Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe was projected to win his first election as leader on Monday and earn the party’s fourth straight majority in the province in the 2020 election.
Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe was projected to win his first election as leader on Monday and earn the party’s fourth straight majority in the province in the 2020 election.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland's first fall mini-budget finds new funds for families and businesses and scratches a longtime provincial itch over transfer payments as she tries to find a delicate balance between pandemic anxiety and political prudence. Freeland defended the federal government's record deficit of more than $381 billion as affordable — given low interest rates — and necessary and accused the former Conservative government of withdrawing stimulus too quickly after the last recession 12 years ago. “As we have learned from previous recessions, the risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much,” Freeland said. “We will not repeat the mistakes of the years following the Great Recession of 2008.” However Freeland responded to calls for some sense of when the federal largesse will end only by promising what she calls "fiscal guardrails" based on employment numbers, to guide when post-pandemic federal stimulus will start to be phased out. “These data-driven triggers will tell us when the job of building back from the COVID-19 recession is accomplished, and we can bring one-off stimulus spending to an end,” Freeland said. But as far as opposition parties are concerned, Freeland's plan is a pie-in-the-sky effort that does not answer the main concern Canadians have about ending the pandemic: when and how they will be getting a COVID-19 vaccine. "Canadians want their lives back," said Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said almost a week ago that while Canada has contracts for more than $1 billion in vaccines for COVID-19, because we aren't producing any of the front runners here, we won't be first in line to get them. Opposition parties have pounced on the revelation. The Conservatives have gone as far as to suggest Canadians could be waiting until 2023, though the first vaccines are expected to arrive in Canada in January. The government has been trying hard to repair the damage from Trudeau's statement and fend off the opposition attack, prompting Freeland to mention vaccines no fewer than nine times in her speech Monday. "Safe, effective and plentiful vaccines are on the way," Freeland said. The 223-page fiscal update plan includes not just once, but twice, a chart that shows Canada has procured more doses per person (nearly 11, if every vaccine on the list is approved) than any other country in the world. But there was no new information in the economic update on when or how those doses will be available to Canadians. O'Toole said without a plan for a vaccine there is no plan to save the economy. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the plan provides too little to directly help people, and without a solid plan for a vaccine rollout, that kind of help is even more critical. "That light at the end of the tunnel now feels like a longer, darker tunnel," he said. Freeland's plan does include billions in new spending to try to bridge people and companies through until vaccines can end the pandemic. That includes some new aid for hard-hit sectors like tourism and entertainment, a simplified tax credit for Canadians now working at home, and another $1 billion to help provinces with the long-term care homes that have left our oldest citizens tragically vulnerable to COVID-19. Opposition parties were quick to take credit for some of it. O'Toole said a $1,200 payment next year for parents with kids under six was taken right out of his leadership campaign platform. Singh said the Liberals have added many measures because of his party's efforts, including paid sick leave. While the plan promises to cancel interest payments on federal student loans next year, Singh said that stops short of the NDP motion all parties backed last week to restore the moratorium on all loan repayments until May. The Liberals had stopped requiring Canada Student Loans to be repaid in April but that holiday ended Oct. 1. Freeland also threw out another olive branch in Ottawa's often difficult relationship with provincial premiers by promising to answer their years-long call to overhaul the fiscal stabilization fund that sends federal cash to provinces facing serious drops in revenue. The premiers joined forces to demand the fund be overhauled a year ago, and Freeland has now complied, nearly tripling the amount of money available, and pledging some changes to how much provincial revenues must fall before they can be eligible for it. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version suggested an NDP motion on student loans only asked for interest payments to be deferred until May. The motion wanted all loan repayments, including interest, to be deferred.
VICTORIA — A former judge says she found widespread systemic racism in British Columbia's health-care system where extensive negative profiling of Indigenous patients affects treatment and care.Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said Monday she could not confirm allegations of an organized game to guess the blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients in B.C. emergency departments, but found extensive harmful profiling of patients based on stereotypes about addictions and parenting. The former Saskatchewan provincial court judge and one-time children's advocate in B.C. was appointed by Health Minister Adrian Dix in June to investigate the guessing-game allegations and conduct a broader examination of Indigenous racism in provincial health care."Indigenous people consistently told us, and this was confirmed by the health-care workers who responded and the cases, that they are subjected to negative assumptions, negative assumptions based on prejudice, based on racism, based on beliefs that should not exist in our health-care system," Turpel-Lafond said at a news conference.She said 84 per cent of the review's Indigenous respondents reported some form of discrimination in health care and 52 per cent of Indigenous health-care workers said they experienced racial prejudice at work, mostly in the form of comments."Among the top negative assumptions that are circulating in our health-care system today is that Indigenous patients and people are less worthy," Turpel-Lafond said. "That they are alcoholics. That they're drug seeking."These negative assumptions lead to the denial and delay of patient services, and cause some people to stay away from hospitals to avoid further incidents of discriminatory treatment, she said.Indigenous people told the review they feared hospitals and would rather face uncertain health than return to get care, said Turpel-Lafond.The review heard from nearly 9,000 Indigenous patients, family members, third-party witnesses and health-care workers. It also examined the health-care data of about 185,000 First Nations and Metis patients.Turpel-Lafond's report makes 24 recommendations. They include bringing in measures and legislation to change behaviour and the appointment of three new positions to focus on the problem, including an Indigenous health officer and an associate deputy minister of Indigenous health.The report also said the government should work with Indigenous organizations to improve the patient complaint processes to address individual and systemic racism specifically experienced by Indigenous people, as well as create a new school of Indigenous medicine at the University of British Columbia.Dix said B.C. will work to implement the recommendations and the review's findings will be felt across the country."Racism is toxic for people and it's toxic for care," he said. "I want to make an unequivocal apology as the minister of health to those who have experienced racism in accessing health-care services in B.C., now and in the past."The First Nations Leadership Council, comprising several B.C. Indigenous organizations and Metis Nation B.C., called on the government to act."These are the voices of our families and our relatives and they have to be heard," Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said in a statement. "They can no longer be silenced by a narrative of indifference and negligence and a culture of low expectations."