WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
BEIJING — Asian stocks rose Tuesday after Chinese manufacturing improved, with investors looking ahead to U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s appearance before legislators.Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced.Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index closed down 0.5% overnight but ended November up 10.8% for its biggest monthly gain since April.Investors are increasingly optimistic about the expected development of a coronavirus vaccine despite caution about the short-term economic impact of rising virus cases in the United States and Europe.The future “seems incredibly bright and bullish,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a report.The Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.2% to 3,433.77 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced 1.5% to 28.824.46. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.8% to 26,569.69.The Kospi in Seoul advanced 1.3% to 2,625.22 and the S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney was 1.4% higher at 6,608.70. New Zealand declined while Southeast Asian markets rose.An index of Chinese manufacturing released by a business magazine, Caixin, hit a decade high in November as the country’s recovery from the pandemic gained strength. A separate survey Monday by the government statistics agency showed activity at a three-year high.Strength in the Chinese economy is helping offset unease about rising virus cases in the United States and Europe and possible renewed controls on business and travel.In Washington, Powell said in a statement Monday that economic prospects are “extraordinarily uncertain” after the pace of improvement moderated. He said a full recovery is unlikely until the public is confident the disease is under control.Powell was due to appear Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The panel oversees the $2 trillion aid package approved by Congress in March.The S&P 500 declined to 3,621.63. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.9% to 29,638.64. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.1% to 12,198.74.The slide followed reports showing the pandemic dragging down U.S. economic activity in the near future. But investors appear to be looking beyond that.Investors are encouraged by the end of uncertainty about the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. They are reassured Washington will be under divided control, reducing the chances of big changes in taxes or regulation.Markets also have been heartened by announcements from pharmaceutical companies of advances in vaccine development.One developer, Moderna, said Monday it is ready to apply for emergency approval in the United States and Britain. Pfizer and German partner BioNTech are asking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 36 cents to $44.98 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 19 cents to $45.34 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, sank 32 cents to $47.56 per barrel in London. It dropped 59 cents from the previous session to $47.59.The dollar rose to 104.43 yen from Monday’s 104.34 yen. The euro advanced to $1.1960 from $1.1946.Joe McDonald, The Associated Press
The Anishinabek Nation has launched a virtual documentary program to help reduce the stigma that surrounds the HIV/AIDS virus. “When we look at HIV as a whole it’s the stigma that is the killer. It leaves people voiceless and in gaps,” said Krista Shore, an advocate for people with HIV originally from the Peepeekeesis First Nation in Saskatchewan. Last week, the Anishinabek Nation, made up of 39 First Nations throughout Ontario, held the virtual premiere of Shore’s short film as part of the Anishinabek Nation’s HIV Anti-Stigma Campaign. “Being a youth that was diagnosed (with HIV) at the age of 24 years old, I had to face the shame of the illness right off,” Shore said in her documentary titled Love Everyone. “Why did I feel so dirty? Why did I feel so low of myself?” Shore’s video talked about how she felt about the lack of understanding and education within her community when she was first diagnosed, which led to some strained relationships, including with an Elder (though they ultimately reconciled). “Along this journey it hasn’t all been strong, and sunshine and great teachings,” she said. Shore closed out her documentary with thoughts of hope. “We need to be surrounded by love, and healing hands, and helping hands.” Tuesday, Dec. 1 marks World AIDS Day, and two more short documentaries will premiere premiere over Zoom, with the session starting at 2 p.m. eastern time. The documentaries will then be published on the Anishinabek Nation’s YouTube channel, available here. All of the films were compiled by the Anishinabek Nation’s HIV Coordinator Laura Liberty and director Ed Regan. Liberty spoke about some of the challenges facing people living with HIV. “It’s the fear and the gossip. It’s the loss of friendship, family, the lack of respect, being treated like an unwanted disease,” she said. “Feeling not wanted or loved or understood can prevent an individual from reaching out for help, getting tested and receiving medications that can manage the illness.” Regan spoke about some of the benefits of launching the campaign virtually, including less resources spent on travel and a wider reach across the Anishinabek Nation’s 65,000-person population. “I think a nice advantage of this type of media is to educate people with the click of a button,” Regan said. “This is a real efficient way of managing and teaching people.” As well, Regan touched on the traumatic nature of these stories, saying that repeated telling of personal experiences can be ‘exhausting’ people. “Hopefully, [this campaign] can create the change that’s much needed.” While Shore’s piece focused on her own journey living with HIV, other background subjects related to Indigenous history were explored by Elders as part of the campaign. Mary Elliott provided a short history of Indigenous populations within Canada in A Snapshot of our Story. Elliott described first contact with Europeans and the period of “lost spirituality, the introduction of residential schools and the impact of various pieces of legislation, such as the Indian Act. “(Indigenous populations) lost that right to understand who they are or live by their traditions and customs,” Elliot said. Canada “wanted to remove the Indian out of us.” June Commanda was featured in documentary called A Survivor’s Story. She spoke about her first day at Spanish Indian Residential School in Spanish, Ont. “I remember with such clarity right to this day,” Commanda said. Tuesday’s premiere will see the launch of: When They Know with Carol Jones and Live. Love. Laugh. with Dawn Cameron. World AIDS Day was designated in 1988 and was the first globally recognized health day. An estimated 38 million people worldwide are currently living with the HIV virus. Outside of the documentary work, the Anishinabek Nation also offers other health resources and services for HIV, Hepatitis C, and other Sexually Transmitted Blood Borne Infections (STBBI). Windspeaker.comBy Adam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
A forensic psychiatrist testified in court Monday about whether Alek Minassian's autism could be a reason to find him not criminally responsible for the deaths of 10 people in the Toronto van attack, a potential finding the autism community is concerned could stigmatize their members.
Pride Toronto announced on Monday that it has chosen a new executive director with a background in community health, housing and development.Sherwin Modeste is slated to begin the full-time job on Tuesday, Pride Toronto said in a statement. His appointment follows the departure of previous executive director Olivia Nuamah in January."Sherwin comes to Pride Toronto during an extremely challenging time for the arts, culture, entertainment, and tourism industries, with these sectors among those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic," the statement reads. "While these sectors face great uncertainty, Sherwin's vision, leadership, and dynamic energy will ensure Pride Toronto's continued commitment to showcasing the talent of local LGBT2Q+ artists and entertainers, and to working closely with community partners."According to Pride Toronto, Modeste is committed to engaging and empowering LGBT2Q+ communities to ensure equity, diversity and inclusion continues to be part of its community outreach and action.Modeste has worked as the director of community health services, at Vibrant Healthcare Alliance, where he was responsible for health promotion, supportive housing, building and property maintenance, Pride Toronto said."Sherwin moved 100 per cent of Vibrant's health promotion programs to virtual delivery and played a key role in implementing community support in the form of wellness packages and hot meal delivery for over 200 clients weekly across the city. He worked closely with other members of the senior leadership team to support community flu clinics and COVID-19 testing," Pride Toronto said.Before that, Modeste worked as the manager of grants, development and sponsorships at Toronto Community Housing, where he was responsible for soliciting funds from government and private sector companies, Pride Toronto said. Samantha Fraser, co-chair of Pride Toronto's board of directors, said in the statement that the board met many candidates for the position."In the end, Sherwin rose to the top because of the fantastic combination of his passion and empathy, work history, community knowledge, and lived experience," Fraser said.According to the statement, Modeste is passionate about advocacy and promoting human rights and equity issues in support of removing systematic barriers that prevent people from reaching their full potential.He has served as national diversity vice-president and been a member of national pink triangle committee for the Canadian Union of Public Employees and has been a member of the Canadian Labour Congress human rights committee."In those roles, Sherwin advocated tirelessly for workers' rights, including workers from racialized and marginalized communities, and LGBT2Q+ communities," the statement said.In June, Pride Toronto moved its parade online and held a virtual Pride festival weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic.The organization has had a few tumultuous years in which it has grappled with the LGBT community's strained relationship with police and the exclusion of uniformed police officers in its parade. The issue became a major source of controversy after a Black Lives Matter Toronto protest during the 2016 parade. Uniformed police officers have not marched in the parade since, a policy that Pride members narrowly upheld last year.Nuamah, however, supported lifting the ban, which generated some criticism and calls for her resignation. The organization has not said if she resigned or was otherwise forced out of the job.
TORONTO — As some provinces push for clarity on when they will receive their share of Canada's COVID-19 vaccines, one expert said Monday the government should be more transparent about the terms of its contracts with the companies making the shots.Kerry Bowman, who teaches bioethics and global health at the University of Toronto, said it's likely Ottawa doesn't have the information the provinces are seeking regarding the timing and quantity of vaccine deliveries, particularly if its contracts with drugmakers are conditional.But if that's the case, he said, the federal government should state it clearly or risk eroding public trust in its system.While news that COVID-19 immunizations could begin in some countries in a matter of weeks is good for Canada in the long term, it will lead to widespread frustration in the near future if the country is lagging behind, he added."There's benefits to all of humankind, no matter who's getting it," he said.Still, "if two weeks from now, the news is full of us watching people all over the world being inoculated, including the United States, and we're not, there's going to be some very unhappy Canadians."As well, he said, any delay in immunization translates to more COVID-19 cases and deaths, and mounting economic strain."People will die and other people's lives will continue to be ruined until we pull out of it. And so, to me, whether it's this month or that month (that we get the vaccine) is not irrelevant — it's highly relevant," he said.Ontario Premier Doug Ford renewed his calls Monday for a clear delivery date for the province's share of vaccines, stressing that "the clock is ticking" when it comes to fighting the novel coronavirus.Ford said he was set to speak to Pfizer, one of the drugmakers that has entered into an agreement with Canada, on Monday afternoon but expected to be told the information must come from Ottawa.The premier cited reports that other countries, such as the United Kingdom, are on track to start COVID-19 immunizations soon, adding Ontarians "need answers."Meanwhile, the American biotech company Moderna said Monday the first 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to the United States next month.The chairman of the American vaccine maker told the CBC on Sunday that Canada is near the front of the line to receive the 20 million doses it pre-ordered, confirming that the country's early commitment to purchasing the shots means it will get its supply first.Moderna is one of several companies to have already submitted partial data to a "rolling review" process offered by Health Canada. Rather than presenting regulators with a complete package of trial results, the would-be vaccine makers file data and findings as they become available. Canada has been looking at Moderna's first results since mid-October.The issue of when Canada will receive its orders came to the forefront last week when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country will have to wait a bit because the first doses off the production lines will be used in the countries where they are made.Trudeau has repeatedly defended his government's vaccine procurement policy, saying Ottawa has secured multiple options for the country. The federal government was pressed on the matter further during Monday's question period, as some MPs called for greater transparency regarding vaccine rollout, noting other countries such as Australia have made their plans public.Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the government has been working with the provinces and territories to ensure the plan is robust."Canada is well-served by the diversity of vaccines we have purchased early and in fact in great quantity. Canadians can be assured they too will have access to these vaccines that will bring us to the end of COVID-19," she said.Case counts remained high in several provinces Monday.Ontario, Alberta and Quebec, reported 1,746, 1,733 and 1,333 new infections respectively. Together, the three provinces had 39 new deaths related to the virus.Toronto, one of two Ontario hot spots currently under lockdown, recorded a daily high of 643 new infections.In Manitoba, health officials stressed residents must limit their contact with others in order to bring down the numbers, as the province reported 342 new cases and 11 additional deaths.The provincial government imposed strict measures on business openings and public gatherings more than two weeks ago, but officials said the test positivity rate remains at 13 per cent.Nunavut, however, will begin to lift the lockdown measures it enacted in mid-November on Wednesday, as more people recover from the illness.Only Arviat, which has 86 active cases, will continue to be in lockdown for at least another two weeks, with travel restrictions in place, Nunavut officials said.The territory reported four new cases Monday, bringing the total to 181.In British Columbia, the province announced the highest number of deaths for a three-day period as it recorded 46 fatalities over the weekend.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry became emotional Monday as she expressed her condolences to families and thanked caregivers for their dedication."Health-care workers have been at the front lines, or maybe the last line of defence right now," she says. "I know how challenging it is and I'm with you every single day, supporting you in admiration for the work that you're doing."Out east, six new infections have been recorded in New Brunswick today, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported one.Nova Scotia reported 16 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total of active cases to 138.On Sunday, the federal government announced it will extend a series of travel restrictions meant to limit the spread of COVID-19 into January, in light of the steady rise in case counts across the country.Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Hajdu said in a statement the measures, which were first enacted near the start of the global health crisis, would be in effect until Jan. 21, 2021, for travellers entering Canada from a country other than the United States.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
Depuis le début de la crise, de nombreuses petites et moyennes entreprises albertaines peuvent compter sur l’aide du gouvernement fédéral grâce à l’octroi de subventions. Or, elles ne peuvent pas en dire autant du gouvernement albertain, alors que de grosses sommes sont injectées dans le secteur pétrolier. « Le gouvernement albertain se repose sur le gouvernement fédéral », lance, mécontent, Daniel Cournoyer, directeur de la Cité francophone à Edmonton depuis 2012. La Cité est un espace qui permet la location de bureaux et qui offre des services de traiteur dans le quartier francophone de la ville. Sa réaction rejoint la réalité entrepreneuriale de celle de bien d’autres restaurateurs. Tammy Anast, originaire d’Ontario et propriétaire du restaurant grec Yiannis depuis 1989, une enseigne bien connue sur l’avenue Whyte, en sait aussi quelque chose. « Le gouvernement provincial ? Jusqu’à présent, rien pour moi », explique-t-elle. Les aides Comme beaucoup de gérants d’entreprise, elle a fait une demande pour obtenir la Subvention salariale d’urgence, une subvention fédérale qui a aidé jusqu’à présent un grand nombre d’entrepreneurs au pays. « J’ai obtenu une compensation pour la plus grande partie de ma masse salariale. J’ai également obtenu un prêt de 40 000 $ accordé aux petites entreprises », détaille-t-elle, faisant toujours référence à l’aide fédérale. Elle n’est pas la seule à avoir pu compter sur Ottawa. Shawn Good, gérant de la pizzeria Famoso, dit aussi avoir bénéficié de cette aide, mais sans aucun apport de la province. Il affirme avoir perdu jusqu’à présent entre 20 % et 30 % de son chiffre d’affaires. La subvention fédérale est tombée à pic au début de la pandémie, permettant de couvrir, lors de la première vague, jusqu’à 80 % de la masse salariale. Cependant, depuis septembre, les critères ont changé et sont de plus en plus restreints. La subvention n’est plus qu’à 30 %, au grand dam des entrepreneurs. « On ne se qualifie plus pour le même montant d’argent. On l’apprécie toujours, mais on aurait aimé que cela reste pareil qu’au mois d’août », explique M. Cournoyer, directeur de la Cité francophone. Si les entrepreneurs ont pu aussi bénéficier de la subvention fédérale pour les loyers, la pandémie est là plus que jamais et l’aide provinciale demeure quasi absente. Que fait la province ? Pas grand-chose ou presque. Du côté provincial, si l’aide est inexistante pour les uns, elle demeure très modique pour d’autres. Mark Wilson, propriétaire depuis 2007 d’une entreprise d’impression d’affiches et de cartes, dit avoir bénéficié d’une aide de 3 000$ de la part du gouvernement provincial. Une réalité que vient corroborer le directeur de la Cité francophone. « Au niveau de la province, il y a des petits montants. Mais il n’y a presque rien », fait-il remarquer. Les aides sont donc majoritairement fédérales, voire municipales. En ces temps difficiles, les villes cherchent à prendre le relais. Certaines de ces sommes peuvent monter jusqu’à 5 000$ pour les petites entreprises. Daniel Cournoyer dénonce, lui, une certaine forme d’inertie de la part du gouvernement provincial. « Les municipalités en font autant qu’elles peuvent avec les petits moyens qu’elles ont. Mais c’est vraiment la province qui contrôle, et elle ne veut pas assumer ses responsabilités envers sa société », déplore-t-il. Une Alberta à deux vitesses En parallèle, le gouvernement de Jason Kenney a injecté 1,5 milliard de dollars dans le projet de Keystone XL. En Alberta, on assiste à un décalage inquiétant entre l’aide octroyée aux géants du secteur pétrolier et celle offerte aux acteurs d’une économie plus petite, mais indispensable au fonctionnement ainsi qu’à l’épanouissement de la société albertaine. Le cabinet de Jason Kenney n’a pas commenté sur l’aide éventuelle qu’il pourrait apporter aux entrepreneurs de la province. En attendant, les entrepreneurs en Alberta serrent les dents. « Je fais face à la situation en travaillant autant que je peux, en réduisant les heures de travail de mes employés, et en achetant des produits moins chers », explique Tammy Anast. Aujourd’hui, son chiffre d’affaires est à 50 % de son revenu normal. « Les mois d’été ont baissé d’environ 30 %. Maintenant, je pense que nous allons descendre à 70 % avec les restrictions sanitaires, et que la saison de Noël est complètement ratée », dit-elle avec angoisse. À la perte financière et au manque de soutien de la province vient s’ajouter l’inquiétude des « demi-mesures ». Comment encourager l’entrepreneuriat local quand les services de santé de la province envoient le message contradictoire de rester chez soi ? Entre malaise et confusion, l’Alberta ne sait plus où donner de la tête dans un modèle économique apparemment devenu à deux vitesses.Hélène Lequitte, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
KAMLOOPS, B.C. — When Renee Latheur decided to take an old guitar into a music store in Kamloops, B.C., she didn't expect the instrument that had sat in a closet for years to be worth thousands of dollars."It's in a ratty old guitar case. But I remember my aunt saying, 'I don't know what to do with this when I pass away.' "Sherrie Favell died in March, leaving Latheur wondering about the instrument and its connection to the woman she loved as an aunt even though they were not biologically related.It wasn't until Latheur recently walked into the music store and saw the owner's eyes sparkle at the sight of the case that she began to learn more about the guitar and its value to Favell's father, who bought it nearly 65 years ago.Mike Miltimore, who owns the store, said the worn tweed and leather case was a telltale sign that it may contain a unique instrument.When he opened the case, he saw a Gretsch from the 1950s, featuring a big brass buckle on the top and a leather studded "belt" around the outside."It's a played instrument, you know. It's been loved. If it could talk, it would tell probably about hundreds of concerts played throughout its life," Miltimore said.He said his research from the serial number revealed the electric Gretsch, or Roundup 6130, was made in 1955 and similar to the instrument later played by country legend Chet Atkins."It's a hollow-bodied guitar and a lot of companies were doing solid bodies at that time," Miltimore said, adding a hollow instrument was used for the country style of picking that Atkins popularized.The guitar that Latheur thought may be worth $200 is actually valued at between $12,000 and $26,000, Miltimore said, adding about 400 of the instruments were made in the 1950s."I was blown away," Latheur said.She recently learned her aunt treasured the mahogany guitar that kept her connected to her father, Roy Favell, who played his beloved instrument in a band called McKinna Gold."He caught his hand in a planer at a mill in Salmon Arm and he actually had to retrain to play the guitar," Latheur said.Favell lost his thumb at age 21 but still managed to perform with it.However, Favell inexplicably sold his guitar at a pawnshop. It was later rescued by Sherrie Favell and her mother, Latheur said. Sherrie bought it back again when it was hocked a second time, Latheur said, and she kept it after her father died about 20 years ago.Sherrie sometimes played the Credence Clearwater tune "Bad Moon Rising" on the guitar, but her prized possession spent much of its time hidden away, Latheur said. — By Camille Bains in Vancouver.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says it's too early to say whether COVID-19 restrictions will be loosened in time to allow families to gather for the holidays. Moe said residents can expect to see high COVID-19 case numbers for the next few weeks, as officials wait to see if the latest public-health measures have been effective.The province reported 325 new infections on Monday and said there are 123 people in hospital, 23 of whom are receiving intensive care.The premier noted that the new rules, which include suspending all team sports and a 30-person cap on indoor venues such as churches and bingo halls, have only been in place for a few days. The restrictions are to continue until Dec. 17, when the premier said his Saskatchewan Party government and the chief medical health officer will decide what to do next. Moe said they could choose to extend existing measures, bring in added ones or loosen the restriction that limits household gatherings "just a little bit so that we can have a few people in our home for Christmas." The limit now is five people."It's too early for us to say which of those three options would occur," Moe said."We need a little bit of time. We've had three, four days since these … additional measures have come into play, and we need to have a few days to see if they're actually going to make any impact on the numbers that we have."Moe wouldn't say how long his government will wait to see if the restrictions plateau the number of new infections."We're continuously adjusting and finding that balance of what we need to do and what we have to do," said Health Minister Paul Merrimen."We're looking at what we have to do with our hospitals to be able to adjust to the influx of patients … we're making adjustments in rural Saskatchewan to see if we can cover off nurses who have become sick."Merriman said the government's response to COVID-19 is a balancing act that juggles the needs of the health-care system with the economy and people's mental health.Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the novel coronavirus doesn't care about the holidays and Moe is playing politics by suggesting more people might be able to gather at Christmas."We're not going to see my folks at Christmas. Most families aren't and that's the wise thing to do. I hope that the premier is going to make sure that any decision he makes is based on the data," said Meili."The only thing that matters is whether those (case) numbers have come down. We aren't seeing that now. We'll see what happens in the weeks ahead."Meili said if Moe's government was serious about curbing community transmission of COVID-19 in time for Christmas, he should have closed down non-essential businesses several weeks ago to give the health system a break. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
Ottawa is rolling out a wave of new funding for pandemic-battered industries including tourism, the arts and regional aviation, with smaller companies top of mind — and large airlines notably absent.The Liberal government's fiscal update sketches out a program that will provide low-interest loans of up to $1 million for badly hurt entrepreneurs.The aid, dubbed the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP), comes on top of a newly expanded emergency loan program already in place for small businesses, and technically is not limited to certain industries.Meanwhile the devastated tourism sector will have access to one-quarter of the more than $2 billion that Ottawa is doling out to regional development agencies through June 2021, including a $500-million top-up announced Monday.The move aims to bolster an industry made up largely of small and medium-sized businesses and that accounts for roughly 750,000 jobs and two per cent of GDP, according to the government.Another $181.5 million will flow to show business and performers via the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts, the fall economic statement says.Rent relief and nearly $700 million in capital investments are en route to airports over six years. About $206 million in further support is bound for regional aviation, including smaller airlines, via a new "regional air transportation initiative" overseen by development agencies.But an aid package targeting big players such as Air Canada and WestJet Airlines remains in the works as talks with Ottawa drag on, with the lack of specifics in the fiscal update frustrating industry leaders.“We had hoped to get a better sense of where the government was going. Instead they repeated the line that they've repeated several times over the past several months — that they’re ‘establishing a process with major airlines regarding financial assistance,’ ” said Mike McNaney, head of the National Airlines Council of Canada.Countries around the world have given carriers US$173 billion in support, he said. Many have also required airlines to offer refunds for cancelled flights, something Ottawa says will be a condition of any bailout."We are very much a global outlier and are ostensibly stuck at Stage Zero on the government planning process," McNaney — whose industry group represents Air Canada, WestJet, Transat and Jazz Aviation — said in a phone interview.The regional aviation support comes with question marks, as well."A regional initiative, what’s that?" asked John McKenna, CEO of the Air Transport Association of Canada, which represents some 30 regional airlines. "We have no idea. We have not been consulted," he said in a phone interview. "Never mind new initiatives, try to support the existing services so they survive."In a speech to the House of Commons, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland stressed the benefits of the broader government-backed loan program for smaller companies."We know that businesses in tourism, hospitality, travel, arts and culture have been particularly hard-hit," Freeland said."So we’re creating a new stream of support for those businesses that need it most — a credit availability program with 100 per cent government-backed loan support and favourable terms for businesses that have lost revenue as people stay home to fight the spread of the virus."The HASCAP credit program will offer interest rates below the market average, according to the fiscal update, with more details coming "soon."It also said the government is "exploring options to enhance" a federal loan program for big companies, little-loved by industry since its inception in the spring.The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) offers loans of $60 million or more to large businesses facing cash problems, but comes with an interest rate that jumps to eight per cent from five per cent after the first year — far above typical private-sector lending rates.Only two firms have been approved for LEEFF loans since the Liberals announced the program on May 11, according to the Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation: a casino company and a producer of metallurgical coal.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh criticized the government for failing to offer industry aid that includes explicit job protections."They have not rolled out any sector-specific supports, meaningfully, that are tied to jobs," he said.Bloc Québécois Yves-François Blanchet slammed the lack of "precision" in the fiscal snapshot."They basically say that there is no limit to what they will spend, without saying or without admitting how badly you spend it," he said.The $686 million in airport aid includes $500 million over six years, starting this year, to back infrastructure spending at large airports that would include massive transit projects, such as the new light-rail station at the Montreal airport.The government is also proposing to extend $229 million in additional rent relief to the 21 airport authorities that pay rent to Ottawa, with "comparable treatment" for Ports Toronto, which operates Billy Bishop airport in downtown Toronto.The supports unveiled Monday come on top of Ottawa's pan-sectoral announcement to raise the wage subsidy to 75 per cent of company payroll costs — it was reduced to a maximum of 65 per cent in October — as well as an extension of the rent subsidy to mid-March from the end of 2020.David Chartrand, Quebec coordinator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, applauded the wage subsidy, but lamented the radio silence on large airlines."After almost 10 months of crisis, still nothing," he said in a release in French.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia recorded 46 more deaths over the last three days, its highest number of fatalities for that time period.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry became emotional Monday as she expressed her condolences to families and thanked caregivers for their dedication.Henry says 80 per cent of the deaths were in long-term care homes, and 441 people have now died of COVID-19 in the province.She says 2,364 new infections were diagnosed between Friday and Monday, for a total of 33,238 cases since the pandemic began.Henry says the rise in deaths reflects the challenge of dealing with the virus in communities, and the impact on seniors when it gets into care homes.There are outbreaks in 57 long-term care and assisted living facilities as well as in five in acute-care units in British Columbia."Health-care workers have been at the front lines, or maybe the last line of defence right now," she says. "I know how challenging it is and I'm with you every single day, supporting you in admiration for the work that you're doing."Henry says most faith leaders are supporting her order banning religious services and understand that faith can be practised outside of buildings.The RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to a church in Langley after it held a service on the weekend."We are putting in the measures that we believe are the best we can do to protect communities, to protect our health and to protect us from transmission of this virus," Henry says.She says there's always an ethical dilemma when it comes to balancing the unintended consequences of her orders and how they affect people."How do you do just the right amount to try and keep this virus from spreading rapidly and causing so much suffering? There's no right answer to this, there's no perfect way of doing it and I will always be accused of doing too much or not enough."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 6:40 p.m. British Columbia health officials say 46 people died from COVID-19 over the weekend, the highest number they have yet reported. The figure brings the total number of deaths in B.C. to 441 and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says about 80 per cent died in long-term care facilities. She says the deaths reflect the challenges COVID-19 is creating and, as we face a “significant storm surge” in cases, she says we need to push back against the virus by continuing to reduce our contacts and stick with our households. Henry also announced a total of 2,364 new cases, including all those diagnosed between Friday and Monday and another 277 historical cases added in a data correction. --- 5:45 p.m. Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Johnson & Johnson has submitted its COVID-19 vaccine candidate for Health Canada's approval. It's the fourth potential vaccine sent for assessment in Canada and the first that would require one dose to confer immunity instead of two. Health Canada has been examining vaccine candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca since October, when those companies sent partial data on their drugs for what's called a "rolling review." If the Johnson & Johnson vaccine meets Health Canada's standards for safety and effectiveness, the Canadian government says it has a deal to buy 10 million doses and an option on up to 28 million more. --- 5:45 p.m. Alberta is reporting a new record of daily COVID-19 cases. The province says there are 1,733 new infections — 13 fewer than Ontario announced today. Alberta’s previous high was 1,731 new cases on Saturday. The province says there have also been eight new deaths and 453 people are in hospital, with 96 of those in intensive care. --- 3:20 p.m. Health Canada has confirmed that it should be ready to approve another vaccine for COVID-19 before the end of December. Last week, Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said the emergency review of Pfizer's vaccine was the most advanced and that Canada should be ready to greenlight it when the U.S. does. That is expected to happen around Dec. 10. Today, a spokesman said other vaccines should also be approved at the same time they are given emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Moderna today applied for that U.S. approval and the FDA will meet Dec. 17 to consider it, a time frame Health Canada said Canada will also be on track to meet. --- 2:10 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting 16 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total of active cases to 138. Fifteen of the cases are in the central zone, which includes Halifax, and the other is a school-based case connected to the Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, N.S., that was reported on Sunday. Premier Stephen McNeil says there continues to be strong public interest in the asymptomatic pop-up rapid-testing locations around the province. Health officials say 628 tests were administered at the rapid-testing pop-up site in Dartmouth yesterday with six positive results. --- 2:05 p.m. Manitoba health officials are reporting 342 new COVID-19 cases and 11 additional deaths. The government enacted strict measures on business openings and public gatherings more than two weeks ago, yet the test positivity rate remains at 13 per cent. The province's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, says people have to reduce the number of contacts they have if the numbers are to come down. --- 1:25 p.m. The Northwest Territories has confirmed one new case of COVID-19. But the new case will not be included in the territory's tally of infections because the individual contracted the virus before arriving. Chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola says one close contact of the non-resident worker, who entered the territory on an exemption, has been identified and is in isolation. Kandola says all high-risk essential workers are now being tested for COVID-19 upon entry to the territory. --- 1:20 p.m. Nunavut will start lifting lockdown measures on Wednesday as more people recover from COVID-19. The territory reported four new cases today, bringing the total to 181, and the chief public health officer says 73 people have recovered. Dr. Michael Patterson says only Arviat, which has 86 active cases, will remain in lockdown for at least another two weeks and travel to the community will still be restricted. The territory-wide lockdown was put in place on Nov. 18 and Patterson says restrictions will be reintroduced if another outbreak occurs. --- 1:10 p.m. Yukon is offering extra help to tourism-dependent businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean says $1 million will go to tourism operators and food and beverage businesses that rely on visitors for at least 60 per cent of their revenues. McLean also announced a total of $300,000 for culture and tourism non-profit organizations. She says the two newly created programs are part of a broader funding package for the Yukon tourism industry that will roll out over three years. --- 12:52 p.m. Public health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 today. The woman is a close contact of a previously identified travel-related case. Another infection announced Sunday has been found to be travel-related. Newfoundland and Labrador now has 36 active cases of COVID-19, with 338 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic. --- 12:44 p.m. Public Heath officials in New Brunswick are reporting six new cases of COVID-19 today. There are two cases in the Moncton region, two in the Saint John region, one in the Bathurst region and one in the Fredericton region. The total number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 501, including 374 recoveries and seven deaths. The number of active cases is 120 with no one currently hospitalized due to the virus. --- 12:12 p.m. The COVID-19 pandemic and a resulting drop in commuter traffic is prompting another refund for Manitoba drivers. The province says it plans to offer rebates of an average of $100 per policy-holder by early in the new year, subject to approval from the Public Utilities Board. Another refund worth an average of $150 was offered earlier this year. The province says a sharp drop in traffic has resulted in fewer collision claims to Crown-owned Manitoba Public Insurance. --- 11:10 a.m. Quebec is reporting 1,333 new COVID-19 infections and 23 more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. The province's Health Department says there are 693 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 28 more than the previous day. Ninety-four people are in intensive care, an increase of two. Officials say eight deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours, 14 others were from the last week and one occurred on an unknown date. --- 10:40 a.m. Ontario is reporting 1,746 new cases of COVID-19. Eight more people have died due to the virus in the province. Tougher public health restrictions under the provincial framework take effect in five regions today, with Windsor-Essex moving to the strictest level short of a lockdown. Haldimand-Norfolk is moving to the orange level, while Hastings Prince Edward, Lambton and Northwestern are going into the yellow level. --- 10:30 a.m. A spokeswoman for the American biotech company Moderna says the first 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to the United States next month. Global deliveries, including to Canada, to begin in the first quarter of 2021. It applied to Health Canada for approval in October. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Ontario reported seven death on Monday.
More than a year after Derek and Emilie Muth left Calgary to adopt their daughter Zoe in Nigeria, they're finally returning home. But the couple says their ordeal contains lessons for the federal government on how it could improve its citizenship process for those in urgent need."We feel an obligation to take ownership over what we've seen with systemic prejudices and systemic injustices … Because we're citizens of Canada who've gone through immigration, which is pretty rare, we feel an obligation to effect change somehow," Derek Muth said. "This whole story is already not private because we were forced to go to the media. So we might as well use it the best we can … and hopefully something policy-wise changes."The Muths' adoption of their two-and-a-half year-old daughter was finalized in October 2019, but her citizenship was delayed when Canadian immigration staff were repatriated, because of the pandemic, from the only government office in West Africa that could finish processing their paperwork. Zoe has sickle cell anemia, and had contracted a life-threatening infection while in hospital in Nigeria, leading to sepsis and severe anemia requiring a blood transfusion.> If this is the treatment of Canadian citizens, then I can't imagine what refugees go through. — Derek and Emilie MuthShe and the Muths relocated to Barbados — one of the few countries that allows Canadian and Nigerian visitors to stay for months without visas — so they could receive better medical care. When the pandemic hit, all three were stranded in the Caribbean.There, the family say they went months with government officials seemingly not even opening their documents, according to an access-to-information request filed by their lawyer, and, until CBC News reached out, no reply from the immigration minister to their urgent requests for repatriation.But they said after news stories were published in September, there was suddenly a flurry of activity.Earlier this month, Zoe's citizenship application was finally approved. The Muths say they were told by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that's because an official was flown from Canada to Ghana to review their electronic file, which could have been viewed remotely. The official then interviewed the family over the phone."They ended up doing the interview over the phone, which is a massive head-scratcher, because back in March when … we were begging for repatriation, the answer from [IRCC] was that an interview might be required and [the Ghana office was] not doing interviews … and fast-forward eight months later and they do the whole thing over the phone anyways," Derek said."They had all the digital copies of our application, all the files."Emilie says, during that interview, the officer also accused the couple of breaking a Nigerian adoption law, based on the wait period before adoption finalization.But the law in question had been changed years ago and the couple was in compliance — something they knew but the Canadian officer seemingly did not.The official requested more paperwork via the family's lawyer and the matter was cleared up in a week or two. "Afterwards, I sent [IRCC and the Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino] a letter saying 'Your officer is making life-changing decisions for our family based on a misunderstanding of the law.' So it's just, it was really concerning and troubling for us," Emilie said.Their 13-page letter sent to the minister recommends changes they say the government should make to prevent other families from facing a similar situation. The recommendations focus on how to streamline the process for those in urgent need. "Without intervention from your office, ill treatment and undue hardship will continue for families who are opening their homes, hearts and finances to provide a Canadian future for a child in need. After going through this, I'm pondering — if this is the treatment of Canadian citizens, then I can't imagine what refugees go through," the letter reads.An IRCC spokesperson confirmed that Zoe's citizenship was approved after an officer went to the Ghana office to review their application, but would not provide more details. The IRCC also said, without addressing the Muths' specific complaints, that sometimes additional steps in the citizenship process are required to ensure adoptions meet the requirements of international conventions, and that time frames can vary even from case to case within a country."While IRCC officers have encountered some challenges in processing applications during the pandemic, officers continue to assess applications for adoption to ensure the adoption meets the requirements of the Citizenship Act, before recognizing a child as a presumptive Canadian," the IRCC said in a statement.MP Raquel Dancho, the Opposition critic for immigration, spoke with the Muths and on Wednesday asked the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration if IRCC would be doing a comprehensive review."International adoptions are a complicated business because so much depends on the host country," deputy immigration minister Catrina Tapley responded — without addressing that the delays were on the Canadian side. Dancho says the government has struggled to effectively manage immigration during the pandemic. "The Muth family's heartbreaking story is a clear indication that Canada's immigration system is failing to treat newcomers with dignity, compassion or respect," she said in a statement.The Muths arrived in Calgary on Monday afternoon.Emilie says, despite the problems they faced, she doesn't want to discourage others from adoption."It's hard, but it's worth it," she said. "The meaningful things in life are rarely easy."Now, they say their focus is on helping Zoe adjust to life in Calgary and, once it's safe, catching up with their loved ones."We would love to come back and have everybody at the airport and give big hugs to grandma and have a nice, really emotional time … but I mean, we've been isolated for 13 months, so it's still going to be way better [to be back,]" Emilie said.
COVID-19. La mise à jour du 28 novembre de la Santé publique indique que 35 des résidents du Centre l’Assomption sont infectés par la COVID-19. La résidence pour personnes âgées de Saint-Léonard-d’Aston, avec 90%, est celle qui a le plus haut taux au Québec. Toujours en date du 28 novembre, on ne compte pas de décès. Rappelons qu’au 24 novembre, il y avait 27 cas actifs.Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
MONTREAL — A provincial commission looking into the protection of vulnerable children in Quebec recommended on Monday the appointment of a youth-protection director to oversee the entire provincial system.The Laurent Commission released a preliminary report Monday after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its final report, initially due today, until April 2021.The proposed provincial director of youth protection would act as a "guardian angel" and would have a role similar to that of a deputy minister, providing some consistency in how cases are handled across the province.The commission found that the proportion of youth protection cases that are before the courts can vary from 30 per cent to 70 per cent from one region to another, suggesting the interpretation of the law needs to be clarified.Having a director in place would mean they'd be better able to act on the numerous recommendations expected in her report due next year, said Regine Laurent, a nurse and former union leader who is heading the commission.The commissioners recommend that the best interests of children should be at the heart of all interventions made by youth protection. Laurent says that means the child must be talked to about their present situation and their future, and their rights must be respected.The special commission was sparked by the 2019 death of a seven-year-old girl from Granby, Que., after she was found in critical condition in her family home, even though she had been the subject of reports to the youth protection department.However, Laurent's mandate was open-ended, casting a wide net on the system and how users navigate it.Among the recommendations outlined Monday was that youth protection do better in dealing with Black and Indigenous youth, with services better adapted to the realities of those communities. Laurent deplored the over-representation of these families in the youth protection system.She also had positive words for those in the network who are overworked and under tremendous pressure.“The workers are also in distress. They believe that the conditions of practice do not allow them to provide quality services, at the right time and in line with needs," Laurent said.Hearings began in October 2019, and the commission said it has heard from more than 300 witnesses.The commission also held 42 “regional forums” where it heard from more than 2,000 citizens and other stakeholders from across Quebec.In a statement, junior health minister Lionel Carmant said the Coalition Avenir Quebec government intends to act swiftly on the recommendation of a director."The safety and well-being of every child is a top priority for the government," Carmant said. "The creation of a position of national director of youth protection is very interesting and goes in the direction of my reflection."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Lia Levesque, The Canadian Press
“Divorce is hell,” begins Justice Cary Boswell’s decision in finding that a Barrie man intentionally ran down his neighbour and “erstwhile best friend” whom he believed was having an affair with his wife. “This is a case where Mr. Pacheco was clearly angry at his wife and (the neighbour) for their relationship,” Boswell wrote in his Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision released Nov. 6. The fact-finding hearing followed Isidoro Pacheco’s guilty plea to dangerous driving causing bodily harm to resolve contested facts Boswell said were relevant to sentencing. Pacheco maintained he didn’t mean to run the man over with his pickup truck during the late summer of 2018, but the Crown prosecutor said he did it on purpose. Boswell found Pacheco was agitated and distressed as he drove along Baker Crescent — near Bayfield Street and Ferris Lane in north-end Barrie — when he saw the neighbour in his driveway helping his wife move out. The neighbour testified that that morning, while helping Pacheco’s wife move, he spotted Pacheco’s truck coming around a bend on his street and as it neared, accelerating, coming right at him with Pacheco yelling out the open window “You son of a bitch!" He, as well as Pacheco’s wife, told the court they weren’t having an affair in September 2018 and claimed Pacheco’s suspicions were not grounded in reality at the time, the judge observed, pointing out the former wife and neighbour now live together. The judge found Pacheco to undoubtedly be remorseful, having difficulty speaking about it to the court, breaking into tears and hyperventilating. But he ultimately concluded Pacheco did aim his truck at his neighbour on purpose. He said there had been a heated dispute the night before after Pacheco saw his wife and neighbour at a laundromat. He was then up all night and in an agitated state, finally breaking down at work and was sent home. Then, as he headed home, he came upon the moving scene, making it more likely for him to react impulsively and angrily, the judge found. “There is no reason for his truck to have left the travelled roadway and made a direct line at (the neighbour), save for active steering in that direction. Mr. Pacheco’s account of how the truck came to leave the road is simply unbelievable,” the judge concluded. “Despite having two flat tires he nevertheless maintained a straight trajectory… “I am satisfied that the only reasonable conclusion on the evidence I accept and rely upon is that the collision was intentional.” Pacheco is scheduled to return to court Dec. 4 for sentencing.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
HALIFAX — For eight long hours, Nick Beaton was in agony as he waited to learn what had happened to his missing wife.By the early afternoon on April 19, he knew a lone gunman disguised as a Mountie had killed several people in rural Nova Scotia before an RCMP officer shot him dead at a gas station north of Halifax.And he knew a woman had been killed on a road in nearby Debert, N.S., but no one would tell him who it was."I just wanted to know," Beaton said in an interview. "Maybe it wasn't her out there. Maybe she's just wounded and down a side road bleeding out. Maybe I can go and help her. Maybe I can save her. Eight hours of that."At 5:50 p.m., two plainclothes officers arrived to deliver the awful news: his wife Kristen was dead, one of the gunman's 22 victims — though Beaton insists the number should be 23 because the official count does not include the couple's unborn child."I was in my backyard bawling my eyes out, and I was on my knees praying," Beaton said, his voice cracking with emotion. Seven months later, Beaton says he wants to know why it took so long for the RCMP to tell him what had happened that grim day.That question will be among the many complex and heartbreaking issues that will be examined by a federal-provincial inquiry that is now preparing for public hearings. The three commissioners leading the inquiry were handed broad terms of reference on Oct. 20. Here are four other questions they will face:1\. Were red flags ignored before the shooting started?The RCMP have confirmed the gunman killed 13 people near his summer residence in Portapique, N.S., on the night of April 18, and another nine people the following day in northern and central Nova Scotia.In all, Gabriel Wortman spent 13 hours killing people he knew and others he didn't.Wayne MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says there's evidence to suggest that key warning signs were ignored long before the shooting started."A lot of people knew that Mr. Wortman was a pretty troubled individual who was doing some odd things," MacKay said in an interview. "But nothing was done."As early as May 2011, police in Nova Scotia were told Wortman had said he wanted to "kill a cop" and was feeling mentally unstable. An officer safety bulletin, distributed by the Truro Police Service, said a police source had indicated Wortman was upset about a police investigation, had access to weapons and was having some "mental issues."An RCMP spokeswoman confirmed the police force received the bulletin, but Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said she couldn't comment on how the Mounties responded, because the records were purged long ago. The one-page bulletin, however, wasn't the first detailed warning that police received about the shooter.Former neighbour Brenda Forbes says that in the summer of 2013, she told the RCMP that Wortman owned a cache of weapons and was prone to domestic violence. She said neighbours described how he had beaten his common-law spouse behind one of the properties he owned in Portapique.But none of those neighbours would corroborate the story to police at the time. MacKay said the behaviour of those people deserves closer scrutiny. "The failure of others to substantiate and support her statements on either the firearms or domestic violence led (the police) to do nothing," MacKay said.2\. What role did misogyny and sexism play in the mass killing?After the killings, several of the gunman's neighbours came forward to describe the man as jealous, controlling and abusive. And police confirmed that on the night the killing started, he had bound and attacked his longtime partner.The inquiry has been tasked with examining the role of intimate-partner violence, which is something activists Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald say is key to explaining what happened."His neighbours were afraid of him, and he had a history of violence," said Sarson, who together with MacDonald founded the advocacy group Persons Against Non-State Torture. "The women he was connected to, he didn't respect their equality."MacDonald said exploring the role of gender-based violence will be important because there is evidence of a link between misogyny and mass killings. "If we understand the impact of misogyny and sexism, we'll start to prevent atrocities like this," she said.Researchers say the motives of men who commit mass shootings are often complex and difficult to discern, but one factor connects many of them: a history of hating women.In more than half of all mass shootings in the United States from 2009 to 2017, an intimate partner or family member of the perpetrator was among the victims, according to a study by the U.S. gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.3\. What could the RCMP have done to end the carnage sooner?For Nova Scotia lawyer Robert Pineo, this is the key question facing the inquiry. "It just seems to me like a complete failure in tactics and command," he said in an interview. Pineo says there is evidence the RCMP's efforts to track and contain the killer were inadequate."We know that not very many police were dispatched to Portapique in the beginning hours," said Pineo, whose law firm is behind two proposed class-lawsuits, one that names the gunman's estate and another that names the RCMP and the Nova Scotia government.He also raised questions about the number of roadblocks that were set up and the warnings issued to the public as the killer eluded police while driving a car that he had modified to look exactly like an RCMP cruiser.The RCMP have faced criticism for failing to use a national alert system, which would have allowed them to warn residents about an active shooter through messages on TV, radio and wireless devices. Instead, they used Twitter to provide updates on the killer's last known whereabouts.Beaton said the use of Twitter never made sense to him. "We got (Alert Ready) texts about COVID, but we didn't get alerts about a crazed gunman shooting, killing and burning things," he said.4\. Did the perpetrator have ties to the Mounties or organized crime?Published reports citing anonymous sources have suggested the shooter was an informant for the RCMP and may have had links to organized crime. The RCMP have denied having any relationship with the killer.MacKay, however, says the Mounties are constrained from saying anything publicly about their sources to ensure their safety."If there is some kind of link, and they are not telling the truth about that, my understanding is that there is nothing illegal in that if it is to protect the identity of an informant," MacKay said. "They can legally misinform people right up to the courts. But they are not allowed to lie to judges about that."Since the upcoming inquiry has quasi-judicial status and will require testimony under oath, this could put the RCMP in a difficult position."If there was a link, then it raises questions about how much they knew about his questionable character," MacKay said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says that the pace of improvement in the economy has moderated in recent months with future prospects remaining “extraordinarily uncertain.” In remarks released by the Fed on Monday, Powell said that the increase in new COVID-19 cases both in the United States and abroad was “concerning and could prove challenging for the next few months. A full economic recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to reengage in a broad range of activities.” Powell said while progress on developing vaccines had been “very positive,” significant challenges remained regarding the timing, production and distribution of the vaccines, and it remained difficult to assess the economic implications of this process with any degree of confidence. Powell's remarks were prepared for a joint appearance he will make on Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin before the Senate Banking Committee. The hearing is part of the panel's oversight responsibilities required under the $2 trillion CARES Act legilsation Congress passed in March. In Mnuchin's prepared remarks, which were also released Monday, the Treasury secretary said the Trump administration was still willing to support targeted fiscal package to provide further economic relief. “I strongly encourage Congress to use the $455 billion in unused funds from the CARES Act to pass an additional bill with bipartisan support,” Mnuchin said. “The administration is standing ready to support Congress in this effort to help American workers and small businesses that continue to struggle with the impact of COVID-19.” Mnuchin announced on Nov. 19 that he would not grant extensions for five lending programs being operated jointly by the Fed and the Treasury Department that were scheduled to expire on Dec. 31. Mnuchin said that the money allocated to the Fed for those programs should be used now instead to provide support to Congress for additional assistance to individuals and businesses. The five programs that Mnuchin announced he would not extend past this year included backstops for corporate and municipal debt and the purchase of loans for small businesses and nonprofits. Earlier on Monday, the Fed and Treasury announced as expected that four other lending facilities that do not utilize CARES Act funds would be extended through next March. Those facilities helped to stabilize short-term funding markets when the coronavirus hit last spring, sending shockwaves through the financial system. The four Fed loan programs that were extended included the Commercial Paper Funding Facility, which provided critical support for the market that supplies short-term corporate IOUs. Also extended was operation of the Money Market Fund Liquidity Facility, which helped to prevent potential runs on money-market mutual funds. In his remarks, Powell said that the Fed's “broad and forceful actions” had helped unlock almost $2 trillion in funding to support “businesses large and small, nonprofits and state and local governments since April.” Following their appearance Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee, Powell and Mnuchin were scheduled to testify Wednesday at an oversight hearing being held by the House Financial Services Committee. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
TORONTO — The man who drove a van down a sidewalk and killed 10 people in Toronto struggled to understand others throughout his entire life despite his high intelligence, court heard Monday.Alek Minassian, from Richmond Hill, Ont., was terrified of girls and women, had deep esoteric obsessions and had a "striking absence" of empathy, said Dr. Alexander Westphal, a psychiatrist who specializes in autism.Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. The defence argues he is not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018, due to autism spectrum disorder.Westphal, a professor at Yale University in the U.S. who is testifying for the defence, is expected to be the only expert to say that Minassian should be found not criminally responsible because of his autism."He's got a very substantial impairment in interpersonal skills that translates into very limited social circles and no romantic relationships in his history," Westphal said.Westphal said Minassian scored in the 92nd percentile in the verbal portion of an IQ test, but that his overall "adaptive skills," on a different test, is similar to that of a young child."The disconnect between his intellectual ability and his ability to apply it to real life is stark," Westphal said.The psychiatrist testified based on interviews with the accused, his family and old medical records.He said Minassian has trouble interacting with the world."If you sit down with Mr. Minassian, you get a sense of someone who has a lot of words and is highly articulate, but in a sense it is quite easy to get distracted by that veneer and lose sight how disabled he is," Westphal said.Minassian was diagnosed at five years old with pervasive developmental disorder, which is now considered part of autism spectrum disorder.His parents noticed he never made eye contact and often played alone. He'd eventually learn to make eye contact after being taught, and he also did not smile much, Westphal said."He didn't smile socially, it was just not part of his facial repertoire."Minassian also became obsessed with Mr. Bean, a popular British sitcom, Westphal said, and imitated the character's way of speaking.He said it may have been Mr. Bean's "hyperemotivity," or exaggerated facial expressions, that attracted Minassian.Minassian never showed aggression to others, just himself, prior to perpetrating the attack, Westphal testified.He said Minassian's only known aggression in life was as a young child when he would thrash his head against the wall.Throughout high school and into early adulthood, Minassian, now 28, told Westphal he was scared of women and girls. One of Minassian's stated motivations for the attack is retribution against society for years of rejection by women. He has told psychiatrists as well as the police that he became entangled with the so-called "incel movement" online where men discuss their hatred of women.Incels believe they are on the lowest rung of society and large-scale attacks would destabilize society, which would then give incels the chance to come out on top. Westphal testified that when Minassian saw girls in school, he would jump back, saying, "Don't hurt me, don't hurt me." He was so uncomfortable around women that he could not give his order at a restaurant if the wait staff was female, Westphal said.Minassian has never had a relationship with a woman, Westphal testified."The closest he got to any romantic relationship was a girl who he got her phone number from and when he texted her, she didn't text him back," Westphal said.Another psychiatrist previously testified that Minassian did not show any anger toward women and, at one point, recanted his hatred towards women as his motivation.Minassian has also said he was motivated by the notoriety an attack would bring as well as "extreme anxiety" related to starting a new job. Minassian was teased and bullied throughout school, the psychiatrist said. "Being picked on because of his disability is something that occurred throughout his childhood," Westphal said. "It’s one of the things he's identified in as much he's identified a causal reason for his actions."Last week, Westphal refused to testify if court didn't seal his videotaped interviews with Minassian and play the clips to court in secret. The judge gave in to sealing the videos after the psychiatrist warned they could incite more violence, but will allow journalists to watch them. Minassian has admitted to planning and carrying out the attacks. His state of mind at the time is the sole issue at trial.Westphal's testimony will continue tomorrow.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Liam Casey, The Canadian Press