WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
The Terrace RCMP are seeking the public’s help in locating Kenton David Fast, 41, who was last seen in Terrace on Dec. 1, 2020. According to a Dec. 1 media release, police are actively searching for Fast, who is unlawfully at large and described as caucasian, 5’5” (164 centimetres) and around 170 pounds (77 kilograms) with an average build. He has brown and greying short hair, blue eyes and a beard. Police said they could not share at this time why Fast is at large. Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts is asked to call Terrace RCMP at (250) 638-7400 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers by telephone at 1-800-222-TIPS or www.terracecrimestoppers.ca. People can also text the keyword TERRACE followed by a message to 274637.Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19, as the virus rages across the nation. According to a senior administration official, the new guidelines, which are set to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement, said the policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The policy would hasten the return to normal activities by those deemed to be “close contacts” of those infected with the virus, which has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000. While the CDC had said the incubation period for the virus was thought to extend to 14 days, most individuals became infectious and developed symptoms between 4 and 5 days after exposure. It’s not the first time that the CDC has adjusted its guidance for the novel coronavirus as it adjusted to new research. In July the agency shortened, from 14 days to 10, its advice on how long a person should stay in isolation after they first experience COVID symptoms — provided they’re no longer sick. The new guidance was presented Tuesday at a White House coronavirus task force meeting for final approval. — AP writer Mike Stobbe contributed. Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
San Francisco Mayor London Breed dined at a posh Napa Valley restaurant the day after California's governor was there. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo went to his parents' house for Thanksgiving. And a Los Angeles County supervisor dined outdoors just hours after voting to ban outdoor dining there.All three local officials were on the hot seat Tuesday after various reports that they violated rules aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus — or at a minimum, violating the spirit of the rules as they repeatedly urged others to stay home.Breed joined seven others at the three Michelin-starred French Laundry on Nov. 7 to celebrate the 60th birthday of socialite Gorretti Lo Lui, the mayor's spokesman confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle. She dined in the same kind of partially enclosed indoor/outdoor room Gov. Gavin Newsom celebrated in a day earlier.Newsom, who has appealed to Californians to “do your part" and stay home, apologized when the 12-person dinner was reported, then again when photos emerged showing him, his wife and others sitting close together at the same table without masks.Breed's spokesman, Jeff Cretan, called the mayor's French Laundry dinner a “small family birthday dinner." He did not immediately respond to a telephone message Tuesday inquiring whether the dinner involved more than three different households, which are prohibited under the state's rules.Before the Chronicle's story was posted Tuesday, Breed thanked residents for doing their part by limiting contact with others, saying on a live stream that “as someone who basically lives alone, it’s been a tough year for me personally."Earlier in the day, Liccardo apologized for attending a Thanksgiving get-together at his parents' home that included people from five different households.“I apologize for my decision to gather contrary to state rules, by attending this Thanksgiving meal with my family," Liccardo said in a statement. “I understand my obligation as a public official to provide exemplary compliance with the public health orders, and certainly not to ignore them. I commit to do better.”Liccardo said there were eight members from five different households and that they all dined outside at separate tables on the back patio, wearing masks when they were not eating.The outing was first reported by KNTV in San Jose.A day earlier, Liccardo tweeted that cases were spiking because people were letting their guard down with family members and friends. “Let’s cancel the big gatherings this year and focus on keeping each other safe," he wrote.Meanwhile, KTTV in Los Angeles reported that LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl enjoyed an outdoor meal at a restaurant just hours after voting last week to ban outdoor dining at the county’s 31,000 restaurants over coronavirus safety concerns.Kuehl was seen eating outside on Nov. 24 at Il Forno Trattoria near her home in Santa Monica, the station reported. Earlier in the day, Kuehl was among the supervisors who voted 3 to 2 to prohibit outdoor dining in Los Angeles County. Indoor dining has been banned for months during the pandemic.“She did dine al fresco at Il Forno on the very last day it was permissible," Kuehl’s office said in a statement Monday. "She loves Il Forno, has been saddened to see it, like so many restaurants, suffer from a decline in revenue. She ate there, taking appropriate precautions, and sadly will not dine there again until our Public Health Orders permit."Los Angeles County imposed a new stay-at-home order for its 10 million residents effective this week as coronavirus cases surge across the state and country.During last week's Board of Supervisors meeting, Kuehl referred to outside dining as “a most dangerous situation” because of the possibility of virus transmission among unmasked patrons.“This is a serious health emergency and we must take it seriously,” Kuehl said.Juliet Williams, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A final tally of absentee ballots has confirmed that Republican Nicole Malliotakis has defeated U.S. Rep. Max Rose, denying the Democrat a second term representing one of the few conservative-leaning parts of New York City.Malliotakis, a New York State Assembly member, opened a big lead over Rose on Election Day in a district that includes all of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn.She declared victory on Nov. 3 and Rose conceded the race Nov. 12, but The Associated Press didn’t call the race until Tuesday because New York City's Board of Elections refused for weeks to publicly release information about its count of a large number of absentee ballots.With her victory, Malliotakis will become the only Republican in New York City's congressional delegation.The race between Malliotakis and Rose, an Army combat veteran, played out over a year that saw violent clashes between protesters and police officers in New York City, and several months in which shootings in some parts of the city soared.Malliotakis ran on a pro-law enforcement platform and sought to link Rose to Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is deeply unpopular on Staten Island, and to calls for defunding the police, which Rose says he does not support.To distance himself from de Blasio, Rose created an ad calling his fellow Democrat the “worst mayor ever.” Malliotakis was a candidate for mayor against de Blasio in 2017.The daughter of a Cuban immigrant mother and a Greek immigrant father, Malliotakis grew up on Staten Island and has represented parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn in the Assembly since 2011.The Associated Press
Le Centre le Volet des femmes d’Aguanish reçoit un don de 25 000 $ de la part de Rio Tinto. Le centre fait partie des 12 refuges pour femmes et organismes locaux choisis par la multinationale, qui leur fait don d’un total de 360 000 $. La Maison des femmes de Sept-Îles et le centre d’hébergement Tipinuaikan d’Uashat mak Mani-utenam récoltent aussi 25 000 $ chacun. La contribution de Rio Tinto permettra à ces organismes de continuer à fournir différents services de soutien aux femmes et à leurs familles, dont des refuges sûrs, des conseils, des ateliers et des activités pour les enfants, entre autres. La coordonnatrice du Centre le Volet des femmes d’Aguanish, Francine Blais, se réjouit de ce don. « On est très heureux d’avoir été reconnus. Ça va nous donner un coup de pouce pour la poursuite de nos activités dans le milieu. » L’organisme n’a pas encore décidé de la répartition du montant entre les points de service d’Aguanish et d’Havre-Saint-Pierre ni de ce à quoi l’argent servira. L’annonce du don de Rio Tinto a été faite le 25 novembre, soit la Journée internationale pour l’élimination de la violence à l’égard des femmes.Laurence Dami-Houle, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
It's two weeks since the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) closed Frank W. Begley Public School in Windsor because of a COVID-19 outbreak, and education officials are still not sure when the school will reopen and what are all the steps they'll need to take to get students back to class.Begley was the first school outbreak in Windsor-Essex. Forty students and nine staff have tested positive for the virus. The school has been closed since the health unit declared the outbreak on Nov. 17. Students have continued learning by remote means since then.Sharon Pyke, a superintendent of education at the Greater Essex County District School Board, says the board does not yet know when the brick and mortar school will be able to reopen."We are at the very beginning of talks with the health unit in terms of reopening Begley and what that looks like," she said. "We do know that we want students back as soon and as safely possible."Pyke says what the board does know is that students will not be returning to the school all at once."And we know it's going to be a staggered approach. As to the date, it's not been established yet, but we're hoping for soon," she said. The reason for the staggered approach is that not all students and staff began their mandatory isolation at the same time."So when we do our reopening, we really have to work with the health unit, and on advice of them," she said.Pyke added that the school board is ensuring that there will be ample mental health supports available for students as they come back to the physical school. She also says that the school has been thoroughly deep-cleaned in preparation for reopening."We're feeling pretty confident that when kids come back, their environment is going to be safe," she said.Effects on students and familiesThe school's closure means that students have had their education disrupted in a difficult year.Sarah Al Msaytem, a student at the school, says that while she feels safe with online learning, she doesn't prefer it to in-class instruction."It's too hard to pay attention," she said, adding that she also prefers going to the school so that she can play and talk with her friends more.This all comes while Sarah's brother Mohammed, who has COVID-19, has been isolating in the family's house."He coughs a lot, and he sneezes," she said.But Sarah's father Fahed, who has four children in school and one two year-old, says that while he's worried about his son's condition, he is confident that he'll eventually be able to send his children back to Begley safely."No ... I don't have any problems," he said.
MINNEAPOLIS — Enbridge Energy began construction on its Line 3 crude oil pipeline replacement in Minnesota on Tuesday, a day after state regulators approved the final permit for the $2.6 billion project amid legal challenges from local activist and Indigenous groups.Spokeswoman Juli Kellner said Enbridge began construction in several locations around the state in the morning. Enbridge spent years pursuing permits for the project before the last one, a construction stormwater permit, was granted Monday by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.“Line 3 can now begin to be an economic boost for counties, small businesses, Native American communities, and union members,” Kellner said in a statement. “The workforce will ramp up as construction continues eventually creating over 4,000 family-sustaining, mostly local construction jobs, millions of dollars in local spending and additional tax revenues at a time when Northern Minnesota needs it most.”Two tribes — the Red Lake and White Earth Bands of Chippewa — asked the PUC last week to stay its approval of the project, saying the influx of construction workers would put residents along the route at higher risk of COVID-19. A consolidated appeal by environmental and tribal groups is also pending before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.Several activists and Indigenous groups filed a lawsuit Monday evening challenging the MPCA’s permit approval, citing the pipeline’s threat to waters where Native Americans harvest wild rice and negative effect on climate change.Enbridge said replacing the deteriorating pipeline, which was built in the 1960s and runs at only half its original capacity, is the best option for protecting the environment while meeting the region’s energy needs.Kellner said Enbridge has enacted strict guidelines to guard against spread of the coronavirus, including testing workers regularly and repeatedly, requiring mask-wearing and social distancing and sanitizing work areas regularly.In a statement on Tuesday, Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, said Enbridge will continue to see legal challenges from activists and Indigenous groups to “prevent this tar sands pipeline from ever being completed.”“As construction begins, some big questions need to be asked: What if the Appeals Court sides against Enbridge in the legal cases before it? What if the new Biden administration squashes this pipeline? What is Enbridge’s plan if its workforce gets corona?" LaDuke said. "Its ‘safety’ plan doesn’t address what its workers do or where they go when they’re not on the job.”Line 3 begins in Alberta, Canada, and clips a corner of North Dakota before crossing Minnesota on its way to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The replacement segments in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin are already complete, leaving only the 337-mile (542-kilometre) stretch in Minnesota. Altogether Enbridge expects to spend $2.9 billion on the U.S. portion.___Mohamed Ibrahim is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.Mohamed Ibrahim, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Provinces are criticizing the federal Liberals for failing to signal more help for health-care systems and strained provincial coffers in its new spending plans, setting up a potential showdown next week between the prime minister and premiers.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet Dec. 10 with the country's premiers, who have been demanding a meeting since September to talk about the annual federal transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care.The fiscal update released Monday, which proposed some $25 billion in new spending to top up and expand existing programs and create new, targeted support for hard-hit industries, did not detail a bump in health-care spending beyond increases planned before the COVID-19 pandemic.Federal health transfers to provinces will rise to $43.1 billion next year from $41.9 billion this year, as part of a prearranged three per cent annual increase.Provinces say the proposal still falls well short of what is needed to properly fund their systems, not including the added costs associated with COVID-19.They want the federal government to boost its share of health-care funding by an extra $28 billion this year with annual increases of $4 billion thereafter. "The primary objective of the premiers to to see a structural change in how health care is funded," Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said Tuesday in an interview. "And I think they're going to be successful because it is the No. 1 thing that Canadians are interested in right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, is making sure we have stable, long-term health-care funding."The Liberals argue they've sent plenty to the provinces for pandemic-related measures, totalling $24 billion to support health-care systems across the country.On Tuesday, Trudeau said he planned to hear out the provinces about their needs during and after the pandemic, but wouldn't commit to added spending.His Liberal government's fall economic statement must first survive a confidence vote in the House of Commons. Failure to gather the necessary support would mean the minority government falls, which could plunge the country into a federal election."I am reasonably confident that none of the opposition parties wants an election right now. We certainly don't want one," Trudeau told reporters outside his Ottawa residence."We want to get these supports out to Canadians. And there are certainly things in this fall economic statement that every party should be able to support in terms of helping Canadians."Spending to date is putting the federal deficit on track to reach $381.6 billion this year, but the government's math says it could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks.Pandemic-related spending has sent total federal transfers this year to $99.7 billion. Next year, the amount falls to $82.1 billion, near where it was before the pandemic, based on figures in the fall economic statement.Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said the Liberals' spending binge pre-pandemic has blown the margin now to increase transfers to lower levels of government."There's not a lot of room left for other commitments because of (Trudeau's) irresponsible and insatiable appetite for spending other people's money," Poilievre said.Rebekah Young, Scotiabank's director of fiscal and provincial economics, wrote in an analysis that one-off transfers to provinces were necessary under the circumstances, but there should be a structural shift in the long term to make the country's finances sustainable."And the discussion should be broader than expenditure-shifting, as provinces have been reluctant to take up revenue capacity given up at the federal level in recent years," she wrote.The Liberals are proposing extra help through a revised fiscal stabilization program that sends money to provinces facing a year-over-year decline in non-resource revenues.The economic statement looks to lift funding capped now at $60 per resident up to $170.Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews said his province expects to receive $750 million under the new limits, which falls well short of what Alberta could use. He said he was disappointed the Liberals didn't eliminate the cap as provinces have asked."We're going to continue to seek support from other provinces and we're disappointed in what I would call is really not even a half measure," he told reporters at the provincial legislature.Newfoundland and Labrador's Finance Minister Siobhan Coady said the province still wouldn't qualify for help through the stabilization fund this year despite a 45 per cent drop in offshore oil revenues.She added the increase in the cap is unlikely to be a big benefit.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.— With files from Shawn Jeffords in Toronto, and Dean Bennett in EdmontonJordan Press, The Canadian Press
Fisheries appear to be taking a more prominent role in B.C. Premier John Horgan’s new cabinet. On Thursday, Horgan announced a new parliamentary secretary for fisheries position within the Agriculture Ministry. Fin Donnelly, MLA for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, will take up the portfolio that is focused on revitalizing salmon population, protecting habitat, creating a provincial-level “coastal strategy” and increasing domestic fish processing capacity. Fisheries are a major industry in the province, with the wild harvest worth roughly $476 million in 2018. But unlike its East Coast counterparts, B.C. doesn’t have a fisheries ministry. That has meant responsibility for the sector’s myriad issues has been scattered across multiple ministerial portfolios. Those include environmental issues, rehabilitating wild salmon populations, the creation of culturally relevant jobs in rural communities and First Nations, food security (most fish caught in B.C. is exported) and ensuring the economic benefits of B.C.’s fish remain in the province. Donnelly’s mandate will require him to co-ordinate with at least three ministries — agriculture; environment and climate change; and forests, lands, natural resources operations and rural development. But without the administrative resources of a ministry, Sutcliffe expects it will be hard for him to address the plethora of environmental, social and economic issues facing the sector. For some environmentalists, concerns about the previous government's approach to wild salmon restoration have been amplified by Donnelly's new mandate. “We’re concerned (about) the directive to support innovation in fish hatcheries, which on the surface of it sounds great, but there’s a large body of science that shows hatcheries pose a lot of risks to wild salmon,” said Aaron Hill, executive director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, an environmental non-profit focused on rebuilding B.C.’s wild salmon. Unlike open-pen fish farms — a controversial type of aquaculture where Atlantic salmon are reared in floating nets — salmon hatcheries raise young Pacific salmon and release them into creeks and streams, allowing them to migrate into the Pacific to reach adulthood. Then, like wild salmon, they return to the streams of their birth to spawn. In Alaska, “ocean ranching,” or widespread hatchery use, is essential to sustaining the state’s massive commercial salmon industry. However, it has proved controversial, as hatchery-raised fish compete against wild fish for food and, through interbreeding, reduce wild fish populations' genetic diversity and resilience to environmental change. In contrast, open-pen fish farms threaten wild salmon through parasites, diseases, pesticide use and interbreeding with wild Pacific salmon. B.C. is the only jurisdiction on the West Coast where the salmon aquaculture industry can operate. A 2019 policy report prepared for the province by an appointed advisory committee to inform its salmon-related policies recommended that hatcheries be used only to “rebuild weak or extirpated stocks ... or for short-term interventions to help rebuild stocks for southern resident killer whales.” Protecting and restoring spawning habitats and developing a more equitable distribution of the fisheries' economic benefits are more important priorities, the report noted. However, the report has been criticized by Hill and other conservationists for having a pro-industry bias (many of the committee members are involved in the fisheries, according to Hill) and “failing to address the root causes of the salmon crisis.” Still, the province’s continued focus on salmon and Donnelly’s appointment were welcomed by Robert Chamberlin. The former chief of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation and former vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs played a key role in the removal of open-pen fish farms from the Broughton Archipelago through a collaborative, nation-to-nation process he hopes can be replicated in other areas of the province. “I think (Horgan) put in key players,” he said, noting that in addition to Donnelly, Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham and Nathan Cullen will also be shaping future provincial fisheries policy, and all are familiar with the Broughton Island process. Cullen is the MLA for Stikine and provincial minister of state for lands and natural resource operations — another new role — tasked with a suite of responsibilities, including habitat protection and co-developing a coastal strategy with Donnelly. “(Their appointments) match the statements (Horgan) made about sending a strong signal to Ottawa that the B.C. government is taking a very strong focus on salmon.” But that focus on salmon, while important, still leaves out large parts of the province’s fisheries, Sutcliffe said. “Salmon is iconic, it is rooted in our identity and affects the lives of so many people — you don’t have to be a fisherman to care about salmon. (But) we also can’t ignore the fact that many other species are fished and relied upon for the same reasons. If we want a healthy B.C. food system, it’s not enough to just focus on salmon.” Many of the challenges facing fisheries and the communities that rely on them aren’t about salmon, but the dozens of other species harvested in the province such as prawns, crabs and halibut. Those include everything from issues of unequal wealth distribution to access to credit to participation in conservation decision-making. While many of these issues fall primarily under federal jurisdiction, she said that federal efforts at reform will be hampered without the support that a dedicated provincial ministry could provide. “To realize a new direction in fisheries that maintains the level of ecological resilience we need, in an uncertain climate ... that brings the benefits of the fishery back to harvesters and their communities, requires not just federal, but also provincial leadership,” she said. “One can hope that with (Donnelly's appointment) the province will step up and play their role in supporting needed changes in the socio-economics of fisheries.”Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
OTTAWA — More than 100 years after a young soldier from Newfoundland was killed on a battlefield in Belgium, the Canadian military has officially confirmed his identity through genetic analysis of remains unearthed in 2016. When he enlisted in the Newfoundland Regiment on Aug. 14, 1916, John Lambert of St. John's lied when he told recruiters he was 18. He was only 16 when he shipped out as a private to Scotland for training and later fought in Belgium with the regiment's 1st Battalion. He was reported missing in action north of Ypres on Aug. 16, 1917 during what became known as the Battle of Langemarck. A relative of Lambert's, St. John's resident Shirlene Murphy, said the family kept his memory alive through the years. "The family dearly loved him," Murphy said in an interview Tuesday, noting that Lambert was her grandmother's brother. "He was always talked about. There's pictures of him in everybody's house." Everyone in the family referred to him as "Uncle Jack." Lambert's remains, along with those of three unidentified British soldiers, were discovered during an archeological dig in April 2016, near the town of Langemark. The archeologists knew one of the soldiers was a Newfoundlander because his uniform had a NFLD shoulder badge. Sarah Lockyer, a forensic anthropologist with the Department of National Defence, took a lead role in determining his identity. Using DNA samples from bones retrieved from the dig, Lockyer was able to determine his age and height, information that was later cross-referenced with historical data gleaned from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the provincial archive at The Rooms in St. John's. "We thought we had a really good chance of identifying the Newfoundlander, because there were only 16 missing from that area, which is a very small list of candidates," Lockyer said. Provincial archivist Greg Walsh spent a year tracking down descendants for 13 of the 16 missing soldiers — a painstaking task complicated by the fact that the age on Lambert's official documentation was wrong. Murphy's mother, 90-year-old Patricia Eagan of Mount Pearl, N.L., submitted the DNA sample that proved to be a match with Lambert's profile. The entire process took more than three years, said Lockyer, who is casualty identification co-ordinator with the Defence Department's directorate of history and heritage. "That is a very quick turnaround," she said, adding that she worked closely with her counterparts at the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre in the U.K. A padre and the commanding officer of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment officially delivered the news to Eagan on Friday that her uncle had been identified. "She's just amazed," said Murphy, referring to her mother. "The first thing she thought about was her mother and how good it would have been if she was around to see this." The Canadian Armed Forces confirmed Tuesday that Lambert will be buried, likely next summer, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's New Irish Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. "It's still emotional, to this day," said Murphy. "But it gives some closure. Everyone is feeling very good about it. His remains have been found, and he can be buried properly with a proper headstone." In Ottawa, the federal government's Casualty Identification Program is in the process of determining the identities for 45 sets of remains from the First World War. Lockyer said the Commonwealth War Graves Commission typically receives the remains of about 40 soldiers every year, most of them uncovered by construction crews digging in northern France. The commission commemorates the 1.7 million Commonwealth military members who died during the two world wars. About 20,000 Canadians were reported missing after the First World War, and another 7,000 to 8,000 after the Second World War. "Private Lambert's service demonstrates the courage and sacrifice of this brave service member during the First World War," Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a statement. "Although more than a century has passed, we will never forget the ultimate sacrifice he made for Newfoundlanders and Canadians." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. — By Michael MacDonald in Halifax The Canadian Press
LOS ANGELES — The captain of a scuba diving boat that caught fire and sank off the coast of California last year, killing 34 people who were trapped below deck, was indicted Tuesday on federal manslaughter charges for one of the deadliest maritime disasters in recent U.S. history. Jerry Boylan was charged with 34 counts of seaman's manslaughter for "misconduct, negligence and inattention" by failing to train his crew, conduct fire drills and have a roving night watchman on the Conception when fire broke out Sept. 2, 2019, the indictment said. “As a result of the alleged failures of Captain Boylan to follow well-established safety rules, a pleasant holiday dive trip turned into a hellish nightmare as passengers and one crew member found themselves trapped in a fiery bunkroom with no means of escape,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement. Boylan and four other crew members, who had all been sleeping, escaped from the flaming boat after he made a breathless mayday call. All 33 passengers and one crew member perished in the bunkroom. Some of the dead were found with their shoes on, leading to speculation they were trying to escape but were trapped by flames that blocked a stairwell and a small hatch that were the only exits to the deck above. All died of smoke inhalation, according to coroner's reports. The rare federal charges against Boylan were brought under a pre-Civil War law aimed at holding steamboat captains and crew responsible for watery disasters that were far more frequent at the time. Federal safety investigators faulted the owners of the vessel for a lack of oversight, but they were not charged with any crime. “I hate the term accident in this case because, in my opinion, it is not an accident if you fail to operate your company safely,” National Transportation Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy said at a hearing in October. The company that owned the boat, Truth Aquatics Inc., has filed suit in federal court under a provision in maritime law to avoid payouts to the families of the victims. The families of 32 victims have filed claims against boat owners Glen and Dana Fritzler and the company. The cause of the fire was been under investigation for more there a year and may be impossible to pinpoint. It began in an area on the main deck where divers had plugged in phones, flashlights and other items with combustible lithium ion batteries. The fire happened on the final night of a three-day Labor Day weekend scuba diving excursion near Santa Cruz Island off Santa Barbara. The 34 victims ranged from a new deckhand to scientists and engineers to parents with their teenage and adult children. They came from as far away as China, Singapore and India. Two passengers were celebrating birthdays. The sole crewmember who died, Allie Kurtz, 26, had previously worked as a cook on another Truth Aquatics boat and was thrilled with her promotion. Her family said she loved the water and had childhood aspirations of becoming a pirate. Marine biologist Kristy Finstad, who co-owned Worldwide Diving Adventures and chartered the Labor Day Weekend trip, first put on a dive tank at the age of nine and had done hundreds of dives in the rugged, wind-swept Channel Islands, off Santa Barbara’s coast. Five members of the Quitasol family took the trip to celebrate their father’s birthday. Sisters Angela, Nicole and Evan joined their father, Michael Quitasol, and their stepmother, Fernisa Sison. The family had been scuba diving together for at least a decade. Before the disaster, Boylan and Truth Aquatics had a good reputation with customers and the boating community in Santa Barbara, where the company had a fleet of three boats. The Conception had passed its two most recent Coast Guard safety inspections. But NTSB investigators condemned the company and captain for a litany of issues including failing to train the crew on emergency procedures. Ryan Sims, who had been working aboard the boat for just three weeks, told investigators he had asked the captain to discuss emergency plans the day before the fire. “When we have time," Boylan replied, Sims reported. “I didn’t know what the procedures were supposed to be,” Sims said, echoing what other crew members told investigators. The NTSB said the lack of a night watch allowed the fire to spread quickly and trap victims below deck. The agency also faulted the Coast Guard for not enforcing the night watch requirement, citing records showing no one cited for failing to provide one since 1991. Crew members told investigators they were asleep on the upper deck when the fire broke out below around 3 a.m. They said they made repeated attempts to reach those below deck. But the flames and heat kept them back and eventually forced them to jump overboard. Boylan made a mayday call at 3:14 a.m. saying, “I can’t breathe,” before abandoning ship. Sims, who has sued the boat's owners, broke a leg jumping from the boat. The crew climbed into a dinghy and motored to a yacht anchored nearby to call again for help. “One thing we never heard was any screams or banging or anything from the boat, both while we were on it or when we were close,” Cullen Molitor, the boat’s second captain, told investigators. Brian Melley And Stefanie Dazio, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The head of Canada's transport regulator says the 11,000 complaints filed to the Canadian Transportation Agency since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic will not start to be processed until early next year.CTA chairman Scott Streiner says the agency is struggling to handle another 11,000 complaints it received between last December and March, immediately after a new passenger rights charter came into effect.The majority of complaints since March concern refunds, which most Canadian airlines have refused to give customers after cancelling hundreds of thousands of flights due to pandemic travel restrictions, opting instead for flight vouchers or credit.The 22,000 complaints racked up in less than a year contrast with the 800 submitted to the CTA in 2015 amid growing passenger frustration.Streiner says that if legislation did not constrain him he would act "quickly" to fix a gap in regulations, which he claims compel airlines only to address reimbursement in their passenger contracts but not to provide it in situations outside their control.Earlier this month, Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced he planned to negotiate an aid package for struggling airlines that would be conditional on them agreeing to offer refunds for cancelled trips.The number of complaints may drop considerably if the support plan can be hammered out, Streiner told the House of Commons transport committee Tuesday.Bloc Québécois transport critic Xavier Barsalou-Duval said the complaints delay remains a major problem.“If I was a manager of a complaints department and I had two years of backlog ... wouldn’t I lose my job?" he asked Streiner.Streiner said more than half of the 11,000 complaints filed between last December and March have now been dealt with.Federal rules, provincial contract law and tribunal precedent at the CTA oblige airlines to reimburse passengers for services paid for but never rendered, say consumer rights advocates and opposition lawmakers.“We’re being told by the government that these Canadian citizens who purchased these airfares are not able to get a refund because the government is concerned that the airline corporations are going to go bankrupt. Now you’re putting citizens in a situation where they’re essentially involuntary or unwilling creditors to these huge corporations," NDP MP Taylor Bachrach said."The legislation constrained us. There was no way that we could establish that obligation in the regulations," Streiner replied.Committee members pushed him on how big a role Transport Canada had in the CTA's statement on vouchers from March, which said airlines did not need to provide refunds unless their passenger contract required it in particular circumstances.“There was certain communication in order to make sure that we were not creating any confusion," Streiner said.“We communicated with the office of the minister of transportation throughout this entire crisis."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
CHICAGO — A federal judge on Tuesday struck down two Trump administration rules designed to drastically curtail the number of visas issued each year to skilled foreign workers.The changes applying to the H-1B visa program announced in October include imposing salary requirements on companies employing skilled overseas workers and limits on specialty occupations. Department of Homeland Security officials deemed it a priority because of coronavirus-related job losses and estimated as many as one-third of those who have applied for H-1B's in recent years would be denied under the new rules.U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in California said the government didn't follow transparency procedures and its contention that the changes were an emergency response to pandemic job losses didn’t hold water because the Trump administration has floated the idea for some time but only published the rules in October.“The COVID-19 pandemic is an event beyond defendants’ control, yet it was within defendants’ control to take action earlier than they did,” White wrote.The U.S. issues up to 85,000 H-1B visas each year in sectors including technology, engineering and medicine. Usually, they’re issued for three years and renewable. Most of the nearly 600,000 H-1B visa holders in the U.S. are from India and China.The H-1B rules announced weeks before the election were part of President Donald Trump's wider agenda to curb nearly all forms of immigration. In June, he issued an order temporarily suspending the H-1B program until the end of the year.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and universities including the California Institute of Technology sued in California, arguing there wasn’t adequate notice or time for the public to comment on the changes. They also said the rules, particularly related to requiring a prevailing wage for visa-holders, would have a drastic impact on new hires and “sever the employment relationship of hundreds of thousands of existing employees in the United States."The University of Utah cited an example where an H-1B employee seeking renewal was paid an $80,000 salary but would have to be paid $208,000 under the new rule.The judge agreed that the federal government didn’t make a case for implementing the rules under the Administrative Procedure Act, which makes agencies accountable to the public by requiring a detailed process for enacting regulations.“Defendants failed to show there was good cause to dispense with the rational and thoughtful discourse that is provided by the APA’s notice and comment requirements,” White wrote.The rule on wages, proposed by the Department of Labor, took effect in October, while the Homeland Security rule on occupations and other issues was supposed to take effect Monday. It also would have placed limits on “offsite” firms that employ and contract out H-1B visa holders to other companies; their visas would have been limited to one year at a time."This is incredibly important decision to preserve the H-1B program,” said attorney Paul Hughes, who represented the plaintiffs. “This ruling enables those individuals to maintain their jobs and their families in the United States.”The Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that the ruling “has many companies across various industries breathing a huge sigh of relief,” with the visa changes having "the potential to be incredibly disruptive to the operations of many businesses.”Messages left Tuesday for spokespeople with the Labor and Homeland Security departments weren’t immediately returned.The wage rule has prompted at least two other federal lawsuits in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.___Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen.Sophia Tareen, The Associated Press
Port Alberni, BC - As part of the nation’s safety protocols, patrons are required to wear a facemask and sanitize their hands before entering the market. Increasingly, staff has been met with “grumbling” customers who reject the safety measures, said Hugh Braker, Tseshaht Emergency Operations Centre information officer. The issue escalated mid-November when a customer entered the market and started yelling vulgar phrases, objecting to sanitizing his hands. After walking towards a female employee in what she described as an “aggressive” approach, male staff intervened and escorted the customer out of the store. Before driving away, staff took photos of his vehicle. At approximately 5:30 a.m. the following morning, a male threw a glass bottle at the market and shattered the glass door. Security cameras confirmed that the vehicle involved in the incident correlated with the car from the day before. “There is no place for this type of behaviour in a civilized society,” Braker said in a release. “Our staff and customers were exposed to unruly behaviour and assault. People must accept the measures we are taking in our community to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or they can stay away.” In the morning of Nov. 11, the incident was reported to the Port Alberni RCMP detachment. After accessing CCTV footage, investigators identified the perpetrator as Joel Desjardins-Lavoie, said Cpl. Jason Racz. Desjardins-Lavoie was arrested for mischief and remains in custody. He was also wanted on warrants from the province of Quebec for uttering threats, said Racz. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 16. Braker said the nation is doing “everything” they can to stop the spread of COVID-19. With four confirmed cases within Tseshaht’s membership, Braker said the pandemic is “top of mind.” “Living on reserve we have about 70 elders and we’re sensitive to the fact that they are extremely vulnerable,” said Braker. “Other members in our tribe have compromised immune systems and they are very vulnerable. We’re doing everything we can to protect these people.” Yesterday, Tseshaht began distributing cleaning packages that will go to every member’s household within the Port Alberni area. They include: hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, Clorox disinfecting spray, gloves and masks. “I would like to remind people of the responsibility we have to keep everyone safe,” said Ken Watts, Tseshaht councillor and member of the Tseshaht Market board of directors. “The Tseshaht council condemns the actions of this individual. We encourage everyone to embrace Dr. Henry’s thoughts on this being our time to ‘be kind, be calm and be safe.’” -30- Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
MONTREAL — When the Quebec government tells English schools they cannot hire women wearing the hijab, it violates the rights of the English-speaking minority to manage its educational institutions, a lawyer argued Tuesday in a case challenging the province's secularism law.The law, known as Bill 21, forbids the wearing of religious symbols such as turbans, kippas and hijabs for certain employees of the state deemed to be in positions of authority, including police officers and school teachers.Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard, who is presiding over the trial, has set aside 14 days to hear closing arguments, which began on Monday.Constitutional rights lawyer Julius Grey argued on behalf of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Quebec Community Groups Network, which are both challenging the law.Grey invoked Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects the right of Quebec's anglophone minority to be educated in English. Over time, jurisprudence has interpreted this right as giving management power to English schools, which Grey argued includes the right to hire whom they choose as teachers, including those who wear religious symbols.While Bill 21 invokes the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to shield it from most charter challenges, including those based on freedom of religion, Grey argued it can't be used to override the language-rights protections in Section 23.Grey argued Section 23 is essential to the protection and preservation of the language and culture of the English-speaking minority in Quebec.And included in the culture of the English-speaking community is the protection of cultural minorities, he said.Grey also argued that Bill 21 infringes Section 28 of the charter, which provides for gender equality and isn't subject to the notwithstanding clause.A lawyer for Amnesty International argued that the law is too vague and that it doesn't include a definition of "religious symbols."School administrators can't all become theologians to manage their schools, Marie-Claude St-Amant said. Like Grey, she argued that it is not the government's objective in adopting the law that is important but rather the effects of the legislation. Those are disproportionately felt by Muslim women, she said, arguing that the stated goal of the law is a pretence. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press
A care home in Saskatoon says four of its residents have died COVID-related deaths since an outbreak was declared two weeks ago."Families were provided end of life visitation opportunities and our sincere condolences go out to them," Luther Special Care Home said in an emailed statement Tuesday.Health officials declared an outbreak at the Varsity View neighbourhood home on Nov. 17.As of Tuesday, 44 residents and 14 staff members had tested positive for the virus, according to an update shared with families.The care home did not offer other details about the residents who have died, citing privacy concerns.On Tuesday, health officials announced four more COVID-19-related deaths province-wide, including two people aged 80 or over in Saskatoon.6 recent deaths in care homes province-wideIn total, six residents at long-term or personal care in Saskatchewan have died COVID-19 related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in March. "The data submitted to the Ministry of Health regarding COVID-related deaths does not identify deaths that may have occurred among LTC staff," a spokesperson for the ministry said.One of the other resident deaths was recorded last week at Regina's Parkside Extendicare home, which is dealing with the largest known outbreak at any extended care home in the province.As of Monday, the home had 50 active cases among residents and another 25 active cases among staff.
UK Health Minister Matt Hancock announced that the country is the first to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.View on euronews
EDMONTON — Alberta Health projections released by the Opposition predict COVID-19 hospitalizations could soar to 775 by mid-December and the number of intensive care patients could reach 161. NDP Leader Rachel Notley says the numbers suggest the United Conservative government waited too long to act, then introduced ineffective half measures to combat the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. “Our province is reporting the highest rate of COVID in the country,” Notley told Premier Jason Kenney during question period Tuesday. “The models showed you a second wave was coming. Why did you not prepare?” Kenney’s government has in recent weeks declined to provide internal projections on potential COVID-19 effects on hospital and intensive care wards, although Kenney said this week those numbers might be provided in the coming days. The latest numbers were leaked to the NDP. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said the projections are the "worst-case scenario" and don't take into account the recently announced new restrictions. "That is exactly the point of those restrictions ... to prevent us from hitting those high projections because what we need to do is bend that curve down," said Hinshaw. Alberta's daily case count has sat above 1,000 for almost two weeks, putting a significant strain on the health-care system. There are a total of 173 intensive care beds in Alberta. On Tuesday, there were 97 COVID-19 ICU patients of a total 479 in hospitals. Alberta Health Services, the front-line operational arm of Alberta Health, is rearranging and reassigning space, staff and patients to create another 250 ICU beds. AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson said in an email that Calgary exceeded maximum ICU capacity Monday, but had space because 10 new beds had been added. Edmonton was at 95 per cent ICU capacity, but had 18 spaces available because of 20 new beds. Twenty acute-care hospitals, including the major ones in Calgary and Edmonton, are dealing with COVID outbreaks of their own. To stem the surge in cases, Kenney announced tighter health restrictions last week aimed at reducing community spread while keeping businesses and the economy as open as possible. No social gatherings are allowed in people’s homes. Restaurants and bars can stay open, but only six people can be at one table and they all must live under the same roof. The province is to review the measures mid-December and may intensify or add to them if the skyrocketing spread continues. The NDP and some doctors say the public-health orders, while aimed at balancing health and the economy, will ultimately fail both and a short, sharp lockdown is the way to go. Alberta is also facing the challenge of tracking spread. Health officials do not know where about 80 per cent of recent cases came from. Kenney reiterated that the province has 800 contact tracers and is working to hire 400 more while moving more part-time tracers to full-time status. “Alberta Health Services is pulling out the stops and has been for weeks to add capacity,” Kenney told the house. “We made it clear to them from Day 1 that budget is not an issue, that we are giving them maximum resources ... in hiring and training, and bringing people on board." Notley criticized Kenney for not moving faster during the summer to hire more contact tracers. She noted Alberta lags behind other comparable provinces. “B.C. has 26 contact tracers per 100,000 (people). Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 30. Ontario, 27. Alberta, 18,” said Notley. “Contact tracing is strained across the country, that is true, but only in this province is it broken.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
The Montreal Impact soccer team will be changing its name to Montréal FC, Radio-Canada has learned. A team official told Radio-Canada Sports they would not be "commenting on rumours."The new name is reminiscent of the club's ephemeral reserve team, FC Montréal, which played the 2015 and 2016 seasons in the United Soccer League before being dissolved.In January 2019, Kevin Gilmore took over as president of the team, succeeding owner Joey Saputo, who announced he was taking a step back from the club's daily activities, having chaired it for most of its existence.Upon his arrival, Gilmore declared the Impact should behave like a big market club, and establish itself as one of the best clubs in Major League Soccer.At the start of the 2020 MLS season, the club launched a marketing campaign, with the goal of reinforcing its attachment to the city.The pandemic, however, forced the club to play only three games in front of spectators. The first on Feb. 29, and two more in front of 250 people, at the end of August. Next year will be the Impact's 10th season in the MLS.The team has been known as the Impact since 1993. A year earlier, its predecessor, Supra, was dissolved at the same as the Canadian Soccer League. Impact Montréal was founded by the Saputo company and joined the American Soccer League, winning its first title the following year.It then became a nonprofit after nearly dissolving itself and was taken over by Ionian Financial Group. The soccer team joined the MLS in 2012.