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says it's too early to say whether COVID-19 restrictions will be loosened in time to allow families to gather for the holidays. Moe said residents can expect to see high COVID-19 case numbers for the next few weeks, as officials wait to see if the latest public-health measures have been effective.The province reported 325 new infections on Monday and said there are 123 people in hospital, 23 of whom are receiving intensive care.The premier noted that the new rules, which include suspending all team sports and a 30-person cap on indoor venues such as churches and bingo halls, have only been in place for a few days. The restrictions are to continue until Dec. 17, when the premier said his Saskatchewan Party government and the chief medical health officer will decide what to do next. Moe said they could choose to extend existing measures, bring in added ones or loosen the restriction that limits household gatherings "just a little bit so that we can have a few people in our home for Christmas." The limit now is five people."It's too early for us to say which of those three options would occur," Moe said."We need a little bit of time. We've had three, four days since these … additional measures have come into play, and we need to have a few days to see if they're actually going to make any impact on the numbers that we have."Moe wouldn't say how long his government will wait to see if the restrictions plateau the number of new infections."We're continuously adjusting and finding that balance of what we need to do and what we have to do," said Health Minister Paul Merrimen."We're looking at what we have to do with our hospitals to be able to adjust to the influx of patients … we're making adjustments in rural Saskatchewan to see if we can cover off nurses who have become sick."Merriman said the government's response to COVID-19 is a balancing act that juggles the needs of the health-care system with the economy and people's mental health.Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the novel coronavirus doesn't care about the holidays and Moe is playing politics by suggesting more people might be able to gather at Christmas."We're not going to see my folks at Christmas. Most families aren't and that's the wise thing to do. I hope that the premier is going to make sure that any decision he makes is based on the data," said Meili."The only thing that matters is whether those (case) numbers have come down. We aren't seeing that now. We'll see what happens in the weeks ahead."Meili said if Moe's government was serious about curbing community transmission of COVID-19 in time for Christmas, he should have closed down non-essential businesses several weeks ago to give the health system a break. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press
One woman has died after a fire broke out in a seventh floor unit in a Toronto Community Housing apartment for seniors. Erica Vella has details on the investigation.
EDMONTON — Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta’s largest hospitals are at 91 per cent capacity due to COVID-19 cases and widespread cancellation of more non-urgent surgeries may be necessary.“Our top 15 hospitals are increasingly under stress,” Kenney told NewsTalk 770 radio in an interview Monday.“Ultimately, if we get more and more COVID patients in hospital, the response to open up (COVID) capacity will be widespread surgical cancellation.”He said Alberta has 8,500 hospital beds. Some 2,400 are being set aside for pandemic patients and one-quarter of those beds will be in intensive care.“We have a plan to get back to that level of availably given the current surge that we see,” said Kenney.He said the crucial question is staffing.“You can’t just snap your fingers and suddenly train and certify hundreds of additional nurses for intensive care, for example. We only have a finite number of anesthesiologists who can assist with intubation for COVID patients."In October, the Edmonton area began cancelling 30 per cent of non-urgent surgeries to deal with mounting COVID-19 caseloads.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, reported 1,733 new cases Monday — a one-day record — to go with 453 patients in hospital, 96 of them in intensive care. There were eight more deaths, bringing that total to 541. Last week, Kenney announced a new round of health restrictions designed to address COVID-19 hot spots while keeping the majority of businesses and the economy going.Among the changes, the six diners allowed per table in restaurants now have to be from the same household. Retailers have to limit capacity to 25 per cent.The key change is that people are not supposed to hold gatherings in their homes under penalty of fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.Also Monday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro responded to the release of an Alberta Health Services internal memo sent out last Friday. It urged staff in Calgary hospitals to reduce use of bulk oxygen where possible due to expected constraints caused by the pandemic.“Even as our hospitals are packed full of the critically sick, AHS is running short on oxygen,” NDP Opposition health critic David Shepherd told the house.Not true, said Shandro. “This is a contingency plan of AHS, as they do throughout the year,” he said.Dr. David Zygun, Edmonton zone medical director for Alberta Health Services, said the memo was part of an “anticipatory” plan to make sure there are ample resources.“We do have an adequate oxygen supply,” he said.The NDP also criticized Kenney for urging members of the South Asian community in Calgary to avoid extended gatherings. He said some of the highest case rates are in that community, but stayed silent on large weekend rallies protesting mandatory mask rules.“These marches are super-spreader events,” NDP Leader Rachel Notley told Kenney. “Will you condemn these marches and the Albertans who so irresponsibly organized them?”Kenney said it’s up to local law enforcement to hand out tickets to anyone breaking public health orders and said: “We ask Albertans to be responsible in their actions.” Calgary police Supt. Ryan Ayliffe said there were a number of officers, wearing body cameras and taking notes to lay charges later, present during the anti-mask rallies. “It’s my understanding some of those charges were going to be laid this morning,” said Ayliffe, who added that the focus is on organizers and flagrant rule-breakers.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.— With files from Colette Derworiz in EdmontonDean Bennett, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Newly detained immigrants must appear before a judge within 10 days, rather than the weeks or months they’ve sometimes had to endure in recent years, a judge said Monday. Civil rights groups praised the ruling by U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan as the first of its kind in the nation to set such a rule for the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency. They said in a release that the ruling would strike a blow to federal immigration authorities who hold detained immigrants indefinitely before they appear before a judge. The judge said a law authorizing the detention of immigrants while removal proceedings are pending “does not negate class members’ interests — of the utmost importance — in freedom from imprisonment.” “Class members may not have a ‘fundamental right to be released during removal proceedings,’ but nor does the Government have an unfettered right to detain them,” she added. In 2014, the average wait to see a judge was 11 days, but it had stretched to over a month in 2017 and nearly three months in 2018, according to the judge's ruling. Messages for comment was sent to the Justice Department, which represented the agency in court, and ICE, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security. “A few weeks or months of sitting in inhumane ICE detention facilities can be dangerous and devastating for individuals and their families," said Niji Jain, an attorney at The Bronx Defenders. "The Court’s ruling recognizes that prompt access to an immigration judge is a fundamental right — one that is all the more important when detention facilities are hotbeds for the spread of COVID-19.” “Locking people up for months before they first see a judge during immigration proceedings is unjust and unlawful, and it does immense harm to immigrant families,” said Bobby Hodgson, staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union. Class member Shemar Michel said ICE officers told him he'd be home by dinner time when they picked him up as he prepared his children for school. He said he didn't see a judge for six weeks. “During that time, I was mentally shattered, I missed my son’s second birthday, and I felt like I had no chance to fight my case. I told the ICE officers I would rather buy my own plane ticket home than stay in ICE detention any longer," he said. "I hope the judge’s ruling ensures nobody will have to go through what I went through.” The civil rights groups said in their release that many individuals held for months were entitled to release. They said about 40% of them were eventually released on bond. Others, they added, were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. The groups said the average petitioners have lived in the United States for 16 years and nearly a third are lawful permanent residents. The judge granted class action status to a lawsuit by civil rights groups filed two years ago in Manhattan federal court. She noted that the federal government had never filed arguments opposing the designation. Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press
Brock will extend its upcoming holiday break by delaying the start of the winter term by one week. Classes will start on Jan. 11. An announcement was made Monday in a letter from Lynn Wells, provost and vice-president academic, who said the decision comes after two weeks of consultations with students, staff and faculty members. The extension of the holiday break will require changes to the academic calendar. The winter term will now end on April 9. Exams will take place April 13 to 23. The exam period for the winter term will be shortened by two days. The spring/summer term will start as scheduled and the dates for reading week will also remain the same. The calls for change also came at the hands of four Brock students — Celeste Lynette, Emma Allan, Riley Monaghan and Jack Allan. Lynette created an online petition urging the university to consider the change. “Due to the pandemic, this school year has been undoubtedly challenging and tolling on university students and our mental health,” said Lynette. “We, the students of Brock University, are asking for an extension to our winter break like many other Canadian universities have granted their students.” The petition garnered nearly 6,000 supporters. Leaders of Brock’s graduate and undergraduate student organizations welcomed the decision. “The partnership between student associations and the University remains strong, collaborative and results-oriented,” said Christopher Yendt, president of Brock’s graduate students’ association. “We are excited that this student-centred approach has resulted in meaningful action to address some of the challenges students are facing.” Students’ union president Asad Jalib also applauded the move. “The leadership at Brock University continues to demonstrate that it is receptive to student needs and in touch with the student body,” said Jalib. Said Wells: “We have heard from many students, staff and faculty members that this extension will provide valuable time to rest and, in many cases, to catch up and better prepare for the winter term. “For those who are travelling or who are coming to Brock from abroad, this extra time will facilitate the completion of the mandatory self-isolation period,” she added. Niagara College had already planned to have a three-week holiday break. “Under the college’s existing schedule, fall term classes end Dec. 18, and winter term classes begin on Jan. 11,” said corporate communications manager Michael Wales “This provides students with a three-week break between terms, which we hope will give them the opportunity for a safe and restful holiday season before resuming their studies.” 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: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was somber today as she announced 46 more people lost their lives to COVID-19 last weekend. Eighty per cent of these people were living in longterm care, which Henry says speaks to the fact that the virus can cause such devastation when it gets into care homes. Health Minister Adrian Dix added that this is a “difficult and gutting time under these circumstances.” Henry listed five new healthcare outbreaks and declared two to be over. There are now 62 active outbreaks in the healthcare sector, including 57 in longterm care or assisted living facilities and five in acute care facilities. These outbreaks currently account for 1,338 active cases, including 847 residents and 487 staff members. Under current rules, staff at longterm care homes can only work at one location, but are permitted to have secondary employment such as being a private home aide. Dix said that the single-site order is “critically important,” but that all people are part of the order that aims to protect longterm care. “We can’t prevent people from having the means to live and the needs that they have in their family, but we do pay a lot of attention—all of us in healthcare—to making sure that we’re monitoring our health every day before we’re going to work and making sure that we’re not participating in risky activities,” said Henry. Between Friday and Sunday, there were 2,077 new cases of COVID-19 around the province—750 of those from Friday to Saturday, 731 Saturday to Sunday, and 596 in the last 24 hours. Three of the weekend’s new cases are epidemiologically linked. Henry also noted an additional 277 historical cases in the Fraser Health region based on the data correction from last week, bringing BC’s cumulative case total to 33,238. Of the new cases, 371 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region (including Richmond), 1,365 in the Fraser Health region, 58 in the Island Health region, 212 in the Interior Health region, 73 in the Northern Health region and one new case in a person who normally lives outside Canada. The number of active cases has risen to 8,855. There are 316 people in hospital across BC—a number that has doubled in less than three weeks—of whom 75 are in critical care. There are 10,139 people being actively monitored by public health. One new community outbreak was announced at Newton elementary school in Surrey, which has been closed for the next two weeks with students and staff self-isolating. For a list of community exposure events, click here. For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc. says it is indefinitely pausing operations at one of its Alberta facilities and laying off a few dozen staff.The Edmonton-based cannabis company says the pause will occur at its Aurora Sun property in Medicine Hat, where it will layoff about 30 workers.Aurora spokeswoman Michelle Lefler says that the moves are expected to be complete around Dec. 18. She says the measures are part of a review the company is conducting to ensure all of its operations are a fit for its current and future business and to help the company adjust to recent shifts in the industry.Aurora's shares gained 11 per cent to $15.25 in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.In June, the company laid off 700 workers and announced plans to cease operations at five facilities in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. It also said it planned to consolidate production and manufacturing at four facilities in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:ACB)The Canadian Press
There is a new women’s clothing store in Merrickville. Hazel’s Boutique is owned by Julia Provost, who is also the owner of Abel Mountain, next door. She took over the store at the beginning of October from Marilyn and Tim Boyce, who ran Portside Boutique for the last seven years. “I’ve been shop neighbours with Marilyn and Tim who owned Portside, and she had kind of hinted at wanting to retire,” Julia remembers. “And, one day, I jokingly said I should just take over for you, because I’ll miss your store.” Soon after, Marilyn and Tim came to her with a rough outline of some numbers. Julia talked it over with her husband, Carlos, and decided to go for it. “It just made sense.” Marilyn and Tim retired at the end of September and Julia opened up Hazel’s Boutique the second week of October. It was a seamless transition, as Marilyn was able to set her up with many of the brands she has worked with for years, and she even took over some of the stock Marilyn had already ordered. Julia says the first few weeks in business were good, especially since they didn’t have a sign in the door for most of October. Hazel’s Boutique is named after Julia’s ten-year old daughter, Hazel. “Abel is my son, and Hazel is my daughter, so it just made sense that they each have their own store,” she says. Hazel loves having a store named after her, “She’s always like: are we going to Hazel’s? With a little giggle in her voice.” Opening a new store during a pandemic has definitely been a challenge for Julia. The most difficult part has been getting enough stock, because supply is down due to COVID-19, even with local and Canadian brands. “You’ll spend hours sourcing something, and then people will get back to you and half the stuff you’ve spent time sourcing isn’t available.” Julia and her three employees also spend a lot of time cleaning the store to make sure it is safe for customers to shop. They sanitize everything every 20-30 minutes and limit the number of people in the store to four. They also steam all the clothes every time someone tries something on, to make sure the items are safe for the next shopper. Despite the challenges, Julia says the local support has been amazing. “People either liking or sharing your posts on Facebook, shopping in your store, trying to shop more local. COVID has really brought the community together,which is nice.” Portside Boutique always shut down over the winter, and Julia is planning on taking advantage of this to make the store her own. They will be closed in January, February, and the beginning of March to do renovations. “It will be a lot of work for my poor husband,” Julia laughs. “He’s a contractor, so at Abel Mountain he’s built 90% of the displays. Anything I dream up, he will build it for me.” Julia admits that running two stores, especially during a pandemic, is a lot of work. But she keeps going because she feels it is in her blood. “I always really liked Marilyn and Tim, and I’ve always sort of had a vision for how I would like this place to look. So I thought: why not try it?” Hazel’s Boutique will remain very similar to Portside, in that it will focus on women’s clothing and accessories; but it is clear that Julia is looking forward to putting her own personal touch on the shop. “I’m excited to see it come to life,” she says. Hazel’s Boutique is open at 312 St. Lawrence Street, from 10am-4pm, Sunday-Thursday, and 10am-5pm on Friday and Saturday. Hilary Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times
WASHINGTON — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local): 7:35 p.m. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says he thinks President Donald Trump should attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration because it would be “good for the country.” The South Carolina senator said he spoke with the president over the weekend and encouraged him to pursue his legal challenges to the election results. Graham said Monday: “He’s going to fight for every vote and push systems to get better and I said, ‘Keep it up.'” But Graham says after the Electoral College formally confirms Biden as president-elect on Dec. 14, Trump should agree to attend the new president's inauguration. “I think it’s good for the country, would be good for him,” Graham said. “We’ll know in December. I hope Biden would come to his.” ___ HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN'S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE: President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-female senior communications team at his White House. Read more: — Biden to nominate Yellen, highlight diversity on economic team — Biden breaks foot while playing with dog, to wear a boot — AP FACT CHECK: Trump clings to bevy of bogus election claims ___ HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON: 5:30 p.m. President-elect Joe Biden spent Monday at home accepting congratulatory calls from foreign leaders, a day after being diagnosed with stress fractures in his foot. The Biden transition team says he spoke with President Alberto Fernández of Argentina, President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. The COVID-19 pandemic was a top agenda item in the calls, Biden’s office says, with regional stability issues and climate change also brought up. Biden also received the President’s Daily Brief, the highly classified intelligence summary, for the first time Monday. Biden’s doctor said Sunday evening that the president-elect will likely wear a walking boot for the next several weeks as he recovers from breaking his right foot while playing with one of his dogs. ___ 4:45 p.m. Joe Biden’s victory in battleground Wisconsin has been confirmed following a partial recount that only added to his 20,600-vote margin over President Donald Trump, who has promised to file a lawsuit seeking to undo the results. Confirmation of the results by the Democratic chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission started a five-day window for Trump to file a lawsuit. Trump on Saturday promised to file a lawsuit either Monday or Tuesday, a longshot attempt to overturn the results by disqualifying as many as 238,000 ballots. Trump’s attorneys have alleged without evidence that there was widespread fraud and illegal activity. Biden’s campaign has said the recount showed that Biden won Wisconsin decisively and there was no fraud. Even if Trump were successful in Wisconsin, the state’s 10 Electoral College votes would not be enough to undo Biden’s overall victory. __ 1:50 p.m. Arizona officials have certified Joe Biden’s narrow victory over President Donald Trump in the state. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey stood up for the integrity of the election even as lawyers for Trump were across town Monday arguing without evidence to nine Republican lawmakers that the election was marred by fraud. Ducey says, “We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong.” Biden won Arizona by 0.3% of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast, a margin of just under 10,500 votes. He’s the second Democrat in 70 years to win the state. The certification also paves the way for Democrat Mark Kelly to take his seat in the U.S. Senate, formalizing his victory in a special election to replace the late John McCain. Kelly is scheduled to be sworn in on Wednesday in Washington. ___8:46 a.m. President-elect Joe Biden is taking the first formal preparations for his Jan. 20 inauguration, unveiling the inaugural committee that will lead arrangements for the day he and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris assume their posts. Biden is naming Delaware State University president Tony Allen to serve as CEO of his presidential inaugural committee and campaign chief operating officer Maju Varghese as the group’s executive director. The inaugural committee works in co-ordination with Congress’ planning group around arrangements for the Capitol ceremony, and organizes inaugural balls and other events surrounding the swearing-in. The format of those events is up in the air amid the global coronavirus pandemic, which has surged across the country. In a statement Monday, the inaugural committee said it will work on “prioritizing keeping people safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19 while engaging all Americans” in the festivities. The Associated Press
Niagara Catholic District School Board is reporting another case of COVID-19 at St. Martin Catholic Elementary School, bringing the school case count to 10. An outbreak was declared at the Smithville school on Nov. 19. Public health confirmed to Niagara Catholic that the new COVID-19 case was connected to the outbreak. The provincial database that reports on school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Monday identified four of the 10 cases as being infected staff and four as students. The remaining two cases were not immediately unknown as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its case reporting. Over the weekend, District School Board of Niagara announced an individual at Martha Cullimore Public School in Niagara Falls and an individual at Port Colborne High School tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, three classrooms will be closed: two at Port High and one at Martha Cullimore. “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,” DSBN said a media release. The board website Monday listed six active cases at four of its schools. There are three active cases in Niagara Falls, two at Prince Philip and one at Martha Cullimore; two active cases in St Catharines, all at Eden High School; and the one in Port Colborne. The provincial database had yet to identify if the cases are staff or student. Custodians at both schools will complete a thorough cleaning as required. A public health inspector and a public health nurse will visit the schools to complete a comprehensive assessment. 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
TORONTO — The man who drove a van down a sidewalk and killed 10 people in Toronto struggled to understand others throughout his entire life despite his high intelligence, court heard Monday. Alek Minassian, from Richmond Hill, Ont., was terrified of girls and women, had deep esoteric obsessions and had a "striking absence" of empathy, said Dr. Alexander Westphal, a psychiatrist who specializes in autism. Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. The defence argues he is not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018, due to autism spectrum disorder. Westphal, a professor at Yale University in the U.S. who is testifying for the defence, is expected to be the only expert to say that Minassian should be found not criminally responsible because of his autism. "He's got a very substantial impairment in interpersonal skills that translates into very limited social circles and no romantic relationships in his history," Westphal said. Westphal said Minassian scored in the 92nd percentile in the verbal portion of an IQ test, but that his overall "adaptive skills," on a different test, is similar to that of a young child. "The disconnect between his intellectual ability and his ability to apply it to real life is stark," Westphal said. The psychiatrist testified based on interviews with the accused, his family and old medical records. He said Minassian has trouble interacting with the world. "If you sit down with Mr. Minassian, you get a sense of someone who has a lot of words and is highly articulate, but in a sense it is quite easy to get distracted by that veneer and lose sight how disabled he is," Westphal said. Minassian was diagnosed at five years old with pervasive developmental disorder, which is now considered part of autism spectrum disorder. His parents noticed he never made eye contact and often played alone. He'd eventually learn to make eye contact after being taught, and he also did not smile much, Westphal said. "He didn't smile socially, it was just not part of his facial repertoire." Minassian also became obsessed with Mr. Bean, a popular British sitcom, Westphal said, and imitated the character's way of speaking. He said it may have been Mr. Bean's "hyperemotivity," or exaggerated facial expressions, that attracted Minassian. Minassian never showed aggression to others, just himself, prior to perpetrating the attack, Westphal testified. He said Minassian's only known aggression in life was as a young child when he would thrash his head against the wall. Throughout high school and into early adulthood, Minassian, now 28, told Westphal he was scared of women and girls. One of Minassian's stated motivations for the attack is retribution against society for years of rejection by women. He has told psychiatrists as well as the police that he became entangled with the so-called "incel movement" online where men discuss their hatred of women. Incels believe they are on the lowest rung of society and large-scale attacks would destabilize society, which would then give incels the chance to come out on top. Westphal testified that when Minassian saw girls in school, he would jump back, saying, "Don't hurt me, don't hurt me." He was so uncomfortable around women that he could not give his order at a restaurant if the wait staff was female, Westphal said. Minassian has never had a relationship with a woman, Westphal testified. "The closest he got to any romantic relationship was a girl who he got her phone number from and when he texted her, she didn't text him back," Westphal said. Another psychiatrist previously testified that Minassian did not show any anger toward women and, at one point, recanted his hatred towards women as his motivation. Minassian has also said he was motivated by the notoriety an attack would bring as well as "extreme anxiety" related to starting a new job. Minassian was teased and bullied throughout school, the psychiatrist said. "Being picked on because of his disability is something that occurred throughout his childhood," Westphal said. "It’s one of the things he's identified in as much he's identified a causal reason for his actions." Last week, Westphal refused to testify if court didn't seal his videotaped interviews with Minassian and play the clips to court in secret. The judge gave in to sealing the videos after the psychiatrist warned they could incite more violence, but will allow journalists to watch them. Minassian has admitted to planning and carrying out the attacks. His state of mind at the time is the sole issue at trial. Westphal's testimony will continue tomorrow. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — A retired top doctor says public health orders have to balance science with society if they are to be effective. "(Measures) will only work if you have a majority of the population that supports it," said Andre Corriveau, who was Alberta's chief medical officer of health from 2009 to 2012. "You can't pass measures that a majority of the public is not supportive of, because it's not enforceable." Corriveau, speaking from Iqaluit, Nunavut, where he was advising that territory on how to deal with its COVID-19 cases, spoke after recordings were released that appeared to show Alberta's current chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, expressing concern about politicians watering down her recommendations. That just goes with the job, said Corriveau, who also served until last year as the top public health official in the Northwest Territories. Experts such as himself or Hinshaw are responsible for winnowing through scientific evidence — often thin on the ground or hot off the research presses — to come up with the best advice they can. But, said Corriveau, judging what's acceptable or how something should be implemented is a political decision. "There's a point beyond which you can't enforce any more," he said. "That's the role of the politician — to gauge that." Nor is it appropriate for the chief health officer to advocate for measures not approved by the government, said Corriveau. The two sides have to trust each other and undercutting political decisions would damage that. "There's always other people who can advocate," Corriveau said. "Our effectiveness is built upon trust. If you turn around and you're doing public advocacy, then you've lost the trust and you're not effective any more." Alberta has plenty of other voices for that, he said. Doctors in the Edmonton zone recently formed a group to provide what they see as unbiased, arm's-length COVID-19 advice. Members of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association felt people were losing trust in officials. "There's many considerations when you make these decisions — health ones, economic ones, capacity of hospitals," said association president Dr. Ernst Schuster. "There was a feeling that the political considerations were stronger than some other considerations." The committee is to hold its first meeting Tuesday. The legal powers of a chief medical officer of health are delegated by the minister and may not be absolute, Corriveau said. Hindsight is easy, he noted, and added that everyone involved in the fight against the pandemic is doing it for the first time. Corriveau said he ran into situations where the final decision diverged from his advice, but he saw it as his job to make it work. "It's a fine line to travel but I think it can be done. "It's not necessarily ideal, but I understand the context and why at the political level they might have decided otherwise." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. — Follow @row1960 on Twitter Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
There is no doubt in Georgina Lightning’s mind that had an organization like Creatives Empowered been there when she first started acting, “intimidation and fear” wouldn’t have been what controlled her life then. Creatives Empowered launched late November. It’s a collective of Alberta-based artists and creatives who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) who empower each other as an allied community. “Creatives Empowered would have been so valuable. It would have blown my mind,” said Lightning who has built a career as an actor, director, writer and producer in both the television and film industry. And all of that in spite of Hollywood. In 1990, Lightning, a member of the Samson Cree Nation, left Edmonton to attend a three-year prestigious acting academy in Los Angeles. She graduated top of her class, won awards and was ready to take on any acting role. “But once I got to Hollywood, I was completely heartbroken… I can play anything on the planet, but Hollywood didn’t see me as that. The second I walk in they see an Indian. They see a race before they see talent. They don’t even look at talent. They see a race. They see ‘She doesn’t fit.’ That’s how racist it is,” said Lightning. She soon learned that there were two seasons for Native Americans to audition. In spring, they auditioned for the western movies that were shot over the summer. Late in the year, they were called on for American thanksgiving productions. In response to these lack of opportunities, Lightning eventually co-founded Tribal Alliance Productions and Native Media Network. “I trained at a classical school so I could play any role, be considered an actor. I didn’t want to be an Indian actor. I wanted to be an actor. I really truly believed if I worked hard enough, excelled, was a cut above the rest, I could make it. That would be my ticket in…. I was qualified, but they still didn’t let me in. It did not matter what kind of credentials I had. So it was colour before talent,” said Lightning. That is a story far too often told by non-Whites in the entertainment and media industries, says Creatives Empowered creator Shivani Saini. “I think it’s safe to say for anyone who is Black, for anyone who is Indigenous, for anyone who is a Person of Colour, that we would all collectively agree that this equity is long overdue. Now is the perfect time for us to start,” said Saini, who is South Asian. Saini has worked in both professional media and the arts for 25 years. Among her work is marketing and communications director for the world premier of Making Treaty 7, and associate producer for the first seasons of the TV drama Blackstone. Inequity, she says, manifests in a variety of ways: negative stereotyping; lack of acknowledgement of the talent of BIPOC; always being considered “emerging talent” even after years of experience; and the belief that hitting a “diversity target” means a mediocre project or result. “Anyone who is Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour who, for example, has found themselves to be fulfilling a diversity target somewhere can probably relate to the experience of being tokenized. And tokenism is in and of itself really discriminatory and racist.” “I think it’s safe to say it’s just time for this to start to change. It’s so exhausting for us to be walking into rooms, walking into spaces and for us to be tokenized, for us to be stereotyped, for us to be viewed differently because of these mindsets that exist about BIPOC or IBPOC talent,” said Saini. It's an exhaustion that Lightning can relate to. She remembers always having to work harder, always being worried about being seen as a failure, always pushing herself to be a better actor. And she remembers keeping her silence when she was the target of abuse. “When you do speak up about assaults and abuses against you, they turn against you. It’s like I’m the one who’s punished. You learn (to stay silent),” she said. Saini had been thinking about Creatives Empowered since 2019 as she had a “mixture of professional experiences within that year that were both really empowering and some of which were really disempowering.” But it wasn’t until the coronavirus pandemic hit that she had the time to develop the concept further. And then there was the building awareness of inequalities, awareness sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, other Black people and Indigenous people. “We really are living in an unprecedented time right now. I think there’s just a tremendous opportunity we have to leverage what’s going on to really create true equity within Alberta’s arts and culture sector,” said Saini. “We all know it’s a necessity. The work has to be done,” said Lightning, who is back in Alberta working on a number of projects. Creatives Empowered is an opportunity for BIPOC to support and encourage each other emotionally and financially, she adds. “Now is the time for change. What are we going to do with a platform for moving forward? This initiative with Creatives Empowered it’s about bringing Indigenous or People of colour into the fold, and not just exploiting them. It’s empowering them, letting them be intellectual property owners and that’s where the value is,” said Lightning. Longer term goals, Saini said, is having Creatives Empowered serve as an organization that can find ways to work with key stakeholders in the Alberta cultural sector. It would become a resource or a point of access for the larger communities to tap talent. “I think there is a tremendous opportunity to do a lot of the advocacy work by building those relationships,” said Saini. Already Creatives Empowered has attracted a large number of members and that base keeps growing. “I really do believe that if we can develop a really strong membership base then it’s going to help to dismantle a lot of those negative stereotypes, because we’re going to be able to show the cultural sector that we do, in fact, exist and that our talent is beautifully potent. It’s really important, I think, for this space, this community to exist,” she said. Membership for BIPOC individuals and BIPOC organizations is free and open to Alberta-based artists and media professionals. There will be a fee for ally organizations based on their annual operating budgets. At this point, says Saini, Creatives Empowered remains a collective. That may have to change in order to access government funding or donations. Saini and Lightning understand there is much ground to be broken down before equity for BIPOC is achieved in Alberta’s cultural and media sectors and that it’s going to take time. “With the dialogue with racism and the global discussion on inclusivity and with all that’s happening … it’s time now. It’s being shaken up by force and now everyone is forced to look at reality,” said Lightning. “What I think is very exciting about the time we're living in is that I think we're actually going to be able to make some real significant progress even within my lifetime… I never thought I would see the kind of time we're living in right now where there's this level of awareness, this type of conversation happening around equity,” said Saini. CFWEBy Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CFWE, CFWE
WASHINGTON — After months of shadowboxing amid a tense and toxic campaign, Capitol Hill's main players are returning for one final, perhaps futile, attempt at deal-making on a challenging menu of year-end business. COVID-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defence policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump's final weeks in office. The only absolute must-do business is preventing a government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires on Dec. 11. The route preferred by top lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is to agree upon and pass an omnibus spending bill for the government. But it may be difficult to overcome bitter divisions regarding a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package that's a top priority of business, state and local governments, educators and others. McConnell is focusing on confirming Trump's remaining judicial nominations, including a vote Monday on a district judge in Mississippi and at least one additional appeals court vacancy. Time is working against lawmakers as well, as is the Capitol's emerging status as a COVID-19 hotspot. The House has truncated its schedule, and Senate Republicans are joining Democrats in forgoing the in-person lunch meetings that usually anchor their workweeks. It'll take serious, good-faith conversations among top players to determine what's possible, but those haven't transpired yet. Top items for December's lame-duck session: ___ KEEPING THE GOVERNMENT OPEN At a bare minimum, lawmakers need to keep the government running by passing a stopgap spending bill known as a continuing resolution, which would punt $1.4 trillion worth of unfinished agency spending into next year. That's a typical way to deal with a handoff to a new administration, but McConnell and Pelosi are two veterans of the Capitol's appropriations culture and are pressing hard for a catchall spending package. A battle over using budget sleight of hand to add a 2 percentage point, $12 billion increase to domestic programs to accommodate rapidly growing veterans health care spending is an issue, as are Trump's demands for U.S-Mexico border wall funding. Getting Trump to sign the measure is another challenge. Two years ago he sparked a lengthy partial government shutdown over the border wall, but both sides would like to clear away the pile of unfinished legislation to give the Biden administration a fresh start. The changeover in administrations probably wouldn't affect an omnibus deal very much. At issue are the 12 annual spending bills comprising the portion of the government's budget that passes through Congress each year on a bipartisan basis. Whatever approach passes, it’s likely to contain a batch of unfinished leftovers such as extending expiring health care policies and continuing the authorization for the government’s flood insurance program. ___ COVID-19 RELIEF Democrats have battled with Republicans and the White House for months over a fresh installment of COVID-19 relief that all sides say they want. But a lack of good faith and an unwillingness to embark on compromises that might lead either side out of their political comfort zones have helped keep another rescue package on ice. The aid remains out of reach despite a fragile economy and out-of-control increases in coronavirus cases, especially in Midwest GOP strongholds. McConnell has supplanted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the most important Republican force in the negotiations, but he hasn't shown much openness for politically difficult compromises required for a COVID-19 deal that might anger conservatives. Neither have McConnell's warnings of a wave of COVID-related lawsuits against businesses, schools and nonprofits open during the pandemic come to pass, undercutting his demand for blanket protections against such suits. Pelosi seems to have overplayed her hand as she held out for $2 trillion-plus right up until the election. The results of the election, which saw Democrats lose seats in the House, appear to have significantly undercut her position, but she is holding firm on another round of aid to state and local governments. Before the election, Trump seemed to be focused on a provision that would send another round of $1,200 payments to most Americans. He hasn't shown a lot of interest in the topic since, apart from stray tweets. But the chief obstacles now appear to be Pelosi's demand for state and local government aid and McConnell's demand for a liability shield for businesses reopening during the pandemic. At stake is funding for vaccines and testing, reopening schools, various economic “stimulus" ideas like another round of “paycheque protection” subsidies for businesses especially hard hit by the pandemic. Failure to pass a measure now would vault the topic to the top of Biden's legislative agenda next year. ___ Defence POLICY A spat over military bases named for Confederate officers is threatening the annual passage of a defence policy measure that has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis. The measure is critical in the defence policy world, guiding Pentagon policy and cementing decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals. Both the House and Senate measures would require the Pentagon to rename bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood, but Trump opposes the idea and has threatened a veto over it. The battle erupted this summer amid widespread racial protests, and Trump used the debate to appeal to white Southern voters nostalgic about the Confederacy. It's a live issue in two Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber during the first two years of Biden’s tenure. Democrats are insisting on changing the names and it's not obvious how it'll all end up. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
Two Halifax Transit bus drivers refused to work last week after multiple passengers entered their buses without wearing masks, renewing union calls to enforce Nova Scotia's mandatory mask rule."Both operators refused," Ken Wilson, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 which represents Halifax Transit workers, said in an interview with CBC's Mainstreet Monday. "One refused Thursday evening and another operator refused Friday evening."It was about passengers not wearing masks and so under the [Occupational Health Safety] Act, the operators have the right to refuse unsafe work." Masks became mandatory on all transit buses and ferries in July, but there are no penalties in place for not complying.Individuals don't have to wear a mask if they have a medical condition that keeps them from doing so."There are very few valid medical reasons to not wear a mask," Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said in July when masks were made mandatory.Wilson said about 90 per cent of passengers wear masks, but it's the others who concern drivers."We're not allowed to enforce or to advise — we're to take everybody at face value that if they say they have a medical condition, they do," he said.He says the municipality should start enforcing mask use on public transit to protect drivers and passengers."The confusing part is that we can deny entry to someone not wearing a pair of shoes or not wearing a shirt but when you don't have a mask, you have to take a seat and that doesn't make sense and that's the problem," he said.Wilson said the transit drivers refused to operate their buses because they felt unsafe amid a resurgence of COVID-19, which has brought on community spread."My operators, my members are stressed. They've been on the front lines for over 10 months. I don't think anybody thought this is going to go this long. Now it could be almost another year before we get a vaccine in this part of the region," Wilson said."People are COVID-fatigued. They're stressed. They're worried about bringing this home to their families ... and it's really opened my eyes to the way we're being treated as workers for the transit agency."A spokesperson with Halifax Transit said "the obligation to wear a mask rests with the individual" and there are no plans to change the current protocol."Halifax Transit will continue to adhere to public health guidelines regarding education and enforcement of the use of masks," Erin DiCarlo, a spokesperson for Halifax Transit, said in an emailed statement Monday."Operators may remind passengers of the requirement to wear a mask, but passengers who are not wearing a mask will not be denied entry, as some passengers may have medical reasons that prevent them from wearing one."MORE TOP STORIES
On Saturday the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been identified in an individual at three schools in Prince Albert. The schools were Vincent Massey Public School, Princess Margaret Public School and Ecole Vickers Public School. “The division is hoping the recovery is quick and thorough and we extend our get-well wishes to these members of our school community and offer our support to the surrounding families. We also extend our support to the staff and students in our schools who are affected by the isolation,” the release stated. As has been the case in the past, these cases were not school-acquired, but rather spread from the community and detected in individuals associated with the school. The division was informed on Saturday of the positive COVID-19 test results and communication is being shared with the classrooms/cohorts, the connected staff, as well as with the school community. The learning program will continue remotely for those students affected. All three schools will remain open for in-person classes for students who are not required to self-isolate. The division, in this case, did not announce the length of the isolation. As is the circumstance in all cases in the division due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared. The school’s COVID Response Plan contains many important measures, processes and protocols that add layers of protection for students and staff. School personnel will continue to be informed and guided by SHA as they manage this case. Staffs at schools in the division remain vigilant in ensuring proper safety measures are in place and personnel from the SHA continue to guide and inform school administration and staff. The division explained that although there has been no evidence that transmission has occurred within any Sask. Rivers schools and we all share responsibility to minimize the risk of COVID transmission. “The division deeply appreciates the support that students, parents and community members have demonstrated, especially as the number of cases in our region climbs.” The SHA’s local public health team continues to provide expert advice and strong support for our dedicated staff as we manage the pandemic in our communities. “The division is thankful to have such a cohesive team of administration and staff supported by our partners in Health.” Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
HALIFAX — For eight long hours, Nick Beaton was in agony as he waited to learn what had happened to his missing wife.By the early afternoon on April 19, he knew a lone gunman disguised as a Mountie had killed several people in rural Nova Scotia before an RCMP officer shot him dead at a gas station north of Halifax.And he knew a woman had been killed on a road in nearby Debert, N.S., but no one would tell him who it was."I just wanted to know," Beaton said in an interview. "Maybe it wasn't her out there. Maybe she's just wounded and down a side road bleeding out. Maybe I can go and help her. Maybe I can save her. Eight hours of that."At 5:50 p.m., two plainclothes officers arrived to deliver the awful news: his wife Kristen was dead, one of the gunman's 22 victims — though Beaton insists the number should be 23 because the official count does not include the couple's unborn child."I was in my backyard bawling my eyes out, and I was on my knees praying," Beaton said, his voice cracking with emotion. Seven months later, Beaton says he wants to know why it took so long for the RCMP to tell him what had happened that grim day.That question will be among the many complex and heartbreaking issues that will be examined by a federal-provincial inquiry that is now preparing for public hearings. The three commissioners leading the inquiry were handed broad terms of reference on Oct. 20. Here are four other questions they will face:1\. Were red flags ignored before the shooting started?The RCMP have confirmed the gunman killed 13 people near his summer residence in Portapique, N.S., on the night of April 18, and another nine people the following day in northern and central Nova Scotia.In all, Gabriel Wortman spent 13 hours killing people he knew and others he didn't.Wayne MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says there's evidence to suggest that key warning signs were ignored long before the shooting started."A lot of people knew that Mr. Wortman was a pretty troubled individual who was doing some odd things," MacKay said in an interview. "But nothing was done."As early as May 2011, police in Nova Scotia were told Wortman had said he wanted to "kill a cop" and was feeling mentally unstable. An officer safety bulletin, distributed by the Truro Police Service, said a police source had indicated Wortman was upset about a police investigation, had access to weapons and was having some "mental issues."An RCMP spokeswoman confirmed the police force received the bulletin, but Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said she couldn't comment on how the Mounties responded, because the records were purged long ago. The one-page bulletin, however, wasn't the first detailed warning that police received about the shooter.Former neighbour Brenda Forbes says that in the summer of 2013, she told the RCMP that Wortman owned a cache of weapons and was prone to domestic violence. She said neighbours described how he had beaten his common-law spouse behind one of the properties he owned in Portapique.But none of those neighbours would corroborate the story to police at the time. MacKay said the behaviour of those people deserves closer scrutiny. "The failure of others to substantiate and support her statements on either the firearms or domestic violence led (the police) to do nothing," MacKay said.2\. What role did misogyny and sexism play in the mass killing?After the killings, several of the gunman's neighbours came forward to describe the man as jealous, controlling and abusive. And police confirmed that on the night the killing started, he had bound and attacked his longtime partner.The inquiry has been tasked with examining the role of intimate-partner violence, which is something activists Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald say is key to explaining what happened."His neighbours were afraid of him, and he had a history of violence," said Sarson, who together with MacDonald founded the advocacy group Persons Against Non-State Torture. "The women he was connected to, he didn't respect their equality."MacDonald said exploring the role of gender-based violence will be important because there is evidence of a link between misogyny and mass killings. "If we understand the impact of misogyny and sexism, we'll start to prevent atrocities like this," she said.Researchers say the motives of men who commit mass shootings are often complex and difficult to discern, but one factor connects many of them: a history of hating women.In more than half of all mass shootings in the United States from 2009 to 2017, an intimate partner or family member of the perpetrator was among the victims, according to a study by the U.S. gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.3\. What could the RCMP have done to end the carnage sooner?For Nova Scotia lawyer Robert Pineo, this is the key question facing the inquiry. "It just seems to me like a complete failure in tactics and command," he said in an interview. Pineo says there is evidence the RCMP's efforts to track and contain the killer were inadequate."We know that not very many police were dispatched to Portapique in the beginning hours," said Pineo, whose law firm is behind two proposed class-lawsuits, one that names the gunman's estate and another that names the RCMP and the Nova Scotia government.He also raised questions about the number of roadblocks that were set up and the warnings issued to the public as the killer eluded police while driving a car that he had modified to look exactly like an RCMP cruiser.The RCMP have faced criticism for failing to use a national alert system, which would have allowed them to warn residents about an active shooter through messages on TV, radio and wireless devices. Instead, they used Twitter to provide updates on the killer's last known whereabouts.Beaton said the use of Twitter never made sense to him. "We got (Alert Ready) texts about COVID, but we didn't get alerts about a crazed gunman shooting, killing and burning things," he said.4\. Did the perpetrator have ties to the Mounties or organized crime?Published reports citing anonymous sources have suggested the shooter was an informant for the RCMP and may have had links to organized crime. The RCMP have denied having any relationship with the killer.MacKay, however, says the Mounties are constrained from saying anything publicly about their sources to ensure their safety."If there is some kind of link, and they are not telling the truth about that, my understanding is that there is nothing illegal in that if it is to protect the identity of an informant," MacKay said. "They can legally misinform people right up to the courts. But they are not allowed to lie to judges about that."Since the upcoming inquiry has quasi-judicial status and will require testimony under oath, this could put the RCMP in a difficult position."If there was a link, then it raises questions about how much they knew about his questionable character," MacKay said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press