People faced the snowfall in their backyards, public areas, and roadways.
People faced the snowfall in their backyards, public areas, and roadways.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed the possibility of involving other countries in efforts to maintain a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered ceasefire on Nov. 10 that halted six weeks of clashes in the mountain enclave, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians. Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in the enclave under the ceasefire deal, which locked in Azeri advances.
MARCHE. Karl Grondin marche, marche beaucoup même. Attaché politique de jour pour le député Donald Martel, le résident de Gentilly s’aère les idées et tient la forme un pas à la fois le soir et la fin de semaine. «J’ai fait 2500 km de marché depuis janvier. J’en ai plus à pied que ma mère en auto», dit en riant celui qui revient d’une randonnée de 79 km en deux jours. «J’ai fait les six secteurs qui composent la Ville de Bécancour. C’était pour le plaisir, mais en même temps c’était pour la Grande marche de Pierre Lavoie. Ça faisait longtemps que ça me trottait dans la tête de faire une bonne distance dans une journée. Je voulais dépasser le 42 km. J’ai profité de l’occasion», explique Karl Grondin pour qui la marche est devenue une passion suite à un achat bien particulier. «Depuis que j’ai une iWatch, ça me motive. J’ai des objectifs et je les réalise. Habituellement, je marche au minimum 42 km par semaine», souligne Karl Grondin qui s’est payé un grand trip de randonneur cet été en Gaspésie. «J’ai commencé le Sentier international des Appalaches. Au total, c’est un parcours de 650 km. Là, j’ai fait les 150 premiers. C’est la première fois que je faisais une expédition comme ça. Je suis parti seul et je couchais dans des relais. Je me fixe comme objectif de le faire d’ici 4 ans», indique-t-il. D’ici là, Karl Grondin marche… et marche encore!Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
LAVAL, Que. — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.'s profits increased from last year in the three months ending Oct. 11, as shoppers consolidated shopping trips to convenience stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic.The Circle K parent company says it earned US$757 million, or 68 cents US per diluted share, compared with US$578.6 million, or 51 cents US per diluted share, in the same period last year. The Laval, Que.-based brand says revenues were US$10.66 billion during the quarter, down from US$13.68 billion during the same quarter last year.Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expected net income of US$559 million, or 50 cents US per share, on sales of US$11.17 billion.The company says its same-store merchandise sales grew 4.4 per cent in the U.S., 8.6 per cent in Europe and 11.4 per cent in Canada.Couche-Tard's quarterly report says traffic was soft during the quarter as many people worked from home, but it sold more fuel this summer than in the spring in Europe, thanks to sunny weather.Companies in this story (TSX: ATDb)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, his province bending precariously under the weight of record COVID-19 cases, imposed new sweeping public health restrictions Tuesday that include a ban on gatherings in people’s homes.Kenney also announced changes to schools, churches, restaurants and retailers, and banned sports teams from playing and sharply curtailed attendance at weddings and funerals.He said the goal is to slash the rate of infections and keep people alive while preventing the loss of jobs and livelihoods that threaten to make an already dire situation even worse.“This whole thing is just incredibly tough for everyone,” Kenney said Tuesday.“I just never imagined I’d be in this place in public life where I was telling people who could come visit them at home.“We really just felt we had no option given that 40 per cent of traceable cases connect back to private social activity.”Indoor gatherings are banned immediately, but people who live alone can have two personal contacts they are allowed to meet up with.Outdoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people, as are funerals and weddings.Kenney said the government is still working out how officers will enforce the gathering ban, but said there will be not be a “snitch line” for people to report on their neighbours.“(Officers) will be able to write tickets for fines of up to $1,000 per individual who is violating these rules against indoor social activities."He added that police and peace officers will have latitude on enforcement "They will be able to see if there are obvious signs of a large gathering, a lot of cars parked outside somebody’s house, for example," Kenney said. Starting Friday, businesses will remain open at reduced capacity or by appointment only.Places of worship must operate at one-third capacity. Banquet halls, conference centres and concert venues must also close.And children in grades 7 through 12 will move to at-home learning at the end of the month and other students will follow after Dec. 18.The orders will be reviewed in three weeks.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reported 1,115 new cases on Tuesday — the sixth consecutive day with numbers above the 1,100 mark. There were 348 patients in hospital, 66 of them in intensive care. Sixteen more people died, bringing that total to 492.A day earlier, Hinshaw compared the COVID-19 situation in Alberta to a snowball rolling down a hill, growing in size and speed.Lives and livelihoods have been the crux of the debate in Alberta. Kenney has maintained that the best approach is targeted health restrictions to keep COVID-19 from overrunning the health-care system while keeping the economy from collapsing.Others, including many physicians, infectious disease specialists and the Opposition NDP, have called for sharp, short economic lockdowns, arguing that if the COVID-19 wave isn't stopped, there won’t be an economy left to save.Kenney’s decisions were made after Hinshaw made new undisclosed recommendations Monday to the cabinet subcommittee directing COVID-19 decisions.NDP Leader Rachel Notley called the new restrictions “half-measures” and said they were likely the result of political bargaining instead of advice from public health officials.“We cannot know, unfortunately, exactly what Dr. Hinshaw recommended to this UCP cabinet. But I do not for one second believe it was this,” she said.Mike Parker, head of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, a union representing paramedics and other health professionals, said Kenney tried to find the middle ground and failed.“The measures announced today are inadequate,” Parker said. “(Kenney) continues to put business interests ahead of the well-being of Albertans.”Jason Schilling, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said the groups supports the move "to move to a combination of in-school and at-home learning that will allow schooling to continue in a safer environment."This is the second time Kenney's government has imposed sweeping rules to combat COVID-19.The province shut down many retail businesses, restaurants, recreation centres and schools during the first wave in March. Most were allowed to reopen in May and June with restrictions. Schools opened again in the fall.In recent weeks, the province has limited public gatherings in areas including Edmonton and Calgary and forced bars and restaurants to stop serving booze by 10 p.m. and to close by 11 p.m.Indoor group fitness and team sports, along with group singing and arts performances, are also banned in several large cities.