Detroit Lions offensive lineman Oday Aboushi hopes to use his platform as an NFL player to promote the Palestinian cause and unity among those from different religions (Nov. 17)
Detroit Lions offensive lineman Oday Aboushi hopes to use his platform as an NFL player to promote the Palestinian cause and unity among those from different religions (Nov. 17)
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
EDMONTON — Alberta Health projections released by the Opposition NDP predict COVID-19 hospitalization rates could soar to 775 by mid-December and the number of intensive care patients could reach 161.NDP Leader Rachel Notley says the numbers suggest the United Conservative government waited too long to act then introduced ineffective half measures to combat the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.“Our province is reporting the highest rate of COVID in the country,” Notley told Premier Jason Kenney during question period Tuesday. “The models showed you a second wave was coming. Why did you not prepare?”Kenney’s government has in recent weeks declined to provide internal projections on potential COVID-19 effects on hospital and intensive care wards, although Kenney said this week those numbers may be provided in the coming days.The latest numbers were leaked to the NDP.Alberta has seen new daily case counts above 1,000 for almost two weeks, putting a significant strain on the health system.There are a total of 173 intensive care beds in Alberta. On Tuesday, there were 97 COVID-19 ICU patients, part of a total 479 in hospitals.Alberta Health Services, the front-line operational arm of Alberta Health, is now rearranging and reassigning space, staff and patients to create another 250 ICU beds. AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson, in an email, said Calgary exceeded maximum ICU capacity Monday but had space because 10 new beds were added. Edmonton was at 95 per cent ICU capacity but had 18 spaces available because 20 new beds were added.On top of that, 20 acute-care hospitals, including the major ones in Calgary and Edmonton, are dealing with COVID outbreaks of their own.To stem the surge, Kenney announced new health restrictions last week aimed at reducing community spread while keeping businesses and the economy as open as possible.No gatherings are allowed in people’s home beyond those who already live there. Restaurants and bars can stay open under tight restrictions: only six people at a table and they all must be from the same home.The province will review the new rules around mid-December and may intensify or add to them if the skyrocketing spread continues.The NDP and some physicians say the new rules, while aimed at balancing health and the economy, will ultimately fail both and that a short, sharp lockdown of the economy is the way to go.Alberta is also facing the challenge of tracking spread while not knowing where most of the recent cases came from. As of Monday, there were 16,454 active cases. Of those, it’s not known where more than 80 per cent of them contracted the virus. The contact tracing program has been triaged twice in recent weeks to focus on recent and high-priority cases, such as children and health-care workers.Kenney reiterated that Alberta has 800 contact tracers but is working to hire 400 more while moving more part-time tracers to full-time status.“Alberta Health Services is pulling out the stops and has been for weeks to add capacity,” Kenney told the house.“We made it clear to them from Day One that budget is not an issue, that we are giving them maximum resources to surge in hiring and training, and bringing people on board."Notley criticized Kenney for not moving faster during the summer to hire more contact tracers. She noted Alberta lags behind other comparable provinces.“B.C. has 26 contact tracers per 100,000 (people). Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 30. Ontario, 27. Alberta, 18,” said Notley.“Contact tracing is strained across the country, that is true, but only in this province is it broken.”The NDP said that for Alberta’s population of about four million, 1,300 contact tracers are required.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Toronto FC will be going after goals in searching for a third designated player.The slot became open this week when TFC announced that while it was open to Argentine winger Pablo Piatti returning, it would not be as a DP."We need someone that can come in and help us score goals at a very high clip, that can create relationships with our players on the field and off the field, that can contribute in a lot of different ways, that has a great character and personality off the field," GM Ali Curtis told reporters Tuesday.Toronto's other designated players are Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo and striker Jozy Altidore.TFC tied for 12th in goal-scoring this season in the 26-team league, averaging 1.43 goals a game.Young striker Ayo Akinola and Pozuelo each had nine goals while fullback/midfielder Richie Laryea and Piatti had four apiece. Altidore, limited to just 13 appearances through injury, had two goals."Obviously our real only consistent goal-scorer this year was Ayo and so that's an area we're looking to upgrade," team president Bill Manning said of his strike force.The hunt will go on in conjunction with the search for a coach to follow Greg Vanney, who stepped down Tuesday.Toronto (13-5-5) posted the second-best regular-season record in MLS in 2020 despite only playing four games at BMO field due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.There will be other changes."How much change? It's such a relative kind of term," said Curtis. "But there will be change. We have to bring in a new coach. We've got to find a way to get better we can win these trophies."Pozuelo has been a hit right out of the box, a member of the league's Best XI in his two MLS seasons and a leading contender for MVP this year. Altidore can be a force to be reckoned with when healthy, but keeping him out on the pitch has been a problem.Curtis said Altidore will be back next year, although his words did not come with a guarantee."Jozy's been a really big part of TFC over the years … Unfortunately he had a couple of injuries and wasn't able to be on the field as much as we'd like but we're looking to have Jozy back next year and we'll go from there."(If) for some reason we were to have a conversation and something were to change or things like that, then just like any player we would have that conversation. But for the most part right now I think the focus is on how we can find a player to fill that designated player slot and how can we find a coach to help lead our team on the field."The team also has high hopes for 23-year-old rookie forward Ifunanyachi Achara, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game of the season.While Toronto has declined its option on Piatti, Manning said there were lots of positives with the 31-year-old Argentine and that Curtis has had "very good discussions" with his agent."So if we're in a situation where we can have a new designated player and Pablo on the team together, I think we're going to be better," he added.Said Curtis: "Pablo was a great addition … We're just looking for something slightly different."As for 21-year-old Scottish fullback Tony Gallacher, Curtis said the club's loan agreement with Liverpool did not come with an option to buy.Curtis said the club continues talks with 33-year-old fullback Justin Morrow, whose contract expires at the end of the season."We'd like for Justin to come back but we also recognize that he's earned the right to be a free agent. He's a good soccer player … He's got a lot of juice in him as a soccer player."Morrow also serves as executive director of Black Players for Change.As for 35-year-old defender Laurent Ciman, Curtis said he plans a conversation with his agent but was unsure about his future.\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
It's been nearly four years since a gunman opened fire during evening prayers at Quebec City's central mosque, but the wounds, both physical and emotional, may never mend."I'm remembering my brothers all the time," said Ayman Derbali, a father of three who survived the attack on Jan. 26. 2017, and is regarded as a hero by his fellow worshippers for putting himself into the line of fire so they might be spared."I have not yet healed," said Boufeldja Benabdallah, a co-founder of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre."This tragedy has left a permanent scar on the hearts of many of our fellow citizens," said Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume.The three men were on hand for the dedication of a memorial to the six victims who died in the attack — Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzedine Soufane and Aboubaker Thabti.It is also dedicated to the more than 40 people who suffered injuries and their families as well as to the community that rose to support them.The memorial, which is on two sites — across Route de l'Église from one another — was designed by Quebec City artist Luce Pelletier and built using $440,000 raised from the municipal, Quebec and Canadian governments.Pelletier imagined the work as an homage to resilience and unity. Titled 'Vivre ensemble,' the memorial features three plinths with the names of the dead inscribed, each of them connected by an arabesque of intertwined silver leaves.They were cast from maple and elm leaves Pelletier gathered from the grounds of the mosque, their adopted home, and have been stylized to reflect the artistic traditions of the countries the men were born in: Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, the Republic of Guinea.The leaves symbolize the ties that bind us all together. "The other," Pelletier said, "is us."Derbali, who drove past the site last Friday hoping to catch a glimpse ("It was still covered up," he said), was plainly touched by the memorial."It's like a bridge between the church and the mosque, between Christians and Muslims ... all the citizens of Quebec City and Canadians in general," he said. "It's very significant."Several of the other victims' families were also in attendance. Benabdallah described them as "serene."Benabdallah pointed out the practice of Islam involves esthetic considerations — "You wear your finest clothes to attend the mosque," he said — and linked it to the stark beauty of the memorial. "The joy of looking at something beautiful is calming," he said.It fell to Labeaume to address the elephant in the room: last week, Statistics Canada issued a report on hate crimes in 2019 and Quebec City ranked fourth highest in the country at 8.6 events per 100,000 inhabitants."Quebec City has an undercurrent of hatred. There are people who will dig into the depths of the human belly and who will make money with it," he said, alluding to the city's famously caustic talk-radio stations. "That's racism, or blatant prejudice."Benabdallah said "the statistics are the statistics, we can't run away from them," but added he has personally witnessed a new openness in his interactions in the city since the attack.In any event, he said, "a society is built through ups and downs. One dares hope the ups end up dominating."
A care home in Saskatoon says four of its residents have died COVID-related deaths since an outbreak was declared two weeks ago."Families were provided end of life visitation opportunities and our sincere condolences go out to them," Luther Special Care Home said in an emailed statement Tuesday.Health officials declared an outbreak at the Varsity View neighbourhood home on Nov. 17.As of Tuesday, 44 residents and 14 staff members had tested positive for the virus, according to an update shared with families.The care home did not offer other details about the residents who have died, citing privacy concerns.On Tuesday, health officials announced four more COVID-19-related deaths province-wide, including two people aged 80 or over in Saskatoon.6 recent deaths in care homes province-wideIn total, six residents at long-term or personal care in Saskatchewan have died COVID-19 related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in March. "The data submitted to the Ministry of Health regarding COVID-related deaths does not identify deaths that may have occurred among LTC staff," a spokesperson for the ministry said.One of the other resident deaths was recorded last week at Regina's Parkside Extendicare home, which is dealing with the largest known outbreak at any extended care home in the province.As of Monday, the home had 50 active cases among residents and another 25 active cases among staff.
