Police kept these people safe inside the @WrStaatsoper after tonight's performance. While they waited, members of @vienna_phil started to play. Full credit to: @BarbaraLovett4 on Twitter
Police kept these people safe inside the @WrStaatsoper after tonight's performance. While they waited, members of @vienna_phil started to play. Full credit to: @BarbaraLovett4 on Twitter
For a man obsessed with winning, President Donald Trump is losing a lot.He’s managed to lose not just once to Democrat Joe Biden at the ballot box but over and over again in courts across the country in a futile attempt to stay in power. The Republican president and his allies continue to mount new cases, recycling the same baseless claims, even after Trump’s own attorney general declared the Justice Department had uncovered no widespread fraud."This will continue to be a losing strategy, and in a way it's even bad for him: He gets to re-lose the election numerous times," said Kent Greenfield, a professor at Boston College Law School. “The depths of his petulance and narcissism continues to surprise me.”In an Associated Press tally of roughly 50 cases brought by Trump's campaign and his allies, more than 30 have been rejected or dropped. About a dozen are awaiting action. Trump has notched just one small victory, a case challenging a decision to move the deadline to provide missing proof of identification for certain absentee ballots and mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania.Trump has refused to admit he lost, and this week posted a 46-minute speech to Facebook filled with conspiracies, misstatements and vows to keep up his fight to subvert the election.Five more losses came Friday. The Trump campaign lost its bid to overturn the results of the election in Nevada and the Michigan appeals court rejected a case from his campaign. The Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed a challenge brought by GOP lawmakers. And in Arizona, a judge threw out thrown out a bid to undo Biden’s victory there, concluding that the state’s Republican Party chairwoman failed to prove fraud or misconduct and that the evidence presented at trial wouldn’t reverse Trump’s loss. The Wisconsin Supreme Court also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a conservative group over Trump’s loss.Thursday dealt another blow in Wisconsin, where a split state Supreme Court refused to hear Trump’s lawsuit seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. The case echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes. Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court late Wednesday.Judges in battleground states have repeatedly swatted down legal challenges brought by the president and his allies. Trump's legal team has vowed to take one Pennsylvania case to the U.S. Supreme Court even though it was rejected in a scathing ruling by a federal judge as well as an appeals court.After recently being kicked off Trump's legal team, conservative attorney Sidney Powell filed new lawsuits in Arizona and Wisconsin this week riddled with errors and wild conspiracies about election rigging. One of the plaintiffs named in the Wisconsin case said he never agreed to participate in the case and found out through social media that he had been included. The same lawsuit asks for 48 hours of security footage from the “TCF Center,” which is in Detroit.The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have raised are typical in every election: problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postmarks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost. Election officials from both parties have said the election went well, and Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Justice Department uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the election's outcome.Trump's lawyers responded by criticizing Barr, who has been one of the president's biggest allies.Greenfield says their criticism speaks volumes. “It goes to show how vehement their ability to overlook reality is," he said.Failing to gain any traction in court, Trump and his allies are now turning to events with Republican lawmakers and rallies in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan where they can use unfounded claims of fraud to incite the president’s loyal base.At a rally in Georgia on Wednesday, Powell and another pro-Trump attorney, Lin Wood, suggested that Republican voters sit out of the two January runoff elections that will decide control of the Senate because of the potential for fraud. And in Michigan, Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, urged Republican activists to pressure, even threaten, the GOP-controlled Legislature to award the state’s 16 electoral votes to Trump despite Biden’s 154,000-vote victory.In his video posted Wednesday, Trump said there were facts and evidence of a mass conspiracy created by Democrats to steal the election, a similar argument made by Giuliani and others before judges that has been largely unsuccessful. Most of their claims are rooted in conspiracy theories about voting machines that are not true, and affidavits by partisan poll watchers who claimed they didn't get close enough to see ballots being tallied because of safety precautions in the coronavirus pandemic. Because they couldn't see, they argued, something untoward must have happened.“No, I didn’t hear any facts or evidence," tweeted Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, after watching the video Wednesday night. “What I did hear was a sad Facebook rant from a man who lost an election."___Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., and Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
South Korean authorities urged vigilance on Saturday as small coronavirus clusters emerged in a third wave, centred in the Seoul area, with infections near nine-month highs. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 583 new coronavirus infections, down from the 629 reported on Friday, which was the highest since the first wave peaked in February and early March. This wave of infections is different from the first two, which were driven by large-scale transmission, said KDCA official Lim Sook-young.
Produits Forestiers Résolu (PFR) a remis 100 000 $ aux Fondations du Domaine-du-Roy et du Centre Maria Chapdelaine, soit 50 000 $ chacun, suite à une vaste campagne de sollicitation menée auprès de ses fournisseurs, à défaut de pouvoir tenir son annuel tournoi de golf depuis 2012. « Je tiens à remercier très chaleureusement le PDG de Résolu, M. Yves Laflamme, d’avoir même en temps de pandémie tenu à ce que son entreprise soit à nos côtés pour prendre soin de la santé des gens de la région. À quelques mois de son départ à la retraite, je tiens à souligner sa grande implication auprès de la Fondation », a affirmé le président de la Fondation, Marc-André Levesque. Ainsi, ce sont 620 500 $ qui ont été amassés par PFR depuis 2012 dans le cadre de cette campagne. En guise de remerciements, la Fondation du Domaine-du-Roy a remis une plaque commémorative à Yves Laflamme pour souligner son engagement exceptionnel pour la santé de la population de la région. Sous sa gouverne, de 2018 à 2020, c’est plus de 265 000 $ que les campagnes de financement de Résolu ont permis d’amasser pour la Fondation.Julien B. Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