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Beyoncé is bringing her Black parade to the Grammys: The pop star’s anthem about Black pride scored multiple nominations Tuesday, making her the leading contender with nine.Beyoncé picked up song and record of the year bids with “Black Parade,” which she released on Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. The song, which reached the Top 40 on the pop charts, is also nominated for best R&B song and best R&B performance.Beyoncé’s “Black Is King” film that highlighted Black art, music, history and fashion is up for best music film while “Brown Skin Girl,” a song dedicated to dark- and brown-skinned women, is nominated for best music video. The singer also earned three nominations for her slick guest appearance on Megan Thee Stallion’s No. 1 hit “Savage,” including record of the year, best rap performance and best rap song.A winner of 24 Grammys, Beyoncé becomes the second-most nominated act in the history of the awards show with 79 nominations. She is tied with Paul McCartney, who earned a nomination this year for best boxed or special limited edition package.Beyoncé is only behind her husband Jay-Z and Quincy Jones, who have both earned 80 nominations each. Jay-Z picked up three nominations this year for his contributions to Beyoncé’s songs: He co-wrote “Black Parade” and “Savage,” thus earning nominations for song of the year, best R&B song and best rap song. Jay-Z has won 22 Grammys throughout his career.Beyoncé’s domination this year came as a surprise since the singer did not release a new album. Other surprises, well snubs, include pop star the Weeknd being completely shut out and earning zero nominations despite having a No. 1 album, multiple hit singles and winning the coveted Super Bowl halftime performance slot. Luke Combs, who dominated the country charts and set records on streaming services this year, was also surprisingly shut out of nominations.When Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording’s interim president and CEO, was asked if he was surprised the Weeknd didn’t earn a single nomination, he told The Associated Press: “You know, there’s so many nominations and there’s only so many slots, it’s really tough to predict what the voters are going to vote for in any given year. I try not to be too surprised.”The Weeknd tweeted later Tuesday an angry response to his snub: “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency...” He did not elaborate further.Instead, multiple nominations went to Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Roddy Ricch, who each earned six nominations and followed Beyoncé as the second-most nominated acts.Lipa, who won two Grammys last year, earned bids for album of the year with “Future Nostalgia” as well as song and record of the year for her hit “Don’t Start Now.” Swift, whose last two albums didn’t garner nominations for album of the year, is competing for the top prize with her surprise album “folklore.” If she wins, she would become the first female artist to win album of the year three times.Other album of the year nominees include: Post Malone’s multi-hit “Hollywood’s Bleeding”; Coldplay’s “Everyday Life,” which featured world music sounds and politically-charged lyrics; HAIM’s sophomore release “Women In Music Pt. III”; Jhené Aiko’s atmospheric R&B project “Chilombo”; English musician Jacob Collier’s multi-genre release “Djesse Vol. 3”; and the deluxe edition of Black Pumas’ self-titled debut album.Tracks competing with Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” and “Savage” for record of the year include DaBaby and Ricch’s “Rockstar,” Malone’s “Circles,” Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now,” Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted,” Black Pumas’ “Colours” and Doja Cat’s “Say So.” The latter track was produced by controversial music figure Dr. Luke, and he earns his first Grammy nominations since 2014, the year his former collaborator Kesha accused him of sexual assault. Dr. Luke, who used the moniker Tyson Trax on the credits for Doja Cat’s song, has vigorously denied the allegations.“Black Parade,” “Don’t Start Now,” “Everything I Wanted” and “Circles” are also nominated for song of the year — a songwriter’s award — along with Swift’s “cardigan,” Ricch’s “The Box,” JP Saxe and Julia Michaels’ “If the World Was Ending” and H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe,” her protest anthem addressing police brutality.Several songs that emerged following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor were nominated for Grammys, including Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” (best rap song, best rap performance), Anderson .Paak’s “Lockdown” (best melodic rap performance, best music video), Mickey Guyton’s “Black Like Me” (best country solo performance) as well as Beyoncé’s “Black Parade.”“I think it’s meaningful. I think it’s reflective of what’s gone on in our world,” Mason Jr. said of multiple protest songs earning nominations this year. “Musicians and artists and writers and producers, they write about what’s going on in their lives. We tend to be fairly emotional people. When there’s things happening, it’s going to come out in our music and our art. It only makes sense that those types of songs would be nominated and celebrated by our voters. It really resonated with people. You listen to some of those songs and can’t help but be moved.”Megan Thee Stallion, who released her highly anticipated debut album last week after finding success with hit singles and mixtapes since 2018, scored four nominations including best new artist. She will compete with rapper-singer Doja Cat, pop singer Noah Cyrus, country singer Ingrid Andress, multi-genre DJ-producer Kaytranada, rappers Chika and D Smoke, and indie rocker Phoebe Bridgers, who earned four nominations and helped female acts dominate in the rock categories.Nominees for best rock performance and best rock song include Bridgers, Fiona Apple, HAIM, Grace Potter, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes and Big Thief, led by Adrianne Lenker. Female performers also dominated in best country album, including Andress, Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark and Ashley McBryde. The foursome Little Big Town, which features two female vocalists, round out the five nominees.Howard, who released her first solo album “Jaime” last year, earned five nominations, including bids in R&B and American Roots categories. Eilish, DaBaby, John Beasley, David Frost and Justin Bieber — nominated for three pop awards and a country one for “10,000 Hours” with duo Dan + Shay — earned four nominations each.K-pop kings BTS earned their first-ever Grammy nomination after years of having success on the pop charts. They will compete for best pop duo/group performance with their No. 1 hit, “Dynamite.”Other first-time nominees include the Strokes, Megan Thee Stallion, Michael Kiwanuka, Jay Electronica and Harry Styles, who became the first One Direction member to earn a Grammy nomination. He’s up for best pop vocal album with his second solo release “Fine Line,” best pop solo performance for “Watermelon Sugar” and best music video for “Adore You.”Several acts earned posthumous nominations, including John Prine (best American Roots performance, best American Roots song), Nipsey Hussle (best rap performance), Leonard Cohen (best folk album) Pop Smoke (best rap performance) and songwriter LaShawn Daniels (best gospel performance/song).And A-list entertainers hoping to reach EGOT status are getting a chance to earn their Grammy Award, including Renée Zellweger, who is nominated for best traditional pop vocal album for “Judy” — a performance that won her a second Academy Award — while Meryl Streep is nominated for best spoken word album for “Charlotte’s Web.” Streep’s competition includes MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, journalist Ronan Farrow and “Jeopardy!” record-holder Ken Jennings, who is nominated for reading “Alex Trebek — The Answer Is...” Tiffany Haddish, Jerry Seinfeld, Patton Oswalt, Jim Gaffigan and Bill Burr are nominated for best comedy album.Kanye West, who has won 21 Grammys, only scored a single nomination this year — for contemporary Christian music album for “Jesus Is King.” Others who were snubbed include country performers the Chicks and Morgan Wallen, R&B singers Summer Walker, Teyana Taylor, Chris Brown and Brandy, and late rapper Juice WRLD.Songs and albums released between Sept. 1, 2019 and Aug. 31, 2020 were eligible for nominations this year. Winners will be announced at the live show on Jan. 31.Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
