families requesting food boxes. The monks have been donating and delivering food boxes for about two years now. They try to offer food boxes every one or two months through the winter as Islanders seem to struggle a bit more this time of year. Venerable Dan said the group is looking to offer more food boxes this December. Anyone looking to request a box should fill out an application which will be posted on the Facebook page ‘About Monks’ in December. Venerable Dan said, after delivering so many this month, some additional funds or donations will be needed to support the December deliveries. The monks were unsure if they would be able to go ahead with the project at all this year as they have, for the most part, been in a form of lockdown following strict policies to mitigate possible spread of COVID-19 within their residences. Thanks to about 40 local volunteers they were able to organize the initiative without breaking their contact and isolation policies. Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the priority list for the first COVID-19 vaccines is being refined because there won't be enough doses available in the first round to cover the initial groups recommended.
The collapse of the Atlantic bubble has left some Nova Scotia university students in a tough spot ahead of their end-of-semester exams and holiday break.Throughout the summer, residents of Atlantic Canada were able to travel freely throughout the four provinces as the number of COVID-19 cases remained low.But as that number began to rise in November, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador withdrew from the bubble, with New Brunswick following suit shortly after. Those provinces now require people from all other provinces to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry.In Nova Scotia, people from P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick are still allowed to enter the province without self-isolating, but it is recommended that people avoid non-essential travel.For students from the other Atlantic provinces attending St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., the changes — announced shortly before their exam period and Christmas break — came as a surprise.Some rushed to get to their home provinces before the changes took effect, while others weren't able to make it back in time and are now in isolation.School caught 'off guard'"There's no doubt that the self-isolation protocols of the province has caught us and our students off guard and made students very anxious," Kevin Wamsley, academic vice-president and provost at St. FX, told CBC Radio's Mainstreet. "Any time of the year getting close to final examinations, students are already anxious, and so the first thing we are concerned about is our students, and of course their health and safety."Wamsley said the school has about 179 students from P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador, and 344 from New Brunswick. Some of them have chosen to stay in Nova Scotia for the break, but he believes the majority of them are going home.If students from other Atlantic provinces leave Nova Scotia any time after Dec. 10, they would have to be in self-isolation on Christmas. However, the school's exam period goes until Dec. 15.No online examsSome other universities are doing their exams online, but Wamsley said St. FX didn't want to go that route since the school was able to have most of its classes in person and most students were expecting in-person exams."To turn this around and to put everything online with a few days notice was really not an acceptable solution for our professors," he said.To get around this, Wamsley said the school has put together a team to work with students in the Atlantic provinces on an individual basis to arrange to have them write their exams at home with a proctor.Wamsley said professors will provide an electronic copy of their exam to the team working on this, and those exams will be delivered to the students and sent back to the school by the proctors.The goal, he said, is to "make sure that the students who have departed have a right to the same final exams that our students here have, and that there's academic integrity through the process with a proctor at hand."Wamsley said during in-person exams, all students will be wearing masks and will be seated two metres apart.'Not an ideal situation'Sarah Elliott, the student union president at St. FX, said the big challenge will be providing individual accommodations for everybody."We're just making sure that it's really easy for students to find their proctors," she told Mainstreet. "It's not an ideal situation, but I think that we'll be able to do it OK."She said students would benefit from more communication from the school and knowing exactly what's expected of them."The Atlantic bubble popping was just kind of madness for everybody, and now it's time to kind of settle and get everybody on the same page," she said.Elliott noted the issue also extends to international students, who may have a similar isolation period while returning to their home countries.She said that so far, the year has been stressful for her and other students, though she's grateful to be able to do most of her classes in person."I know I don't learn well online. I'm in one online class and it's very hard for me, while my in-person classes, it's a lot easier to focus, and I think that's what most people are feeling like," Elliott said."However, I think that there is just an accumulation of stress to the point where the exam period hits and a lot of students, they're just tired. They're exhausted."Return to classWamsley said St. FX already has a plan in place for when students return at the end of the holiday break, which was extended to accommodate for self-isolation periods.Students from outside Atlantic Canada are expected to return between Jan. 4 and Jan. 5 to begin their 14-day self-isolation. The first week of class, beginning Jan. 13, will be online so those students are still able to study while in isolation.Meanwhile, students from P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick can return to school on Jan. 19, so the two groups of returning students can avoid mixing.In-person classes are expected to resume on Jan. 20.MOE TOP STORIES
December in Saskatchewan has rolled in like a lamb. A high-pressure system hovering over Western Canada means the forecast across the province for the week ahead is downright balmy.This upward trend continues into the second week of December, with temperatures expected to almost reach double-digit positive highs. By Monday, areas like Moose Jaw and Swift Current will be seeing daytime highs around 8 C. Not only will there be lots of sunshine with limited cloud, the ever-relenting Saskatchewan wind even take a break."[There is a] large upper ridge of high pressure that has built over Western Canada bringing unseasonably mild air over all of Western Canada including the Yukon and NWT," said Terri Lang, Meteorologist with Environment Canada, Yes, you can get your capri pants back out of storage.Even northern communities like Uranium City and La Ronge will get a taste of this mild Pacific air. Seasonal daytime highs for Uranium City are usually -15 C, but in the coming days it will be closer to -3 C and later into next week there are days expected to be above freezing at 2 C.Protected prairiesSaskatchewan is being temporarily shielded from the cold by a massive flow of pressurized, sinking air, said Dave Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canad."It's clearly an atmospheric gift. You don't expect weather like this." Phillips said.This warm snap started at the end of November and looks to extend well into the second week of December.But there is also a big minus with these mild temps."[There's] the loss of valuable snow pack [moisture in the bank for farmers] plus with temperatures falling below freezing each night, the melted roads are likely to ice up." said Lang.Icy roads are being blamed for a four-vehicle crash which resulted in a death Tuesday night Delisle. Saskatchewan Highway Hotline had issued a "Travel not advised" earlier in the afternoon indicating that Highway 7 was ice covered. So when will winter return?"The ridge looks to collapse around mid next week, returning Saskatchewan to more seasonal values" said Lang.Lang also said this isn't entirely unusual for this time of year. "In southern Saskatchewan, as seen by the record temperatures for around this time, it's more unusual for Yukon & the NWT, where records are going to be set and by a fair margin."Statistics for the meteorological fall (Sept - Nov) show Saskatchewan experienced below average temperatures thanks to the extreme cold during October. Despite the massive dump of snow in mid-November, Saskatchewan also saw below average precipitation values. However you look at it, a little shot of warm air and clear skies is likely a welcome weather anomaly.
NEW YORK — The dramatic conclusion to “The Undoing,” HBO's whodunit starring Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman, proved how it's still possible to bring people together in today's fragmented television world.Three million people tuned in Sunday to find out who really killed the girlfriend of Grant's adulterous character in one of three showings on HBO and on the streaming service HBO Max, the Nielsen company said.That's likely to be a fraction of who eventually sees it, given how television is consumed today. The premiere of the six-episode series was seen by 1.4 million people the night it first aired, and by now has been seen by 9 million and counting.“It's a good example of how you can still have a water-cooler hit,” said Casey Bloys, HBO Programming president. “I will always point to good acting, writing and directing. It was a good story.”It was the most-watched night for HBO since the finale of “Big Little Lies” last year, which also featured Kidman and creator David E. Kelley.HBO also said it was the first time in network history that each episode of a series was seen by more people than the previous one, a powerful signal of how people were drawn into the mystery.“The Undoing” has generated more conversation on social media than any other new scripted television series this year, Nielsen said. Coupled with the streaming-only series “The Flight Attendant,” HBO Max had its biggest week since the service was launched.“The Undoing” was always designed as a limited series, but it attracted the type of interest that would make any television executive naturally wonder if the story could be extended in some way.“I don't know,” Bloys said. “I do think these things are lightning in a bottle. It could always be difficult to try that again.”But he pointed to the network's productive relationship with Kidman and Kelley.