Premier Jason Kenney explains Monday why Alberta has not adopted the federal COVID Alert exposure notification app in addition to the provincial contract tracing ABTraceTogether app.
Premier Jason Kenney explains Monday why Alberta has not adopted the federal COVID Alert exposure notification app in addition to the provincial contract tracing ABTraceTogether app.
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
Regina police have charged a 17-year old girl who allegedly stole a vehicle with a four-year-old child inside.Officers were called to the 2100 block of Albert Street around 8:17 p.m. CST on Nov. 21 for a report of a stolen vehicle, according police.Police were told a 31-year-old woman had given three young women a ride in her car while her child was also in the vehicle.Police said the driver stopped and got out of the vehicle briefly, at which point one of the passengers got in the driver's seat and started driving away. When the mother tried to stop her, the driver allegedly tried to hit her with the car.The suspect left the four-year-old on a street a few minutes later, police said. Two people found the child and called police.Officers identified the suspect and learned she had fled to Calgary. A warrant was issued for her arrest on Nov. 24. She was arrested by Calgary police for an unrelated matter.The suspect, who can't be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was brought back to Regina on Monday and charged with offences including abduction of a child under 14-years-old, assault with a weapon (vehicle) and auto theft.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 62 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as officials warned that sharply increasing case numbers are bringing the public health system to the brink of collapse.The unit's capacity is being stretched to the limit as it also faces a range of outbreaks in schools, long-term care centres, and now hospitals —and tries to monitor a high number of possible contacts from them."We will be on the verge of collapsing the public health capacity and also the acute care system capacity now that we have two outbreaks in the hospital system," said Medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed in reference to outbreaks declared at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare and Windsor Regional Hospital. The health unit is dealing with 14 outbreaks at workplaces, schools and health care facilities.WECHU CEO Theresa Marentette said nurses who are doing contact tracing are following about 1,000 contacts."Every outbreak that we report, every case is a further stretch of our resources," she said.There is also demand placed on public health resources due to cases in schools, Marentette said. There are 25 schools where cohorts of students have been dismissed due to COVID-19, she said.Ahmed said the region is at risk of entering the strongest stage of restrictions — a lockdown — though there is no specific threshold for entering that stage.He said he hopes to avoid further restrictions but action may be needed if cases continue to increase.7 days a weekThe health unit has been running seven days a week since March, adding new staff and trying to use every resource possible -- including from the province -- to handle the pandemic, Marentette said."All of that is helping but it continues to be a lot," she said."Sixty-two new cases in a day is incredible."The new cases of COVID-19 reported Tuesday bring the active case total in Windsor-Essex to 427.The health unit also announced the death of a man in his 90s who was living at a long-term care home. He is the 80th person in Windsor-Essex to die of COVID-19 since March.The figures come a day after Windsor-Essex entered the red "control" zone, the second highest tier in the province's COVID-19 restrictions framework.Testing capacityDespite the surge in new cases, Dr. Ahmed said that, according to the most recent epidemiological data, those tested for COVID-19 are receiving their results in about 24 to 48 hours.Windsor Regional Hospital's Ouellette Assessment Centre, one of two testing sites in the region, has a capacity of nearly 500 tests on weekdays and just over 300 daily on weekends. That capacity has been increased in the last two days by 66 swabs on weekdays and about 40 on Saturdays and Sundays, the hospital said in a statement. 17 cases connected to Hôtel-Dieu outbreakMeanwhile, the COVID-19 outbreak at Windsor's Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare has grown from five to 17 cases, hospital CEO Janice Kaffer told reporters Tuesday.Five of those who tested positive for the novel coronavirus are patients, while 12 are staff members. All of the cases are connected to an outbreak that was declared on Sunday in a section of the hospital's rehab unit. Kaffer said test results for all patients affected have come back and hospital officials don't anticipate more cases.Windsor Mosque closedWindsor Mosque announced Tuesday it is closed temporarily due to a COVID-19 case.The Windsor Islamic Association said in a Facebook post Monday night that someone who attended prayer Friday at the mosque on 1320 Northwood St. has tested positive for the disease.While the mosque is closed, the association said it will undergo a "thorough disinfection." Anyone who attended prayer at the mosque is asked to monitor for symptoms. Snapshot of COVID-19 cases in Windsor-EssexOf the 62 new cases announced region-wide Tuesday, 16 are close contacts of a confirmed case, 11 are local health-care workers, six are community acquired, one is an agri-farm worker and 27 are still under investigation. Overall in Windsor-Essex, there are seven workplace outbreaks: * Three in Leamington's agriculture sector. * One in Lakeshore's health care and social assistance sector. * One in a Leamington place of worship. * One in Leamington's finance and insurance sector. * One in Windsor's manufacturing sector.Two community outbreaks are still active: one at Victoria Manor Supportive Living in Windsor and another at Riverplace Residence in Windsor. Two schools — Frank W. Begley Public School and W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School — also remain in outbreak.There are five long-term care and retirement homes in outbreak: * Village of Aspen Lake in Tecumseh with one staff case. * Leamington Mennonite in Leamington with one staff case. * Chartwell Royal Oak Residence in Kingsville with one staff case. * Riverside place in Windsor with 17 resident cases and three staff cases. * Iler Lodge in Essex with 18 resident cases and three staff cases.
Social determinants of health – such as discrimination, proper housing and occupation – are critical factors for public health officials when considering how to target resources at those whose risk of contracting the novel coronavirus is highest. As health interventions aim to address these social liabilities in the short-term, the pandemic is also exposing how environmental determinants of health are often overlooked. Air pollution, for example, produces worse health outcomes and occurs more intensely in areas with poorer social and economic conditions, according to research cited in a study published earlier this month by health data non-profit ICES and the University of Toronto. The paper notes that previous studies “have also implicated environmental pollution as having a biological relationship to the risk and severity of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.” Environmental factors affecting local public health may emerge as a larger discussion in the coming weeks, as Mississauga’s climate plans resurface during budget committee presentations which resumed Monday. Estimated to cost more than $460 million in the next decade, or about $46 million per year, the City is slow to commit funding in its first year of budgeting for a greener future in Mississauga. In June 2019, following the lead of several other Canadian cities, Mississauga’s Council passed a motion to declare a climate change emergency and approved an ambitious Climate Change Action Plan six months later. In the summer, as the 2021 budget document was being considered by City staff, The Pointer asked Mayor Bonnie Crombie about the ambitious goals she championed in the Climate Action Plan just prior to the pandemic, including some $160 million that would be needed in the short term for hybrid and electric buses. "Certainly, the greening of our economy is the right direction to move and I think we all agree with that," she said at the time. "We are very hopeful that the impact of COVID will be contained to the next three-year horizon and that we will still move forward with our Climate Action Plan. It is very dependent on the ICIP money (Ottawa's Invest In Canada Plan for infrastructure) – money coming from the provincial and federal government – to assist us to green our fleet and implement many of the recommendations that you found in that report." Now, implementing the climate plan is a highlight of the City’s 2021 budget. The two-pronged climate change solution universally advocated by scientists – mitigation and adaptation – is reflected in the City’s strategy to promote green energy, and retrofit or build resilient infrastructure. The plan sets out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in the next ten years and by 80 percent ahead of 2050, with the long-term goal of reaching zero emissions. The second pillar is to “build resilience” against the effects of climate change, including severe weather damage to City infrastructure. Next year’s ‘pandemic’ budget, has leaned out capital project funding to help weather the City’s major revenue losses in transit and recreation due to the ongoing public health emergency. Parks, Forestry and Environment staff are proposing a net $37.5 million operating budget, or a $1 million increase from last year, to maintain service levels, support higher fleet costs and kick-off climate protection goals. “Now, having a bold plan is very different than action. This is where the City now has to try and follow through on that, and I don't see that in this year's budget yet,” said Marc Johnson, Director of the Centre for Urban Environments at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He cited urbanization data that shows 82 percent of Canadians live in cities, with significant greenhouse-gas emissions and resource extraction linked to oil, lumber and other materials that support urban development. Though projects including infrastructure lifecycle maintenance, tree planting, stormwater drainage, trail upkeep, parks construction and pedestrian bridge replacement may relate to climate change, the budget does not directly connect these developments to the City’s climate strategy. “I want to see earmarked in [the budget] which of these investments in staff, in green technology, and infrastructure refurbishment are aligned with their Climate Action Plan,” he said. Perhaps the clearest funding link to execute the Climate Change Action Plan is the addition of another full-time staffer, a climate change specialist, in next year’s operating budget, with a salary of $92,000, and $121,000 forecast in 2022. No funding has been allocated until 2023 for the Climate Change Plan Implementation in corporate buildings, with budget documents recommending about $216,000 be set aside. In budget presentation documents, staff acknowledged the City requires resources to fulfill its climate plan and parkland growth expansion. However, parkland growth is not funded until 2022, with a recommended $291,000 budget. Capital projects in the Parks, Forestry and Environment departmental budget will also face deferrals, with an overall budget of about $32.3 million for 2021, forecast to more than double in 2022 to $66 million, and drop slightly to $51 million the following year. There is also a modest budget for parkland acquisition in 2021, at $120,000, compared to $26 million forecast for 2022. Corporate building retrofits as part of the climate plan are also being set aside, not being requested in the budget until 2023, with staff forecasting $216,000. More than 40 percent of parks and related infrastructure will need capital funding for replacements and maintenance over the next decade. Funding in other service sectors will affect Mississauga’s climate change goals, most prominently in transit, which accounts for about 70 percent of the City’s emissions. MiWay Director Geoff Marinoff said, during Tuesday’s transit presentation to the committee, that 40 percent of the fleet would be turned over to hybrid energy buses in the next four years. MiWay is proposing $440.6 million to replace 409 buses over the next 10 years. However, staff are proposing only a small fraction of the annual investment needed if 40 percent of a new hybrid fleet is to be acquired in the next four years. The bus replacement budget for 2021 is just $2 million, even though MiWay reaffirmed its commitment to “no longer purchase any conventional diesel buses, and will be required to purchase hybrid-electric and zero emission vehicles.” The budget does not specify if the bus replacement budget will be solely for hybrid-electric vehicles. (The City currently has 36, and the remaining 475 buses run on ultra-refined diesel.) The federal government, as Crombie highlighted in the summer, could provide a significant contribution, as clean energy infrastructure is one of the priorities in its infrastructure investment policy and Ottawa has already approved large sums to municipalities and provinces for clean transportation since the plan was adopted under the Liberals in 2015. The budget also notes the City’s training program for fleet operation will be amended to train drivers in reducing idling and fuel consumption to align with climate goals. Initiatives linked to fighting climate change can also be found in the increased stormwater tax. Mississauga has seen its share of extreme weather in the past decade, with heavy rain and flash floods last spring and fall. Human activity connected to climate change is leading to more extreme rainfalls in North America, according to a study published this June. A stormwater tax raise, which will range from $2.20 to $3.68 per year, is slated to help generate $43.5 million toward the City’s stormwater reserve funds for unpredictable weather caused by changing environmental conditions. Natural disasters and severe weather events demand crucial consideration when making urgent local policy shifts, said Lauren Latour, a coordinator at Climate Action Network Canada. “A lot of the time when we talk about climate policy, we're talking about federal level policy, but the effects are going to have to be dealt with by municipal governments,” Latour said. “They become those frontline protectors for their communities.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
The Alberta government is hiring an outside contractor to review the reasons for an increase in the number of people receiving benefits from disability programs such as Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped.The $75,000 review will look at AISH, Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) and Family Supports for Children with Disabilities (FSCD). According to the document provided to potential bidders, work was set to start Nov. 30 and wrap up by Dec. 23, though the timeline could be extended by three weeks if required. "The caseloads of programs that serve disabled Albertans are increasing," the document said. "The project will enhance understanding of the external and internal factors that are related to these increases and how government can better align policy, program design and delivery with these factors."The findings of the project will be considered as part of the ongoing requirement to review the efficiency and efficacy of all government programs and will support the province's planning and decision making process."The contractor is expected to suggest "practical and feasible recommendations to improve the financial sustainability of the programs."Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney was not made available for an interview. In a statement to CBC News, her press secretary Jerry Bellikka said the contract is part of the government's commitment "to review the efficiency and efficacy of all government programs" and "will support the province's planning and decision-making process."He said the successful bidder will be named and a timeline set once the contract is finalized. Marie Renaud, the NDP critic for community and social services, said she was alarmed by the narrow scope of the review, the lack of consultation and the short timeline, particularly in light of comments made by Premier Jason Kenney and his staff in September.After Kenney mused about needing to look at growing case numbers, Matt Wolf, his executive director of issues management, followed up with tweets suggesting thousands of AISH recipients might not meet the definition of being "severely handicapped" because they have anxiety or ADHD. Renaud said she thinks the government is using a tactic it has tried before to justify changes to eligibility requirements. "The evidence we've seen with this government is that a lot of these panels and reviews are really a way to give themselves cover for the next steps that they're going to take," she said.According to the bidding document, the successful proponent will look at internal government data, socio-economic information and past reviews. There is no indication they are expected to hold consultations with people who use the program or their families. Renaud said the programs in question are old and could use a review, but not in the way the government is attempting. She thinks the contractor's findings will be used to justify cuts in the February provincial budget.
Two battleground states, Wisconsin and Arizona, certified their presidential election results in favour of Joe Biden, even as President Donald Trump's legal team continued to dispute the results.Biden’s victory in Wisconsin was certified Monday following a partial recount that only added to his 20,600-vote margin over Trump, who has promised to file a lawsuit seeking to undo the results.Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, signed a certificate that completed the process after the canvass report showing Biden as the winner following the recount was approved by the chairwoman of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. Evers’ signature was required by law and is typically a procedural step that receives little attention.“Today I carried out my duty to certify the November 3rd election,” Evers said in a statement. “I want to thank our clerks, election administrators, and poll workers across our state for working tirelessly to ensure we had a safe, fair, and efficient election. Thank you for all your good work.”The action Monday now starts a five-day deadline for Trump to file a lawsuit, which he promised would come no later than Tuesday. Trump is mounting a longshot attempt to overturn the results by disqualifying as many as 238,000 ballots. Trump’s attorneys have alleged without evidence that there was widespread fraud and illegal activity.Biden’s campaign has said the recount showed that Biden won Wisconsin decisively and there was no fraud. Even if Trump were successful in Wisconsin, the state’s 10 Electoral College votes would not be enough to undo Biden’s overall victory as states around the country certify results.Earlier Monday, Arizona officials certified Biden’s narrow victory in that state.Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey both vouched for the integrity of the election before signing off on the results.“We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong,” Ducey said.He did not directly address Trump’s claims of irregularities but said the state pulled off a successful election with a mix of in-person and mail voting despite the pandemic.Hobbs said Arizona voters should know that the election “was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s laws and election procedures, despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary.”Biden is only the second Democrat in 70 years to win Arizona. In the final tally, he beat Trump by 10,457 votes, or 0.3% of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast.Even as Hobbs, Ducey, the state attorney general and chief justice of the state Supreme Court certified the election results, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis met in a Phoenix hotel ballroom a few miles away to lay out claims of irregularities in the vote count in Arizona and elsewhere. But they did not provide evidence of widespread fraud.“The officials certifying have made no effort to find out the truth, which to me, gives the state Legislature the perfect reason to take over the conduct of this election because it’s being conducted irresponsibly and unfairly,” Giuliani said.Nine Republican state lawmakers attended the meeting. They had requested permission to hold a formal legislative hearing at the Capitol but were denied by the Republican House speaker and Senate president.Trump berated Ducey on Twitter Monday night, asking, “Why is he rushing to put a Democrat in office, especially when so many horrible things concerning voter fraud are being revealed at the hearing going on right now.”Elections challenges brought by the Trump campaign or his backers in key battleground states have largely been unsuccessful as Trump continues to allege voter fraud while refusing to concede.There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.___Bauer reported from Madison, Wis.; Cooper and Tang reported from Phoenix.Scott Bauer, Jonathan J. Cooper And Terry Tang, The Associated Press
Facebook-backed cryptocurrency Libra has been rebranded "Diem" in a renewed effort to gain regulatory approval by stressing the project's independence. Plans for Libra, first floated by Facebook last year, were slimmed-down in April after regulators and central banks raised concerns it could upend financial stability, erode control over monetary policy and threaten privacy. Tuesday's name switch is part of a move to emphasise a simpler, revamped structure, Stuart Levey, CEO of the Geneva-based Diem Association behind the planned digital coin, said.
Wallaceburg residents got into the Christmas spirit last week with a nighttime market and a Santa food drive by. On Thursday night, the line up to get into the parking lot on James Street was so long, organizers of a night time Christmas Market had to extend its hours to ensure everyone got their chance to support local and do some holiday shopping. The Wallaceburg Christmas Market is an annual event which looked a little different during the pandemic. Normally the entire street is shut down and stores have an open house, but this year it was moved to the parking lot so organizers could control the flow of foot traffic. “It’s been a lovely night with steady customers so much to see and do,” said Kelsey Nydam of the Wallaceburg BIA, who was organizing the event for her first time ever. An hour before the event ended, there were approximately 1,000 residents who had come to the market, and vendors said their stands were running low on products. “Especially this year, markets are important to small communities. For so many local businesses and artisans, it’s been really difficult. When you look at other large corporations who had a record year, it kind of does feel a little unfair. These people are the heart and soul of communities. So it's just really important to support locals.” The Wallaceburg community also supported those in need on Saturday with a food drive by. Kids were lining up on the streets waiting to see Santa Claus – who left his sleigh in the North Pole and opted for a bright red truck – drive by as his helpers picked up food. All the toys and non-perishable food items collected were donated to the local Salvation Army and the St. Vincent de Paul food bank. “It was a very, very successful turnout and we are honestly so overwhelmed with food and toys that came through the doors,” said co-organizer Jay DeBuck, who also owns the Stubby Goat. The idea came about when DeBuck found out there was no Santa Claus parade happening this year because of the pandemic. He wanted to give his daughter a memorable experience on her first Christmas. DeBuck asked resident Mike Salisbury what they could do instead, and the latter decided it would be best to host a parade while collecting food and toys. DeBuck was the one who decided to bring the parade to the people by going through all of Wallaceburg’s subdivisions. The process took five hours with the help of Wallaceburg’s local radio station who broadcast throughout the day, informing residents where Santa would be heading next. One resident, Heather Little Blake said her mom, who has been involved with the local food banks for many decades, claims it is the most collected in 30 years. More than 2,000 pounds of food was collected, an amazing feat especially considering it took place only a week after The Gift, DeBuck said.Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
Si la voiture électrique est bien partie pour devenir le moyen de locomotion du futur proche, être un « électromobiliste » n’est toutefois pas une sinécure dans l’Est-du-Québec en 2020. Nicolas Falcimaigne en sait quelque chose : propriétaire d’une Chevrolet Spark 2015, soit un des véhicules les plus abordables sur le marché, il dispose d’une autonomie qui ne dépasse pas les 100 km. Lorsqu’il est en déplacement, ce résident de Trois-Pistoles est donc dépendant des bornes de recharge éparpillées sur le territoire, plus précisément des bornes rapides qui lui permettent de recharger sa batterie en une vingtaine de minutes (contre plusieurs heures pour les bornes classiques). Or, il lui arrive régulièrement de tomber sur une borne qui ne fonctionne pas bien, ce qui a des conséquences importantes pour lui : « Depuis trois ans, ça m’est arrivé plusieurs fois, même en hiver, de devoir passer une soirée à Rimouski avec les enfants, voire d’y dormir, parce que la borne rapide était défectueuse… » En ce mois de novembre, l’unique borne rapide de Rimouski a même eu un problème pendant plus d’une semaine : elle fonctionnait à débit réduit. « Il a fallu une heure à ma conjointe pour charger sa Nissan Leaf de 15 à 89 %, contre 20 minutes normalement », explique M. Falcimaigne. Face à ces impondérables, difficile de planifier des déplacements sur de longues distances. « Les bornes rapides, c’est pour les trajets interurbains, rappelle celui qui est aussi propriétaire du Caveau des Trois Pistoles. Les bornes lentes, c’est pour quand on reste dans sa propre ville : on se branche pendant qu’on se promène ou qu’on va au magasin, juste pour entretenir la charge. » M. Falcimaigne regrette que le grand public ne fasse pas la différence entre ces deux types de bornes, ce qui mène parfois à des incompréhensions. « À Trois-Pistoles, il y a eu des travaux à la station-service où se situe la borne rapide, ce qui a bloqué son accès. J’ai parlé au contracteur, il m’a répondu d’aller à la borne de l’aréna (qui n’est pas rapide). Il ne comprenait pas que la borne rapide représente une étape indispensable d’un trajet. » La plupart des propriétaires de voiture électrique ne peuvent pas se permettre d’en sauter une, étant donné la faible autonomie dont ils disposent. Doubler les prises Mais la contrariété majeure pour les électromobilistes est l’absence de redondance de bornes de recharge rapide dans l’Est-du-Québec. En d’autres termes, il y a la plupart du temps la place pour brancher une seule voiture. Si elle est prise par quelqu’un d’autre, il faut attendre patiemment son tour, parfois plus d’une heure s’il s’agit d’un véhicule à grande autonomie. Hydro-Québec est en train d’installer des bornes rapides doubles dans six sites du Bas-Saint-Laurent (Saint-Pascal, Rivière-du-Loup, Le Bic, Rimouski, Pohénégamook et Causapscal) et trois de Gaspésie (Cap-Chat, Rivière-au-Renard et Carleton-sur-Mer, en plus d’une borne simple à Murdochville). Ces stations qui font partie du réseau Circuit électrique devraient toutes être opérationnelles d’ici février, dit le porte-parole Louis-Olivier Batty. « Dans notre stratégie de déploiement, c’est clair qu’on favorise une distance de 50 à 80 km entre chaque station de recharge », précise-t-il. Deux bornes rapides ont aussi été inaugurées à Mont-Joli. Cet été, l’achalandage des bornes rapides a augmenté de 53 % au Bas-Saint-Laurent et en Gaspésie, contre 40 % pour l’ensemble du Québec. Ces nouvelles zones de recharge sont donc bienvenues. Reste que certaines zones seront encore mal desservies : par exemple, entre Cap-Chat et Rivière-au-Renard (presque 200 km), on ne trouvera que des bornes simples – à Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, Mont-Louis et Grande-Vallée. Louis-Olivier Batty conseille aux électromobilistes d’utiliser le planificateur de trajet du Circuit électrique, qui permet d’optimiser ses arrêts et ses recharges en fonction de l’achalandage des bornes, pour gagner du temps. Mieux localiser les bornes Si le réseau va finir par se compléter, la localisation de certaines bornes fait cependant sourciller Nicolas Falcimaigne. Par exemple, les deux qui vont être inaugurées à Rimouski sont situées dans une station-service en face du parc Beauséjour, alors que « la nouvelle tendance, c’est de les mettre près de l’autoroute, et non pas dans des centres-villes. Ce n’est pas du tourisme qu’on fait, on se déplace! » Le choix des sites se fait en considérant plusieurs paramètres, répond Louis-Olivier Batty. « On veut que ce soit le plus près des axes routiers, pour ne pas que les gens aient à faire un grand détour, mais on veut aussi qu’il y ait des services à côté. » Des ententes doivent être prises avec des commerçants, qui réservent une place de stationnement et permettent aux électromobilistes l’accès aux toilettes. Mais là encore, il y a loin de la coupe aux lèvres : toujours à Rimouski, à la borne rapide située près de l’accueil touristique, on n’a pas accès à des toilettes dès que ce dernier est fermé. « Plusieurs bornes sont mal situées, surtout pour le soir, confirme un autre propriétaire de véhicule électrique de Trois-Pistoles, Éric Dubois. Il y a clairement un enjeu d’urbanisme. Le choix des lieux où sont installées les bornes devrait revenir aux municipalités. » En attendant, des acteurs privés ont bien compris qu’il y avait beaucoup à gagner en fournissant de l’électricité : IGA va installer une centaine de bornes électriques rapides devant ses magasins, dont quatre dans l’Est-du-Québec.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
While outdoor rinks will continue to open across Saskatoon this year, hockey games will not be allowed on them.At Saskatoon city council's monthly meeting on Monday night, councillors asked administration about reports that hockey nets were being removed from outdoor rinks. Lynne Lacroix, the city's general manager of community development said that hockey games are not allowed under provincial COVID-19 rules."If you leave the nets out randomly, the chance of scrimmages happening or games picking up will probably be high," said Lacroix. "So they're trying to minimize that as public skating is permitted, games are not permitted under the new regulations."Last week, the province suspended all team and group sports in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19. Under-18 hockey players are still allowed to practise, but only in groups of eight players.Outdoor rinks operated by community associations will still allow up to 30 skaters on the ice at any given time.Andrew Roberts, director of recreation and community development with City of Saskatoon, said the new rules on hockey nets are in effect because the province is only allowing practices for under-18 players."So based on that, we're requiring that nets not be outside on our outdoor rink during public skating time," Andrews said."We are recommending to our community associations — we're not mandating, we're just recommending — that the nets be removed when there's unsupervised time just to mitigate the risk of hockey being played with groups bigger than eight."The policy is in effect until Dec. 17, when the province will be providing updates to the recommendations.Andrews said community associations can still rent out rinks for hockey practices under the new restrictions, and would be able to use hockey nets in those circumstances.The city has received plenty of feedback from citizens and community associations, mostly looking for clarification, he said. "We're providing the requirements and the documentation to our community association so that they can share them among the community as well."Indoor rinks aren't really affected, Andrews said, because nets aren't on the ice during public skating and all rental times are supervised."The difference is everyone must wear a mask indoors — it is just recommended to wear masks at outdoor rinks," he said.Kelly Boes, executive director of the Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association, said the new city guidelines don't really affect organized minor hockey.Boes said their practices, for the most part, are indoors and they are allowed to have nets."I really think this is designed around the kids that are, you know, hanging around and just want to go and have some fun and start playing, and a shinny game breaks out," he said."I think that's why they're doing it, to try to stop that from happening."Coun. Randy Donauer (Ward 5) worried there might be confusion between indoor and outdoor venues."I don't know if it's sending the right message to say we're going to have hockey facilities inside for practices, but you can't even have a net out for kids to shoot on in the neighborhood," he said. Brad Holler, who was out Tuesday shooting pucks at the Sutherland rinks, thinks removing the nets is going too far."It sucks for kids," he said. "This is Saskatchewan. Hockey's a huge part of our culture, it's how kids stay active."I realize there's a pandemic at hand. But when you look at some of the other regulations that are in place right now, like you can go eat at a restaurant, five people per table and take off [your] masks … to take away hockey nets, I think it's a little ridiculous."Roman Todos, president of the Caswell Hill Community Association, said they are still getting the rink prepared, so it isn't open yet.How big a deal the no-net policy will be depends on how long the restriction stays in place, he said."We should be close to getting our rink up and running and then we'll have to follow the guidelines as much as possible," said Todos, adding they'll need some more people to help to put up signage up and co-ordinate the new policy. Meanwhile, Lacroix said other winter activities, like Optimist Hill, are expected to open soon, as is the Meewasin outdoor rink near the Bessborough Hotel.During the city council meeting, Pamela Goulden-McLeod, the city's director of emergency planning, continued to ask people in Saskatoon to stay at home and limit the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the city.On Monday, there were 1,318 active cases of COVID-19 in Saskatoon, almost double the number from Regina."Our ICUs are currently operating over capacity and our resources are stretched," she said. "We need all residents to return to following the guidelines of [Chief Medical Health Officer] Dr. [Saqib] Shahab as closely as possible."
Weather is getting cooler and beards are getting bushier as some Canadian men look to add an extra layer of warmth to their faces this winter.Others, motivated by lockdown measures and extended work-from-home terms, may view this as a perfect time to see how unruly those whiskers can get before a trim is needed.But as long as mask-wearing is encouraged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, should they worry about facial hair interfering with the effectiveness of face coverings?Some experts say men should shave their beards in order to obtain the best mask fit, but others say it depends how long the stubble gets, and if their job requires a tighter-fitting respirator.The CDC has an infographic on facial hair and N-95s on its website, outlining styles that are safe, including handlebar mustaches and soul patches. Other looks — like extended goatees, muttonchops and Van Dykes — cross the seal of the mask and need to go. Dr. Christopher Labos, a Montreal-based physician, says that advice is fine for health-care workers, but when it comes to regular cloth masks, breaking a seal isn't as much of a concern."If it's covering your mouth and nose, it's doing what it's supposed to do," he said. "Whether there's a gap on the side isn't really here or there because there's always a gap." Dr. Jane Wang, a clinical instructor at UBC who has studied face masks extensively, disagrees.Wang's recent research suggests men with beards experience more leakage — droplets expelling through gaps in the mask — than those without. Leaky areas of masks are most prominent around the nose, chin and the cheeks, and pleated masks tend to leak more than other styles.Having facial hair jutting out of a mask increases that leakage zone, she said. So the most effective way to ensure a cloth mask fits around the face is to remove the beard."Having more leaks decreases the filtration," Wang said, adding that research on mask fit and leaks date back to the 1990s. "So the air we breathe will go through the leak and not the filter of the mask."Dr. Lisa Bryski, an emergency-room physician in Winnipeg, has seen many colleagues shave off their beards in order to properly wear masks in the health-care field. While a cloth covering doesn't provide the same level of protection as an N-95, Bryski suggests men outside front-line work settings might want to pick up the razor too."It's a personal choice, but anything you do to increase your own protection and protection of others is appropriate in these times," she said. "Where shaving is not an option, keeping the beard groomed and trimmed may reduce the amount of hair and help with mask seal."Bryski acknowledged that for some men, like those in the Sikh community, beards may be an integral part of religious identity.Sukhmeet Sachal, a second-year medical student at UBC, recognized that and is offering a solution. Sachal is part of a group that has been handing out modified face masks to Sikh men at gurdwaras, or places of assembly and worship. The masks, made by volunteers, wrap around beards and tie over turbans, offering Sikh men a better alternative than a regular face mask they could buy at a store.Sachal said he got the idea when he walked into a gurdwara with his father and saw hardly anyone wearing a mask. While he says there may have been a combination of reasons for that, the beards played a part."We heard from people directly that there were no masks available for them," Sachal said. "When they went to the store, they didn't find any."Sachal says hair, whether it's on your face or head, is seen in Sikhism as a gift from God. Turbans are wrapped around hair to protect it, and most Sikh men refrain from cutting their hair or shaving their beards."That's why these masks are important," Sachal said. "They allow people to practise their religion while being safe."Colin Furness, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, looks at beards as a "variable" in how well a mask fits, but "not a determiner."A mask can be ill-fitting whether you have a beard or not, he explained. And while the length of facial hair will impact fit further, he says mask-wearing is only one safety precaution we should be practising."I don't think beards should be demonized, because it's not just about wearing a mask," he said. "You're also maintaining physical distance, you're also not doing large crowds... "It's when you start thinking that masks protect you completely that beards become more risky."Wang says those keeping their beards should still wear face masks."It'll be less effective, but it's better than nothing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
The remains of a 17-year-old soldier were unearthed four years ago in Belgium — and it turns out they are those of a member of the Newfoundland Regiment, who fought in the First World War and died 103 years ago. The details of the discovery and identity were announced Tuesday at an event at The Rooms in St. John's, with the provincial archivist being acknowledged as having played a major role in the process. Pte. John Lambert died Aug. 16, 1917. He was born July 10, 1900, in St. John's, according to officials with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. His remains were discovered during an archeological dig near St. Julien, Belgium. There were three other sets of human remains found, but it's not clear if the others have been identified. Lambert's name was memorialized on the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in Bowring Park, which commemorates soldiers from Newfoundland who died during the First World War and have no known grave. Lambert lied about his age to fight in warAccording to a biography on the federal government's website, Lambert lied about his age and claimed he was 18 years old when, in fact, he was 16. He joined the 2nd Battalion in Scotland, and made his way to France, where he joined the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment in June 1917. Members served with the 88th Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division of the British Expeditionary Force.On Aug. 16, 1917, an attack was launched by the Newfoundland Regiment — in what become known as the Battle of Langemarck — with members successfully overtaking the enemy's trenches and bunkers. Lambert suffered wounds during the attack, and later died from them. Another 26 men were killed in that battle. N.L.'s provincial archivist played key roleLambert's remains were found alongside a number of artifacts in 2016. Those included a shoulder title of the Newfoundland Regiment, an Inniskilling Fusiliers cap badge, two Hampshire Regiment shoulder titles, general service buttons, British bullets and a few other small items.DNA samples from the soldier's descendants made it possible to confirm Lambert's identity — making it the first time a Newfoundland Regiment soldier has been identified by this process, according to the provincial government. It was Greg Walsh, the provincial archivist and director of The Rooms' provincial archives, who "provided vital archival research to locate Private Lambert's direct descendants," according to a Newfoundland and Labrador government media release. Walsh, speaking to reporters at Tuesday's event, praised Lambert for being "so courageous."When pressed about the fact that this was the first local case of its kind, Walsh acknowledged the significance, but noted it was a team effort. "I just feel like it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, I have ever been asked to do, and I'm so proud of the work I did, and the work we did as a team," he said. "I do feel like we have put a name to a face and that's a huge part of what we do as archivists and we don't get to do that everyday."Patience and tenacityHow Walsh got to the point of identifying the remains was a lesson in patience and tenacity. "Military records confirmed there were 16 Newfoundland Regiment soldiers who had fought in the vicinity, with no known grave. Walsh, began his year-long search with this list of 16 soldiers and proceeded to find living descendants for 13 of the 16," reads a statement. Walsh combed through many information sources, including vital statistics registers, census records, newspaper records, phone books and online search engines, to find anything that might help with the process. Ultimately, it was a combination of historical, genealogical, anthropological, and DNA analysis that helped the Casualty Identification Review Board identify Lambert, according to the government's website.Col. Perry Grandy, who is chairman of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council, said identifying Lambert, and the process that led to that, are both significant. "This has connected our modern day life with something that happened in history that we only read about," Grandy said. Burial to come at 'earliest opportunity'The Canadian Armed Forces have notified Lambert's surviving next of kin, and are providing them with ongoing support, according to the government. Lambert, who was born to Richard and Elizabeth Lambert, will be buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's New Irish Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, as the "earliest opportunity," according to the federal government. It's expected that family members, along with representatives from the Canadian, United Kingdom and Belgian governments will attend, as will representation from the Canadian Armed Forces. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Le 26 novembre, l’Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ) soumettait son mémoire lors des audiences publiques du Comité consultatif sur la réalité policière. Parmi les grands enjeux abordés, l’importance pour le gouvernement de se doter d’une stratégie proactive afin de faire face au problème grandissant de la gestion des cas de santé mentale dans la province. La présidente de l’UMQ et mairesse de Sainte-Julie, Suzanne Roy, était en ondes à Radio-Canada pour discuter des principaux points soulevés dans le document soumis. « C’est une constatation que l’on fait depuis plusieurs années, a expliqué la mairesse lors de son entretien avec l’animateur Patrick Masbourian. Avec le désengagement du gouvernement en matière de santé mentale, on se retrouve avec des corps policiers qui doivent faire de plus en plus d’interventions. De 2016 à 2019, on parle d’une augmentation de 20% des appels qui sont liés à des enjeux de santé mentale, que ce soit une question de détresse de suicide ou de schizophrénie. Ce sont souvent des situations de crise qui demandent des interventions lourdes et prennent beaucoup de temps. » À titre d’exemple, la présidente de l'UMQ mentionne le cas de Sherbrooke où les policiers consacrent 17 heures de travail au quotidien à la gestion de situations impliquant des citoyens aux prises avec de potentiels ennuis de santé mentale. « Et ça ne touche pas que les grandes villes, a ajouté Mme Roy. Je pense entre autres à la Régie intermunicipale de police Richelieu/Saint-Laurent. On y reçoit 2 000 appels par année qui sont liés à la santé mentale. C’est vraiment un phénomène qui croît. Les policiers doivent remplacer le filet de sécurité social depuis le désengagement des dernières années dans le milieu de la santé. Et ce, sans avoir nécessairement tous les outils pour pouvoir intervenir. » La mairesse a également profité de l’occasion pour rappeler l’importance de tenir compte également du bien-être des agents qui doivent intervenir dans des situations parfois délicates et éprouvantes. « Il faut penser à la santé psychologique de nos policiers. Nous croyons qu’il pourrait vraiment y avoir une campagne ayant pour but de valoriser leur métier. Question notamment de renforcer le lien de confiance qui existe avec la population. Cela permettrait par ailleurs d’augmenter le bassin de candidats et candidates au niveau du recrutement. Ce sont des éléments qu’il nous semble important de soulever à ce moment-ci de l’histoire de nos corps policiers. »Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
When Nikita Toms hears a knock on the front door of her King’s Point home, there are a couple of things it could mean. The first is that it could be the courier dropping off a Christmas gift. The second thing it could be is another courier delivering a piece of her four-year-old daughter Peyton’s Make-A-Wish bedroom makeover. Sometimes, the courier shows up with a mixture of both. When that happens, Nikita is always sure to separate gifts from makeover items. Either way, they’re both equally welcomed by the youngest Toms. “It’s exciting to her,” said Nikita. Pieces for the bedroom renovation have been coming for the past month. The makeover includes a new bedroom set, the repainting of walls with a giant rainbow — Peyton’s aunt and uncle are painting her room — and a host of other upgrades to reflect her love of unicorns and rainbows. Make-A-Wish Canada breaks wishes down into three categories. There are travel wishes, celebrity wishes and item wishes. With the COVID-19 pandemic still going strong, the travel and celebrity wish categories became impossible to fulfill. Some of the children making those wishes chose to wait until they could travel again to make them happen, while others switched their wishes to item wishes. “Some of the wishes have been reimagined,” said Dave Walsh, development co-ordinator with Make-A-Wish Canada in St. John’s. The pandemic meant a shift in the way Make-A-Wish Canada does things. Normally, the foundation would have a team that would assemble and makeover a gift like Peyton’s. However, for safety reasons, the foundation has been sending the items to the family and having them assemble it themselves. “We’ve been forced to do things at a distance,” said Walsh. Make-A-Wish Canada is fulfilling three other wishes in addition to Peyton’s in the province. The other three are all video game-related. All are currently receiving pieces of their gifts. “It’s kind of nice, too,” said Walsh. “They feel like Christmas wishes.” Peyton was one of those who decided to reimagine her wish. A big Disney fan, she had originally wished to visit Disneyland, but that wasn’t possible under current conditions. With travel a no-go, the young girl gave it some thought and decided she wanted a bedroom makeover with an emphasis on two things in particular. “She wanted anything to do with rainbows and unicorns,” said Nikita. Peyton finished two years of chemotherapy to shrink a benign tumour on her jaw that was the size of a baseball in February 2018. Then, her parents Nikita and Jake, marvelled at her strength as she did three chemo sessions a month and 72 treatments over the two years. “She was a lot stronger than we were,” said Nikita. Seeing the bedroom slowly come together with the help of the family has been great for her parents. And, obviously, for Peyton. As pieces of the room continue to trickle in, the family hopes to have everything assembled in the next couple of weeks. “(Peyton) well deserves it,” said Nikita. Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
In this video, I demonstrate how I make a human bust cake. But not just any human bust cake, this one is a #SelfieCake!
CHARLOTTETOWN - Sukhmeen Caur is concerned about the impact India's farm reforms will have on its farmers, she said. "It's harming people," she said. "Because of these laws, there's going to be no food on the table." Caur, who's originally from Punjab, India, was one of about 10 to 15 people demonstrating by the Charlottetown cenotaph on Nov. 30 - many of whom were members of P.E.I.'s Sikh community. They were raising awareness and showing their support for the Punjab and Haryana farmers protesting a series of laws imposed by India's government in September. The farmers believe their livelihood will be affected by the reformed laws, and when about 300,000 attempted to march into the city of Delhi last week they were met with police barricades, tear gas, and water cannons, demonstrator Manpreet Singh said. "They were stopped forcefully," he said. "They were beaten, they were harassed." Singh, who's also from Punjab, said farming is a primary source of income for India. While the goal of the reforms was to give more control to farmers, the farmer's main concern with them is that a minimum price for what their crops can sell for is no longer guaranteed or regulated, potentially giving corporations more control and profit. For example, one Indian farmer reported selling his wheat crop for 7 rupees per kilogram, after which the buying corporation processed and sold it for 150 rupees per kilogram, Singh said. "They're not treated like people. They're treated like animals," he said. While rising tensions have resulted in a meeting to be called between some of the country's farm unions and the Indian government on Dec. 3, the Charlottetown demonstration was to oppose the police and government's violent response to the protests for showcasing a lack of democracy, Singh said. "I have my right of speech in this country," he said. "But in my country right now, it is not trying to listen to the farmers." Caur added that accurate news coverage on the protests out of the country is difficult to find due to social media censorship, so the Charlottetown demonstration was to inform Islanders of what was going on. "I am here, I should also know what's going on here," she said. "(And) they should know what's going on in India." While only a maximum of 20 people was permitted to gather at the Nov. 30 demonstration due to COVID-19 protocol, Caur noted a larger rally may be held in the near future pending the Chief Public Health Office's approval. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
BRUSSELS — European Union lawmakers lashed out Tuesday at the head of Frontex over allegations that the border and coast guard agency helped illegally stop migrants or refugees entering Europe, calling for his resignation and demanding an independent inquiry.The lawmakers grilled Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri over an investigation in October by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said that video and other publicly available data suggest Frontex “assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea.”The report said personnel from the agency, which monitors and polices migrant movements around Europe’s borders, were present at another incident and “have been in the vicinity of four more since March.” Frontex launched an internal probe after the news broke.“In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign,” senior Socialist lawmaker Kati Piri said in a statement after the parliamentary civil liberties committee hearing. “There are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.”Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn't be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or being members of a social or political group.Frontex’s board met to discuss the allegations late last month. The board said afterwards that the European Commission had ordered it to “hold a further extraordinary meeting within the next two weeks in order to consider in more detail the replies provided by the agency.” That meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9.“Migrants and refugees are very vulnerable to pushbacks by border guards,” Greens lawmaker Tineke Strik said. "We must be able to rely on an EU agency which prevents human rights violations from happening and not inflict them. But Frontex seems to be a partner in crime of those who deliberately violate those human rights.”Strik raised doubts about whether the internal Frontex probe would produce results and urged the assembly's political groups to consider launching their own inquiry.Leggeri said that no evidence of any Frontex involvement in pushbacks had been found so far. He said EU member countries have control over operations in their waters, not Frontex, and he called for the rules governing surveillance of Europe's external borders to be clarified.“We have not found evidence that there were active, direct or indirect participation of Frontex staff or officers deployed by Frontex in pushbacks," he told the lawmakers. When it comes to operations, Leggeri said, “only the host member state authorities can decide what has to be done.”Leggeri also said that Frontex staff were under extreme pressure around the time of the alleged incidents in March and April. He said that Turkish F-16 fighter jets had “surrounded” a Danish plane working for Frontex, while vessels were harassed by the Turkish coast guard and shots fired at personnel at land borders.He called for EU “guidance” on how to handle such situations.The allegations are extremely embarrassing for the European Commission. In September it unveiled sweeping new reforms to the EU’s asylum system, which proved dismally inadequate when over 1 million migrants arrived in 2015, many of them Syrian refugees entering the Greek islands via Turkey.Part of the EU's migration reforms includes a system of independent monitoring involving rights experts to ensure that there are no pushbacks at Europe’s borders. Migrant entries have dropped to a relative trickle in recent years, although many migrants still languish on some Greek islands waiting for their asylum claims to be processed or to be sent back.EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she still has confidence in Frontex’s managing board but remains deeply concerned about the allegations.During a visit to Morocco, Johansson said that the report "concerns me a lot. If it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable. A European agency has to comply to EU law and fundamental rights with no excuse.”Johansson said she has “full confidence in the process that (has) gone on in the management board and the sub-group they are setting up” to continue the investigation, but, she noted that “there were a lot of questions put to the director. And he has not answered these questions.”___Tarik El Barakah reported from Rabat, Morocco.Lorne Cook And Tarik El Barakah, The Associated Press
P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office still doesn't know how a high school student diagnosed with COVID-19 on the weekend caught the disease.Extensive testing has been done on the contacts of the Charlottetown Rural student but no source has been found, according to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison.At her regular weekly briefing Tuesday morning, Morrison said she believes the student was likely in direct contact with someone who had travelled off P.E.I."I would encourage all teachers and students in P.E.I. schools with smartphones to download the free national COVID Alert app," she said.The student was one of two cases announced on the weekend. The other person had travelled off-Island.There are now a total of 102 people in self-isolation on P.E.I. who have been connected to recent cases.Sharp decrease in travelSince the Atlantic bubble was suspended last Tuesday, personal vehicle traffic has dropped by about 80 per cent, said Morrison.During the first weeks of November an average of 1,120 personal vehicles crossed Confederation Bridge every day. Since the bubble was suspended last week that fell to 220 a day.It is still possible for Islanders to travel to the mainland under some circumstances and not self-isolate when they return.If the travel is for medical, child custody, airport dropoff or student pickup purposes, Islanders can be exempt from self-isolation. They are not allowed to stay overnight and interactions while travelling should be brief, physically distant, and be kept to a minimum. No stops in public places or visits with family or friends are allowed as part of the trip.P.E.I. has had 72 cases of COVID-19, with four currently considered active. There have been no deaths and no hospitalizations.More from CBC P.E.I.
CALGARY — Shares in Imperial Oil Ltd. were rising after it announced late Monday it would write down up to $1.2 billion on Canadian assets it doesn't think it will ever develop.In a brief news release, it said it has reassessed the long-term development plans of its unconventional natural gas portfolio in Alberta and no longer plans to develop a "significant potion" of those assets.It says that will result in a non-cash writedown of between $900 million and $1.2 billion in the current quarter.In Toronto, Imperial shares rose by as much as 94 cents or 4.2 per cent to $23.42 on Tuesday morning, despite falling benchmark U.S. oil prices.Imperial said the exploration lands it is shelving haven't been developed and aren't producing, adding the move doesn't include natural gas prospects that are also rich in petroleum liquids.Last week, the Calgary-based company said it would lay off about 200 of its 6,000 employees across Canada as part of a cost-cutting initiative due to low oil prices, adding it has reduced the number of contractors it employs by about 450 since the start of the year."We did not expect the company to allocate much to its unconventional assets in 2021 (or beyond) given its focus on the oilsands as well as cash returns to shareholders," said CIBC analyst Dennis Fong in a report.He added he expects Imperial's move to be "immaterial" to his financial estimates.Imperial is 69.6 per cent owned by U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil Corp., which said in October it would cut its global workforce by about 15 per cent, equating to about 14,000 jobs.Exxon announced Monday it would take an after-tax impairment of US$17 billion to US$20 billion thanks to removing certain natural gas assets from its development plan.Imperial committed in March to cut spending by $1 billion, including a $500 million reduction in capital spending plus $500 million in lower operating expenses, due to lower energy demand caused by lockdowns to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:IMO)The Canadian Press
“Eddie’s Boy,” by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press)The hitman known as the butcher’s boy is back, forced out of retirement at age 61 to confront an implacable old enemy who wants him dead.Thomas Perry first introduced him 38 years ago in his Edgar Award-winning debut novel, “The Butcher’s Boy,” but until now, the character has reemerged only twice — in “Sleeping Dogs” in 1992 and “The Informant” in 2011.The new novel, “Eddie’s Boy,” finds him in England, posing as retired American businessman Michael Shaeffer. He’s enjoying life with a charming yet spunky aristocratic British wife until someone discovers his secret and sends a small army of killers to snuff him out.Shaeffer flees to Australia, only to discover that his unknown enemy has managed to track him there. So, he jets to America to find out who has put a contract out on him and to put a stop to it. In his wake, he leaves a trail of dead bodies across much of the English-speaking world. Perry breaks the action-packed narrative with reminiscences about the protagonist’s early life, when a small-town Pennsylvania hit man named Eddie, who spent his off hours operating a fine butcher shop, taught the boy both trades.If fans of Perry’s novels think the plot of “Eddie’s Boy” closely resembles the last two butcher’s boy books, they’d be right, but the saving grace is in the differing details, including how Shaeffer confronts the challenge of engaging in combat with a fit but aging body.Although the butcher’s boy is not — and never been — a likeable character, Perry expects us to admire the skill and meticulous care with which he works. And there is certainly much to admire in the skill with which Perry works, from his flawless plotting to his tight and muscular prose style.___Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”Bruce Desilva, The Associated Press