Mark Robinson and Kyle Brittain show the wild weather contrast happening in Canada this week.
Mark Robinson and Kyle Brittain show the wild weather contrast happening in Canada this week.
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
Up to $100,000 will be given to the N.W.T. resident or company that submits the strongest proposal for an investment in technology. That financial pledge comes from the N.W.T. Manufacturing Innovation and Technology Contribution, a GNWT fund designed to find a project that will reduce costs, increase productivity for an N.W.T. business, and increase local employment. Members of the N.W.T. Manufacturing Association and new businesses looking to become a manufacturer can apply, as can individual N.W.T. residents. Those applying must be prepared to make an equity contribution of at least 20 per cent of the cost of their proposal. The project seeks to “support and encourage innovation in the N.W.T. manufacturing sector by supporting research into existing and emerging technologies.” Entries must be submitted by December 13. Application details and eligibility criteria can be found on the GNWT’s website.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
A couple arrested by the North Battleford RCMP gang unit had more appearances in North Battleford Provincial Court Nov. 30 but the matters were adjourned. Danielle Becker, 36, of Saskatoon, and Tyson Goller, 33, of North Battleford, were arrested Sept. 10 after the RCMP Gang Task Force/Street Enforcement Team raided a residence in North Battleford on the 1300 block of 96 Street. At the residence police seized a prohibited handgun, ammunition and other weapons. They also seized about $6,000 in Canadian currency, 276 grams of cocaine, one kg of illicit marijuana, four grams of MDMA and quantities of other unidentified substances believed to be illicit drugs. Becker and Goller were charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of property over $5,000 obtained by crime, and several firearms offences. The Battlefords RCMP Detachment and the North Battleford Provincial General Investigations Section assisted the RCMP gang unit with the arrests. Anyone with information regarding drug trafficking, or any other crime in the Battlefords, is urged to call the North Battleford RCMP at 306-446-1720 or Saskatchewan Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Becker and Goller are scheduled to appear next in North Battleford Provincial Court on Jan. 18, 2021, to elect how they want to be tried. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
WHITEHORSE — A mask order aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 is now in effect across Yukon, but the territory's top doctor says enforcement of the regulation is not the first priority. Dr. Brendan Hanley said Tuesday people will be given a chance to adapt to the order, which was announced last week as cases of the virus mounted. At a regular weekly briefing, Premier Sandy Silver reported eight new cases of COVID-19 in Yukon since last Tuesday, bringing the number of active cases to 17 and the total number of cases to 47 since the start of the pandemic. The mask order requires everyone over the age of five to wear a non-medical face covering in all indoor public spaces or face a fine of up to $500, but Hanley says people will first be given a chance to adapt and he expects the new rule will be accepted quickly. He says 200,000 masks are being made available to ensure everyone has access to them. A 14-day quarantine period remains in place for all those entering or returning to Yukon, but as the holiday season approaches, Silver says children can be assured that Santa is still welcome. "I know many kids around the territory are wondering how their gifts might get here in light of the self-isolation requirements and I have good news on that front," he told the news conference. "I can confirm that Santa is a critical worker and I know that Dr. Hanley and his team have been working very closely with (Santa's) counterparts at the North Pole." Hanley also reminded children that the Elf on the Shelf will be monitoring their handwashing and physical distancing efforts throughout the festive season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
Ottawa's fiscal update on Monday outlined what the government is proposing to do to help the economy survive the pandemic, and thrive as the country emerges from it some time soon. And policy makers say a big part of that recovery will hinge on what help is coming for one of the hardest hit demographic groups: women.Women have been disproportionately hit by the job losses that have come with COVID-19, economists at Royal Bank noted in a recent report on the topic.While overall employment is still well short of where it was before the pandemic, economists Dawn Desjardins and Carrie Freestone calculated that roughly 68,000 men joined the labour force between February and October, while more than 20,000 women have left it over the same time frame.A major reason for that exodus, experts say, is because women are bearing a disproportionate burden of child care and are being forced to choose caregiving over their own career ambitions.Ottawa hinted it wanted to create a national child care program in its throne speech in September, and reiterated that wish in Monday's fiscal update. But while the government did earmark some money into exploring the idea, it is still a long way from becoming reality.Choosing between daycare or careerWomen know all too well how badly it is needed now.Janel Sherise is a hairstylist and mother in Mississauga, just west of Toronto.She was on maternity leave before the pandemic started, but when that ended, she found her income as a hair stylist had dried up so she faced a problem familiar to many working mothers: choosing between finding the money to pay for daycare, or putting her own career on hold."I'm used to being in the work force and helping to provide for my family," she said, "but it's just not feasible."LISTEN | Janel Sherise spoke with the CBC's Matt Galloway about life for working mothers in a pandemicShe has launched a business out of her home selling cheesecakes to help pay the bills, but it's a tough grind."I'm definitely working through naps," she says. A national daycare program would help, but she knows that working mothers like her need immediate help now or they risk being left behind. Torontonian Gina Vivian has a similar story.As a home-care nurse, she was used to shift work and the time pressures that go along with that, but then schools closed in March. Suddenly, she was unable to continue accepting shifts because she had to take care of — and help teach — her twin six-year-old boys."There was absolutely no way I could work," she said in an interview. "And I feel a lot of guilt for that, but I couldn't work."Vivian's kids went back to school in September so she is looking for full-time work again, but is finding it difficult to navigate the world of online job applications.She worries that every day she's away from nursing is a day that puts her further and further behind. "My career is a big part of me and it's not something I want to let go of," she said.'She-cession'To economist Armine Yalnizyan, Sherise and Vivian are two casualties of the current "she-cession" — a term she coined to describe the threat she sees that decades of progress made on behalf of women in the workforce is being undone."The moment is extremely urgent and ... we have no more time to waste," Yalnizyan said in an interview.Historically, one of the best tools governments have at their disposal to try to stimulate an economy coming out of a shock would be spending on large, capital intensive infrastructure projects to get people working.But "there's not enough men to do the jobs that the women have lost," Yalnizyan said."The playbook for recovery has got to be different than the old-fashioned playbook, which has been shovel-ready infrastructure, we've got to do more to get more women back."Child care is a huge part of that, she said, because it is primarily women that have been bearing the burden of child care through this pandemic, whether they have lost their job or are being asked to do it on top of it."It's just impossible for too many people," she said. "And we're not doing enough to make it less impossible right now."It's not just a problem for women, either. Ottawa laid out an ambitious and expensive fiscal update on Monday, pledging to spend between $70 and $100 billion as a shot in the arm for Canada's economy as it recovers from COVID-19.According to research by Desjardins at RBC, that's the same price tag as would be added to the economy simply by making sure the female participation rate in the labour force is as much as the male rate.That alone would add $100 billion to Canada's GDP each and every year."It's a very material lift to Canada and to our prosperity," she said.Pandemic's impact on women 'enormous'While the virus that causes COVID-19 does not discriminate, Anjum Sultana, national director of public policy at YWCA Canada, said that isn't the case for the economic side of things."The gendered impact of this crisis has been enormous," she said in an interview.She said she liked what she saw in some of the broad details announced Monday, including $20 million earmarked to establish the Federal Secretariat on Early Learning and Child Care, which will be tasked with handling any national child care program, and $420 million to support the training and retention of more early childhood educators. But more is needed."The question is — is it enough, and is it going to get here fast enough?"For women like Sherise, help can't come soon enough. So in the meantime, she and the working mothers in her social circle will keep doing whatever it takes to make ends meet. "We all kind of fell into the same predicament of we're just going to have to be entrepreneurs because we can't go back," she said.
NEW YORK — Geoffrey S. Berman, the ousted federal prosecutor in Manhattan who led several investigations into President Donald Trump's allies, has been hired by a white-shoe law firm in New York.Berman will provide criminal defence in white-collar cases and work on complex commercial litigation at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, the firm announced Tuesday.The firm is “well known for its cutting-edge counsel to top tier companies and high-profile individuals,” Berman said in a statement.Fried Frank described Berman as “one of the most respected prosecutors in the United States.”Berman was pushed out in June as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he led several investigations with tentacles into Trump's orbit, including one involving the business dealings of Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney.The same office prosecuted former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen for campaign finance crimes and two Giuliani associates tied to the investigation that led to Trump’s impeachment investigation. Giuliani has not been charged.Berman later told the House Judiciary Committee that Attorney General William Barr “repeatedly urged” him to step aside and take a new job heading up the Department of Justice’s Civil Division.“I told the attorney general that I was not interested,” Berman told the panel. “There were important investigations in the office that I wanted to see through to completion.”Berman’s removal was decried by some critics as a “Friday night massacre” and fueled longstanding concerns among Democratic lawmakers that the Justice Department had become politicized under Barr.Berman's new role as head of Fried Frank's white-collar practice was previously held by Audrey Strauss, Berman's successor in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office. Berman only agreed to step down over the summer after being assured Strauss would be in charge of the office.Between jobs, Berman has taught as a visiting professor at Stanford Law School.“It’s been great teaching at my alma mater, even if by Zoom, and as soon as things return to normal, I hope to lecture in person on campus,” he told The Associated Press.__Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.Jim Mustian, The Associated Press
Pennsylvania's highest court questioned Tuesday whether Bill Cosby's alleged history of intoxicating and sexually assaulting young women amounted to a signature crime pattern. (Dec. 1)
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is turning to a nasal spray as its primary flu vaccine for residents between the ages of two and 59. FluMist was originally available only for private purchase this year, but is now being offered by the Ontario government as demand continues across the province, according to a memo to the mayor and council from Dr. Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health.The spray will be available at OPH clinics starting Friday. It will also be distributed to pharmacies and family physicians, OPH said.The unprecedented demand for the influenza vaccine this year caused some pharmacies to run out, delaying vaccination for some Ottawa residents.Nasal spray 'proven to be effective'Etches said the nasal spray, which is authorized for use in Canada in children and adults up to 59, is "proven to be effective" and has the support of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. OPH has distributed the spray in previous flu seasons, Etches said. Infants, adults over 60, people who are immunosuppressed, pregnant women and those with uncontrolled asthma will receive a flu shot instead of the spray.Concerned about the possibility of a "double pandemic" and the resulting strain on the health-care system, public health officials have been especially adamant about residents getting vaccinated against influenza this season, and residents have apparently heeded the call.More than 48,000 Ottawa residents have been vaccinated against influenza since OPH began the current campaign in October. That's more than four times the number vaccinated during the previous flu season. "OPH will continue to offer available appointments on our website based on community demand and vaccine availability," Etches wrote. "OPH continues to recommend that individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications seek out opportunities to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible."
A symbol of magic and happiness, the World Tree has been set up in Jasper for the third year running in Robson Park. "This is an ideal location within Jasper's residential area, nestled in a green space bordering our schools, the library and the Jasper Art Gallery," said Marcia DeWandel, one of the volunteers behind the tree, in an email. "It creates a festive community hub during the cool, dark winter season." This year’s tree was harvested in a valley close to town, as part of the area's FireSmart program. It was set up on Nov. 30 by municipal staff, with help from the volunteer trio of DeWandel, Traudi Golla and Penny Bayfield. DeWandel said there has been a great deal of support from community organizations. The Municipality of Jasper gave approval for the initiative in October, 2018. Other community groups that have helped the World Tree be a shining light include Community Outreach Services, the Jasper Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Jasper Municipal Library, Jasper Artists Guild, the Dutch Guy, SAW Construction, Friends of Jasper and Parks Canada Although the World Tree is not a fundraiser, DeWandel pointed out that in 2018 and 2019, Santas Anonymous encouraged donations through the sale of tree decorations and hot chocolate at the site. Adaptation to the reality of COVID means events have to happen in different ways. "Like the rest of the world, the pandemic has prompted us to think outside the box," DeWandel said. "The World Tree is needed this year, and its light and energy will remain in Robson Park this season." While there won't be a formal lighting event, the tree will be lit on Dec. 4. Volunteers are encouraging festivities and giving in a slightly different way this year. "Visit the World Tree with your cohort and decorate," DeWandel said. "The more love the tree receives, the brighter it shines. Students from all the schools are still encouraged to make decorations and place them on the tree." DeWandel also encouraged folks to donate to Santas Anonymous by purchasing raffle tickets for the "amazing gingerbread house" or visiting the mitten donation line at TGP. "Support your community by shopping locally," she said. DeWandel hopes the World Tree becomes a tradition in Jasper, with coordination done by a formal group. For 2020, she said, "The World Tree will continue to bring happiness and joy this holiday season. It represents a sense of normalcy during a time of uncertainty. “The tree is community, it is fun, it is magic and it is hope."Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Students across Alberta started learning from home again Monday and will continue to do so until Jan. 11. In an attempt to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the province forced all students in Grades 7-12 to go back to at-home learning. All students will go on winter break on Dec. 18. In January, in-person classes will resume on Jan. 11 after a week of online learning to begin the New Year. Grade 8 St. Mary’s student Bethany Taylor says online learning is naturally different than in-class learning, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. “I’m still able to communicate with my friends and have a good time,” she said. “Learning online is good for me and I’m able to learn new things and communicate with everyone I need to.” When schools shifted online in March, they did not have much time to plan for the online aspect of learning. Taylor says things seem more structured this time around. “We have to be at a specific meeting at a specific time,” she said. “We have a schedule every day and it’s pretty similar to a normal day at school.” Alexandra Middle School student Rowan Hughson says online learning has its ups and downs. “It’s alright learning online and I don’t mind being at home,” Hughson said. “It’s just confusing sometimes trying to figure out what is going on. “I really like being around other people, so that is really hard at times, too.” The Grade 9 student says things seem much smoother this time around. “This seems much better than the emergency learning we had in March,” Hughson said. “I think they’ve had a lot more time to plan this time around and to listen to feedback from parents and students.” Jackson Harnett is a Grade 8 student at Notre Dame says online learning is a good experience. “I actually do like it – it’s really good,” he said. “I like that you get to work at your own pace and there aren’t as many distractions this way.” Harnett agrees that things are going better this time. “Everyone is showing up to class,” he said. “Things seem a lot more organized.”Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy posted its best three-month stretch on record during the third quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 40.5 per cent on the back of household spending.The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, Statistics Canada said, but unlike 55 years ago, the rise last quarter was fuelled by a record drop during the preceding three-month stretch.Wide parts of the economy effectively shut down in March and April, creating a pent-up demand among consumers as the savings rate soared in the second quarter.The lifting of lockdowns and further restriction rollbacks during the three-month stretch of July, August and September opened an economic relief valve.Statistics Canada said Friday that there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates, driven down by the central bank in a bid to prod spending, as well as on home renovations.Households also spent more on goods like cars, as consumer spending jumped, although it still remains five per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, leaving a lump of cash in bank accounts as households don't have their pre-pandemic spending options.The savings rate stood at 14.6 per cent, a drop from the record-high 27.5 per cent in the previous quarter, but still far higher than the two per cent at the end of 2019.CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said that suggests Canadians will have the resources to spend post-pandemic. "Over the next year, I think the focus still needs to be on returning Canadians to a more normal way of life," he said in an interview. "That will return Canadian spending habits to a more normal way of life, and that will return the Canadian economy to a more normal way of life."Despite the overall increase, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.How the next few quarters play out may rest on households continuing to spend, and whether government aid is toned down as the federal Liberals have indicated would happen if economic conditions improve.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking outside his Ottawa residence, said the positive third-quarter figures showed that federal spending has helped families and businesses stay afloat. "There are still tough times ahead," he said. "So we'll continue to be there for people, especially those who are hardest hit by this crisis."The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada said, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.Economists suggested the economy could limp to the finish line of 2020 amid the tightening of restrictions and threats of localized lockdowns. Overall, the economy is likely on track to contract by over five per cent this year, economists say."There is a good chance that the economic recovery doesn’t just stall, but shifts into reverse this winter," TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote."While light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccine distribution, it will not cure the near-term pain in store for the Canadian economy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Au moment de prendre sa retraite en 2008, Marien Landry, qui travaillait dans le domaine de la métallurgie, songeait à faire du bénévolat dans un pays en voie de développement. Jamais ce Verchèrois n’aurait pu imaginer à quel point son projet allait prendre une telle importance dans sa vie. « J’avais toujours pensé que l’aide humanitaire, c’était pour les docteurs, les infirmières, admet le fondateur de Projet Guatemala qui a gardé, de sa jeunesse, le chaleureux accent des Îles de la Madeleine. J’ai commencé par travailler sur une école au Guatemala. Je croyais qu’une fois construite, ce serait terminé. Finalement, ç’a continué et, à ce jour, nous en avons construit vingt! » Loin de vouloir mettre un frein à ses activités qui le retiennent d’ordinaire en Amérique centrale durant la moitié de l’année, Marien s’est attaqué à d’autres projets humanitaires lors de ses derniers voyages, incluant la construction d'une clinique médicale. « Je pense que j’ai trop de projets pour mon âge, s’amuse le retraité. Je suis vraiment tombé en amour avec les gens du Guatemala, avec les enfants. Plusieurs d’entre eux ont la trisomie 21. Je me suis attaché à eux, et eux se sont attachés à moi. C’est comme ma seconde famille. » S’il croyait retourner au Guatemala en janvier, la pandémie a, comme on peut s’y attendre, mis du sable dans l’engrenage. Si bien qu’il doit aujourd’hui suivre les travaux à distance et amasser des fonds pour financer le projet, sans savoir à quel moment il pourra y remettre les pieds. « Je suis fébrile d’y retourner, avoue Marien Landry. Avant de quitter en mars, j’ai estimé qu’il fallait 9 000 $ pour terminer les travaux. Et puis, je suis aussi parrain là-bas d’une association qui aide les enfants handicapés. C’est quelque chose qui me tient à cœur. On a depuis quelques années des médecins qui viennent gratuitement pour les soigner, redresser leurs pieds. Un physiothérapeute aussi. » C’est d’ailleurs afin de permettre à d’autres médecins de venir s’occuper des enfants que fut mis en branle le projet de clinique qui occupe actuellement les pensées du Montérégien. En attendant son retour dans son pays d’adoption, Marien continue d’amasser des biens qu’il peut envoyer par conteneur en Amérique latine. Une première cargaison a pris la route au cours des dernières semaines et une seconde pourrait bientôt suivre. Mais au-delà des marchandises, sa plus importante quête demeure la collecte de fonds qui pourrait lui permettre de terminer l’important projet qu’il a entrepris. « C’est la raison pour laquelle je travaille ici, sans salaire. J’amasse des heures et, plutôt que de me payer, ceux qui m'emploient remettent de l’argent à l’organisme. » Si M. Landry admet qu’il est difficile de laisser ses parents, toujours vivants, derrière lui quand il part pour de longs séjours, le sentiment de venir en aide à ces enfants lui rappelle pourquoi il s’est engagé. « Quand je quitte le Guatemala, j’ai les larmes aux yeux, admet-il. Ma philosophie, c’est que l’éducation est la base de tout. Ce qui est triste au Guatemala, c’est qu’il n’y a pas d’ouvrage et ceux qui travaillent ont des salaires de crève-faim. Si tu ne veux pas travailler pour 10 $ par jour, il y a une file de personnes qui attendent pour te remplacer. Ils se font exploiter. S’ils ont une instruction, peut-être qu’ils vont décider un jour de faire rentrer un syndicat. J’ai espoir qu’ils s’en sortent, mais ça n’est pas évident. » Pour obtenir plus d’information ou faire un don, visite le site marienlandry.com Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
It's been 25 years since the doors of Canuck Place Children's Hospice first opened and, even while COVID-19 causes global chaos, staff at the pediatric palliative care facility are dedicated to keeping their world as peaceful as possible.In 1995, the first of two facilities opened in a 16,000-square-foot mansion in Vancouver, and a second location opened in Abbotsford in 2009. At both homes, a clinical team provides medical respite, therapy, end-of-life care and grief counselling for terminally ill children at no cost to families."The pandemic doesn't stop serious illness in children," said nurse practitioner Camara Van Breemen, who has worked for Canuck Place since Day 1.She said staff have found creative ways for families to be together during the pandemic.This, she said, includes keeping children in their family homes with supports in place rather than moving them into hospice, and arranging outdoor visits for those who are residents."Grandparents coming over to hold their grandchild who is dying — we might be doing that in the garden," said Van Breemen, speaking Monday on CBC's The Early Edition.During her 25 years on the job, Van Breemen says she has witnessed incredibly rewarding moments, such as helping a sick child check something off their bucket list, or watching a family find some solace in the midst of their sorrow.Recently, she said, she worked with a family who wanted to care for their nine-year-old son in their own home. When he took his last breath, he was lying in bed with his parents and the rest of his loved ones in the room.After he passed, his mom told Van Breeman how important it had been for him to be home."His spirit is very much there and that's been a comfort," said Van Breeman.On Nov. 30, coinciding with the 25th anniversary and the beginning of the holiday season, Canuck Place locations sparkled with Christmas lights for the annual Lighting of the House celebration.To hear the complete interview with Camara Van Breemen on CBC's The Early Edition, tap the audio link below:
The newly-formed Rotary Ignite Club is looking to spread Holiday cheer this December. The club is holding its first events in the city on Dec. 10 and 17. Both days will play host to Christmas-themed drive-by parades. Club member Karen Blewett says the convoys will spread cheer to those who need it most. “Both of these are Thursdays and we’re going to be primarily going to seniors’ residences,” she said. “We’re also going to be going by the hospital. We’re going to be starting at 6 p.m. each night. “Seniors are cooped up and can’t see much of their family and friends, so we wanted to focus this on them primarily.” Each night’s convoy will feature vehicles dressed up in a Christmas theme. “When the pandemic first hit people started those drive-by birthday celebrations and this will be very similar to that,” she said. “Instead of birthday themes, our convoy will feature Christmas decorations and lights on the cars. “I know some of the members are going to get really creative with this.” Blewett says members of the community are encouraged to join the convoy each night. “People, businesses, organizations, everyone is welcome to drive with us and make this bigger and better,” she said. “We know communities around North America have done something similar and they have been quite popular.” The Rotary Ignite Club’s convoy is its first event in the city, with more planned as the club grows. “This is a new club in town,” said Blewett. “We’re still going through the process with Rotary Canada to become officially sanctioned. “This isn’t a fundraiser or anything for us, we just want to raise community spirit and get as many people involved as possible.” The club is finalizing the driving routes and will be posting them on its social media pages when finished.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
ROME — Pope Francis is supporting demands for racial justice in the wake of the U.S. police killing of George Floyd and is blasting COVID-19 skeptics and media organizations that spread their conspiracies in a new book penned during the Vatican’s coronavirus lockdown. In “Let Us Dream,” published Tuesday, Francis also criticizes populist politicians who whip up rallies in ways reminiscent of the 1930s, and the hypocrisy of “rigid” conservative Catholics who support them. But he also criticizes the forceful downing of historic statues during protests for racial equality this year as a misguided attempt to “purify the past.” The 150-page book was written in collaboration with Francis’ English-language biographer, Austen Ivereigh, who said Monday he hopes a more colloquial English-speaking pope will resonate with English-speaking readers and believers. At its core, “Let Us Dream” aims to outline Francis’ vision of a more economically and environmentally just post-coronavirus world where the poor, the elderly and weak aren’t left on the margins and the wealthy aren’t consumed only with profits. But it also offers new personal insights into the 83-year-old Argentine pope and his sense of humour. At one point, Francis reveals that after he offered in 2012 to retire as archbishop of Buenos Aires when he turned 75, he planned to finally finish the thesis he never completed on the 20th-century German intellectual, Romano Guardini. “But in March 2013, I was transferred to another diocese,” he deadpans. Francis was elected pope, and bishop of Rome, on March 13, 2013. The publisher said the book was the first written by a pope during a major world crisis and Ivereigh said it was done as a response to the coronavirus and the lockdown. For Francis, the pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to imagine and plan for a more socially just world. At times, it seems he is directing that message squarely at the United States, as Donald Trump's administration winds down four years of “America first” policies that excluded migrants from Muslim countries and diminished U.S. reliance on multilateral diplomacy. Without identifying the U.S. or Trump by name, Francis singles out Christian-majority countries where nationalist-populist leaders seek to defend Christianity from perceived enemies. “Today, listening to some of the populist leaders we now have, I am reminded of the 1930s, when some democracies collapsed into dictatorships seemingly overnight,” Francis wrote. “We see it happening again now in rallies where populist leaders excite and harangue crowds, channeling their resentments and hatreds against imagined enemies to distract from the real problems.” People fall prey to such rhetoric out of fear, not true religious conviction, he wrote. Such “superficially religious people vote for populists to protect their religious identity, unconcerned that fear and hatred of the other cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.” Francis addressed the killing of Floyd, a Black man whose death at the knee of a white policeman set off protests this year across the United States. Referring to Floyd by name, Francis said: “Abuse is a gross violation of human dignity that we cannot allow and which we must continue to struggle against.” But he warned that protests can be manipulated and decried the attempt to erase history by downing statues of U.S. Confederate leaders. A better way, he said, is to debate the past through dialogue. “Amputating history can make us lose our memory, which is one of the few remedies we have against repeating the mistakes of the past,” he wrote. Turning to the pandemic, Francis blasted people who protested anti-virus restrictions “as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom!” He accused some in the church and Catholic media of being part of the problem. “You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education,” he wrote. “They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life.” He praised journalists who reported on how the pandemic was affecting the poorest. But he took a broad swipe at unnamed media organizations that “used this crisis to persuade people that foreigners are to blame, that the coronavirus is little more than a little bout of flu, and that restrictions necessary for people's protection amount to an unjust demand of an interfering state." “There are politicians who peddle these narratives for their own gain," he writes. “But they could not succeed without some media creating and spreading them." In urging the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a reset, Francis offers “three COVID-19” moments, or personal crises of his own life, that gave him the chance to stop, think and change course. The first was the respiratory infection that nearly killed him when he was 21 and in his second year at the Buenos Aires diocesan seminary. After being saved, Francis decided to join the Jesuit religious order. “I have a sense of how people with the coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,” Francis wrote. The second COVID-19 moment was when he moved to Germany in 1986 to work on his thesis and felt such loneliness and isolation he moved back to Argentina without finishing it. The third occurred during the nearly two years he spent in exile in Cordoba, northern Argentina, as penance for his authoritarian-laced reign as head of the Jesuit order in the country. “I’m sure I did a few good things, but I could be very harsh. In Cordoba, they made me pay and they were right to do so,” he wrote. But he also revealed that while in Cordoba he read a 37-volume “History of the Popes.” “Once you know that papal history, there’s not that much that goes on in the Vatican Curia and the church today that can shock you,” he wrote. Francis repeated his call for a universal basic income, for welcoming migrants and for what he calls the three L’s that everyone needs: land, lodging and labour. “We need to set goals for our business sector that — without denying its importance — look beyond shareholder value to other kinds of values that save us all: community, nature and meaningful work," he writes. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has a plan A and a plan B to resume its season in mid-January, and its commissioner said Tuesday that cancelling its schedule isn't an option.On Monday, the league announced it was suspending activities from Dec. 1 to Jan. 3, when players are expected to report to their respective clubs. The plan is to start playing games again between Jan. 17 and Jan. 20.There are two possibilities for how the resumption of games could look. Plan A, the one seemingly favoured by QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau, would be that the COVID-19 pandemic will have subsided enough to allow public health officials in the four provinces the league has teams to permit the resumption of the schedule as planned with interprovincial travel.But the QMJHL also has a Plan B: a bubble format with a handful of teams in select cities.The league would create protected environments, like it did in Quebec City for about 10 days earlier in November, where several teams played games.The league wants six different cities — four in Quebec and two in Atlantic Canada — to host three teams each to play two games over three days between Jan. 22 and Jan. 24.After that, three cities would welcome four Quebec teams each to play six games in nine days between Jan. 30 and Feb. 7.There would also be a gathering of the six Atlantic Canada-based teams to play five games in eight days between Jan. 30 and Feb 6."I think that what happened in Quebec City over the last two weeks has been a real boost for our teams," Courteau said Tuesday. "It’s been a very positive event and gave us faith when we will sit down in front of the four provinces’ public health departments, that we've got a good plan for them."If restrictions are still place, the league is ready to pivot to a bubble format."We’ll see as well what will be the evolution of the pandemic," Courteau said.The QMJHL was the only one of three Canadian major junior leagues to open their season around the normal start date.The Western Hockey League has said it plans to start the season in January, while the Ontario Hockey League has targeted February.For the time being, the QMJHL has no plans to cancel the rest of the season."We never talked about cancelling the season," Courteau said. "When we made the decision back in late July, start of August about resuming training and the start of training camp, we knew … we would go through roadblocks throughout the season."The 18-team league has been forced to postpone games regularly in Quebec and Atlantic Canada since starting the season in early October because of COVID-19 restrictions and positive tests. The league says the objective is for teams to play about 30 games each in the bubble format. But it wouldn't mean all teams will play an equal number of games by the end of the season. Thus far, the Sherbrooke Phoenix have played a league-low five games, while three clubs lead the way with 16 games played apiece.The league's hockey committee is meeting to assess which scenario will be adopted and how the playoffs will look.The league has distributed specifics to each club and it will be up to them to decide whether they will put themselves forward to host one of the bubbles.QMJHL will not be exempted from strict COVID-19 requirements in Atlantic Canada.The league has three teams in New Brunswick, two in Nova Scotia and one in Prince Edward Island. The league has asked players to report as of Jan. 3 so they can fulfil a 14-day quarantine before activities resume Jan. 17.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Frederic Daigle, The Canadian Press
When one door closes another door opens, and the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly closed a lot of doors this year. Dr. David Rosen, a marine mammal researcher and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Fisheries and Oceans, should be spending his time with animals at the Vancouver Aquarium, or delving into lab research somewhere else, but when the pandemic forced travel restrictions and cut into funding and resources, it forced him to see opportunities in his own back yard, with the hopes of answering some neglected questions of what role our cities play in the behaviour of marine mammals, and why it appears so many are returning to Vancouver waterways. “Researchers tend to think about going to exotic locations and isolated areas, and can be sort of blind to local opportunities. Thinking about it I realized that [Burrard Inlet] has fantastic research opportunities,” Rosen said. “Vancouver is a really interesting place because we love our nature, but we also love our development, so we’re getting a couple studies off the ground looking at what that urbanization means to our local marine mammal populations.” Burrard Inlet is largely neglected scientifically but provides a curious avenue of research by comparing the two arms of the inlet. They each have the historic capacity to host an equal array of sea life, due to their geographical proximity, but one heads east to Port Moody past highly developed areas, and the other turns north into undeveloped territory in Indian Arm. Rosen also plans to look closely at the increase number of harbour seals, the emergence of fur seals and California sea lions, and increased sightings of transient killer whales and dolphins in Vancouver waterways, surprising new behaviour as the metro area undergoes behavioral changes of its own during the pandemic. “We think this is new, but the question is, ‘who was paying attention to this before the pandemic?’ But things like transient killer whales, the public always notices that,” Rosen said. Harbour seals is especially important, as the animals were once hunted to critically low numbers to protect commercial fisheries. As debates heat up over their reemergence, during the worst salmon returns on record, Rosen said its important to establish the human impacts on the animals while the opportunity exists. A reemergence of a “whole suite” of marine mammals have also been observed in Burrard Inlet prior to the closure of a UBC field station last year, but the resources and time wasn’t available to probe the reasons why the animals were returning. It’s too early for Rosen to anticipate any conclusions or possible implications to his research. Right now he only wants to know what is happening, and why. “You can’t make management decisions if you don’t know what’s out there,” Rosen said. From a conservation perspective, he added British Columbians are acutely aware of the major marine issues at sea, but there’s too little known about our marine life in this context, in relation to the cities, pollution and marine traffic. Rosen is hoping to find research funding in the industrial sector in the area, which he said has regularly proven its readiness to adapt for the betterment of marine mammals. Maybe those efforts are paying off for the sea life. Maybe changing ocean temperatures, acidity and food supply are forcing behavioural changes, or maybe its the growing number of salmon hatcheries attracting more mammals to the Inlet. “There’s lots of questions and lots of opportunity for improving our knowledge,” Rosen said. “No doubt, the biggest challenge for the marine ecosystem is climate change, but it’s very difficult for people to get their head around that, to think they can do anything to help. So in some ways, finding local issues is a great way to make people aware of the human impact on the environment.” Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
The federal Liberal government unveiled a suite of environmental measures on Monday as part of its fall fiscal update, proposing spending on things such as ecosystem restoration, clean transport and energy efficiency. The government’s Fall Economic Statement, tabled by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, also sets up some signposts pointing to a “green transformation,” including issuing the first federal green bonds next year. Ottawa will be exploring the possibility of border carbon adjustments, where a fee is imposed on imports from countries without carbon pricing, so foreign products don't undercut those produced in Canada by companies subject to Canadian carbon pricing systems. And it will be setting up an “action council” focused on developing a sustainable finance market in Canada that would see capital flows redirected toward green initiatives. That will include looking at “enhancing climate disclosures,” the government said, as directors of Canadian corporations face mounting obligations to act on the risks posed by the climate crisis as part of the responsibilities of their jobs. But with Canada’s deficit projected to hit $381 billion in 2020-21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is pushing back any larger stimulus plan until a vaccine is being distributed and outbreaks and shutdowns are in the rearview mirror. “When the virus is under control and our economy is ready to absorb it, we will deploy a three-year stimulus package to jumpstart our recovery,” reads the statement. “Key to this stimulus plan will be smart, time-limited investments that can act fast and make a long-run contribution to our future shared prosperity, quality of life, competitiveness and our green transformation.” Reaction was muted from some opposition members. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole dismissed the economic statement soon after Freeland tabled it as “putting the economy on hold.” He portrayed the government’s approach as wrongheaded, looking forward to future stimulus potential without first getting public health fundamentals correct. The Liberals were “not willing to ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, by taking steps to secure new revenue sources from large corporations making “massive profits” during the pandemic. “This is the exact opposite of what people need,” he said. Funding to address issues such as retrofits and clean transport was central to proposals issued last month by a coalition of more than two dozen environmental and conservation groups in Canada. The Green Budget Coalition’s roadmap for a federal green recovery called for $10 billion for energy efficiency retrofits in buildings, among other commitments. Monday’s economic statement commits to $2.6 billion over seven years for Natural Resources Canada to provide up to 700,000 grants of up to $5,000 each for homeowners and landlords to carry out energy-efficiency upgrades. The government said buildings account for 17 per cent of emissions, and “helping Canadians make their homes more energy efficient can support our environmental objectives, while making homes more comfortable and more affordable to maintain.” “We know that Canada’s future competitiveness depends on our ability to take advantage of the net-zero green economy,” Freeland said in Parliament after tabling the document. “Our growth plan must continue to advance our progress on climate action and promote a clean economy.” Efficiency Canada executive director Corey Diamond said home retrofits were a big environmental and economic boost, creating local jobs nationwide and contributing to Canada's journey to net-zero emissions. “The announcement today is a start, and a piece of the puzzle,” Diamond said. “But a lot more is required if we're going to be able to help Canadians.” He said there appeared to be “gaps in some high-impact areas,” including specific supports for low-income programs. “What is essential in all of this, however, is that the federal strategy integrates with existing programs on the ground, across the country,” he said. The Green Budget Coalition had also asked the federal government for $2.6 billion for “nature-based climate solutions” and $4.8 billion to support protected areas. The economic statement proposes to spend $3.16 billion over the next decade, starting in 2021-22, in order to follow through with its promise to plant two billion trees. It also proposed up to $631 million over 10 years, starting next year, to “implement climate smart, natural solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to ecosystem loss.” The statement acknowledges that Canada’s grasslands, wetlands and peatlands are “highly valuable for their ability to store greenhouse gases,” and proposes funding to “restore degraded ecosystems, protect wildlife, and improve land and resource management practices.” The government estimated that these kinds of “nature-based solutions” can provide “almost 40 per cent of the emission reductions needed by 2030.” Because of jurisdictional issues, both of those initiatives will require Ottawa to work with a wide range of partners, including provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities, conservation authorities and non-governmental organizations. The government also touted a $98-million Natural Climate Solutions for Agriculture Fund, to capitalize on the potential of Canadian farms to increase carbon sequestration and “realize other environmental benefits” that will come out of a future “Canadian Agri-Environmental Strategy.” Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, said the economic statement was “yet another promise to go big on climate change and inequality at a future date.” Canada has made decades of “down payments without ever sealing the deal,” Stewart said. “We can fight the pandemic in a way that lays the groundwork for a greener, more equitable and inclusive future but this economic update doesn’t do that.” He said environmental groups will have to "keep the pressure on" for the forthcoming new 2030 emissions reduction target, and plan to achieve it, as well as the 2021 budget. The government said it was “committed to ensuring that Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy is achieved in a way that is fair and predictable for our businesses, and supports Canada’s international competitiveness.” To this end, the economic statement said the government was “exploring the potential” of a border adjustment for carbon, working with the United States, Mexico and “like-minded economies” in Europe. The government also plans to set up a public-private Sustainable Finance Action Council, as institutions and investors around the world increasingly evaluate climate change risks to company assets. The Bank of Canada has warned that sectors such as oil and gas are exposed to risks that could spill over into “fire sales.” “Developing sustainable finance in Canada will promote the long-term growth and stability of our financial system in the face of climate change,” reads the economic statement. The commitment is worth $7.3 million over three years. Finally, Ottawa announced its intention to “issue the federal government’s first-ever green bond in 2021-22,” that it said would help finance its green infrastructure spending. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National ObserverCarl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
A woman arrested by the North Battleford RCMP gang unit failed to appear in court Nov. 30 and a warrant was issued. Amanda Wohobin, 31, failed to appear Nov. 9 and a warrant to hold was issued. She again failed to appear on Nov. 30 so the warrant was activated. The RCMP Crime Reduction Team arrested Wahobin, along with Kyle Caron, 40, and Dean Lafreniere, 48, on Sept. 20 after police raided a home in North Battleford, a vehicle and a hotel room. The arrests followed a two-month investigation into drug activity in North Battleford. The three were charged with three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking and weapons offences. Caron and Lafreniere appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court on Nov. 30 and their matters were adjourned to Feb. 1, 2021, for election and plea. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
The Ottawa Tool Library and several other tenants under sublease to Makerspace North at Ottawa's City Centre have less than two weeks to find new homes.City Centre's landlord posted notices on the tenants' doors on Thursday giving them just 14 days to vacate."We had no inkling this was coming. Zero," said Bettina Vollmerhausen, founder of the non-profit Ottawa Tool Library (OTL), one of the subtenants being evicted.Makerspace North was founded in 2015 as "a community hub and startup incubator." According to the non-profit's website, the 20,000-square-foot space has been home to some 100 subtenants, from woodworking shops to product developers. Vollmerhausen said OTL has been vigilantly paying rent to Makerspace, and has asked the landlord through its management company District Realty if it could remain at City Centre. OTL, which has called the space home for six years, was told no, nor are any subtenants being allowed to store equipment at City Centre while they look for new digs."And so we now have to pack everything up," Vollmerhausen said Monday.District Realty's representative responsible for City Centre, Michael Morin, did not return calls from CBC. Makerspace awaiting pandemic reliefAccording to the notice to vacate, Makerspace and its founder John Criswick "are in long-standing and significant rental arrears under the lease and, despite numerous demands, have failed to put the lease into good standing."The notice said the ownership group, Development Corporation, Fourth Generation Realty Corporation and Freedom Holdings Inc., intends to "exercise its rights and remedies" under the lease and the law, "including the right to retake possession of the Premises." But Criswick said the eviction came as a surprise, and he's looking for answers."I still haven't heard back from them," he told CBC. "I've called a few times. I'm trying to understand where they stand."Criswick said Makerspace was doing well before the pandemic. He said the non-profit had let some tenants out of their subleases, but the space started filling up again this fall. Criswick said he spent a $40,000 interest-free loan he obtained through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program to pay down his own rent, and was counting on the recently passed Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy to fill in the remaining gaps. Furniture store also evictedIt's not only Makerspace's subtenants that are being given the boot: furniture store Mikaza's lease was supposed to end at the end of the month, but owner Haig Khatchadourian said he'd been in negotiations for a month-to-month extension until he could move in the spring.Instead, Mikaza said he received a notice giving him 30 days to get out. "There's no physical way of emptying this space in one month because we can't find a location that would rent to us for just two months," said Khatchadourian, who's now scrambling to find temporary storage space.Other City Centre tenants said they've been assured they're not being evicted.OTL pleads for new spaceMeanwhile, OTL is asking anyone who may have a lead on a space, whether for temporary storage or a permanent home, to reach out."I don't know if we're going to find a new location by Dec. 9, but we're really hoping someone in town may know a space," Vollmerhausen said."We attract a lot of people, we're an amazing organization," she said. "We are a vibrant member of this community."