CHICAGO — A federal judge on Tuesday struck down two Trump administration rules designed to drastically curtail the number of visas issued each year to skilled foreign workers.The changes applying to the H-1B visa program announced in October include imposing salary requirements on companies employing skilled overseas workers and limits on specialty occupations. Department of Homeland Security officials deemed it a priority because of coronavirus-related job losses and estimated as many as one-third of those who have applied for H-1B's in recent years would be denied under the new rules.U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in California said the government didn't follow transparency procedures and its contention that the changes were an emergency response to pandemic job losses didn’t hold water because the Trump administration has floated the idea for some time but only published the rules in October.“The COVID-19 pandemic is an event beyond defendants’ control, yet it was within defendants’ control to take action earlier than they did,” White wrote.The U.S. issues up to 85,000 H-1B visas each year in sectors including technology, engineering and medicine. Usually, they’re issued for three years and renewable. Most of the nearly 600,000 H-1B visa holders in the U.S. are from India and China.The H-1B rules announced weeks before the election were part of President Donald Trump's wider agenda to curb nearly all forms of immigration. In June, he issued an order temporarily suspending the H-1B program until the end of the year.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and universities including the California Institute of Technology sued in California, arguing there wasn’t adequate notice or time for the public to comment on the changes. They also said the rules, particularly related to requiring a prevailing wage for visa-holders, would have a drastic impact on new hires and “sever the employment relationship of hundreds of thousands of existing employees in the United States."The University of Utah cited an example where an H-1B employee seeking renewal was paid an $80,000 salary but would have to be paid $208,000 under the new rule.The judge agreed that the federal government didn’t make a case for implementing the rules under the Administrative Procedure Act, which makes agencies accountable to the public by requiring a detailed process for enacting regulations.“Defendants failed to show there was good cause to dispense with the rational and thoughtful discourse that is provided by the APA’s notice and comment requirements,” White wrote.The rule on wages, proposed by the Department of Labor, took effect in October, while the Homeland Security rule on occupations and other issues was supposed to take effect Monday. It also would have placed limits on “offsite” firms that employ and contract out H-1B visa holders to other companies; their visas would have been limited to one year at a time."This is incredibly important decision to preserve the H-1B program,” said attorney Paul Hughes, who represented the plaintiffs. “This ruling enables those individuals to maintain their jobs and their families in the United States.”The Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that the ruling “has many companies across various industries breathing a huge sigh of relief,” with the visa changes having "the potential to be incredibly disruptive to the operations of many businesses.”Messages left Tuesday for spokespeople with the Labor and Homeland Security departments weren’t immediately returned.The wage rule has prompted at least two other federal lawsuits in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.___Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen.Sophia Tareen, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia recorded 656 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as officials urged residents not to bend public health rules. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a joint statement that an additional 16 people have died, pushing B.C.'s death toll to 457. The new positive tests bring the total confirmed cases in the province since the pandemic began to 33,894, while about 70 per cent of those are considered recovered.The statement says there are 8,796 active cases in the province and another 10,123 people exposed to known cases are under active public health monitoring. There are 336 people are being treated in hospital and 76 are in intensive care. The majority of new cases are in the Fraser Health region, followed by Vancouver Coastal Health. "Without exception, follow the provincial health officer's orders in place," Henry and Dix say in the statement. Any events that gather people are not currently allowed, whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis, they say. This includes religious, cultural or community events. "Do not gather at home with anyone other than your household or core bubble," the statement says."Let's make today a day to slow community transmission and continue to protect everyone in our province."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
UK Health Minister Matt Hancock announced that the country is the first to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.View on euronews
Le Centre le Volet des femmes d’Aguanish reçoit un don de 25 000 $ de la part de Rio Tinto. Le centre fait partie des 12 refuges pour femmes et organismes locaux choisis par la multinationale, qui leur fait don d’un total de 360 000 $. La Maison des femmes de Sept-Îles et le centre d’hébergement Tipinuaikan d’Uashat mak Mani-utenam récoltent aussi 25 000 $ chacun. La contribution de Rio Tinto permettra à ces organismes de continuer à fournir différents services de soutien aux femmes et à leurs familles, dont des refuges sûrs, des conseils, des ateliers et des activités pour les enfants, entre autres. La coordonnatrice du Centre le Volet des femmes d’Aguanish, Francine Blais, se réjouit de ce don. « On est très heureux d’avoir été reconnus. Ça va nous donner un coup de pouce pour la poursuite de nos activités dans le milieu. » L’organisme n’a pas encore décidé de la répartition du montant entre les points de service d’Aguanish et d’Havre-Saint-Pierre ni de ce à quoi l’argent servira. L’annonce du don de Rio Tinto a été faite le 25 novembre, soit la Journée internationale pour l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19, as the virus rages across the nation. According to a senior administration official, the new guidelines, which are set to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement, said the policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The policy would hasten the return to normal activities by those deemed to be “close contacts” of those infected with the virus, which has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000. While the CDC had said the incubation period for the virus was thought to extend to 14 days, most individuals became infectious and developed symptoms between 4 and 5 days after exposure. It’s not the first time that the CDC has adjusted its guidance for the novel coronavirus as it adjusted to new research. In July the agency shortened, from 14 days to 10, its advice on how long a person should stay in isolation after they first experience COVID symptoms — provided they’re no longer sick. The new guidance was presented Tuesday at a White House coronavirus task force meeting for final approval. — AP writer Mike Stobbe contributed. Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Port Hardy and North Island Secondary Schools’ athletic tracks are now closed to the public during school hours — from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. The tracks are popular with walkers, runners and dogs playing fetch almost every day of the week. But in order to keep the school safe for students while provincial COVID-19 cases continue to rise, School District 85 made the choice to restrict access. Students are separated into cohorts, with separate entries for each grade, and staggered schedules to reduce congestion in hallways. It just made sense to keep the track area clear for P.E. classes as well. The decision went into effect Monday, Nov. 30 until further notice. A sign has been posted at the PHSS track from the parking lot entrance, but is not yet posted at the Huddlestan trail entrances. NISS has a sign posted as well. The district provided the following statement “Due to Covid19 and our protocols regarding safety for students and staff, it was decided that during school hours, the public would be asked to refrain from using our school tracks and other SD85 facilities. Student and Staff safety is our number one priority at all times. (Outside of school hours, school tracks remain open to the public).” Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.comZoë Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Island Gazette
OTTAWA — The Liberals are pushing back against allegations from their political rivals that the federal government has failed Canadians on COVID-19 vaccines, noting Canada was one of the first countries to order doses from several foreign suppliers.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted last week that other countries with domestic vaccine production are likely to inoculate their citizens first before shipping doses to Canada, which prompted an outcry from the opposition parties.The Conservatives have also accused the Liberals of having put too much faith in what was ultimately a failed partnership between the National Research Council and a Chinese company to develop a made-in-Canada vaccine.The Liberal government confirmed in August the deal with CanSino Biologics had fallen apart, after the Chinese government blocked the shipment of doses for clinical trials in Canada. The Tories are now pushing for parliamentary hearings into the arrangement.On Tuesday, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Canada was one of the first countries to sign a deal with U.S.-based pharmaceutical firm Moderna — and that the company has confirmed it will be one of the first to receive doses of its vaccine.Anand decried what she described as “misinformation” around vaccines, noting that Moderna “has stated publicly that Canada is at the head of the line for its vaccine doses.”Canada signed a deal to purchase 56 million doses of vaccine from Moderna on July 24, according to the government. That was 18 days before the U.S. government reached its own agreement with the firm, and months before Britain, the European Union and Japan. Canada was also the fourth country to finalize a deal with Pfizer after the U.S., Britain and Japan, Anand added, again noting the company has confirmed the timeline. And it was the first country without the ability to mass produce vaccines domestically to ink an agreement with AstraZeneca. The three vaccines, along with another developed by Johnson & Johnson, are now being reviewed by Health Canada for approval. The government is hoping distribution to Canadians will begin in the first quarter of 2021.The timing of any vaccine delivery and distribution has become a major question for the government, opposition parties and Canadians who have been struggling physically, financially and emotionally through nearly nine months of the pandemic.Anand listed numerous other measures to ensure Canada is ready to start immunizing people when the vaccines are approved, including the purchase of freezers to store doses and enlisting the military to help with logistics.Asked exactly when the vaccines will arrive, however, Anand replied: “It is not possible to circle a single date on a calendar.” She went on to suggest the question has become politicized, but that safety will trump any political considerations.Opposition parties continued to demand more information from the government while repeating past allegations that the Liberals dragged their feet on vaccines."There's no question that other countries landed priority on vaccines ahead of Canada while Trudeau was dithering and spinning his wheels in the middle of last summer," said Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said. The Conservatives also pushed to probe the deal with CanSino at the House of Commons industry committee. The Tories want more information about a $44-million project to upgrade a National Research Council facility in Montreal as part of that arrangement, and how the deal with CanSino might have affected the timely procurement of vaccines from elsewhere.Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet appeared to suggest the Liberals should have used emergency laws in the spring to take existing technology from elsewhere and put it to use for Canada, dealing with the intellectual property issue after the fact.Governments across the country are also figuring out who will be immunized first.Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that according to what science suggests about who is most at risk from COVID-19, the initial round of vaccines should go to those in high-risk situations such as hospitals and care homes. The next batch, she added, should be distributed by age, with the oldest at the front of the line.Trudeau declined to get into specifics, including whether he should be one of the first inoculated, saying he is “going to trust experts to make the right determination of what the priority populations are.”Meanwhile, the prime minister said the federal government is stepping up assistance in two northern communities struggling with COVID-19.The Canadian Red Cross is sending specialists to the predominantly Inuit community of Arviat in Nunavut, which has seen dozens of cases, while the Canadian Rangers are also being deployed to the Hatchet Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan.The moves come as provinces reported thousands of new cases across the country Tuesday, along with dozens more deaths.Alberta, the province with the highest rate of COVID-19 — 223 per 100,000 people — reported 1,307 new cases and 479 people in hospital. Leaked health projections show hospitalizations there could soar to 775 by mid-December, with 161 people in intensive care.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said restrictions on public gatherings and business openings in the province, where the daily rise in cases has levelled off after a spike last month, could remain into the winter as the health-care system continues to strain. The province also said it handed out 100 tickets to people not following public health orders last week, after setting strict limits on public gatherings and requiring non-essential businesses to close.A mandatory-mask order was also implemented for all indoor public spaces in Yukon as Premier Sandy Silver reported eight new cases in the territory over the past week, bringing its total to 47 since the start of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.—With files from Beth Leighton in Vancouver, Steve Lambert in Winnipeg, Mia Rabson in Ottawa and Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Levi Simpson and his horse Stetson are about to trample the turf where the Los Angeles Dodgers hoisted the World Series trophy.Simpson, a team roper from Ponoka, Alta., admits it's unusual for the National Finals Rodeo to be staged in a ballpark.Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, served as Major League Baseball's "bubble" for the National League playoffs and October's World Series.The ball park is once again a COVID-19 sporting event stand-in just over a month after the Dodgers stormed the field in celebration.After 36 years at the Thomas and Mack Center on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus, the NFR opens Thursday at Globe Life."It's going to be a whole new ball game for the team ropers," Simpson said. "Nobody's roped in a baseball diamond."Spectators were not allowed to attend an NFR in Las Vegas this year because of Nevada's public health rules around the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFR was shifted to Texas, which allows 50 per cent spectator capacity at professional and collegiate events. Simpson is among five Canadians competing in the 2020 world championship of rodeo Dec. 3-12.Two-time saddle bronc champion Zeke Thurston of Big Valley, Alta., steer wrestler Curtis Cassidy of Donald, Alta., team roper Kolton Schmidt of Barrhead, Alta., and bareback rider Orin Larsen of Inglis, Man., also qualified in a season severely contracted by the pandemic.The NFR offered US$10 million in prize money each of the last six years, but is expected to pay less in 2020. Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association chief executive officer George Taylor has said the minimum payout will be $6 million, according to the organization's digital media channel.The top 15 in the world standings in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc, tie-down roping barrel racing and bull riding earn NFR invitations. Results at most Canadian professional rodeos count toward world rankings, but all were cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic.Canadian competitors were dependent on rodeos in the United States to earn a living. There have been just over 300 sanctioned rodeos in North America in 2020, compared to 732 in 2019.Fewer American rodeos meant more competitors vying for prize money at each one."Especially through July at some of the rodeos there were twice as many guys than they usually get," Cassidy said. "They were getting 160, 170 steer wrestlers in some places. "You can imagine how tough that makes the competition with that many guys competing. It was a lot harder to make money this year, a challenging year to say the least. "It's a good thing they're having the NFR so we actually have an NFR to go to. Qualifying at the end of the year was a sweet deal for those that made it."Thurston, 26, is the defending world champion in saddle bronc and also took the title in 2016. He claimed $170,064 at the NFR in 2019 en route to career-high season earnings of $347,000. Thurston ranks 10th with $50,523 so far this season heading into Thursday's opening go-around in Arlington."I would say it was probably the hardest year that I've been a part of," Thurston said. "It was hard to win."A lot less money to be won, a lot less rodeos and the ones they did cancel were the big rodeos, the big payouts that draw big crowds and for that reason, you're riding for less money."The three-time Calgary Stampede winner hopes Canadian rodeos resume in 2021."I don't have a crystal ball, but I imagine things have to get going again, open back up and get rolling again," Thurston said.Manitoba's Larsen, who lives in Gearing, Neb., ranks third in bareback in his sixth career NFR appearance.Cassidy, 42, qualified in steer wrestling a seventh time and sits fifth.Simpson and Jeremy Buhler of Arrowwood, Alta., became the first all-Canadian team to claim an NFR team-roping title in 2016.Simpson returns ranked 13th with Shay Carroll of La Junta, Colo., as his heeler. Schmidt is No. 11 with Hunter Koch of Vernon, Texas, as his heeler.Globe Life holds 40,300 people, compared to just under 19,000 at UNLV's Runnin' Rebels basketball venue."Thomas and Mack is a tiny little basketball arena. The first 25 rows in that arena, you could damn near reach out and touch anybody in the arena," Cassidy said."Comparing that to a baseball field that seats 42,00 people and you're only putting 15 (thousand) or 16 in it, it's going to have a different feel."Having it on the baseball diamond, it will still be good, but it might not have quite the electric feel that Las Vegas does."