The voting rights advocate says she's been dedicating her life to fighting for equal access to the ballot, especially for Black voters. (Nov. 6)
The voting rights advocate says she's been dedicating her life to fighting for equal access to the ballot, especially for Black voters. (Nov. 6)
LONDON — A book that looks at The Beatles from a playful kaleidoscope of angles won Britain’s leading nonfiction literary award on Tuesday.Craig Brown’s “One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time” was named winner of the 50,000-pound ($66,000) Baillie Gifford Prize at a virtual ceremony in London.Brown’s “composite biography” juxtaposes the stories of John, Paul, George and Ringo with relatives, partners, artists, imitators, hangers-on and others drawn into their orbit.Broadcaster Martha Kearney, who chaired the judging panel, said Brown’s “joyous, irreverent, insightful celebration” of the Fab Four was “a shaft of light piercing the deep gloom of 2020.”“Who would have thought that a book about The Beatles could seem so fresh?” she said.The award recognizes English-language books in current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.Brown beat a shortlist that included Sudhir Hazareesingh’s Haitian revolution history “Black Spartacus,” Matthew Cobb’s “The Idea of the Brain” and Christina Lamb’s book about women and war “Our Bodies, Their Battlefield.”The other finalists were Amy Stanley’s “Stranger in the Shogun’s City,” about a woman’s life in 19th-century Japan, and “The Haunting of Alma Fielding” by Kate Summerscale, a fact-based story of apparently supernatural events.The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — Deep in the Mars-like landscape of Utah's red-rock desert lies a mystery: A gleaming metal monolith in one of the most remote parts of the state. The smooth, tall structure was found during a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah, officials said Monday. A crew from the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources spotted the gleaming object from the air Nov. 18 and landed to check it out during a break from their work. They found the three-sided stainless-steel object is about as tall as two men put together. But they discovered no clues about who might have driven it into the ground among the undulating red rocks or why. “This thing is not from another world,” said Lt. Nick Street of the Utah Highway Patrol, part of the Department of Public Safety. Still, it's clear that it took some planning and work to construct the 10- to 12-foot (3- to 4-meter) monolith and embed it in the rock. The exact location is so remote that officials are not revealing it publicly, worried that people might get lost or stranded trying to find it and need to be rescued. The monolith evokes the one that appears in the Stanley Kubrick movie “2001: A Space Odyssey." Because it’s on federal public land, it’s illegal to place art objects without authorization. Bureau of Land Management officials are investigating how long it's been there, who might have created it and whether to remove it. Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
With millions dining at home for safety and a swing to the spicier side in the U.S. in recent years, Cholula, the hot sauce with the distinctive wooden cap and a cult following, has become a very valuable brand.McCormick & Co., the spice maker that dominates U.S. grocery shelves, said Tuesday that it was buying Cholula for $800 million from L Catteron, a private equity firm.McCormick made a notable tilt toward the hot sauce shelf three years ago when it acquired Frank’s RedHot, the preferred fuel in Buffalo wing recipes, as part of its $4.2 billion acquisition of Reckitt Benckiser’s food business.“The sauce with the little wooden cap is, like Frank’s RedHot, well-known to ‘chilli-heads’ around the globe but its appeal is much wider,” said Dean Best, food editor of Global Data.The acquisition arrives with the pandemic warping how America and the rest of the world eats, meaning largely at home. There was evidence of that trend in recent regulatory filings from McCormick, a company in Hunt Valley, Maryland with a valuation of close to $25 billion.McCormick said in September that revenue surged 8% during the third quarter as people replaced the contents of outdated spice racks, or started one for the first time.And hot sauce is increasingly part of the pantry mix.The volume of hot sauce produced for North America has risen in each of the past five years by an average of 4.7%, to more than 127,000 tons in 2020, according to the data service Euromonitor. That production is expected to rise by 16% within the next five years, according to the group.“Hot sauce is an attractive, high-growth category and, as an iconic premium brand, Cholula is outpacing category growth," said McCormick Chairman and CEO Lawrence Kurzius in prepared remarks Tuesday.Cholula has made its own adaptations during the pandemic to get the sauce to its cult followers.Earlier this month the company teamed up with simplehuman to create a touch-free Cholula dispenser for restaurants or other places that serve the hot sauce, allowing those eating out to bring the heat in relative safety.Shares of McCormick, which have hit an all time high this year, rose more than 2% Tuesday.Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press
New restrictions meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 are being introduced in the Halifax region — the current epicentre of Nova Scotia's outbreak.The restrictions apply to western and central parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality, from Hubbards to Porters Lake. It also includes the communities of Enfield and Mount Uniacke to the north of Halifax, which are part of Hants County (see full map here).They come into effect midnight Wednesday and will continue for at least two weeks until midnight Dec. 9.Here's a guide to what can remain open and what has to close under the new restrictions:What's open * Public schools, with the exception of those where cases have been identified. * After-school programs. * Child care. * Hairstylists, estheticians and nail salons, except for procedures that cannot be done while a patron is masked. * Grocery stores, but they must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent of capacity. * Retail stores, but they must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent of capacity. * Liquor stores, including distilleries, wineries and breweries, but they must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent of capacity. * Pharmacies, but they must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent of capacity. * Restaurants and coffee shops for takeout or delivery only. * Hotel restaurants for hotel guests only.What's closed * Restaurant dining rooms, bars and nightclubs. * Gyms, recreational facilities. * Libraries. * Museums and art galleries. * Casinos. * Distilleries, wineries and breweries for in-house tastings — retail sales are allowed. * Sporting facilities for both practices and games, recreational and professional. * Faith activities, events and gatheringsOther guidelines and limitations * The gathering limit in public is five, or up to the number of members of an immediate family in a household. * Mandatory masking now applies to common areas in multi-unit residential buildings, such as apartments and condos. * No visitors in long-term care facilities, except volunteers and designated caregivers — this applies provincewide. * Non-essential travel into and out of the restricted region of HRM is discouraged. * Non-essential travel to other Atlantic provinces is also discouraged.MORE TOP STORIES
Any way you look at it, 2020 has been a challenging year all around, but it has impacted some families harder than others. With many businesses having been forced to close their doors and shut down for extended periods this year due to public health restrictions, affected business owners and the people that they employ have been among the hardest hit. Some people have seen their wages rolled back so that their employers can remain in business. There have been layoffs across the province as companies have had to reduce their operations. And too many businesses have had to close down entirely. While our economy has picked up from where we were in the spring, jobs still are not as plentiful as they were. The Swan Hills Food Bank has certainly seen an increase in requests this year compared to past years. Christmas is often a time when many of us look for ways to give back to our community, to try to offer a helping hand to those around us who may be having a hard time of things. This year there is an increased need for helping hands. The Food Bank and Santa’s Elves are doing things a little differently this year in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To reduce the number of items being directly handled by multiple people, Santa’s Elves is only able to accept monetary donations this year. Monetary donations can be made at the Alberta Treasury Branch downtown (4914 Plaza Ave). A food donation bin will be available at Super A, as there has been in previous years, but there will not be a toy donation bin for Santa’s Elves this year. Instead of delivering food hampers and toys this year, the families receiving support will be given gift cards to local businesses. This will reduce the chance for the transmission of COVID-19 by cutting down on the need for items to be directly handled by multiple people. This step will also allow the families receiving support to choose which groceries and gifts would benefit them the most. Please contact the Swan Hills Food Bank and Santa’s Elves at (780) 333-3442 if you have any questions.Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
CALGARY — The Alberta Court of Appeal has refused to throw out one of the convictions against a man who was found guilty of killing a father and his two-year-old daughter as well as a senior.Derek Saretzky's lawyer, Balfour Der, had argued that his client's first-degree murder conviction in the death of Hanne Meketech, 69, in September 2015 should be overturned because Saretzky's rights were breached when police improperly took his confession.Saretzky was also convicted of first-degree murder in the slayings of Terry Blanchette, who was 27, and his daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette.Saretzky, 27, was in custody when he confessed Meketech's killing to an RCMP officer who visited him at a correctional centre.Der said Saretzky should never have been convicted in the woman's death since the confession came without a lawyer present and six months after Saretzky admitted to killing Blanchette and the toddler.The Crown argued that at the time of the police interview Saretzky would have been well aware of his right to counsel.The three-justice Appeal Court panel unanimously dismissed the appeal."The appellant was not under arrest and the trial judge found he had not been detained," wrote Justice Peter Martin on behalf of the court."Those findings were well supported by the evidence and are entitled to deference. I agree with his conclusion that on considering all of the circumstances of this case, the appellant's confession would not have been excluded."Meketech's body was found in her home in Coleman, Alta., on Sept. 9, 2015. She had been struck in the head and stabbed in the neck. During the trial, the jury was shown videotaped confessions in which Saretzky told police it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to kill Meketech, who was a friend of his grandparents, because he didn't think anyone cared about her. Five days later, Blanchette's body was discovered in his home in Blairmore, Alta. His daughter was missing, which sparked an Amber Alert and an extensive search in the Crowsnest Pass area of southwestern Alberta.Court heard Saretzky was "an aspiring serial killer" at the time of the attacks. He had few close friends and possessed numerous books on serial killers and serial killings.Saretzky was sentenced in 2017 to three consecutive life sentences, which means he is ineligible for parole until he has served 75 years in prison.The Court of Appeal still has to schedule and hear an appeal of the sentence.This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 24, 2020.— Follow @BillGraveland on TwitterBill Graveland, The Canadian Press
A young, breastfeeding mother of seven is now one week deep into a hunger strike in the northern Quebec Cree community of Chisasibi, over a multi-billion dollar development agreement and what she says was a lack of consultation by Cree leaders. The $4.7 billion Grande Alliance agreement was signed in February by Quebec Premier François Legault and current Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum. At the time, the memorandum of understanding was called the Cree vision of development and includes a deep sea port, 700 kilometres of new railway, hundreds of kilometres of new road, new power lines and the creation of a network of protected areas, among other projects to be built in three stages over the next 30 years.Last Wednesday, Heather House posted an open letter to social media addressed to Cree leadership, the premier of Quebec and several provincial ministers. In the letter, the 32-year old said Cree leadership should have done more consultation before signing. > I say 'no' to the agreement. \- Heather House, Chisasibi resident"I say 'no' to the agreement already signed. Have it terminated and revoked on the grounds of no consultation, on the grounds that there was no informed consent from the people of Eeyou Istchee," wrote House in a Facebook message. That same day, House escalated her protest and began a hunger strike, taking in only fish, fowl or caribou broth. House said she launched the hunger strike to show she is serious in her opposition to the Grande Alliance agreement, which she wants changed. She also said she wants no more mining projects in Eeyou Istchee. "The money will run out. The lithium will run out … cobalt … graphite … it will run out," said House, adding many Cree people, like her, don't understand what is in the agreement and are concerned about the impacts of more development.Community chiefs consultedAccording to the Cree Nation Government website, the Grande Alliance agreement was the result of a "patient consultative process" with the Cree communities. The majority of the Cree community chiefs were on hand for the signing of the agreement with premier Legault in February. In an email response to CBC, a Cree Nation government representative said COVID-19 has severely impacted their ability to meet with community members to explain the agreement and establish regular channels of communication. Cree leaders are planning a community meeting in Chisasibi this Friday.The email also said that the Grande Alliance is a chance for Cree people to be in the drivers seat of development, rather than the old model of reacting to projects and being "offered only leftovers".All of the infrastructure projects proposed in the Grande Alliance are tied to the creation of a network of community-selected protected areas, the email said. "The exploration of this idea will take many meetings and many discussions from the kitchen table to the boardroom before any actual project is identified," said the email.Cree leaders have also said the communities will be consulted on the individual projects and each project will be subject to a full environmental review, something that doesn't reassure House. > We have every right to... to protect our land because this is all we have left. - Heather House, Chisasibi resident"History has shown us … that even with the environmental assessments, they always find loopholes that deceive us," said House. Since House shared her open letter on Facebook, it has been shared more than 500 times. She said she has received a lot of the support from Cree people, but understands there are many Cree who support the agreement. "That's your thought … and you have every right to it. But we have every right to feel the need to protect our land because this is all we have left," said House. Until she's been heardHouse said one supporter of the agreement told her "not to bite the hands that feed her".Her four-month old baby is not yet on solids and will not take formula.House said she is not worried for the moment about the health of her baby because she is drinking a very nutritious caribou marrow broth. "Our ancestors survived on this kind of nourishment, and sometimes way less," said House, adding she may start to worry if her hunger strike drags on. House also said she will continue until she feels she has been heard by Cree leaders. She said she is hoping to speak directly to Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum. "He's had my phone number since day two of my hunger strike," said House.
“We always hear about the trauma that is passed on through generations ... but we also have the bravery that is passed on."
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro called the display outside his constituency office "offensive".
An Ottawa city councillor has apologized for "inadvertently" texting while driving Tuesday, a lapse in judgment that was livestreamed via YouTube during a virtual meeting of the city's audit committee.Osgoode councillor and deputy mayor George Darouze initially joined the 9:30 a.m. meeting from what looked like his kitchen, and even asked a detailed question about the accounting procedures surrounding the city's public-private partnership at Lansdowne Park, one of the audits tabled Tuesday.Around 11:30 a.m., the livestream showed Darouze getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. He put on his seatbelt, as well as headphones, presumably to keep listening to the meeting. His device appears to be sitting in the passenger seat, the camera facing him.He began to drive — the passing scenery clearly visible through the driver side window — and pulled out a cell phone. He then began to text with his thumbs, taking his eyes off the road several times. At one point, Darouze fumbled around with his right hand to find his glasses, then put them on.Eventually, Darouze looked toward the second wireless device in the passenger seat and turned off the camera. The councillor didn't respond to a request for comment, but posted the following brief apology on Facebook:"This morning, I inadvertently texted while I was driving. I apologize for this and commit to my family and residents that this won't happen again."Later Tuesday afternoon, Darouze replaced that post with another statement, this time admitting his behaviour was a "stupid thing to do." "I should not have done this. I commit to my family and residents that this won't happen again," reads the public post.Ottawa police aware of videoA number of people on social media are calling for police to charge the councillor for distracted driving, and for Mayor Jim Watson to weigh in. A statement from the mayor's office said he "trusts that this will not happen again."Ottawa police said in an emailed statement that they're aware of a video of "a driver with a handheld device," without naming Darouze. Police said the driver appears to be violating the Highway Traffic Act, and said they will investigate if they receive a public complaint.
PARIS — Restorers at Paris’ fire-damaged Notre Dame cathedral have completed key preliminary work by successfully removing all the perilous roof scaffolding, officials said Tuesday. The removal of the 200 tons of scaffolding was considered dangerous, with some experts fearing that it could cause more of the Gothic monument to fall down. It was thought that the scaffolding might have melded to the cathedral in the blaze, and be keeping it in place. When the Notre Dame fire broke out on April 15 last year destroying the spire, the cathedral was already under restoration. The scaffolding previously installed resisted collapse, “but was deformed by the heat of the fire” Notre Dame restoration officials said in a communique. The Associated Press
A Halifax councillor says three houses that a car dealership recently bought on May Street cannot be replaced with a parking lot."When I went back and talked to [HRM] staff, we realized that was one of things that was changed under the new Centre Plan," said Coun. Lindell Smith. "So they can still demolish them if they want, but it would be great if they didn't."In 2016, the Steele Auto Group tore down 17 properties to expand the Colonial Honda car dealership along Robie Street. The move sparked a protest called Homes not Hondas.Since then, new development rules have been adopted under the Centre Plan Package A that limit what can be done along May Street. Pages 50 and 51 lay out the rules: "Most car-oriented land uses that are not compatible with the intent of this plan to create a safe and human scale pedestrian-oriented environment in the centres shall not be permitted in the CEN zones, such as auto repair uses and dealerships.""It says within the regulations that dealership uses are not allowed," said Smith. "So they couldn't put a service centre, a reception area or a parking lot."In an email sent to CBC last Friday, the Steele Auto Group said it had "plans to take down the building and expand the parking lot." The company also said that "this part of Robie Street is home to several auto dealerships, service and repair centres."Smith said while the expansion of the car dealership is not permitted, the houses could be replaced with another commercial business that is allowed, such as a hair salon. He added that because the rules are fairly new, the company may not have realized there were changes.CBC has contacted the Steele Auto Group for a new comment but has not yet had a response.MORE TOP STORIES
Originaire de Portneuf-sur-Mer, Alyson Desbiens est de retour au Québec, après quatre années passées en France, pour travailler dans un domaine qui la passionne : l’immigration. Technicienne juridique pour le moment, elle veut devenir consultante pour accompagner les immigrants. La firme Nadia Barrou Immigration de Montréal l’a repérée en mars dernier, alors qu’elle conseillait des immigrants sur des forums spécialisés. « Mme Barrou trouvait que mes commentaires étaient pertinents et que je connaissais bien les lois de l’immigration », affirme la jeune femme de 27 ans. Après plusieurs discussions, Alyson a finalement été embauchée, ce qui a devancé son retour au pays. « Mon mari et moi étions censés revenir au Québec en mars 2021, mais je ne voulais pas rater cette opportunité formidable pour moi. Je suis donc revenue seule pour le moment, mais il viendra me trouver quand il en aura fini avec la paperasse administrative », indique-t-elle. Ayant complété un baccalauréat en sociologie et développement social en France, la Portneuvoise exerce en tant que technicienne juridique puisqu’elle ne peut faire du conseil en immigration pour le moment. « Je dois terminer mon cours de consultante en immigration avant. Je le suis présentement en ligne et je dois passer l’examen de l’ordre en février prochain. Je suis assez confiante puisque jusqu’à maintenant, j’obtiens de très bonnes notes et j’adore ça », explique Alyson Desbiens. Hobby Pour la jeune femme, aider les gens qui immigrent était un « hobby » depuis longtemps. Elle participait à des forums de discussion et apportait son soutien régulièrement. « J’utilisais mon expérience et mes connaissances législatives. Ensuite, j’ai découvert que je pouvais être payée pour faire ça. C’est à ce moment que j’ai débuté mon cours », raconte-t-elle. Effectivement, en tant qu’immigrante en France avec son conjoint qu’elle a rencontré alors qu’il était en vacances à Québec, elle a vécu plusieurs problématiques pour obtenir et conserver son VISA. « C’est de cette façon que j’ai développé de l’expérience dans le domaine, dévoile Alyson Desbiens, nouvellement mariée cet été. Lire les petites lignes dans le bas des contrats, ça me connaît. » De plus, avec la pandémie qui sévit dans le monde en ce moment, l’immigration est rendue encore plus difficile, selon Mme Desbiens. « Il y a beaucoup de choses qui ont changé, ce n’est pas évident de s’y retrouver quand on n’a pas les connaissances pour le faire. Les démarches sont plus longues et coûteuses et seulement les membres de la famille immédiate peuvent venir au Québec depuis la pandémie. » Coup de foudre Alyson Desbiens fait partie de celles qui ont vécu deux coups de foudre dans leur vie, soit amoureux et professionnel. Ses trois premières semaines de travail pour Nadia Barrou Immigration l’ont enchantée. « Il y a vraiment un climat de confiance et d’entraide dans l’équipe, confirme-t-elle. C’est super comme ambiance ». Aider sa région natale La future consultante en immigration aura peut-être même l’opportunité d’aider les entreprises de la Côte-Nord qui souhaitent faire appel à la main-d’œuvre immigrante. « C’est un défi qu’est prête à m’offrir Nadia Barrou. J’en serais très heureuse puisque j’ai une bonne connaissance de la région », conclut Alyson qui peut être jointe à email@example.com ou au 514-286-1613.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
New research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found that one-third of children who tested positive for COVID-19 had no symptoms, but in those that did, loss of taste/smell, headache, fever and nausea/vomiting were most strongly associated with positive cases. Other flu-like symptoms — including cough, runny nose and sore throat — were the most prominent symptoms in positive cases, but the study suggests they couldn't be used to accurately predict which cases were positive because they were also most prominent in COVID negative cases. The study, published Monday, was done by researchers at the University of Alberta who analyzed 2,463 COVID-19 test results from children in the province between April 13 to Sept. 30. They compared symptoms of those who tested positive (1,987) with those who were negative (476) for infection. Eight per cent of kids with positive COVID tests had loss of taste/smell, versus one per cent of kids who tested negative for the coronavirus, and four per cent had nausea or vomiting (vs. less than one per cent of those testing negative). Headache was a symptom in 16 per cent of positive cases, compared to six per cent in negative cases, and 26 per cent of positive cases had fever, compared to 15 per cent. Dr. Finlay McAlister, one of the authors of the study, says those symptoms were associated more with having COVID rather than some other virus. He says cough, runny nose, and sore throat were equally common in kids who didn't have COVID but may have had another virus. Symptoms of fever or chills, cough and runny nose in this study (19 to 26 per cent) were less frequent than in studies conducted in hospital settings. The authors of the study suggest that was because this was a community-based cohort and cases of disease were likely more mild than those seen in hospitals. Children aged four and younger were more likely to test negative, and teenagers (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to test positive. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. The Canadian Press
WINDSOR, Ont. — Public health officials say 29 students and nine staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at a Windsor, Ont., elementary school. Frank W. Begley Elementary has been closed since Nov. 17 and students and staff were asked to isolate for 14 days.The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says the entire school population is at high-risk for exposure to COVID-19.Medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed had said that the first three cases in the outbreak were staff members, and transmission is suspected to have happened at the school.A letter to parents from the health unit says students are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.The health unit says it is working closely with the school and the Greater Essex County District School Board to manage the outbreak and limit the spread of infection.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.The Canadian Press
When COVID-19 first appeared, people and governments across the globe reacted with alarm. Action was swift.In Alberta, businesses shuttered as the government imposed restrictions. People mostly stayed inside. Premier Jason Kenney said it was a generational challenge his government would rise to meet. But restrictions were loosened as the weather warmed. The most dire predictions didn't come to pass, and barbecues or drinks with friends seemed less risky. People held parties and their neighbours thought: why not me? Disinformation spread and, with it, doubt about the dangers of the virus and the actions of the government. But warnings were everywhere: Second wave. The fight isn't over. Be prepared.Many listened, but too many did not. Alberta's government said the economy couldn't take another hit and it was up to individuals to stem the tide. It delayed and equivocated. When the weather cooled, the virus was soon spreading more than ever. Now the talk was exponential growth and warnings of overwhelmed hospitals.As Kenney prepares to make an announcement on COVID this afternoon, he has so far stuck with personal responsibility as the key to fighting the outbreak.He and his government have pointed fingers at individuals for not obeying official recommendations, but now people are pointing back, laying blame at the feet of the government. Laying blame, however, is no easy thing.Personal responsibility and the role of the government aren't easily disentangled. Why individuals and the government have behaved as they have goes to the heart of who Albertans are — or at least who they perceive themselves to be. It begins with the ways that people, in general, deal with crises. The psychology of a pandemicThere's a common view of the world that assumes people panic when confronted with danger — causing more harm than the threat itself — but that's not often the case. Social psychologists have shown the greater risk is underestimating danger and not reacting in time. We also tend to believe the worst will happen to others, not us. Add misinformation to the mix and none of this should come as a surprise. "I've done an awful lot of reading about the Great Mortality, black plague, and about the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918," said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta. "And I would just say that every single thing that has happened could have been predicted by reading a history book."People in the past, like today, reacted to an invisible, existential threat by embracing conspiracy theories or unlikely cures while ignoring medical advice. Many denied the problem. Add social media, and the spread of misinformation is even more damaging and difficult to control. It creates deep divisions when cohesion is key to beating back the virus. Collective action problemThere are times when 51 per cent is enough. If enough people do the right thing, everyone will be swept along by their good deeds. A virus — especially an airborne one — doesn't work that way. We are in a classic collective action problem where almost universal buy-in is required. We all have to keep distance, wear masks, wash our hands, limit social interactions or just stay home. If we don't all do it, the virus spreads. Saxinger thinks the province has reached the ceiling on what independent co-operation can do.Compounding the problem is the perception of risk. Research shows that individuals are more likely to make moral decisions when ambiguity about risks is reduced.Prof. Leslie Francis, who works in the faculties of law, medicine and philosophy at the University of Utah, says the vast majority of people understand not to put other people at risk by, say, speeding down a residential road at 100 km/h. But people might not see COVID-19 the same way."What we see going on right now is that many people deny that COVID exists, or they think it's not going to make people very sick, or they think that it won't make them very sick, maybe they'll even be asymptomatic," she said."But they don't realize that, for example, in my own state right now, the estimate is that one in 73 people right now is actively contagious."Alberta's political cultureWe judge our behaviour and the behaviours of others based on what we observe, but also on how we perceive our own political culture and what it will allow. In Alberta, a lot of it might be built on myth.Political science Prof. Jared Wesley of the University of Alberta asks participants about the province in his ongoing study of politics and culture. He gets them to sketch out their typical Albertan and then asks what that Albertan would do in certain situations. The Albertan — here nicknamed "Joe" — is always male, often a farmer, a libertarian conservative. Wesley's point is to narrow in on what people believe the political culture to be — what is acceptable and what is possible.In the pandemic, Joe reacts in a specific way."They will tell you, like you see in the media everywhere, they'll tell you all Albertans will never stand for mask mandates because it's an infringement on their freedoms," said Wesley.That sort of statement comes from people across the political spectrum, not just those who agree with their typical Albertan. That shapes the way we think about the world and can shape our own behaviour. We make moral decisions based on how we think others might perceive us. If people think broader society doesn't want to have its freedoms restricted — even in minor ways like donning a mask — they are less likely to be strict about virus-beating behaviours and less likely to feel judged for their laxity. This despite a majority not agreeing with their "typical" Albertan. "Do a survey like we just did three or four weeks ago: Albertans are massively in favour of heavier restrictions," said Wesley. "You ask them on an individual basis, would you like to see a provincewide mask mandate, doesn't matter if they're rural areas. Absolutely, it's the right thing to do. They going to push for it? No, because they don't think that the rest of the province would accept it."At some point that tide could turn. There are more voices calling for government to impose more severe restrictions, including a complete lockdown, in order to fight surging case counts.The ethics of action are clear, even if the ultimate answers are not. The ethicsFrancis says there's a clear difference between someone who puts themselves in harm's way versus someone who creates "a real risk of harm to other people." Individuals are expected to go about in the world obeying the rules so that a free society can operate in a mostly free way. Social norms keep most of us from hurting one another, but there is never a full participation rate. Murders, assaults and more happen on a regular basis. So there are laws. Even the most stringent libertarians agree there is a role for the state to some protections. Francis argues that we should view restrictions around COVID-19 in the same light."I think a lot of people are treating this as some kind of unusual interference with liberty," Francis said about pandemic responses. "And my point is, it's actually much more like when people are thinking through some of the most standard kinds of interferences with liberty."Yet despite the ethical obligations to protect citizens, the decision to impose restrictions across a society is no small thing.Some see the delay in implementing more restrictions as cruel — akin to saying the economy is as important as human life.Certainly the belief that Alberta's political culture would not allow a lockdown plays a role in politicians' decisions. But governments also have to consider how their decisions might affect broader society. Lives and livelihoods can be lost due to a cratered economy. Not every individual can simply choose to stay home. Many calling for a sharp lockdown have salaries, home offices or the security to stay isolated. And race, class and gender mix to create a set of ethical and moral traps many can't escape."There has to also be an economic solution for those whose lives are going to be torn apart by this," Melissa Caouette, a political strategist with the Canadian Strategy Group, said on the CBC's West of Centre podcast. As cases and hospitalizations rise, there comes a point when political calculation isn't relevant, and protecting the health of Albertans and its health-care system becomes a priority.Every decision can have a profound impact on Albertans. The hesitance of the government to shut things down as the pandemic spreads out of control, however, should come as no surprise. The Alberta government"This government is refreshingly transparent and completely doctrinaire when it comes to all elements of public policy," Wesley says of the United Conservative Party's approach. "So if you want to know where this government was heading, you need to look no further than the 2018 UCP statement of principles."Wesley calls it Neoliberalism 101 — a political philosophy that makes no room for collective action problems. "From a political science standpoint, that's almost like the ideal of what we expect of responsible party actors, is that they have a set of principles, we know what they stand for, they're being transparent about it," he said. "And we know when they're confronted with things that are out of the ordinary, are not part of their policy platform, we know how they're going to react."In short, they'll react like Joe Alberta would want them to.That policy consistency is tied directly to the founding leader of the UCP, Kenney. A principled conservative to some, an ideologue to others, he tends to stake his position and stick to it. It doesn't help that he was elected on a commitment to get the economy back on track and the budget balanced — a near impossibility given COVID spending and the languishing price of oil. The focus is, and has been, on trying to preserve and repair a battered economy. Kenney wants to avoid more business closures and loss of jobs. He does not want to spend more money.There's also a documented combativeness to Kenney and his government that hasn't abated during the pandemic, including battles with doctors, nurses and public servants. The ensuing division inhibits any chance that collective action could be effective against the pandemic. It seems the government won't abandon its ideological mores until, as Wesley calls them, a substantial "accumulation of anomalies" attacks the tenets of that foundation.It seems plenty of individuals feel the same. With more cases, more deaths, fewer ICU beds and more calls for action as the government resists, the situation is ripe for blaming the government no matter the culprit in our collective failures. Laying blameEvery catastrophe eventually leads to the need for answers: Who is responsible? Who or what could have prevented this? Things are getting out of control in Alberta, with contact tracers overwhelmed and community spread in full bloom. Recent restrictions on fitness classes and earlier last calls have had no impact to date as 1,000-plus new cases a day becomes the norm. For a while, it appeared things were under control. As cases rose, most people were not vocally critical.Then doctors started writing letters with hundreds of their colleagues' signatures calling for circuit-breaker lockdowns. The chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency called for the same. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi wished for more, but told citizens not to wait for the province to do what was needed. Social media was flooded with calls for restrictions.Cases soared, as did hospitalizations. There are more deaths and likely many more to come.The government continued to resist, but looks prepared to act — in some way — on Tuesday afternoon.Critics have said the government has failed to provide clarity across the province on what is expected and even failed to model the baselines of good behaviour. Research has shown that people tend to lay more blame when an intentional harm has occurred, but that those in power can be judged harshly even if causality is ambiguous or indirect. Polls have shown that Albertans are dissatisfied with the performance of their government, including a recent poll by ThinkHQ that suggested the majority of Albertans don't think recent government restrictions went far enough. But it can't all be put at the feet of the government. No one told Albertans to celebrate birthdays with friends and family. There was no public health recommendation to drink until closing time on Saturday night.Frustration, however, is mounting. So too is evidence that something more drastic needs to take place."I say that it's never too late to do something that's useful," said Saxinger, the infectious disease specialist from the U of A. "But earlier action is very clearly, and in a very data-driven way, the best way to handle something that has exponential growth — acting before it becomes a problem, because you act after it becomes a problem and you're already on your way to a much, much bigger problem."What is happeningOn Nov. 20, Alberta announced 1,155 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. That number has grown every day since, giving Alberta the highest number of active cases of all the provinces. Hinshaw has said ICU beds set aside for the pandemic are nearing capacity, but that more resources could be freed up. Those resources would come at a cost to those seeking treatment for other reasons. Decisions will soon have to be made within hospitals about who has the best chance of survival and therefore gets a bed and treatment. Some of the dire predictions that were elaborately presented in Alberta's first wave are coming into focus.On Monday, Hinshaw admitted defeat in terms of the government's already limited contact tracing and, in an attempt to catch up, was giving up on contacting thousands of those linked to high-priority settings such as hospitals, schools and continuing care homes. She also said she'd be making recommendations to a cabinet huddle after her announcement. The government response is expected to be announced Tuesday afternoon. Francis, speaking from Utah without any knowledge of Alberta's situation, said the way to minimize the impact on businesses while protecting the health of the public is to act swiftly and comprehensively if restrictions are imposed. "One wishes that business closures were very short-lived," she said. "Unfortunately, we've made some mistakes, we've done it halfway, and so we've let community spread really get out of control.... You don't treat a rapidly growing tumour by cutting out 20 per cent of it. And unfortunately, a sort of tepid approach to infection control has done exactly that."So, with the surgery delayed, that incision will only have to go deeper.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s government is considering an electoral law amendment that would make it harder for opposition parties to pursue their unity strategy against the powerful ruling party in future elections.After a 2012 overhaul by the ruling Fidesz party and its leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Hungary’s two-ballot election system has allowed parties to field individual candidates in the country’s 106 single-member voting districts and to present voters with a national party list.Currently, election law requires that parties must run candidates in a minimum of 27 voting districts in at least nine counties and the capital Budapest in order to present a national list. The new proposal, approved 8-4 on Tuesday by parliamentary committee, would significantly increase this minimum requirement.The government argues the changes are necessary to prevent fake parties from abusing state funding they receive for election campaigns.If approved by the ruling party’s parliamentary supermajority, the amendment would force opposition parties to join in running a single national list against Fidesz. This could widen ideological fault lines within the tenuous coalition and make it more difficult to unseat Orban’s government.For months, the opposition has negotiated the details of a unity strategy against Orban in forthcoming 2022 elections, vowing to co-ordinate candidates in individual districts in an effort to prevent splitting opposition votes, and to adopt a common political platform and single candidate for prime minister.This strategy brought substantial gains to the opposition in municipal elections last year, where opposition candidates took the majority of Hungary’s cities including Budapest.The Associated Press
The new Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) council has agreed to pay $1,765 to former councillor Susan MacLeod, for personal legal fees she chalked up in 2019. However, taxpayers are not being told why she incurred the expense. The decision to pay MacLeod’s legal fees was announced in council on November 10, following an in-camera meeting at which the issue was discussed. When asked about the motion concerning the repayment, which was read by councillor Ralph Gidney, RQM’s new mayor Darlene Norman commented that a municipal policy “ensures that appointed officials are protected in cases of civic or criminal action as a result of his or her performance of their duties. “Councillors are treated as a staff member in legal matters, and because it was an in-camera item, our comments are basically what that motion stated.” RQM’s policy number 21.03, to which the mayor referred, states at length: “The mayor and every councillor of the Region of Queens Municipality and their heirs and legal representatives of such person, in the absence of any dishonesty on the part of such person, shall be indemnified by the Region of Queens Municipality against, and it shall be the duty of the council, out of the funds of the Region of Queens Municipality, to pay all costs, losses and expense, including any amount paid to settle an action or claim to satisfy a judgment that such mayor or councillor may incur or become liable to pay in respect of any claim made against such person in any civil, criminal or administrative action or proceeding to which such person is made a party by reason of being a mayor or councillor of the Region of Queens Municipality whether the Region of Queens Municipality is a claimant or party to such action or proceeding or otherwise.” However, Norman would not explain to what legal issue the expense related, nor is the expense listed in the former councillor’s list of expenses posted on the municipality’s website, along with other council members’ expenses. The mayor declined to comment any further on the issue. “In-camera items have to remain in-camera and, as such, it remains so,” she said. However, while the purpose of the meeting was indicated on the agenda as a “personnel matter,” under Nova Scotia’s Municipal Government Act (MGA) councillors are not employees of the municipality and employees cannot be councillors. “Councillors are elected officials and not considered to be ‘personnel’ or staff of the municipality,” Krista Higdon, a spokesperson for the provincial Department of Municipal Affairs, said in an email. “Council must determine whether it is appropriate to go into a closed session (in camera) based on the requirements in section 22 of the Municipal Government Act,” she added. Nonetheless, Heather Cook, RQM’s communications coordinator, maintained that, from the municipality’s perspective, all councillors are considered to be employees. “Council members are on the municipal payroll and are considered employees of the municipality, and discussion of the item was subject to being held in-camera,” she said in an email. When it was suggested that taxpayers might be curious as to why the council is footing the legal bill of a former councillor, Mayor Norman noted, “it is a matter of past council.” She reiterated, “it was respecting, according to our policy, a matter in relation to that person’s duties or role as a councillor and that follows the policy.”Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
ARTHUR – A large housing subdivision planned in Arthur raised some concerns from residents and councillors at a Wellington North public meeting on Monday night. The developer, Cachet Homes, is proposing to build a 240-home subdivision in Arthur’s west end bordered by Preston Street North, Domville Street, Smith Street and Conestoga Street North. This will consist of 141 single detached and 99 townhouses as well as five new internal streets, a stormwater management pond and upgrading Preston Street to asphalt with a sidewalk. The report to council noted a large portion of the land was approved for a subdivision back in 1993. A similar development was proposed of single and townhouse units, about half the number currently proposed, but also included a large school block and park area. The school block is no longer required by the school board. Mayor Andy Lennox clarified that there was no decision being made and ultimately the County of Wellington is the authority on approving subdivision plans. The purpose of the meeting, he explained, was to collect information for the county and to consider zoning changes to setbacks and frontage which would fall on the township. Stephen Closs, a planning consultant for the developer, said that Arthur is intended to grow by nearly 1,000 people within 20 years and this development is an opportunity to reach this growth target. A common theme among delegates, particularly those who live on Conestoga Street, at the public meeting was a concern over stormwater management. Many mentioned concerns they have about their property flooding on occasion already and wanted clarification that things would not get worse with a new development where the water drains. Marcus Gagliardi, Cachet Homes development planner, stressed that they are up to the challenge of working on this issue with township engineers and other organizations. “We’re going to make sure the situation post-development is a much better situation than what currently exists,” Gagliardi said at the meeting. Two delegates, Mike DeWitt and Brent McKee, were both troubled about wildlife that inhabits the field and forested area where the subdivision will go up. They noted that there was no green space incorporated into the plan. “Why do we always have to destroy everything for the sake of a couple extra houses?” DeWitt asked. “I think development is going to come regardless but could we not set something aside for the wildlife as well?” Closs said ecological impacts will be mitigated but the land is already zoned as residential and is therefore intended to be developed. Some councillors agreed that parkland should be considered as part of a subdivision this size. The development as it stands is proposing cash-in-lieu of parkland but Gagliardi said they aren’t opposed to taking another look at it. “The comments about park space are valid and we’ll have to take it back and look at it as we look at the overall plan,” Gagliardi said. Some other councillor concerns were around the density of the development and if it would truly fit into the character of the small town. The mayor finished the meeting by bringing up how they’re going to manage an increase in sewage. “We’ve seen a number of development applications come forward and if it all comes to fruition we probably have a sewage capacity problem,” Lennox said, noting that the town has a sewage allocation policy that manages the rate of growth. Gagliardi said they will work with the township on a phased approach to not overwhelm their wastewater system as it works on growth and reiterated their stance of wanting to work with the township as best they can. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
TORONTO — Anxiety-ridden and overworked health-care workers say they feel abandoned in their increasingly desperate struggle to cope with COVID-19, a new small-scale study suggests.Interviews with nurses, personal support workers and others in hospitals and long-term care homes suggest chronic stress and burnout are common, but fear of reprisals is stopping them from speaking out."The knowledge that they are at increased risk of infection due to lack of protection has resulted in anger, frustration, fear, and a sense of violation that may have long-lasting implications," the paper states.The study, in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, was done by James Brophy and Margaret Keith, academic researchers affiliated with the University of Windsor and noted occupational hygienists.Health-care workers in Canada have contracted the novel coronavirus in far higher numbers relative to the general public, comprising almost one-in-five confirmed cases, according to a previous study. To date, COVID-19 has sickened close to 9,000 front-line health-care workers and killed 16.Only 10 workers — nurses, personal support workers and other staff — agreed to be interviewed for the qualitative study. Others refused to take part for fear of being disciplined or fired, they said.Despite the handful of interview subjects, the authors said their peer-reviewed findings reflect other larger-scale research and surveys, and its findings are valid.Those interviewed said they still lack personal protective equipment despite the very real risks of contracting COVID or spreading it — risks apparent from the early days of the pandemic. Some said they were warned by supervisors not to wear N95 protection, even if they had their own, Keith said.Others spoke of the constant grief and trauma they endure when patients or residents die, a situation only getting worse as new cases soar."Words on the page cannot convey the level of emotion we heard in the voices of the health-care workers we interviewed," Brophy said. "We did not expect to hear the degree of anger and desperation that came out."The vast majority of the front-line health-care workers are women, many racialized, Keith said. Many are part-time and vulnerable to job loss."Health-care workers are desperately in need of protection from COVID and from their often back-breaking and soul-crushing working conditions," Keith said. "But the authoritarian and hierarchical nature of health-care work contributes to (their) risks and adverse mental-health impacts."Despite the issues, the workers said the provincial government had let them down by failing to take action to deal with their health or labour concerns. Chronic understaffing and failing to keep them safe, the authors said, means the workers can't do their jobs effectively, putting everyone at risk."Health-care workers health and well-being are being sacrificed," Keith said. "We all need to pay attention to their pleas."There was no immediate response to the qualitative study from the provincial government, but Health Minister Christine Elliott praised the "tireless efforts" of front-line health-care workers during an announcement on Tuesday about the roll-out of rapid tests.Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, said front-line staff in close contact with COVID-infected people still have no ready access to proper respirators. The Ministry of Labour has also rejected all 253 work refusals as valid. "This explains why people feel sacrificed and why they feel exploited and violated," Hurley said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press