ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
OTTAWA – Changes are on the way to the board that manages the water management plan for Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River. The International Joint Commission announced November 24th that the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River board will be reformed, reducing the number of members of the board from 18 to six – three from Canada and three from the United States. “The restructuring represents a streamlined approach for this Board,” said Jane Corwin, chair of the IJC’s US section. “Commissioners enlarged the board last year, but after careful consideration determined that a smaller decision-making body with input from a more-inclusive advisory body would be more effective and appropriate.” Appointees to the board include one representative from the Canadian government, and one each from Ontario and Quebec. There will be two appointees from the US government and one from the State of New York. The ILOSLR board oversees Plan 2014, the controversial river management plan adopted to manage water levels and flow on Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River between Lake Ontario and Quebec. That plan has been criticized by many for the wildly fluctuating water levels on Lake St. Lawrence. Changes to the ILOSLR were announced after a review was made by the IJC. “On behalf of IJC Commissioners, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all members of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board who have served above and beyond the call in recent years and have provided excellent leadership in the face of extremely challenging conditions,” said Pierre Béland, chair of the IJC’s Canadian Section. The restructuring of the ILOSLR board was welcomed by local river advocate Cliff Steinberg from Ault Island. Steinberg has been advocating for Lake St. Lawrence users for the past three years and said the change was needed and a positive step forward. “At one point, the previous board had one commissioner from Ontario and five from Quebec,” he said. “This restructured board is more fair and equitable.” The IJC jurisdiction on the St. Lawrence River ends just east of Cornwall Island where the river ceases to be an international waterway. Steinberg is a member of the public advisory group for the ILOSLR of users of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. That group, along with the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management committee or GLAM, will be providing more guidance to this new incarnation of the ILOSLR board. “I think they want to put more emphasis on the public advisory group and the GLAM for decision making,” he said. “That’s where the real information is coming out.” While cutting representation on a board may have been seen as a negative in the past, Steinberg said that the situation between waterway users and the board has improved over the past three years. He attributed much of that to the inclusion of local information to the GLAM, and the creation of the public advisory group. “The communication is much better,” he said. “We are being heard. Our concerns are being heard.” He pointed to examples like this year, when the board removed a deviation from Plan 2014 so that water levels would remain at a higher level longer for boaters, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That deviation was put in place at the end of the shipping season in 2019 to drain more water off Lake Ontario to help prevent shoreline flooding. It attributed to extremely low water levels along the river in January. “[The IJC] were going to deviate longer and keep the water levels low which would have meant we wouldn’t have any water to get our boats into our docks and marinas,” Steinberg said adding that the advisory group made a presentation and the board agreed. “What that meant was they could maintain the water level similar to the level of the Thanksgiving boat haul out,” he explained. “It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than what was originally planned.” Steinberg feels that the IJC is now paying attention to the concerns of those along the St. Lawrence River. That said, he explained that the board still has to follow the adopted Plan 2014. “They are limited to what [the IJC] are going to be able to do, but they are now well aware of the conditions of this area and how it’s affecting people,” he said. “Things are improving though.” The IJC did not announce a timeline on when appointments would be made to the new restructured board. In a statement, the commission said it expected to have the restructuring complete in early 2021. Established in 1909, the IJC provides oversight and management of joint waterways along the Canada-US board. The ILOSLR was created after the completion of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system in 1959. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
While the world recognizes International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Ottawa was announced as host city for the 2026 Wheelchair Basketball World Championship on Thursday.This marks the first time Canada will host the joint event for senior men and women.CBC Sports and Radio-Canada will take centre stage in providing coverage as the official streaming partners of the tournament.Decorated Paralympian Chantal Petitclerc will serve as honourary chair for the event — which is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 26 to Sept. 5, 2026 and is set to feature 94 games over 11 days."The organizing committee looks forward to delivering an unforgettable, emotionally-charged experience for athletes, stakeholders and spectators while spearheading the evolution of the game in Canada and around the world," said Petitclerc in a news release.Ottawa 2026 will be the largest team sport event for high-performance athletes with a disability in the world. Twenty-eight teams — 16 men, 12 women — will compete for the world championship crowns.WATCH | Ottawa to host 2026 wheelchair basketball worlds:Empowering social changePetitclerc, who was named to the Senate of Canada in 2016, said the opportunity to host the world championship extends beyond the field of play."Ottawa 2026 represents a momentous occasion to unite the world, celebrate the resilience of the human spirit, and champion inclusion," Petitclerc said."Our vision is to host a transformational event that empowers social change by moving people to feel, think and act differently towards wheelchair basketball and people with disabilities. As we celebrate International Day for Persons with Disabilities, we believe Ottawa 2026 will move millions towards a more inclusive world through the incredible power of sport."Canada previously hosted the men's world championship in Edmonton in 1994, the U23 men's worlds in Toronto in 1997, the U25 women's worlds in St. Catharines, Ont., in 2011, women's worlds in Toronto in 2014 and U23 men's worlds in Toronto in 2017."I have personally experienced the thrill of representing Canada and winning a gold medal on home soil," Canadian women's team player Cindy Ouellet said."As an athlete, there is no greater honour than competing at home in front of your family, friends and fellow Canadians."Medal contendersCanadian teams are contenders for gold. The women have won five gold and two bronze medals in the 30-year history of the tournament.Canada's men have reached the podium six times and took the title in 2006.Wheelchair Basketball Canada president Steve Bach says the organization is keen to take on this event."Backed by our rich history of hosting excellence … we will host an unparalleled, world-class event while creating meaningful legacies," Bach said."There is much work to do in the years ahead and we are eager to undertake this journey with all of you."
TORONTO — The chief executive of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce says he's determined to protect and win more market share in areas like personal and small business banking as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage."We've made good progress … but there's more upside to capture in the year and years ahead," said Victor Dodig on a Thursday call to discuss the bank's fourth-quarter financial results.Dodig said the move is one of his top priorities as the bank and country head into another year of uncertainty caused by the virus.The bulk of 2020 has been challenging for banks like CIBC, which were forced to help customers navigate an unexpected pandemic replete with temporary lockdowns, soaring unemployment levels and consumer demand for loan deferrals and other abatements.CIBC, however, is already seeing some of the strains caused by COVID-19 ease up.Client applications, Dodig said, have recovered from earlier lows and are even generating positive year-over-year growth.Traction from digital offerings like the bank's GoalPlanner personal finance app, are also proving to be asset."Our investments in technology over the past several years to digitize and simplify our bank are allowing us to provide real-time remote support to our clients at a time when physical distancing has become the norm," Dodig said.His remarks came as CIBC beat expectations even as its fourth-quarter profit edged down compared with a year ago.The bank earned nearly $1.02 billion or $2.20 per diluted share for the quarter ended Oct. 21, down from $1.19 billion or $2.58 per diluted share in the same quarter last year.On an adjusted basis, CIBC earned $2.79 per diluted share for the quarter, down from $2.84 per diluted share a year ago.Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $2.52 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.CIBC's revenue totalled $4.6 billion, down from $4.77 billion a year earlier.Like most of the big Canadian banks, which reported fourth-quarter earnings this week, CIBC took a step back from pouring record-breaking amounts of cash into reserves to protect themselves from bad loans.Provisions for credit losses amounted to $291 million, down from $402 million a year ago and $525 million in the bank's third quarter.CIBC also announced Thursday that Katharine Stevenson, who has been an independent director since 2011, will become chair of the board at the company's annual meeting set for April 8, 2021.Stevenson will succeed John Manley, who will retire from the board at the meeting after serving six years as chair and 16 years as a CIBC director.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:CM)Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
The Powassan and District Food Bank is the big winner after Kathie Hogan spent the night on the rooftop of the local Home Hardware. A few weeks ago, Hogan, the events coordinator at 250 Clark, announced she would spend a night on the roof if residents and businesses raised $1,000 for the food bank. Not only was the target met, it was shattered as $9,400 was raised. True to her word and wearing several layers of clothing, Hogan climbed a ladder to the roof of the Main Street business and spent overnight Tuesday huddled in a tent with a wool blanket and lantern. Hogan admits when she first set the target of $1,000 she didn't believe it was achievable. “I guess people were excited to see me freeze my a.. off,” Hogan said Wednesday morning after climbing down at 7 a.m. Hogan decided to help the food bank ensure its shelves remain stocked because COVID-19 has made it tough this year for many families. “Incredible is the word I would use to describe people's generosity,” she said in response to the response. “It's been a devastating year for many people, many jobs are on the line and businesses will be shuttered in 2021. But people are still generous. Christmas is coming and we know there will be quite a few families that are going to have a hard time. So people gave.” When Hogan decided last month that Dec. 1 would be the night for her rooftop adventure, little did she know the region would get a heavy dumping of snow under windy conditions. Environment Canada had forecast the blast of winter a few days ago, but Hogan wasn't going to let it deter her. At 6 p.m., when Home Hardware closed for the day, Hogan climbed up the ladder staff had put in place at the rear of the store. Prior to that, the employees also set up the tent Hogan would call home for the next 13 hours. The launch was a low-key affair with only a food bank official on hand. Afterwards, friends, neighbours and co-workers showed up to encourage Hogan. She did some FaceTime with her friends and did a live Facebook story reading before settling in for the night at 9 p.m. and going to sleep. Hogan says the amount of snow and strong wind made her a little nervous at first. But Hogan wasn't afraid, adding she spends a great deal of time outdoors. Hogan says the tent did its job keeping her dry. In fact, she had to remove some of her clothing because she was becoming too warm. As the evening marched forward and the street became quieter, Hogan became more aware of little things. One thing she noticed was how the snow would accumulate on the sides of the tent and then fall off. Hogan says the sound of that falling snow was similar to mice running on a floor. Hogan woke up once at about 2 a.m., and then was awoken two hours later by the horn blasts of the public works crew driving by in their plow as they got ready to remove the snow off the streets for morning traffic. But Hogan says she had no problems falling asleep again. In fact, she says, “I slept more on the roof than I do at home.” Hogan says Home Hardware was behind her all the way. “Their generosity is unsurpassed,” she says. Not only did co-owner Tom Morrow make sure Hogan had all the equipment she would need to stay on the rooftop, Hogan says the business also contributed $2,000 to the fundraiser. “My thanks to Home hardware,” she says. “They went over and above. It's things like this that help make small towns great.” After climbing down the ladder and warming up with a coffee at Echoes Restaurant just down the street, Hogan began the job of collecting all the donation jars she had placed in the businesses in Powassan and Trout Creek. Asked if she would do it again Hogan said “in a heartbeat because it's for a good cause.” But, she quickly adds, she would prefer nicer weather next time. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
Councillors from local townships met Nov. 25 to digest a massive services delivery review with 12 recommendations for more collaboration that could save upwards of $1.18 million annually. Toronto-based consultant, StrategyCorp., presented 12 initiatives for more intermunicipal partnerships. Their report follows months of work and more than 100 interviews/workshops with councillors and staff. The firm said between operational efficiencies, productivity gains, and $74,000 in more revenue, the implemented strategies could provide that $1.18 million. StrategyCorp principal, John Matheson, said they did not approach the job like auditors but to work alongside staff. He said there is a clear willingness on the part of municipalities for more collaboration. “We’re not saying we found great big problems with waste here,” Matheson said. “We’re saying we were invited to come work with the team, to try and find better ways of doing things and not surprisingly, you spend this kind of effort, that we found some.” The recommendations do not directly address the idea of amalgamation, which was never in the terms of reference for the review. Instead, it tackles where municipalities could improve services with different levels of co-operation, including places where services could be integrated to one provider – whether the County, a special body or a lead municipality. Matheson praised the council for being open-minded about possible improvements and being willing to do a review, as well as creating a safe space for staff to consider different ideas. “What you’ve really done is wiped away a lot of the historical stresses that come out of the air about forced amalgamation. Where people are worried about hanging onto their right to continue providing governance for fear of being stripped away from them by a provincial government,” Matheson said. “There’s lots of different ways to achieve things to the benefit of better public administration, better value for money.” Councillors spent four hours delving into the report and questioning each of its recommendation sections. Coun. Bob Carter of Minden Hills questioned the fire service recommendations only extending to joint training, noting common issues across the municipalities such as succession planning, increased demand and escalating costs. “It seems to me the process for determining what was looked at was not only a quantitative process but a qualitative assessment,” Carter said. Matheson said that is accurate, adding their recommendations focused on improvements that could achieve more for fewer or similar dollars, rather than improvements that could be more costly. He added they decided on the subjects of deeper dives after their estimate of what was most worthwhile after the first phase of the process. “It’s not that theoretically, you couldn’t do more,” Matheson said. “We would just evaluate those opportunities as being a little less ripe in the light of the state of readiness of the organizations.” Next steps The review recommends implementation over several years, but divides recommendations into short, medium, and long-term. It suggests addressing some things, such as communications, economic development and collaborative procurement starting in 2021. The review recommends the County begin implementation of other initiatives like planning, building, septic and bylaw in 2022. Warden Liz Danielsen said the review should be a standing item on the County committee of the whole. She added a special meeting should be called in January or early February to start working through it and the proposed timelines. “We’ve got a lot to absorb and lots to talk about,” Danielsen said. “We need to start thinking about how we’re going to move forward.” Coun. Carol Moffatt said some of the ideas in the report are not new, such as the County having an economic development position. “To me, it seems like some of the reason why some of this collaboration isn’t already happening will be the same reasons why some of it doesn’t move ahead going forward,” she said. “We all sitting around this table today need to really, genuinely understand – that whether and how any of this moves forward depends on the will of each and all of us to conceive something for the greater good. For the benefit of the community.” The Highlander will detail more aspects of the 138-page report in the coming weeks. Significant changes recommended • Roads, bridges, and drainage: Implement capital bundling, allowing contractors to secure multiple projects at once. Formalize joint planning of road maintenance. • Fire services: Integrate fire training and explore a joint-training facility. • Waste management: Approve a working group to standardize waste management processes across the County and/or do a Countywide review of landfills and transfer stations. • Building, septic, bylaw: Explore either shared service agreements or integrate services. • Planning: Create one, central official plan with secondary plans below it. Standardize more of the planning processes across the townships. Create a new County-level planning position to assist. • Economic development: Create a new economic development staff position. • Collaborative procurement: Approve a new staff position for the process and approve a new shared-service agreement. • Integrated digital strategy: Integrate long-term IT planning and municipal IT investment decisions. • Co-ordination of legal services: Hire a county-level in-house municipal barrister and solicitor and approve a shared service agreement for it. • Human resources co-ordination: Explore the benefits of a centralizing human resource information system. Pool benefits together and create shared-service agreements for key HR functions. • Communications: Approve a new central communications position, which would also include grant writing. • Co-ordination: Create a new implementation committee of County council to promote effective collaboration between local municipalities.Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
NEW DELHI — Indian movie superstar Rajinikanth said Thursday he plans to launch his own political party in southern India in January, ending years of speculation by millions of his fans on his political future.He said in a tweet that he will make an announcement on Dec. 31, apparently in relation to legislative elections in Tamil Nadu state expected around June next year. He started taking an active part in politics in 2017.Rajinikanth, 69, is one of India’s most popular stars with more than 175 films since 1975, mostly in the Tamil and Telugu languages.“In the upcoming Assembly elections, the emergence of spiritual politics will happen for sure. A wonder will happen,” he tweeted. An announcement on matters connected to the party's launch will be made Dec. 31, he said.His political prospects appear bright following a vacuum created by the deaths of Jayaram Jayalalithaa, an actor-turned politician with the governing party in the state, and Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the leader of the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party.Cinema has always influenced Tamil politics by turning actors into popular politicians.C.N. Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi were scriptwriters who went on to become chief ministers. M.G. Ramachandran, a top actor-turned-politician, also had a strong following.Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, Rajinikanth worked as a bus conductor for three years before joining an acting school. He started in small roles as a villain in Tamil cinema and worked his way up, landing roles in Bollywood, the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai.Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan also tried his hand in politics as a member of India’s Parliament, representing the Congress party in support of his friend, then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in the 1980s. He resigned after three years following allegations that he accepted bribes in the purchase of artillery guns. His name was later cleared in the scandal.Ashok Sharma, The Associated Press
'This is damage control,' said Dr. Darren Markland, an intensive care physician in Edmonton, speaking about an internal government draft plan to treat 750 COVID-19 patients in field hospitals.
LRT service on Ottawa's Confederation Line will be suspended between Blair and Hurdman stations this weekend for more work on the track's switch heaters.That eastern section of the line will close Saturday and Sunday. Similar work led to closures over the last two weekends.Last winter, snow accumulation appeared to cause switches on the eastern leg of the Confederation Line to malfunction, one of the key causes of the delays that beset the transit system.The Trillium Line has switch heaters powered by propane and natural gas, whereas the newer Confederation Line's were originally electric. The new heaters being installed will be powered by natural gas.Replacement buses will run in place of trains on that part of the line, while trains will continue to run between Hurdman and Tunney's Pasture stations.
We don’t know nearly enough about what the climate crisis will cost Canada — but what we do know is already troubling, and should inspire greater action. That’s the conclusion from the first of several sweeping reports on the economic, social and environmental costs of climate change in Canada by the independent, publicly funded Canadian Institute for Climate Choices. The institute pored over decades of data on the costs of weather-related disasters from both government relief and insurance industry payouts. Its findings make it clear that volatile weather events have already become more frequent, and more costly. But it also revealed how climate change-related costs are still barely understood today, and these unknown costs are likely to explode far beyond those that are known. “The lack of understanding of risk, plus the lack of tools to be able to address risk, create this dead zone, where it’s really hard to do anything,” said adaptation director Ryan Ness in an interview. “What we’re suggesting is, we have to act on the knowledge we have, and we have enough knowledge to move forward.” What is already known is stunning: the average cost per weather-related disaster has soared by 1,250 per cent since the 1970s, and the number of catastrophic events has more than tripled since the 1980s. In the nine years from 2010 to 2019, there was over $14 billion in disaster costs — the same amount as over the previous 40 years, save for the one-time $7-billion Eastern Canada ice storm in 1998. As the title of the Dec. 3 report, “Tip of the Iceberg,” indicates, these numbers are just the beginning. There are many more long-term impacts from climate change, such as an estimated $1.3-billion cost to dozens of communities across the Northwest Territories due to permafrost thaw. Such a cost will add to the stretched budgets of northern governments already coping with unaffordable food prices and other stressors such as long-term drinking water advisories. And all of this doesn’t even take into account the many impacts that are just not recorded at all in Canada — things such as the impact on health care that climate change is creating. “Canada lacks up-to-date evidence on the potential economic impacts of climate change,” reads the report. The institute said the last effort to “examine a broad range of costs at a national scale” was done in 2011, by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. Over the next two years, it expects to publish further reports on health, infrastructure, macroeconomics and the North. Ness said there are many reasons why it is difficult to cost out climate impacts, but one main issue is that there are so many different ways that climate change affects Canada in the first place. Not only are disasters and extreme weather linked to death, disease and mental health challenges, for example, but there are a range of other consequences. Wildfire smoke harms lungs, for example, while extreme heat makes kids miss school. The Fort McMurray wildfire of 2016 was the “largest single weather-related insurance loss event in Canadian history,” the report states. Ocean warming and acidification will also likely impact fisheries, and therefore the food security and prosperity of First Nations that depend on them, while early heat waves can cause havoc for farmers depending on seasonal harvests. Then there are the economic impacts of extreme weather on Canadian small business operations, or the disruptions to household budgets, as well as the impact of climate refugees on domestic politics and international conflict. “Pick an economic sector, pick an infrastructure type, pick a health impact — each one of those is extremely complex to try and figure out what a changing climate means for those impacts, and then how those impacts play out in terms of costs,” Ness said. Another concern is how all these issues will interact with each other. Ness gave the example of how climate change could impact the electricity supply, causing power outages in the summer, at the same time as climate-driven heat waves drive up demand for air conditioning. “We don’t know how much the climate’s going to change in the end. We don’t know if there’s weird things that are going to happen in those systems ... we could see impacts that are way bigger than science might predict, because science is based on past climate and past behaviour,” he said. The institute said this all suggests that the debate over Canada’s progress in tackling climate change needs to broaden from its current focus on reducing carbon pollution to one that also addresses adaptation — or the ways that Canadians can adjust to account for the widening range of climate impacts. “Current adaptation policies and investments in Canada fall far short of what is needed to address the known risks of climate change, let alone those that are still unclear and unknown. This has to change,” the report states. Its three recommendations are for all orders of government to increase funding for adaptation, more closely co-ordinate their adaptation efforts and examine the current levels of transparency over climate risks. While the federal and provincial governments have come together previously over climate change, such as the Pan-Canadian Framework, Ness said more detail was needed over which authorities do what and how they work in unison. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National ObserverCarl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
MIAMI — Brad Six becomes Santa Claus, pulling his black boots over his red pants in the office of a Miami outdoor supply company. It's hot, so he forgoes the traditional heavy jacket for a lightweight vest and grabs his Santa hat.But before sliding it on, the gray-bearded 61-year-old dons a plastic face shield and then takes his chair positioned behind a plexiglass sheet."Getting paid is nice, but to get your battery recharged and to really get something lasting out of it requires interacting with the kids — you don’t get a lot of that this year,” said Six, who first portrayed Santa 35 years ago.This is Santa Claus in the Coronavirus Age, where visits are conducted with layers of protection or online. Putting hundreds of kids daily onto Santa's lap to talk into his face — that's not happening for most. The physical attributes that make the perfect Santa align perfectly with those that make COVID-19 especially deadly.“Most of us tick all the boxes: We are old, we are overweight, we have diabetes and if we don’t have diabetes, we have heart disease,” said Stephen Arnold, the president of IBRBS, an association formerly known as the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas.That has spurred creativity in Santa's workshops. Santas conducting in-person visits are using some combination of masks, the outdoors, barriers and distance for safety. Others are doing virtual visits, where children chat with Santa online for prices typically ranging from $20 to $100, depending on the length and extras, such as whether customers want a recording. Some Santas are taking the season off.“Santa safety is our No. 1 concern” and negotiated into every contract, said Mitch Allen, president of HireSanta, one of the nation's largest agencies. He said the pandemic initially dried up his business, but it bounced back, especially online.The average Santa makes $5,000 to $10,000 during a normal season, Allen said. That's a welcome bonus for men often retired on a fixed income, but many Santas say revenue is down as corporate parties and other lucrative gigs evaporated.Jac Grimes, a Santa in Greensboro, North Carolina, gave up home visits, about a third of his business. He did it not just for his own health, but to prevent becoming a superspreader, fearing he'd pass the virus from one family to the next.At a farmers market he annually works, Grimes and his wife dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus and sit in a parking lot where they to talk to people who remain inside their cars. Some homeowners associations are moving their annual Santa-visitation parties outdoors; Grimes will arrive in his red convertible to greet the crowds from afar.One of the hardest adjustments Santas have made is wearing masks that hide their painstakingly grown beards.“Santa performers are fairly vain people — if they are good,” Grimes said.The virus has many Santas and parents turning to virtual visits, which are booked through each Santa's personal website or agencies like Allen's. That often has Santas turning to their children and others for help mastering the computer skills needed.“It has been a challenge,” said Christopher Saunders, a Santa performer in Tool, Texas, a small town near Dallas.But Saunders and others say virtual sessions are a good if imperfect substitute for in-person visits. Parents fill out questionnaires, allowing performers to personalize their patter, and a side benefit is that the sessions aren't rushed. Many Santa mall visits last no more than two minutes to keep the line moving.“You get a different energy,” Saunders said of the virtual visits. “You can see the child’s expressions, as pure as they are.”Jim Beidel, a Santa performer near Seattle, said knowing the children's personal stories, such as their friends and school, helps Santas sell their Christmas magic.“It really enhances the engagement, the suspension of disbelief, especially among the older children," he said.But even Santas with the best gigs are hurting. Howard Graham usually portrays Santa in the grand foyer of New York's Radio City Music Hall during its Christmas show featuring the Rockettes. That's gone, so he's doing virtual visits and five days with a historic railroad in Pennsylvania. Still, he's taking a financial and emotional hit.“I love what I do ... bringing them (children) a little bit of smiles and hope,” said Graham, who has played Santa at Radio City for eight years. “I am going to do what I can not to change that.”That was also Six's goal as he settled recently into Santa's throne for a three-hour shift at Miami's Bass Pro Shops.As families sat in front of the plexiglass for photos, Six tilted his head so his face shield didn't reflect the camera's flash. He cheerfully waved children around the plexiglass so they could tell him their wish list, keeping them 6 feet (1.8 metres) back. As he wished them a Merry Christmas, an elf swooped in with disinfectant, wiping the plexiglass and bench before the next group sat.Six said the arrangement is “a little easier physically on Santa's back because he doesn't have to pick anybody up, but it's not as enjoyable because Santa doesn't get the interaction he normally gets.”But for families, sitting with Santa, even if behind a shield, is a bit of normalcy in abnormal times.Paul and Sarah Morris and their children, 5-year-old Theo and Sophy, 4, were among the first to visit Six that night. An Air Force family visiting from Hawaii, the Morrises cajoled their children into hugging for their photo. “Stop wiggling,” Theo said, scolding his sister before each sibling told Santa their Christmas wish. Sophy wanted candy; Theo, a remote control Ford Mustang.“This is definitely different," Sarah Morris said of the setup, “but the kids are excited and that's what matters.”Terry Spencer, The Associated Press
Seven classrooms have been shut down at Diamond Trail Public School in Welland after an individual there tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual are being contacted and told by NRPH (Niagara Region Public Health) to stay home and self-isolate,” District School Board of Niagara said in a news release. Whether the individual who contracted the coronavirus is a student or staff member was not publicly known Wednesday. “The preventative COVID-19 practices that Diamond Trail has been following since the beginning of school, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue,” DSBN said. The same day DSBN reported the case at Diamond Trail, Niagara Catholic District School Board confirmed that the case count at St. Martin Catholic Elementary school in Stevensville had climbed to double digits. The province’s database is indicating that three of the school’s10 cases have been resolved. Of the remaining cases, four have been identified as students and three as staff. The Niagara Catholic website indicated these seven cases are the only active cases for the board. An outbreak was declared at St. Martin on Nov. 19. For DSBN, there are seven active cases from six schools; two at Prince Philip and one case at Martha Cullimore in Niagara Falls, two cases at Eden High School in St. Catharines, one at Port Colborne High School and one at Diamond Trail. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
A youth has been acquitted in the Orillia stabbing death of Jordan Carter-Bonfield during the summer of 2018 in a robbery gone wrong. “It was clear to me that there was an abundance of evidence… to (show) self-defence,” said the youth’s criminal lawyer, David Heath. “Really from the time of the incident the police investigation centred on the fact that it appeared there was a robbery planned.” Emergency crews were summoned to the Tim Hortons coffee shop on Westmount Drive North at 7:35 a.m., July 30, 2018, where they found Carter-Bonfield, 25, with a neoprene black face mask under his chin and suffering from several stab wounds. He was declared dead at the scene. The cause of death was later attributed to a stab wound of the right chest and neck. Police subsequently issued an alert that they were looking for a suspect. Five days later, a youth surrendered to police in Toronto and was charged with second-degree murder. “There is no question that (the youth) caused the death of Jordan Carter-Bonfield at the time and place alleged. The focus of this trial was on whether (the youth) caused that death unlawfully and with the requisite state of mind for second-degree murder,” Justice Vanessa Christie of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario wrote in her decision dated Nov. 25 following a nine-day trial at the Barrie courthouse. In the 146-page decision, the judge pointed out that on Sept. 23, 2019, Zachary Jones-Sheppard pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery in connection with the event. On Oct. 30, 2019, Miles Mathias pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. They admitted being at an Albert Street house in Orillia with Carter-Bonfield and Donnie Johnson earlier, planning to buy drugs. After meeting with the youth three times to make purchases, they hatched a plan to rob him of drugs, according to details in the decision. Charges were dropped against Johnson, who testified for the Crown at the youth’s trial. The presence of cocaine and cocaine metabolite were later found in Carter-Bonfield’s blood. Christie found the four drove a borrowed car and parked near the Bank of Montreal at Westmount Drive and Coldwater Road where Jones-Sheppard and Mathias waited while Carter-Bonfield and Johnson went to meet the youth in the woods across the street behind Tim Hortons. Carter-Bonfield was then stabbed in an altercation while trying to rob the youth. Johnson ran back to the car to tell the others about the stabbing. Mathias called 911 and then the three took off in the car. At his trial, the youth claimed he acted in self-defence, saving himself from being stabbed as he faced his robber, a much larger man who was armed with a knife. In contending the youth’s guilt, the Crown pointed to his behaviour after the stabbing. He went back to the scene to retrieve his shoes, threw his knife into a lake, changed his clothes, went to a crackhouse and secluded himself in the washroom where he shaved his head and tried to alter his appearance. He then left Orillia. The judge found that the youth became frightened when, approaching along the footpath, a masked Carter-Bonfield raised his head and appeared in front of him quickly while pulling out a knife. “(The youth) reacted by grabbing the right wrist of Mr. Carter-Bonfield with his left hand, and with his right hand, pulled his own knife out of his hoodie pocket, opened it, and swung that knife in the direction of Mr. Carter-Bonfield, several times,” Christie wrote, concluding that the Crown prosecution failed to disprove self-defence. “Having considered the totality of the circumstances, this court finds (the youth) not guilty of second-degree murder; in fact, not guilty of any crime," the judge added. Heath said the youth was released on bail in December 2018 and has since been thriving. “He and his family are looking forward to having an opportunity to get on with his life,” he said.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
EASTERN SHORE – Former Moser River resident Marie Turner entered Northwood Continuing Care facility last November. While it was her first placement, it was not her first choice. When she applied, she selected Harbourview Lodge (HVL) in Sheet Harbour as her first choice, to allow her to live in the same community as her family. Turner’s sister, former Dartmouth mayor Gloria McCluskey, is unhappy her sister has not, after a year, been transferred back to her home. McCluskey looked into the policy posted on the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) website. “The policy reads ‘as soon as a vacancy becomes available – you are transferred to your first choice’ – but that’s not true. She’s housed now – they have no compassion. There have been vacancies in HVL over the past year but no transfer for Marie,” she says. Turner contracted COVID-19 last spring as a Northwood resident and spent months unable to have any visits from family members, especially while she was ill. “Marie was in a room with another woman and they didn’t even move her,” complains McCluskey. “She suffered from pains in her legs and headaches. She was lucky and did not become extremely ill – and she survived.” The former politician with a 23-year history in municipal government stresses long-term care facility workers are underpaid for the work they do. “They work hard. Administration undervalues the work they do so they can have a lower pay scale. They’ve dropped the ball. COVID should never have been in there [Northwood].” Turner will turn 93 on Dec. 6 and her sister says she should have been given the opportunity months ago – before the pandemic – to transfer to HVL to spend these years near her children and grandchildren. “They don’t care,” McCluskey tells The Journal by phone. “They have such little empathy for seniors. The dear soul has already had COVID, she could have been transferred before this second wave.” McCluskey does not feel there is any hope her sister will get moved now. “They’ve closed the facilities again. They had given false hope and now there is no solution – they are not going to move anybody now,” she said. McCluskey and Turner are two of the four sisters left from a family of nine. “How little do our seniors mean? They seem to think seniors only die anyway. They built our country and deserve dignity,” McCluskey says. Arthur Turner, Marie’s son, tells The Journal how difficult it was for his family when his mom was diagnosed with coronavirus. “I feel frustration about her being there – and not here – as her choice was. The system should be in place that puts her where she chooses to live.” The last time Arthur saw his mother, in person, was this fall at Northwood. “I had all the COVID gear on and was able to hug her – but only for a second.” When Turner heard of his mother’s COVID diagnosis he felt there had been no consideration for either his mother or her family. “We might never see her again. She was quite low and we couldn’t visit and maybe had seen her for the last time….” Communication with his mother, while she lives in a facility 90 kilometres away from him, has proven to be a challenge. “We try to reach her by phone – but we usually can’t get a hold of her. It’s always an ordeal,” Arthur says. “We have to wait until the nurses are available to help us set it up and get Mom to the phone. She is in her room a lot.” Arthur remains hopeful his mother will ultimately get the transfer she desires and become a resident at Harbourview Lodge. “It would be so good for her to return to her home community. I feel she deserves it, really. You know, she taught school down here and worked for the Guild faithfully,” he shares. “She was a real good person – she was a member of the Eastern Star and helped raise a lot of money for her community. She set a good example.” Arthur’s sister, Ann Martin, is a registered nurse at HVL. “It would be wonderful for Mom to be here and have my sister so close – helping to care for her. We could all see her. I know during COVID they were not moving anybody but there have been quite a few openings here – but there always seems to be red tape,” she says. The Journal contacted NSHA to inquire about the transfer and placement policy, but did not receive a reply by press time.Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Premier Blaine Higgs and Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, are holding out hope of returning to the yellow phase soon for two zones in the province.The Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John regions are all in the more restrictive orange phase of recovery.At a news conference on Thursday, Russell noted that the Moncton region and Frederiction region, Zone 1 and Zone 3, will be undergoing a risk assessment on Sunday to evaluate the effectiveness of measures that were announced when they were rolled back to the orange phase last month."We are seeing some progress, people are following Public Health advice and measures," Russell said.The Saint John region, Zone 2, is a bit further behind, Russell said.Higgs also spoke about the hoped-for return to yellow and urged New Brunswickers not to let their guard down."We got complacent, and that's why we wound up back in the orange zones," he said.He said he understands and shares the longing to return to "some semblance of normal family get-togethers, noting that he won't see his daughters or grandchildren at Christmas. "My mother will celebrate her 100th birthday, and a lot of that will be online celebrations for my family members," he said. "So I'm excited to get back to yellow too ... but every one of us must play a role. It's urgent right now that we don't lose focus."6 new cases reported on ThursdayDr. Jennifer Russell announced six new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick on Thursday.The cases break down this way: * One new case in the Moncton region (Zone 1), age 30 to 39 * Three cases in the Saint John region (Zone 2), including one person under age 19, one 30 to 39, and one 60 to 69, and * Two cases in the Fredericton region (Zone 3), both in people in their 60s.Russell also declared the COVID-19 outbreak in Zone 5, the Campbellton region, officially over.It has been 28 days, which is two COVID-19 incubation periods, since the last confirmed case within Zone 5.Russell thanked the community and health-care workers for the role they played in bringing the outbreak to a close."It really was a collective effort, everyone who self-isolated when directed, wore masks, practised physical distancing, it really helped us bring this outbreak under control quickly," she said.Shorter quarantine period will be reviewedDr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, says she's aware of a U.S. move to reduce the recommended quarantine time for close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case by up to a week, but it isn't likely to happen in New Brunswick soon.The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday it had shortened the recommended length of quarantine after exposure from 14 days to 10 — or seven days with a negative test result.Asked about the U.S. move, Russell said her team is "studying that right now.""It's not a new concept," she said, "but thus far in New Brunswick we haven't really felt confident that we could reduce that, although other jurisdictions have." Russell said New Brunswick has continued to err on the side of caution to be "as safe and secure as we possibly can."While it is possible to catch the majority of people by the 10-day quarantine timeline, "we do find there are people who come back positive on day 10 and later.""It really is a numbers game," Russell said. "So we are going to review that information, but I don't see a move to making any changes at this point in time."Higgs addresses enforcement complaints Premier Blaine Higgs devoted a portion of his address at the COVID-19 briefing Thursday to "frustration" with enforcement of rules in orange phase zones.The issue has been in the spotlight in recent days, particularly in the Fredericton region (Zone 3), where videos and photos of enforcement of mask rules have made headlines."I know this surveillance has been challenging, for all of us," Higgs said. "And I know it's frustrating but it's a small price to pay to get back into yellow and get back to enjoying our families."Higgs said that while "I've got complaints too" about enforcement officials and mechanisms, the officers are "just trying to do their jobs.""I want you to put yourself in their shoes," he said. "They're out there every day, they're taking abuse." Asked about whether enforcement officials were directed to hand out tickets or to hand out warnings first, Higgs said he didn't give any instruction related to specific infractions.He noted that in the three orange zones — Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John regions — a total of 2,500 sites were visited, and 120 tickets were issued."What we have asked our public safety officers to do is ensure that the orange zone rules are being followed," he said. "It's what they do every day, they're well-trained to be looking at infractions."In doing so, he said, they are helping to keep New Brunswick safe."I'm pleased to say thus far that's the situation we're in," Higgs said. "The pandemic is not out of control and people are being protected, because everyone's doing their job."Head of N.B.'s vaccine rollout planning announcedGreg MacCallum, director of the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, will lead the province's vaccine rollout, Premier Blaine Higgs announced Thursday.MacCallum will be working with federal officials and the military to plan the logistics, including determining locations for administering the vaccine in New Brunswick."However, before we can do any of that we need to know the quantities we'll be receiving, and when," Higgs said at the COVID-19 briefing. "And we don't know any of that."Higgs said he has a call with the prime minister and premiers Thursday night, and another with Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc on Friday, "so maybe that will be answered."Longer Christmas holiday rejectedPublic school students and teachers won't get a longer holiday break this year, Education Minister Dominic Cardy said Thursday. Cardy said he consulted Public Health before deciding against extending the break, which will run from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1. Some teachers have complained of feeling worn out by the challenges of teaching during the pandemic and hoped for a few more days of rest over the holidays.But Cardy said other teachers disagreed, and there is no health reason for extending the holidays beyond Jan. 1."I've heard from a lot of teachers who have said they are completely ready to start their work," Cardy told Radio-Canada.Teen with autism barred from stores without a maskA Moncton woman says she's too afraid to go out in public with her autistic son, who's exempt from wearing a mask.Christine Roberts says her 16-year-old son, Jayden Moore, received a doctor's note for his exemption, as he's been diagnosed as moderate to high-functioning on the autism spectrum, with sensory processing disorder and high anxiety.If he were forced to wear a mask, Jayden would have a breakdown or refuse to leave the house, Roberts said. "He will just stop moving or sit down on the floor wherever he's at," she said. "If it's bad enough, he'll start crying."Roberts said it's making her life very difficult because she doesn't drive. She and her son can't take the bus because masks are required."I'm fearful, I'm anxious and it's not over a virus," she said. "It's over getting fined when I can't afford it."Masks are required in public spaces indoors and outdoors under the orange phase of COVID-19 recovery, where Moncton sits as part of the Zone 1 region health zone.According to the New Brunswick government website, medical exemptions for masks are allowed.When the Moncton region was in the yellow phase, Roberts would rush into a store and find the manager or staff right away to let them know of Jayden's exemption. But it didn't do much good. "We're kind of jumped on by every employee."Earlier this week, a woman in Woodstock was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice after an encounter with police after she didn't show a store proof of a medical exemption from wearing mask.Education Minister Dominic Cardy told Information Morning Moncton on Wednesday that store owners are free to insist that masks are worn on their premisesRoberts said she's frustrated and saddened by this."It's not business owners' responsibility to uphold my son's human's rights. It's my government."She has written letters to Premier Blaine Higgs and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard, but she hasn't heard back.Roberts said she's still hopeful she will be able to shop for basic needs or to take her son outside for a walk, just to get some exercise."I really don't know what to do."One new case at Shannex in Saint JohnResults of testing done Tuesday at Shannex Parkland facility's Tucker Hall unit in Saint John have been processed and confirmed one new case of COVID-19 in an employee, Shannex said in a statement on its website Thursday.The employee has been out of the workplace and self-isolating since Nov. 24 for being a close contact of a previously confirmed case, the statement said.Test results for all of the residents of Tucker Hall were negative."At this time, we currently have a total of 16 confirmed cases: 10 residents and five employees at Tucker Hall, and one employee at Carleton Hall," Shannex said in the statement. It noted that the residents who tested positive continue to be cared for in a special area located on Simms Court, and that they are in discussion with Public Health about re-testing.Potential public exposure warnings for Saint John, MonctonPublic Health has warned of the following possible exposures to the virus in the Saint John and Moncton areas, including gyms, stores, bars, restaurants and on flights.Saint John area * Churchill's Pub on Nov. 20, at 8 Grannan St., between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., Saint John. * Picaroons on Nov. 21, at 30 Canterbury St., between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., Saint John. * Thandi's Restaurant on Nov. 21 between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. 33 Canterbury St., Saint John * Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio on Nov. 19 between 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., 47 Clark Rd., RothesayMoncton * GoodLife Fitness on Nov. 21 at 555 Dieppe Blvd, Dieppe, between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Flights into Moncton: * Air Canada Flight 8372 onNov. 28 from Fort McMurray to Calgary, departed 6:10 a.m * Air Canada Flight 144 onNov. 28 from Calgary to Toronto, departed at 11:15 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 8918 onNov. 28 from Toronto to Moncton, departed at 8:30 p.m. * Air Canada Flight 178 on Nov. 19 from Edmonton to Toronto, arrived at 5:58 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 404 on Nov. 19 from Toronto to Montreal, arrived at 10:16 a.m. * Air Canada Flight 8902 on Nov. 19 from Montreal to Moncton, arrived at 4:17 p.m.What to do if you have a symptomPeople concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: * A fever above 38 C. * A new cough or worsening chronic cough. * Sore throat. * Runny nose. * Headache. * New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. * Difficulty breathing.In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.People with one of those symptoms should: * Stay at home. * Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. * Describe symptoms and travel history. * Follow instructions.
NEW YORK — Poets Terrance Hayes and Natasha Trethewey are receiving honours from the Library of Congress.The Library announced Thursday that Hayes' book "American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin” has won the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry. Trethewey is being given a Bobbitt prize for lifetime achievement. The Bobbitt awards are presented every two years and named for former President Lyndon B. Johnson's late sister, whose family funds the awards.Hayes and Trethewey, who each will receive $5,000, are two of the country's most honoured poets. Hayes won the National Book Award in 2010 for “Lighthead” while Trethewey won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for “Native Guard.” She is also a former U.S. poet laureate.Previous Bobbitt winners include Jorie Graham, Claudia Rankine and Gerald Stern.The Associated Press
Le distributeur internet Xplornet devra avoir l’approbation des MRC des Sources et du Granit avant de pouvoir aller de l’avant avec son projet hybride de fibre optique et ainsi recevoir une importante subvention gouvernementale. C’est ce que Gilles Bélanger, député d’Orford et personne responsable du dossier internet haut débit, a confirmé à La Tribune mercredi. Rappelons que les élus de la MRC des Sources et du Granit ont durement critiqué lundi la façon dont le ministère attribue les territoires aux compagnies de distribution internet. Ils estimaient ne pas avoir été consultés quant à l’octroi d’une subvention au fournisseur internet Xplornet pour brancher plusieurs secteurs. « Il n’y a pas de contrat ou de subvention accordée à Xplornet pour l’instant, précise M. Bélanger. L’imbroglio vient d’information sur des cartes. Le ministère est en discussion avec Xplornet et plusieurs autres compagnies. On va demander à Xplornet d’aller présenter son projet aux MRC et si elles signent une résolution d’acceptation, à ce moment-là on passera à l’étape suivante et on verra si on signe un contrat. On ne passera pas une solution que les MRC ne veulent pas. Si elles sont contre, c’est sûr qu’on n’ira pas de l’avant. » Le député avoue même avoir certaines réticences face au projet mis de l’avant par Xplornet. « Xplornet n’est pas mon premier candidat en terme d’acceptabilité sociale, admet-il. Ce fournisseur a utilisé une technologie satellitaire avec beaucoup de latence et où la vitesse n’était pas adéquate. Ils arrivent avec une nouvelle technologie, mais on a quand même des joueurs établis dans la région comme Sogetel ou Axion qui sont prêts à fibrer. » Le député n’était pas en mesure de confirmer le montant de la subvention qui serait accordé à Xplornet puisque l’entente n’est pas signée. Toutefois, le programme Régions branchées couvre 70 % des coûts admissibles pour les projets retenus. 40 000 $ du kilomètre La couverture que veut déployer Xplornet est de type hybride. La fibre est installée dans les routes et les rangs. Les foyers les plus proches sont branchés directement puis des tours LTE compatibles avec la 5G déploient un signal sans fil pour le dernier kilomètre vers les foyers plus éloignés. La compagnie assure pouvoir fournir une vitesse de 100mb par seconde avec cette technologie, même avec le signal sans-fil, ce qui est deux fois plus élevé que la norme demandée par le gouvernement. Gilles Bélanger, à l’instar des préfets des Sources et du Granit, a une nette préférence pour la connexion filaire. « Je priorise la fibre à la maison, indique-t-il. Quand tu as plus que 10 branchements par kilomètre, c’est rentable. On peut monter les rangs. Si un citoyen est tout seul dans le bout d’un rang. Ça coûte de 30 000 $ à 40 000 $ le kilomètre pour monter la fibre donc on ne le fera pas. On va alors regarder une solution sans fil. » Starlink à la rescousse ? Cette solution sans fil évoqué par M. Bélanger pourrait bien être le réseau Starlink qui vise à fournir l’internet à la planète entière à l’aide d’un réseau de 12 000 satellites en orbite basse autour de la Terre. Déjà des tests sont effectués à quelques endroits au Canada dont à la Première Nation Pikangikum, dans le nord de l’Ontario, et au Nouveau-Brunswick. « Ça pourrait être une solution pour venir brancher les 30 000 derniers québécois, admet le député. On va trouver une solution satellitaire pour les gens qui n’ont pas accès à la fibre, mais pas le satellitaire du passé qui était inefficace. Je crois beaucoup en Elon Musk. » « Starlink est le projet plus avancé et leur solution serait disponible autour de 2022, résume-t-il. C’est une solution intéressante pour ceux que ce serait trop coûteux de les brancher. Mais comme je vous dis, je priorise la fibre. »Simon Roberge, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
SHEET HARBOUR – The Sheet Harbour and Area Chamber of Commerce is on a mission to spread a little joy this holiday season to help make up for the numerous let-downs of the past year. Chamber director Meryl Atkinson is working with a committee to raise community spirit, provide opportunity and spread happiness. An idea for an outdoor Christmas event has evolved, taking all government protocols into consideration to keep participants safe from the coronavirus. The first call Atkinson made before any advertising was to the RCMP. “We will not be stopping any traffic, we will follow all public health guidelines and participants will be expected to social distance,” she said. “This is a community event and there are lots of people involved. We’ve tried to capture as many people and activities as we can, while having safety foremost in mind. “We are calling the event ‘Christmas on Main Street’,” Atkinson told The Journal. “We had a $1,100 grant we couldn’t use on Canada Day and so we are moving it to the Christmas season.” Taking all the restrictions into account, the event – slated for Dec. 6, from 4 to 7 p.m. – will have 22 vendors organized in separate locations along a 2.5-kilometre stretch of Main Street. Vendors, who would have normally sold their wares at indoor markets and craft sales, will supply their own tables and other necessities. “We will market the event,” Atkinson said. “What we are offering is opportunity and we have vendors selling their products, including Christmas ornaments, jewellery, preserves, mats, Scentsy – and so much more.” Vendors will set up in assigned vacant spaces, parking lots and empty areas on Main Street – between the bridges – West River Bridge to East River Bridge. Each vendor will supply sanitizer and those attending will be expected to wear masks. “There is so much more planned,” explained Atkinson. “We have a trackless train set up over by St. James Church in that large lot. It will be free and the operator, dressed as an elf, will sanitize after every child. Local photographer Robert Moser will be taking photos.” Residents have been asked to participate by adopting one of the 71 trees along the business district. “Let Rhea Snow know if you are interested in decorating one of the trees along the route,” Atkinson said, “… and you can make it in memory of someone special if you’d like. The more lights and colour the better.” Several businesses have donated cash to cover expenses and the Lions Club will serve free hot tea, coffee and individually wrapped cookies at MacPhee House. Sheet Harbour Radio will broadcast live music provided by local musicians Nathalie Ladouceur and Dan and Sherrie Goodsell. Chamber members have put up the annual LED wreaths on the light poles throughout the business district and MacPhee House will have the community tree lit. Ground search and rescue will be there with a food truck – hoping to raise some cash, with their annual fundraising events cancelled due to COVID-19. “Carollers will be singing next to Foodland and Santa and the Mrs. will be in the NSLC vacant lot. We have people selling hot chocolate to raise funds for the Gerald Hardy Society and a bonfire and hot apple cider will be offered in the farmers’ market lot,” continued Atkinson. “Lily’s Hill is hosting a ‘Slap Out 2020’ contest, where participants will shoot hockey pucks into an open dryer. The library is packaging individual grab-bags for the children, and others are putting out their Christmas inflatables.” A map of where vendors will be located and parking along the route will be on the Sheet Harbour Facebook page, with printed copies on notice boards. Vendors will also have copies. “There is lots of space, lots of vendors and lots of events…. Be mindful, follow guidelines and be safe,” said Atkinson. “Now… let’s hope for good weather … and let’s spread joy.”Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
LOS ANGELES — Mark Cuban, Anthony Anderson and Skylar Diggins-Smith will take part in a series of panel discussions on YouTube that are focused on racial justice. The video-sharing platform announced the lineup on Thursday for “Bear Witness, Take Action 2.” The two-hour special featuring the various panels and musical performances will premiere Saturday at 6 p.m. EST on the YouTube Originals channel. Common and Keke Palmer return as hosts of the forum, which will include sports figures, entertainers and activists. The first event took place in June. Patti LaBelle, Rapsody and SAINt JHN will perform. “I’m excited to return for the second installment to continue these necessary discussions centred around racial injustices in order to nurture, enhance and protect Black lives,” Common said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to the talented and intelligent people we have joining us this time around for more compelling and impactful conversations that we believe will lead to action.” The panels will venture into several topics including criminal justice reform, dealing with mental health during the pandemic and the intersectionality of race, gender and sexuality. Some of the highlighted panels include a discussion between Cuban and New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. The Dallas Mavericks owner and Jenkins are expected to talk about what happens when a team owner holds a conversation with a player about white privilege, civil responsibility and political activism. Diggins-Smith will appear on panel with reporter Jemele Hill and activist Harry Edwards about athletes’ impact on today’s political movement. Famed author Isabel Wilkerson will talk with Soledad O’Brien about making society more equitable. “It is so important that we keep a dialogue about racial justice going beyond any particular moment,” Palmer said. “I want to encourage my peers to continue to have thoughtful and powerful conversations that will lead us to change. Let’s talk about it, take action, and see change realized.” Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — About 750 gallons (2,800 litres) of diesel and water have been cleaned up after an Alaska oil spill that state Department of Environmental Conservation officials said occurred during a fuel tank transfer. State conservation officials said the Nov. 25 spill in the village of Selawik happened after workers started transferring fuel from a city fuel tank to a water treatment plant tank. The reasons for the spill and the amount spilled is still under investigation, officials said. “We know that 35,000 gallons is still in the tank and is not threatening to release at this time," said Sarah Moore, a state conservation agency spokesperson. "So we have a ballpark estimate, but are still working on some more concrete numbers about the volume spilled." The incident was reported to state conservation officials at about 1:30 a.m. last Thursday. The spill happened about 600 feet (183 metres) from the Selawik River, a source of water for the village. The fuel tank holds just under 46,000 gallons (147,000 litres) of diesel while the water plant tank holds about 4,000 gallon (15,000 litres), Alaska's Energy Desk reported. U.S. Coast Guard officials arrived in the village on Tuesday to provide equipment and investigate the cleanup. “In addition to investigating the causal factors of the incident, we are on site to assess any potential environmental impacts,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Dane Grulkey in a statement. “We are assisting our community and agency partners organize a safe, effective and co-ordinated response.” The Associated Press