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — When the Quebec government tells English schools they cannot hire women wearing the hijab, it violates the rights of the English-speaking minority to manage its educational institutions, a lawyer argued Tuesday in a case challenging the province's secularism law. The law, known as Bill 21, forbids the wearing of religious symbols such as turbans, kippas and hijabs for certain employees of the state deemed to be in positions of authority, including police officers and school teachers. Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard, who is presiding over the trial, has set aside 14 days to hear closing arguments, which began on Monday. Constitutional rights lawyer Julius Grey argued on behalf of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Quebec Community Groups Network, which are both challenging the law. Grey invoked Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the right of Quebec's anglophone minority to be educated in English. Over time, jurisprudence has interpreted this right as giving management power to English schools, which Grey argued includes the right to hire whom they choose as teachers, including those who wear religious symbols. While Bill 21 invokes the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to shield it from most charter challenges, including those based on freedom of religion, Grey argued it can't be used to override the language-rights protections in Section 23. Grey argued Section 23 is essential to the protection and preservation of the language and culture of the English-speaking minority in Quebec. And included in the culture of the English-speaking community is the protection of cultural minorities, he said. Grey also argued that Bill 21 infringes Section 28 of the charter, which provides for gender equality and isn't subject to the notwithstanding clause. A lawyer for Amnesty International argued that the law is too vague and that it doesn't include a definition of "religious symbols." School administrators can't all become theologians to manage their schools, Marie-Claude St-Amant said. Like Grey, she argued that it is not the government's objective in adopting the law that is important but rather the effects of the legislation. Those are disproportionately felt by Muslim women, she said, arguing that the stated goal of the law is a pretence. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press
There are no bags coming off the conveyer belt, nobody in Hawaiian shirts lining up for a trip south and no belt buckles setting off the metal detector.It's been quiet at the Charlottetown airport during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during the day when there are no flights coming and going. "It's really surreal, to be honest," said airport CEO Doug Newson. "If you come here during the day, typically the lights are out, there are very few people here. The few flights that we do have are in the evening, so you know, we're basically down to one flight a day."It all translates to about a 90 per cent decrease in traffic over last year, which is why Newson and other airport executives were watching the federal government's fiscal update closely on Monday night.Ottawa is offering around $1 billion for airports, airport infrastructure and regional airlines. A good start, Newson said, but more details are needed to see how helpful those programs will be in the long run. "The devil's always in the details with some of these programs and so we just want to see ... how are we eligible, what are the mechanics, what are the specifics of these sorts of the program so that we can capitalize on them."Newson said the industry is resilient and he is confident it will recover from the global pandemic, but for airports to be healthy, it needs healthy airlines. The sooner that can be resolved, the better, he said."The big uncertainty is, obviously, what does the airline industry look like coming out of this?" he said."We want to make sure they get the supports they require as well so that we have a viable airline industry for our passengers."More from CBC P.E.I.
Students in Niagara are not writing exams to close out courses this fall. District School Board of Niagara’s secondary school students and Niagara Catholic board students will all be taking part in “culminating activities” instead of the usual sit-down testing regime. Helen McGregor, superintendent of secondary school curriculum and student achievement, said, “Students are learning differently this year, with many learning in-person for part of the week, and others learning exclusively online. “To ensure all our students are supported to find success this year, whether they are learning in-person or online, in October we made the decision to cancel exams,” said McGregor. “Schools have already let students know that they will not have exams and, instead, they will have culminating activities.” Niagara Catholic District School Board is following a similar path. “Schools are not administering exams,” said superintendent Ted Farrell, whose responsibilities include overseeing secondary schools. “Upon completion of the course, a broad range of culminating activities will be used as part of the final evaluation in determining a student’s mark. These activities may include essays, student performances, independent study projects or other suitable activities for students to best demonstrate their learning.” In October, the Ministry of Education told school boards they have the option to remove designated exam days from their school year calendar and use them for in-class instructional time. Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said the use of essays or report-based assessments in the place of final exams should be allowed “given the circumstance.” “I don’t want to increase the anxiety of our students. An essay, an extended report, these are all ways in which an educator can credibly assess the performance of a student.” The holiday break for students is to begin Dec. 21 and will last until students return to the classroom on Jan. 4. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
