Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Sunday to advance Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett toward final confirmation despite Democratic objections, just over a week before the presidential election. The vote was 51-48. (Oct. 25)
Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Sunday to advance Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett toward final confirmation despite Democratic objections, just over a week before the presidential election. The vote was 51-48. (Oct. 25)
MILTON, Ga. — In a black face mask and cap, activist Garrett Bess walked up driveway after driveway of million-dollar homes in suburban Atlanta on a recent afternoon, placing a flyer in each door, ringing the bell and stepping away to make a socially distanced pitch to vote for the conservative candidates in Georgia's pivotal U.S. Senate runoff elections.Bess' group, Heritage Action for America, plans to knock on half a million doors before the state's two Jan. 5 contests that will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate.“Everyone in Georgia knows the candidates,” said Janae Stracke, a colleague of Bess’ who also canvassed the subdivision. "There’s not a lot of convincing to do. They’ve made up their mind. It’s mostly knowing when to vote, how to vote, encouraging them to vote.”This election season, the coronavirus pandemic has upended traditional get-out-the-vote efforts where campaign workers go door to door to encourage people to cast ballots. With people staying at home and limiting contact with outsiders, an extended conversation with a campaign worker who shows up uninvited may actually encourage people to vote for someone else.But it's a sign of how important the two Senate elections are that both parties and independent advocacy groups are going all in on their in-person get-out-the-vote efforts.After the GOP lost the presidential election in Georgia for the first time in 28 years, conservatives are urging Republicans to get more aggressive with their turnout efforts in the state to match the outreach of former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.After Abrams lost the 2018 governor's race, she devoted herself to voter outreach, convinced that the state was a genuine battleground if Democrats galvanized young voters, minorities and people moving in from other states. She raised millions of dollars to organize and register hundreds of thousands of voters in the state — efforts credited with helping Democrat Joe Biden win Georgia.Republicans have to catch up, Republican operative Karl Rove told Fox News.“Let’s not kid ourselves: This is a real race,” said Rove, who is leading fundraising efforts for the runoffs.The National Republican Senatorial Committee expects to have 1,000 staffers on the ground in Georgia. For comparison, the Republican National Committee had a total of 3,000 paid field staff across the whole country during the presidential race.Democrats carry their own baggage into the runoff. In many parts of the country, they limited face-to-face campaigning ahead of the Nov. 3 election because of the pandemic, arguing that was the responsible thing to do. But that decision was second-guessed in places such as Florida.The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to spend millions on voter registration and turnout efforts.Outside groups are also hitting the ground, and the in-person appeals will be supplemented with a fusillade of phone calls, text messages, mailers and ads aimed at boosting turnout for the races pitting Republican Sen. David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock.Turnout tends to drop precipitously in runoff contests in Georgia. And activists fear there might be even more of a falloff this time, when the excitement of the Trump-Biden race is over. So getting voters to come back to the polls becomes more of a focus than “trying to find new voters or win over voters who voted for your opponent,” said Charles Bullock, an expert on Southern politics at the University of Georgia.Historically, that drop-off has disproportionately affected Democrats, so the party faces strong headwinds heading into January. The Republican candidate has beaten the Democrat in seven out of eight runoff elections since 1992, including two U.S. Senate races.Democrats have reason for optimism after Biden's win, but his margin of victory was tiny — less than 13,000 votes of nearly 5 million cast — and it’s been 20 years since the state elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate.But groups whose efforts tend to favour Democrats are charged. On Friday, representatives of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America went door to door in a neighbourhood just outside Atlanta encouraging people to vote for Ossoff and Warnock.“If we don't get those two seats in Congress, everything we did to flip Georgia blue is not going to help us,” Phyllis Morrow told a couple that pulled over in their car.The African Methodist Episcopal Church in Georgia, which has more than 150,000 parishioners in the state, is asking members to call eligible voters in their congregations, encourage them to vote early and assist with rides if they need help getting to the polls on Jan. 5.Bishop Reginald T. Jackson said Black voters are excited and “realize the eyes of the nation are on Georgia.”"They know people are going to be looking to see whether or not Blacks turn out,” he said.The New Georgia Project, a group founded by Abrams, will try to register some of the estimated 35,000 people who have finished their felony sentences and can requalify to vote as well as some of the estimated 23,000 people who are turning 18 before the runoff, Executive Director Nse Ufot said.Ufot said the group also aims to knock on 1 million doors before the runoff, up from 500,000 before the general election, and is training volunteers to take coronavirus precautions.In Milton, Bess and Stracke were in friendly territory. The affluent, mostly white city about 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of Atlanta showed strong support for President Donald Trump in the November election. The neighbourhood they canvassed last week featured manicured lawns and spacious homes set back from the street.“Oh, you have no problem here,” Holly McCormick, 73, told Bess after he rang her doorbell. The flyers he carried warned that Georgia was the country’s “last line of defence from a socialist takeover.”McCormick called the outcome of the presidential race “rigged” though there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and she said Trump’s claims of illegal votes made her more energized to vote for Perdue and Loeffler in January.“We have to hold the Senate,” she said.___Associated Press writer Jeff Amy in Atlanta contributed to this report.Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press
