How seniors living alone are coping with loneliness imposed by pandemic restrictions, and how some are working to make them feel less alone.
How seniors living alone are coping with loneliness imposed by pandemic restrictions, and how some are working to make them feel less alone.
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law. The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations. That includes Biden, who used the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month. “Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic. Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Some have had their Bibles opened to personally relevant passages during their ceremonies. Bill Clinton, for example, chose Isaiah 58:12 — which urges the devout to be a “repairer of the breach” — for his second inauguration after a first term marked by political schisms with conservatives. Others took their oaths on closed Bibles, like John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who in 1961 used his family’s century-old tome with a large cross on the front, similar to Biden’s. The tradition of using a Bible dates as far back as the presidency itself, with the holy book used by George Washington later appearing on exhibit at the Smithsonian on loan from the Masonic lodge that provided it in 1789. Washington’s Bible was later used for the oaths by Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But not every president has used a Bible. Theodore Roosevelt took his 1901 oath without one after the death of William McKinley, while John Quincy Adams used a law book in 1825, according to his own account. Some have employed multiple Bibles during their ceremonies: Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump chose to use, along with others, the copy that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. Harris did the same for her vice-presidential oath, using a Bible owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Harris has spoken of her admiration of Marshall, a fellow Howard University graduate and trailblazer in government as the high court’s first African American justice. “When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted Tuesday, referring to Marshall and friend Regina Shelton, whose Bible she swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. Harris, who attended both Baptist and Hindu services as a child, worships in the Baptist faith as an adult. While U.S. lawmakers have typically used Bibles for their oaths, some have chosen alternatives that reflect their religious diversity. Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2007 used a Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, prompting objections from some Christian conservatives. Jefferson’s Qur’an made a return in 2019 at the oath for Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chose a Hebrew Bible in 2005 to reflect her Jewish faith. Newly elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also Jewish and who swears in Wednesday, used Hebrew scripture belonging to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, opted for the Bhagavad Gita in 2013 after becoming the first Hindu elected to Congress. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the only member of the current Congress who identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” took her oath on the Constitution in 2018. ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Elana Schor, The Associated Press
Paul Lavoie est devenu le nouveau directeur général de Tourisme Côte-Nord le 13 janvier. M. Lavoie assurait l’intérim du poste de directeur général pour l’organisation depuis le mois d’août. Cumulant une quinzaine d’années d’expérience dans le milieu du développement économique et fort d’une « passion inconditionnelle pour la Côte-Nord », M. Lavoie sera chargé d’assurer la poursuite des efforts de promotion et de développement touristique de la région, est-il mentionné dans un communiqué de presse. « Je suis extrêmement content que nous ayons nommé Paul. Ce fut un processus de longue haleine, mais nous avons trouvé le meilleur candidat pour ce poste », exprime le coprésident du conseil d’administration de Tourisme Côte-Nord et maire de l’île d’Anticosti, John Pineault. Paul Lavoie remplace Mario Cyr, qui avait quitté la tête de Tourisme Côte-Nord en août.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
The Muskoka Lakes Snow Trail Association is looking to raise $10,000 to pay for the right equipment to fix their tricky snow trails for sledders this season. Steven Elliott, vice president of the association, said volunteers spend hundreds of hours every year grooming and maintaining trails in Port Carling, Bala, Moonbridge and Bass Lake. He said they pay a lot for special equipment to groom and maintain trails in the swampy lands of Muskoka Lakes. “If we, as volunteers, want to put together the best product that we can for our riders, then we need this equipment,” Elliott said. According to Elliott, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), the non-profit organization financing their club and 230 others in the province, will not cover the expenses of this equipment. The federation declined a request for an interview or comment. The first week of January, the club began a fundraiser to purchase a Skandic Wide Track Utility Snowmobile and a small drag to be pulled behind the machine. The retail price of this Ski-Doo snowmobile begins at $10,099. As of Monday afternoon, Jan. 18, they’ve raised $1,800 via their GoFundMe page. “This is one of the first times we’ve really reached out … or done anything like this,” he said. “The reality is that the permit money people pay doesn’t go far enough to fund some of these types of equipment expenses.” People pay for a snowmobile permit, or season pass, to utilize the trails in the winter. A regular season pass currently costs $270. That money goes toward the grooming and preparation of the trails, including the purchase, fuelling and operation of purpose-built industrial groomers. However, Elliott said the funding doesn’t pay for utility snowmobiles, small drags or brushing equipment. Elliott said the club doesn’t have statistics on how many riders use their trails, but said OFSC's District 7, from Georgian Bay to Algonquin Park, sells 5,000 to 6,000 permits annually. Elliott said the club hopes they’ll receive support from the thousands who use trails like theirs for snowmobiling in Muskoka. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Check out this epic compilation of the BEST cakes of 2020 by Sideserf Cake Studio! Which one is your favorite? Let us know!
The arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine and stronger foreign demand is brightening the outlook for the Canadian economy in the medium term, the Bank of Canada said on Wednesday, as it held its key overnight interest rate at 0.25%. But the central bank warned the economy would contract in the first quarter of 2021 amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and lockdowns, with inflation not expected to return sustainably to target until 2023, keeping interest rates at record lows.
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron wants to take further steps to reckon with France’s colonial-era wrongs in Algeria but is not considering an official apology, his office said. A report commissioned by Macron, to be published later Wednesday, submits proposals to improve the complex relationship between the two countries, from opening up war archives to holding commemorations. Macron's office said there will be “no apologies” but that Macron intends instead to make “symbolic acts” aimed at emphasizing recognition of the harsh colonial reality and helping reconciliation between the two countries. Macron will take part in three commemoration days by next year, which will mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the eight-year war with France that resulted in the North African country gaining independence in 1962 — after 132 years of French rule. France will “pursue and broaden” the opening of its archives on the war as work is under way to allow the release of classified secret documents, Macron's office added. Amid other actions, Macron wants to honour Gisele Halimi, a French feminist who supported Algeria’s independence and denounced the use of torture by the French military during the war. He will launch the process aiming at burying her at the Pantheon monument in Paris, a resting place for some of France’s most distinguished citizens. The first French president to be born after Algerian independence, Macron promised to open a new chapter in France’s relationship with Algeria during his term, including facing the countries’ painful history. In 2018, Macron formally recognized the responsibility of the French state in the death of a dissident in Algeria in 1957, admitting for the first time the military's systematic use of torture during the war. He commissioned historian Benjamin Stora last year to assess France’s relation with the memory of Algeria’s colonization and the independence war. Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said last year that his country was awaiting an official apology for France's colonial occupation. Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first speech as majority leader. “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
East Elgin Community Complex remains the designated emergency evacuation location for Aylmer residents, despite being closed for programming as a result of the province-wide lockdown. In the event of an imminent threat to people or property, local residents could escape to the Complex for shelter. The facility is currently closed under non-emergency circumstances from Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020 until Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. All COVID-19 health and safety protocols would apply, including mandatory face coverings, physical distancing, and limited capacity in the building. If more shelter space was required, town staff would request assistance from neighbouring municipalities and Elgin County. Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
Watching Kincardine native Sam Pearce entertain an audience is, well, magical. As early as four years-of-age, Pearce already knew that he wanted to be a magician. He credits his grandfather with providing him with the inspiration to pursue his career. Grandpa Frank Pearce, formerly of Kincardine and now living in Lucknow, loved to make people laugh, telling jokes and using sleight of hand to amaze and amuse friends and family. Pearce says “he is the reason I am doing this today.” Flashback to 2003, when a then 12-year-old Pearce was the subject of a feature article in The Kincardine Independent. Even then, he knew that he had to keep his illusions fresh and professional to keep his audience entertained. As a young man, he advertised his skills in the area, performing at birthday parties for just $20, while honing his skills and perfecting his delivery. A move to Kitchener in 2008 brought him closer to bigger opportunities, and he began to perform at awards galas, team building events and corporate conferences, acting as not only an entertainer, but as a master of ceremonies as well. His clients have included such companies as Sobeys head office, Epson and Canada Life. And in pandemic times, in order to accommodate gathering and physical distancing restrictions, Pearce has used technology to bring his services into the board rooms and living rooms of his customers. His expert team operates remotely from cities across southern Ontario and he has turned his living room into a professional television studio, where he shoots videos of his performances. Each event is customized to meet the needs of his clients, is interactive and very entertaining. “One thing I’m really proud of is the ability to broadcast with live closed captions,” said Pearce. “It’s so important to me that the events are accessible and welcoming to everyone. It was a bit tricky to develop, but we now have a solid system where we send live audio to a stenographer (working remotely in Toronto), they transcribe the event in real-time, and we sync the words with the video before broadcasting to our viewers.” His goal is to use his skills in comedy and magic to bring people together. “My goal is to connect people,” said Pearce. “…to give people a sense of community and connection from the comfort of their homes.” Examples of Pearce’s performances can be seen on his company’s website, www.canadianillusionist.com. Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
While it wasn’t on the agenda for Whitestone’s Jan. 18 council meeting, the West Parry Sound wellness centre project is becoming a hot topic. At the beginning of the meeting, Coun. Joe Lamb asked to have a discussion on the project and stated that ratepayers wanted further information since the public meeting Dec. 14. “People have been sending comments in since November,” said Lamb. “We asked them to ask questions ... we can’t not give them an answer.” According to Lamb, the municipality has received over 200 responses from Whitestone ratepayers on the topic of the wellness centre. “Councillor (Brian) Woods and I went in and painstakingly went through everything and I can tell you as of right now … that the tally (is) 278 responses from Whitestone voters,” he said. “Of that figure, 218 are against this project, and 60 of them are for the project.” Coun. Joe McEwen interrupted Lamb’s comment on the number of votes, asking if council was going to get into this type of analysis when the item hadn’t been up for discussion on the agenda. Lamb continued to have the floor and emphasized that tension over the pool project was not as simple as a seasonal resident vs. full-time resident argument. “There are many local people who live here full time who are against the project or for it as there are seasonal people,” said Lamb. “We need another meeting on the pool before funding comes down (to) go over all the questions and get the proper answers.” McEwen said that he agreed with some of what Lamb said but was disappointed that “he threw those numbers at us like he did,” adding that the numbers were for councillors to review to aid in deciding on the project. “ … I agree that we’ll have to have a special meeting on it, and I hope we don’t turn it into a referendum-type-thing, which is borderline what’s happening here,” said McEwen. Whitestone ratepayer, Charles LaRose asked if council would be doing a cost-benefit analysis of the nursing station expansion versus the pool. “When I saw that nursing station proposal go by and I see it getting cut from 1,500 to 1,000 square feet my first reaction is someday you’ll look back and say, ‘jeeze we should have made it 1,500 square feet,” LaRose said during the virtual meeting. Doug Hickey, who has been vocal online about Whitestone’s potential financial contributions to the wellness centre, asked council during the meeting if the pool group decides to add more facilities would Whitestone be locked into paying 6.1 per cent of any added facility. “I don’t know if council realizes how interested the community is in the pool,” said Hickey. “It’s a major expenditure, and if you think back to the CAC, the citizens advisory group, 80 people answered that survey. And based on what Coun. Lamb said, over three times that many people have already provided input (on the wellness centre), so there’s a lot of hunger to know what’s going on.” Whitestone did not set a date for when it would be holding further discussion on the project. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
Aylmer resident Rayne Gelinas is taking a stand against “freedom” rallies, the local anti-restrictions movement, and its connection to the Aylmer Church of God Restoration. Ms. Gelinas is the organizer of three roadside protests along John Street North on Dec. 27, Jan. 3, and Jan. 10 just outside the Church of God. Dozens of cars line the road, with occupants displaying signs and occasionally honking during the church service. The move is to support wearing face masks and following COVID-19 health and safety regulations, which some church members and supporters have been vocal in opposing. Ms. Gelinas said she was pleased with the turnout, adding attendees, for the most part, strictly followed health and safety protocols by remaining in their cars. There was one notable exception at the Jan. 3 protest – a 34-year-old Sparta man, Terry Carrington – who was not associated with the group. They dispersed the Dec. 27 rally at Aylmer Police request, due to safety concerns and road congestion. “We’re not interested in getting to violence. We want to put public pressure on misbehaviour of this church and their associates,” explained Ms. Gelinas, specifically pointing to Church of God Pastor Henry Hildebrandt and his son, Herbert. Both Hildebrandts have been active participants with “freedom rallies” and gatherings across Ontario and are facing charges under the Reopening Ontario Act. Ms. Gelinas organized a social media group called Canadians Against “Freedom” Rallies and Misinformation. She intends to continue the peaceful roadside protests. “I have taken a lot of heat for being in the position I’m in,” she said. “I want our town to become the peaceful, beautiful community that it once was.” Ms. Gelinas alleged that she has been harassed and threatened by some associated with the church following the roadside protest, incidents which were subsequently reported to Aylmer Police. Several cars have driven by her home, with the occupants appearing to record with a cell phone. After the Jan. 10 roadside protest, Ms. Gelinas alleged that a black SUV belonging to a congregation member followed her car to her Aylmer home. The group is not a part of the “We Are One, We Are All” (WAOWAA) group that posted anonymous videos on YouTube, criticizing the actions of those associated with “freedom rallies.” Ms. Gelinas said she is in support of WAOWAA. On. Jan. 14, Ms. Gelinas said the roadside protests outside the church are now on hold as a result of the new provincial stay at home order. “I can’t have anyone in harm’s way.” Group members will now be working on a poster/flyer campaign. Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
ST. MARY’S – Rural decline may be taking the stuffing out of public finances across Nova Scotia, but the Municipality of the District of Saint Mary’s is the picture of health thanks to sound financial management, says Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald. “That’s our focus,” he told The Journal in an interview last week. “With the relatively low revenue we have to work with we need to concentrate on what is important to the residents.” MacDonald’s comments came following the release of the municipality’s 10-year budget record, which shows operating revenue and surplus in 2019-20 were 25 per cent higher and almost three times greater, respectively, than 2009-10 levels. “Over the past five years we have increased efforts to collect on outstanding tax accounts and have improved our financial indicators in that area,” he said. “We also watch our long-term debt and our debt servicing ratios to ensure that stays in a reasonable range for a municipality of our small size.” The budget report shows total operating expenditures of $3,363,913 on operating revenue of $3,455,095 for a surplus of $91,182 in 2019-20. That compared with spending of $2,735,559 on revenue of $2,771,679 for a surplus of $36,120 in 2009-10. “We’ve been picking up a little increase on residential property taxes,” MacDonald added. “Our biggest challenge on that score remains commercial.” Since the outbreak of the pandemic, St. Mary’s has experienced a modest home-buying boom as a growing number of urbanites from other parts of Canada snap up properties in the district. “We’ve seen a lot of movement since [last] March,” Marian Fraser, the municipality’s Director of Finance said in an interview last month. [There’ve been] increases in both the volume and value of deed transfer taxes to the area over the summer and fall. We don’t have exact numbers, but half-a-dozen properties or more [have been sold].” According to the budget report, residential property and resource tax rates rose by 16 per cent to 95 cents in 2019-20, from 81 cents in 2009-10 (per $100 of assessed value). The commercial tax rate increased to $2.26, from $2.12, over the same period. The costs of sewer and solid waste rose to $618,549 last year, from $363,266 a decade ago. Other budget bumps include: education ($561,724, from $522,545); policing and correction ($519,736, from $425,899); and recreation and library services ($380,742, from $142,035). The cost of general government services – which includes everything from council members’ remunerations and staff salaries and benefits to property valuation and legal services – actually declined to $730,229 in 2019-20, from $789,030 in 2009-10. Said MacDonald: “We have to focus on what the residents need and watch our spending accordingly.” Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Donald Trump left the White House for the final time as the 45th United States president Wednesday morning, travelling to Florida instead of attending his successor Joe Biden's inauguration. Trump, along with his wife, Melania, walked to the White House lawn and boarded the Marine One helicopter that took off just after 8:15 a.m. ET for Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland. "It's been a great honour, the honour of a lifetime. The greatest people in the world, the greatest home in the world," Trump told reporters before heading to Marine One, rotors whirring, on the South Lawn. "We accomplished a lot." Members of Trump's family gathered for the send-off at Andrews along with the president's loyalists, who chanted "We love you!" "Thank you, Trump" and "U.S.A." Four Army cannons fired a 21-gun salute. The couple will land in Florida and make their way by motorcade to their Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach. His arrival at Mar-a-Lago is being timed to get him behind the wall of the resort before Trump's term as president expires at noon. Trump is the first outgoing president to skip the inauguration ceremony for his successor since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. Trump refused to participate in any of the symbolic passing-of-the-torch traditions surrounding the peaceful transition of power, including inviting the Joe and Jill Biden to the White House for a get-to-know-you visit. He did follow at least one tradition: The White House said Trump left behind a note for Biden. A Trump spokesman, Judd Deere, declined to say what Trump wrote or characterize the sentiment in the note, citing privacy for communication between presidents. Still popular within his party Trump will settle in Florida with a small group of former White House aides as he charts a political future that looks very different now than just two weeks ago. Before the Capitol riot on Jan.6, Trump had been expected to remain his party's de facto leader, wielding enormous power as he served as a kingmaker and mulled a 2024 presidential run. But now he appears more powerless than ever — shunned by so many in his party, impeached twice, denied the Twitter bullhorn he had intended to use as his weapon and even facing the prospect that, if he is convicted in his Senate trial, he could be barred from seeking a second term. WATCH | Presidential historian Thomas Balcerski on Trump's legacy: But although Trump has left the White House, he retains his grip on the Republican base, with the support of millions of loyal voters, along with allies still helming the Republican National Committee and many state party organizations. He also potentially faces a host of other legal troubles unrelated to the presidency. While in Washington, Trump rarely left the confines of the White House, except to visit his own hotel, where foreign dignitaries often stayed, hoping to gain access to administration aide. He and his wife never once ate dinner at any other local restaurant, and never ventured out to shop in its stores or see the sights. When he did leave, it was almost always to one of his properties. In addition to his Florida properties, that included golf courses in Virginia and New Jersey. White House cleaning crews worked overnight Wednesday and were still going as the sun rose to get the building cleaned and ready for its new occupants. In what will be the office of incoming press secretary Jen Psaki, a computer keyboard and mouse on her desk were encased in plastic. A black moving truck had backed up to the door of the West Wing entrance, where the presence of a lone Marine guard usually signals that the president is in the Oval Office. Most walls were stripped down to the hooks that once held photographs, and offices were devoid of the clutter and trinkets that gave them life. The face of at least one junior aide was streaked with tears as she left the building one last time.
A Jan. 11 budget presentation made by Corporate Services Director Kale Brown to Aylmer council detailed the financial outline for 2021 and provided a five-year project plan. Mr. Brown first outlined matters that were carried forward into 2021 from the previous year, and how the panemic was affecting certain projects. There are ongoing payroll adjustments for town staff. As a result of the provincial shutdown, some EECC staff will be transferred to other Aylmer departments, such as parks. Mr. Brown said that a tender for the Clarence Street reconstruction project was currently being prepared for this year. While the project was estimated to cost $1.2-million in 2020, the project is now estimated to cost about $1.5-million. The Clarence Street reconstruction was originally scheduled for 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic. “The consequence of that is it puts projects starting to stack up on one another,” said Mr. Brown. “So department heads are having to review things that didn’t get completed in 2020 as a result of the pandemic and making sure the 10-year plan is adjusted to accommodate all of them again.” “We’re basically doing 10 years’ worth of projects in 9 years.” The development charges, water, and sewer rates study will move forward in 2021. This will allow staff to prepare capital plans, which will assist with the asset management plan and future capital planning for the water and sewer assets. The application for federal-provincial funding for 25 Centre Street renovations has been submitted. The renovations will cost between $200,000 and $250,000 and combine Aylmer town hall with the attached building on Centre Street. This will allow enough space for distanced in person council meetings. The town received $553,810 in 2019 from the province in the form of a modernization grant. Mr. Brown discussed five projects using this funding scheduled to take place this year. $90,000 will go to a records management system. Mr. Brown said this will allow staff to move more digitally in terms of file retention and file tracking. “Once it is established, it actually alters the way you process information, the way you track files, and the way it’s actually searchable and retrievable files as well.” $10,000 of the grant money will be spent on a Human Resources Information System. The add-on module will track staff training, sign offs, and pandemic-related information, such as daily health screenings. A bar code will be applied to tax bills. This will require a redesign that will cost an estimated $3,700. “If you were coming to pay your taxes at town hall, you would put your tax bill stub underneath the bar code scanner and immediately it would pull up information relating to your tax