NEW YORK — “Papa!” screams a hospital worker, covered from head to toe in a Hazmat suit and PPE, in the opening moments of the documentary “76 Days."This is in the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan, back in January and February when the city of 11 million went into a 2 1/2-month lockdown and hospitals were overrun. The health worker's father has just died, and her agony at not being able to sit by his side is overwhelming. Her colleagues restrain her as she sobs, moaning, “Papa, you'll stay forever in my heart.”“76 Days," shot in four Wuhan hospitals, captures a local horror before it became a global nightmare. Given the constraints at the time on footage and information from Wuhan, it's a rare window into the infancy of the pandemic. The film is directed by the New York-based filmmaker Hao Wu, who worked with two Chinese journalists — one named Weixi Chen, the other is remaining anonymous — to create of a portrait of the virus epicenter.Some of the images document the fear and confusion of those early days: A group of patients mill outside the hospital doors, pleading to be let in. Others are by now more familiar: Solitary deaths followed by phone calls to family members.“There has been so much news coverage and commentary about the pandemic but most of that has primarily been about statistics and our political divide," Wu said in an interview. “What I think is missing is the human stories, the human faces of the pandemic.”That may be especially true for stories of the pandemic from China, which President Donald Trump and his supporters have been highly critical of, blaming it for the “Wuhan virus.” Wu's film, though, consciously avoids politics to concentrate on the humanity inside the hospitals — even if the workers are so obscured by their Hazmat suits that they're only identifiable by the names penned in sharpie on their backs.“I feel like right now there is such a toxic background to a lot of the discussions around the virus,” Wu says. “The virus is an enemy that doesn’t care about your nationality.”“76 Days," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, is being released Friday by MTV Documentary Films is more than 50 virtual cinemas. Last month, it was nominated for best documentary by the IFP Gotham Awards.It's among the first in a coming surge of coronavirus documentaries. A handful have already arrived, some — snapshots in an ongoing drama — hurriedly edited even as the scope of the pandemic has continued to expand. In October, Alex Gibney released “Totally Under Control," a two-part indictment of the federal U.S. response to the virus. In August, the artist-activist Ai Weiwei debuted “Coronation,” a documentary he directed remotely with dozens of volunteers to capture the lockdown experience for ordinary Chinese people.For some, the films are too harsh a reminder of an all-consuming reality. But “76 Days" feels like a vital early draft of history. Wu's first instinct had been to create a more straightforwardly journalistic film examining what happened in Wuhan. But Wu — a Chinese native who lives in New York with his partner and two children (he depicted his journey as a gay man in a traditional Chinese family in the 2019 Netflix documentary “All in My Family” ) — soon recognized the difficulty of access and the rapidly changing situation would make such a film either very difficult or potentially stale by the time it was finished.“The images coming out of Wuhan were so harrowing. Everyone was scouring social media, trying to find out what happened in Wuhan, how it got so bad. A lot of us were so angry,” he says. “I started getting away from wanting to assign blame."The journalists, working with press passes, would have typically been closely watched by Communist party minders but in the chaos were given more free rein. Wu leaned into a more observational approach without talking heads, and urged his collaborators to focus on the people and the details. One poignant shot shows the ziplocked cellphone of a deceased person quietly ringing.Wu's last trip to China was in January and February. Right after he came back, his grandfather was diagnosed with late stage liver cancer. He would die a month later. Wu, unable to visit because of travel restrictions and busy on the film, wasn't able to say goodbye in person.“For me, I was compelled to tell the story. It’s almost like a tribute to my grandfather,” says Wu. “The shots that attracted me were those that showed the details of people willing to be nice to each other. I guess it was guilty about not being able to say goodbye to my grandfather, to hold his hand.”___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPJake Coyle, The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan's minister of corrections and policing says she doesn't know how the novel coronavirus got into a jail where more than 100 inmates are infected — and she isn't going to try to find out. Christine Tell says precautions were in place to try to prevent the virus's transmission in jails.Inmates have been required to isolate for 14 days upon arrival and correctional officers have been wearing masks since the summer.Despite that, the Justice Ministry said 107 inmates and 23 staff at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday. "Why it came into the facility with all the precautions, I can't answer that," Tell said Tuesday. Asked if she would try to find out what happened, Tell responded "no.""I cannot say how it got in there," said Tell. "There's no possible way for us to find out."NDP justice critic Nicole Sarauer said Tell's response was unsurprising. "It makes me wonder if she worries about the safety of the inmates and the staff in our correctional centres," Sarauer said. "This is a minister that shouldn't be a minister anymore."The government made masks mandatory for all provincial inmates last week. Offenders had only been required to wear them when they showed symptoms or moved around a facility. Some of the inmates at the Saskatoon jail say getting masks now is too little too late and they are worried about overcrowding.Troy Maurice said his unit has a shared bathroom with 15 bunk beds and five portable beds on the floor.“I feel like a science experiment. I feel like a lab rat being watched by scientists," the 29-year-old recently told The Canadian Press.Maurice said the bunks are close together, there isn't enough air flow and inmates on the unit have been together for weeks. “We shouldn’t be jam-packed like tuna fish," Maurice said."It was impossible to get away from everybody. There are guys who tested positive for COVID on the bottom bunks and the guys on the top bunks are just deathly scared."Cory Charles Cardinal, another inmate, said people are coughing on his unit and the jail didn't put enough precautions in place to prevent the virus from spreading.“They just gave out a little memorandum every once in a while saying try (to) wash your hands and social distance," said Cardinal, who added some inmates have been reluctant to get tested out of fear of being ostracized.Tell acknowledged that overcrowding has been an issue in the province's jails for more than 20 years and said her government has expanded capacity. "I think COVID is bigger than our government," she said The Ministry of Justice said public-health officials have advised that movement between units should be restricted because offenders who test negative could still have been exposed to positive cases."This is a similar precaution that has occurred in other provinces that have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak in a correctional centre," said spokesman Noel Busse. "Additionally, Corrections must continue to ensure that incompatible offenders (rival gang members) are not put in a situation where they are more likely to endanger themselves or others."Busse said last week that most inmates in Saskatoon's jail who tested positive were asymptotic. Temporary trailers were brought in so those offenders could isolate.Justice officials said no more inmates are being sent to the Saskatoon jail. They are being diverted to jails in Regina and Prince Albert. The provincial government said that despite COVID-19 it has no plans to release offenders who are serving sentences.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
The Terrace RCMP are seeking the public’s help in locating Kenton David Fast, 41, who was last seen in Terrace on Dec. 1, 2020. According to a Dec. 1 media release, police are actively searching for Fast, who is unlawfully at large and described as caucasian, 5’5” (164 centimetres) and around 170 pounds (77 kilograms) with an average build. He has brown and greying short hair, blue eyes and a beard. Police said they could not share at this time why Fast is at large. Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts is asked to call Terrace RCMP at (250) 638-7400 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers by telephone at 1-800-222-TIPS or www.terracecrimestoppers.ca. People can also text the keyword TERRACE followed by a message to 274637.Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
Regina– On Nov. 30, Premier Scott Moe made reference of possible easing of COVID-19 socialization restrictions in time for Christmas. On Dec. 1, New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili told Moe during question period, “At this rate, the only thing you’ll be opening for Christmas is a field hospital.” Speaking to reporters after question period on Dec. 1 regarding current modelling of COVID-19’s spread in Saskatchewan, Moe said, “Modelling is modelling, and not in any way predictions. Modelling is put together to predict what our responses should be.” He noted a number of initiatives were put in last week, and the government was looking for success by Dec. 17 to only curb the increased rate of infection experienced over the last few weeks, which as also been experienced by the rest of Canada and North America. Moe said, “If we are able to, in some way, have some type of reprieve, of that rate of transmission, Dr. (Saqib Shahab) is working on what those scenarios may look like, and what recommendations to see what that looks like. “This is part of the short-term goal, to allow potentially people to see their loved ones for a short period of time, with the appropriate safety, personal protection, to see a loved one in a long-term care centre,” he said. “In order for that to happen, people need to adhere to the measures that are in place. And we need to see, and Dr. Shahab will speak more specifically to this, as we get closer to December 17, which is the time when we are either going to relax, renew or intensify the restrictions that were put in place last week.” Responding to a reporter who asked it was his place to provide hope, Moe said, “If it was my place to provide hope, and to provide opportunity, and to provide some targets for people across the province to work towards, between now and December 25th, I think it is.” He said Quebec will have “a little bit of a different standard” from Dec. 24 to Dec. 27 regarding social gatherings, for instance. Dr. Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, would be making the recommendations, Moe said. “It may be the status quo,” Moe said. He expressed hope, saying, “I would think its everyone’s hope that we would be able to see some of our family over Christmas. I, myself, my wife, we are already making plans for that not to happen in our family. Unfortunately, I know many other people across the province are likely having the same conversation with their immediate families.” Moe noted it’s been a nine, 10 long months across the world, and “we do need some opportunities to look forward to. Christmas maybe one of those opportunities. We're hoping it is it may not be.” He noted widespread access to a vaccine is another opportunity. Moe said risk to long-term care facilities can be mitigated through the usage of personal protective equipment. Meili on Christmas Meili told reporters, “I think he should acknowledge that he should have acted when the experts said to him, when 400 doctors came up and said, ‘You need to take action now. Do that circuit breaker.’ “That’s what would have saved Christmas. I think trying to spin people a story that somehow we'll be opening up for Christmas at the same time, as we're really going to be opening field hospitals, is dishonest and should not be approached.” Meili continued, “He should be honest with Saskatchewan people about what the modeling actually says. And that's what frustrates me so much. You’ve got the Minister of Health out here yesterday, trying to tell people that an optimistic scenario that wasn't even realistic, when it was presented, was already passed when it was presented, is still something that's going to happen. “When they presented this scenario is the modeling to the doctors, they didn't even include that because, they know it's false. If you've got modeling that shows something different than what you're saying, that's being dishonest. Meili said, “Certainly, I won't be joining my folks for Christmas, which makes me very sad. I hope people are going to make this, we're going to find this really hard, to not be able to get together. I hope that people will be making the wisest choice. And obviously, we'll see what the numbers are doing. But right now, it doesn't look like that's a serious possibility. And I think it's up to the premier to show leadership and responsibility. Be honest with them.” Meili said, “The premier is the one who is making the decisions. We know that he has made decisions for political reasons that have got us into this situation.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury