How the battle over the transition from Trump to Biden is distracting from the fight against COVID-19, as case numbers explode in several states.
How the battle over the transition from Trump to Biden is distracting from the fight against COVID-19, as case numbers explode in several states.
Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared two Peel police officers of wrongdoing in the Sept. 10, 2019, death of a 34-year-old Mississauga man who died after he was Tasered at a Malton home. According to a Friday news release, Special Investigations Unit director Joseph Martino determined “there are no reasonable grounds to believe that any officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the man’s death.” The man, who has not been named by police or the SIU, died after he was Tasered during an interaction with police after two officers went to the home following multiple calls from family members inside. “Soon after arriving, officers became involved in an interaction with a 34-year-old and shortly after apprehended him,” the SIU report of the incident said. The man was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead soon after arrival. According to the SIU, two Peel officers were called to the home on Morning Star Drive near Cambrett Drive around 9 p.m after a man complained that his brother was acting erratically. After entering the home, the officers found the man agitated, and one of the officers deployed his Taser twice in succession, the SIU said in its report on the case. The Taser appeared to have no effect, and the man then removed its wires and ran toward the front door “yelling and flailing his arms,” the report said. Near the door, the same officer grabbed the man, and during an attempt to arrest him the other officer also deployed his Taser. According to the SIU, the officers were eventually able to overpower the man on the ground outside and handcuffed him with this hands behind his back. Another officer arrived while the man was restrained and, according to the SIU, he continued to yell, kick and struggle until the officers called for paramedics. They arrived around 9:30 p.m. to find the man prone, held down by one or two officers, the SIU said. According to the report, the man appeared to lose consciousness after he was placed on a stretcher, and he was pronounced dead in hospital. Following an autopsy, a pathologist determined the Tasering likely “did not play a major role, if any,” in the man’s death. The pathologist found his cause of death to be from “excited delirium (cocaine and ethanol toxicity) during restraint,” saying “the cumulative effects of agitation and struggles, position with impaired respiratory movements and cocaine likely all contributed to cause sudden cardiac arrest.” Neighbours told the Star the man lived at the home with his mother, and that his father had died recently. The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. This ruling comes at a time when the SIU is under increasing pressure from advocates and the relatives of several Peel residents shot or killed by police since 2019. Those cases include: The Nov. 20, 2019, death of Clive Mensah, a 30-year-old mentally ill who died after Peel police Tasered him near his home. The Jan. 7, death of Jamal Derek Jr. Francique, a 28-year-old Mississauga man who was shot and killed by a Peel officer. The April 6 death of D’Andre Campbell, 26, who was shot and killed in his home by a Peel officer. The Mother’s Day shooting of Chantelle Krupka, who continues to undergo physiotherapy after she was shot in the abdomen. The June 20 shooting of 62-year-old Ejaz Choudry, who killed inside his Malton apartment, sparking public uproar and a series of protests. The SIU has been criticized for the length of its investigations and perceptions of low transparency and poor communications with victims’ families. Of those outstanding cases, the SIU has completed its investigation into only Krupka’s case — for which a rookie Peel officer was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and careless use of a firearm. In a rare move, the accused officer, Valerie Briffa, resigned soon after she was charged. According to the SIU’s recent annual report, the watchdog took an average of 136 days to close a case in 2019 — or about four-and-a-half months per case. Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpicJason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown.In “Let Us Dream,” Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.”The 150-page book, due out Dec. 1, was ghost-written by Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, and at times the prose and emphasis seems almost more Ivereigh’s than Francis.’ That's somewhat intentional — Ivereigh said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers.At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits.But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour.At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini.“But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013.The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world.At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies.“Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.”People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.”Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.”But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue.“Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote.Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!”He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem.“You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.”He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state."“There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them."In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course.The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order.“I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote.The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it.The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country.“I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote.But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.”“Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote.Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour.“We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakNicole Winfield, The Associated Press
Instead of offering one or more options, some companies are turning health insurance shopping over to employees. A federal rule change last year stoked this new approach. It allows employers to reimburse workers for coverage they bought without paying a tax penalty. The concept sends employees to individual insurance markets where they can find more choices for coverage. It also protects employers from huge annual cost spikes. But it’s a big change for workers who are used to having their employer give them benefit choices every year. This new approach — known as an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement or ICHRA — started with coverage plans for this year. More workers will likely see them offered this fall during their company’s annual sign-up window for 2021 coverage. Benefits experts say the idea is drawing interest from employers, but they expect the option to grow slowly over the next few years. “We are seeing much more cautious adoption of it," said Alan Silver, senior director of health and benefits for the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. Here's how it works: Employees pick a plan that works best for them, sometimes with help from an outside company hired by their employer. Then the employer reimburses them, at least partially, for the cost. Benefits consultants say the accounts can be attractive to companies that have been hammered by insurance costs or want to offer benefits to attract new employees but haven’t been able to afford them. Element Designs, with about 65 employees, switched earlier this year. The Charlotte, North Carolina, custom door maker was facing a 60% price hike for its old coverage plan. That would have followed a 50% increase from the year before. The company couldn’t absorb those hikes. But human resources manager Kymberlee Hernandez said they also couldn’t tell employees in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Hey guys, by the way, we’re not going to have health care this year.” “This was definitely a good alternative for us,” she said. The company is reimbursing employees $500 per month for their coverage and another $300 if they have dependents. Employee Olivia Banks found the new approach daunting at first. But a company hired by her employer, Take Command Health, helped Banks figure out which plans would include her doctors and what sort of expenses she could handle. “The benefit on the other side is a plan that’s tailored more towards you,” said the account manager. The federal government estimates that once employers get used to the new rule, more than 11 million workers and family members will get insurance this way. That’s a relatively small slice of the market for employer-sponsored health insurance, which covered about 157 million people last year, according to the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation. HealthSherpa, a company that helps people find coverage in the insurance marketplaces, said it is working with more than 50 employers to start the coverage switch between this month and January. Separately, it also is helping individuals with ICHRAs find coverage through an app it debuted in July. The coronavirus pandemic has strained some employer budgets and made them start thinking about insurance alternatives, HealthSherpa co-founder Cat Perez said. “It’s definitely picked up as the pandemic has played on,” she said. Like with most insurance plans, shoppers will have to read the fine print when they search individual coverage markets. A plan that seems like a bargain could require customers to pay several thousand dollars in deductibles before most coverage starts or deal with much bigger prescription bills than they are used to. “You’re definitely going to reach into your pocket more,” said Katherine Hempstead, a health care researcher with the non-profit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The new option is expected to grow first with small businesses and in places where employers think the insurance market offers enough coverage choices. Beth Carter’s marketing agency, Clariant Creative, adopted the approach earlier this year because more typical employer-sponsored health insurance was both unaffordable and an administrative headache. “Finding the right coverage was just ridiculously painful,” said Carter, whose Naperville, Illinois, business has only six full-time employees. New employee Sara Schleicher was drawn to the idea. Previous employers had high-deductible plans that would have exposed her to big medical bills. The 29-year-old marketing specialist wanted something with more protection partially because she likes to ride motorcycles. She wound up with a low-deductible plan. “I feel better knowing that I have insurance even if I don’t need to use it that often,” the St. Augustine, Florida, resident said. “This really has given me access to options that I might not necessarily have had otherwise.” ___ Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: @thpmurphy ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Tom Murphy, The Associated Press
The CP Holiday Train is a tradition that many hold dear in Medicine Hat. This year, the train is going to have a different look compared to previous iterations. Canadian Pacific is holding a virtual concert this year, so people can still take live music in while not crowding outside with hundreds of others. “Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we had to make the choice to hold the train virtual this year,” said CP spokesperson Salem Woodrow. “The spirit will continue with the Holiday Train at Home Concert.” The concert will launch at 6 p.m. on Dec. 12 on the Canadian Pacific Facebook page. “Even though it’s not in-person, we’re happy to bring the train to communities this year,” said Woodrow. The concert will be headlined by Canadian rock band, The Trews and singer Serena Ryder. Jojo Mason, Logan Staats and Kelly Prescott will also be performing. As is tradition, people will be encouraged to donate to their local food bank as part of the Holiday Train experience. “We know it’s been a hard year for everyone, but we encourage people to donate as best they can this year, and to be as generous as they’re able to be,” said Woodrow. Canadian Pacific will be making donations to food banks in all municipalities that the train usually stops in. The Holiday Train has been around for 22 years, and has stopped all around North America. In its first 21 years, the train has raised more than $17 million and has collected nearly five million pounds of food for food banks. People can find CP on social media platforms by searching for Canadian Pacific.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
It’s been just over a year since Nalcor Energy impounded the reservoir at Muskrat Falls. How much methylmercury that would release into the water downstream and subsequently the impact it would have on the food chain in central Labrador has been the topic of much debate over the years, and that debate is still going on. Ryan Calder, an assistant professor of environmental health and policy in the department of population health science at Virginia Tech, and the lead author of the 2016 Harvard paper "Future Impacts of Hydroelectric Power Development on Methylmercury Exposures of Canadian Indigenous Communities," took to social media recently to express his concern over the methylmercury readings for the first year following impoundment. Calder said the increased levels showing at a station downstream from Muskrat Falls, N5, are more in line with what his group at Harvard estimated, and exceed the projections made on behalf of Nalcor Energy. He said he wishes they were wrong in their predictions, but based on what he’s seen so far it doesn’t appear to be so. “Nalcor and the government of Newfoundland claimed that there was no possibility for risk to people or the environment, spent years claiming up and down there was nothing to worry about, and now monitoring is coming out showing that the peak levels are still increasing and are within the range that was forecasted,” he said. Data from the last four years available online shows that the recorded levels in the water exceeded the Nalcor predicted peak of 0.1 namograms per litre a couple times in the last year and does show an increased overall level of methylmercury. Calder said it’s common for levels to increase in the first year after impoundment and stay higher for a few years before levelling off, but any increase corresponds to an increase in risk. “It’s known that when you flood a reservoir there are increased methylmercury levels. Nalcor doesn't deny that creation of the reservoir accelerates the production of methylmercury. They accept that there are impacts on water, they accept that people eat the fish, but they don’t accept there’s any risk to the people and that’s logically inconsistent.” It’s too early at this point to assess any risk to people, he said, and that would require more data on methylmercury in fish, which has not been released yet for 2019, but increased methylmercury levels in the water are the first signal. When asked by SaltWire Network about the levels, Nalcor Energy said the measured values in water are very similar to those predicted and are within safe limits. James McCarthy, senior associate biologist with Wood, the firm that handles the monitoring for Nalcor, said he doesn’t see anything in the levels that would cause concern from a human health perspective. “Ultimately, it’s the fish concentration that matters, that’s the interaction with people. Even though water is an early indication it’s really the fish that matter most to people. We just finished the sampling for 2019, so that’s a full year of flooding, but had three years of head pond formation, and we’ve seen nothing really in the fish.” McCarthy said the increased levels are in line with projections made for Nalcor in 2018, which did differ from lower predictions in previous years, and so far everything appears to be on track. The Department of Environment, Climate Change and Municipalities told SaltWire Network methylmercury levels are below the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) guidelines for aquatic life and at no time have levels presented a risk to public health.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
THUNDER BAY - Thunder Bay police have arrested a man wanted in connection with a firearm incident last week. Officers were called to the zero-to-100 block of Picton Avenue just after 10 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19 following reports of a firearm incident. Police learned a suspect had pointed a firearm at another person, according to a previous police media release. An investigation led officers to identify a suspect and the residence they may have fled to. Police contained an area around a Picton Avenue home which was held until a warrant was obtained to allow officers to lawfully enter the dwelling, police said. The area contained by police was held until shortly after 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 20. Police stated the two identified suspects: Owen John Boyce, 23, and Brianna Lynn Netemegesic, 21 both remained at large despite police efforts. On Sunday, Nov. 22, police arrested Boyce at a bar on the city’s south side at approximately 10 p.m. He appeared in bail court on Monday, Nov. 23, and was officially read his charges which include one count of uttering a threat to cause death or bodily harm, using a firearm while committing an indictable offence of uttering threats to kill, pointing a firearm, carrying a handgun for the purpose of committing an offence, possessing a firearm without being a holder of a licence, failure to comply with a release order, possessing a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, and use of a firearm in a careless manner. Boyce was ordered by Justice of the Peace Anna Gibbon to not communicate with his co-accused, Netemegesic, who remains at large and the victim in this case. Boyce will return to court on Thursday, Nov. 26. Netemegesic was arrested in March and charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault in connection to a homicide on Picton Avenue. Netemegesic was granted release from custody on Aug. 20 following a bail hearing application in the Superior Court of Justice. Part of her conditions required her not to possess any weapons, according to court documents. Police say the two accused and victims of this incident were all known to each other. Anyone with information on Netemegesic’s whereabouts is asked to contact police at 684-1200 or submit tips through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. If you see Netemegesic in public, police advise not to approach or confront her and call 911 immediately.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
A former chief of Siksika Nation and Blackfoot leader, Isapo-muxika, is one of several historical figures under consideration to be featured on the Bank of Canada’s new $5 bill. Eight shortlisted candidates are being considered for the new note selected from a list of 600 eligible nominees from a six-week public consultation process that ended March 11, 2020. Over 45,000 Canadians participated in the process. Isapo-muxika or Sahpo Muxika, known more commonly as Crowfoot, was born circa 1830 near Belly River, Alta. and died April 25, 1890 near Blackfoot Crossing. Crowfoot was a leader of the Blackfoot Confederacy and known for his judicious use of diplomacy, and for being an advocate for peace between Indigenous nations and with settlers. He was instrumental in the Treaty 7 negotiations, and in preventing the Blackfoot Confederacy from participating in the North-West Resistance of 1885. Later in life, he also fostered peace with neighbouring Indigenous peoples. Others shortlisted for the $5 bill include Pitseolak Ashoona, Robertine Barry (“Françoise”), Binaaswi (Francis Pegahmagabow), Won Alexander Cumyow, Terry Fox, Lotta Hitschmanova, and Onondeyoh (Frederick Ogilvie Loft). The list will be submitted for consideration to the Minister of Finance. Each candidate will be judged on enacting positive change, being a national icon, universality (impacting Canada, reflecting values), uniqueness, and relevancy. The selected candidate will be announced in early 2021.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
These weren’t the piano lessons of my youth. Quite the opposite.Gone was the septuagenarian teacher crowding me on a piano bench at my grandmother’s house, extolling the importance of Christian hymns. “Old Rugged Cross,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “How Great Thou Art." Grandma finally accepted my resignation after a few solid years of protest.Then last spring, as the pandemic droned on, I’d lost my job, and our schools in the Boston area remained closed, I decided to start taking piano lessons again.It had been 30 years. The grand staff was a foreign language and the only key I could recognize was middle C.The first day, I propped up my phone, clicked a Zoom link for our lesson and found an energetic college student staring back at me.I’d been thinking about returning to piano for a while, but never had the free time required for learning a skill until the shutdown in March. It was rainy and frigid in New England, and I needed an antidote for the monotony of pandemic life. Some were tending sourdough starters, others binge-watched Netflix. I started piano lessons.I wasn’t the only one who chose music.NEW WAYS TO PASS TIME“I knew nothing about the ukulele community before COVID,” said Pat Adamson-Waitley, 64, of Edina, Minnesota.Adamson-Waitley had played the ukulele a handful of times, but in March, she said, “I started playing it every day.”She joined Zoom jams with other players, and bought two ukuleles and two songbooks. Summer's warm weather took her away from the ukulele a little, but she still averages 30 minutes of playing time a day.Clubs like the Twin Cities ukulele club, an informal group of about 300 people, have welcomed many people discovering music for the first time, or finding it again. Tom Ehlinger, 69, of Bloomington, Minnesota, leads the club’s weekly Zoom jams.“One thing that’s different about the Zoom jam is that it’s much easier to get to than an in-person jam,” he said. “There’s no traffic.”Since March, Ehlinger has received inquiries from people as far away as New York City wanting to join.“It brings people together solely for the purpose of doing something enjoyable,” he said.NEVER A BETTER TIMEAs for formal lessons, Andrew Geant, co-founder of Chicago-based Wyzant, an online marketplace for private tutors, said music has become one of the company’s fastest growing areas. Cello tutors in April experienced a 450 per cent increase in students and a 400 per cent rise in lessons from last year, he said. By October, the number had grown to a 4,500 per cent increase in students and a 4,730 per cent increase in lessons.The cost of online lessons is lower than in-person instruction, Geant noted. And if the student and teacher don’t match well, it’s easy to find a new instructor.“Online, you can find the right instructor because you’re no longer bound by geography,” he said.Rashida Bryant, 44, is an Atlanta-based voice instructor through Wyzant who saw her client roster double from April to June, when she had 30 students.Her students range in age from early teenagers to people in their late 60s.“Everybody has different reasons for doing it, but if you’re going to be at home, then this is a better time than any,” she said.A SENSE OF CONTROLTurning to music during bleak times has a long history, said Joy Allen, chair of Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston.“It gives us choice and control, and we don’t have a lot of that right now,” she said.Music also provides social connection, Allen said, and a link to the familiar.During lockdown, private piano lessons for Andrea Cordero Fage’s two teenage sons in Harrison, New York, stopped, but something new happened. The brothers, whose interest in music has waxed and waned over the years, “came into their own musically,” she said. “I would have never imagined it.”They started playing piano for hours a day. They researched movie soundtracks, like the one to the 2014 science fiction epic “Interstellar,” by Hans Zimmer, and learned the score on their own with the assistance of sites like YouTube.“After dinner, one would play and the other would watch. Then they’d switch,” Cordero Fage said. “I think they fed off each other, saw it as a challenge.”Studying or listening to music can harness our focus, said Melita Belgrave, associate dean and professor of music therapy at Arizona State University.Throughout the pandemic, many people have been watching concerts at home but retaining a semblance of the shared experience. The millions of people who streamed the movie version of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” is an example.“People are finding themselves drawn to the arts and crafts,” Belgrave said. “We are learning new ways to connect with each other.”I haven’t figured out whether my Zoom piano lessons will continue past the pandemic. I've gone from knowing middle C to playing cusp chords, eight-key scales and Mozart.But even if returning to regular life interrupts my lessons, piano will always be one of my best pandemic memories.Tracee M. Herbaugh, The Associated Press
Rob Newman has some additional responsibilities in this, his second, year of serving on the Aboriginal Sport Circle (ASC) executive board. Newman originally thought he would continue to serve as one of the board of directors for the ASC, the national governing body for Indigenous sport in Canada. But shortly after the ASC’s annual general meeting in September, Lynn Lavallee, who held the presidency position for one year, resigned from her post. Carey Calder, who had been the ASC’s CEO for the past year, also resigned mere days after the association’s annual meeting. “We had a challenging AGM, so that might have had (something) to do with it,” Newman said of the two departures. The most immediate need for the ASC was to select a new president. And that was accomplished at a meeting in October when Newman was asked to fill the role, at least until the next AGM in September 2021. An ASC bylaw stipulated the role of president had to be filled by an individual already on the executive. “I’ve only been on their board for one year,” Newman said. “Hopefully, I established some sort of confidence that they would take this step.” For the past eight-and-a-half years, Newman has served as the CEO of Sport BC, the non-profit federation that represents more than 60 sports organizations throughout British Columbia. “Hopefully, I can bring some of my business acumen to the table,” he said of his new role with the ASC. With Newman’s ascension to the ASC presidency, there are now two Métis people playing key roles in prestigious Indigenous sports organizations. Last month Shannon Dunfield, a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, was named as president of the North American Indigenous Games Council. “I think it shows there’s opportunities for Métis citizens to hold responsible titles in the Indigenous sports world,” Newman said. Newman, who is a citizen of the Métis Nation—Saskatchewan, lives in Saskatoon. He is currently working remotely on his Sport BC job. But before the pandemic he was commuting from his home to his job in Vancouver, usually flying back and forth weekly. A new CEO for the ASC will not be immediately hired. “We’re going to bring in an interim leader to get us through the next few months,” Newman said. This individual could be joining the organization as early as this week. Newman said the association will not be naming a new CEO before next April, when the ASC’s new fiscal year begins. Though he’s only held the presidency role for about a month now, Newman said he will in all likelihood run for the position at the 2021 ASC election. “I would hope I would have the support to continue,” he said. Like his Sport BC job, for the time being, Newman’s work with the ASC will also be done remotely. “The main focus will be getting our organizational house in order,” he said. Newman realizes there is plenty of work that needs to be done. That’s because at times there has not been much cohesion between the national organization and its affiliated provincial and territorial Indigenous sports bodies. “I would hope people have the desire to work together,” Newman said. “Obviously, we’re stronger when we work together.” Newman is hoping to start guiding the ASC in a new direction. “We need to work on a national strategy for Indigenous sport in Canada,” he said. “We’ll be tendering for a consultant to help us through that process.” The pandemic though has created some tough situations and not just for the ASC. “It’s challenging times for any sports organization because of the pandemic because you can’t host any events,” Newman said. Earlier this year one of the ASC’s marquee events, the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC), which had been scheduled for Regina in the spring, was cancelled. The 2021 NAHC tournament has also been cancelled. Newman is now hoping the annual tourney will take place again, starting in 2022. Newman said there is a chance national Indigenous championships could be added in other sports, including perhaps basketball and volleyball. “There has been talk at the board table to build up our programs,” he said. “There’s so many opportunities to do that.” Windspeaker.comBy Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
B.C. health officials have confirmed another 1,933 cases of COVID-19 over the last three days, a weekend which also saw 17 more people die of the disease.The number of patients in hospital with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus is at 277, another new high, with 59 people in intensive care. There are now 7,360 active cases of the virus across B.C.Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry became emotional during Monday's briefing, as she addressed the growing spread of the virus in long-term care and assisted living, saying the majority of those who died this weekend were seniors and elders living in long-term care.She said it is urgent for everyone to do their part to reduce their social interactions and get the spread of this virus under control, but also offered reassurance that health officials and members of the public. have the tools and the knowledge to do that."I say this to fuel that fire of determination and resilience that I have seen in people across this province," Henry said.Monday's update included six new outbreaks in the health-care system. There are now 54 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and six in acute care units of hospitals. The majority of the new cases announced Monday — about 89 per cent — continue to be in the regions covered by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health.To date, 27,407 people in B.C. have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 348 people have died. There are now 10,200 people in isolation and under active monitoring by public health workers because of exposure to the disease.'The next leg is not in sight'The weekend was the first in B.C. under a long list of public health orders and recommendations that came into effect on Thursday.The orders, which include mandatory masks in indoor public spaces and social gatherings that are restricted to members of the same household, will be in effect until at least Dec. 7. All indoor and outdoor events of any size have been suspended — that means popular events like the Stanley Park Christmas Train and VanDusen Botanical Garden's Festival of Lights in Vancouver have been put on hold.Henry clarified Monday that despite some confusion over the weekend, movie theatres must also close for now.Initially, stricter orders to slow the spread of COVID-19 only included the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, which were seeing a disproportionate spike in case numbers.Monday marks 16 days since Henry enacted those first regional orders. It takes at least 14 days, the incubation period for COVID-19, to be able to determine whether those measures are working.During Monday's briefing, Henry compared the pandemic to an Iron Man triathlon competition, with "three different, strenuous legs."We got through the swim — just barely. And now we're on the bike ride and we've got some big hills to climb ahead of us," she said."Right now, we have a distance to go. The next leg is not in sight."The final leg of this pandemic will only come when a vaccine is available, Henry explained.New measures and restrictionsSocial gatherings in B.C. are now restricted to household members only. That means no one should be meeting for social reasons with anyone outside of their immediate household, although a physically distanced walk with a friend or arranging for grandparents to pick up the kids from school is still acceptable.People who live alone can create a small exclusive "bubble" with one or two others, Henry has said.Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday that there can be no bartering or compromise when it comes to the orders that are currently in place."We cannot negotiate with the virus. We can't deal with it that way — there's no litigation to be had," he said.In response to questions about how much notice event organizers might receive about when they're able to reschedule because the current orders are being lifted, Henry said she didn't have an answer."Things we were able to do in the summer — we had a buffer, we had the weather on our side. We can't get away with that anymore. We will see if that is going to make a difference over the next coming weeks," she said.The new mandatory mask mandate is a requirement for workers and members of the public to wear face coverings in all retail environments, restaurants and indoor public spaces, including common areas of workplaces, except when eating or drinking.The order for mandatory masks does not include schools.Henry said Monday that schools aren't public places where strangers can come and go at will. Instead, the same people are spending time together every day.However she said that masks are encouraged within school environments, particularly for adults.
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) is putting their season on pause following new public health measures and guidance from the province. The KIJHL provided an update on league operations following the provincial health orders issued Nov. 19 and later clarification provided by Viasport, a B.C. government non-profit sports organization, on Nov. 20. "In light of the new parameters outlined on Friday evening by Viasport, which include restrictions concerning travel between different communities, the KIJHL will pause all regular season game play beginning Saturday, Nov. 21. Under the current Provincial Health Order, competition between teams cannot resume until Monday, Dec. 8 at the earliest. Other Phase 3 activities, including team practices, may proceed so long as they adhere to all aspects of the KIJHL’s Return to Play policies," says a statement on the KIJHL website dated Nov. 21. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the KIJHL says it has made the health and safety of athletes, staff, volunteers, billet families and fans a top priority and the league is closely observing all of the guidance and protocols outlined by the province, Viasport, Hockey Canada and BC Hockey and team’s home facilities. Teams had been sorted into "cohorts" grouped together to reduce travel and exposure to other groups. The Osoyoos Coyotes had played three games thus far this season, with a record of one win, one loss and one overtime loss, sitting at third place in the Neil Murdoch Division. "On Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced additional province-wide restrictions, and we have been working hard to clarify their impact on our league," the statement from KIJHL says. "We recognize that circumstances can change quickly, and we will update our plans as soon as new information becomes available. The KIJHL appreciates the patience and support of our fans, volunteers, billet families and sponsors as we navigate this process."Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle
Michigan election officials on Monday certified Democrat Joe Biden's 154,000-vote victory in the state, another setback for President Donald Trump. (Nov. 23)
BROCKTON – Council has renewed its contract with Veolia Water Canada for five years, for the operation, maintenance and management of Brockton’s water and wastewater. The report presented by director of operations Gregg Furtney outlined Veolia’s history with the municipality, beginning in 2006. The most recent agreement renewal was awarded in 2016, for five years. The term ends in June, 2021. Because the municipality is entering into 2021 budget discussions, staff spoke with Veolia representatives about “what a renewal and amended agreement may look like.” The five-year extension to the present agreement would involve an adjustment to the annual fee from the current rate of $702,645 to $727,376, an increase of $24,731, with subsequent increases based on the previous year’s price plus an adjustment for inflation. Furtney’s report stated there was discussion related to “operations and costs associated with a significant event, such as a pandemic, that could make operating significantly more onerous.” Veolia has stated the COVID-19 pandemic, to date, has not proven to be significantly more onerous. Veolia staff have operated safely and successfully throughout the pandemic. The renewal agreement will include the addition of the Fischer Dairy sewage pumping station and the upcoming Walker West booster pumping station. It also includes additional sampling and operational oversight of the water systems at various community centres including the Bradley School House, Cargill Community Centre, and Elmwood Community Centre. Furtney’s report noted “Veolia Water Canada Inc. staff have been great partners in Brockton. They have highly trained and knowledgeable staff that work hard to provide our residents with safe drinking water and maintain important Brockton-owned infrastructure.” He further noted their response time to emergencies has been excellent. Veolia has donated to the Walkerton Clean Water Legacy Scholarship Fund. There was some discussion among councillors about looking into taking on the task of managing water and wastewater in-house. Furtney said wages alone would make that prospect a daunting one, not to mention the need to purchase vehicles and other equipment. It’s not something that could be planned in a few months. “If, in two years, council wants to do this, we can start planning.” Mayor Chris Peabody stated the municipality has been quite pleased with the agreement with Veolia. He suggested if council were to decide to look into managing water and wastewater in-house, that partnering with another municipality would make it more affordable. “After 15 years, it wouldn’t hurt to evaluate (the possibility),” he said. Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak said the Veolia contract is one of the two largest contracts the municipality has – the other is with the OPP. He noted Veolia “appears to be a good partner” for the municipality. Coun. Steve Adams said he supports Furtney’s report. “It would be very expensive and risky to do it on our own,” he said, adding that the agreement with Veolia has provided “good value and safe drinking water” for the municipality.Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
The provincial governments of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, announced Monday morning that anyone arriving to the provinces from other regions in the Maritimes will have to self-isolate for 14-days, breaking down the Atlantic bubble.
ÉCONOMIE. Les exportations internationales de marchandises du Québec ont augmenté de 6,2 % en septembre 2020 par rapport au mois précédent (+ 2,3 % en août). Avec ces hausses, le niveau des exportations du mois de septembre est de 6,5 % inférieur à celui de février 2020, soit avant que les effets de la pandémie de COVID-19 ne se fassent ressentir. L'augmentation des exportations québécoises en septembre est notamment due à la croissance des exportations de carburants diesel et biodiesel (+ 311,4 %), d'aéronefs (+ 30,1 %), de porc frais et congelé (+ 39,3 %) et d'électricité (+ 121,5 %). À l'opposé, les exportations d'aluminium et d'alliages d'aluminium sous forme brute (- 11,3 %), d'essence à moteur (- 57,1 %) et d'or, d'argent et de métaux du groupe du platine sous forme brute et de leurs alliages (- 56,3 %) ont diminué en septembre. Au cours des neuf premiers mois de 2020, les exportations internationales de marchandises du Québec en dollars constants se sont repliées de 9,3 % par rapport à la même période de 2019. Par ailleurs, les importations internationales de marchandises du Québec, désaisonnalisées, en dollars constants, connaissent une hausse de 7,3 % en septembre 2020 par rapport au mois précédent, à la suite d'une baisse de 3,7 % en août. Ce faisant, les importations atteignent leur plus haut niveau depuis le mois de janvier 2020 et surpassent de 2,3 % le niveau de février. La hausse des importations totales en septembre est principalement due à la croissance des importations de pétrole brut classique (+ 40,0 %) et, dans une moindre mesure, de camions de poids léger, de fourgonnettes et de véhicules utilitaires sport (+ 4,5 %) ainsi que de vin et de brandy (+ 71,7 %). À l'inverse, les importations de fournitures médicales, dentaires et de protection personnelle (- 45,2 %) et de formes primaires et de produits semi-ouvrés de métaux et d'alliages de métaux non ferreux (- 53,9 %) ont connu de fortes baisses en septembre. Au cours des neuf premiers mois de 2020, les importations internationales de marchandises du Québec en dollars constants ont diminué de 18,1 % comparativement à la même période de l'année précédente. Au niveau canadien, selon les informations publiées par Statistique Canada le 4 novembre dernier, les exportations de marchandises, désaisonnalisées, en dollars constants, ont augmenté de 1,2 % en septembre 2020 par rapport au mois précédent, à la suite d'une stagnation (0,0 %) au mois d'août. De leur côté, les importations de marchandises ont connu une hausse de 0,6 % en septembre (- 0,3 % en août). Au cours des neuf premiers mois de 2020, comparativement à la même période de 2019, les exportations de marchandises du Canada ont reculé de 8,2 % et les importations canadiennes de marchandises ont diminué de 12,0 %. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Global aviation body IATA is developing a set of mobile apps to help passengers to navigate COVID-19 travel restrictions and securely share test and vaccine certificates with airlines and governments, it said on Monday. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents many of the world's major airlines, plans to pilot the Travel Pass platform by year-end and deploy it for Android and Apple iOS phones in the first half of next year. Airlines are pressing governments to replace traffic-stifling quarantine requirements with systematic COVID-19 testing, with some success.
With COVID-19 health restrictions putting a hold on public gatherings, there is still some Christmas fun to be had at the Festival of Trees. While the event is usually a three-day festival including the Ladies Holiday Luncheon and the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, Cindy Amerongen, executive director of the Northern Lights Health Foundation (NLHF), said planning the auction alone was a complex task. “At first, we didn’t see how we were going to do it,” said Amerongen. “We knew we couldn’t have the community come in how they’re used to doing.” With health restrictions in mind, the NLHF began exploring larger locations which would allow for social distancing. They settled on the north terminal of the Fort McMurray airport, which fits up to 40 people at a time. People entering the event after booking timeslots online. “Our goal this year was giving people a place to go to and a place to feel like there’s happening for Christmas,” said Amerongen. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for mental health services in the community, said Amerongen, as people struggle with delayed surgeries and isolation. “As time wears on, that loneliness is really setting in for a lot of people,” she said. “It’s something that plays with your mind.” This year, Amerongen hopes this event will help break the cycle of isolation people have felt. The trees can be viewed at the airport’s north terminal until Nov. 28. On Friday, the NLHF announced a drive-through light display called Bright Nights at Abram’s Landing. The event is also a fundraiser for the NLHF and will include a series of Christmas-themed light-up displays. Bright Nights runs from Dec. 6 to 9 and visitors can book a timeslot online. email@example.comSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
KYIV, Ukraine — Hundreds of retirees staged a protest in the Belarusian capital on Monday to demand the resignation of the country's authoritarian leader who won his sixth terms in office in a disputed election.Over 2,000 pensioners were estimated to have marched down a central avenue in Minsk in what has turned into a regular Monday rally, carrying red and white flags that have become the main symbol of the country's protests. They also held aloft portraits of opposition supporter Raman Bandarenka, who died earlier this month after reportedly being beaten by security forces.“Grandmothers and grandfathers heal poorly from new wounds,” read one of the banners carried by demonstrators. At on point the crowd ran into a police cordon and broke up into smaller groups that went into different directions.Mass protests gripped Belarus since official results from the Aug. 9 presidential election gave President Alexander Lukashenko a landslide victory over his widely popular opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. She and her supporters refused to recognize the result, saying the vote was riddled with fraud.Authorities have cracked down hard on the largely peaceful demonstrations, the largest of which attracted up to 200,000 people. Police used stun grenades, tear gas and truncheons to disperse the rallies. Thousands have been detained and many of them beaten since the election, human rights advocates say.Belarus' Interior Ministry said Monday that 345 people were detained during protests across the country a day earlier. The Viasna human rights centre puts the number at 390.According to Viasna, at least one person was detained at Monday's protest.The Associated Press
Agriculture in Labrador has always been a bit of a hard go. While there is a huge amount of agricultural land in the region — far more than on the island portion of the province — the vast majority of it is uncleared and even getting access to some of it could take years. There is a bright side, though. In recent years, a few new farms have popped up and one is even planning to sell local beef. Food insecurity is a big issue in Labrador, with high prices and the area only producing one per cent of the food it consumes. The provincial government created a work sector plan for agriculture in the last few years and highlighted some concerns producers are having in Labrador, including the lack of an abattoir or the ability to sell large-scale commercial eggs in the region and the need for more Crown land to be made available for agriculture. On Nature’s Best Farm, Desmond Sellars has been growing produce such as carrots and potatoes in the region for about 20 years. He is a familiar face to many in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as the guy who sells vegetables in front of the courthouse, There is a huge amount of opportunity for farmers in Labrador, according to Sellars, but he feels the industry is still in its infancy stage and 'requires a lot of zeroes in your bank account.’ “Farmers here in Labrador can produce more but it always comes down to policy around agriculture. There’s no question about the soil, there’s no question about the land being able to produce, but we do not have the right policy and the right supports at the present time to support increased agriculture here in Labrador.” Things are moving in the right direction, he said, with the province recognizing the need for more locally produced food, but agriculture is a long game and that’s even more true in Labrador. It can take years to get leased land from the government, he said, and that’s just the first hurdle. Since all agricultural land in Labrador is leased, not granted, farmers don’t have access to any capital from it to go to banks, and so have to invest a lot of their own money up front. Even then, he said, the province still owns it and when a farmer retires, all the investments they made on the land can be lost. Freight costs are another barrier, he said. It costs just as much to ship things sometimes as the items themselves. That drives up his cost, which is a barrier to selling his produce to local stores. It’s cheaper for local stores in bring in food from outside the province than buy from him, he said, and that needs to be addressed. “Farmers don’t need a handout, they need a hand up,” he said. ‘If I could, for example, be able to expense freight on a subsidy basis I could compete with P.E.I., Ontario, New Brunswick, and I’d have that market, I know I would. That wouldn’t be a terrible cost to anyone, but it would be a big step for producers.” At the end of the day, he said, young people need to see that agriculture is something worthwhile to pursue and he doesn’t see a lot of that messaging out there. While farming is a long-term investment because of the large upfront capital costs, he said, it can be very profitable and there need to be more conversations around that. “The whole notion of farming as an important, viable business for this province and for people to engage in, there aren’t enough conversations around that. Farming is an underdeveloped part of this province, that’s self-evident. For that to change it requires ongoing conversations and I would argue some policy changes. “ Jim Purdy is one of the operators of Birch Lane Farm on Mud Lake Road in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which produces a wide variety of products, from produce to live chickens and live ducks to berries and jams. Purdy highlighted some of the same issues as Sellars, especially around the impact of freight costs and getting Crown land. “Our biggest competition isn’t here, it’s in Quebec and Ontario. They can sell their product cheaper here than we can produce it for. We have to depend on the local market, loyalty, to sell our products.” Purdy said people do recognize that locally grown food tastes better, but producers need to move into larger commercial markets to be able to grow and that isn’t possible right now. Other provinces have programs to assist with that, he said, and something needs to be done in Newfoundland and Labrador. Things that aren’t issues in less remote places, he said, like getting a tractor fixed or hiring someone to clear land, can be a real barrier in Labrador. “I would say that there’s less than 200 acres of cleared agricultural land in Labrador and in some places that’s a small farm,” he said. “It’s not like you can call someone and get them to do it. We don’t have the infrastructure here for agriculture, it’s as simple as that.” He said in his opinion other provinces have done a lot more to help with agricultural production and it doesn’t seem to be a priority for the government in Newfoundland and Labrador. Much like Sellars, Purdy cites the rules around Crown land and the unwillingness of government to grant it to farmers. “They can but they won’t,” he said. “It took me a few years to get a lease and that was on land no one else wanted. Can you imagine how long it would take if someone else had wanted it? I don’t know why the process takes so long but it isn’t helping anything. If you want to farm here, you better be ready for a long investment,” he said. When asked what could be done to help the industry grow Purdy said he didn’t even know where to start, but government offering more support is a big part of it. When SaltWire Network contacted Fisheries, Forestry, and Agriculture Minister Elvis Loveless, who was given the portfolio three months ago, he said he hasn’t had a chance go to Labrador to meet with local producers yet and discuss the issues, but he’s committed to doing so. “Our goal, in terms of helping farmers, is opening up access to land,” Loveless said when asked about the concerns expressed over the inability to get granted agricultural land. “Farmers, in order to grow vegetables, or just around the culture of growing, need land, there’s no doubt. I won’t make a commitment on a timeframe, but I will commit to talking to farmers. I’m looking to get on the ground in Labrador and have those conversations with them; what are their priorities moving their industry forward in Labrador?” Loveless said in terms of issues, it’s “all on the table.” He referenced recent investments made by the provincial government in the central Labrador region for community gardens and a cold storage and packaging facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and said there are plans to make more agricultural land available in the region. “Having access to safe and healthy food is on everyone’s minds, and addressing those needs has never been more important than right now, especially in Labrador, where the residents rely heavily on food imported from other areas, and that’s something we’d like to change.” Tomorrow: a new beef farm is the only one of its kind in Labrador. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
CLEVELAND — A customer left a $3,000 tip for a single beer as a restaurant voluntarily closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.The man walked into Nighttown on Sunday in Cleveland, ordered the beer and asked for the check, which came to $7.02, owner Brendan Ring wrote on Facebook.Ring said the man wished him well and told him to share the tip with the four employees who were working brunch service.As the man walked out, Ring wrote, he looked down at the tip and “realized he left a whopping $3,000.”“I ran after him and he said no mistake we will see you when you reopen!”Ring said he would not post the customer's name because he thinks the man wouldn't want that.The owner said he and his serving staff were “humbly grateful for this incredibly kind and grand gesture.”The Associated Press