TORONTO — A man who drove a van down a Toronto sidewalk and killed 10 people showed no anger toward women during his psychiatric evaluations, court heard Friday.Dr. John Bradford, one of the country's foremost forensic psychiatrists, testified that Alek Minassian's complete lack of anger and emotion is in direct contrast with Elliot Rodger, an American mass murderer he purportedly idolized.Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 of attempted murder. The defence argues the 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., should be found not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018 due to autism spectrum disorder. His state of mind at the time is the sole issue at trial, which is being held by videoconference due to the pandemic.After a brief cross examination by the prosecution, Justice Anne Molloy, who is presiding over the case without a jury, took time to ask Bradford several questions."Did he ever talk to you about any degree of hatred or rage directed towards women?" the judge asked."In my contact with him, he didn’t show any anger whatsoever," Bradford said. "I don't think he expressed any particular hatred, other than in the context of what he focused on with Elliot Rodger and why he followed that."Rodger went on a rampage in Isla Vista, Calif., in May 2014, killing six people and injuring 14 others before killing himself. His "manifesto" and his video before the murders focused on his hatred towards women and has found an audience in the bowels of the internet where he is treated as the forefather of so-called "incels," men who are involuntarily celibate.Minassian told police hours after the attack that he killed innocent people as part of an "incel uprising." In that world, incels are on the bottom rung of society, below alpha males called Chads and the women they sleep with, called Stacys, and below them are "normies," or normal people. Minassiand told a police detective he hoped the attack would upend that societal order.But in his interviews with Bradford, Minassian changed his story."He denies that is part of incel although he has been disappointed in the past with his social interactions, but when confronted about being extremely angry, enraged, he denies this now categorically and maintains that he (has) only been disappointed and that he made this up about being enraged," Bradford wrote in his report.Bradford said Minassian told him while he was obsessed with the "incel theme," he was not a follower. "He talked about that theme, but without much emotion," said Bradford, who met with Minassian more than 15 times as part of a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. Minassian also told Bradford his motivation was due to his anxiety about failing at a new job as a computer programmer he was set to begin a week after the attack. He also said he was motivated by the notoriety the attack would bring, even though he had planned to die in a "suicide-by-cop."Then in later interviews, Minassian reverted to the incel uprising as his motivation. Bradford testified Minassian's affect was flat through their meetings and he showed no emotion when describing in great detail the attack. Minassian also lacks empathy, Bradford testified, but he is not psychotic and, therefore, does not meet the test to be found not criminally responsible.Bradford did leave the door open to a "theoretical" pathway for Minassian to be found not criminally responsible through autism spectrum disorder, but noted he was not of that opinion, partially because he has little experience with that disorder.He said Minassian suffers from no other disorder, is not and has never been psychotic, is not a psychopath and did not have depression despite the suicide plan and a later suicide attempt in jail."This is a unique case of somebody with no autism co-morbidity who carried out a mass homicide and lived who by his own planning would be deceased," Bradford said."I knew that this was going to be unusual. As an expert, I believe my role is to give my opinion and give it as clearly as possible, but also to acknowledge that others may have a different opinion."Another psychiatrist testified that Minassian's autism spectrum disorder left him fixated on mass killings and vulnerable to the ramblings of an American mass murderer.Dr. Alexander Westphal, an American psychiatrist who is set to testify Monday, is expected to be the lone voice to say Minassian is not criminally responsible for his actions due to autism spectrum disorder.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
The numbers of positive COVID-19 cases across the country are grim as the second wave of the pandemic has the country firmly in its grip. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer released new modelling on Friday that suggests Canada could see 60,000 daily new COVID-19 cases by the end of the year if people increase their contacts with others, but that number could be limited to 20,000 a day if Canadians keep the same number of personal contacts they have now. The modelling shows that instead of flattening the curve, national daily case counts are “increasing significantly,” and rapid growth is occurring in several provinces because each new case in Canada is spreading the infection to more than one other person. On average 5000 new cases are being identified daily and still people across the country are refusing to acknowledge that this is a serious threat. In early October, Prime Minister Trudeau warned Canadians that Thanksgiving gatherings were out the window, but we still had a chance for Christmas. Two weeks after Thanksgiving case numbers started to rise, and then Hallowe’en happened, and a week later the number of cases here in Saskatchewan really started to escalate. But we are not alone. On Sunday November 22, Alberta led the entire country with 1,584 new cases, despite having a fraction of the population of Ontario and Quebec. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer likened the spread to “a snowball rolling down a hill, growing bigger and faster, and it will continue unless we implement strong measures to stop [it].” A Canadian health policy and health services research consultant, recently relocated to Melbourne, Steven Lewis shared his thoughts on Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 situation with CBC and he pulled no punches. “When 95 per cent adherence isn't good enough, you cannot rely on moral suasion or appeals to civility” and “the Saskatchewan government's "half-assed" approach will simply prolong the pandemic's devastating effects on people's health and the economy.” He continued, “It is increasingly clear that you can't slow-walk the pandemic with a fine-tuned balancing act that keeps the economy humming while keeping daily case rates at a predictable and low level. So, you have to come down hard and fast and universally to flatten the curve quickly. Bottom line: Saskatchewan has been tested by the second wave and largely failed.” On Wednesday November 25 before the Premier announced the latest measures the province recorded 164 new cases of COVID-19 pushing the total number of active cases over 3000. One-hundred and eleven are in hospital and nineteen are being cared for in intensive care units. Coming into effect at 12:01 am Friday November 27, seating at restaurants will be limited to four people per table with two to three metres separating tables dependent upon whether or not barriers are in place between tables. Capacity at performance and gaming venues will be restricted to 30. Any type of social indoor gathering in public areas are limited to 30. All team/group sports, activities, games, competitions, recitals, practices, etc. are suspended, including amateur and recreational leagues for all age groups. Athletes and dancers 18 years of age and under may continue practicing, conditioning and skills training in groups of eight or fewer, abiding by the required mask use and at least three metres of physical distancing between participants at all times. Fitness activities and group fitness classes in groups of eight or fewer continues to be permitted, for all ages. Mask use and at least three metres of physical distancing between participants must be maintained. All places of worship must reduce capacity to 30 people, including wedding, funeral and baptismal services. All students, employees and visitors in schools and daycares except while consuming food or beverage must now wear masks. Children 0-2 years remain exempt. Children ages 3-12 should wear a mask if possible. As well all employees and visitors in all common areas in businesses and workplaces and all residents, employees and visitors in all common areas in provincial and municipal facilities. Masking is required in indoor public areas even if barriers are in place. Retail businesses must enhance the expectation of mask use and mitigation measures through signage and staff training. Large retail locations are required to limit customers to 50% as determined by half the specified fire-code capacity or four square metres of space per person whichever is less. Premier Moe adamantly denied the necessity to enact a complete shutdown. During the press conference he said because we have a better understanding of the virus than in the spring and “we” know what to do. He went on to state that it would be unfair to shut down businesses and put people out of work. The aim of the government is to find the right balance and minimize the impact on people’s livelihoods. Interestingly enough this is the same theory that has been expressed by Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney even as new cases in that province have exceeded those of Ontario and Quebec. Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government made sure to sign deals with a variety of potential COVID-19 vaccine producers to ensure Canadians would get one that works. He says that if everything goes according to plan, most Canadians will receive their immunization by next September.
Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is “profoundly disappointed” that 20 recordings of private meetings of the provincial emergency response team were leaked to the public. The recordings, made public by a CBC story published Thursday morning, paint a picture of Premier Jason Kenney and the provincial government overruling the expert advice of Hinshaw and civil servants and pushing an early relaunch strategy focused on the economy. “I have always felt my ideas are respectfully considered. I have always had respectful discussions with public servants and elected officials,” Hinshaw said to reporters on Thursday. “I do not dictate every detail of each policy decision and I should not. I was not elected by Albertans. The final decisions are up to elected officials who were chosen by Albertans. This is how democracy works." Alberta's top doctors said while the 20 meetings were leaked, they were taken out of the broader context of the meetings, and don’t show the meetings before and after the ones recorded as part of ongoing discussions to keep Albertans safe. The meetings were supposed to be private and a safe space, Hinshaw said, and leaking them is a violation of trust and the oath that public servants take. “The safety and trust are now broken,” Hinshaw said. Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro sang Hinshaw’s praises Thursday afternoon, calling her one of the finest chief medical officers of health in the country. Shandro said the CBC story violated Hinshaw’s confidence and embarrassed her. “I called Dr. Hinshaw this morning to say she has nothing to apologize for and she has my complete confidence,” Shandro said. In the past 24 hours, the province confirmed another 1,082 cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total of active cases up to 14,052. There are currently 383 people in the hospital including 84 people in intensive care. Ten more people have died from the virus, bringing the total amount of people who have died to 510. Yesterday, there were 15,900 tests done. Around 100,000 COVID-19 rapid testing kits will debut in the province in December. The COVID-19 testing capacity will allow for the identification and notification of positive cases in less than 20 minutes, which will speed up care and isolation, reducing the risk of further spread. The tests will be used on patients who are within the first seven days of showing symptoms, allowing health officials to quickly identify positive cases at testing sites, reducing the need for patient samples to be transported to centralized public laboratories for processing. To ensure the validity of the results, two swabs will be collected from each patient, and all negative tests from both systems will be subject to confirmation by the existing lab-based testing method. This is because a negative result is not as reliable as traditional testing and the test may miss some COVID-positive samples. Alberta’s health officials said they will use these pilots to determine how to streamline processes related to patient management, results notifications and digital record-keeping before the tests are deployed widely across the province. The province is looking at expanding the use of the tests where it can be of the greatest value to the public, such as at homeless shelters and long-term care facilities.Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
Kneehill County councillors heard a presentation from a non-profit society that aims to educate kids about finances and business during their regular meeting Nov. 24. Reeve Jerry Wittstock and Coun. Debbie Penner attended the meeting virtually, with Deputy Reeve Faye McGhee chairing the meeting. Junior Achievement, represented by staff member Melanie Willerth, made a presentation to council with three goals in mind, she said: raising awareness of the organization, recruiting volunteers and funding opportunities. Willerth stated the organization offers courses in host schools intended to teach student about finances and business. She provided a summary for councillors listing programs such as More Than Money, Our Business World, A Business of Our Own, Dollars With Sense, Stronger Together, Economics for Success, Investment Strategies and World of Choices. Willerth noted three communities within Kneehill County currently have Junior Achievement programming including Linden, Trochu and Three Hills. The 16 programs are offered to about 400 students. She noted the organization would like to get more awareness of the programs’ value, all of which are offered free of charge to schools, and ideally recruit more volunteer instructors. She explained the programs are offered to students by community members who are knowledgeable about business, and would include one night a week for about 16 weeks. Junior Achievement is a non-profit society which is always happy to see more sponsorship stated Willerth, who added that sponsors are always recognized on program materials. Deputy Reeve McGhee asked about the organization's structure and funding. Willerth answered Junior Achievement has a board of directors and relies heavily on fundraising, with some funds coming from communities and some from the provincial government. The business sector also supports the program she noted. Reeve Wittstock asked how much it costs to offer the programs in Kneehill County. Willerth answered that courses include expenses such as materials and volunteer training, adding up to about $200 to $250 per course. Coun. Penner stated her kids participated in Junior Achievement programming and learned valuable skills like budgeting. She asked if courses are currently accepting, and Willerth answered that there are still courses registering for December and also next year. Coun. Glen Keiver asked if all of the courses must be completed or in a specific order, to which Willerth answered no, they are all stand-alone courses developed for certain school grades. Deputy Reeve McGhee stated she also had kids who completed Junior Achievement courses. After Willerth completed her presentation, councillors discussed the Junior Achievement program. Reeve Wittstock asked if Kneehill County has funded this group in the past. County Chief Administrative Officer Mike Haugen stated in the current year Kneehill County has budgeted $3,000 for the Junior Achievement program, and it has been funded in the past as well. Wittstock noted that should pretty much cover the local programs compared to the figure Willerth gave of about $200 per program. “I would say that’s $200 of well-spent money,” said Deputy Reeve McGhee in support of the program. Penner added she also supports the program but hears that they have trouble finding volunteer speakers to help. Coun. Ken King asked that since Kneehill County is currently funding the group, is the county being credited for its support, and also wondered if Willerth knows Kneehill County is currently funding the program. CAO Haugen stated he will follow-up with Willerth to clarify those details. The presentation was accepted for information.Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
Caesars Windsor says it will temporarily close on Monday.The closure of the casino comes as Windsor-Essex moves into the red or "control" level of Ontario's COVID-19 response framework Monday. Under the level, casinos and other gaming establishments are permitted a maximum of 10 patrons indoors and table games are prohibited, among other measures. The current maximum patrons permitted inside is 50.In a statement to CBC News, Susanne Tomkins, Caesars Windsor manager of public relations and communications, said the closure is a result of the upcoming new restrictions."As a result of the provincial restrictions under the Red Control Level, Caesars Windsor will temporarily close on Monday, November 30 at 12:01 a.m." she said. "The safety of our guests, team members and community is our top priority and as such we continue to follow the recommendation of provincial and local public health unit."On Oct. 8, the casino reopened for the first time since the pandemic began in March — but only for select members.The casino employs around 2,000 people in the region."There will be some temporary layoffs as a result of moving to Red Control Level however we don't comment on specific employee levels," Tomkins said.
Two Native American tribes in northern Minnesota are asking state regulators to stop the imminent construction of Enbridge Energy's Line 3 crude oil pipeline replacement, saying it would increase the risk of coronavirus infections spreading.The Red Lake and White Earth Bands of Chippewa filed a motion late Wednesday asking the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to stay its approval of the $2.6 billion project. They argue construction would put locals at increased risk of coronavirus infections as workers move into the area.The bands and other pipeline opponents have sued and protested to try to block the project, and an appeal by the state Commerce Department is pending. They want the PUC to halt the project while that legal challenge plays out.The pipeline project took a step forward on Monday when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the final federal permit needed. The Public Utilities Commission has already approved the project several times, but still needs to give construction a final green light.Enbridge says the pipeline replacement will provide a safer way to transport the oil to Midwest refineries while creating 4,200 construction jobs and generating millions of dollars in local spending and tax revenues.Opponents say the project threatens spills in pristine waters where Native Americans harvest wild rice and that the Canadian tar sands oil it would carry would aggravate climate change.The Associated Press
Deaths from illicit drugs in Prince George edged closer to record-setting proportions last month. The year-to-date total stood at 43 as of the end of October, according to a monthly update from the B.C. Coroners Service issued Wednesday and increase of five from the month before. The city appears on pace to surpass the record 51 deaths recorded in 2018. Four of the deaths last month involved drugs in which fentanyl was detected and raised that year-to-date total to 33. Forty-six such deaths were reported in 2018. Since the start of 2018, there have been 127 drug-related deaths in the city and the rate per 100,000 people stands at 44.8. Only Hope and Vancouver have higher rates. Across B.C., it was the fifth month this year for which more than 160 suspected illicit drug deaths were reported to the BCCS and more than double the number of people who died as a result of illicit drugs in October 2019. "We are continuing to see record-breaking numbers of people dying in B.C. due to an unsafe drug supply in our province, and it's taking a toll on families and communities in this dual health emergency," chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement. "Challenges during COVID-19, such as access to key harm-reduction services and the toxic drug supply, including the extreme concentration of illicit fentanyl, are resulting in continuing significant and tragic loss of life across the province. Our hearts go out to those grieving the loss of family members, friends and colleagues. "We encourage clinicians to support those at risk of overdose by prescribing safe supply and reducing the numbers of lives lost to toxic substances. We also continue to advocate for an accessible, evidence-based and accountable treatment and recovery system for anyone experiencing problematic substance use who is seeking this medical assistance."Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
The regular monthly meeting of the Prairie Rivers Reconciliation Committee was held on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 from 9:00 – 11:00 am via Zoom and although Gilbert Kewistep was unable to attend due to another commitment but offered up a prayer and a smudge prior to the meeting. Tracey Grande Maison chaired the meeting and called for a roundtable introduction of all those present. While it’s always nice to see all the regular faces around our virtual table, it was especially nice to see three new faces and welcome Lisa Braun from Hepburn, Rev. Emily Summach from Langham, and Velma Assinewai from Aberdeen. After the introductions the meeting moved on to the report from the Social Media Committee. The sub-committee, comprised of five individuals from the ranks of the PRRC, set a goal for themselves to share on the PRRC Facebook page, at least one news item, event, or story per week but currently they have been averaging two per week. Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
OTTAWA — Champion ice-dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Olympic champion swimmer Mark Tewksbury were among 114 athletes, artists, scholars and community leaders named to the Order of Canada.Gov. Gen. Julie Payette's office announced the new honourees Friday morning.Others in the group include Indigenous writer Thomas King, winemaker John Peller, dancer and choreographer Elizabeth Langley, geriatrician Roger Wong, Cree elder Doreen Spence, sports academic Dr. Sandra Kirby, wheelchair basketball coach Tim Frick and ex-politicians Bill Graham and Allan Rock.Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018.They're being honoured for their athletic excellence and for inspiring a new generation of figure skaters."Feeling all wrapped up in emotion ... Upon learning about being invested into the Order of Canada, I couldn’t help but think that as a kid, I would have never known to dream so big," Virtue posted on Twitter."I am humbled by this honour."Tewksbury, who is being named to the top companion rank, won gold in the 100-metre backstroke at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.The 52-year-old Calgary native came out publicly as gay in 1998 and has been an advocate of LGBTQ rights as well as a prominent member of Canada's Olympic movement, serving as chef de mission of the 2012 London Olympic team.He is being honoured for athletic excellence and sport leadership, and for championing human rights.Kirby, a rower at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, is being honoured for her research on athlete harassment and her advocacy for equity, inclusion and safety in sport. Frick coached Canada's women's wheelchair basketball team to three straight Paralympic gold medals from 1992-2000 and four straight world championship gold medals from 1994-2006.He is being honoured for his expertise in coaching and for his contributions to the advancement of parasports in Canada.The Order of Canada is one of the country's highest civilian honours.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — An angry Premier Doug Ford lashed out on Friday at anti-lockdown protesters outside his home, accusing them of intimidating nearby residents and saying their actions wouldn't sway him.His neighbours, Ford said in offering them a sincere apology for getting caught up in the situation, make no government decisions and never signed up to be targets."Stop acting like a bunch of buffoons out there and start respecting the people of Ontario," Ford said at his daily briefing. "This is totally unacceptable that my neighbours are being intimidated, being threatened, and these people, they need to stop."Protesters opposed to measures aimed at curbing the lethal spread of COVID-19 have gathered outside the premier's west-end Toronto home daily. Their actions, he said, are unacceptable."You want to protest me, come down to Queen's Park," Ford said. "You can do cartwheels, you can jump up and down." Ford took aim at Independent legislator Randy Hillier, who did lead an anti-mask and anti-lockdown rally at the legislature on Thursday. Police ticketed Hiller, whom Ford called irresponsible, for allegedly breaking health rules imposed to curb COVID.Hillier's supporters took to social media to denounce the citation and restrictions as unnecessary. Ford, however, said it's unfathomable that some people believe coronavirus disease to be a hoax when in fact the virus is so serious. "Look at the states to the south of us that want to ignore the regulations — they're blowing up," he said. "They have mobile morgues driving around in Texas collecting bodies. If that's not a wake-up call, I don't know what is."On Friday, Ontario reported a record 1,855 new infections, a 25 per cent surge in a day, and 20 new deaths. The province has now seen 109,361 cases, 3,575 of them fatal.Ford defended the restrictions that have shut down many businesses and limited gatherings as public health authorities urged people to stay home except for essential reasons. The measures, he said, were proven effective earlier this year."The proof is in the pudding: When we did it last time, we were down to almost 100 cases, which is unheard of in a population of 14.77 million people." The protesters outside his house, Ford said, were special interest and political groups. Small business owners on his street and elsewhere in the neighbourhood were among those anti-lockdown protests end up hurting, he added.Ultimately, Ford said, the protesters were violating the very tenets of political discourse. "There's an unwritten rule here in Canada: You don't go after people's families and neighbours," he said. "You want to come at me, come at me, and leave my family and leave my neighbours alone."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante can now add "author" to her resume with the publication of a graphic novel in which she recounts her entry into politics and takes subtle digs at the sexism she's encountered along the way. '"Okay, Universe: Chronicles of a Woman in Politics," tells the story of Simone Simoneau — modelled on Plante — a young community organizer who decides to take the plunge into politics by running for a seat on city council. Published in both English and French and co-authored by illustrator Delphie Cote-Lacroix, the book follows the initially hesitant Simoneau as she learns to fundraise, knock on doors and recruit volunteers. Plante, 46, said she began to toy with the idea of publishing a book after she won the mayoralty in 2017. Writing a typical political autobiography didn't appeal, she said. "For me the graphic novel format was always what I wanted," she said in a recent interview at her publisher's offices. "I think it’s accessible, it can be fun, and I love graphic novels myself." The book is based on Plante's own sketches and anecdotes she began jotting down in 2013, during her first run for a seat on city council. Four years later, she became the first woman elected mayor of Montreal after her surprise defeat of experienced incumbent Denis Coderre. While the writing and drawings were initially a form of self-care to help her "stay balanced," she said she eventually came to see that her story might inspire others, especially young girls. "I wanted to show, and maybe tell, people it’s OK not to have all the keys and codes to do something you think would be a good thing to do or you believe in," she said. "Just go for it." She began working with Cote-Lacroix on evenings and weekends, taking about two years to finalize the story and illustrations. Plante said that, much like her character in the book, she had been looking for a new challenge before her entry into politics. Then she received a phone call from left-wing municipal party Projet Montreal, which was looking to diversify its slate of candidates. In the book, Plante doesn't shy away from the challenges faced by women who put themselves in the public eye. At one point, one of her character's posters is defaced by sexist graffiti. In another, her character's husband gets effusive praise for helping to care for the couple's children — something the book points out is a given for female political spouses. While the book "won't change sexism," Plante said she hopes it will help highlight the double standards women face. Three years into her mandate, Plante has had a bumpy year, marked by a global pandemic that has devastated the city's economy and criticism over her administration's failure to implement its big visions for affordable housing and transportation. She has also faced anger over what some have described as an anti-car agenda, which includes building bike lanes, eliminating parking spots and temporarily closing some streets to vehicle traffic to create "sanitary corridors." At times, that criticism has escalated to the level of death threats. While some criticism is to be expected, Plante attributes much of the public anger directed her way to the anxiety wrought by the pandemic. "Not to minimize their actions of being very aggressive, violent or doing death threats, but I like to hope in the future, when people are less stressed and in a better position, things will calm down," she said. She also faced criticism earlier this year over her novel itself, with some high-profile commentators questioning her decision to "draw cartoons" as the city was embroiled in the COVID-19 crisis. Plante dismissed this as unfounded, especially since she says the writing process wrapped up in late 2019. "People were just kind of trashing the book (without) even reading it, which I thought was sad, because it wasn’t about the content, it was about criticizing the author," she said. However, she did push back the book's publication for a few months when the pandemic's second wave began. Plante said she would still recommend politics to young people who want to make a difference, even as she acknowledges it's a "tough" career that comes with unusual levels of public exposure. "But hopefully people see in the book, the love that you get from your volunteers, it's a community, it’s people working together," she said. "It’s worth it." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020. Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
Police officers from six detachments rapidly coordinated their resources to track and arrest five Westside gang members. The Maidstone RCMP, Saskatchewan RCMP Roving Traffic Unit (RTU), the Saskatchewan RCMP Protection and Response Team (PRT), Saskatchewan RCMP Highway Patrol, Turtleford RCMP, Onion Lake RCMP, and the Lloydminster RCMP all worked together to nab the alleged Westside gang members that took police on an approximate 150 kilometre, two-hour chase. Police arrested Tonia Cantel, 22, from North Battleford, Juanita Wahpistikwan, 21, from Big Island Cree Nation, Kyle Lajimodiere from Cold Lake, and two youths from Big Island Lake Cree Nation. The five were charged with theft of a vehicle, storing a prohibited firearm, four counts of possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, two counts of carrying a concealed weapon, possessing a firearm without a license, being a vehicle with an unauthorized firearm, possessing a prohibited firearm with accessible ammunition without registration, possession a firearm with an altered serial number, endangering the safety of the public, and flight from police. According to Maidstone RCMP, they received a call on Nov. 20 at about 3 p.m. about a grey Honda stolen at a business in Lashburn by three mean dressed in red. The men were seen fleeing east on Hwy 16 in the grey Honda car followed by a small red Ford car. Maidstone RCMP alerted the Saskatchewan RCMP RTU who was already on Hwy 16 southeast of Lashburn to be on the lookout for the stolen vehicle. The RCMP RTU located the eastbound stolen grey car without the second red car. The RCMP RTU followed the stolen grey car and used emergency lights to get the stolen grey car to stop but the driver continued east, turned around and then went west on Hwy 16 at a high rate of speed. After getting confirmation the stolen grey car was still in the Lashburn area, Maidstone RCMP mobilized its partners to be on the lookout for the stolen grey car, report its direction of travel and stay in constant communication. The Saskatchewan RCMP PRT was activated and the Saskatchewan RCMP Highway Patrol on Hwy 16, as well as the Lloydminster RCMP who were asked to help track the movements of the speeding stolen grey car. While the stolen grey car was being tracked, the Lashburn Fire Department advised Maidstone RCMP they received a report of a small red car on fire, east of Lashburn on Range Road 3250. The RCMP PRT first saw the stolen grey car travelling west on Hwy 16, west of the Marshall Weigh Station, and then east on Kempton Road towards Hwy 303. Maidstone RCMP, Lloydminster RCMP, the RCMP RTU, and the RCMP PRT - a total of eight police vehicles - decided to spread out and actively patrol an extended rural area around Lashburn. Maidstone RCMP located the grey car near Paradise Hill, about 60 kilometres north of Lashburn, travelling west on Hwy 3. They monitored the movements of the stolen grey car and observed the stolen grey car turn north on Road 797 in the direction of Frenchman Butte. Maidstone RCMP asked Onion Lake RCMP and Turtleford RCMP to be on the lookout for the stolen grey car. Shortly after, Maidstone RCMP radioed the new direction of the stolen grey car to Turtleford RCMP who were able to position themselves on Township Road 540 to deploy a tire deflation device before the stolen grey car arrived. The tire deflation device was deployed at the right time and, at about 4:40 p.m., the stolen grey car was forced to a stop, shortly after having turned onto Hwy 21. Maidstone RCMP and Turtleford RCMP officers arrested all five occupants of the stolen grey car, without incident. A search of the stolen grey car resulted in the seizure of one sawed-off modified rifle, ammunition, a machete, a BB pistol and several knives. Anyone with information regarding the ownership, occupants or whereabouts of the small red car, on Friday, Nov. 20 at around 3 p.m. in and around Lashburn, Sask., is asked to call Maidstone RCMP at 306-893-4800. Information can also be submitted anonymously to Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submitting a tip online at www.saskcrimestoppers.com. If you are associated with a gang and want to leave it, contact STR8 UP in northern Saskatchewan at 306-763-3001, STR8 UP in central Saskatchewan at 306-244-1771, or Regina Treaty Status Indian Services in southern Saskatchewan at 306-522-7494 to get assistance. The Saskatchewan Roving Traffic Unit (RTU) is a mobile traffic enforcement team comprised of Saskatchewan RCMP officers who work in flexible schedules and areas. They address public and traffic safety issues across the Province of Saskatchewan. The five remain in custody and appear in Lloydminster Provincial Court on Dec. 3. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Randy Van Horlick, 71, was sentenced to six months in jail followed by two years of supervised probation for attacking two nurses at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont Hospital in Moncton in March 2019Judge Yvette Finn said the aggravating factor was Van Horlick's lack of remorse for what he did.Reading from her notes, Finn highlighted Van Horlick's statement at a sentencing hearing earlier in the month, when he maintained that he would not have assaulted Poirier if she'd done her job properly and that she was lucky he didn't kill her. "He is still angry about the position he was put in," said Finn.Nurse manager was first victimFinn read the facts of the case that included a blow-by-blow account of the assault against Poirier.She was a nurse manager at the Dumont Hospital when Van Horlick stuck his head into her office.Within minutes he had her by the hair and was striking her in the face and temple as well as twisting her arm. The injuries she suffered have left lasting effects.Reading from Poirier's victim impact statement, Finn said the nurse now has chronic neck and arm pain, and her brain injury stops her from following conversations and leaves her feeling, "even stupid at times."Poirier wrote that she may not be able to return to her position as a nurse manager.Teresa Thibeault was working as a licensed nurse practitioner the afternoon of the assault. She heard her colleague screaming and, following the cries for help, entered Poirier's office to find her on her knees, with Van Horlick holding her by the neck, punching her in her face. Three times she intervened, and her wrist was twisted and injured in the struggle. Thibeault was off work for six months after the attack.Van Horlick's backgroundThe pre-sentence report said Van Horlick was born in Vancouver and moved to Acadieville in 2012 with his wife.The report said she had epilepsy and health issues when the two married 21 years ago.Van Horlick refused to go into details about his family or background but did talk about the stress he felt being his wife's primary caregiver for such a long time.She has since died, and the report said he has had a hard time accepting that she is gone.Finn said stress and fear of losing his wife were explanations for what Van Horlick did, but they shouldn't influence her decision on sentencing."I find in this circumstance there are few mitigating factors,"Defence sought community sentenceThe crown had previously asked that Van Horlick serve three to six months in incarceration, while the defense asked the sentence be served in the community.Finn said her decision to send Van Horlick to prison for six months was to act as a "denunciation and deterrence" for him and others.As the hearing ended, Finn said to Van Horlick, "Just let it go."He shook his head no and was led from the court into custody.Nurses reactAfterward, Poirier said she didn't have much to say other than she was glad it's over.Thibeault said, "It's a little bit disappointing."She said she was hoping for a longer jail term. Notice of civil suitThe Crown had asked for restitution, but Finn said the victims would have to go to civil court for compensation.Papers filed with the court of Queen's Bench show that Natasha Poirier did just that in August. The notice of claim asks that Van Horlick be held responsible for Poirier's income loss and the loss of future earnings, among other costs.VanHorlick filed a notice of intent to defend in September.
Following a shockingly successful campaign to register P.E.I. children for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, the P.E.I. Literacy Alliance is trying to raise more money so it can support more kids.The alliance had its initial launch of the Imagination Library last month."We thought it would take a year to encourage people to sign up, but apparently it only took 12 hours," said executive director Jinny Greaves.The program was quickly oversubscribed and the alliance had to shut down registrations. It had funding to support 2,000 children, but the number registered quickly jumped to 3,000.The provincial government stepped in with extra funding to support the 1,000 children on the waiting list.The Imagination Library partners with publishers and postal services to allow one book a month to be delivered to a child's doorstep for just $50 a year. It is aimed at children from birth to age five, with the goal of providing children with a library of their own by the time they start school.The new campaign, Inspire a Love of Reading this Holiday Season, has set a target to raise $150,000 by the end of December, which will be enough to sign up another 1,000 children for three years.Reaching the vulnerableGreaves said the alliance is looking to be more selective with this round of registrations."We really want to reach the vulnerable families," she said."That was our goal all along, was to kind of start there. We were quite overwhelmed and surprised by how quickly — when we opened up that registration — it just filled up."The alliance is hoping to reach a lot of those families through a partnership with food banks.As part of a separate program, the alliance is putting children's books in Christmas hampers. Those books will have a bookmark with instructions for registering for the Imagination Library.There are about 7,000 children under the age of five on P.E.I., and Greaves said the ultimate goal of the alliance is to register every one.More from CBC P.E.I.
OTTAWA — The federal government is sending $542 million to Indigenous groups to help them set up welfare services for children and families, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.The Canadian government has been promising to transfer control over child and family services to Indigenous governing bodies so they don't need to rely on outsiders to protect children in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.In 2019, Parliament passed a law to reform the system, requiring that children on reserves have access to services equal to those who live off reserves. The legislation also recognize that Indigenous Peoples' constitutional right to self-government includes the right to run their own welfare agencies."We are keeping our promise to give them the support they need to keep children within their families and their communities, so they can grow up surrounded by the strength of their culture to achieve their full potential," Trudeau said.Child-protection agencies have often removed Indigenous children not just from their parents but out of their communities entirely when workers decide the kids aren't safe — often because a lack of funding left them with few other options.That's broken up families and hurt children's connections to their heritage. Federal census figures say Indigenous children make up more than half the kids in foster care across the country, despite being fewer than eight per cent of the children in Canada."Behind these devastating numbers, there are real children, real and terrible stories," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Friday in a separate news conference.The new money is for everything from research and expert advice to consultations on how those Indigenous governments will establish and run their own child and family services, as well as to support their negotiations with provincial and federal authorities.Miller said this is an "essential step to correct the errors of the past" and will help unleash the potential of Indigenous young people who have been held back for generations.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean will be one of the first regions in the province to get rapid COVID-19 tests, as part of new efforts to get the coronavirus under control in the hard-hit region.Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director, said Friday he expects the tests to be available by the middle of December.Like other provinces, Quebec has been slow to deploy rapid tests as it figures out how to best use them.Arruda described them as another "tool" in the fight against the pandemic."They must be used in the right way," he said at a news conference in Saguenay, explaining that rapid tests could be used to do a screening of the broader population.Arruda said the situation in Saguenay is "very fragile," but said "there is hope." He once again urged the public to follow the guidelines: hand-washing, distancing and limiting contacts."Please count the number of people you have had contact with in a day, and reduce that number."The tone of the news conference was slightly more upbeat than a week earlier, when local health officials warned the situation was nearing a tipping point.The number of new cases has hovered between 100 and 200 a day, below some of the daily counts seen last week.Andrée Laforest, Quebec's minister responsible for the region, who was also at the news conference, said the situation appears to be improving but that the health network is still strained. Nurses and doctors have sounded the alarm that the pandemic has made staffing difficult in the region, particularly in Chicoutimi.
Marketing students at Burnett secondary are giving back to their community. Inspired by the sacrifices and generosity of frontline workers, they were tasked with contributing through three goals: reinforcing the government’s COVID-19 safety guidelines, starting a non-profit fundraiser to give back to frontline organizations and workers, and developing a project to create or revitalize community spirit. “Normally the marketing classes would run a school store as part of their experiential learning experience, but with COVID it just wasn’t possible,” says marketing teacher Chris Lee. “As an alternative, I changed this component to be more of a social non-profit pop-up venture format.” The students developed a mechanical hand sanitizer that uses a gravity-enabled foot pump. A virtual social gathering focused on a pre-recorded talent show as well as an online gaming tournament aimed at bringing people together. “In terms of the actual concepts regarding sales and marketing, the students really go through the entire gambit,” says Lee. “They learn to develop, source, cost, market, sell and provide customer feedback wherever applicable.” They also raised funds for the Richmond Hospital and Vancouver Covenant House through several initiatives. Student-designed Burnett clothing and tote bags were sold online, as well as a “pandemic kit” including masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. The last fundraising item was glass poster art, which was inspired by an online trend fusing art with music. Customized pieces of glass art capture favourite songs or artists designed to look like a Spotify music player. “All of these projects really focus on experiential, hands-on learning,” says Lee. “Given our limited time with the students in this new 10-week quarter system, the projects were designed to be like a pressure cooker, where basic entrepreneurial and marketing skills would be developed in a very short period of time. It is my personal belief that such an environment challenges students to learn in a very active way, while reinforcing what they’ve learned in class lessons.”Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
The union that speaks for jail workers says that COVID-19 is now in all of the Saskatchewan correctional centres.Saskatoon is the hardest hit, with 76 inmates and 15 staff testing positive for the virus as of Friday. That number is expected to rise as more test results come in, said Glenn Billingsley, a labour relations officer with the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU).Other positive cases include two staff at the Regina jail, one at the Prince Albert Correctional Centre, one at the Paul Dojack Centre, one at Kilburn Hall and one at a Prince Albert youth residence, he said.The Saskatoon jail is not accepting new inmates. People arrested in Saskatoon and remanded will be sent to a jail in another city.Billingsley said he isn't sure how long this will last."That direction could change on any given notice depending on the staff infection rate, as well as the inmate infection rate at all of those centres," he said.Staff at provincial court in Saskatoon on Friday worked with the new reality.Four of the five men arrested in the city Thursday were released this morning — one with an explicit warning from prosecutor Aaron Martens.The man is facing an assault allegation along with six other charges."This is a consent release but only on the narrowest of margins," Martens said."This is because of COVID-19 at the jail."On Thursday, SGEU proposed that the government give jail staff "optional accommodation" so that workers need not return to their households between shifts.It believes this could help prevent transmission of the virus into the community.The government said no."We're extremely disappointed in the government's reaction," Billingsley said."Transmission of the virus causes more stresses and more economic hardship on this province and the economy than simply supplying optional accommodation for our correction workers."What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.