“We'll find something great to do,” he said. “Who knows what it will be?”In other ratings news, CNN finished November with its most-watched month in the network's 40-year history, showing growth in the aftermath of the election compared to rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC.NBC was the top-rated broadcast network in prime time for Thanksgiving week, averaging 3.64 million viewers. CBS had 3.55 million, ABC had 2.4 million, Fox had 1.6 million, Ion Television had 930,000, Univision had 890,000 and Telemundo had 530,000.ESPN was the most-watched cable network, averaging 2.95 million viewers. Hallmark hit 2.53 million, Fox News Channel had 2 million, MSNBC had 1.59 million and CNN had 1.41 million.ABC's “World News Tonight” led the evening news ratings race with an average of 9.5 million viewers. NBC's “Nightly News” had 8.8 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.3 million.For the week of Nov. 23-29, the 20 most-watched programs in prime time, their networks and viewerships:1\. NFL Football: Chicago at Green Bay, NBC, 16.48 million.2\. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 13.78 million.3\. “NFL Pregame” (Sunday), NBC, 13.32 million.4\. NFL Football: L.A. Rams at Tampa Bay, ESPN, 13.14 million.5\. “The Masked Singer,” Fox, 11.42 million.6\. “NFL Post-Game” (Sunday), Fox, 11.11 million.7\. “Football Night in America” (Sunday, 7:55 p.m.) NBC, 10.78 million.8\. “NCIS,” CBS, 10.16 million.9\. “FBI,” CBS, 8.4 million.10\. “Football Night in America” (Sunday, 7:30 p.m.), NBC, 7.38 million.11\. “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 7.08 million.12\. “The Voice” (Tuesday) NBC, 7.07 million.13\. “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 6.42 million.14\. “Monday Night Kickoff,” ESPN, 6.22 million.15\. “I Can See Your Voice,” Fox, 6.07 million.16\. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 5.66 million.17\. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 5.46 million.18\. “Bob Hearts Abishola,” CBS, 4.9 million.19\. “Bull,” CBS, 4.68 million.20\. “The Bachelorette,” ABC, 4.49 million.David Bauder, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange:Toronto Stock Exchange (17,358.21, up 61.28 points.)BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB). Technology. Up 50 cents, or 5.51 per cent, to $9.58 on 23.3 million shares.Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX:ACB). Health care. Up $1.43, or 11.33 per cent, to $14.05 on 16 million shares.NextSource Materials Inc. (TSX:NEXT). Materials. Up one cent, or 16.67 per cent, to seven cents on 10.6 million shares.Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC). Financials. Up 22 cents, or 0.99 per cent, to $22.43 on 8.9 million shares.Hexo Corp. (TSX:HEXO). Health care. Up 13 cents, or 9.42 per cent, to $1.51 on 8.3 million shares.Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU). Energy. Up 32 cents, or 1.55 per cent, to $20.96 on 7.8 million shares. Companies in the news: Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF). Up 16 cents to $57.25. Sun Life Financial Inc. says its president and chief executive will retire next year. The Toronto-based insurance company says Dean Connor, 64, will depart Sun Life on Aug. 6. The company's current executive vice-president and chief financial officer, Kevin Strain, will take over Connor's presidential duties on Dec. 15. He will become chief executive when Connor retires and will continue working as chief financial officer until the company names a replacement in the first half of 2021. Strain joined Sun Life in 2002 as part of the acquisition of insurance company Clarica. He became CFO in 2017. Strain launched Sun Life Global Investments Asset Management and expanded the company's footprint to Vietnam and Malaysia, before climbing the company's executive ranks.Canadian Tire (TSX:CTC.A). Down nine cents to $164.66. A coalition of about 50 retailers is calling on the Ontario government to lift COVID-19 restrictions for non-essential stores it claims is making things worse. In an open letter to Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott, the retailers argue that shutting down Toronto and Peel Region to restrict the virus's spread hasn't reduced the number of shoppers. Instead, consumers are funnelled into fewer, crowded stores and adjacent communities, which potentially creates greater health risk. The retailers say the current policy pushes more consumers to big-box and discount stores that remain open after being deemed essential, while thousands of small, independent and local stores are closed despite selling many of the same products.Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RBC). Down 65 cents to $106.39. Three promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates may have spurred optimism from investors, but Royal Bank of Canada's chief executive is warning the country is not rid of its pandemic troubles yet. Dave McKay told analysts Wednesday that the economy could still suffer some blows as the globe grapples with uncertainty around how soon people will be injected with Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca's vaccines. McKay projected that economic growth could rebound by between four and five per cent, but likely not until 2021. His outlook is less rosy than some of his banking counterparts, who said on Tuesday they were cautiously optimistic about the economy's future. McKay's warnings come even as his bank beat analyst expectations and managed to report higher fourth-quarter profits than those prior to the pandemic.Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (TSX:FFH). Up 39 cents to $447.71. Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. has agreed to sell its interests in the RiverStone Europe insurance business to a fund managed by CVC Capital Partners. Fairfax says it will receive US$750 million for its stake in RiverStone Europe once the deal closes, and it is entitled to up to an additional US$235.7 million after closing. The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System has also agreed to sell its entire stake in RiverStone Europe as part of the deal. RiverStone Europe managing director Luke Tanzer will remain in his role and Nick Bentley, CEO of the RiverStone Group, will continue to serve on the board of RiverStone Europe once the deal closes, Fairfax said in a statement. CVC is making the acquisition through its Strategic Opportunities Fund II. The deal is contingent on approval by regulatory agencies and is expected to close in early 2021.National Bank of Canada (TSX:NA). Down 84 cents or 1.1 per cent to $72.59. National Bank of Canada topped expectations as it reported a fourth-quarter profit of $492 million. The Montreal-based bank says its profit for the quarter ended Oct. 31 amounted to $1.36 per diluted share, down from a profit of $604 million or $1.67 per diluted share a year ago. Revenue totalled $2 billion in the quarter, up from $1.91 billion in the same quarter last year. Provisions for credit losses in the quarter were $110 million, up from $89 million a year ago. On an adjusted basis, National Bank says it earned $1.69 per diluted share for the quarter, in line with its result a year ago. Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $1.52 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.The Canadian Press
Known Terror Squad gang member Kevin George Ackegan pleaded guilty in Prince Albert Provincial Court to weapons and drug-related charges avoiding a trial. Forty-year-old Ackegan was arrested by Prince Albert RCMP Integrated Crime Reduction Team during a traffic stop on Feb. 26, 2020. When police searched the vehicle they found two firearms, ammunition, a machete, a knife, bear spray, hydromorphone, methamphetamine, and Gabapentin pills. They also found U.S., Jamaican and Canadian currency. On Nov. 30 Ackegan changed his plea from not guilty to guilty. Before Ackegan’s trial, his lawyer Dale Blenner-Hassett, filed a Charter application asking the court to exclude the evidence seized during the traffic stop. Blenner-Hasset challenged whether the arresting officer had a reasonable belief that an offence was being committed. The court heard that the arresting police officer was working for the RCMP Integrated Crime Reduction Team that investigates gangs, guns and drugs. At about 8 a.m. on Feb. 26, 2020, the officer got a call from a source that told him Ackegan was in possession of guns and told him where he was in Prince Albert. The officer had used the source on eight previous occasions. The officer testified that the source has a criminal record. The court heard that the arresting officer also knew Ackegan. He had charged Ackegan previously in 2017 with breaching his parole by associating with known gang members and at the time of that arrest, Ackegan was a member of the street gang Terror Squad. On Feb. 26, 2020, when the officer received the information about Ackegan, he conducted surveillance at a residence on the 800 block of 14 Street West in Prince Albert. Another officer testified that he watched the residence for about three hours and at about 11:20 a.m. Ackegan came out of the residence and started loading several bags into the back seat and trunk of a vehicle. A woman was driving the vehicle and Ackegan was the passenger. Both officers testified that in their experience, guns could be concealed in bags. The officer who took the call from the informant testified that he conducted a CPIC inquiry on Ackegan, which confirmed he was prohibited from possessing firearms. The woman and Ackegan drove a few blocks before stopping at another residence. At this point the officers made a traffic stop and arrested Ackegan. One of the officers drove the vehicle to the police station where it was searched and police found guns in the bags, ammunition, drugs, and a cell phone. Crown Prosecutor Andreanne Dube argued that the search of the vehicle was justified as a search incidental to the lawful arrest of Ackegan. During cross-examination, Blenner-Hassett asked one of the officers the identity of the confidential informant. Judge H. M. Harradence, however, said the informant’s identity shouldn’t be disclosed and the court must ensure confidentiality is maintained. Judge Harradence dismissed the defence’s Charter application to have the evidence thrown out. He said he accepted that the arresting officer had information from a source that the accused was in possession of guns and that the information was current and firsthand because the source actually saw what was reported. Judge Harradence said there was some indication of past credibility of information from the source, three hours of surveillance that corroborated Ackegan was at the residence and was loading bags into the trunk and back seat of the vehicle. Judge Harradence also said that police testified they have investigative experience that guns have been concealed in bags and the arresting officer had personal knowledge of Ackegan’s history with illegal firearms and association with known gang members. “I find a number of factors persuasive of a strong connection between Ackegan and the illegal possession of firearms,” said Judge Harradence. Judge Harradence ruled that Ackegan’s rights weren’t violated. “In these circumstances, I find that the arrest and search of this accused and the vehicle was reasonable and lawful.” Ackegan will be sentenced in Prince Albert Provincial Court on Feb. 2. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
The Dehcho First Nations is bringing back a familiar face to its executive team.Michael Nadli, who served as grand chief during the beginning of the Dehcho Process, was named as the First Nations' new chief negotiator according to a news release on Wednesday.The Dehcho process is a land, resource and self-government project. It began in 1999 and since 2019 has focused on self-government.The Dehcho First Nations call Nadli, a fluent speaker of Dene Zhatié, a "champion for Dene rights.""Michael ... is no stranger to the issues and challenges in negotiations," said Grand Chief Gladys Norwegian in a statement."Through his past roles in leadership and ability to speak our language, he has a strong connection to our culture and elders."Before his new role with Dehcho First Nations, Nadli was "helping build capacity in his home community" with the Deh Gáh Got'ıę First Nation (Fort Providence), the release says.He also served two terms as Deh Cho MLA from 2011 to 2019, was CEO of the Dehcho Land Use Planning Committee from 2007 to 2011, and was grand chief of the Dehcho First Nations from 1997 to 2003.His time in the public spotlight has not been without controversy. Nadli spent time in jail in 2015, when he served eight days of a 45-day sentence after being convicted of assault after breaking his wife's wrist. He had a similar conviction in 2004, when he pleaded guilty to a charge of assault against his spouse and was put on probation."I feel I can be a positive asset to the Dehcho First Nations," Nadli said in a written statement on Wednesday."At a deeper level my work is driven by a passion for justice and fairness. Negotiations is a common day occurrence."
GUYSBOROUGH – There’s nothing like the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree. But if you don’t get one soon, you might not get one at all. The first thing on your Christmas shopping list this year should be the tree, according to the buzz on the lot at the Northeastern Christmas Tree Association (NECTA). Norman MacIsaac, the association’s manager of marketing, told The Journal last week that they will soon stop shipping because they are getting low on trees. And, while the association ships to the United States and doesn’t sell locally – when they can’t find enough trees to ship, that indicates a shortage in supply across the entire market. The NETCA, located on South River Lake Rd. near Goshen, procures trees for the U.S. market mainly from growers in Guysborough, Antigonish and Pictou counties. The association has 100 members and markets trees for approximately 60 of those members. This year, MacIsaac said, there is a big demand for trees,but not much of a supply. But that, according to him, has nothing to do with the pandemic; it’s due to competition and the plight that faces most of the agricultural sector – the demographic involved in the industry. “The average age of the grower is between 65 and 70 years old; people are getting out of it.” And the competition, that’s coming from below the border. “There are buyers from the U.S. coming in offering more money in some cases,” said MacIsaac. The draw for U.S. buyers is profit, of course. MacIsaac told The Journal that “prices are going up definitely; probably about 10 per cent more than last year and last year was probably about 10 per cent more than the year before.” The actual price per tree varies based on size and grade,but MacIsaac said, “If you’re dealing with premiums, you’ll get a pretty good dollar for them … a 7-8-foot tree of the highest grade would probably get $18 or more [wholesale].” MacIsaac said he isn’t seeing any difference in the tree business this year as far as COVID-19 is concerned, but he does expect it will be a good year for retailers. “I think there is going to be a big demand because people are going to be stuck in their homes because they can’t travel. Retailers are going to do really well, I think.” And he’s not the only one who’s predicting a good season. All over North America the Christmas tree market is booming. Shirley Brennan, the executive director of the Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association told Global News, “People realize ‘I’m not going away for Christmas this year, so I am going to get a real tree.’ Families want a tradition and want to embrace this holiday season because they missed so much this year because of COVID.” While the pandemic might be making you rethink your holiday traditions, it might make you rethink your career choices as well. If that’s the case, here’s some potential advice from MacIsaac. “There are some young people in it, and they are going to reap the benefits of the low supply. They are doing a lot of planting and a lot of grooming. I think they are going to be set up pretty good. Any younger people that manage a Christmas tree farm properly will do well.”Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal