WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared Tuesday 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 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
Dec. 1 marks Giving Tuesday, the follow-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday that encourages people to consider where they can make a charitable donation or find some other way of giving back to the community.With the COVID-19 pandemic this year, however, there's a renewed focus on the needs of the most vulnerable, says Kate Bahen, the managing director at Charity Intelligence, a non-profit that evaluates the Canadian charity sector."We're putting the basic necessities back to the forefront. The women's shelters. The food banks," Bahen said on CBC's B.C. Today. "We're hearing from a lot of donors who used to give to, you know, symphonies, art museums, etc., and we're seeing a real rotation in giving back to the community and back to the essential services." Bahen has a few tips for those interested in giving back this season. Do your research and give with intention. It's important to know what impact your donation is having in the community, says Bahen, especially at a time when dollars need to be stretched. Bahen says Canadians give $17 billion to charities each year, but early estimates show that giving is likely going to be down by about 37 per cent due to hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic. "When you're giving at this time, we need donations to do the most good possible," she said, pointing out that Charity Intelligence has research and analysis available on its website that can help inform a giving decision. She said going through previous statements can help you judge whether a charity needs help this year, or whether another one might be better served."Just like some people are very well off and are going to be fine and some people are really struggling, there are some charities that are really well off. They have tens of millions of dollars in the bank, they'll be able to come through COVID fine, absolutely fine," she said. "There are lots of other charities that are really trying to keep their lights on."Sometimes, cash is best. Bahen says pay attention to what people need. She notes that food banks would much rather have cash than items purchased at a grocery store and then donated. "A local food bank ... has its purchasing power. It can buy four times as much food with that dollar as you could spending it retail. It knows its clients. It knows what it needs," she said. The same goes for gift cards or cash vouchers for families in need. "Giving cash has dignity with it. It's a trust, it's a respect. It's saying to them … get what you need, rather than what we think you should have," she said.It's a tough year. Take care of yourself, too.Finally, Bahen said, not everyone will be able to give in the same capacity as previous years — and that's perfectly fine."When you've lost your job, when you've faced financial uncertainty, you cannot make a charitable donation. You have to take care of yourself," she said. "[For] those who are in a position to give, it's time for us to dig deep and help out our neighbours."On Dec. 4, join us virtually for special broadcasts and digital Meet and Greets with your favourite CBC British Columbia hosts, and donate to Food Banks B.C. from the comfort of your own home. For more, visit cbc.ca/openhouse
While COVID-19 numbers in the Prairie Mountain Health region remain at a plateau, as with the rest of the province, two deaths were reported Monday linked to the Fairview Personal Care Home. That brings the region’s pandemic-related death toll to 16. A spokesperson with Prairie Mountain Health reported that there are 26 residents who have tested COVID positive at Fairview, as well as 12 staff. Six deaths are now associated with the Fairview outbreak. As well, two schools in the Brandon School Division announced over the weekend there are cases of COVID-19 — Vincent Massey High School and J.R. Reid School. The public letter related to J.R. Reid School does not contain the usual line, "The infection was not believed to be acquired at school." Nevertheless, the province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, continues to maintain there isn’t "much transmission in schools." Because Roussin has never divulged statistics, The Brandon Sun followed up with a question to Manitoba Health. We asked for those numbers, but they were not available by deadline. Meanwhile, Roussin is telling Manitobans to obey public health orders to bring fatality numbers down. Saturday’s daily provincial bulletin announced the death of a child under the age of 10, and Monday saw two deaths also unrelated to the elderly — a man in his 30s and a woman in her 40s, both from the Winnipeg health region. "We continue to announce many deaths every day. Today, again into the double digits. I think we all know that we can’t continue along these lines. We have to bring these numbers down," Roussin said. Roussin acknowledged the restrictions the province has instituted are hard. "We’ve heard from a number of Manitobans that they want these restrictions lifted. Again, it’s not a matter of wanting these restrictions. I don’t think anyone wants these restrictions in place," he said. "It’s what the consequences of lifting them ... the consequence of lifting these restrictions right now is a much longer page of Manitobans that we lose with this virus, overwhelming of our health-care system, more strain on our health-care workers." He said while all Manitobans don’t want the restrictions, none want the consequences. Manitoba numbers appear to have reached a plateau, with daily numbers lingering between 300 to 400 for days. These numbers indicate the worst-case scenario — with no restrictions and no buy-in by Manitobans – won’t come to pass. Modelling predicted the province could reach a peak of 1,000 COVID-positive cases per day by Dec. 6. So far, it seems that model won’t become reality, but Roussin said it’s not enough to plateau. The numbers still need to come down. Contacts still need to be kept to only essential contacts.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
In the midst of a deadly year on ATV trails across Newfoundland and Labrador, the RCMP has launched a bigger push to curb what it's calling reckless behaviour, a move being met with acclaim from some ATV riders in the province.Fifteen people have died while operating ATVs and snowmobiles in areas policed by the RCMP across the province since Jan. 1. There were 12 ATV-related deaths in 2019 and 10 in 2018.In 11 of the deaths this year, safety equipment, such as helmets and seatbelts, were either not worn or improperly used. Alcohol use was a suspected factor in 10 of the deaths, according to an RCMP media release. "I find these numbers personally alarming," Assistant Commissioner Ches Parsons, commanding officer of the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador, told reporters on Monday. He also called the casualty rate "extreme."Dean Layman of Avalon ATV said it's about one in 10 riders who don't follow the rules, and with his group the rules are plain and simple: no helmet, no ride. "Enforcement is good if they get the, I call them idiots, off the road," Layman said Monday evening, shortly after the RCMP launched its enforcement and social media campaign in response to the high number ATV-related deaths across the province this year."People who go out and plan to destroy stuff and hurt people, and don't care ... that's the issue I have."Laymen said he often rides with RCMP and RNC officers, and there's never an issue when they're on the trail. Covert surveillanceThe RCMP's campaign, launched Monday, plans to increase enforcement of existing ATV laws. Officers will target speeding, use of safety equipment, under-aged drivers and alcohol use.The RCMP plant to use special tactics, including plainclothes officers and vehicles that are hard to identify as police, to allow covert surveillance and to gather evidence, in collaboration with its varying detachments, to support any charges laid. "The undeniable fact of death and tragedy is there. In my personal experience I've had ATVs flee from me, and in many cases the operator saw it as a joke," said RCMP Sgt. Matthew Christie, the commander of the force's traffic services east unit."I can assure you when I knock on a door and tell someone their loved one has been killed, it's no joke."WATCH | Find out why the RCMP in N.L. are aiming for the heart in a new safety campaign: On top of those efforts, the RCMP is also launching a social media campaign called ATV Safety Can Save More Than One Life.The campaign will run for three months. It's designed to make an emotional impact by focusing on the devastation to the loved ones left behind in the wake of ATV deaths, as well as the causes of those deaths, according to the RCMP.The campaign will use visuals and simple messages in an effort to get more people talking about safe recreational vehicle use.But as he heads out riding with his group, Layman said he wants to see officers on the trails themselves, and stricter fines for those caught breaking the law. "The [RCMP] or the RNC need to get on the trails and just get out and take a look," he said."Put a bigger fine out. No helmet, take a picture, then you got proof. Then give them a fine, take his bike from him for 24 to 48 hours ... and you can't get it back until you pay the fine."Under the Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Act: * It is illegal to operate an ATV on a highway except to cross from one side of the road to another, and in that case the operator must have a valid drivers licence, insurance and registration to do so and 100 yards of visibility. * All occupants of an ATV must be wearing an approved helmet. * It is illegal to operate an ATV while under the influence or alcohol or narcotics. * A person must be 16 years old to operate an adult-sized ATV of over 90 cubic centimetres (cc). * A person who is 14-15 years old can operate an ATV under 90 cc but only when being supervised by a person who is 19 years old or older. * A person under 14 years old is not permitted to operate an ATV of any size. * A person who permits an under aged child to operate an ATV without supervision can be charged for doing so.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
A Monday night explosion at American Iron and Metal of Saint John forced the metal recycler to temporarily shut down, says Saint John Mayor Don Darling, who wants the province to do something about AIM's disruptions to the quality of life on the west side."The city should never be in this situation again," Darling said during an interview Tuesday with Information Morning Saint John.Darling said the Department of Environment temporarily closed the plant on the Saint John waterfront because the noise exceeded the targeted 104-decibel limit.This was the second explosion at AIM in less than a week.On Thursday, a fire caused explosions that also exceeded the decibel limit, rattled windows and shook homes.Environment Minister Gary Crossman said he's concerned about the repeated explosions at the AIM yard."The Department of Environment and Climate Change is closely monitoring compliance with the approval to operate," he said in a statement Monday.He said an inspector was on site Monday and will be there again Tuesday.Crossman said government officials have had a number of conversations with Darling about the AIM site."If the department identifies that standards within the approval to operate are not being followed, I can and will exercise the appropriate authoritative measures."In a statement posted on social media, Michael Cormier, general manager for AIM Atlantic, said the company has been trying to reduce the number of explosions at the business. A quality control inspector produces daily inspection reports and imposes financial penalties when hazardous materials are found in a client's load, Cormier said."This is a work in progress," he said.Cormier said the number of explosion dropped from 53 in 2018, to 32 in 2019 and to 28 this year. Five explosions this year exceeded the decibel limit.He said he hopes to continue working with the city and have the mayor and councillors at a town hall by Jan. 14, 2021.City expresses frustrationDarling doesn't believe the approval should be renewed if problems persist."Until these items and issues are resolved in a balanced and satisfactory way ... I don't think they should get a new approval to operate," he told council Monday night.Darling read a letter he's sending to the province, expressing frustration and concern."This is a great example of the need to think long term," he said.Darling asked provincial and federal governments to step in."Of particular concern is the severity and frequency of recent explosion events," the letter said.Blasts at the plant have disturbed residents for years, causing the province to issue multiple stop-work ordersDarling said it's not acceptable to normalize explosions close to residential areas. He said the "balance" between industry and community doesn't exist with AIM."Saint Johners deserve better," he said.The recycling facility is on federal land leased by Port Saint John, and the license to operate is given by the province, Darling said.And when Darling receives multiple calls from residents after a blast, there's not much he can do except raise the alarm."I think that that should never be the case again in the future," he said. "I get hundreds of messages from citizens about … this facility, but I don't have any authority."'Disregard for authority'At the meeting Coun. David Hickey, John MacKenzie and Donna Reardon spoke in support of the letter being sent to other levels of government."We can't sit by and allow this kind of attitude and this kind of complete disregard for the authority of this council of our provincial government and of our federal government," Hickey said. "I'm tired of having to come back to the same conversation about people breaking the rules and then in turn, not having the provincial authorities and the federal authorities be able to have our backs."MacKenzie said even if the province successfully regulates how many decibels the explosions register, the harbour front is still not the right place for the facility."It's just misplaced," he said.The company has previously said the explosions are caused by propane and gasoline tanks in crushed vehicles going through the shredder.
Newfoundland and Labrador's information and privacy commissioner says the provincial Department of Justice's refusal to share documents with him is preventing him from doing his job. In his submission Monday to the review of the province's access-to-information legislation, Michael Harvey says he can't do his job properly without records that the department says are exempted from release."Over the past year, the Department of Justice has appealed our recommendations to court in an effort to prevent our review of documents over which public bodies are claiming solicitor-client privilege," he told CBC News on Monday.The information and privacy commissioner's job is to make sure government bodies are following the rules and ensure citizens are not being wrongly denied access to information"We are only asking that we be allowed to do our job and provide that oversight," said Harvey.> My strongest appeal for this review of ATIPPA is to simply allow me to do my job. Don't go back to Bill 29. \- Michael HarveyIn his submission to the review of the Access To Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Harvey argued the importance of the privacy commissioner's oversight function needs to be reinforced.Harvey's submission noted that was also recommended by a committee that reviewed the former PC government's Bill 29, which in 2012 brought in measures that weakened the powers of the legislative transparency watchdog — including stripping the commissioner's power to review solicitor-client privilege documents."That role had been taken away through the infamous Bill 29. The 2014 Wells committee spoke clearly about the importance of the commissioner's ability to review these records to confirm that public bodies were following the law, as did the government of the day in the House of Assembly when ATIPPA 2015 was being debated," said Harvey in the submission."Unfortunately, in the past year, the Department of Justice and Public Safety has begun an effort to chip away at that clear legislative direction and is now refusing to provide the records, or indeed, any evidence to the commissioner, in support of its claims of solicitor-client privilege. My strongest appeal for this review of ATIPPA is to simply allow me to do my job. Don't go back to Bill 29."Harvey says access-to-information legislation should be changed to underscore the importance of oversight, by allowing the commissioner to review solicitor-client privilege documents."To give, you know, just really greater clarity, we're proposing a simple amendment so that we can really nail this down and put this issue to bed once and for all," he saidIn response, the Justice Department sent CBC a statement Monday saying the provincial government "is committed to openness and transparency." The final report of retired chief justice David B. Orsborn's review is expected by April, while the dispute between the information commissioner and the Department of Justice is going to court. Harvey said a court date has not yet been set.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
A lawyer for Bill Cosby on Tuesday told the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the judge at the entertainer's 2018 sexual assault trial should have barred five prosecution witnesses who testified that Cosby had also drugged and raped them. Two years ago the once-popular comedian and actor was found guilty of drugging and raping a one-time friend, Andrea Constand, at his home near Philadelphia in 2004. The hearing on Tuesday took place about a year after a lower appellate court rejected a petition by Cosby, now 83, to have his conviction overturned.
A mining company says it is questioning a decision by the Yukon government to reject its application to build an exploration road to one of its gold deposits in central Yukon. ATAC Resources Ltd. has, for years, proposed bettering access to its Tiger Gold deposit, which is part of its larger Rackla Gold project north of Mayo.The proposed 65-kilometre-long all-season road would overlap onto two existing trails, as well as 46 creek and river crossings in the Beaver River watershed, all within the traditional territory of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun. Some Na-Cho Nyäk Dun citizens, as well as conservation groups and outfitters, have opposed the road, while ATAC has previously said the Tiger project would be unsustainable without it. The Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Board (YESAB) recommended in 2018 that the project be allowed to proceed under close monitoring and other conditions. However, ATAC said in a press release Nov. 30 that the Yukon government had recently rejected its construction application."We are extremely disappointed with, and surprised by this decision," ATAC president and CEO Graham Downs said in the press release. "If this road can't be permitted following a positive environmental and socio-economic assessment decision and years of governmental encouragement to invest in the project, then you have to wonder if Yukon is in fact open for business."Among the reasons given for the rejection, according to the press release, was "opposition expressed" by the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun. It adds that the company "does not agree with many aspects of the government's decision and, in consultation with its external legal counsel, is evaluating its options."Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn Sr. did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 'Significant adverse impacts' not addressed, minister saysQuestioned about the decision in the legislative assembly Monday afternoon, Yukon Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai said that ATAC's application was rejected for two key reasons. The application, he said, "did not demonstrate" how the company would appropriately mitigate the "significant adverse environmental and socio-economic effects" that had been identified during the YESAB process. The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun had also identified a number of "significant adverse impacts" that allowing the project to proceed would have on citizens' treaty rights, Pillai said, including being able to use the land for hunting, fishing, trapping and other traditional activities."The Government of Yukon agreed with these concerns and determined the application did not appropriately or sufficiently indicate how these impacts would be mitigated," Pillai said. He added that the government hadn't ruled out the road for good, and that ATAC could improve and re-submit its application. "This is not a full stop on this," he said. Chamber of Mines shocked, conservation organizations pleasedThe Yukon Chamber of Mines, in a press release Monday afternoon, said it was "shocked and disappointed" after learning about the application's rejection.President Ed Peart told CBC that the chamber needed to look at the decision more closely before making further comment. "This has some pretty significant impacts that we have to review," he said. "This decision is extremely important to the mining industry in the Yukon and we have to take the time to be able to research this properly." Some conservation organizations, however, were celebrating the news. CPAWS Yukon conservation manager Randi Newton told CBC she "felt a lot of happy relief" when she saw ATAC's press release in the morning. The organization has led a campaign to protect the Beaver River watershed, describing it on its website as an "unspoiled wilderness" that serves as a pristine habitat for moose, salmon and river otters, among other species, and an area which holds great significance for Na-Cho Nyäk Dun citizens. The First Nation and Yukon government are currently in the process of developing a land use plan for the region."If this road had been built, it really could have opened up the Beaver River watershed, and actually the larger Stewart watershed, to just a network of development and roads," she said. "All of that would have happened without asking if that's what the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun or Yukoners wanted, so this decision really means that land-use planning can come first and people can set out a vision that's right for that region."And then, we can decide if development fits with that vision."Yukon Conservation Society mining analyst Lewis Rifkind also said ATAC's press release came as a welcome surprise. He added that he was still waiting on more details about the decision, but that it appeared to be a victory. "We're obviously quite pleased with the way things have turned out," he said.
Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are in a tight race to launch their COVID-19 vaccines in Europe after both applied for emergency EU approval on Tuesday, though there was uncertainty over whether a rollout could begin this year. The applications to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) came a day after Moderna sought emergency use for its shot in the United States and more than a week after Pfizer and BioNTech did the same. U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German development partner BioNTech said their vaccine could be launched in the European Union as early as this month.
Here's the latest for Tuesday December 1st: Arizona & Wisconsin certify Biden win; Science adviser Scott Atlas leaving White House; Cuomo says coronavirus surge coming to New York state; Congress in Washington with coronavirus relief far from reach.
The Calgary Board of Education says Hub online students will still have the option to return to in-person learning at their schools starting on Feb. 1, but students currently doing in-person learning will not be allowed to move online. In an update sent to CBE families on Monday, the district says that they will not be accommodating new requests for Hub online learning in the new year. That's "in order to ensure continuity of learning and minimize disruption to in-person classes that may arise from the movement of staff from in person to online," reads the update from chief superintendent Christopher Usih.Kayla Martinez, who is the mother of a boy in Grade 1, says she began the process to switch her son out of in-person learning to Hub a few weeks ago. "Basically, [the pandemic] is just getting worse. [At] the schools there is outbreak after outbreak after outbreak," she said."I just don't want to put my one-year-old daughter at risk as she has low immunity."Martinez said she's been grateful that the process hasn't been difficult. "They sent me paperwork, which I'm already getting filled out and I have to take a paper for his old school to sign release and there has been no issues at all," she said. Martinez said she feels that other parents and guardians should have the same choice to do what they feel is safest and most appropriate for their children."You can't say no other families are allowed to register online. They don't know everybody's home life. They don't know the reasons why people may be choosing to pull their children and put them in online schooling," she said. "We were basically assuming as a province that things were going to get better and it's just getting worse. The numbers keep rising, so don't take the choice from people."The district says any Hub families wishing to transition their child back to the classroom must inform the school of their decision before Jan. 8.
When Johnny Beach was just six years old, something caught his eye."On YouTube, I found a 14-year-old boy playing the Orange Blossom Special and it just moved me and I really wanted to do it," he said.His mother, Jamie O'Donnell, said it was love at first sight."He was captivated by it. He begged us for six months to get him a fiddle, so we got him a fiddle and he took right to it," she said.Now eight, the Riverview boy is passionate about fiddling, takes lessons and practises at least 30 minutes a day.Johnny joined some young fiddle players called the Plucky Pizzicatos, who perform for seniors and take part in some fundraising benefits.JohnnyBut when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that all stopped. Johnny decided to keep on playing."He was just practising in front of our house and as people were walking by on the street they were cheering for him and we even had a few people that ran up and gave him a little tip, so he got this idea to street perform," O'Donnell said. ""It was just a way that he could share his gift with others."And Johnny made a decision about what to do with the money."I just want to help people that need the money, and I don't really need it for anything, so I just like to give it to people that need it," he said.Johnny's first donation was $300 to Riverview P.R.O. Kids, which provides financial assistance to help kids take part in sports, and artistic and recreational activities. The organization has helped Johnny qith his fiddle lessons.O'Donnell said Johnny's next donation was to an organization near and dear to the whole family's heart: Friends of the Moncton Hospital.Johnny received life-saving surgery at the Moncton Hospital at the age of three.Johnny has made two donations of $200.Now with the holidays approaching, he's turned his attention to the Albert County Food Bank."He knows that turkey dinner is something everybody likes to enjoy at Christmastime," O'Donnell said. "Not every family has that opportunity, so he knows that the Albert County Food Bank gives Christmas boxes and turkey dinners to families, so that's his focus right now … to see how much money he can raise for them in time for their Christmas boxes."Donations are also coming in online.With the weather turning colder, O'Donnell hopes they can find some place indoors where Johnny can continue playing and raising money."With COVID, it's really difficult because businesses — there's a lot of guidelines and a lot of restrictions and businesses definitely don't want to be doing anything that could potentially draw any kind of a crowd, and he tends to draw a little bit of a crowd wherever he is."So it's been really hard to find somewhere indoors."But that was far from Johnny's mind as he chose a tune from his songbook and picked up his fiddle. He played with joy, tapping his foot along to the beat.Johnny said he'll keep raising money. And he hopes to become a professional fiddler someday.His mother gets emotional watching him play."I have those happy cries, like, a few times a week. Just the amazing things that people say and seeing that's my little boy — that's just motivating and inspiring people and bringing so much joy everywhere he goes. Proud would be an understatement."
Refinery owner Philadelphia Energy Solutions later told regulators that the blasts released nearly 700,000 pounds of hazardous chemicals, including butane, and about 3,200 pounds of hydrofluoric acid, which can cause fatal lung injury in high concentrations. The score was based on readings from part of the federal network of air quality monitoring devices, which are operated by the city of Philadelphia with oversight from state regulators and the EPA. “To say there was no impact to air quality was crazy,” said Peter DeCarlo, an environmental engineering professor at Johns Hopkins University who lived in Philadelphia at the time and studied the city’s monitoring system.
The City of Windsor has ordered a local man to take his driveway tent down — a temporary structure he uses to help get his daughter, who has a disability, in and out the house in the winter.Steven Levesque says he put up the tent because it's a safer and easier way of transporting his 14-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, without worrying about the ice and snow."We put the enclosure to keep the van out of the elements," he said. "It's a handicap vehicle that we can load the ramp out halfway and get my daughter into the van when we transport her."This is the first year Levesque and his fiance have used a driveway tent. Levesque says it's because as his daughter has grown older and bigger, it's also become more of a struggle to get her from the school bus to the house and vice-versa. He also finds staying with his daughter in the tent for a bit before bringing her in the house makes the process easier.He intends to keep the tent up only temporarily in the winter, and take it down when spring comes.He put up the tent on Thursday last week, but on Friday, he received notice that the structure is in violation of a city zoning bylaw. A bylaw officer will issue a citation if he doesn't have the tent down by Friday."I don't know what to do," Levesque said. "Come December 5 we'll see what happens, whether I take it down or face the consequences."Levesque spoke to the bylaw officer who gave him the notice, but beyond receiving a little sympathy, didn't get very far.He's contacted every member of city council to see if he can get an exception. He's also posted in the Windsor Car Spotters Facebook group, asking for advice.Levesque says he doesn't know who complained about the tent."Most people recognize our situation and are okay with it," he said. "But there's always that bad apple that they have to mind everyone's business but their own.""It might be an eyesore, but it's a needed eyesore for us."'It's certainly not a good situation'John Revell, the city's chief building official, says there isn't much he or the bylaw office can do to make an exception for Levesque's needs.He says they received a complaint through 311, and that there is an open and active investigation."In situations like that, those temporary covers people like to use to prevent snow from getting on their vehicles, those aren't allowed in front yards — they're prohibited in the front of a house," he said.He says that no orders have been issued yet. If Levesque does get an order, he'll have 30 days to comply, and if he still doesn't comply, he'll get a warning letter.After that, Revell says, the city would file with the courts and it would become a court matter."The inspector's following up with the homeowner, and we'll let the inspector deal with that," he said. "It's certainly not a good situation, and I certainly feel for the homeowner, but there is a prohibition under the zoning bylaw, so that's why there's an open investigation here."Levesque's only option, according to Revell, is to go through the planning department to see if he can get approval for rezoning or temporary use zoning — but that matter would have to go before council and get approved.In any case, Levesque is planning on keeping the tent up."I think that's what we're intending to do at this point," he said. "I think my daughter's health and safety is more important than any repercussions we'll suffer."
A city councillor is hopeful Calgary could soon join the ranks of cities with bylaws against harassing women in public places.Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell said the City of Calgary has a responsibility to support the well-being and safety of all people in public spaces.So, she'd like to see the city engage with Calgarians on the issue of street harassment and draw up a bylaw to help control it.She said street harassment includes unwelcome comments, gestures and actions forced primarily upon women by people who aren't known to them. Typically, they are sexually charged comments which are disrespectful, alarming or insulting."It's most frequently an attack, a verbal attack on women but it's also against many LGBTQ people," said Farrell."We certainly see that harassment happening in Calgary."Widespread problemShe cites a Statistics Canada report that found one-in-three girls and women were victims of unwanted sexual behaviour in the previous 12 months.Farrell has a motion which will be discussed at council's priorities and finance committee on Tuesday.As per council's screening process, if the motion is properly drafted, it will go on to be discussed at a city council meeting later this month."With all of our bylaws, we look at education first and then establish a social norm. It's not OK to harass strangers on the street," said Farrell.Her motion states that other Canadian cities including Edmonton, Vancouver and London have already passed bylaws to regulate street harassment.> Statements like this from governments essentially saying we hold ourselves accountable for your safety and we're going to work towards it, I think that they make a difference. \- Andrea Silverstone, SagesseThe executive director of the Sagesse Domestic Violence Prevention Society, Andrea Silverstone, said a bylaw is a step toward increasing public safety."Everyone can relate to an experience of feeling harassed or an experience of doing something different to try and experience greater safety on the street because they don't believe that it might exist because of their gender or their sexual identity," said Silverstone.She said street harassment is an example of coercive control which can erode a person's feeling of safety, even if they haven't been hit or threatened.That kind of harassment can make women or targeted people rethink the choices they make about where they go for dinner or where they choose to work because they may feel unsafe. "I think that you can't underestimate just how pervasive a lack of a sense of personal safety is on the streets and how it can actually relate to all aspects of one's life," said Silverstone.From her vantage point, it's important that government realizes it can play a role in helping all citizens feel safer and welcome in public places — a bylaw can be a piece of that puzzle."Statements like this from governments essentially saying we hold ourselves accountable for your safety and we're going to work towards it, I think that they make a difference."Farrell's motion calls on the city to assess Calgary's jurisdiction to draw up a defensible bylaw to address street harassment.If council approves it, there would be a report back to council by administration by the first quarter of 2022.
Two cohorts from a Catholic elementary school in Lakeshore were dismissed Monday after two confirmed cases of COVID-19. One cohort of 23 students and another of 29 students were dismissed from St. William Catholic Elementary School in Emeryville Monday, the board said in a news release. A total of 52 students are required to self-isolate for the next 14 days, the board said. According to the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board's website, there are three student cases from St. William and three classes have been dismissed. The board said in a news release that the cases from Monday are not connected to the same cohort that was dismissed on Nov. 19. The health unit will be contacting individuals who may have been directly affected by the new cases and provide them with any next steps. If parents have not been contacted by the health unit, they have not been identified as close contacts and can continue sending their children to school.In the Catholic board, there are 11 active COVID-19 cases across six schools. All schools remain open, except for W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary school, which is completely closed due to an outbreak. In the Greater-Essex District County School Board, there are 20 active cases across 14 schools. In addition to that, Frank W. Begley remains closed and in outbreak, with 40 students and nine staff positive for the disease.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to donate money this year, plenty of causes need your attention.In a year like 2020, choosing where to direct your dollars is like picking your favourite child. Should your money go toward nonprofits providing basic needs, organizations fighting for social justice or a campaign to help local small businesses stay afloat? If you prefer donating your time, how do you give back when volunteer events are limited by the pandemic?Here’s a guide to prioritizing your donations, taking advantage of special tax deductions for 2020 giving and using your holiday spending to make a difference.TAX BENEFITS OF GIVING DURING THE PANDEMICDec. 1 is Giving Tuesday, a day earmarked for generosity during the holiday season. This year, in addition to helping those in need, you may be eligible to receive added tax benefits for your donations.As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, taxpayers who take the standard deduction are allowed an additional deduction of up to $300 for charitable donations made in cash. Previously, charitable contributions could only be deducted if taxpayers itemized.Taxpayers who itemize can deduct up to 100% of their adjusted gross income for cash donations (up from 60%) made in 2020.These incentives don’t apply to all contributions — only those made to qualifying public organizations, which the IRS defines as “those that are religious, charitable, educational, scientific or literary in purpose.” Contributions to donor-advised funds, nonoperating private foundations and support organizations don’t qualify for the deduction.The IRS website has a tool to look up tax-exempt organizations.USE YOUR VALUES TO INFORM YOUR GIVINGChoosing which cause to support is deeply personal. If you haven’t already, make a list of your values and what you’re grateful for. This list is the basis for your giving plan that can help you determine which causes to prioritize and which ones you can say no to, says Jeannie Sager, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University.Sager says you can also use a giving plan to frame your actions outside of hitting the “donate” button.“What kind of volunteerism are you doing? What messages are you sending as you retweet or share things on social media? How does that tie into your philanthropy and your values?” she suggests asking yourself.Early in the pandemic, you may have committed small acts of generosity such as buying gift cards to support your local coffee shop or paying your hairstylist when the salon was shut down.Keep the community spirit going, says Eileen Heisman, president and CEO of National Philanthropic Trust, a public charity that manages donor-advised funds and is based in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. “I’m a big fan of small grassroots charities,” she says. “A lot of everyday neighbourhood arts organizations, small ones, are disappearing.”Research by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute during the early months of the pandemic showed that organizations dedicated to basic needs and health fared better than those focused on religion, and especially better than those serving all other purposes, such as education, the arts and the environment.Resources such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar help you research a charity’s financial health, tax-exempt status and practices. Your local community foundation website can also give you an idea of nonprofits to support.“We encourage people to give deeply to a few causes rather than spreading money out to many causes,” says Grace Chiang Nicolette, vice-president of programming and external relations at the Center for Effective Philanthropy in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Unrestricted gifts are typically the most useful to charities, Nicolette says, referring to donations that don’t come with requirements on how the money can be used.GIVE BACK WHILE SHOPPINGThis holiday season, 65% of Americans say the pandemic will have an impact on the way they plan to give gifts. At least, 3 in 10 Americans (30%) say they’ll send money or gift cards, and 28% say they’ll ship gifts to loved ones they typically give gifts to in person, according to NerdWallet’s 2020 Holiday Shopping Report.Around 1 in 8 Americans plan to spend more on charitable donations, and almost 1 in 5 plan on spending less on donations in 2020 than they did in 2019, the report says.If you cannot set aside money for donations, use your online holiday purchases to give back. Many online retailers make it easy to donate as you’re checking out or buying gift cards, such as through the Paypal Giving Fund or Amazon Smile program.Heisman suggests using apps that round up your purchases and donate the difference to charity. Boomerang Giving, ChangeUp For Charity and GiveTide are some examples.You can also donate your unused airline miles or credit card rewards to charity, but be aware of the downsides. The charity may not always receive the full amount of your donation and you cannot apply this contribution toward the CARES Act tax deduction.________________________________-This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Amrita Jayakumar is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ajbombay.RELATED LINKS:NerdWallet 2020 Holiday Shopping Report https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-shopping-reportIRS Tax-Exempt Organization Search https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-searchAmrita Jayakumar Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization is warning residents to pay close attention to Tuesday's rainfall warnings.Environment Canada has marked the first day of December by issuing a rainfall warning for more than half the province.Central and southwestern parts of New Brunswick can expect between 40 and 120 millimetres of rain Tuesday into Wednesday morning.However, some regions in southwestern New Brunswick could see up to 180 millimetres. "No one should be caught off guard at this point, so stay informed through trusted sources and make sure you are prepared to react if needed," said Geoffrey Downey, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick EMO.Downey said people should also check their storm drains and rain gutters and have an emergency kit ready.Special weather statements issuedThe national weather agency has also issued a special weather statement for eastern New Brunswick, where up to 50 millimetres of rain is expected. Those areas include: * The Acadian Peninsula. * Bathurst and Chaleur region. * Kent County. * Kouchibouguac National Park. * Miramichi area. * The Moncton area.Environment Canada said similar rainfall events in the past have caused road washouts and localized flooding in low-lying areas."Heavy downpours can cause flash floods and water pooling on roads," the agency said in a statement."Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Don't approach washouts near rivers, creeks and culverts."Environment Canada says the storm is similar to one that caused severe flooding in December 2010.This year, however, the ground is not frozen so it should be able to absorb a lot more rain."We've been running a water deficiency throughout the province for pretty much all of 2020," said Jill Mapea, a meteorologist with Environment Canada."The ground is not very saturated at all."After a bit of a lull Tuesday morning, Mapea said the heaviest rain was expected Tuesday afternoon and evening."Fingers crossed it doesn't come down too hard," she said, "but I think a lot of people with wells are welcoming this rain." However, Mapea wasn't ruling out the possibility of flooding."You never know. Sometimes a big downpour can raise those levels really quick."Populated areas might expect some street flooding, she said if storm drains are overwhelmed.
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has begun ramping up some community programs that were suspended at the start of the pandemic, but the city's medical officer of health said not all will return to their pre-COVID-19 selves.The pandemic didn't just throw OPH's budget into disarray but also how it offered many of its services, including chronic disease prevention work."These kinds of teams are completely redeployed to the COVID-19 response," said Dr. Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health, on Monday.OPH also had to shutter its four dental clinics across the city that offered services to people who had difficulties paying for care elsewhere.The St. Laurent Boulevard clinic reopened for emergency services last week, while the Wabano Centre clinic should reopen part time on Thursday, Etches said.Those clinics together saw 140 clients a day before the pandemic hit, said OPH's director of health promotion and chief nursing officer Esther Moghadam, and the hope is to get the other two open so vulnerable populations have easier access to one nearby. While the clinics were closed, Moghadam said dentists across the community stepped up to help and will likely have to continue to do so until the clinics are at full capacity."It's still very early … There is going to be a need that we won't be able to address fully," she said.Another program that fell by the wayside was the Healthy Growth and Development Program, which Etches said is currently running at 50 per cent capacity.Its breastfeeding support work is moving online or having mothers come to OPH or other community partners instead of nurses visiting them in their homes.Not all programs are set to return to the way they once were."We're looking to learn from the new tools we have, the innovative approaches that can be built upon and the partnerships that we have grown to extend some of this work into the future," said Etches.That future shift includes those services tailored at chronic diseases, which she said will change because private companies have been stepping up to help protect and promote employee health.COVID-19 in 2021Ottawa's Board of Health unanimously passed its largest budget ever at its meeting Monday night, with $24 million of its $98.1 million budget for 2021 expected to cover a number of one-time COVID-19 expenses. Even with positive vaccine updates, Etches said next year's budget forecasts a similar amount of COVID-19 cases, outbreaks, follow-up and communication work in 2021 as exists now.It is also expecting to help provide that COVID-19 vaccine to Ottawa residents "which we are hopeful, initially, will protect against hospitalizations and deaths in the people most at risk," she said."That would be excellent."The budget will go to city council for final approval on Dec. 9.
Gambler First Nation first came to The Brandon Sun’s attention in May. An off-reserve member, Darlene Gerula, sent the Sun an email describing a variety of issues with leadership she believed placed on-reserve members’ lives at risk. Among these concerns was the use of Akwaton multipurpose wipes, the product of a company the leadership at Gambler was hoping to purchase. Health Canada recalled the wipes in late June because the product both expired in 2015 and contained polyhexamethylene guanidine hydrochloride, an ingredient not approved for use in Canada. In the months since Gerula’s email, the Sun has met and spoken numerous times with several Gambler members and heard their stories. This is part two of a three-part series. GAMBLER FIRST NATION — The drive into Gambler First Nation, which is along the Assiniboine River valley approximately two hours northwest of Brandon, unveils a visually idyllic location. Vern Kalmakoff — an off-reserve member and longtime Brandon businessperson — drove this Sun reporter to the reserve. As he approached the heart of one area on the reserve with houses, he pointed out Chief David Ledoux’s "compound," as some Gambler members call it. The large well-kept lot includes two impeccable-looking houses, a shed that looks better than the surrounding homes of Gambler members, and many, many vehicles — several all-terrain vehicles, a motorhome, a pontoon boat and assorted other vehicles — while two horses hang out at the rear. Surrounding the compound are other members’ houses which, upon entry, are practically unliveable. The Sun visited several. Some were unfinished, though clearly older and not new builds. This year was the first since at least 2012 that a new house had been built, according to former Chief Gordon Ledoux and several other Gambler members. In one, the plumbing was in such disrepair, pipes were held up with a laundry detergent bottle. One had zero plumbing, and has not had water for two years. Our first stop was to visit Sean Ledoux, David Ledoux’s brother, where Sean, frail and frightened, showed a video he had taken in February. Sean maintains he is terrorized by his brother. On Aug. 20, Sean received a communication from the income assistance administrator, Tara Tanner. "I am writing this letter to remind you that the house you are living in is not safe and was deemed condemned. You have gotten letters and notices stating this as well. I am asking you to please find another dwelling that is considered safe for you to live in," she wrote. But Sean has nowhere to go. The Gambler First Nation reserve is the only home he knows. "You have been multiple letters from Housing Department, Sims and Company as well as verbal notices from Social," wrote housing manager Dana Tanner on Oct. 28. Sean and his other siblings, the now-deceased former chief Gordon and Roxanne Brass, suggested David wants the house condemned because there are problems with the electrical wiring, which he allegedly installed himself. Sean, as well as several other members, say that duplex was gutted and rebuilt roughly 10 years ago before Sean moved in. General problems appear to be mostly cosmetic — broken windows and the remains of a small fire when Sean was assaulted. The Sun has a January 2017 letter from Manitoba Justice stating: "Please note that we have also advised Gambler First Nation that you should not be responsible for the damage that was done to your home during the criminal incident and that they should be recovering the money from the offender that caused the damage to your property." To this day, the damage to Sean’s home has not been repaired. In the video Sean made, he walks out his front door at Gambler First Nation and pauses at his duplex unit’s neighbouring door. The video records the sound of rushing water behind the padlocked door. Sean trudges, in -40 C weather, to the back of the duplex, demonstrating how he must turn off the water from its source at the water tank, or the water will run out. He trudges back to the front of the duplex, and pauses at the door, padlocked by the band leadership. Silence. He re-enters his own home and turns on his taps. No water. He trudges back to the rear of the duplex, turns on the water supply, trudges back to the front, pausing at the neighbouring door, again. Again, the sound of rushing water. He re-enters his unit and, now, he has water. But he can’t leave the water valve on the tank open because the water for the two units will run out. That’s reason for concern because if the water runs out, there’s no telling when the tank will be refilled. Many houses on the reserve require a water truck to fill water tanks. Sean recorded the whole process a second time. This was the only way, he thought, that he could prove the remarkable and frightening treatment his own brother David visits upon him. And that’s just one story of several. The week of Nov. 16, after two weeks without water delivery, Sean was admitted to hospital for terrible stomach pain. It’s not the first time he has gone without water for long periods of time or the first time he has been admitted to hospital. His former neighbour — his and David’s niece, Lisa Marie Ledoux — has her own story to tell. An off-reserve member of Gambler, Lisa Marie accepted an invitation from David and his wife Rose to work in the community in 2016. She took on the role of National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program worker. She was also offered the duplex unit neighbouring Sean’s. Lisa Marie told the Sun of a toxic work environment, similar to Darlene Gerula’s account. "They were constantly calling me in and reprimanding me and calling me out at meetings and putting me down. They were really horrible with the staff, and I didn’t like it," she said. Lisa Marie said she also didn’t like how the trio — which includes Coun. Kellie Ledoux, David’s daughter — treated members, and what they were doing as leaders in the community. She reported them to Canadian Accreditation Council. She said there was an investigation, but no followup. "That made them retaliate even more," she said. "They started putting restrictions on my programs until I couldn’t run them. When I finally left, if I ran a program, they had to be there overseeing, and nobody wanted to be around them. So nobody would come. They weren’t letting us spend our program dollars on the programs. They cut all the programs. I don’t know what they were doing with the money if they’re not spending it on the programs." The Sun sent questions to the accreditation council to learn whether a former Gambler staff member made reports about alleged issues related to programming and programming dollars. We asked if the Canadian Accreditation Council received such reports, and whether an investigation was carried out and, if yes, what was the outcome. We also asked if an accreditation staff member named Nadine Lafferty heard the chief’s wife, Rose Ledoux, state outright that she moved money out of Jordan’s Principle funds and used those funds in unrelated areas. "In following with CAC’s processes, we were satisfied that Gambler First Nation Health Centre was meeting the requirements of the standards and was following what was in the purview of CAC’s accreditation during their accreditation," stated chief operations officer Amanda Ellis. "As per our agreement with Gambler First Nation Health Centre, we are bound by confidentiality for any other matter and therefore cannot speak to anything other than their current accreditation status. They are currently in the process of accreditation." Asked whether there is an on-site visit related to use of funds, board member Cheryl Whiskeyjack stated by email: "There is an onsite. We don’t assess the use of funds however." Lisa Marie quit her position in May 2018, and collected employment insurance until finding a job in Brandon. Meanwhile, at home, she and her uncle Sean would go a week at a time without water. Being without water was the last straw for Lisa Marie. "I can’t live like this. I need water. I need to use the bathroom. I need to wash my dishes. I need to clean my house and shower. It just got to be too much," she said. During her absence from the reserve, the leadership padlocked her door with its own lock, while her belongings were still on the premises. A new housing agreement states that if a member is going off reserve for more than five days, they must notify the band. Lisa Marie saw Sean’s video, which he posted to Facebook, and thought her place was flooding because of a broken pipe. She had friends and family help her break the padlock. "I didn’t want to go there alone. I knew that they (David, Rose and Kellie) would give me trouble. All the taps are on and they were running, and that’s why he (Sean) kept running out of water and it sounded like it was flooding." Kalmakoff said two RCMP cars, with two officers in each, were there in a flash, within 20 minutes. "With sirens going," said Brass. RCMP charged Sean with breaking and entering — one of several acts he believes are intended to intimidate him to leave his unit, he said. An Oct. 21 court date was cancelled due to weather, but he said he has been pressured by RCMP multiple times to admit his guilt. He also said he was told he had to attend a meeting at a church to "take responsibility for his actions." Lisa Marie said she called the RCMP Feb. 26, the day after her uncle was charged, to tell them she was entirely responsible. "I did it," she said. "It was my place." She left that message with one officer at the Russell detachment. She was told she would get a call back. She never did. She tried calling several more times, but the officer she needed to speak with was never in. The RCMP have a different perspective. "Russell RCMP has fully investigated the matter to which you refer. In no way do RCMP officers try to influence the outcome of an investigation. It is our job to gather evidence and follow where that leads. When we have gathered enough evidence to determine what happened, we provide our findings to the Crown," stated Manitoba RCMP media relations officer Tara Seel by email on Nov. 26. "You have been provided a lot of information that we, as law enforcement, cannot speak to directly for several reasons: the Privacy Act, the case is before the courts, investigative process, to name a few. However, we do feel the need to provide some clarity on a few points that you mentioned. We cannot provide names of complainants or those involved in an investigation who are not charged with an Information sworn before a court of law." Seel stated RCMP received a complaint on Feb. 25 from the band’s bylaw officer, who personally witnessed the event in progress. "Several witnesses from the community also contacted investigators and corroborated this information, having also seen the event personally. Names of those seen committing the act were provided to investigators. We cannot provide you with names of everyone we spoke to concerning this matter, but we can confirm many people were spoken to throughout this investigation," Seel stated. Darlene Gerula and her husband, Greg Wakin — a retired Winnipeg Police Service officer — dispute the RCMP statement. They say Gambler does not have a bylaw officer. Gerula said Harlene Swain, who was the housing manager at the time, witnessed the event. "You refer to a restorative justice meeting that was scheduled and did not take place. I can confirm that is the case," Seel further stated. "However, for several reasons, including COVID-19, that meeting was cancelled. Restorative justice often needs people to come face-to-face as part of the process, and this is just not the time for those types of gatherings. I will add that since then, no other restorative justice meetings with the Russell RCMP have taken place for any investigation." Wakin said he spoke with Michelle Funk, a restorative justice facilitator with the John Howard Society, after Sean asked Wakin to represent him. "She said, I’ve been trying to get information on this case and I can’t get anything. There’s something fishy going on. And I told her that Sean’s in the dark, the RCMP have been harassing him, telling him they’re going to pick him up and telling him to say that you’re sorry, you did this, and you are guilty of it," Wakin said. Wakin told her Sean was not guilty of anything, but police keep coming to his door and harassing him. According to Wakin, Funk told him she would look into it. "We talked after that and she said that she was going to cancel everything, because I said, number one, Sean doesn’t want to go to this. He’s not going to plead guilty, and he didn’t commit this offence. So he doesn’t want to go, he doesn’t want to be harassed anymore." Wakin said he told Funk he hoped the RCMP were not going to go to Sean’s door in future. According to Wakin, Funk said she would make sure that didn’t happen anymore. "And she did everything. She did all that and that was the end of it. It wasn’t cancelled because of COVID. It was cancelled because of the way the RCMP handled it," Wakin said. When The Sun reached Funk by phone, she denied knowledge of the matter, including the people involved. "I do not know what you’re referring to," she said. "I cannot confirm or deny anything," she added when asked if she had spoken to Wakin. "I am unable to talk about my work in this capacity." Wakin maintains Harlene Swain, Gambler’s housing manager at the time, stirred up the issue. "She saw people in front of the house, but there was no offence. The homeowner was there trying to get into her own suite, to get her property and get access to her suite. So, whatever you saw, wasn’t a break and enter. It was the owner of the suite trying to get access to it. It’s just so ridiculous. It’s gone so far for nothing. There was no offence. There was no criminal intent," Wakin said. Lisa Marie has also tried to remove her name from the address at the reserve with Manitoba Hydro, to no avail. To this day, she receives Hydro bills for her side of the duplex unit. The Sun has a photo of the October bill. The relationship between the RCMP and the First Nation is unclear, as is the relationship between the band and Manitoba Hydro. When the Sun was asking questions of the RCMP in October related to Gambler, as well as David and his close family, we received a call from the policing organization. On that call, concern was expressed that the Sun was targeting David, who sits on the Prairie Mountain RCMP’s Safer Communities Committee. The RCMP did confirm, however, that a report was made to them concerning allegations related to sexual and physical abuse at Gambler. The question posed involved the Ledoux family members — David, Rose and Kellie. "However, for privacy reasons, we will not confirm who made the report or who these allegations are related to as these allegations are still being investigated and remain allegations at this point," stated Seel. Ronnie Ducharme, who hasn’t had water at his house for two years, also has Manitoba Hydro issues. While he was away at Brandon University, the leadership tried to take his house, he said. Roxanne Brass, David’s sister, was present when Ducharme spoke with the Sun. She said this allegation is truthful, but that the members of Gambler who were offered the house declined the offer to take over the home. "They (band members) won’t do it because they won’t do that to him (Ronnie)," Brass said. This report of attempts of a house being seized is supported by other similar reports, based on interviews with the Sun. "I had no control over my electrical, my power, and they racked it up. I was a student, and they didn’t pay the bill. I had no control over my hydro bill because they were in charge of it. They sent me the bill afterwards. But they paid that off now, they cleared that up — after I argued over it," Ducharme said. During that time, however, the housing manager sent him a letter dated Dec. 31, 2019. "The band will be removing the transformer from the pole, therefore there will be no Hydro at this location. I will inform you of when this will be taking place and you will have 7 days to remove your personal belongings from the property," Gambler’s then housing manager Harlene Swain stated. The Sun sought clarification via email from Manitoba Hydro. Manitoba Hydro stated, "as this appears to be a matter between the band and one of its members. Manitoba Hydro is not in a position to comment." A further question about which entity the transformers belong to has gone unanswered. Questions about Lisa Marie’s billing situation also went unanswered. Part three of this series on Gambler First Nation will appear in the Sun later this week.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun