With Matt Di Nicolantonio.
With Matt Di Nicolantonio.
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
A woman arrested by the North Battleford RCMP gang unit failed to appear in court Nov. 30 and a warrant was issued. Amanda Wohobin, 31, failed to appear Nov. 9 and a warrant to hold was issued. She again failed to appear on Nov. 30 so the warrant was activated. The RCMP Crime Reduction Team arrested Wahobin, along with Kyle Caron, 40, and Dean Lafreniere, 48, on Sept. 20 after police raided a home in North Battleford, a vehicle and a hotel room. The arrests followed a two-month investigation into drug activity in North Battleford. The three were charged with three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and weapons offences. Caron and Lafreniere appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court on Nov. 30 and their matters were adjourned to Feb. 1, 2021, for election and plea. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
The Fort McKay Métis Group is planning to break ground on a solar farm as early as next year, making it the second project of its kind in the Wood Buffalo region. Ron Quintal, chair of the group and president of the Fort McKay Métis Nation, said the groundbreaking ceremony is expected to be held sometime in spring 2021. At the same time, the company is looking at larger solar projects closer to Edmonton that could be finalized within the next two years. Details such as costs and size of the solar farms are being finalized. The projects do not represent a switch away from the group's work in the oilsands, but a response to growing demands for renewable energy sources. “You can’t have success in green energy by just shutting out the rest of the energy sector,” said Quintal in a Monday interview. “For our community to be able to build these green projects, we’re going to have to use monies raised from the energy industry.” The McKay Métis Group is also negotiating other equity projects, such as stakes in the proposed Alaska to Alberta railway and the Trans Mountain expansion. Last week, the company appointed Crystal Young as its new CEO. Part of her role will be directing these new green energy projects. For Young, Indigenous-led energy companies should be the ones leading the way in renewable energy development. “Indigenous-led companies understand the importance of giving back to communities,” she said in an interview. “We all have the same vision.” Locally, a new solar farm in Fort Chipewyan is the most recent example of an Indigenous-led energy company pursuing green energy projects. The project, completed by Three Nations Energy, will provide 25 per cent of Fort Chipewyan’s energy annually. The solar farm is designed to cut greenhouse gas emission by 2,170 tonnes and save up to 800,000 litres of diesel fuel annually. Suncor, Canada’s second largest oilsands producer, has also tapped into the renewable energy sector by investing in four wind power farms across Canada. For Quintal, renewable energy and oil are energy sources that are complimentary, rather than adversarial. He also hopes the energy needs of oilsands projects will be met with future green energy sources. Quintal says this will bring operational cost savings that could be invested elsewhere. “I think that’s a win-win for everybody,” he said. email@example.comSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
Up to $100,000 will be given to the N.W.T. resident or company that submits the strongest proposal for an investment in technology. That financial pledge comes from the N.W.T. Manufacturing Innovation and Technology Contribution, a GNWT fund designed to find a project that will reduce costs, increase productivity for an N.W.T. business, and increase local employment. Members of the N.W.T. Manufacturing Association and new businesses looking to become a manufacturer can apply, as can individual N.W.T. residents. Those applying must be prepared to make an equity contribution of at least 20 per cent of the cost of their proposal. The project seeks to “support and encourage innovation in the N.W.T. manufacturing sector by supporting research into existing and emerging technologies.” Entries must be submitted by December 13. Application details and eligibility criteria can be found on the GNWT’s website.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Nova Scotia announced a COVID-19 case connected to an elementary school late Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the province announced 10 new cases of the coronavirus.In a news release issued Tuesday evening, the province said St. Margaret's Bay Elementary will be closed Wednesday for deep cleaning.The school is located in the central zone and is the fifth school in the province where a case of COVID-19 has been reported.Parents and staff will be notified when the school is going to reopen.The news release said all close contacts in the school have been identified. They will be notified by public health and told to self-isolate and get tested.School-based casesThe other schools in the central zone where cases have been reported are: * Graham Creighton Junior High in Cherry Brook. * Auburn Drive High in Cole Harbour. * Bedford South School.Two cases have been identified at Northeast Kings Education Centre in the western health zone.Earlier Tuesday, Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases of COVID-19, all in the central zone. With the St. Margaret's Bay Elementary case, that brings the province's total active cases to 143.No one is in hospital related to COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.At Tuesday's COVID-19 briefing, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said he's heartened the new case numbers are stabilizing, but added that each new positive case has an average of eight close contacts. In the first wave, that number was just three.Nova Scotia labs completed 4,138 tests Monday, the highest number of daily tests conducted since the start of the pandemic.An additional 275 tests were administered at a rapid-testing site in Halifax and 585 at a similar site in Wolfville. There were no positive results at either site.Mobile testing unitsPremier Stephen McNeil said to date over 5,000 people have been given the rapid test, with 21 of them, all without symptoms, testing positive. Those people were told to self-isolate and instructed to take the standard test to verify their result. Strang said two six-metre mobile units have been outfitted for deployment to outbreak areas. The mobile units will administer the standard test and not the rapid test."This mobility is it gives us a much better tool to be agile and flexible as needed across the province," Strang said.One of these new units will be in place Wednesday at the Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, where two positive cases were identified, one last week and another on Sunday.A full list of exposures in the province can be found here.New restrictions in effectNew restrictions came into effect last week in most of the Halifax Regional Municipality and parts of Hants County. Strang urged people to observe travel restrictions into and out of the Halifax area."If you live in the Halifax areas, stay in the Halifax area unless it's for work, school or medical treatment. If you live outside the Halifax areas, don't come in unless it's for work, school or medical treatment."The restrictions include stopping dine-in service at bars and restaurants and closing gyms, libraries, museums and casinos until Dec. 9. Masks are also mandatory in common areas of multi-unit dwellings like apartments and condos.At the briefing, Strang addressed people who are resistant to wearing masks when they have no valid reason for not wearing one. "Stop looking for loopholes, stop making excuses, stop arguing with the people who drive our buses, who work in our access centres and who manage our retail stores when they ask you to put on a mask," he said.A list of what's open and closed in the Halifax region can be found here.Across the province, visitations to long-term care facilities are no longer allowed unless the person is a volunteer or designated caregiver.All other Atlantic provinces, most recently New Brunswick, have brought back mandatory 14-day self-isolation for travellers. Nova Scotia's policy on regional travel remains unchanged.Very different holiday seasonStrang said holiday traditions are going to be very different this year, with "smaller and fewer gatherings and less travel." He said the spirit of the holiday season was more important than ever."I really encourage people to focus on what we have around gratitude and generosity, kindness and community, compassion and caring. Focus on those and how you give those, not what we're not able to do."COVID cases in the Atlantic provincesThe latest numbers from the Atlantic provinces are:SymptomsAnyone with one of the following symptoms should visit the COVID-19 self-assessment website or call 811: * Fever. * Cough or worsening of a previous cough.Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also asked to visit the website or call 811: * Sore throat. * Headache. * Shortness of breath. * Runny nose.MORE TOP STORIES
Nurses seeking to resolve stalled contract talks went on strike in New Rochelle, New York on Tuesday as COVID-19 hospitalizations rose across the state. (Dec. 1)
WASHINGTON — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):2:10 p.m.The committee raising money for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will take contributions from individual donors of as much as $500,000 and from corporations of as much as $1 million.That’s according to an inaugural official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the work of the committee, which started raising money on Monday for the Jan. 20 festivities.The committee won't accept contributions from lobbyists or the fossil fuels industry, including companies and executives whose “primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution or sale of oil, gas or coal.” The prohibition applies to political action committees run by fossil fuels interests.The contribution limits for Biden are far lower than those of President Donald Trump in 2017.Trump raised a record $107 million for his inauguration and accepted massive checks from individuals, including $5 million from Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson.— By AP writer Brian Slodysko___HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN'S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE:President-elect Joe Biden is considering former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a substantial and somewhat divisive figure in Democratic Party politics, to serve as his transportation secretary.Read more:— Trump headed to Georgia as a turnout driver, but also a threat— It’s Major: Pets poised for a return to the White House— Top secret: Biden gets access to President’s Daily Brief— Biden names liberal economics team as pandemic threatens workers___HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:1:55 p.m.Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris says there is a “hunger crisis in America now” due to the COVID-19 pandemic but promised quick action to address the challenge when in office.Harris said that dealing with the economic fallout of the pandemic “could not be more urgent,” noting the ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases as the weather has gotten colder. She also says that in addition to the loss of hundreds of thousands of Americans, “the toll of this recession continues to mount across America.”Harris referenced the significant number of American adults with children saying their families are going hungry, and the even higher rate of adults saying they’re having trouble paying their “essential” bills.She says the Biden administration’s economic team, which was unveiled Tuesday, would put “working people front and centre” to pursue reforms to make the economy work better for all Americans, and would “hit the ground running on day one.”___1:45 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to run the White House budget office says social programs helped her family when she was a young girl being raised by a single mother in a Boston suburb.Neera Tanden would help prepare Biden’s federal budgets as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.Word of her expected nomination has encountered early disapproval from some Republican senators who will vote on whether she becomes the first woman of Indian descent to lead the office.Tanden says her mother faced hard choices after divorce left her to raise two young children. She says her family survived on food stamps and federal housing vouchers until her mother got a job and eventually bought a house.Tanden says she wants to give people the same chance at a fair shot.___1:35 p.m.Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen is describing the economic crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic as an “American tragedy” and warning that without quick action to address it, the damage will get worse.Introducing herself during a Joe Biden transition event where the president-elect unveiled his economic team, Yellen spoke about the “historic crises” of the pandemic and the economic fallout resulting from it, as well as the “disproportionate impact” it has had on “the most vulnerable among us.”Speaking about a pandemic that has cost 268,000 American lives, Yellen referenced the “lost lives, lost jobs” and struggles Americans face “to put food on the table and pay bills and rent.”She went on to say that “it’s essential that we move with urgency” because “inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn causing yet more devastation.” She pledged to Americans that the Treasury would be “an institution that wakes up every morning thinking about you.”___1:25 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden says his economic team is “first rate” and will help build an economy that works for all Americans.Biden introduced key members of the team Tuesday in Delaware, including former Fed chair Janet Yellen to become Treasury secretary. Biden described Yellen as one of the “most important economic thinkers of our time.”She would be the first female Treasury secretary if confirmed by the Senate.Biden also introduced Neera Tanden as his choice to run the White House budget office. Tanden’s nomination, however, has encountered early disapproval from some Senate Republicans, who will vote on her nomination.Biden also named his chair and members of the Council of Economic Advisers. He says the CEA chair will serve in the Cabinet. Biden also named a deputy for Yellen.___1:15 p.m.Joe Biden is calling on Congress to pass a “robust package for relief” to address the economic and public health crisis brought on by the COVID pandemic.The president-elect made the comments introducing his economic team in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Congressional leaders have been locked in a stalemate over a COVID relief package, with Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on the price tag or content of a potential bill, though a team of bipartisan lawmakers released their own compromise legislation on Tuesday.Biden said, however, any package passed during the lame duck session of Congress would be “at best just a start” and that his team is already working on his own proposal for the new Congress “to address the multiple crises we’re facing.” He said the team of economic advisers he announced Tuesday would play a “critical role” in shaping the Biden administration’s plan to revive the economy.___1:10 p.m.Joe Biden is wearing a boot publicly for the first time, after fracturing his foot while playing with one of his dogs over the weekend.The president-elect wore the boot at an event where he introduced his economic team Tuesday afternoon, walking with no obvious limp onto the stage. His doctor said Sunday that he suffered small fractures to his right foot from the incident and would likely have to wear a walking boot “for several weeks.”Arriving to the event, Biden pointed to the boot and raised his leg as if to show it off. He walked gingerly, telling reporters his foot was “good.” The event was set up with chairs and tables, allowing Biden to sit when he wasn’t speaking before a podium in the centre of the stage._The Associated Press
Toronto police say they have charged a man with the attempted murder of an officer who was hit by a car last month. Police allege the man was driving a car that struck the officer and dragged him for more than 50 metres. Supt. Ron Taverner says the officer was taken to hospital with serious injuries but has since been released. Taverner says the incident took place on Nov. 21, after the officer heard sounds of gunshots while on patrol. He says the officer saw a car fleeing the area, caught up to the vehicle and had signaled for the driver to stop when he was hit. Police say Terry Baksh, 39, faces several charges that include attempted murder, assault with a weapon, flight from police and dangerous operation of a vehicle. 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 Fellowship. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly said the incident took place on Saturday. In fact, it took place on Nov. 21.
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown. In “Let Us Dream,” published Tuesday, Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.” The 150-page book was written in collaboration with Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, who said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers. At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits. But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour. At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini. “But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013. The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world. At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies. “Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.” People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.” Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.” But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue. “Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote. Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!” He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem. “You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.” He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state." “There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them." In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course. The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order. “I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote. The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it. The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country. “I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote. But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.” “Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote. Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour. “We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
WINNIPEG — Manitobans will likely have to deal with strict COVID-19 measures into the winter, Premier Brian Pallister warned Tuesday.With daily case counts remaining high and intensive care capacity close to the limit, Pallister said some restrictions on public gatherings and business openings will have to continue beyond Friday of next week, when the current orders are to expire."My gut feeling is that as we get into winter, it's going to be critical that we continue with a high level of restrictions for some time," Pallister said."COVID doesn't give up, and we're seeing that all across the country."Manitoba was leading all other provinces in the per-capita rate of new infections until recently, when Alberta surged ahead.To try to bend the curve, the province enacted some of the strictest rules in the country: non-essential businesses have closed, public gatherings have been limited to five people and, with some exceptions for things like medical services, people are not allowed to have visitors in their home.In-person religious services have also been banned — an order that has been met with a small measure of defiance and protests.A church in Winnipeg held four drive-in services last weekend, where people remained in their vehicles while a pastor spoke on a stage. Outside of Steinbach in southeast Manitoba, a church has held in-person services, prompting police to block the parking lot last Sunday.The rules have worked, Manitoba's chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Tuesday.The number of new infections has plateaued and even dropped slightly in recent days — there were 282 new cases Tuesday — and people now testing positive are reporting fewer contacts with others.That effect has yet to trickle through to the health-care system, however. A record 16 deaths were reported Tuesday and intensive care units remained close to full."Our health-care system can't sustain daily counts like this," Roussin said.The government is already working on what restrictions might continue beyond next week, Roussin added, although he did not divulge details.Manitoba has backed up its public health orders with added personnel, including a private security firm, to hand out fines.The two churches that held services last weekend are being fined $5,000, Pallister said, and several individuals involved can expect fines of $1,296 each."It's critical right now that we do not gather with people outside of our households," Pallister said."And we need the full participation of all Manitobans in order for these strict public health measures to work."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has a plan A and a plan B to resume its season in mid-January, and its commissioner said Tuesday that cancelling its schedule isn't an option.On Monday, the league announced it was suspending activities from Dec. 1 to Jan. 3, when players are expected to report to their respective clubs. The plan is to start playing games again between Jan. 17 and Jan. 20.There are two possibilities for how the resumption of games could look. Plan A, the one seemingly favoured by QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau, would be that the COVID-19 pandemic will have subsided enough to allow public health officials in the four provinces the league has teams to permit the resumption of the schedule as planned with interprovincial travel.But the QMJHL also has a Plan B: a bubble format with a handful of teams in select cities.The league would create protected environments, like it did in Quebec City for about 10 days earlier in November, where several teams played games.The league wants six different cities — four in Quebec and two in Atlantic Canada — to host three teams each to play two games over three days between Jan. 22 and Jan. 24.After that, three cities would welcome four Quebec teams each to play six games in nine days between Jan. 30 and Feb. 7.There would also be a gathering of the six Atlantic Canada-based teams to play five games in eight days between Jan. 30 and Feb 6."I think that what happened in Quebec City over the last two weeks has been a real boost for our teams," Courteau said Tuesday. "It’s been a very positive event and gave us faith when we will sit down in front of the four provinces’ public health departments, that we've got a good plan for them."If restrictions are still place, the league is ready to pivot to a bubble format."We’ll see as well what will be the evolution of the pandemic," Courteau said.The QMJHL was the only one of three Canadian major junior leagues to open their season around the normal start date.The Western Hockey League has said it plans to start the season in January, while the Ontario Hockey League has targeted February.For the time being, the QMJHL has no plans to cancel the rest of the season."We never talked about cancelling the season," Courteau said. "When we made the decision back in late July, start of August about resuming training and the start of training camp, we knew … we would go through roadblocks throughout the season."The 18-team league has been forced to postpone games regularly in Quebec and Atlantic Canada since starting the season in early October because of COVID-19 restrictions and positive tests. The league says the objective is for teams to play about 30 games each in the bubble format. But it wouldn't mean all teams will play an equal number of games by the end of the season. Thus far, the Sherbrooke Phoenix have played a league-low five games, while three clubs lead the way with 16 games played apiece.The league's hockey committee is meeting to assess which scenario will be adopted and how the playoffs will look.The league has distributed specifics to each club and it will be up to them to decide whether they will put themselves forward to host one of the bubbles.QMJHL will not be exempted from strict COVID-19 requirements in Atlantic Canada.The league has three teams in New Brunswick, two in Nova Scotia and one in Prince Edward Island. The league has asked players to report as of Jan. 3 so they can fulfil a 14-day quarantine before activities resume Jan. 17.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Frederic Daigle, The Canadian Press
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.
Three men accused of killing a Battleford man had more court appearances but the matters were adjourned again. Isaac Melko, 22, Charles Michael Lewis MacLean, 23, of North Battleford, and Jacob Joseph Ballantyne, 25, of Edam, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court Nov. 25 via CCTV but the matters were set over to Jan. 13, 2021, to be spoken to. The three, along with a young offender, are charged in connection to the murder of 27-year-old Ryan Gatzke. A badly injured Gatzke was found in a house in Battleford in October 2019. He was taken to the North Battleford hospital where he was declared deceased. Maclean was charged with manslaughter, a firearms offence, and break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence. Melko, Ballantyne and the young offender - who can’t be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act - were charged with second-degree murder, break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, disguise with intent, carry a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, possession of a firearm without a license, and unauthorized possession of a firearm.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe's approval rating is 20 to 30 points higher than his counterparts in Alberta and Manitoba, according to a new poll.The Angus Reid Institute releases its approval ratings four times a year. The most recent poll was conducted in late November and shows Moe fifth among premiers with a 61 per cent approval rating. This was a two per cent jump from August, but four per cent lower than the 65 per cent he got in May's poll.Overall 37 per cent of those polled said they disapproved of Moe's performance, while two per cent said they were not sure.The 61 per cent closely mirrors the 60.67 per cent of votes Moe's Saskatchewan Party received in the October election.The only other premiers that improved their ratings from August were New Brunswick's Blaine Higgs and Nova Scotia's Stephen McNeil.Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister saw the steepest drop, to 32 per cent in November from 44 per cent in August.Ontario Premier Doug Ford dropped to 55 per cent from 66 per cent. The premier with the lowest rating was Alberta's Jason Kenney, who had a 40 per cent approval rating.Over the past week, Manitoba leads in active COVID-19 case rate, while Alberta is second and Saskatchewan is third.The poll surveyed 5,003 members of the Angus Reid forum across the country and 497 in Saskatchewan. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
A fire in a commercial building in Vancouver on Monday night has claimed the life of one man and sent a second man to hospital.The Vancouver Police Department says two officers were driving near Kingsway and Victoria Drive around 9 p.m. PT when they noticed heavy smoke billowing from a second floor suite at 2127 Kingsway. The officers notified Vancouver Fire Services who attempted to enter the building but were driven back by the fire."The fire occurred in an illegal suite which did not have sprinklers or smoke alarms," said Capt. Jonathan Gormick with Vancouver Fire Rescue Services. "Fire Investigators have determined smoking to be the cause of this fire."A man between 30 and 40 years old was pronounced dead at scene. Another man was taken to hospital with significant injuries, according to Gormick."This tragic loss is a reminder for everyone to ensure they have working smoke alarms; Fire Code requires one per occupancy," said Gormick, adding that smoking is a leading cause of fire fatalities.Vancouver Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Richard Craven said the two-alarm blaze was fought by 15 firefighters.
Regina– On Nov. 19, the Ministry of Health released updated modelling information which provided four possible forecasts of what could happen in the coming months as COVID-19 spread across Saskatchewan. Several slides referenced Nov. 29 as part of a 14-day forecast. So what actually happened? Generally speaking, even with regularly climbing daily case counts in Saskatchewan, reality has been much less harsh than those models were predicting. While Saskatchewan has continued to show exponential growth in its 7-day average new case count, reality turned out to be much lower than the projected forecast. The “14 Day Forecast of Lab Confirmed Cases (to Nov. 29, 2020)” slide shows a band of possibilities, with a “50 per cent Forecasted Value” line, the “Upper Credibility Interval (97.5 per cent),” and the “Lower Credibility Interval (2.5 per cent).” The chart also says “*Interpret with caution.” The forecasted 50 per cent value was roughly 1,400 cases per day on Nov. 29, with the upper number coming in around 2,100 and the lower number at 660. In actuality, Saskatchewan’s new case count on Nov. 29 was 351, one of its highest days, but its 7-day average on that day was 250 cases per day. Three days earlier the average case count of 243 cases per day exceeded the 240 case per day level – a doubling from 120 average cases per day reached 16 days earlier on Nov. 10. Saskatchewan had been seeing a doubling of average cases per day roughly every 14 days since Oct. 10. Similarly, the “14 Day Forecast of Acute Hospital Admissions (to Nov. 29, 2020)” was also substantially off the mark. It’s 50 per cent forecast line came in at 90 new admissions per day, with the high mark at 130 and the low mark at 40. The daily COVID-19 updates from the province do not speak of new admissions per day, but rather provide how many people are in hospital, overall new cases, recoveries and deaths. So while the total number of people in hospital may increase by eight, as it did on Nov. 30, there will be churn within the number for people recovering and going home, and new admissions coming in. Thus, in reality, on Nov. 30, Saskatchewan had 123 people in total hospitalized throughout the province, the highest level to date. That was an increase from 115 the day before. On Nov. 30, the 325 new cases also came with were 49 recoveries. There were two deaths reported on Nov. 30, and 23 people were in intensive care. Manitoba and North Dakota compared With 325 new cases announced on Nov. 30, Saskatchewan’s 7-day average is now 262.9 cases per day. That number shows a continuing growth pattern, but perhaps not as sharply as the previous two months had been, and it may no longer be on the same exponential curve that it had been on from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15. In comparison, Manitoba has remained relatively flat since Nov. 13, when its 7-day average case count hit 400.4. Since then there have been fluctuations in the daily count, but the average has remained in a narrow band between 371.6 and 422.7 average cases per day. On Nov. 30, Manitoba’s 7-day average was 392.4 cases per day. Prior to mid-November, Manitoba had been undergoing exponential growth at a rate almost exactly the same as Saskatchewan, but roughly 16 to 18 days ahead of Saskatchewan’s curve. By Dec. 1, that had stretched to 30 days, as Saskatchewan’s growth rate slowed and Manitoba’s flattened out. North Dakota, which received national headlines as one of the worst affected states in the union, has not only flattened its curve, but bent it substantially down in the last two weeks of November. North Dakota, too, had been seeing exponential growth of new COVID-19 cases for the two months leading up to mid-November, albeit at a lower rate of growth than either Saskatchewan or Manitoba. Its overall numbers were much higher, however. North Dakota’s 7-day average crested on Nov. 18, at 1,415.7 average cases per day. Its highest individual case count for a day was 2,278 on Nov. 14. But in the two weeks since, that 7-day average case count made a steady decline, falling to 1035.7 by Nov. 27, and 848.1 on Nov. 30. On an individual day bases, Nov. 30 was the best day North Dakota had seen in over a month, with 598 new cases. The last time the state had a number in the 500s, it was Oct. 26, at 527. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
MOSCOW — The Russian military on Tuesday announced the deployment of state-of-the-art air defence missiles to the Pacific islands claimed by Japan.Russia's Eastern Military District said in a statement that the S-300V4 air defence missile systems have entered combat duty on the Kuril Islands, adding punch to the shorter range Tor M2 missile systems deployed there earlier.The Russian Defence Ministry's TV station, Zvezda, reported that the air defence missile systems were deployed on Iturup, one of the four southernmost Kuril islands.The new deployment marked the latest move in a continuous Russian military buildup on the islands, which has included stationing advanced fighter jets and anti-ship missiles there.Japan asserts territorial rights to the islands it calls the Northern Territories. The Soviet Union took them in the final days of World War II, and the dispute has kept the countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their hostilities.Decades of diplomatic efforts to negotiate a settlement haven't produced any visible results.Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spent a lot of time and effort in the hope of negotiating a solution during his nearly eight years in office but scored little progress.Shortly after taking office in September, newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga discussed the territorial dispute in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Suga said he hopes to find a settlement and sign a peace treaty.The Associated Press
A symbol of magic and happiness, the World Tree has been set up in Jasper for the third year running in Robson Park. "This is an ideal location within Jasper's residential area, nestled in a green space bordering our schools, the library and the Jasper Art Gallery," said Marcia DeWandel, one of the volunteers behind the tree, in an email. "It creates a festive community hub during the cool, dark winter season." This year’s tree was harvested in a valley close to town, as part of the area's FireSmart program. It was set up on Nov. 30 by municipal staff, with help from the volunteer trio of DeWandel, Traudi Golla and Penny Bayfield. DeWandel said there has been a great deal of support from community organizations. The Municipality of Jasper gave approval for the initiative in October, 2018. Other community groups that have helped the World Tree be a shining light include Community Outreach Services, the Jasper Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Jasper Municipal Library, Jasper Artists Guild, the Dutch Guy, SAW Construction, Friends of Jasper and Parks Canada Although the World Tree is not a fundraiser, DeWandel pointed out that in 2018 and 2019, Santas Anonymous encouraged donations through the sale of tree decorations and hot chocolate at the site. Adaptation to the reality of COVID means events have to happen in different ways. "Like the rest of the world, the pandemic has prompted us to think outside the box," DeWandel said. "The World Tree is needed this year, and its light and energy will remain in Robson Park this season." While there won't be a formal lighting event, the tree will be lit on Dec. 4. Volunteers are encouraging festivities and giving in a slightly different way this year. "Visit the World Tree with your cohort and decorate," DeWandel said. "The more love the tree receives, the brighter it shines. Students from all the schools are still encouraged to make decorations and place them on the tree." DeWandel also encouraged folks to donate to Santas Anonymous by purchasing raffle tickets for the "amazing gingerbread house" or visiting the mitten donation line at TGP. "Support your community by shopping locally," she said. DeWandel hopes the World Tree becomes a tradition in Jasper, with coordination done by a formal group. For 2020, she said, "The World Tree will continue to bring happiness and joy this holiday season. It represents a sense of normalcy during a time of uncertainty. “The tree is community, it is fun, it is magic and it is hope."Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
The first region-wide social needs assessment and strategy in the Regional District of Nanaimo is now underway. The partnership between the RDN, Town of Qualicum Beach, District of Lantzville, City of Nanaimo and Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee will turn a lens on what families, children and youth need as well as how to improve social supports and address housing and homelessness, access to services, safe affordable transportation and discrimination and stigma. The project has been made possible in part thanks to a $125,000 grant from the B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction as administered by the Union of BC Municipalities. An additional $60,000 from the RDN’s 2020 budget rounds out the total amount devoted to the project. In November, a $140,000 contract was awarded to Kelowna-based Urban Matters, an advisory company that focuses on social and community development projects. An engagement plan is underway and will include working with community health networks (like the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative) and individuals with lived experience in poverty as well as consulting with the community. The plan will be presented to the RDN board early next year for endorsement. The RDN’s senior long-range planner, Courtney Simpson, said staff are also “in ongoing conversation with First Nations to understand how they would like to be involved in the process.” The RDN is situated within the traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw, Snaw-Naw-As and Qualicum First Nations. Simpson explained there are a few phases to the project. The assessment phase includes a scan of existing services, including “checking with service providers to ensure nothing is missed.” A baseline study follows, which will “measure social needs of the community such as data related to the social determinants of health.” Social determinants of health are social and economic factors that determine health and can include income, education or employment as well as experiences of discrimination, racism and historical trauma. After the baseline study, a gap analysis will be conducted followed by development of a strategy on how to address those gaps. The project’s request for proposals highlights Island Health’s 2019 Local Area Profile for Greater Nanaimo, which shows, among other insights, that “measures of low income, housing affordability and vulnerability in children are lower than the Island Health and B.C. average,” and the “the proportion of persons who are members of a low-income household in the RDN is higher than the Island Health and B.C. average for all age groups except for seniors.” Project staff will consult information collected via the soon-to-be-released Regional Childcare Assessment as well as the Regional Housing Capacity Assessment, which identified a critical need for housing for single income and lone-parent households among other needs. The Islands Trust has conducted several studies over the years that will inform the project, including a 2019 report on strategic actions for affordable housing in the Trust Area and the 2018 Northern Region Housing Needs Assessment. Gabriola LTC Trustee Scott Colbourne said the regional approach to address needs like housing and social services is vital work. “If you can’t get a service on Gabriola, you end up in Nanaimo, if you can’t get a service in Oceanside or Parksville, you end up in Nanaimo or Victoria. If we kind of get a handle on how this all works together, that causes less stress for people and families.”Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
Il n’est pas nécessaire d’aller bien loin afin de dénicher des activités extérieures à faire avec les membres de sa maisonnée, une fois l’arrivée des temps plus froids et de la neige. Malgré la situation que l’on vit tous, il sera loisible de profiter, au cours de l’hiver, d’une programmation saisonnière au Parc régional éducatif du Bois de Belle-Rivière, à Mirabel. Un sentier de glace en forêt fait partie des activités à réaliser seul ou avec les membres de sa bulle familiale. D’une longueur de 2,5 km, il saura ravir vos petits comme les plus grands, alors qu’une zone glacée sera disponible pour les débutants. D’ailleurs, vos férus de hockey pourront profiter d’une patinoire de grandeur réglementaire, afin d’improviser des parties. À noter cependant qu’il n’y a aucune location d’équipement sur place. Cela dit, les amateurs de ski de randonnée, de glissade et de raquette hors piste seront aussi choyés. Le parc régional offre 7 km de piste de niveau débutant dédié au ski en forêt. On y retrouve également une pente d’une hauteur de 20 mètres qui, assure-t-on, fera l’unanimité auprès des jeunes et des grands qui désirent faire de la glisse. La COVID-19 Le parc régional est désormais en zone rouge, comme Mirabel et la région des Basses-Laurentides. Cela veut dire que les rassemblements sont interdits et que les visiteurs doivent garder en tout temps une distanciation sociale de deux mètres. Ceux-ci peuvent se présenter avec les membres de leurs familles, restant au sein de la même résidence. L’équipe du Parc régional éducatif Bois de Belle-Rivière dit continuer à s’ajuster à la situation pandémique pour la sécurité de ses visiteurs. Notons qu’il est recommandé de joindre l’un des préposés du site et du service à la clientèle par téléphone ou par courriel. Dans les circonstances actuelles, les responsables des lieux offrent aux visiteurs de les accompagner pour la préparation et la réalisation de leur journée. Pour trouver les coordonnées et pour plus amples informations, il suffit de visiter le [www.boisdebelleriviere.com]. Nicolas Parent, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Éveil