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
NEW YORK — Oscar-nominated actor Elliot Page, the star of “Juno," “Inception” and “The Umbrella Academy,” came out as transgender Tuesday in an announcement greeted as a watershed moment for the trans community in Hollywood.“I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer," Page said in a statement on social media.Page, the 33-year-old actor from Nova Scotia, said his decision to come out as trans, which also involved changing his first name, came after a long journey and with much support from the LGBTQ community.“I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self,” Page wrote. “I’ve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community. Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place.”“The more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive,” added Page, who said his pronouns are “he" and "they.”Page signed his statement with the words, “All my love, Elliot.”The announcement was celebrated widely on social media by LGBTQ rights advocates and many in the film industry. Netflix, maker of the comic book series “The Umbrella Academy," said, “So proud of our superhero! We love you Elliot!”"Elliot Page has given us fantastic characters on-screen, and has been an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people,” said Nick Adams, GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Media. “He will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. All transgender people deserve the chance to be ourselves and to be accepted for who we are. We celebrate the remarkable Elliot Page today.”Page broke out in Jason Reitman's 2007 film “Juno” in a performance as a pregnant teenager that earned him an Academy Award nomination.Page has frequently worked to bring the lives of LGBTQ characters to screen, including the 2015 film “Freeheld,” which he produced and starred in as the partner of a dying New Jersey police detective who had been denied pension benefits.Last year, he made his directorial debut with the documentary “There's Something in the Water,” about environmental damage on Black and First Nations communities in Nova Scotia.Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
Last week, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his top cabinet picks, and selected Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Melanie Mark as the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. Mark holds the distinction of being the first First Nations woman to serve in the B.C. Legislature. She was elected to the riding in 2016 and previously served as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, before being given this new assignment. Mark’s appointment was heralded by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA). “We look forward to working closely with Melanie Mark, the new Minister of Tourism, Arts Culture and Sport to tackle the significant challenges facing the industry, and ultimately moving the sector down the path to economic recovery,” said TOTA President and chief executive officer Glenn Mandziuk. Mandziuk is currently serving as the chair of the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat. The organization is a collaboration between the province’s regional destination management organizations and is giving key input on the province’s tourism recovery plan. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania's highest court questioned Tuesday whether Bill Cosby's alleged history of intoxicating and sexually assaulting young women amounted to a signature crime pattern, given studies that show as many as half of all sexual assaults involve drugs or alcohol. Cosby, 83, hopes to overturn his 2018 sex assault conviction because the judge let prosecutors call five other accusers who said Cosby mistreated them the same way he did his victim, Andrea Constand. The defence said their testimony prejudiced the jury against the actor and should not have been allowed.“That conduct you describe — the steps, the young women — there’s literature that says that’s common to 50% of these assaults — thousands of assaults — nationwide,” Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor asked a prosecutor during oral arguments in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. “So how can that be a common scheme?”The prosecutor, in response, offered more precise details about the relationships, saying Cosby used his fame and fortune to mentor the women and then took advantage of it. And he sometimes befriended their mothers or families.“There was a built-in level of trust because of his status in the entertainment industry and because he held himself out as a public moralist,” said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, of suburban Philadelphia's Montgomery County, where Constand says she was assaulted at Cosby's estate in 2004.“The signature was isolating and intoxicating young women for the purpose of sexually assaulting them," Jappe said.Cosby has served more than two years of his three- to 10-year prison sentence for drugging and molesting Constand, whom he met through the basketball program at his alma mater, Temple University.Courts have long wrestled with decisions about when other accusers should be allowed to testify in criminal cases. It's generally not allowed, but state law permits a few exceptions, including to show a signature crime pattern or to prove someone's identity. The state's high court appears eager to address the issue, and in doing so took on the first celebrity criminal case of the MeToo era. The court typically takes several months to issue its opinion.Judge Steven T. O'Neill had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby's first trial in 2017, when the jury could not reach a verdict. The MeToo movement took hold months later with media reports about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other men accused of sexual misconduct.O'Neill then let five other accusers testify at Cosby's retrial in 2018, when the jury convicted him of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand.Cosby's appellate lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said prosecutors exploited “all of this vague testimony” about his prior behaviour and his acknowledgement that he had given women alcohol or quaaludes before sexual encounters.“They put Mr. Cosby in a position where he had no shot. The presumption of innocence just didn't exist for him,” Bonjean said in the arguments Tuesday, which were held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.Constand went to police in 2005, about a year after the night at his home. The other women knew Cosby in the 1980s through the entertainment industry, and they did not go to police.The defence also challenged the trial judge's decision to let the jury hear damaging testimony Cosby gave in a lawsuit Constand filed against him in 2005, after then-prosecutor Bruce Castor declined to arrest Cosby.The testimony was sealed for nearly a decade until The Associated Press asked a federal judge to release documents from the case as more Cosby accusers came forward. The judge agreed, and Castor's successor reopened the case in 2015, just months before the statute of limitations to arrest him would have expired.Cosby, a once-beloved comedian and actor known as “America’s Dad,” has said he will serve his entire 10-year term rather than admit wrongdoing to the parole board.Criminal law professor Laurie Levenson believes it's important for the court to scrutinize Cosby's conviction given the publicity the case attracted, the legal questions it raised and the potential influence of the MeToo movement.However, she was less sure there's data to show that intoxication was as prevalent in sex assault cases in the 1980s through 2004 as it is today.“We have heard a lot more about doping types of sexual assaults (recently), but I'm not sure how common it was at the time of this offence,” said Levenson, of Loyola Law School. “I think the court’s doing the right thing, which is asking, ‘Did he get convicted on legitimate evidence?'"The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted.___Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale.Maryclaire Dale, The Associated Press
British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it's not clear what can be done.
TORONTO — Netflix Canada will bid farewell to "Friends" later this month as the hit sitcom moves to Crave.Both streaming platforms confirmed the switch on Tuesday, saying Dec. 31 will see all 10 seasons of the show depart Netflix for their new home on Crave under an exclusive agreement.The change comes as Crave continues to bulk up its streaming library of hit network TV comedies, which include "30 Rock," "The Bernie Mac Show" and "Frasier."The streamer, owned by Bell Media, also recently picked up the rights to "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," which will leave Netflix on Dec. 30.Netflix isn't left empty-handed when it comes to classic TV, however. The company says it will have the Canadian streaming rights to "Seinfeld" starting next year.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit La ministre de la Santé Christine Elliott a affirmé en conférence de presse, mardi, que la province de l’Ontario sera équipée de l’un des meilleurs plans de vaccination contre la COVID-19 au pays. La vice-première ministre de l’Ontario a pris la place du premier ministre Doug Ford durant la conférence de presse quotidienne, mardi, pour répondre aux questions des journalistes. Elle a notamment fait savoir qu’un bioéthicien fera partie de l’équipe tactique dirigée par l’ancien chef d’état-major des Forces armées canadiennes Rick Hillier, responsable de coordonner le plan de distribution du vaccin contre la COVID-19 en Ontario. Ce bioéthicien sera embauché pour déterminer qui en province recevra le vaccin en premier. M. Hillier a soutenu que ce seront les membres les plus vulnérables de la communauté et les travailleurs de la santé qui seront considérés comme prioritaires. Plusieurs questions règnent actuellement autour de l’arrivée des doses du vaccin au pays, mais l’ancien général Hillier a indiqué qu’il n’a « plus d’inquiétudes à propos de la distribution ». La ministre de la Santé a indiqué que son gouvernement croira « sur parole le premier ministre du Canada Justin Trudeau et que ces vaccins arriveront dès janvier ». La ministre de la Santé de l'Ontario, Christine Elliott Christine Elliott a confirmé que la province s’appuiera notamment sur les compagnies privées pour rendre plus efficace la distribution des vaccins. Le secteur privé jouera un rôle essentiel dans ce processus de vaccination, selon la ministre Elliott, qui a noté que l’Ontario s’entretient déjà avec des entreprises comme Shoppers Drug Mart et Purolator. Près de 200 patients aux soins intensifs Le plus récent bilan de la santé publique de l’Ontario, publié mardi matin, révèle que 193 Ontariens atteints de la COVID-19 sont actuellement en unités de soins intensifs. Les modélisations des experts sanitaires de l’Ontario prévoyaient que ce nombre serait de 200 d’ici le début du mois de décembre. Rappelons que le seuil où les hôpitaux doivent commencer à annuler des chirurgies est de 150 en province. Parmi les personnes aux soins intensifs lundi, 112 d’entre elles étaient sous respirateur. En tout, la même journée, 645 personnes atteintes de la COVID-19 étaient hospitalisées. Au cours des 24 dernières heures, 1 707 nouveaux cas de la COVID-19 ont été répertoriés, portant le total du nombre de cas depuis le début de la pandémie à 118 199 en Ontario. Par ailleurs, la santé publique de l’Ontario déplore sept nouveaux décès liés au virus survenus au cours de la dernière journée. En tout, 3 663 personnes ont perdu la vie en raison du coronavirus, dont 2 309 résidents de foyers de soins de longue durée et huit employés de ces établissements.Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
MADISON, Wis. — President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Wisconsin seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state's two most Democratic counties, a longshot attempt to overturn Joe Biden's win in a battleground state he lost by nearly 20,700 votes. Trump filed the day after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission certified Biden as the winner of the state's 10 Electoral College votes. Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, rather than have it start in a lower court, and order Evers to withdraw the certification. The Wisconsin Supreme Court gave Evers until 8:30 p.m. Tuesday to respond to the lawsuit, an unusually tight deadline that speaks to how quickly the court is likely to decide the case. The state's highest court, controlled 4-3 by conservatives, also is considering whether to hear two other lawsuits filed by conservatives seeking to invalidate ballots cast during the presidential election. Separately, two Wisconsin Republicans filed a new federal lawsuit Tuesday that mirrors some of Trump's claims and asks a judge to declare him the winner in Wisconsin. Trump's lawsuit repeats many claims he made during a recount of votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties that large swaths of absentee votes were illegally cast. Local officials rejected his claims during the recount, and Trump is challenging procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal. Trump is not challenging any ballots cast in conservative counties he won. Biden campaign spokesman Nate Evans called the lawsuit “completely baseless and not rooted in facts on the ground." Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said it was “without merit.” Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, noted that the lawsuit doesn't allege that anyone was ineligible to vote, but instead seeks to create a two-tiered election system where voters in Dane and Milwaukee counties are disenfranchised “under much stricter rules than citizens in the rest of the state.” Trump's Wisconsin attorney, Jim Troupis, said in a statement that voters "deserve election processes with uniform enforcement of the law, plain and simple.” Similar Trump campaign lawsuits have failed in other battleground states. In Phoenix, a judge has scheduled a Thursday trial in Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward’s lawsuit that seeks to annul Biden’s victory in the state. A judge is letting Ward’s lawyers and experts compare the signatures on 100 mail-in ballot envelopes with signatures on file to determine whether there were any irregularities. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office, which certified Arizona’s election results on Monday, said there was no factual basis for conducting such a review. Trump is running out of time to have his legal cases heard. The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on Dec. 14 and Congress is to count the votes on Jan. 6. Trump's Wisconsin lawsuit seeks to discard 170,140 absentee ballots where there was not a written application on file and all absentee ballots cast in person during the two weeks before Election Day. People who vote in person early fill out a certification envelope for their ballot that serves as the written record. But the vast majority of absentee requests these days are made online, with a voter’s name entered into an electronic log with no paper record. Trump wants to toss 5,517 ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted. The practice has been in place for at least the past 11 elections, and the state elections commission told clerks it was OK. Trump also challenges 28,395 absentee ballots where a voter declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined” under the law. Such a declaration exempts voters from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it is up to individual voters to determine whether they are indefinitely confined, a designation used by nearly four times as many voters this year than in 2016 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump also alleges that Madison opened illegal voting sites when the city held events at parks where election workers accepted 17,271 completed absentee ballots from voters looking to avoid crowds and mail delays. City officials said the poll workers at the 220 parks served the same purpose as ballot drop boxes. The federal lawsuit came from Bill Feehan, the La Crosse County Republican Party chairman, and Derrick Van Orden, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress this year in western Wisconsin. Sidney Powell, a firebrand conservative attorney who was removed from Trump's legal team, is among the lawyers. Van Orden said after the lawsuit was filed that he had spoken with someone in Powell's office about the case but had not given permission to be named as a litigant. Van Orden said he tried calling Powell to ask that his name be removed but could not get through. Powell did not immediately respond to an Associated Press email seeking comment. “Why they would want me on there, I'm not quite sure,” Van Orden said. The same lawsuit asks for 48 hours of security footage from the “TCF Center,” which is in Detroit, not in Wisconsin. Also Tuesday, Republicans on the Wisconsin Elections Commission asked the Democratic chairwoman to resign after she finalized election results on Monday. They argued the commission should have been involved with that process, while the chair, who refused to resign, said she was following state law and precedent. Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
Holiday shoppers are receiving their own gift from the City of Charlottetown this December: free parking downtown. The city approved the free parking at downtown meters at a special council meeting Monday. Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said letting shoppers park for free fits in with the Love Local P.E.I. campaign currently on. "It sends out a signal that, you know, we're in this bubble, but let's stick to our local merchants," said Brown. "They're going to need the help, just like we're going to need the help as we get through this pandemic."> We're in this bubble, but let's stick to our local merchants. They're going to need the help. \- Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown The idea for the free parking came from the P.E.I. government, which offered $15,000 to replace some of the lost revenue. Brown said the City of Charlottetown will cover the rest of that loss, another $45,000. City officials have had to cancel some holiday activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so Brown said some of the money that would have been used for those activities will help cover the revenue lost from parking meters. "This is a small effort, but I think it'll go a long way," he said. Brown added that he's not worried about people who work downtown taking advantage of the free spots.More from CBC P.E.I.
For Islanders looking to learn more about their local graveyard or family history, the Clyde River History Committee is offering a new online course called Cemetery Stories. The course, which is free and self-directed, started in November and will run until August. It will cover topics such as gravestone design, family history, and obituaries. Vivian Beer, the chair of the committee, told Angela Walker of CBC's Mainstreet P.E.I. that 30 people have already signed up. Participants are from P.E.I. and other Canadian provinces — with some from as far away as California."I think they're interested in passing on some interesting stories to the next generation," Beer said.> Everyday folks that have done some really important things for their communities often don't get the credit they deserve — Vivian Beer"When we think of people that we know, we take them for granted while they're with us. But when they pass, technically their stories can pass, unless somebody writes them down and passes them on." Giving everyday folks their due A key part of the course, Beer said, is using questions to unearth the stories of figures from the past, such as what was important to them, and how they contributed to their community."We want to go beyond the obituary and we want to bring out the interesting stories about individuals," Beer said.> Based on just the group we have now, we have the potential to create at least 200 biographies. — Vivian Beer"Oftentimes prominent folks get covered, but the everyday folks that have done some really important things for their communities often don't get the credit they deserve." Beer said the course has attracted people who were already doing some kind of historical research on their own, and this allows them to come together and collaborate. The final projects could end up on the Clyde River History Committee's website. "Based on just the group we have now, we have the potential to create at least 200 biographies, so that's certainly a start."Islanders interested in taking part can register by visiting the Clyde River History Committee website (see link below).More from CBC P.E.I.
Statistics from Public Health Ontario (PHO) show the opioid-related death rates in many parts of Northern Ontario are significantly higher than the numbers being reported by Toronto Public Health and some other Southern Ontario locations. For comparison purposes, statistics were compiled in quarterly segments from the end of March 2019, through to the end March of 2020, which was the one-year time period with the latest available information on Emergency Room visits, hospitalizations and opioids-related deaths. In the first quarter of this year, just in the Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) jurisdiction, the rate of opioid deaths was listed at 41.9 per 100,000 population, an increase of 16.7 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 200,424 within the jurisdiction of the Sudbury health unit, which includes the City of Greater Sudbury and several surrounding smaller communities, such as Espanola, Chapleau and on Manitoulin Island. Public Health Ontario said this accounts for 21 deaths in the first three months of this year for the PHSD service area. The Sudbury health unit's own opioid surveillance program reports that from January 2020 to June 2020, opioids have claimed 44 lives. The Sudbury health unit jurisdiction, in the first three months of this year, also had an opioid death rate more than three times higher than the national rate in Canada, which is 12.1 deaths per 100,000 residents. By comparison, for the Toronto Public Health area, the rate of opioid deaths was 11.4 per 100,000 population. It is an increase of 8.6 per cent from the previous year. This was based on a population of 3,090,377. The rate for the last three months of 2019 was 10.5 per 100,000. For the third quarter, the rate was lower at 6.1 deaths per 100,000. The second quarter of 2019 in Toronto, the death rate was 10.5 and in the first quarter the death rate was 11.2 deaths per 100,000. The lower rate was evident in other parts of Southern Ontario. In the jurisdiction of Ottawa Public Health, the rate of opioid deaths was lower at 7.7 per 100,000, the first three months of this year. This was for a population of slightly more than one million. In the Peel region, Peel Public Health reported an even lower fatality rate of 7.6 per 100,000 residents, for a population listed at more than 1.5 million. In the Windsor - Essex County Health Unit, the opioid fatality rate was 15.2 per 100,000 based on a population of roughly 420,000. In the Niagara Public Health Region, the death rate in the first three months this year was reported at 23.1 per 100,000 population for a region of more than 468,000 residents. Back to Northern Ontario, the rates were far higher in general. The Porcupine Health Unit, representing Timmins and several other smaller northern towns, also has a high rate of opioid deaths according to the PHO stats. For the first three months of this year, the death rate attributed to opioids was 32.8 per 100,000 population, three times the Toronto rate. This was for a population of 85,273. Figures for the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) for the first quarter of this year revealed a mortality rate of 28.5 per 100,000 population. This was for a population of nearly 155,000 in the TBDHU jurisdiction. For the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit it was revealed that the rate of opioid deaths was 18.6 per 100,000 population. This was for a region of more than 129,000 residents. The Timiskaming Health Unit, which includes such communities as Kirkland Lake and Temiskaming Shores, the rate was 12.1 per 100,000 for a jurisdiction with a population of more than 33,000 residents. Four deaths occurred in that jurisdiction between March 2019 and March 2020. Further west in the jurisdiction of the Northwestern Health Unit, for communities such as Kenora, Red Lake and Dryden, the mortality rate for the first three months of this year was 9.8 per 100,000, a couple of points lower than Toronto. This was for a population just short of 82,000. A full report on the patterns of opioid-related deaths in Ontario during 2020 the pandemic may be causing some unintended consequences. "In June 2020, Ontario’s Chief Coroner announced a 25 per cent increase in suspected drug-related deaths between March and May 2020, compared to the monthly median reported in 2019. Similar trends have been reported elsewhere in Canada," said the report. "It is expected that this increase in drug-related deaths is being driven by a combination of numerous factors, including an increasingly toxic unregulated (‘street’) drug supply, barriers to access to harm reduction services and treatment, and physical distancing requirements leading to more people using drugs alone."Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Albertans must begin preparing themselves for a non-traditional Christmas with smaller gatherings, says the province's chief medical officer of health."With the calendar flipping to December today, I know many people across the province are starting to plan for the holiday season," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday at a news conference. "It's been a long, hard year, and I know how important these holidays are to Albertans. But in a year that is anything but typical, how we celebrate won't be typical either." The province reported 10 more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday and 1,307 new cases of the illness.The total number of active cases was 16,628, an increase of 174 from the day before."We don't yet know exactly what restrictions will be in place during the last week of December," Hinshaw said. "Cabinet will make those decisions later on this month.'Celebrate safely'Previous holidays have already led to increases in cases and outbreaks, she said, using Thanksgiving gatherings as an example of accelerated spread."Right now, I am encouraging Albertans to begin preparing for a much different holiday season, and to start thinking of creative ways to celebrate safely," Hinshaw said."This is not going to be the year for in-person office parties. This is not going to be the year for open houses or large dinners with friends and extended family. If you are making holiday plans, it is best to assume that you will still be limiting contact with anyone outside your household as much as possible, and that any large get-togethers will likely need to be virtual."This will be the year for getting together remotely, or having small outdoor activities where everyone can keep their distance. Celebrating virtually, or with members of your own household, pose the lowest risk for spread."WATCH l Dr. Hinshaw says Albertans should prepare to gather remotely during the holidaysHinshaw said the options people might have for the upcoming holidays will depend on what everyone does in the coming days."The actions we take now and over the coming weeks will determine how the virus is spreading when the holidays arrive," she said. "We all have the power to collectively bend the curve, and it will take all of us to do so."Here is the regional breakdown of the province's active cases: * Edmonton zone with 7,552 cases. * Calgary zone with 6,162 cases. * Central zone with 1,249 cases. * North zone with 895 cases. * South zone with 672 cases. * Unknown 98 cases.The turning of the calendar brought to a close the worst month of the pandemic in Alberta, so far.On Nov. 1, there were 6,002 active cases of COVID-19 in the province.By end of day on Nov. 30, the total was 2.7 times higher, with 16,628 cases.On Nov. 1, the province added 610 new cases.On Nov. 30, that number was 2.14 times higher, with 1,307 new cases added.On Nov. 1, Alberta hospitals were treating 143 patients for the illness, including 28 in intensive-care beds.Since that, hospitalizations have more than tripled. On Nov. 30, a total of 479 patients were in hospital, including 97 in ICU beds.By Nov. 1, 327 people in Alberta had died from COVID-19. By Nov. 30, another 224 lives had been added to the toll, bringing the total to 551.The 10 people whose deaths were reported on Tuesday were: * Two men in their 90s and one in his 80s linked to the outbreak at the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre. * A man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at St. Thomas Health Centre in the Edmonton zone. * A woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak at Kainai Continuing Care Centre in the South zone. * A man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at Capital Care Lynnwood in the Edmonton zone. * A woman in her 70s linked to the outbreak at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital in the Edmonton zone. * Two men their 70s linked to the outbreak at Clifton Manor in the Calgary zone. * A woman in her 80s in the Edmonton zone.
IQALUIT, Nunavut — An investigation by the Ottawa Police Service has determined that the arrest of a Nunavut man who was knocked down by an RCMP truck door was lawful.A video posted on social media in June from Kinngait showed what appeared to be a Mountie knocking down an intoxicated man using the door of a police pickup truck.Ottawa police investigators said they interviewed 10 witnesses in the South Baffin community of about 1,400, including residents and RCMP officers. Investigators also looked at third-party video of the arrest, went to the scene and examined the police truck.The Nunavut RCMP has an agreement with the Ottawa Police Service to review actions involving police.Mounties said at the time that they were notified about 11:30 p.m. on June 1 about "an intoxicated male who was reported to be fighting with others."A video posted to Facebook by a Kinngait resident that night shows a man lying down on the side of the road. The man gets up, stumbling, before an RCMP truck flashes its lights and starts to pull up next to him. The video appears to show the officer driving the truck opening the driver’s side door, knocking the man to the ground, while the truck is still moving. Four other officers arrive on the scene.A news release Tuesday from the Ottawa Police Service said the investigation found that the officer "did not intentionally strike the community member with the vehicle door.""The vehicle came to a sliding stop on a snow- and ice-covered track, the driver’s front tire went off the track, the vehicle dipped forward, and the opened driver’s door swung forward and struck the community member."The release said investigators concluded that no criminal offence was committed "as the applied force was unintentional.""Investigators also deemed that that was no evidence of dangerous operation of a conveyance or criminal negligence and further concluded that the arrest was lawful." The man in the video, who was arrested for public intoxication, was not charged but was placed in an RCMP cell, where he was allegedly so severely beaten by his cellmate that he was flown to Iqaluit for medical treatment. The RCMP officer was removed from the community after the video surfaced and placed on administrative leave. In an email, Nunavut RCMP said the officer is still on leave while an internal investigation is done.The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP is also conducting an investigation, which isn't complete yet.In a separate release, the Nunavut RCMP said it will not comment further on what happened. Benson Cowan, head of Nunavut Legal Aid, said the Ottawa police statement gives little information about a much larger story. "Police occupy a place of public trust and the public has an interest in how they go about their jobs. We're owed an explanation when something happens. What we got was a conclusion. There's no transparency and no accountability," Cowan said. "We've all seen that video and we know that the police explanation doesn't explain everything we see in that video."Cowan said even if people accept the truck door hitting the man was an accident, it is troubling to say the arrest was lawful."On what basis was it justified that five police officers be involved in the takedown of this man?"Cowan said Ottawa police also don't explain why the RCMP acted so swiftly to arrest a man who was never charged."Why on earth, if it was public intoxication, would you drive so close and put someone at risk?"The agreement between the Ottawa Police Service and the Nunavut government does not require the service to make its reports public. Nunavut introduced legislation in the fall that would allow it to use civilian investigative groups instead of police forces.On Monday, RCMP in Iqaluit started wearing body cameras as part of a national pilot project to promote police accountability.Since Jan. 1, there have been six serious encounters involving police in the territory, including two deaths.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.___This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News FellowshipEmma Tranter, The Canadian Press
Nothing about us, without us: the idea that no policy should be decided, by any representative, without the full and direct participation of those affected by that policy. It’s the main issue that Lisa Long has with the Downtown Task Team, a group hand-picked by Mayor Brian Bigger to tackle the myriad social challenges, from drugs and crime to homelessness, facing the city’s downtown core. The task team has been criticized by some social services organizations for excluding groups that actually work with the homeless. “I believe representation from our vulnerable populations should also be made available,” said Long. “The ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’ philosophy that emphasizes people, our vulnerable population, being valued as integral and essential contributors. “It seems fitting, as the (Downtown) BIA has a seat.” If there is representation on the mayor’s team from the business community, Long wonders why the same courtesy hasn’t been extended to organizations that actually work with vulnerable and marginalized downtown populations. Long is the executive director of The Samaritan Centre and, together with partner agencies the Blue Door Soup Kitchen and the Elgin Street Mission, works with individuals facing multiple social barriers including homelessness, food insecurity, poverty, mental health and addictions, in downtown Sudbury. She, like other downtown community service groups, were not invited to be a part of the mayor’s task team. She first heard of its creation in October from Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc. “He asked me why I wasn’t on it,” she said. Long said not only does she want to ensure a more equitable perspective on the team, one that “represents those who call the downtown core their home,” but that the Samaritan Centre would offer valuable insight. “These are our neighbours,” she said. “This is our neighbourhood.” Prior to the pandemic, The Samaritan Centre would receive a daily average of 300-400 people. The pandemic hasn’t changed that. Though they have been forced to change their methods, the Samaritan Centre still offers meal services, showers, laundry and other grooming opportunities, as well as a weekly nurse practitioner clinic – all with COVID-19 restrictions in place. Additionally, Long said that while maintaining all safety protocols, she is consistently interacting with clients who are waiting for services, as well as moving through the downtown to check in and distribute items like granola bars, vitamins, socks, and winter wear. “I have regular, direct contact with the individuals we serve through the Samaritan Centre, and I’m aware of their needs, challenges and stories.” The most recent meeting of the Downtown Task Team took place Nov. 25. In an interview with Sudbury.com, Mayor Brain Bigger said he was pleased with the progress the task team is making, but he does recognize the need for expert advice. The most recent meeting of the task team focused on hearing more from experts. “Our conversation was: how do we engage effectively with the large number of smaller service organizations? They’re working with the people that are experiencing these challenges and crises in the downtown.” He said the focus now is “trying to understand how we can be strategic, and really drive that value for money from the resources that we do have.” He also said there is a misconception in terms of the knowledge that council already possesses. “Many people seem to have this impression that if you’re a member of council, people think we’re completely unaware of what’s happening,” he said. “That’s far from the truth.” He said that because city councillors are interacting with citizens from their wards on a regular basis, “we’re continually involved in trying to resolve challenges in the community, and looking for opportunities to help people navigate and find support.” Mayor Bigger said this is the impetus for a public engagement forum that the city plans to hold “as soon as possible.” He said it will be a chance to hear from those who have a vested interest: community groups, business owners, those with lived experience, and the general public. But as the mayor himself noted, a pandemic-world does make this a challenge. He said it will be “essentially, a listening experience, and an opportunity to hear the ideas and the solutions — to hear about the challenges, about some of the gaps that we might not think of.” Still, despite the criticism the task team can’t really address issues it doesn’t understand, the mayor said he is “proud of what we’ve accomplished.” Long, however, isn’t quite sure it will be enough to shape the view that is required, one that is built upon the idea of nothing about us, without us. “If you look at issues from the perspective of privilege and power, the perspective will be subject to tunnel-vision, and limited in scope and purpose” she said. “If the objective of the Task Force is to install LED lights downtown, then I am sure they will have a measure of success,” said Long. “If they want to gain an understanding of the people and social issues in our downtown, then I think the framework from which they are problem-solving needs to be reconsidered.”Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Tuesday marked the first snow day that wasn't in Windsor-Essex, as school transportation was cancelled but secondary students in the public school board still had to do a full day of remote learning.The Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) announced the policy last week, saying that students would be expected to do a full day of remote learning for the 2020-21 school year even if transportation is cancelled."For the current school year (2020-21), in the event that student transportation is cancelled in the city and/or the county, all secondary students will participate exclusively in remote on-line learning for that day," the news release says. Shelley Armstrong, the superintendent of business and treasurer at the GECDSB, said the board felt the decision made sense given the "quadmester" remote learning system students are using this year."It's really important that we do the best that we can to support their learning in the classrooms, and it's challenging to do that if there's a missed day," she said. "We really want to make sure that we're supporting them the best that we can with their education."Schools are still open for staff and elementary school students. But elementary students who stay home are not expected to do online work.Armstrong says that the board made the decision for this year only, and she's not certain snow days for secondary students are facing extinction."I don't know necessarily that that would be the case," she said.Armstrong added that if anyone has any questions about the new policy, they can reach out to school administrators."If anyone has specific questions for it, certainly they can reach out to the board office or the school principal, and we'll do our best to help them with any questions they may have," she said.
Décidément, la deuxième vague de COVID-19 n’a en rien freiner les ardeurs des dirigeants de Cominar qui vont de l’avant avec la première phase d’un vaste projet de développement industriel au nord de l’autoroute 440 ouest. Dès le printemps, le fonds de placement immobilier mettra en chantier un immeuble d’une superficie locative de 200 000 pieds carrés à l’angle nord-ouest des boulevards Saint-Elzéar et Curé-Labelle, dans Chomedey. À Laval, les espaces industriels disponibles se font rares, explique Bernard Poliquin, vice-président exécutif secteur immeubles de bureaux et industriels et chef des opérations immobilières. «Le taux de disponibilité est inférieur à 2 %», dit-il. En d’autres termes, il n’y aurait rien actuellement sur le marché pour accueillir un éventuel locataire à la recherche de 50 000 pieds carrés ou plus. Son collègue Jean Laramée, vice-président exécutif Développement chez Cominar, précise pour sa part que le rythme de construction sera dicté par le marché. Les plans prévoient deux bâtiments jumeaux à 30 M$ la copie en retrait du boulevard Curé-Labelle, entre la rue Philippe Lebon et le boulevard St-Elzéar, après quoi on creusera les fondations de bâtiments de plus petits gabarits en bordure de Curé-Labelle selon la demande. Une fois complété, ce développement totalisera quelque 600 000 pieds carrés d’espaces locatifs pour un investissement avoisinant les 80 à 100 M$, soutient M. Laramée. «C’est un site extrêmement convoité», reprend M. Poliquin, qui en donne pour preuve l’intérêt manifesté autant par d’éventuels utilisateurs que des investisseurs qui auraient bien aimé en faire l’acquisition. Le terrain en question, qui couvre 1,7 million de pieds carrés, se trouve tout juste au nord du bâtiment occupé par Wolseley Canada inc., principal distributeur de plomberie et de systèmes de chauffage, ventilation, climatisation et réfrigération au pays. Incidemment, cet établissement situé au 4200, rue Louis-B.-Mayer, est le plus récent immeuble industriel appartenant à Cominar. Parmi les plus importants fonds de placement immobilier diversifiés au Canada, Cominar est un propriétaire foncier incontournable à Laval. À preuve, il détient à lui seul 42 % de la superficie locative totale des immeubles à bureaux avec plus de 1,8 million de pieds carrés répartis en 19 édifices. Toujours à Laval, Cominar possède 20 bâtiments industriels pour 1,6 million de pieds carrés, un portefeuille qui devrait s’enrichir d’une demi-douzaine d’immeubles et de 600 000 pieds carrés additionnels d’ici les prochaines années. Enfin, le plus important propriétaire et gestionnaire d'immeubles commerciaux au Québec est également un poids lourd dans l’industrie du commerce au détail de Laval comme en témoignent ses trois propriétés au cœur du centre-ville que sont le Centre Laval, le Quartier Laval et le Centropolis.Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
From Halifax to Toronto to Calgary to Vancouver, there are plenty of ways to safety enjoy the simple pleasure of Christmas lights.
As the coronavirus continues its daily surge in Saskatchewan, First Nations in the province are learning of its far-reaching, indiscriminate effects. Three communities in the Treaty 4 area near Regina have recently recorded viral infections: The Piapot First Nation, north of Regina, declared an outbreak on Friday, while the adjacent Muscowpetung Salteaux Nation recorded its first case the same day; Pasqua First Nation is dealing with three active cases on-reserve and one case off-reserve. Piapot Chief Mark Fox posted a video to social media Friday telling his community of the outbreak. Fox, who was unavailable for an interview, didn’t say how many people at Piapot have been infected with COVID-19, but he referenced “public mass gatherings” from Nov. 4 to Nov. 6, advising anyone who attended them to monitor themselves for viral symptoms. The community’s school, daycare and band office all remain closed “until further notice,” he said. Fox advised members to “eliminate non-essential travel. Go buy groceries by yourself if you can and do not take your whole family. If you must leave, make sure you wear a mask. Use hand sanitizer.” Home-to-home visits in the community are no longer allowed, he added. In Saskatchewan overall, there are 1,106 recorded coronavirus infections in First Nations, as of Monday. From late June until early October weekly new infections were in the single-digits or at zero, based on Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) data. From Nov. 1 to Nov. 21, weekly new infections jumped to at least 139; last week there were 39 new infections. Among those was the first recorded case at Muscowpetung, which sits east of Piapot and north of Edenwold, along the Qu’Appelle River. Muscowpetung’s emergency services co-ordinator, Jim Pratt, told the Leader-Post the band’s leadership didn’t institute a full-scale lockdown, choosing “preventative check-points” in and out of the community. They started those on Oct. 17, following Saskatchewan Health Authority guidelines. “We put in our tracers ... if you (come) into our reserve you (have) to give your name and three places that you visit and then you (can) carry on. When we leave the reserve, (you) also have to leave your name and find out what three places you’re going to,” he said. There’s also a community-wide curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., he said. “We didn't want to panic people by saying ‘lockdown.’” Chief Melissa Tavita said they’re ready for that, if need be: Muscowpetung’s food store is still well-stocked; another option is butchering recently acquired buffalo for food. It’s a good thing the community hasn’t been forced to do that, she said, referencing the public health aspect and the spiritual importance the bison serve. “I've head people saying they've spoke to elders and that these buffalo are protectors and this is the reason why our community isn't hit,” she said. Pratt advised Muscowpetung members to watch for announcements from band leadership about on-reserve testing. Pasqua Chief Matthew (Todd) Peigan said the First Nation’s pandemic response team is giving supplies to the three on-reserve COVID-positive members and their families. “Thermometer, antibiotics, vitamins and also essentials they need, like bread, milk and juice,” because they’re isolating for two weeks and can’t leave home. Similar to Muscowpetung, Pasqua is still using its 24-hour security check-points for entering and exiting the First Nation. He encouraged everyone to wear masks, physically distance, “avoid gatherings, sanitize and wash their hands often. “Always consider whoever you meet has COVID-19, and stay way,” he said. As of Tuesday afternoon, the virus has killed 51 people in Saskatchewan; 3,819 infections are active. Indigenous Services Canada did not respond by press time to the Leader-Post's request for comment. firstname.lastname@example.orgEvan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post
There’s a $600,000 hole in Au Chateau’s annual budget West Nipissing may have to help plug with municipal tax dollars. It’s one of several issues coming up on tonight’s council agenda, which includes a general government discussion about ‘ward boundaries’ for the 2022 election. Au Chateau, which has 102 long-term care beds, serves West Nipissing and Temagami, and it can levy their taxpayers to make up any shortfalls. Au Chateau’s funding shortfall is being caused by the Jan. 31, 2021 end of 35-year funding agreement with the federal and provincial government. The issue is critical for both communities as they look at COVID-19 impacted revenue and expenses heading into the 2021 budget deliberations. It was briefly mentioned at the last council meeting with the municipality hoping to set up meetings with representatives of higher levels of government for assistance. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and is live-streamed using Zoom on the West Nipissing YouTube channel. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
WATERLOO, Ont. — Shares in BlackBerry Ltd. gained as much as 63.9 per cent in intraday trading on Tuesday following news of a deal with Amazon Web Services to develop and market BlackBerry's intelligent vehicle data platform, called IVY.The stock traded as high as $12.54, up from Monday's close of $7.65, before drifting lower and closing at a new 52-week high of $9.08, up 18.7 per cent.The companies said they had settled on a multi-year, global agreement to develop and market IVY, a scalable, cloud-connected software platform that will give automakers a new way to read vehicle sensor data.They said automakers will be able to use that information to create responsive in-vehicle services that enhance driver and passenger experiences.“Data and connectivity are opening new avenues for innovation in the automotive industry and BlackBerry and AWS share a common vision to provide automakers and developers with better insights so that they can deliver new services to consumers,” said BlackBerry CEO John Chen in a joint news release.“AWS and BlackBerry are making it possible for any automaker to continuously reinvent the customer experience and transform vehicles from fixed pieces of technology into systems that can grow and adapt with a user’s needs and preferences,” added Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy.Financial terms of the agreement were not immediately available. Amazon Web Services is a subsidiary of internet giant Amazon.com Inc. that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms.Modern cars and trucks are built with thousands of parts from many different suppliers and those components produce data in unique and specialized formats, the companies said in their news release.BlackBerry IVY is expected to solve those challenges by applying machine learning to the data to generate predictive insights and inferences.BlackBerry IVY will run inside a vehicle’s embedded systems, but will be managed and configured remotely from the cloud, they said.As an example, BlackBerry IVY could leverage vehicle data to recognize driver behaviour and hazardous conditions such as icy roads or heavy traffic and then recommend that a driver enable relevant vehicle safety features such as traction control, lane-keeping assist or adaptive cruise control, they said.IVY could then provide automakers with feedback on how and when those safety features are used, allowing them to make targeted investments to improve vehicle performance. They added drivers of electric vehicles could choose to share their car’s battery information with third-party charging networks to proactively reserve a charging connector.The companies say they will build upon capabilities of BlackBerry QNX, a commercial Unix-like real-time operating system, for surfacing and normalizing data from automobiles and AWS’s broad portfolio of services, including capabilities for internet of things and machine learning.In September, BlackBerry reported a second-quarter loss of US$23 million on revenue of US$259 million, versus a loss of US$44 million on $244 million a year earlier.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BB)The Canadian Press