VICTORIA — A special prosecutor in British Columbia has declined to approve any further charges against people associated with the community of Bountiful where a fundamentalist Christian sect practises polygamy.The B.C. Prosecution Service said in a statement Tuesday that the decision from special prosecutor Peter Wilson brings the matter to a close after years of investigations and charge assessments.Wilson's mandate included considering the possible prosecution of people accused of sexual exploitation and other alleged offences against minors, as well as polygamy-related offences, the prosecution service said. In assessing charges, Wilson said he considered relevant case law and followed the test set out by the prosecution service, which states Crown counsel must measure all the available evidence against two factors: whether there is a substantial likelihood of conviction and, if so, whether the public interest requires prosecution.The exploitation charges recommended by investigators were, with one exception, the same as those submitted to his predecessor Richard Peck in 2006, Wilson said in a statement."In addition, the complainant statements relied upon were, for the most part, taken during a 2005 RCMP investigation and are, therefore, exactly the same statements considered by Mr. Peck."Wilson was appointed as a special prosecutor in 2012 after Peck decided not to continue his mandate.There was some new evidence relating to allegations of sexual exploitation involving one person, which Wilson said he considered but ultimately found many of the same problems that previous prosecutors had identified with the proposed charges."A significant problem common to all of the proposed sexual exploitation counts is that they would have to be prosecuted with unco-operative witnesses," he said.The complainants, according to their statements and police reports, "seem content with their situation as plural wives," he said, adding the result is a case that would "turn entirely on circumstantial evidence."Wilson said the proposed charges also didn't meet the public interest test."In many instances, the alleged sexual exploitation occurred years if not decades ago. A prosecution would likely cause significant emotional distress to complainants who have emphatically rejected any notion that they are now or were ever victims."James Oler and Winston Blackmore, two rival leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, were convicted in a B.C. court of practising polygamy in 2018 and sentenced to house arrest and probation.Oler was also convicted and sentenced to 12 months in jail last year for taking a 15-year-old girl into the United States to be married.Two other members of the Bountiful community have been convicted for removing a 13-year-old girl across the border.In his statement, Wilson said investigators recommended the prosecution of three suspects and submitted new information earlier this year in relation to the alleged removal of two other children who subsequently married members of the same sect in the United States. In each case, Wilson said, there was no substantial likelihood of conviction, so he declined to approve the charges.Insp. Brent Novakoski, the senior investigating officer for the RCMP’s southeast district in B.C., said the announcement "concludes a lengthy, extensive and complex investigation that has spanned two decades, two countries and involved a number of legal firsts."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
Despite the federal government’s commitment to exceed its 2030 climate targets, British Columbians say it’s not doing enough to tackle the climate crisis. A new survey found that 41 per cent of British Columbians think the federal government is not paying enough attention to the environment. And when asked about 10 specific environmental issues, at least three in five British Columbians said they are personally concerned about five of them: the pollution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs; air pollution; the pollution of drinking water; climate change and the contamination of soil and water by toxic waste. “The federal government absolutely needs to do more,” Nikki Skuce, director of Smithers-based Northern Confluence, told The Narwhal. “British Columbians really care about water, particularly those of us who live close to some of these freshwater systems in places where salmon are an integral part of the culture and communities.” Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., the company that conducted the survey, said a key takeaway from the poll is how climate change is becoming a more front-of-mind issue, with 63 per cent of British Columbians saying it’s a personal concern. “We usually see the problems that can have an immediate impact in our lives getting a higher rating,” he said, adding that issues that are perceived as not affecting us yet, such as deforestation and overfishing, typically get a lower rating. “But now we have global warming at a level that is similar to what we see for pollution.” Around 65 per cent of respondents said they were personally concerned about the pollution of rivers, lakes, reservoirs and drinking water, and 60 per cent said they were concerned about the contamination of soil and water by toxic waste. In northern B.C., where many of the province’s industrial projects take place, those numbers were even higher, with at least 80 per cent of people saying they’re concerned about water pollution and toxic waste. “When you live near it, you want to protect it,” Skuce said. “We need to do a better job of taking care of our rivers and lakes and creeks because they really are the veins that travel through this region.” It’s no surprise that British Columbians — and particularly northern British Columbians — care about water and the effects of industrial contamination. In 2014, B.C. made international headlines when the tailings dam at the Mount Polley mine in the central interior broke and spilled 24 million cubic metres of contaminated waste into the surrounding water systems. Since the disaster, the provincial government has done little to improve the laws and regulations to prevent similar disasters. Skuce said the federal government’s role in protecting water lies in legislation and policies that guide provincial decisions on resource extraction and development. Last year, the federal government modernized its Fisheries Act to strengthen protection of fish habitat and support restoration work, including rebuilding depleted fish populations. This follows a previous commitment to protect Pacific salmon through the wild salmon policy, which was developed in 2005 to address declining salmon populations. But according to Skuce, the federal government has yet to fully implement the policy and subpopulations of species like sockeye are on the brink of extinction throughout the province. “As somebody who works on salmon conservation, I think it’s really important that the federal government actually steps up and implements the Fisheries Act that it updated last year and follows through on a bunch of its commitments to restore and protect habitat,” she said. “And within that, there’s the outstanding commitment to implement the wild salmon policy.” Aaron Hill, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society, said the Fisheries Act can help address the concerns of British Columbians reflected in the survey, but it has to actually be followed. “We need both levels of government to step up and, at the very minimum, fully implement the laws and policies that they already have on the books.” He also said the BC NDP’s commitment to develop a water security strategy, which would protect watersheds throughout the province, will require collaboration and buy-in from the federal government. “It’s really important that the prime minister and Premier Horgan support that work.” Skuce agreed and added that protecting water from pollution also requires legal reforms at both the provincial and federal levels. Despite federal mandates to protect salmon habitat, for example, provincial laws permit mining activity in salmon watersheds. “There’s a need to enforce our existing laws and close some loopholes on some of them,” said Skuce. The poll was conducted just after last month’s provincial election and respondents were asked how they voted. Nearly three-quarters of voters who supported the BC Greens or the BC NDP said climate change was a personal concern, but for BC Liberal voters, it was about half. “If you take a couple of Liberal party voters, one of them is going to say, ‘Oh, I don’t care about global warming.’ That’s pretty shocking,” Canseco said. He found that divide particularly interesting because it was the Liberal government that created the provincial carbon tax in 2008. “It’s been 12 years that we’ve had the tax and now you have the BC Liberal voter becoming decidedly less environmentally friendly,” he said. “It’s definitely something that is troublesome. I think they’ve been moving too far to the side of industry in many ways and forgetting that this is about the future of the planet as a whole.” More than a third of British Columbians surveyed believe the introduction of the carbon tax has made people more mindful of their carbon consumption and led them to change their behaviour, a proportion that rose to more than half of respondents from northern B.C. Almost two-thirds of British Columbians said the tax has not negatively impacted their finances. For Skuce, government action on climate change means more than implementing carbon taxes and protecting watersheds. “We need to stop subsidizing pipelines and fossil fuels at both the federal and provincial level,” she said. When asked how they felt about the provincial government, 35 per cent of British Columbians said they thought the province was not focusing as much it should on environmental issues and 38 per cent said their municipal governments also weren’t doing enough. “British Columbians perceive their municipal and provincial governments in a more positive light than Ottawa, especially with all of the commitments that have been announced,” Canseco said, referring to the NDP election promises to strengthen environmental protections in B.C. “We’ll have to wait and see if they get a better rating in the future, and also if the B.C. government keeps this seemingly high rating now that the Greens are no longer as influential in their policies.” Hill and Skuce said given British Columbians’ concerns about water pollution, the NDP’s promise to create a water security strategy likely contributed to the public perception that the province is doing more than the federal government to protect the environment. But both conservationists said this perception may be somewhat skewed in part due to a lack of education. Skuce called it “jurisdictional illiteracy.” “For instance, the federal government has committed to increasing protected areas of land and water to 30 per cent by 2030, and the Government of British Columbia has been reluctant to support that,” she said, pointing out that the province failed to meet its 2020 targets of protecting 17 per cent of land and 10 per cent of marine areas. Similarly, the federal government has clearly defined legislation on species at risk, but as The Narwhal reported last year, B.C. still hasn’t enacted provincial legislation to protect threatened and endangered species like caribou. Hill said governments at all levels need to step up and start working harder, collaboratively, to address the concerns of the public. “Even though water licensing and specific on-the-ground management of water falls to provincial and local governments, the federal government approves things that affect water like pipelines and hydropower projects and they have a lot of regulatory authority as well,” he said. Skuce said one of the ways the federal government could strengthen its commitment to protect the environment is by updating the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which regulates the use of toxic substances and is meant to prevent pollution and protect the environment and human health. The act was legislated in 1999 and has had minor amendments over the years. Early this year, the environmental watchdog Ecojustice called on the Trudeau government to overhaul the act to reflect current science and “reduce our exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals.” Skuce said the act could provide the federal government with the “tools to help protect our watersheds through environmental and climate action.” Hill said the federal government made significant commitments to environmental protection last year in its mandate letter to the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, which promised to create a new Canada Water Agency, strengthen the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and introduce new greenhouse gas emissions reduction programs. Earlier this month, the Trudeau government introduced a bill to support its goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The legislation would require the minister of environment to set five-year emissions reduction targets starting in 2030, along with a plan for meeting those targets. Hill said that in addition to these recent commitments, governments already have the means to strengthen environmental protection. “The premier and the prime minister [need] to give their cabinet ministers and their staff a clear mandate and adequate resources to actually do their jobs and implement the laws that are already on the books,” he said. “Whether it’s mining or fracking or clear-cut logging or extraction of water for various purposes, there’s a whole lot of room for improvement. And people are right to expect that the government will do better.”Matt Simmons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro called the display outside his constituency office "offensive".
OTTAWA — Consumer rights advocates are criticizing the latest statement on airline refunds from the country's transport regulator, saying it contradicts federal and provincial rules to the detriment of customers.The Canadian Transportation Agency updated its statement on vouchers last week, writing that "the law does not require airlines to include refund provisions" in their passenger contracts — known as tariffs — for flights cancelled due to reasons beyond carriers' control, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.The CTA website post tops up its initial statement on travel credit from March, which suggested refunds are mandatory only if the tariff provides for it in certain cases.However, passenger rights advocates say both statements go against federal and provincial law and legal precedent.An airline's terms of carriage must clearly lay out its policy on matters including "refunds for services purchased but not used ... either as a result of the client’s unwillingness or inability to continue or the air carrier’s inability to provide the service for any reason," according to regulations under the Canada Transportation Act.The same terms and conditions must be "just and reasonable," the Air Transportation Regulations state. In at least four decisions going back to 2004, the CTA has cited the phrase in upholding passengers' right to reimbursement following flight cancellation.A 2013 decision concerning Porter Airlines found that “it is unreasonable for Porter to refuse to refund the fare paid by a passenger because of its cancellation of a flight, even if the cause is an event beyond Porter’s control.""The refund has to be addressed in the tariff. And the tariff has to be just and reasonable," said Gabor Lukacs, founder of the Air Passenger Rights group.Provincial laws also go against the regulator's statement, said Elyse Thériault, a lawyer for Quebec-based advocacy group Option consommateurs."For us, it's nonsense, especially in Quebec. Because the rules in the Civil Code that are speaking about force majeure — act of God — say that if a merchant cannot deliver the service because of a force majeure, then he must give a refund."Provincial law applies to companies regardless of whether they are provincially or federally regulated, Thériault said, citing Supreme Court of Canada precedent."And I’m pretty confident that no province in their contract law and in their consumer protection laws allow a business to take your money without giving you any service."Passenger protection regulations rolled out last year stipulate that, in the event of a cancellation that is within the carrier’s control, airlines must “refund the unused portion of the ticket” if alternate travel arrangements do not suit the customer’s needs.If a flight is cancelled for reasons outside an airline’s control, however, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) only require alternate arrangements, not a refund — though tariffs at multiple airlines when the pandemic hit spelled out passengers’ right to a refund as an alternative."If the CTA is given the necessary authority, we will move quickly to make changes to the APPR to fix this gap in the framework. In the meantime, we encourage airlines to adopt policies providing for refunds if flights are disrupted for reasons outside their control and rebooking options do not meet a passenger's needs," the CTA said in an email."The CTA does not apply provincial law."As for case law, the agency said its past decisions "may have limited relevance in the face of new circumstances," including last year's passenger rights charter.Lukacs argued the new batch of regulations does not nullify older ones that, when paired with previous CTA decisions, amount to a refund requirement.Most Canadian airlines continue to offer travel vouchers rather than reimbursement for flights they cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with WestJet a notable exception since October.Transport Minister Marc Garneau said earlier this month that an aid package now in the works for commercial carriers will hinge on them offering refunds to passengers whose trips were nixed — a long-standing demand by advocates and opposition parties.The pandemic has devastated airlines and the broader tourism industry, with travel restrictions and collapsing demand prompting tens of thousands of airline layoffs and billions of dollars in losses.But customers say they too are in need of funds they believe they are owed.The CTA says it has received more than 10,000 complaints since March. Meanwhile Air Canada garnered more refund complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation than any American carrier in August, the latest month for which statistics are available.Passengers have also filed a handful of proposed class-action lawsuits and three petitions with more than 109,000 signatures that call for customer reimbursement.The CTA said in March that airlines have the right to issue travel credit instead of a refund for cancelled trips in the "current context," though it later clarified that the online statement was "not a binding decision" and that reimbursements depend in part on the contract between airline and passenger. "The statement was issued in extraordinary circumstances and addressed the risk that passengers would be left with nothing in the event of flight cancellations outside of the airline's control," the CTA said Tuesday.It added that complaints remain an avenue for travellers, though as of several weeks ago none of the 10,000-plus filed to the CTA had been handled due to an earlier backlog.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