MEXICO CITY — Sometimes Latin American dance tunes on the radio — salsa, cumbia, ranchera — bring a little cheer into the emergency room of Mexico City’s Ajusco Medio hospital, which is operating well over normal capacity because of the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Marta Patricia Mancilla, head of the emergency unit, says the upbeat soundtrack is a distraction from the routine at the packed hospital, where some people have kneeled at the doors of the emergency room, praying for relatives suffering from the disease. It has been eight months since the city-run Ajusco Medio hospital was named as one of the few exclusively COVID-19 hospitals in the city of almost nine million, and empty beds are rare. “The worst is still to come,” Mancilla said. “And unfortunately, it is going to catch us very tired,” she said of medical personnel who have been working constantly while themselves vulnerable to the disease. Almost 2,000 health care workers are confirmed to have died of the disease across Mexico. The toll is psychological and physical, and is as clear as the numbers written on an erasable whiteboard in the office of Dr. Alejandro Avalos, the Ajusco Medio hospital's director: total patients are at 122% capacity, intensive care is at 116%, and the emergency unit at 100%. “We haven't been below 100% since May,” said Avalos, whose hospital — a government facility that treats patients for free — has been temporarily expanded to meet the waves of coronavirus cases. Citywide, occupancy at hospitals was 69% this week. Yet as full as the city's hospitals are, its streets are also once again thronged; in some more central parts of the metropolis, almost everyone wears a face mask, but in other poorer, outlying areas, fewer people do. The situation has officials worried. Millions normally gather each year for the Dec. 12 holiday of Mexico's holy Virgin of Guadalupe day, and huge family gatherings are the norm for Christmas in Mexico. It drew an urgent appeal from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Friday, who decreed an expansion of 500 more hospital beds in Mexico City and pleaded with Mexicans to stop crowding the streets and stay home in December. “In this month, December, there are traffic problems, there are growing numbers of vehicles in the streets,” the president said. “Right now, we cannot act like this.” López Obrador announced new hiring to help exhausted medical personnel. “There is a lot of tiredness, fatigue,” he said. At least 13,800 people have died of COVID-19 in Mexico City alone, according to official data. Authorities say the number is probably higher in part because of limited testing, especially in the early months of the pandemic. Methods have improved since the city's hospitals were overwhelmed in May and June, when patients were treated in hallways and relatives of the dead were not even allowed to enter the hospital to identify the bodies. The case fatality rate has dropped significantly at Avalos' hospital, but along with the improvements there has been an emotional cost. “Our way of thinking has changed,” Avalos said. “We have learned to weep with people, to suffer with people, to understand people better.” On Friday, the mayor didn't raise the city back to the maximum alert level as some had expected, and employers had feared because it would have required business shutdowns. But Sheinbaum said some measures that were in place during the previous maximum alert would resume, including urging people to isolate themselves voluntarily, suspending non-essential local government activities and authorizing checkpoints to limit the number of people entering the capital’s colonial-era downtown at one time. Health care professionals' patience appears to be wearing out. Last week a group of doctors and nurses at the La Raza state hospital, one of the city's largest, signed an open letter threatening to stop treating COVID-19 patients unless the city declared a partial lockdown, as it did in the spring. “If it was bad in May, now it's worse,” said one doctor who signed the letter, and who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals. “There are fewer doctors," he said, due to infections, or doctors simply taking leaves of absence because they can't face the pressure, fear and overwork. Just as bad, the anesthesia medications needed to successfully intubate patients and keep them on ventilators are running out. “It's shameful to say that some patients have to get their own PCR tests and find a hospital that will take them, because there are no beds” at the free government hospitals, he noted. López Obrador has rejected any kind of strict lockdown, saying such measures smacked of “dictatorship.” There are some victories; at the Ajusco Medio hospital, one of the 36 patients on ventilators has been disconnected from the machine and is recovering. A baby was born, separated from his mother who has COVID-19. The hospital has set up tents outside to detect and triage arriving patients; some can be sent home with medications, others admitted. That has allowed the hospital to greatly increase the number of people it treats. But the signs of wear are clear: the hospital's CT scan machine is being repaired, after having performed about 4,500 lung scans in recent months to detect coronavirus damage. The psychological toll is also clear for patients, even those who survive. María Eugenia Ortiz, 51, and her husband — they were both infected — came to the hospital for their third checkup since being sent home with medications. She chose to endure the disease at home because she was terrified of the hospital. At her worst moments, she struggled to breathe. Fourteen of her friends and relatives have died of the disease. “Everything would go black and I would feel like I was floating,” Ortiz recalled. “My chest was empty and cold.” Now, Ortiz feels more confidence in the doctors. “Before, the doctors wouldn't help you, there was more fear, we didn't know what to do,” she said. But attitudes change slowly; medical personnel still question whether city residents are taking the pandemic seriously enough. “We are getting more and more fed up,” said the doctor at the La Raza hospital who himself was infected. “In Mexico, what is killing people isn't the disease itself so much as the lack of information, the poor handling of the pandemic and people's ignorance. Seeing full shopping centres is discouraging, after working a 24-hour shift.” Mancilla, the emergency director, said: “There is a feeling of 'why do we keep risking ourselves if people aren't paying attention.' This is getting out of hand, and it is hard to keep going on like this.” Maria Verza, The Associated Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba's premier is facing backlash from Indigenous leaders for comments criticizing Ottawa's planning for COVID-19 vaccine distribution among First Nations.“Instead of uniting Manitobans during a health crisis, Brian Pallister is purposefully sowing seeds of division and hate,” Southern Chiefs’ Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said Friday.Pallister criticized the federal government's national vaccine rollout strategy during a news conference Thursday.The Progressive Conservative premier said Ottawa has plans to distribute the vaccine on a per-capita basis."They are also telling us that they are going to hold back the portion of our vaccine for Manitoba that they would then allocate to Indigenous and First Nations communities," Pallister said."What that would mean than is Manitobans who do not live in northern Indigenous communities would be the least likely to get a vaccine in the country." Manitoba has the highest percentage of Indigenous people in its population of all the provinces. The premier said the results would be unfair. "This puts Manitobans at the back of the line. This hurts Manitobans, to put it mildly," he said. The premier has since reached out to Indigenous leaders to arrange a meeting to discuss the rollout, Daniels said.The grand chief added that he has "no interest in meeting with a premier who race baits and plays loosely with the inter-governmental relationships."Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew called Pallister's comments unfortunate. "The premier is trying to divide team Manitoba and have it turn in on itself at a time when we are actually asking everyone to do the exact opposite," Kinew said. When asked about vaccine distribution plans Friday, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said there have been conversations with provincial and territorial leaders "to assess what their perspective is.""There is a federal role to play in protecting a certain amount of product — whether we're talking about vaccines or personal protective equipment — for federal populations that we're responsible for, as well as for urgent situations," she said.Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas also criticized Pallister for giving people the false idea that all vaccine doses would be going to people in the north.A significant surge of COVID-19 infections has disproportionately affected First Nations people in Manitoba during the second wave of the pandemic.There were 625 new cases in on- and off- reserve populations in the last seven days, according to data from the First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team in Manitoba. First Nations people make up 30 per cent of all people in hospital and 42 per cent of those in intensive care. The five-day test positivity rate among First Nations people in Manitoba is 20 per cent.Chief Eric Redhead of the Shamattawa First Nation posted online Friday that there were 117 active infections in the northern Manitoba community of about 1,100. Its five-day test positivity rate was more than 50 per cent. "We are literally at a breaking point," Redhead said.Redhead said health professionals with the rapid response team in Shamattawa have also tested positive or are isolating due to exposure. He has called on the federal government to provide military help. Manitoba released new modelling Friday that shows that three people end up in hospital and one person dies for every 48 cases of COVID-19. "We need to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities or we will continue to see these harsh effects," said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer.The province recorded nine more deaths from COVID-19 and 320 new infections Friday. There were also 361 people in hospital with 55 in intensive care. The province brought in tighter public health measures last month, with restrictions on public gatherings and business openings.Roussin said that if no measures had been put in place, there would have been up to 1,055 new daily infections by Sunday. Daily cases have recently been tracking between 300 and 500.But Roussin said the test positivity rate remains too high. The five-day test positivity rate was 13.4 per cent provincially and 14.6 per cent in Winnipeg."It’s too early to say we are changing trajectory."The restrictions expire next Friday, and Roussin said he expects the majority will stay in place.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
A North Battleford man accused of breaking into a home in Stanley Mission and assaulting the resident was denied bail in La Ronge Provincial Court Nov. 26. Brandon Holmes, 27, was arrested in October. Police say they found him hiding in a cabin a few kilomotres from Stanley Mission after stealing a boat to flee the area. According to police, they got a call at about 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 5 that an armed man was in a residence. They searched the home but the suspect had fled. They identified the suspect as Holmes from North Battleford. Several hours later, at about 2:30 p.m., the RCMP located Holmes at a cabin and arrested him without incident. He was charged with two counts of break and enter, assault, discharging a firearm with intent, and carrying a concealed weapon. Holmes is scheduled to appear next in La Ronge Provincial Court on Dec. 21 to elect how he wants to be tried. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
TORONTO — Chris Voth's sexuality cost him a job with a professional volleyball team overseas four years ago. The Winnipeg native, who has never named the team nor country, was told outright that the club wasn't interested in having a gay player. The 30-year-old came out publicly seven years ago because he hoped to be a role model for young LGBTQ athletes, and given the chance to go back and change that, he wouldn't. But Voth was disheartened to learn that the majority of gay athletes still don't come out, and that homophobic language on the field or court remains rampant — and Canada is among the worst offenders."That was disappointing, because I always like to think that we're a bit more further ahead up north (compared to the U.S.)," said Voth, recently home from coaching in the Netherlands.The former national team player was responding to two studies released Thursday by Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The first study analyzed survey responses from 1,173 lesbian, gay and bisexual people aged 15 to 21 living in Canada, the U.S., Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. The study found that about 48 per cent of Canadian youth who come out to teammates reported being the target of homophobic behaviour, including bullying, assaults and slurs — and it was more prevalent among Canadian youth than Americans (45 per cent). Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who've come out to teammates reported being victimized — more than any other country surveyed by Monash's Behavioural Sciences Research Laboratory. "It's easy for Canadians to dismiss the data and say, 'No, no, that's not in our country. We're inclusive and welcoming. And we're known around the world for being friendly and polite and nice,'" said lead author Erik Denison, who's Canadian. "Canada has been a laggard globally, full stop. There's no other way to say that."Young people who came out were significantly more likely (58 per cent versus 40 per cent) to report they’d been the target of homophobic behaviors in sport settings than those who didn't, the study found. Every study over the past 15 years has shown that LGBTQ kids play sport at lower rates than straight kids, Denison said, and while there's a perception that the gap is more prevalent in boys than girls, that's not accurate. "And seeing these big gaps in participation, I can only use the word alarming," said Denison. "We're really alarmed about both discrimination in sport, and the fact these kids are avoiding sport. "Because the No. 1 thing we could be doing to reduce rates of suicide and self-harm is encouraging these kids to become active in safe and supportive environments."Numerous studies have shown that suicide attempts and ideation about suicide are significantly higher in LGBTQ kids.Voth's experiences as an out athlete varied wildly. The 30-year-old believes discrimination cost him spots on several pro clubs, contract negotiations inexplicably stalling with no explanation. On the other hand, when he signed with a pro team in Finland, he was "the first gay person that any of them had met. And only a month-and-a-half later, we were the first pro volleyball team to walk in a pride parade. So it can really go either way."Voth said LGBTQ youth are doubly impacted, losing out on the mental health benefits that come from being part of a team. The second Monash study investigated why some athletes use homophobic language.Denison pointed out that while there are "homophobes, racists and sexist people everywhere," they tend to control their behaviour around others. "The opposite is happening in sport. In sport, the culture is very supportive of homophobic language being used," he said. "Canadian sport has three official languages: French, English and homophobic language."And while most people believe it's slurs aimed at opponents during games, their studies found that homophobic language is being used at practices, in the locker-room, and at social events, as jokes and banter. "And we're not just talking about words like 'gay,' we asked about much more severe language,'" Denison said.He is working with the University of British Columbia among other schools around the world on a program aimed to train team captains to be leaders on this issue, because coaches can't necessarily create change, it's more effective when it comes from an athlete's peers.Denison said that Volleyball Canada is the only national sport organization in the country that has done work specifically targeting homophobia, and it occurred around the same time Voth came out publicly."I don't want to denigrate what the NHL (among other leagues) has done, but at the end of the day, the NHL is a professional sporting organization, they're ultimately a business," Denison said. "It's up to Hockey Canada, it's up to Soccer Canada, it's up to Rugby Canada, it's up to those bodies and provincial bodies as well to be driving change."The Canadian Olympic Committee has done anti-homophobia social media campaigns, mall installations, and regularly marches in pride parades across the country.Pro sports teams such as Toronto FC and the Toronto Raptors host annual pride games.Denison said his research, however, has shown those initiatives do little to reduce homophobic behaviour and language among fans. He'd rather see pro teams work with teams and programs at the grassroots level to hold their own pride games, among other initiatives."What we've seen is that when amateur-level teams hold pride games, the players on those teams use half the homophobic language than those who don't hold these events," Denison said. "These events are really good at getting those conversations going around 'Hey, guys, what kind of language do we actually want on our team?' That's where we can change those norms and culture, we think quite effectively."Denison pointed out that there are openly-LGBTQ people in entertainment, government, and major corporations, but by comparison, they largely remain invisible in sports, particularly on the men's side, and have since David Kopay came out in 1975 after he retired from the NFL. He's believed to be the first pro athlete to come out. Michael Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. Brooklyn Nets forward Jason Collins came out in 2013, and former Major League Soccer midfielder Collin Martin followed suit in 2018. Collins has retired, and Martin plays in the USL, and there have been no active gay players in any of the five major North American sports leagues since. Women's pro sport has been a different story. Sports power couple Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe are two of the numerous out athletes in the WNBA, NWSL, and other women's leagues. For Denison, Canada's track record is particularly disheartening."It's quite embarrassing for me as a Canadian researcher who happens to be down in Australia now to see that Canada is a laggard. Because I'm a proud Canadian, and I think Canadians have a reputation for being friendly and inclusive. "But it looks like either Canadians have been ignoring this issue, we're not aware of this issue, or worse, maybe there's some deliberate resistance to do anything about this problem."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says tougher health restrictions likely to be aimed at Calgary and Edmonton are coming if current public-health orders don’t bend the curve down on COVID-19.Kenney, taking questions on a Facebook town-hall meeting, says it makes sense to target the novel coronavirus where it’s having the most impact.“If you’re in a remote community with a negligible number of COVID cases, where there are no cases in the local hospitals, that is not the issue right now,” Kenney said Thursday night.“The issue is the hot zones in Calgary and Edmonton — and that’s what we’ll be addressing with increasing focus in the days to come.”His comments came just hours after Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical health officer, reported a concerning rise in rates in rural areas. She stressed that even one case can move like wildfire and COVID-19 doesn’t respect geographical boundaries. “COVID-19 is not a Calgary problem or Edmonton problem. This is a provincial problem,” Hinshaw said.“Our overall active case rates prove that COVID-19 doesn't care where you live or what your postal code is."The province reported 1,828 new cases on Friday. Active cases stood at 18,243. There were 533 people in hospital, 99 of them in intensive care, and a total of 590 Albertans had died.Alberta Health says more than 15 per cent of active infections are in areas outside the Edmonton and Calgary medical zones. About 30 per cent are outside the four largest cities of Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Lethbridge. Areas with high active case counts per 100,000 population include Banff, the Municipal District of Acadia and Smoky Lake County.Kenney has been lauded and criticized for taking a regional, nuanced approach to try to stem the spread of the pandemic while trying to keep open as many businesses and community centres as possible.It's not going well.Alberta has registered well over 1,000 new cases a day for two weeks and, on some days, has had more new cases than larger provinces such as Ontario. Health officials are reassigning staff, space, and patients to free up more intensive care beds, while dealing with outbreaks at 22 hospitals and health facilities. The government is also exploring bringing in medical field tents from the Red Cross if needed.Last week, Kenney introduced tighter provincewide health restrictions that included a ban on indoor gatherings. But there are looser measures for areas with low infection rates. They don’t have to follow a 25 per cent capacity limit in businesses or a maximum of six people — all from the same household — at one table in restaurants. Nor do they have to abide by a one-third capacity rule for worship services.Most municipalities have made it mandatory to wear masks in indoor public spaces. Kenney has, unlike all other premiers, refused to implement that provincewide. He has said it’s unnecessary in remote areas and some rural folk would refuse to wear masks if it were an order. Cold Lake, a city of almost 15,000 in the province's northeast, has twice voted down a mandatory mask bylaw. Mayor Craig Copeland said Friday masks don't need to be required, because people are following guidelines from Hinshaw."Ninety per cent of the people in Cold Lake now are wearing masks," Copeland said. "Do they really need to be told by a mayor and council to wear a mask?"Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said Kenney’s public-health directives cater to his rural political base and the anti-mask fringe he wants to keep happily ensconced in his United Conservative Party.“(Kenney) is more interested in protecting his political fortunes with a small minority of folks who are going to resist."In Smoky Lake County, northeast of Edmonton, restaurant owner Hong Hu said her Maple Gardens Restaurant is one of the few in the area that is doing takeout only."If it gets worse, of course I (will) worry about it," said Hu, who added she's more worried about the mounting cases in Alberta than the cases in her region.She said the county has a mask bylaw and has put notes up at businesses reminding people to wear face coverings and to sanitize regularly.Back in Cold Lake, resident Cathy Olliffe-Webster, 60, said she is disappointed in the premier and her mayor for not making masks mandatory.Cold Lake is still holding indoor events such as Christmas craft sales, despite the area's first COVID-related death this week and active cases rising to more than 70, she said."I understand that Alberta's economy has been hit harder than most, but I'm really sick of people putting money before people's lives," Olliffe-Webster said.She said she was moved by an emotional speech Thursday by Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, who begged people to follow COVID-19 rules."I just wish Jason Kenney was a little like him."— With files from Fakiha Baig and Daniela Germano in EdmontonThis report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
About 100 businesses in Windsor-Essex will be visited by provincial offences officers as part of a COVID-19 enforcement blitz this weekend. In partnership with the local health unit and city bylaw department, 16 officers from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development will be visiting the region on Saturday and Sunday to ensure that big box stores, retail stores, bars and restaurants are abiding by provincial COVID-19 rules. Ontario's Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton told CBC News on Friday that the event is mostly to educate businesses in the region, though they will hand out charges if necessary. "This isn't about the government carrying a big stick, it's actually about working with businesses to keep people safe," McNaughton said. "I come from a small business background in southwestern Ontario — our family had a home hardware store — I know the challenges that businesses are facing. It's unprecedented times. This is about protecting the health and wellbeing of the people." During these visits, he said that officers will educate businesses and make sure the Occupational Health and Safety Act is being followed. "Ultimately the goal is to protect workers, but also to keep businesses open," McNaughton said. "It really is to reinforce that Businesses need to have a health and safety plan to prevent COVID-19 from coming into the workplace, ensuring that social distancing is happening and that masks are being worn." Fines to be handed out, if necessaryWhile he said this is to help businesses, McNaughton said they will also use discretion. "There are some bad actors out there and we will issue orders and fines if necessary," he said, adding that he understands Windsor-Essex has jumped from the province's 'green-prevent' category to the 'red-control' category in only a matter of weeks. The businesses being visited are ones that have been listed by local public health officials and the city, McNaughton said. Since the Thanksgiving weekend, McNaughton said more than 200 officers have attended different regions in the province. Of these, he said they have found that 86 per cent of businesses are in compliance with COVID-19 rules. The officers have handed out orders and charges, though McNaughton said he didn't know the exact number.
Construction is set to begin in early 2021 on the proposed Strathmore Solar Farm after it received a major regulatory approval. A proposed 40.5-megawatt (MW) solar facility, Strathmore Solar Farm will be sited on approximately 320 acres of municipal property in the town’s southeast, located south of the Trans-Canada Highway and east of George Freeman Trail (RR 251). The project was started by Solar Krafte Utilities Inc., a Vancouver-based company with seven solar farms built or proposed across southern Alberta. Solar Krafte has partnered with Capital Power, an Edmonton-based power generation company, which is providing up to $55 million in capital investment, conditional on successful permitting and regulatory approval. On. Nov 27, the solar farm passed the last major regulatory hurdle in the public regulatory review process, when the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), the primary provincial utilities regulator, granted it a power plant approval and a connection order. While the project is being funded by Capital Power, Solar Krafte will continue to be involved for the life of the system, said company president Mark Burgert. “That’s what we do with everything we’ve built,” he said. “Where the capital comes from and how the ownership is allocated is really irrespective of how we build a reputation and how passionate we are about everything we build.” Construction on the project will start in 2021, with an expected date of completion in 2022, according to information on Capital Power’s website. But for several months already, the procurement of some of the key elements for construction has been underway, said Burgert. The project has most of its permitting complete, but still requires some electrical permits. “They come very late in the game,” he said. “But aside from those, everything is permitted here.” The companies will also be working to ensure all conditions set by the town’s development permit are met. All construction work for the project will be contracted. Some of the companies used will perform general construction tasks, such as driving piles, that are not specific to the solar industry, while others will perform more specialist tasks, explained Burgert. “It’s a hybrid approach.” The project will be like Solar Krafte’s two existing plants near Vauxhall, Alta., but there may be some subtle differences, he said. “The modules, inverters or substructure can change slightly, depending on everything from the geotech and solar conditions, to any site-specific conditions that come into play.” There could also be differences because of costs, as supply chain dynamics affect module pricing between several providers, noted Burgert. “But, fundamentally, it’s the same system,” he said. Burgert anticipates the lease with the Town of Strathmore for the project site will commence soon. The project is slated to have a significant economic impact to Strathmore, as it will provide economic diversification and revenue from the lease and property taxes, said Doug Lagore, Strathmore CAO. “We’re very pleased the AUC has given the approval and now we can proceed,” he said, adding the project will also create recognition for the community across Alberta.” The announcement comes at a fortuitous time, when communities across Alberta are suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic and a general downturn in the overall economy, including disruptions in the oil and gas industry, said Lagore. “This is perfect timing for our community,” he said. “It is going to provide us with some additional revenue right away and we’re really looking forward to them becoming a huge corporate partner in our community.”Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
More than half of men and women in the territories have experienced at least one sexual or physical assault since the age of 15, according to a Statistics Canada report released this week. The data were collected before the pandemic, in 2018, as part of a survey aimed at finding out more about gender-based violence. Statistics Canada defines gender-based violence as violence "committed against someone based on their gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender." The recent report's results don't include intimate partner violence."This is not news," said Pertice Moffitt, an Aurora College researcher who specializes in sexual violence. "Unfortunately, we have a legacy of physical and sexual assault and it's very prevalent among rural women and particularly here in the North."The Statistics Canada report says that in the territories, 52 per cent of women and 54 per cent of men reported having been sexually or physically assaulted at least once since they were 15 years old, and that 7.8 per cent of both men and women had experienced violence in the year leading up to the survey.Higher proportion in North than in provincesThese proportions are much higher than those in the provinces, where 39 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men reported at least one assault since the age of 15.Moffitt suggested that these findings reaffirm the harmful effects of colonialism and patriarchy on society. "We have this history of oppression and unhealthy relationships," she said. "The way women were treated by men, so that patriarchy, and then the historical trauma, of course, from residential school and what happened in residential school and the intergenerational impact of that."The report also says LGBTQ2+ people and women with physical or mental disabilities were among those most likely to report having been sexually assaulted since age 15. It says about half of Indigenous women (48 per cent) and men (50 per cent) reported this as well, proportions similar to Indigenous people in the provinces. The report says more than half of non-Indigenous people in the North also reported an assault since age 15: 56 per cent of non-Indigenous women and 55 per cent of non-Indigenous men. In the South, these proportions were much lower: 38 per cent of non-Indigenous women and 35 per cent of non-Indigenous men.Studies suggest underreportingStatistics Canada notes that studies suggest intergenerational trauma from colonization and residential schools have led to a "normalization of violence," which could have led to underreporting assaults."There is fear and shame about reporting, and particularly about sexual violence," said Moffitt. "And then there is judgment."Women and men were most likely to report having been assaulted since age 15 in the Yukon (61 per cent of both women and men), while reporting was least prevalent in Nunavut, with 42 per cent of women and 46 per cent of men saying they had been assaulted. In the Northwest Territories, 52 per cent of women and 55 per cent of men reported violence since age 15.'We need to consider trauma-informed approaches'COVID-19 put some people in dangerous situations, said Moffitt. Directions to stay home meant that women and children may be stuck inside with their abuser. Moffitt said research indicates that bad experiences in childhood can lead people to violence, and that "as we think about solutions and what we can do, we need to consider trauma-informed approaches ... or those adverse childhood experiences that have caused trauma." She said talking goes a long way."We need to continue always, with young girls and young boys, talking about consent and talking about sexual violence awareness."
OTTAWA — Anthony Rota is marking his first anniversary as Speaker of the House of Commons by, as he puts it, having his throat slit.He's having surgery this coming week to remove his thyroid gland, which was damaged by radiation treatment he received almost 35 years ago for the first of two bouts of Hodgkin lymphoma.But it seems a perversely fitting conclusion to a tumultuous year in which Rota has presided over Canada's first-ever pandemic Parliament.He has been forced to oversee an unprecedented overhaul of Commons operations to allow for hybrid sittings, with some 80-odd MPs in the chamber and the other 250 or so MPs participating virtually and voting remotely."It's not what I signed up for but it is what it is," Rota said in an interview."It's been an interesting trip, I gotta tell you. It's been an interesting challenge."Rota's debut as Speaker was always bound to be a baptism by fire, riding herd on a Commons in which the governing Liberals hold only a minority of seats — a surefire recipe for hyper partisanship and cliffhanger confidence votes.But no one could have imagined all the normal operations of the chamber would be upended by the advent of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March.These days, when he sits in the Speaker's chair, Rota has to pay attention not just to the MPs sitting physically distanced from one another in the chamber but to three different computer screens. They show him how much time the current speaker has left, who's up next, and the names of all 338 MPs who signal him with a little, blue "raised hand" feature when they want to talk.He has to repeatedly remind MPs to mute or unmute, speak louder, activate their cameras and adjust their headsets so interpreters can hear them properly. He's had to chide MPs for using partisan backdrops or displaying props (in one case, a dog in an MP's lap), or being improperly attired while speaking or voting online.He's even had to instruct MPs driving in their cars to pull over before voting."One of the things you've got to remember too is we really did start from scratch and we were in uncharted territory so we didn't really know how things were going to go," Rota said."We're constantly adjusting it."Indeed, House technicians are currently doing test runs with a new voting app that aims to make electronic voting easier and faster.Fortunately, Rota has always been a tech geek. Even in high school, he was building electronic devices and fooling around with computers before they were "in vogue.""I just enjoy the challenge … My interest in technology is something that has made this (pandemic Parliament) interesting," he said.Rota credits the Commons' IT team, which he says worked night and day, for pulling off what has been a remarkably smooth transition to hybrid sittings, despite some glitches.Liberal and opposition MPs alike believe Rota's fascination with new technologies has made him ideally suited to the role of Speaker in these unprecedented times.They also praise his calm, good-humoured and patient approach to refereeing proceedings in what most seem to feel is a non-partisan manner, even though he's a veteran Liberal. He has represented the northern Ontario riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming since 2004, except for a four-year hiatus after being defeated in the 2011 election.Conservative House leader Gerard Deltell declined to comment on how Rota has managed the Speaker's job. But the House leaders for all other parties in the Commons were unstinting in their praise."It is a complex task to establish a virtual Parliament," Bloc House leader Alain Therrien told The Canadian Press."The challenges were numerous and we were able to find in Mr. Rota a collaborator anxious to implement effective solutions to the problems that we encountered. In all my interactions with Mr. Rota, I have dealt with a man of great kindness, fairness and respect."NDP House leader Peter Julian said it normally takes a new Speaker a year or two to become "seasoned," a task infinitely more complicated for Rota because he had to simultaneously deal with a minority Parliament in the midst of a "once-in-a-century pandemic.""I think Anthony just basically got thrown into the deep end … You would think that that would have been an impossible hill to climb but he's done it admirably."Julian said Rota's ability to remain affable and "very, very calm" has helped all MPs cope with the intensity of the pandemic and minority Parliament.Similarly, veteran Green MP Elizabeth May said Rota is a "lovely person" who has been "a calming influence when things are out of control." He can be firm when necessary but is gentle when he chides MPs for bad behaviour and rarely loses his temper, she said.Rota was elected Speaker one year ago, largely because the Conservatives threw their votes behind him in a bid to defeat the previous Speaker, Liberal MP Geoff Regan, whom they considered overly partisan.Despite the partisan machinations that won him the job, May said: "Against the odds, Anthony has managed to maintain what I think is being accepted by all sides of the House as a non-partisan hand in all this."Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez, who used to be seat mates with Rota back when the Liberals were in opposition, said Rota has never been particularly partisan. "He's a gentleman. He's likable. It's hard not to like him. Again, he's not partisan. That's why he has the respect of everyone on both sides of the House," Rodriguez said."He's a great human being and that reflects in the way he treats people and how he's able to motivate people just by being who he is."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2020.Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
A trilingual 16-year-old budding baker has launched her own business in St. Albert. Valeria Fonseca is turning her passion for baking into a home business by offering her cakes for sale online. “I feel really happy. I am very happy because I have a new business and because the kitchen is my passion,” Fonseca said. Fonseca’s passion for baking and cooking ignited just one year ago after her parents separated. Fonseca lives with her mom, Catherine Varvas, who after the separation started to take over the family cooking and asked her daughter for help. Fonseca quickly took to cooking and discovered her passion for creating food with her own hands. Varvas said she loves baking and cooking with her daughter because it makes her happy and calm. "She dances, she sings – she's so happy," the mom said. Fonseca started watching baking and cooking shows, like Master Chef, and wants to be a chef when she grows up. The business really took off this year during COVID-19, when the teen had more time at home. Fonseca is doing online learning this year and makes time to bake on Tuesdays and Sundays. Making the cakes has been good for the teen's self-esteem. “People say, ‘A beautiful girl with delicious cakes,’ and I am so proud,” Fonseca said. Fonseca began her cake-making venture by baking one for a friend, who remarked that the cakes were delicious. The friend suggested the family make a video of Fonseca making the cakes to promote her baking skills, and after the video was posted to Facebook, the family got very positive feedback. "People had a very good reaction and liked the cakes," Varvas said. Fonseca said her favourite cake to make is a red fruit cake, with strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. The teen is also passionate about cooking, loves to make Mexican food and hopes to specialize in cooking that cuisine when she is older. Fonseca, who speaks English as a third language, moved to St. Albert two years ago. The family is originally from Columbia but emigrated to Montreal five years ago. Varvas said the family left Montreal to find more inclusive education for her daughter, who has Down Syndrome. Back home in Colombia, Fonseca was learning alongside all of the other children in a classroom and getting an inclusive education, but in Montreal they didn’t have that same experience. So Varvas moved the family to Alberta so Fonseca could have the very best education possible. "We came to Alberta and we've found the door open, and we are so happy here," Varvas said. To order Fonseca's cakes, you can visit Valecakes on Facebook.Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
President Donald Trump’s niece says her uncle is “criminal, cruel and traitorous” and belongs in prison after he leaves the White House.Mary Trump, a psychologist, author and outspoken critic of her estranged relative, rejects the notion that putting a former president on trial would deepen the nation’s political divisions.“It’s quite frankly insulting to be told time after time that the American people can handle it and that we just need to move on,” Mary Trump told The Associated Press in an interview this week.“If anybody deserves to be prosecuted and tried, it’s Donald," she added. "(Otherwise) we just leave ourselves open to somebody who, believe it or not, is even worse than he is.”Asked about her comments, a spokesperson for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign emailed a one-sentence response: “Did she mention she has a book to sell?”Mary Trump, the daughter of the president’s elder brother, Fred Jr., announced this week she is writing a follow-up to this summer’s scathing bestseller about her uncle, “Too Much and Never Enough, How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man.”Her new book, “The Reckoning,” from publisher St. Martin’s Press won't be out until next July. It will trace what she says is America’s collective trauma from its founding on the backs of enslaved Africans to the burgeoning economic and mental health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.America is “looking down the barrel of an explosion of psychological disorders" from the “trauma of living in a country in which the pandemic didn’t just strike, but it was completely mishandled,” Mary Trump told the AP.With a doctorate in clinical psychology, she argues that the U.S. needs to reimagine how it deals with mental health and mental illness, treating them with the same vigour as physical maladies.Mary Trump’s critical writings come amid legal fights with her family.Her uncle, Robert Trump, sued to block “Too Much and Never Enough” from hitting store shelves, citing a family agreement not to publish stories about core family members without their approval, but a court rejected that.In September, Mary Trump sued the president, Robert Trump and their sister Maryanne Trump Barry, a retired federal judge, alleging that they cheated her out of millions of dollars while squeezing her out of the family business. Robert Trump died in August and the lawsuit is pending.When her book about the family was published in July, Trump tweeted that Mary Trump was “a seldom seen niece who knows little about me, says untruthful things about my wonderful parents (who couldn’t stand her!) and me,” and violated a non-disclosure agreement.The announcement of Mary Trump's second book came as her uncle continued to falsely insist he won reelection but that the vote was rigged in favour of Democratic rival Joe Biden.The president has spent the better part of the last month complaining about the results, dispatching a band of lawyers led by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to mount futile legal challenges.Mary Trump said the president's post-election behaviour “makes perfect sense,” given his personality, psychology, and lifelong disdain for losers.“This is somebody who’s never won legitimately in his life,” she said. “But he’s never lost either. Because in his view, winning is so important and he always deserves to win that it’s OK to lie, cheat and steal.”Mary Trump said the president inherited his acerbic behaviour from his father, Fred Trump, a real estate developer who died in 1999. She called her grandfather “a horrible human being who just reveled in other people's humiliation."“It’s not simply that Donald is horrible and incompetent and cruel, it’s that he’s been allowed to be,” she said. “Every transgression that’s gone on unpunished has been an opportunity for him to push the envelope even further. That’s partially why we’re going to see him smashing as much stuff on his way out the door as he can.”Mary Trump acknowledges that she has seen the president only sporadically over the last 20 years — she wrote in “Too Much and Never Enough” that he invited her to a family dinner at the White House in 2017 — but, she argues, “he hasn’t changed at all.""I’m essentially looking at the same person I knew when I was growing up," she said.Donald Trump is facing at least one pending criminal investigation, a probe into his business dealings by the Manhattan district attorney that has been slowed by a legal fight over access to his tax returns.No ex-president has ever been arrested after leaving office, but Mary Trump argues that shielding powerful people from punishment has historically harmed the country. She used Confederate General Robert E. Lee's post-war absolution as an example.“I think it would be a tragedy if Donald and everybody who’s enabled him and committed crimes with him is not held accountable,” Mary Trump said. “It would make it impossible for this country to recover in the long term.”___On Twitter, follow Michael Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisakMichael R. Sisak, The Associated Press
Talk about Canadian, eh? Some Southwestern Ontario golf courses have done such brisk business through the pandemic, they’re opening through the winter, even in the snow. White Squirrel Golf Club, located outside Zurich, north of Grand Bend, is teeing off on winter golf for the first time to give house-bound and pandemic-weary folks a safe, outdoor activity. “It’s more about getting outside and swinging a golf club than taking your score seriously,” said Brittany Nigh, White Squirrel’s manager of golf operations. “It’s a bit more fun.” The fundamentals of the summer sport stay the same on frozen ground. Snowy golfers will still find the fairway in play, but there are no tee blocks and the green isn't used for putting. Instead, temporary greens have been crafted to protect the course. Nigh said COVID-19 pandemic safety restrictions have spurred creativity and the desire to keep the course open year-round. “We do try to always think outside the box and do things a little differently,” she said. “Let’s not focus on what we can’t do, let’s see what we can do within the restrictions and can do safely.” But what about tracking down a white ball in swaths of fluffy snow? Nigh recommends playing a fluorescent or coloured golf ball and still keeping the weather forecast in mind. “You can do it in some snow, but obviously if the entire course is covered in two feet of snow, it’s going to be pretty difficult to find a patch to hit the golf ball from,” she said. She also recommends wearing gloves and waterproof shoes, dressing in layers that still let you swing your arms, and packing a thermos. The club also has transformed its front nine holes into a hiking trail, free for the public to use, and is keeping its restaurant open year-round. Nigh said locals have warmed to winter golf. “It’s offered our community a nice outlet,” she said. Another course, the Fox Golf Club, just north of London near Granton, also is open for the winter, with similar snowy weather adjustments. The Fox is run by Waterloo-based company GolfNorth, which has set up eight of its Southwestern Ontario courses for winter play, including ones in Forest, Petersburg and Baden. “We thought golf was safe and fun and people felt comfortable doing it all summer, and in the winter this year, people need something to do,” said Doug Breen, GolfNorth’s vice-president. “It’s just a way to get outside, get some exercise, do something fun with your buddies.” He said any day that would be appropriate for skiing would be good for winter golf. If the pandemic brainchild of winter golf is popular, GolfNorth plans to keep running it in future years. And so far, the frosty conditions haven’t deterred any golfers. Breen said earlier this week, groups played their courses even after Tuesday’s storm, with snow up to their shins. “It’s absolutely a quintessentially Canadian thing to do to embrace the cold,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
President-elect Joe Biden says that the most recent jobs report is "dire" and that there is no time to lose in crafting a rescue package as millions of people have lost their jobs or have seen their incomes slashed during the pandemic. (Dec. 4)
Families with children and adults aged 18-29 reported being hardest-hit by the socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data released Friday.While seniors aged 70 and older experienced the most severe health effects, younger adults and parents of young children reported the pandemic taking a higher economic, mental and emotional toll, according to the provincewide COVID-19 Survey on Population, Experience, Action and Knowledge, conducted in the spring and funded by the BCCDC Foundation for Public Health.Adults aged 18-29 were nearly twice as likely to be out of work due to the pandemic, with 27 per cent of respondents of this age group this compared with 16 per cent for the province overall.They were also more likely to report increased difficulty meeting financial needs and were more pessimistic about their financial futures than other age groups.Households with children were more likely to report worsening mental health, reduced sleep and increased alcohol consumption.The results of the survey were used to inform decisions about public health measures during the pandemic, B.C.'s deputy provincial health officer, Dr. Réka Gustafson, said in a news conference Friday."When we were opening schools, when we were prioritizing what we restrict and what we don't, one of the things that has remained at the core of our goal is to make sure that children continue to have access to schooling, to in-person schooling," she said."That's informed both by how safe schools are, because they are. And the other is the recognition that those services are absolutely critical to young families."Miranda Tracy, who lives in Langley and has two school-aged sons, said her stress levels are worse now than they were in May, when the survey was done.There was recently an exposure at her sons' school and Tracy said she worries they might bring home the virus. "It's the lack of masks, it's the lack of being able to social distance," she explained. "There's 30 kids and tiny classrooms with no real protection against COVID at all." Tracy also questioned why the results from a survey conducted in the spring are only being released in December, when conditions are different.Gustafson attributed the delay to the time it takes to clean and analyze the data and prepare it for publication.This represents the first time B.C. officials have released COVID-19 data of any kind pertaining to specific communities and ethnic groups. It is the largest-ever population health survey in Canada, with a sample size of 395,000 people, or roughly one in 10 adults in B.C.Results of the survey were weighted using census data to reflect the B.C. population.
A portion of University Avenue is closed to traffic in both directions after a multi-vehicle accident.The accident happened at the intersection of University and Belvedere avenues and University is closed between Belvedere and the Indigo bookstore.Police say there are injuries.Firefighters, paramedics and police are on the scene.
A controversial new Ontario law to crack down on animal rights activists who trespass on farms takes effect Saturday, packing harsher penalties for break-ins. But such activists have slammed it as an “ag-gag” law, saying it will stop them from exposing animal cruelty on farms. The new law makes it illegal to enter an “animal protection zone” on a farm or processing facility without the owner's consent or to interfere with any animals on those sites Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman announced Friday that Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020, had been proclaimed by the Ontario government. “This act reinforces protection for farmers, agri-food business, farm animals and our food supply, while promoting safety and maintaining the rights of people to participate in legal protests on public property,” Hardeman said during a digital news conference. The maximum fine for a first offence is $15,000, with repeat offenders facing fines up to $25,000 — up from a maximum $10,000 fine under the Trespass to Property Act. Courts now also can order restitution for damages to farms, and farmers are protected from civil liability for anyone hurt while trespassing. A section of the bill making it illegal to stop or obstruct a truck carrying farm animals took effect in September. The contentious laws have drawn praise from the farm community, who said they need more protections to fend off trespassers and activists. Hardeman said some farmers have “no longer felt safe” on their own properties. “Trespass onto farms, in barns and processing facilities and interfering with transport vehicles can have devastating impacts on the health and safety of our food supply,” said Peggy Brekveld, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. Animal rights activists countered, arguing the law isn’t actually about biosecurity risks, but is designed to chill their ability to expose animal cruelty or unlawful activities on farms. “This law is about one thing and one thing only and that’s covering up animal cruelty,” said Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “Outlawing access to farms and slaughterhouses means whistle-blowers will no longer be able to bring information forward that’s normally kept behind closed doors.” Under the new law, individuals can be charged if they gain consent to access the property under “false pretences,” meaning journalists and activists undertaking undercover investigations could face penalties. This week, an undercover investigation by Animal Justice at a Southwestern Ontario pig farm produced hidden-camera footage of animals being beaten, kicked and slapped by workers, living in filthy conditions and not receiving veterinary care for injuries, Labchuk said. She said this could be the last such investigation in the province. "It’s shocking that the government’s response to the egregious, unchecked abuse of pigs that we revealed this week with hidden-camera footage is not to take action to address animal cruelty on farms,” she said. Labchuck said there aren't enough regulations to protect farm animals in Ontario and no public inspections. “The government should be passing regulations and providing inspections to get this under control,” she said. “Instead, they’re giving carte blanche to the industry to cover up their own cruelty.” email@example.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPressMax Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
California certified its presidential election Friday and appointed 55 electors pledged to vote for Democrat Joe Biden, officially handing him the Electoral College majority needed to win the White House. Secretary of State Alex Padilla's formal approval of Biden's win in the state brought his tally of pledged electors so far to 279, according to a tally by The Associated Press. That’s just over the 270 threshold for victory. These steps in the election are often ignored formalities. But the hidden mechanics of electing a U.S. president have drawn new scrutiny this year as President Donald Trump continues to deny Biden's victory and pursues increasingly specious legal strategies aimed at overturning the results before they are finalized. Although it’s been apparent for weeks that Biden won the presidential election, his accrual of more than 270 electors is the first step toward the White House, said Edward B. Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University. “It is a legal milestone and the first milestone that has that status,” Foley said. “Everything prior to that was premised on what we call projections.” The electors named Friday will meet Dec. 14, along with counterparts in each state, to formally vote for the next president. Most states have laws binding their electors to the winner of the popular vote in their state, measures that were upheld by a Supreme Court decision this year. There have been no suggestions that any of Biden's pledged electors would contemplate not voting for him. Results of the Electoral College vote are due to be received, and typically approved, by Congress on Jan. 6. Although lawmakers can object to accepting the electors' votes, it would be almost impossible for Biden to be blocked at that point. The Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate would both vote separately to resolve any disputes. One already has arisen from Pennsylvania, where 75 Republican lawmakers signed a statement on Friday urging Congress to block the state’s electoral votes from being cast for Biden. But the state’s Republican U.S. senator, Pat Toomey, said soon afterward that he would not be objecting to Pennsylvania’s slate of electors, underscoring the difficulty in trying to change the election results through Congress. “As a practical matter, we know that Joe Biden is going to be inaugurated on Jan. 20," Foley said. That was clear in the days after the election, when the count of mail ballots gradually made clear that Biden had won victories in enough states to win the Electoral College. It became even more apparent in late November, when every swing state won by Biden certified him as the winner of its elections and appointed his electors to the Electoral College. Trump has fruitlessly tried to stop those states from certifying Biden as the winner and appointing electors for the former vice-president. He made no effort in deeply Democratic California, the most populous state in the nation and the trove of its largest number of electoral votes. Three more states won by Biden — Colorado, Hawaii and New Jersey — have not yet certified their results. When they do, Biden will have 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232. Trump and his allies have brought at least 50 legal cases trying to overturn the results in the swing states Biden won — mainly Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. More than 30 have been rejected or dropped, according to an AP tally. Trump and his allies have also raised the far-fetched notion that Republican state legislatures in those states could appoint a rival set of electors pledged to Trump. But state Republican leaders have rejected that approach, and it would likely be futile in any case. According to federal law, both chambers of Congress would need to vote to accept a competing slate of electors. If they don't, the electors appointed by the states' governors — all pledged to Biden in these cases — must be used. The last remaining move to block the election would be the quixotic effort to vote down the electors in Congress. This tactic has been tried — a handful of congressional Democrats in 2000, 2004 and 2016 objected to officially making both George W. Bush and Trump president. But the numbers were not enough to block the two men from taking office. Michael R. Blood And Nicholas Riccardi, The Associated Press