roll.” A parks and recreation master plan will cost $60,000, an item that has been discussed and put forward for several years. It will provide council with direction on available options in that department. $100,000 of this grant will go towards the 25 Centre Street renovation. There are other scheduled projects using this grant money for 2022 and 2023, leaving an unallocated balance left of $27,110. The town benefit renewal in April is projected to cost the town $31,000 more than last year. There is a 1.86% increase in the assessment roll, which represents “growth and expansion that has happened, which is coming online and being taxed for the first time.” This growth should help council address other increased costs, said Mr. Brown. He reiterated the uncertainty regarding the operating conditions in 2021. “We do not have a crystal ball as to how the year will progress. Operating environments can still change and they will be volatile, at least for the first half of 2021.” Councillor Tom Charlton asked for more details about the $60,000 parks and recreation master plan. Mr. Brown clarified that the master plan is a study. It would include input from the public as to what they would like to see from the parks and recreation department. This long-range document would also lay out operations and programming options available to council. The presentation also highlighted a financial sustainability analysis from 2015 to 2019 for the town of Aylmer. The sustainability indicators are prepared by the province, using information from financial information returns, which are submitted by each municipality. Aylmer ranked “low” level of risk in every category throughout 2019 when compared to other south region lower tier municipalities. Some of the indicators include debt servicing cost as a percent of total revenues, annual surplus (deficit) as a percent of own source revenues, and total reserves and discretionary reserve funds as a percent of municipal expenses. There was one “moderate” risk ranking in the debt servicing section in 2017. “That is pretty quickly explained – that was the final retirement of the debt relating to the EECC’s construction,” said Mr. Brown. “The moral of the story is that the financial sustainability in the current financial state of the town of Aylmer has been incredibly conservative and in good financial health for a number of years.” Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
Canada’s three Prairie provinces are particularly vulnerable to the climate crisis, and now their governments are helping make climate data more accessible, according to the head of a new non-profit. Jane Hilderman is executive director of ClimateWest, an organization that launched Tuesday aiming to make data on climate change accessible to municipal planners, land use planners, and other institutional-level groups in the Prairies. Hilderman said all three provinces helped with the startup, as well as the federal government and other organizations. “I know climate can be a divisive topic,” she said in an interview. “There is a strong consensus on the need to do this work. Hopefully, if we do it well, by investing today, you are going to save both hardship and public dollars down the road.” ClimateWest will be part of a network of climate change information hubs across the country, such as Ouranos in Quebec and the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium in British Columbia. The organization is receiving $2.86 million in total, spread out over three years, as initial startup funding. The government of Alberta has committed $400,000, while the government of Manitoba has committed $510,000, and the federal government is contributing $1.95 million, said Hilderman. In addition, the governments of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are making in-kind contributions, she said. The organization plans to offer training, as well as a public help desk of sorts to answer questions about climate information. To do so, it will be drawing on experts from the Prairie Climate Centre at the University of Winnipeg, the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg. “I call it the constituency office: Bring us a problem, and hopefully we can help you move things along for your organization in terms of its use of climate information,” said Hilderman. The Prairies have had the “strongest warming to date” across southern Canada, in particular during the winter, according to a report from Natural Resources Canada. Canada’s three Prairie provinces are particularly vulnerable to the #climate crisis, and now their governments are helping make climate data more accessible, according to the head of a new non-profit. One reason is because the Prairies experience large seasonal swings in weather, and will often depart from regular conditions, for example, experiencing droughts or floods. These swings will get more dramatic. Scientists expect the Prairie provinces to be much warmer and wetter in winters and springs, with higher highs and more intense rains. Such impacts may “exacerbate existing societal inequities,” the departmental report noted, “especially among Indigenous peoples, women, people of low socio-economic status, youth and the elderly.” The Prairies have already been the site of the most expensive natural disasters in Canadian history, with 13 of the 20 most costly events since 1983, and six of the 10 most costly events since 2010. These include the $3.9-billion Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016, the $1.7-billion southern Alberta flood in 2013, and a Calgary hailstorm last year that caused $1.2 billion in damage. One area where Hilderman said she anticipates some demand is in the private sector, as more and more businesses look for the climate-related risks facing their assets or operations. While the conversation around climate-risk disclosure has so far happened largely at the level of the Bank of Canada, as well as with large pension funds and investment funds, that is now changing. The supplementary mandate letter issued by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos on Jan. 15, for example, orders him to “apply a climate lens to all government decision-making.” “It’s going to continue to percolate through the economy as climate becomes a benchmark, or lens, through which decisions get made,” said Hilderman. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Carl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Ontario reported another 2,655 cases of COVID-19 and 89 more deaths of people with the illness on Wednesday, as the government said it is expanding its workplace enforcement effort to include farming operations and essential businesses in the service sector. The new cases include 925 in Toronto, 473 in Peel Region, 226 in York Region and 179 in Windsor-Essex County, which continues to see a huge strain on its intensive care units. Other public health units that saw double- or triple-digit increases were: Niagara Region: 129 Waterloo Region: 101 Ottawa: 86 Hamilton: 75 Simcoe Muskoka: 71 Durham Region: 70 Middlesex-London: 65 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 56 Halton Region: 51 Southwestern: 20 Thunder Bay: 17 Eastern Ontario: 16 Haldimand-Norfolk: 16 Porcupine: 14 Chatham-Kent: 13 Lambton: 12 Huron-Perth: 11 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.) The infections come as Ontario's network of labs processed 54,307 test samples for the novel coronavirus — a third straight day well below the system's capacity of more than 70,000 — and logged a test positivity rate of 4.9 per cent. The seven-day average of new daily cases fell to 2,850, marking 10 consecutive days of decreases from a high of 3,555. Notably, another 3,714 cases were marked resolved in today's update. There were 26,467 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide as of yesterday evening, a figure that has trended downward since the pandemic peak of 30,632 on Jan. 11. The 89 additional deaths match the previous single-day record, which came on Jan. 7. (Public health units recorded 100 deaths on Jan. 15, however 46 of those deaths occurred "earlier in the pandemic," the Ministry of Health said at the time, and were included in that day's total due to data clean-up in the Middlesex-London Health Unit.) There were 1,598 people with COVID-19 in hospitals. Of those, 395 were being treated in intensive care, while 296 required a ventilator to breathe. Enforcement campaign to ramp up, province says Meanwhile, the province said in a news release up to 300 inspectors will be involved in a new COVID-19 enforcement blitz, that will include inspections at farming operations that rely on temporary foreign workers. The first campaign is to be held in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, with 10 others planned so far in Toronto, Durham, Niagara, Halton, Huron Perth, Peterborough and Leeds Grenville Lanark. The announcement comes after Ministry of Labour inspectors targeted 240 big-box stores in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area over the weekend and found about 69 per cent of locations were in compliance with public health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton said groups found 76 contraventions of the rules, the majority of which were dealt with by issuing orders to improve. Twenty-five tickets were issued, including to Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sobeys and Costco locations. Similar actions last December found about 67 per cent compliance. The most common infractions were not wearing masks, not having a safety plan and not screening people in the workplace, the province said. But the minister said after months of life in the pandemic, the compliance rates should be higher. "This is truly disappointing," he said. "These corporations must do better. Shareholders have the responsibility to keep their workers and customers safe. I want businesses to know if they won't operate safely in this emergency, you won't operate at all." Under the provincial rules, corporations can face $1,000 fines and workers can face fines of $750 for not following public health measures. Meanwhile, York Region shared a list of retailers fined over the last week for violations of Ontario's Reopening Ontario Act, among them major pharmacy and grocery locations. Ontario recently ordered people to only leave their homes for groceries, medical appointments, exercise and work that can't be completed remotely. Stores selling non-essential goods have been forced to temporarily close and operate solely through e-commerce and curbside pickups.
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in favour of a Barrie woman, upholding a local decision that she be awarded $1.3 million for injuries suffered during surgery resulting in the removal of her kidney. It echoed the endorsement made by an appeal court judge of Barrie Justice Gregory Mulligan’s decision following the original trial. Karen Armstrong underwent laparoscopic surgery in February 2010 at what was then called Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH). The trial judge found that, during the colonoscopy, Dr. Colin Ward improperly used a cauterizing device and caused a thermal injury. She experienced abdominal pain after the surgery and her ureter — which carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder — was blocked with scar tissue, severely damaging her left kidney, which was removed the following October. “This really changes her life; this is the end of the road,” her lawyer, Jan Marin, said of the high court’s decision. “It’s been almost 11 years since the original surgery.” Marin said Armstrong, who is now 48, isn’t working as a result of the injury and that she requires some assistance. The decision and monetary award means she can now access the help she needs, including hiring a personal caregiver. Justice Mulligan of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Barrie originally decided in favour of Armstrong, but that ruling was overturned by a majority at the Ontario Court of Appeal. In December 2019, Justice David M. Paciocco, writing for the majority of the Ontario Court of Appeal three-person panel, found the trial judge had erred in defining the standard of care the doctor had to meet, “improperly establishing a standard of perfection” and allowed Ward’s appeal, dismissing the action against him. Justice Katherine van Rensburg was the lone holdout on the panel and wrote a lengthy opinion about why the decision of the judge in the first instance should stand. It was that opinion that Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Richard Wagner relied upon Monday when he announced simply that the appeal is allowed. It came on the same day, shortly after the hybrid hearing was held. Both the Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada (HIROC) and the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association sought intervener status in the case. “HIROC participated as an intervener because it was important to have clarity on the issues before the court, including the role of an injury when considering whether there was a breach of the standard of care,” said Anna L. Marrison, who represented HIROC. “With the (Supreme Court of Canada) accepting Justice van Rensburg's reasons from the Court of Appeal, there has been no significant change in the law," she added. And that was the big fear, said Ron Bohm, representing the trial lawyers. If the Court of Appeal’s decision against Armstrong were to stand, it could have set a precedent, hampering the ability for others to bring medical malpractice action. “The Court of Appeal majority decision, in our view, had the risk of making it next to impossible for certain victims of medical negligence to be able to recover damages for their losses, putting up next to impossible hurdles,” said Bohm. “So we were very concerned about the access to justice issue.” The Court of Appeal seemed to suggest that if a physician conducting surgery says they follow the proper practice and procedures, then relying on the results would be improper for a trial judge, he said. Because a patient is unconscious during surgery, their version of events during that period is not available, resulting in “a tremendous imbalance” in the possession of information. Marin said medical malpractice cases are difficult to begin with and costly to bring forward, so only the most serious cases are pursued. If Armstrong had failed to succeed before the top court, it could have blocked further attempts to seek damages for medical errors. “This case truly underscores the importance of the dissenting opinion,” said Marin, referring to Ontario Court of Appeal Justice van Rensburg’s opinion in dissent, which the Supreme Court accepted in its entirety. “They adopted her reasons. Clearly it was impactful to them,” added Marin. Lawyers for the doctor did not respond to requests for comment. Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
The Municipality of Magnetawan is set to get better internet connectivity sooner rather than later. According to a Facebook post by the municipality, Magnetawan had applied for grant from CENGN, Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks and was approved on Jan. 18 for three internet tower projects in the Ahmic Harbour and Lake regions. What internet service provider is involved with the project? Spectrum Telecom was selected to provide a broadband solution for Ahmic Harbour and Lake area. How does the funding work? This project is a part of CENGN’s Northern Ontario Residential Broadband program. Supported by the program's funding, Spectrum Telecom will build three self-supporting towers which will use licensed and unlicensed fixed wireless access technology to bring a range of internet access to residents in the area. What type of internet speeds will residents be able to use once the project is completed? The fixed wireless access will allow for internet service up to 50 mbps download and 10 mbps upload speeds. What is a self-supporting internet tower? A self-supporting tower is ideal for areas with limited space and it allows for towers to be built on narrow, unused road allowances. What are some benefits of the project? The multi-tower placement, on both sides of the lake, will ensure a wider coverage area for residents. The release also states that residents could see up to 50 per cent in cost savings over other options. When will this be operational? The project is aiming for a fast network deployment time frame and the release states it will be operational by the end of 2021. According to Magnetawan’s mayor, Sam Dunnett, the broadband initiative will help foster economic growth and retention of the population base within the municipality. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 10:35 a.m. Ontario says there are 2,655 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today and 89 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 925 of the new cases are in Toronto, 473 are in Peel Region and 226 are in York Region. Nearly 14,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Ontario's last daily update. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. The Canadian Press