After six weeks, the Community Safety and Well Being survey deadline is approaching in South Algonquin Township. Due Nov. 30, this survey to hear from local residents is a joint collaboration between South Algonquin Township and three other townships in the region; Brudenell, Lyndock and Raglan, Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards and Madawaska Valley. It is part of a larger joint initiative between the four townships to come up with and implement a CSWB plan. It is being coordinated by Dr. Meara Sullivan, who also helped the seven municipalities in North Hastings come up with their CSWB plan. The Community Safety and Well Being Program was mandated by the Police Services Act and the province of Ontario’s Bill 68, the Safer Ontario Act. This requires municipalities to come up with a multi-sectional advisory committee comprised of a number of cross-cultural partners, including police services, local service providers of physical and mental health care, education, community and social services and children and youth services. This committee, with a multitude of societal perspectives, will invariably come up with a cohesive CSWB and a successful plan moving forward. The deadline for municipalities to have a CSWB in place in July 1, 2021. They are currently in the public consultation phase, which is where the surveys come in. Dr. Sullivan says that they have heard from a lot of local residents and that getting feedback is vital for the success of the planning process. “The survey is open to permanent, seasonal and occasional residents, and we really appreciate each contribution,” she says. By Nov. 21, Dr. Sullivan says that they had gotten back 73 responses from South Algonquin residents, which includes both paper and online surveys. “This is a strong response rate. However, every voice is unique and important. I would encourage others who have not yet had a chance to complete the survey to share their views and help shape the plan,” she says. Each of the four participating municipalities have different populations and have used slightly different strategies to roll out the survey, according to Dr. Sullivan, so it is too early to comment or compare the results. “It has been exciting to hear from members of the community, and I hope to hear from many more in the final weeks. Over December and January, I will be analysing the results. The analysis will include both broad summaries, across all four municipalities and local focused views, by each municipality. Once this analysis is completed, it will be summarized in a report and shared with residents,” she says. Anybody who still wants to partake in the survey has until Nov. 30. Adults aged 16 and older can go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/P3B3R5Q, or obtain a paper copy of the survey through the South Algonquin Township office. The survey is voluntary and anonymous. If you have any questions or comments on the CSWB survey, or wish to return a form electronically, please contact Dr. Meara Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
EDMONTON — The ivy and tropical plants spread across a living wall in the lobby of a landmark Alberta government building are being cut down earlier than planned because of a bug infestation. The United Conservative government had intended to remove the 223-square-metre plant installation in the Edmonton Federal Building's lobby next year to save the annual $70,000 maintenance cost. But the acting press secretary for Infrastructure Minister Tricia Velthuizen says a bug infestation was discovered recently, so it was decided to order the wall's immediate removal. About half of the greenery was torn down Monday, exposing the metal space which used to collect the fresh air generated by the plants to send through the rest of the building. Velthuizen said the living wall — which Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio said he thought was cool when he visited Edmonton — was something nice that the province can no longer afford. She said the wall will eventually be replaced with art from the provincial collection as part of upgrades to the building's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. Velthuizen did not say when the new system will be in place or how much it will cost. The Edmonton Federal Building is just northeast of Alberta’s legislature. It was originally built by Canadian government to house its main federal offices in Western Canada. It underwent extensive renovations and, in 2015, more than 600 government staff and members of the legislature moved in. The building made headlines years ago when a tony penthouse apartment was added to the renovation design for then-premier Alison Redford and her daughter. The suite became known as the "Sky Palace" in the ensuing controversy. The company Nedlaw Living Walls Inc. installed the plants in 2014 and was hired to maintain the installation. Spokesman Adam Holder said the wall was built as part of building's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system and provided fresh air. He said he was disappointed to hear the decision to remove it and suggested maintenance costs could easily have been trimmed if the UCP government had asked. "Before they rip the wall out, it would have been of paramount importance for them to know that they literally could have cut their $70,000 year maintenance bill by three-quarters," Holder said. "It was extremely healthy, (and) if they were able to do quarterly maintenance on it (instead of monthly), that's where I get my 75 per cent from." Holder added the UCP government may face more costs than it expected ripping out the wall. "This is going to cost almost seven figures for them to not only rip it out, (but also to) redesign the space and re-engineer the air-handling system. This was literally connected to a lot of ductwork throughout the entire building, not to mention the rooftop units, and the actual air extraction system was designed with this wall," he said. "So now it has to be recalibrated. And you may be in a situation where you have to buy new equipment, or re-engineer old equipment. It's certainly not just a matter of, you know, kind of ripping out a floor lamp and that's the end of it." Jim Hole, son of former lieutenant-governor Lois Hole and the operator of a well-known greenhouse just north of Edmonton, said he understands why some people would be upset about the wall's removal. "The downside is, of course, you lose the beautiful esthetics. You lose that nice humidity that comes from the plants. You do lose some filtration of air that may be a bit stale and some of the pollutants that occur indoors," Hole said. Everybody, including Alberta's political leaders, should be around plants on a regular basis to become healthier mentally and emotionally, he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:21 p.m. EST on Nov. 24, 2020: There are 341,503 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Quebec: 134,330 confirmed (including 6,887 deaths, 116,624 resolved) _ Ontario: 106,510 confirmed (including 3,519 deaths, 90,074 resolved) _ Alberta: 49,536 confirmed (including 492 deaths, 35,695 resolved) _ British Columbia: 27,407 confirmed (including 348 deaths, 19,069 resolved) _ Manitoba: 14,558 confirmed (including 248 deaths, 5,633 resolved) _ Saskatchewan: 6,883 confirmed (including 37 deaths, 3,919 resolved) _ Nova Scotia: 1,227 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,075 resolved) _ New Brunswick: 450 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 350 resolved) _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 323 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 295 resolved) _ Nunavut: 144 confirmed (including 2 resolved) _ Prince Edward Island: 69 confirmed (including 64 resolved) _ Yukon: 38 confirmed (including 1 death, 24 resolved) _ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Total: 341,503 (0 presumptive, 341,503 confirmed including 11,608 deaths, 272,850 resolved) This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said New Brunswick has had 451 cases.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California's system for paying unemployment benefits is so dysfunctional that the state approved more than $140 million for at least 20,000 prisoners, local and federal prosecutors said Tuesday, detailing a scheme that resulted in claims filed in the names of well-known convicted murderers like Scott Peterson and Cary Stayner.From March to August, more than 35,000 inmates were named in claims filed with the California Employment Development Department, with more than 20,000 being paid, according to Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. At least 158 claims were filed for 133 death-row inmates, resulting in more than $420,000 in benefits paid“It involves rapists and child molesters, human traffickers and other violent criminals in our state prisons,” Schubert said.The list includes Peterson, who was sentenced to death after being convicted of killing his pregnant wife following a trial that riveted the nation. The California Supreme Court recently overturned Peterson’s death sentence and has ordered a lower court to review his murder conviction.Schubert confirmed there was a claim made in the name of Scott Peterson, but declined to provide further details.Peterson's attorney, Pat Harris, said while Peterson's name surfaced during the investigation, there is no evidence Peterson received unemployment aid from the state.“This investigation, when it's completed, will show that he had not a thing to do with any kind of scheme to get fraudulent benefits,” Harris said.Schubert listed a number of inmates there who had claims filed in their names, including Stayner, convicted of killing four people in or near Yosemite National Park in 1999; Susan Eubanks, a San Diego woman convicted of shooting her four sons to death in 1997; Isauro Aguirre, who was sentenced to death for the 2013 murder of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez in Los Angeles; and Wesley Shermantine, part of the duo dubbed the “Speed Freak Killers” for their meth-induced killing rampage in the 1980s and ’90s.Prosecutors said they learned of the scheme from listening in on recorded prison phone calls, where inmates would talk about how easy it was for everyone to get paid. They said the scheme always involved someone on the outside — usually friends or family members of the inmates, who would then receive the benefits.In Kern County, home to five state prisons, one address was used to receive benefits for 16 inmates.“In my nearly four decades as a prosecutor in this state, I have never seen fraud of this magnitude,” Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said.In some cases, inmates used their real names. In others, they used fake names and even fake Social Security numbers. In one instance, an inmate used the name: “poopy britches," Schubert said.“Quite frankly, the inmates are mocking us,” Schubert said.So far, 22 people have been charged in San Mateo County, including six people who were not in prison. Prosecutors said dozens of other investigations across the state are continuing.Prosecutors blamed the Employment Development Department, which has been overwhelmed by more than 16.4 million benefit claims since the pandemic began in March, resulting in a backlog that at one time totalled more than 1.6 million people.But prosecutors said in its haste to approve benefits, the department did not check unemployment claims against a list of prisoners, as many other states do. San Mateo District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said that when he notified the department about inmates fraudulently receiving benefits, they told him they could not cut off the payments until they were formally charged with a crime.The problem was so bad that on Monday, nine county district attorneys sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for him to intervene.“We face a manifest problem that requires action, not talk,” said McGregor Scott, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.Employment Development Department spokeswoman Loree Levy said the agency has been working with the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General on cross-checking claims with inmates, saying they are “pursuing how to integrate such cross-matches moving forward as part of enhanced prevention efforts during this unprecedented time of pandemic-related unemployment fraud across the country.”In an email to the AP, Newsom called the fraud “absolutely unacceptable.” He said he first learned of the fraud earlier this year, which prompted him to order the department to “review its practices and take immediate actions to prevent fraud and to hold people accountable.”Newsom said he has ordered the Office of Emergency Services to set up a task force to assist prosecutors with their investigation.“While we have made improvements, we need to do more,” Newsom said.___This story has been corrected to say that Cary Stayner killed four people in or near Yosemite National Park; to show 20,000 of 35,000 claims were paid; and to accurately spell the last name of convicted killer Wesley Shermantine.Adam Beam, The Associated Press
HONOLULU — Airbnb and Expedia Group have agreed to provide Honolulu with information that will help the city enforce its laws governing vacation rentals, the companies and the city said Tuesday.Hosts will have to provide the “tax map key" property identification number issued by the state of Hawaii when they list a rental on the vacation rental websites. The hosts will also have to provide a Transient Accommodations Tax identification number for the property.The public will be able to see these numbers on the listings.Listings lacking these numbers numbers will be removed from the websites.Honolulu authorities have long struggled to enforce the city's vacation rental laws, as it's difficult to prove in court when someone is illegally renting a property on a short-term basis.Honolulu has about 800 legal vacation rental and bed-and-breakfast units. But studies have estimated the city has had about 10 times as many illegal ones.“We know there are bad actors out there, and this will help us crack down on them. While this is not a panacea, it’s a step forward,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a statement.Airbnb and Expedia signed separate agreements with Kauai County earlier this year.The Associated Press
In a year when kids have had birthday parties cancelled and activities changed dramatically, a Calgary ER nurse is doing her best to tell them Christmas won't be called off. Lisa Rutherford, a local nurse, wrote and illustrated the book Hector and the Virus Vector, which tells the story of Hector the Elf and his quest to save Christmas during a pandemic. In the book, Rutherford says Santa decides to cancel Christmas because he's trying to find a way to protect the children of the world, but the day is saved by a "science elf" and his experiments."I have a three-year-old daughter and when everything went on isolation lockdown, she was freaking out. She was so upset and everything got cancelled for her," she told The Homestretch."I just kind of was looking ahead and I'm like, 'Come Christmastime, she's not going to understand,' and so that's kind of where I got the idea from."The idea also prompted Rutherford — who has a bachelor of science in molecular biology — to use scientific terms because she thinks it's important to introduce kids to these concepts when they are young."I know (my daughter is) not going to understand what a vector is or what crystallisation is, but being introduced to those terms, I think is important and it makes it a little more interesting for me to read as well," she said.She also used the opportunity to write in people she knows in the book.In one case, Rutherford's postings on social media reached the parents of a four-year-old daughter with a heart defect."The mom was telling me that the daughter is just really concerned that Christmas is going to be cancelled," she said."She just was so excited for the book that I asked for some photos of the daughter and I drew her in the book."Rutherford is on maternity leave so hasn't had to work in the hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic but feels for the staff involved."I've been kind of like watching my friends talk about it and, you know, the struggles that they've been having and not being able to step in because I have this small child that I have to care for. So it's been tricky."The nurse says she's decided that 50 per cent of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the Alberta Children's Hospital."My son at three months was in hospital for 10 days and it was a pretty rough experience, but they were just so amazing. And so I'm going to be donating some of the proceeds," she said.Hector and the Virus Vector is available at Rainbow Ink Designs, which is offering free shipping in Calgary.With files from The Homestretch.
B.C. shattered its single-day record for new COVID-19 cases, confirming another 941 on Tuesday and 10 more deaths within the last 24 hours, as the province continued to urge everyone to put a pause on social interactions.The Fraser Health region continued to drive the spike in new infections with 72 percent of the new cases occurring in that health region.There are currently 284 people in hospital, up from 198 last Tuesday. Of that number, 61 are in intensive care.The death toll now stands at 358, up from 310 a week ago, with 7,732 active cases of people infected with the disease in B.C.Public health is actively monitoring 10,283 people across the province who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. In total, there have now been 28,348 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. since the pandemic began, and 19,605 people have recovered.$230 fines for not complying with mandatory mask orderThe Fraser Health region had the highest numbers of new infections on Tuesday, with 678 or 72 per cent of Tuesday's new cases. There were 174 new cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, accounting for 18 per cent of new cases, 49 in the Interior Health region, 29 in the Northern Health region, and 11 in the Island Health region.There are two new outbreaks connected to long-term care homes. One is at Little Mountain Place in Vancouver, and the other is at Valley Haven Care Home in Chilliwack.A previous outbreak at Fraserview Intermediate Care lodge in Richmond has been declared over.Meanwhile, the province has extended its state of emergency for another two weeks and announced $230 fines for anyone who does not comply with its mandatory mask order. The mandate requires workers and members of the public to wear face coverings in all retail environments, restaurants and indoor public spaces, including common areas of workplaces, except when eating or drinking.The order for mandatory masks does not include schools.The province says anyone who is not wearing a mask, who does not leave a space when asked, or who responds with belligerent or abusive behaviour is subject to the fine.Burnaby Hospital outbreak tied to 55 cases, 5 deathsIn a news release Tuesday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix continued to implore British Columbians to support health-care workers by doing what they can to stop the spread of the coronavirus."Everyone, young and old, needs to pause their social interactions and increase their layers of protection and stay within their local communities as much as possible," the statement said."We need to ease the pressure to allow us to get over this next hurdle, and importantly, give us the ability to once again enjoy those things that are important to all of us."After an outbreak was declared at the Burnaby Hospital on Nov. 9, 55 patients have tested positive for COVID-19 and five people have died, Fraser Health said in a statement Tuesday,The health authority is also investigating 40 cases involving staff to determine whether they are connected to the outbreak.As a result of the outbreak, the hospital is not accepting new admissions with the exception of the intensive care, maternity and community palliative care units. Other measures and restrictionsOn Tuesday, health officials further tightened restrictions to try and prevent the spread of the disease.They ordered dance studios, yoga studios, gymnastics centres and other spaces offering group indoor fitness activity to temporarily suspend those activities across B.C.Social gatherings in B.C. are now restricted to household members only.That means no one should be meeting for social reasons with anyone outside of their immediate household, although a physically distanced walk with a friend or arranging for grandparents to pick up the kids from school is still acceptable.People who live alone can create a small exclusive "bubble" with one or two others, Henry has said.All indoor and outdoor events of any size have been suspended, including popular holiday events.B.C.'s latest public health orders will be in effect until at least Dec. 7.On Monday, Henry compared this pandemic to an Ironman competition, with "three different, strenuous legs."The final leg will only come when a vaccine is available, she said. "We got through the swim — just barely. And now we're on the bike ride and we've got some big hills to climb ahead of us," she said."Right now, we have a distance to go."
A lengthy appeal process came to its end Nov. 13, when the LPAT (successor to OMB) decided in favour of allowing the application for the Petyon pit. The pit, proposed in Southgate on Grey Road 9, about three km east of Grey Road 109. was opposed by some local residents. Two of those whose names were attached to the LPAT appeal were Douglas Karrow and Jo Chisholm, who had appeared at Southgate council over the years. As a pit application, there are planning concerns which involve the local municipality. The Official Plan Amendment was passed by Southgate and by Grey County in about three years ago. There is also a separate application, and an appeal, under the Aggregate Resources Act process. The proponent, Huttonville Sand & Gravel, was represented by Stovel & Associates. Ms Chisolm, a neighbour of the pit, and Mr. Karrow raised a number of issues, one of these being the cumulative effect of the number of pits in the Holstein area. The decision referred to the planning process where the commenting agencies did not indicate they found any cumulative negative effect aft considering noise, dust, water table quality and quantity, ecology, traffic, and land use compatibility. As well, the decision found that the evidence supported the position that the applications and accompanying studies had demonstrated that there would be “no negative impacts on the natural features or their ecological functions.” No further conditions were placed on the licence, as the decision noted that the licenced area had already been adjusted, additional water monitoring wells installed and the County had addressed traffic-related requirements.M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
OTTAWA — The top federal public servant says only a small fraction of the 5,000-plus pages of documents the government has released on the WE Charity affair were blacked out.Privy Council clerk Ian Shugart told the House of Commons finance committee Tuesday that only about one per cent of the documents were redacted to protect cabinet confidences.Less than 2.5 per cent were redacted to black out information on other matters that were not relevant to the committee's investigation into the WE affair, he added.But opposition members of the committee said Shugart's estimates don't jibe with the documents released to them, which New Democrat MP Peter Julian estimated contained some 1,500 pages that were partially or fully blacked out.The clerk acknowledged there may have been other reasons for redactions, including solicitor-client privilege and protection of personal privacy. But he pointed out that he was asked to testify at committee Tuesday specifically on cabinet confidences.Shugart's testimony follows weeks of filibustering by Liberal members of the committee over opposition attempts to denounce the government's handling of the WE documents.The opposition-dominated committee had demanded that the documents be handed over without redactions to the parliamentary law clerk, who would determine what, if anything, needed to be blacked out. Instead, the documents were redacted before being given to the law clerk.Shugart told the committee Tuesday that cabinet confidentiality is a crucial constitutional convention that frees ministers to have full and frank discussions in cabinet while maintaining cabinet solidarity once decisions are made.Notwithstanding the long history of keeping cabinet confidences secret, Shugart said he directed public servants to make an exception in the case of the WE affair.He directed them to be "as transparent as possible" about releasing documents involving the student services grant program at the heart of the affair. And he told them to release documents that touched on matters about which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or his ministers had already spoken publicly."As a result ... considerable information on the grant that would otherwise have constituted cabinet confidences was provided to the committee," he said.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre noted that Shugart can be fired by the prime minister and suggested that he and other public servants used "the pretext" of cabinet confidentiality to protect the Liberal government from political embarrassment.But Shugart said he's "completely confident" that public servants carried out his directions fully and in a non-partisan manner. He said he informed Trudeau of the approach he was taking but did not consult him or ministers on specific decisions made about what should be released or blacked out.Shugart made no apologies for ignoring the committee's order that unredacted documents be sent to the law clerk. He argued that the executive branch of government has no authority to delegate its responsibility to protect cabinet confidences to the parliamentary law clerk.The federal ethics commissioner, meanwhile, told the committee that his office has received "tens of thousands" of pages of documents on the WE affair, none of which were redacted to black out cabinet confidences.Mario Dion is investigating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former finance minister Bill Morneau for possible violations of the Conflict of Interest Act.Both Trudeau and Morneau have close family ties to WE Charity but neither recused themselves from a cabinet decision to pay the charity $43.5 million to administer the now-cancelled student services grant program."We did receive all the documents we need in order to conduct these two examinations, including cabinet confidences," Dion told the committee.Poilievre found it "very strange" that Dion's office received more documents than the finance committee. But Dion suggested that's because his office asked for more documents than the committee did.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24. 2020. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — The British Columbia Appeal Court should consider the finding of a judge who determined in 1983 that a 17-year-old youth accused of murder had the cognitive abilities of a 10- to 12-year-old child, a defence lawyer says.Thomas Arbogast said the trial judge made that determination after observing Phillip Tallio in court soon after his 22-month-old cousin was killed and hearing audio recordings of a police interrogation."The finding was made that he was intellectually impaired and that is something that this court must give deference to," Arbogast said Tuesday.Court heard that the recordings have gone missing, along with other evidence from the case, and therefore cannot be heard by the panel of three Appeal Court judges now deciding Tallio's fate.Justice S. David Frankel said the trial judge's finding seemed to be based solely on the conclusion of a registered psychologist who met with Tallio and determined the teen didn't understand the consequences of a plea deal.Arbogast said that while the judge confirmed the conclusion of the psychologist hired by Tallio's defence team, he made an independent decision about the teen's intellectual abilities.Several mental health experts have said Tallio did not have the capacity to understand the seriousness of the offence he pleaded guilty to, Arbogast said, adding the teen's "remarkably unusual" behaviour caught the attention of another judge who presided over a preliminary inquiry in Bella Coola in the summer of 1983.Arbogast read from an affidavit by the judge three decades later after he was contacted by Rachel Barsky, another of Tallio's lawyers.Arbogast said the judge saw Tallio sitting at the back of a plane alongside a sheriff or RCMP officer as they returned to Vancouver and that the teen was engrossed in comic books his lawyer had brought for him. "It seemed to me that Phillip Tallio was overwhelmed and he did not comprehend the gravity of his situation," Arbogast read from the affidavit. "I recall discussing this with other members of the court party after arriving in Vancouver."Frankel said there is no indication the judge had any conversations with Tallio."Thirty-three years after the fact he says in an affidavit this is what I recall," he added.Arbogast replied that the important part of the affidavit is the judge's "very clear recollection" of Tallio's behaviour on the aircraft.Tallio has said he found Delavina Mack dead in April 1983 when he went to check on her at a home in the northern community of Bella Coola.He testified last month that he didn't understand what he was signing when he made a plea deal to second-degree murder.His defence team has said he received "ineffective counsel" from his trial lawyer.But the CBC reported that Phillip Rankin testified last month that he explained the plea agreement to the teen, who seemed to grasp that he was admitting to killing Mack."You can't read other people's minds, what they understand or don't understand, but you get an impression," Rankin said. "And the impression I had was that he understood what we were talking about."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
As part of IndigiNews’ ongoing look into Indigenous reproductive healthcare access, we are speaking to people about their birth experiences. As the snow started to fall, marking the beginning of the winter solstice, Estella Carmona was on her way to the hospital to give birth to her first daughter, Katiyana. The all-encompassing birthing process would turn into a life-changing spiritual experience that showed Carmona her “true connection to spirit,” she says. Carmona sees her daughter Katiyana, who’s turning seven on Dec. 21, as her greatest teacher. “I knew that I was bringing in sacred life,” says Carmona who is of Sechelt, Stó:lō and Mexican descent, reflecting on the day her daughter was born. Carmona is a member of shíshálh First Nation, which is located along the Sunshine Coast in Sechelt, B.C., and comes from a strong line of matriarchs. She says it’s the strong cultural teachings from the smokehouse that pulled her through two complicated birth experiences. “It showed the strength of spirit,” she says. “I was raised by my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my mom, and [strong moral teachings are] something that we live, we breathe.” She credits her great-grandmother who was a fluent speaker in her language for instilling these teachings in the family. Carmona was living in Stó:lō Territory in 2013 when she was pregnant with her first daughter. Before Katiyana was born owls and hawks started visiting her, she explains. For many Indigenous people, the connection between birds as a kind of messenger is a part of cultural teachings passed down. “An owl started visiting me throughout my pregnancy. They’ve never come into my life beforehand,” says Carmona. “I had four owls visit me and two owls came the night before she was born.” During the delivery, Carmona explains how her cultural teachings helped assist in the birth. “I did tap into sacred energy, our breath, and prayer,” she says. Carmona used a birthing tub at the hospital during her labour. “Having been surrounded by water, she came into this world in a very peaceful way,” she says. However, after her daughter was delivered Carmona says she lost a lot of blood but was not given a blood transfusion. She left the experience wishing she had known her rights. “If I knew my rights, I would have demanded a blood transfusion,” she says. “They took my blood count after she was delivered. They took my blood count the next morning. And they’re like, well, it’s already increasing. So we don’t think you need one.” After suffering from extreme fatigue for six months, navigating being a new mother, working, and being in school, she didn’t realize the severity of the situation until years later. After requesting to see her medical records she says, “I realized this is how women die in childbirth.” Carmona believes a higher power is what pulled her through this experience. “When I say spirit saved my life, I believe that Katiyana chose me as her mother. She chose her father. And those owls visited me throughout,” she says, “it was spirit all the way.” As they left the hospital, she remembers seeing a hawk on the side of the road. “Her spirit is the owl spirit,” Carmona says smiling. “There’s no question about it, she sees truth.” In 2015, Carmona was pregnant with her second child, a daughter named Ivy. Still living in Stó:lō Territory, she returned to give birth at a local hospital. This time, she says, the delivery was excruciating and there were complications with baby Ivy being delivered. According to her medical records, baby Ivy was born face up, blue and limp with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. While Carmona says her mother and mother-in-law knew what was happening, she was unaware of the severity of the situation. “I did not know the severity of the situation being like you just delivered a baby,” she says. The medical records show that baby Ivy was not breathing when she was born, and Carmona says they called a “code pink” signalling an emergency. “She’s a miracle that she survived,” says Carmona. “My belief in the Creator, my belief in the teaching saved us a hundred percent. We had people watching over us.” Reflecting on the experience, Carmona once again wishes she was given more information in the moment. “There was no, how long was she out of breath for, what’s her cognitive ability kind of thing. Like, your daughter could have died,” she says. “It was, she can sit up in her car seat. You’re fine, go home.” For other expecting parents Carmona says that due to the lack of cultural safety, systemic racism and stereotyping of Indigenous women, it’s important to “trust your intuition.” “Whether it’s the doctor, a white midwife, the stereotyping that you receive, whether it’s in the doctor’s appointments, leading up or in the delivering room, having multiple Indigenous family members there, there’s a lot of racism that happens in these experiences,” she says. Many Indigenous Peoples who access the healthcare system in Canada feel the impacts of systemic racism. On June 19, 2020, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond was appointed by Health Minister Adrian Dix to lead an investigation into Indigenous-specific racism in the B.C. health care system. “If I could say anything to a woman who would be giving birth or in this process, trust your intuition, pray for protection and guidance,” says Carmona. With two healthy young girls, now one of the most important things for Carmona is that her kids are raised traditionally so that they too are equipped to navigate the world. “I can say that practicing our cultural teachings benefits new mothers and their babies, that little plant, that little seed,” says Carmona, “Every thought, every feeling that we think our baby experiences and my daughters are very cultural beings.” Our series on reproductive health access is made possible in part with funding from First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Thunderbird Partnership Foundation. Their support does not imply endorsement of or influence over the content produced. Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse