A panoramic view of Montreal on a gloomy day.
A panoramic view of Montreal on a gloomy day.
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
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government has signed a pay agreement that will allow nurses to be shifted to priority areas in the fight against COVID-19. It says the agreement with the Manitoba Nurses Union will allow nurses to be redeployed in personal care homes, intensive care units and designated COVID-19 units. Health Minister Cameron Friesen says it will allow for changes to work assignments, locations, schedules and shifts to support the changing needs of hospital patients and care home residents. He says nurses affected by these changes, including those already working in facilities dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, will get extra pay. The agreement also establishes a COVID-19 northern allowance for staff redeployed to the north, as well as an allowance for current northern nurses who work in one community but pick up additional shifts elsewhere in the region. Union president Darlene Jackson says the deal will help keep nurses on the job and give them some security and recognition. "Nurses have played a critical role on the front line of Manitoba's pandemic response and they have stepped up to the challenge, working countless long hours to provide quality care for patients and residents," Jackson said Tuesday in a release. Friesen said the government’s top priority is ensuring patients and care home residents are provided with the best possible care. "Thousands of nurses working in personal care homes and hospitals across the province are making an enormous difference in our province's fight against COVID-19," he said in a release. "This agreement also recognizes many nurses on the front line of the COVID-19 response for their dedication, commitment and compassion at a critical time." Details of the agreement, which is to be in place for the duration of the pandemic, were not released.The union says it has 12,000 members and represents registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners and operating room technicians. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020 The Canadian Press
Brandon Sun readers requested specific questions be asked about COVID-19: QUESTION: Dr. Roussin keeps saying there hasn’t been much spread in schools. It’s always a very vague response. Are there actual statistics related to school transmission? MANITOBA HEALTH: Case and contact investigations amongst school-aged children are followed up extensively by medical officers of health and public health nurses. To date, these investigations have revealed very little transmission within schools. It should be noted that there are over 200,000 students enrolled in schools across Manitoba and to date, there have been under 1,500 infections in children 18 and under. This amounts to cases in less than 0.75 per cent in school-aged children in Manitoba. If there was extensive transmission within schools, we would expect to see a higher proportion infected amongst children; overall, the proportion infected in Manitoba since March is approximately 1.2 per cent, or almost twice that of the proportion in school-aged children. QUESTION: Do you keep numbers on how many people have tested positive for COVID but have not needed medical treatment? Or what percentage of positive people have to be admitted to hospital? DR. BRENT ROUSSIN: We know how many total hospital admissions we have and we know duration of stay on average. We keep all those severe outcome issues. We’ve had 1,092 total hospitalizations, and 204 total ICU admissions. And it depends on what you mean by no medical treatment. The total minus that is the ones that haven’t needed admission. Having no medical treatment … whether they’ve attended a physician for outpatient care — no. We wouldn’t have a way of tracking that. Do you have a question about something in your community? Send your questions to email@example.com with the subject line: Readers Ask. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Tuesday was the final day for Saskatchewan schools to submit funding applications to the Ministry of Education for the second round of COVID-19 funding. “The second round of COVID contingency funding will ensure schools remain a safe place for students, staff and families,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said. “These applications are in addition to our $51 million allocated in the first round of applications.” The funding comes from the more than $150 million in the COVID contingency fund for education from provincial, federal and school division savings. The funds will be used for sanitation, furniture and equipment, remote learning (for immunocompromised and other students) and IT costs not associated to remote learning. Applications are expected to be submitted by school divisions, qualified independent schools and historical high schools. The ministry will then adjudicate the applications based on the criteria and will notify applicants in early December. According to the Ministry there is $64 million remaining for the second round of applications in the COVID contingency fund for education. Before school began in September, $51 million was committed toward the first round of funding for school divisions and school applicants for emergent, one-time expenses associated with a safe return to school. Prior to the first funding intake, school divisions spent a combined $30 million on one-time school capital initiatives and preparations for the school year. The Ministry of Education has allocated $10 million for personal protective equipment expenses, of which $3.4 million has been spent to date. In the second round of COVID contingency funding for education applications, recipients of the first round of funding are required to report their detailed use of funds to the Ministry of Education.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
La Loche Mayor Georgina Jolibois says more inclusion and support for northern and Indigenous communities is key to surviving the pandemic. Jolibois handily won municipal elections in the northern village with 60 per cent of the vote in a three-way race when results were confirmed on November 10. Incumbent Robert St. Pierre announced in October that he would not seek reelection and retired from politics. “I'm very humbled and thankful for the support that I got. This election I saw a lot of young people in line to go vote,” Jolibois told the Daily Herald. Jolibois brings 12 years of mayoral experience to the table having previously served as mayor of La Loche from 2003 to 2015. She then served as NDP MP for the riding of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River until 2019 when she lost her bid for re-election to Conservative Gary Vidal. Jolibois said she will ensure that the community gets the support it needs to survive the pandemic and that issues facing La Loche, such as access to healthcare and economic opportunity, are part of a bigger problem in northern Saskatchewan. “Right now I am the mayor of La Loche and I represent the Northern Village of La Loche. However, the concerns that we have here, the issues that we have here, are similar throughout the north. Government ministries, provincial and federal, still have to do their part and support northern Saskatchewan,” Jolibois said. Jolibois said she’s concerned that conspiracy theories and misinformation about the coronavirus are taking a toll on her community, as they have throughout Canada and the United States. “The challenge that we face is that it's everywhere on social media, the conspiracy theories and the misinformation floating around saying that COVID-19 is not real, that is false. COVID-19 is very real,” Jolibois said. “There are people who are ill with COVID-19. And there are people who are in self isolation because they had contact with someone and those people in isolation and those people who are in recovery require support to ensure that they make it through and recover. The onus is on each individual to do their part to slow the spread and stop the spread of COVID-19.” She said she’s taking a teamwork approach with the health authority and regional leaders to tackle the problem. “It is very important for every leader to take this seriously. To take precautions as necessary. We're inundated with information on our TV channels, social media, YouTube, everywhere else. Precautions do work, wash your hands, wear a mask, maintain physical distance. So far in the community I support people who are taking this seriously, who are self-isolating and doing their part and who are recovering from COVID-19,” Jolibois said. “There are people who don't wear masks, there are people who don't believe that COVID is real but it's everywhere. So the message is that the government has to be consistent.” Unnecessary travel south is being discouraged, but Jolibois hopes that discrimination against northerners who do need to make trips south will stop. “The challenge that we faced in the spring, the horrific backlash that the community faced. I didn't appreciate the racism and the discrimination that people faced. We were denied appointments, because we were from La Loche or the northwest,” Jolibois said. “I felt that no one came to the community’s aid to say that discrimination is happening, racism is happening, let’s stop this. Many people feel and felt that that didn't happen. That was the labeling and negative impact. Now in Saskatchewan every region is a hot zone. Every region has COVID-19.” Jolibois said that poverty as a social determinant of health could be alleviated if more investments by government and industry circled back to where wealth is generated. While industries that operate in the north are “making Saskatchewan and Canada wealthy” she said that wealth isn’t being distributed the way that it should. “It is nice to get a few social programs, but other things are required. Like dollars for infrastructure, building facilities, employment, not just at the entry level, but the most senior levels,” Jolibois said. “It is important to acknowledge that there are First Nations and to also acknowledge there are Métis in our communities, and also to acknowledge northern municipalities. All three play a critical role in our communities. But when it comes to the government, ensuring that industry directly work with all three levels of government, it’s hit and miss.” Jolibois said that in order to prosper there needs to be an equal seat at the table for the north in Saskatchewan. “First of all, the government really should acknowledge that northern Saskatchewan is part of Saskatchewan. And show us that you really do mean working with us by providing us with the appropriate resources. To be at the standard of the rest of Saskatchewan,” Jolibois said. “It's important for northern Saskatchewan to have voices, and to speak to issues, Indigenous issues and other issues. It's important that our language and culture is protected. Our cultural identity and being Cree or Dene or Métis, First Nation or Inuit. It is important that truth and reconciliation happens for all of us. It's important for all of us to work toward betterment in our communities.” Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
HOUSTON — Thomas M. Reavley, the oldest active federal judge who served for 41 years on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has died. He was 99.Reavley died on Tuesday in Houston, the Texas Supreme Court announced. His health had been in decline during the past year, said Bryan A. Garner, one of Reavley’s former law clerks.He had served nine years on the Texas Supreme Court, the state’s top civil court, before being appointed to the appeals court by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.Reavley took senior status in 1990 but maintained a mostly full caseload until 2019. His legal career spanned more than six decades.“He was a towering figure in Texas and a true champion of justice for the state and the country,” said Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht.Garner, an attorney and law professor, said Reavley typified the very best qualities of “our federal judiciary: complete integrity, a commitment to fairness, incisive intellect and human kindness."A lay Methodist minister and Sunday school teacher, Reavley’s nickname was “Pope of the Fifth Circuit.”Reavley is survived by his wife, Carolyn Dineen King, who is also a judge on the 5th Circuit, and four children.He had been married to his first wife, Florence Wilson Reavley, for 60 years. She died in 2003. He married King in 2004 and the couple had said that before Florence Reavley died, she told them to get remarried.Reavley grew up in Nacogdoches, graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1942 and then enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was a lieutenant who drove President Franklin Roosevelt to Roosevelt’s meeting with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at Yalta, where the post-World War II fate of Germany was discussed.He earned his law degree from Harvard in 1948 and served as a prosecutor, local judge and state government official before serving on the Texas Supreme Court and 5th Circuit.Funeral services in Houston are pending.The Associated Press
The Fort McMurray Knights of Columbus is still hosting its annual Community Christmas meal, albeit with significant changes because of COVID-19 health restrictions. Usually, the free meal brings hundreds of people for food, socializing and singing. Community gatherings are not possible this year, so the Knights of Columbus will serve plates of food for people to pick up and eat elsewhere. Stan Bartlett, an organizer with the Knights of Columbus, said distribution will be at Earls Kitchen and Bar between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Christmas Day. Meals will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. “It’s not going to be the big event we’ve done in the last few years,” said Bartlett. “We’re happy we can still do something for people on Christmas Day.” The plates will be pre-prepared to limit the number of volunteers needed for the event. People will have to eat elsewhere and will not have access to the restaurant. “We don’t want to put anyone at risk,” said Bartlett. “People can come in to use the washroom if they need to, but we have to follow guidelines.” The event celebrated its 25th anniversary last year at Father Turcotte School. The first community Christmas meal was held in 1994 at the basement of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. After 11 years, the Fort McMurray Knights of Columbus took over the event. While the event started as an outreach to homeless and low-income people, it has turned into an event where everyone is welcome, regardless of faith, language or economic status. April’s flood also impacted the Knights of Columbus when the church’s basement flooded, damaging the group’s supplies for events. The group is still working on replacing most of those damaged items. All things considered, Bartlett said he is happy the Knights of Columbus are still able to offer a community meal. “We hope everyone can have a good Christmas this year and we’re hoping we can be a little part of that with an expression of kindness,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.orgSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
FAITS DIVERS. La Division des enquêtes sur la criminalité financière organisée a procédé le 27 novembre à l’arrestation de trois hommes de Montréal en lien avec le vol d’identité de personnes œuvrant dans le domaine de l’enseignement, de la fraude, de la possession de documents contrefaits, de l’utilisation non autorisée de données relatives à une carte de crédit et de l’utilisation non autorisée d’un ordinateur. Les crimes auraient été commis par Frédéric Lapointe, 41 ans, Rath Pak, 41 ans et Jimmy Saintelien, 39 ans, au printemps 2018 dans plusieurs régions du Québec. Notons qu’au moment des faits, des centaines de vols d’identité de personnes reliées au domaine de l’éducation avaient été signalés aux autorités. L’enquête menée en collaboration avec le Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur avait permis de découvrir que des individus utilisaient les informations volées afin de commettre des fraudes un peu partout au Québec. Rappelons que La Division des enquêtes sur la criminalité financière organisée a notamment pour mandat d’enquêter, en collaboration avec ses partenaires, sur les organisations criminelles qui commettent des crimes envers les marchés financiers et s’adonnent à des stratagèmes frauduleux dans le but de priver le gouvernement d’importants revenus. Elle intervient selon les objectifs du programme gouvernemental d’actions concertées contre les crimes économiques et financiers. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is threatening to veto a defence policy bill unless it ends protections for internet companies that shield them from being held liable for material posted by their users.On Twitter Tuesday night, Trump took aim at Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted — whether their complaint is legitimate or not.Trump called Section 230 “a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” adding, “Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill.”Trump has been waging war against social media companies for months, claiming they are biased against conservative voices.In October he signed an executive order directing executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, to study whether they can place new regulations on the companies.Since losing the presidential election, Trump has flooded social media with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Twitter has tagged many such Trump tweets with the advisory, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”Tuesday's veto threat is another potential roadblock for the passage of the annual defence policy measure, which is already being held up in Congress by a spat over military bases named for Confederate officers. The measure, which has passed for 59 years in a row on a bipartisan basis, guides Pentagon policy and cements decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals.The Associated Press
Depuis sa participation au spectacle de la relève Nikamu Mamuitun à la Place des Arts de Montréal à l’automne 2019, Scott-Pien Picard profite de riches expériences comme le show de la rentrée au Centre Bell, son passage à la semaine des 4 Julie, sans oublier sa nomination au Gala de l’ADISQ 2020 dans la catégorie « Artiste autochtone de l’année ». Plusieurs supporteurs de la région, mais certainement de plusieurs endroits seront rivés devant leur téléviseur afin de le voir chanter Makusham, un mot tellement rempli de sens dans la culture autochtone. Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
Meggie Fontaine de Uashat a reçu cet honneur, de la part d’une personne de son entourage. Elle est l’heureuse maman de la petite Uapukuniss, âgée de 5 mois. Elle n’a toutefois pas eu la chance de bénéficier de cette magnifique avancée, car sa communauté ne fait pas partie du Regroupement Mamit Innuat. Elle a dû faire des démarches supplémentaires, mais le plus important était de pouvoir avoir la garde de sa petite fleur. Une personne proche de Meggie a appris, l’an dernier, qu’elle était enceinte. Ayant déjà ses enfants et ne souhaitant pas pour autant se faire avorter, elle a demandé à son amie si elle désirait adopter son enfant, selon des coutumes autochtones, existant depuis des millénaires, et reconnues depuis 2018 par le Code civil du Québec. Elle a même pu assister à l’accouchement, et a coupé le cordon ombilical. Le Regroupement Mamit Innuat (RMI) servira d’autorité compétente pour les communautés d’Ekuanitshit, d’Unamen Shipu et de Pakua Shipu. Les demandes doivent respecter la coutume de la communauté, l’intérêt de l’enfant et le consentement de toutes les personnes impliquées. Il pourra s’agir également d’une alternative intéressante pour la Direction de la protection de la jeunesse. « À titre d’autorité compétente, nous serons en mesure de récupérer une douzaine de dossiers en attente à la DPJ et de migrer vers une démarche qui permet de mieux répondre aux réalités actuelles des familles et surtout des enfants innus. Il s’agit d’un grand pas vers l’autodétermination des communautés et nous en sommes très fiers ! » partage Marie-Michèle Savard, Gestionnaire de projet au secteur Services sociaux du RMI.Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it's not clear what can be done.
VICTORIA — British Columbia recorded 656 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as officials urged residents not to bend public health rules. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a joint statement that an additional 16 people have died, pushing B.C.'s death toll to 457. The new positive tests bring the total confirmed cases in the province since the pandemic began to 33,894, while about 70 per cent of those are considered recovered.The statement says there are 8,796 active cases in the province and another 10,123 people exposed to known cases are under active public health monitoring. There are 336 people are being treated in hospital and 76 are in intensive care. The majority of new cases are in the Fraser Health region, followed by Vancouver Coastal Health. "Without exception, follow the provincial health officer's orders in place," Henry and Dix say in the statement. Any events that gather people are not currently allowed, whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis, they say. This includes religious, cultural or community events. "Do not gather at home with anyone other than your household or core bubble," the statement says."Let's make today a day to slow community transmission and continue to protect everyone in our province."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Authorities on Tuesday announced the indictment of 18 people, including New York City rapper Casanova, in connection to a litany of gang-related crimes including racketeering, murder, drugs, firearms, and fraud offences.Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss and other law enforcement officials issued a statement accusing those named in the indictment of being part of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation gang, operating in New York City and part of New York state.Authorities said 17 of the 18 named in the indictment were in custody. The FBI’s New York office issued a tweet saying Casanova, whose legal name is Caswell Senior, was still being sought.“Members of Gorilla Stone committed terrible acts of violence, trafficked in narcotics, and even engaged in brazen fraud by exploiting benefits programs meant to provide assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," Strauss said in the statement.One of those indicted was accused in connection with the Sept. 21 killing of a minor in Poughkeepsie, New York. The others were indicted in connection to charges including assault, drug distribution and weapons possession. Two people were charged with falsely using other people's identity information to file for COVID-19 unemployment benefits.Casanova, currently signed to Roc Nation, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering; conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and firearms possession.Emails were sent to Roc Nation and the rapper's representative seeking comment.The Associated Press
ATLANTA — A top Georgia elections official on Tuesday lashed out angrily at the rhetoric surrounding the election and the threats of violence that have resulted, specifically calling on President Donald Trump to rein in his supporters.Gabriel Sterling is a Republican who oversaw the implementation of the state’s new voting system. During a routine news conference at the state capitol to provide an update on the recount of the presidential race requested by Trump, Sterling admonished the president and Georgia's two U.S. senators, who are both locked in tight runoff races against Democrats and have called on GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign over claims that he mishandled the election.“Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions,” Sterling said, visibly angry. “This has to stop. We need you to step up, and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some.”Trump, though, didn't take the upbraiding to heart, reiterating unproven claims of fraud relating to mail-in ballots in a tweet late Tuesday that replied to an Atlanta TV journalist who tweeted about Sterling's denunciation.“Rigged Election,” Trump tweeted. “Show signatures and envelopes. Expose the massive voter fraud in Georgia. What is Secretary of State and Brian Kemp afraid of. They know what we’ll find!!!”People have been driving in caravans past Raffensperger’s home, have come onto his property and have sent sexualized threats to his wife’s cellphone, said Sterling. Raffensperger and Sterling both have police stationed outside their homes, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said it’s investigating possible threats against officials to determine their credibility.Sterling said his anger boiled over when he learned that a contractor with Dominion Voting Systems helping with the recount effort in suburban Gwinnett County received death threats after someone shot video of him transferring a report to a county computer and falsely said the young man was manipulating election data.“There’s a noose out there with his name on it. That’s not right,” Sterling said, adding that the contractor didn't seek the spotlight by taking a high-profile position like Sterling or run for office like Raffensperger. “This kid took a job. He just took a job.”Trump last week called Raffensperger an “enemy of the people,” Sterling noted, adding, “That helped open the floodgates to this kind of crap."Sterling urged the president to step up and tell his supporters not to commit acts of violence. “Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed,” Sterling said.Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said in a statement Tuesday evening, "No one should engage in threats or violence, and if that has happened, we condemn that fully.”The campaigns for Republican U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler both issued statements Tuesday evening condemning violence but also criticizing election officials, according to news outlets.“Like many officials, as someone who has been the subject of threats, of course Senator Loeffler condemns violence of any kind. How ridiculous to even suggest otherwise,” Loeffler campaign spokesman Stephen Lawson said. “We also condemn inaction and lack of accountability in our election system process — and won’t apologize for calling it out.”Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
BEIJING — A Chinese spacecraft sent to return lunar rocks to Earth collected its first samples Wednesday after landing on the moon, the government announced, adding to a string of successes for Beijing's increasingly ambitious space program.The Chang’e 5 probe touched down shortly after 11 p.m. (1500 GMT) on Tuesday after descending from an orbiter, the China National Space Administration said. It released images of the barren scene at the landing site showing the lander's shadow.“Chang'e has collected moon samples,” the agency said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency. It said the probe also had successfully unfolded solar panels that will power it.The probe, launched Nov. 24 from the tropical southern island of Hainan, is the latest venture by a Chinese space program that sent its first astronaut into orbit in 2003, has a spacecraft en route to Mars and aims eventually to land a human on the moon.Plans call for the lander to spend about two days drilling into the lunar surface and collecting 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and debris. The top stage of the probe will be launched back into lunar orbit to transfer the samples to a capsule for return to Earth, where it is to land in China's northern grasslands in mid-December.If it succeeds, it will be the first time scientists have obtained fresh samples of lunar rocks since a Soviet probe in the 1970s. Those samples are expected to be made available to scientists from other nations, although its unclear how much access NASA will have, given tight U.S. government restrictions on space co-operation with China.From the rocks and debris, scientists hope to learn more about the moon, including its precise age, as well as increased knowledge about other bodies in our solar system. Collecting samples, including from asteroids, is an increasing focus of many space programs and China's mastery of the technology once again places it among the leading nations operating in space.American and Russian space officials congratulated the Chinese program.“Congratulations to China on the successful landing of Chang’e 5. This is no easy task," wrote NASA’s science mission chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, on Twitter."When the samples collected on the Moon are returned to Earth, we hope everyone will benefit from being able to study this precious cargo that could advance the international science community.”The most recent return of lunar rocks to Earth was carried out in 1976 by Luna 24, a Soviet robot probe.U.S. astronauts brought back 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of lunar samples from 1969 to 1972, some of which is still being analyzed and experimented on.The Chang'e 5 flight is China's third successful lunar landing. Its predecessor, Chang'e 4, was the first probe to land on the moon's little-explored far side.Chinese space program officials have said they envision future crewed missions along with robotic ones, including possibly a permanent research base. No timeline or other details have been announced.The latest flight includes collaboration with the European Space Agency, which is helping to monitor the mission.China's space program has proceeded more cautiously than the U.S.-Soviet space race of the 1960s, which was marked by fatalities and launch failures.In 2003, China became the third country to send an astronaut into orbit on its own after the Soviet Union and the United States. It also launched a crewed space station.China, along with neighbours Japan and India, also has joined the growing race to explore Mars. The Tianwen 1 probe launched in July is on its way to the red planet carrying a lander and a rover to search for water.Joe McDonald, The Associated Press
Mask-wearing is becoming mandatory in more and more parts of the territory as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country. Though the N.W.T. has been little affected by the pandemic in comparison to most southern regions of Canada – there is one active COVID-19 case in the territory at present – towns are proactively implementing more protective measures. In Fort Smith, masks became mandatory in municipal buildings on November 26. “As the rate of infection continues to rise across Canada, we encourage all businesses and retail stores in Fort Smith to incorporate a mandatory mask-wearing policy in their place of business,” read the town’s notice. “This added protection will help reassure the community that businesses are safe to access and continue to support local businesses.” Meanwhile, in Inuvik, local businesses like grocery stores have made masks mandatory in recent weeks. As first reported by the CBC, Fort Simpson last week unanimously passed a council resolution on November 23 to make masks more present in the village. Sean Whelly, the mayor of Fort Simpson, said the village was recommending masks specifically in retail environments, which he called the village’s “main points of contact.” “At five o’clock everyone goes out and starts shopping, and it was impossible to maintain that six-foot distance," Whelly said. "We really wanted to highlight the importance of people putting those masks on." Masks in Fort Simpson are not yet mandatory but are strongly encouraged. The council resolution states: “Personal preference is not a valid reason to not wear a mask.” Signs in place at Fort Simpson's Northern Store and Unity Store state the village highly recommends the use of masks. Masks have been mandatory at the village's liquor store since October 16. Whelly said he believed the number of people wearing masks had increased by 40 to 50 per cent since the resolution was enacted. Free masks will now be given out, which he expected to lead to a further increase in mask-wearing.Sarah Pruys and Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
The Canadian government has a marketplace worth an estimated $25 billion each year. And though it can be a difficult market to break into, countless businesses can benefit from many lucrative opportunities. This includes the businesses of five Indigenous women entrepreneurs who were on a panel this past Wednesday to discuss their stories, including the successes and challenges of landing contracts with the federal government. The event was organized by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and its entrepreneurial outreach and navigation program called BeTheDrum. The speakers’ panel, which was held online, was titled How We’re Doing Business with the Government of Canada. Sylvie Ouellette, president and co-founder of Versatil: Business Intelligence and Performance Management, started her company in 2010 in the Quebec city of Gatineau. Ottawa, the Canadian capital, is directly across a river from Gatineau. “So definitely we wanted to see how we could do business with the federal government,” said Ouellette. Her company specializes in data management, business analytics, security and AI intelligence. “This is a big employer here.” Ouellette said simply having the desire to land federal contracts is not sufficient. In order to secure some government deals, previous experience working for the Canadian government is required. This experience can only be obtained through partnerships. “It took us many years to be able to bid on a contract because we had to work with other companies first to get the experience so we could have our own references so that we could bid,” Ouellette said. “It’s complex, even if it’s small amounts.” Julie Lepage, the co-founder of Montreal-based Acosys Consulting Services, said she knew as early as when a business plan was being worked on that federal contracts were worth pursuing. “We saw there was so much potential in doing business with the government that we couldn’t ignore it,” she said. Acosys Consulting Services will be celebrating its 15th year in business this coming February. Winning some federal work though was not an easy path to navigate. Lepage attended numerous workshops and conferences in order to gather information on how the procurement system works for Indigenous entrepreneurs. “That was hard because we were meeting people who were in (in other industries) and they were getting contracts faster,” Lepage said. “For us it was hard because $10,000 in consulting services is nothing. It keeps us employed maybe for a month. It was a puzzle or problem we had to resolve.” Lepage said it took at least four years before Acosys Consulting Services even submitted its first bid to the federal government. And it took until 2018 for the business to secure its first long-term contract from the Canadian government. Her company quickly learned that it’s best to hire an expert in a particular field to assist with a bid proposal, Lepage said. While hiring another individual will result in additional expenses, it can be fruitful if a noteworthy contract is secured. After years of gaining experience in what federal officials are looking for in bid submissions, Lepage and her partner now handle the work on their own. “We learned and now we don’t hire anybody else,” she said. “We know how to answer all of these things.” Wendy Roberts is the president of Ottawa-based Makwa Resources, which specializes in human resources and program development with both public and private sectors. Makwa Resources started 15 years ago and Roberts said in the early years her company also had to rely on big partnerships to secure contracts with the federal government. But now it lands its own deals. “There’s a lot of positive energy that’s floating around,” she said, adding she’s hoping to win a number of contracts prior to the Christmas season. “We’re finding more and more with our government clients that they are listening more. It’s been a very positive reinforcement for us.” As for Janice Larocque, who is Métis and living in Calgary, she is the president and owner of a pair of staffing companies, Fast Labour Solutions and Spirit Omega. Playing by the government’s rules has kept her busy. “Partnerships can work but it does take a while,” she said. “So, if that’s what we need to do to advance, I think we should.” Larocque said she’s had plenty of discussions with those in her industry and a common thought is why there is a need to partner if a business has the capacity to provide a service on its own. “I really think if we start pushing, we don’t have to partner to deliver our services,” she said. Genevieve Cumpson is president of Drapeau Automatic Sprinkler Corp., a leading independent designer and installer of fixed fire protection and detection systems based in Kingston, Ont. “In our industry we’re so regulated with our codes that the government also has to be regulated so we kind of fit together,” Cumpson said. “We’re just very fortunate that we were finally able to be certified as an Aboriginal business.” Cumpson said landing federal contracts has proven beneficial for her company when seeking other work. “For us, working with the government has really actually helped us learn how to put proposals together because they required so much information,” she said. “Sometimes with our private companies we were able to bombard them because we had our structures already set up.” Windspeaker.comBy Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
New legislation that goes into effect in Alberta Tuesday means some impaired drivers will be slapped with stiff fines, rather than a criminal court trial. The UCP government has implemented legislation related to Bill 21 that includes changes to how impaired drivers are penalized and how things are handled during roadside stops. "The big takeaway is if you're a first time offender, they're not going to be putting you into the criminal justice system," said Const. Dan Kurz with the Calgary Police Service. "You'll be staying within the provincial transportation system." Kurz said for most first-time impaired drivers, the new rules can mean an immediate $1,000 fine, a 30-day vehicle seizure and mandatory impaired driving education, as well as existing measures such as a licence suspension. Criminal and repeat offenders will still face potential criminal charges and other penalties under the new legislation. "If we have cases where there's repeat offenders, if there's collisions, there's personal injury, there's minors in the vehicle, those are aggravating factors that basically say that driver is not eligible for the program," Kurz said. "And so they'll be diverted to the criminal side." The biggest change, Kurz said, is for first-time and non-criminal offenders. "So if you get pulled over and the officer deems you to be eligible to go into the provincial system, what will happen is you'll just get a piece of paper that has your information at the top of it, as well as a QR code," Kurz said, adding that offenders can then log into the Alberta Safe Roads system and address their file immediately, rather than waiting months to deal with it in court. "You can set up an appointment with an adjudicator right on your phone ... you can deal with your file, you can contest the file, you can request time to pay," Kurz said. "So all of that has been taken outside the court. The courts are overworked, they're overburdened. So this is a way to divert a lot of people out of the criminal justice system." The province says allowing police to issue tickets on the spot and impound vehicles for up to a month is a way to administer strict penalties, while freeing up court time and police resources. "Impaired driving files are very, very demanding on police resources. So even if it's just a simple impaired driving file, we've got to tie up maybe two police cars, a few different officers to do breath testing, to deal with tow trucks," Kurz said. "And then we have to deal with the offender for a number of hours, submit paperwork. And then when it comes time to court, we could spend hours in court. I've spent two days in court for a simple impaired driving file. So with this new program, we'll be able to deal with this stuff right at the roadside." But the move has sparked concern among criminal defence lawyers like Ian Savage in Calgary, who calls the new legislation alarming. Savage specializes in impaired driving cases, and says the right to a trial is essential in a democracy. "One would expect that you have the right to fight your case of appropriate circumstance and face your accuser. No, not under this legislation," Savage told the Calgary Eyeopener. "There's an adjudication process. The adjudicators by law are employees of the Government of Alberta. You cannot challenge your accuser so it's a bit of a farce." Savage says the Canadian legal system is based on the presumption of innocence — and that this legislation takes away that presumption. "It's now a presumption of guilt and not only that, your right to contest charges is removed," Savage said. "You're not allowed to subpoena the police officer to any adjudication hearing or cross-examine them. So essentially under their noses, we have become — and I hate to use drastic language — a fascist state." The province says people can pay fines, request more time to pay or request a review of their case online through SafeRoads Alberta. They can also seek judicial review in court. "The point here is that we fought hard from the Magna Carta forward in order to have this presumption of innocence in our legal system," Savage said. "And now the government, under the cover of COVID, under the cover of saving dollars, is taking that away from us in the areas in which people would most commonly come into conflict with the law — and people are just not aware that this is going on." Lowered stats in B.C. Transport Minister Ric McIver says similar measures have lowered impaired driving statistics in B.C. He added that repeat offenders will not be getting away with fines. "You won't be going home with your driver's license and you won't be going home with your vehicle, your vehicle will be seized for up to 30 days, you will get a fine up to $2,000, you'll have to go through a mandatory education program," McIvor said of repeat offenders. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has applauded the option for police to impound vehicles on the spot. "The immediate roadside sanction program option for certain impaired driving offenders provides a way to get them off the roads quickly, while ensuring they still face strong consequences for their actions," said MADD CEO Andrew Murie in an emailed statement. "Most importantly, these programs save lives. Similar measures introduced in British Columbia have helped reduce alcohol-related crash deaths by 50 per cent. That is hundreds of lives saved."
Newly minted Regina University MLA Aleana Young asked her first question in question period on Dec. 1, focusing on supporting small business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Democratic Party MLA is critic for economy, jobs, SaskBuilds and SaskPower. “Things are grim for many of our province’s small business owners, the heartbeat of the economy, and unfortunately, they're currently living in a worst of both worlds scenario. Businesses are being told to stay open, yet their customers are being urged to stay home,” Young said. “While this month should be the busiest for most retailers, the government has concocted a recipe for economic disaster that shuts many out from federal support. Not only are businesses shuttering and people losing their jobs, this government seems to believe its own spin that they haven't effectively shut down the economy. How many businesses, and how long does this government believe they can operate that 50 per cent, at 30 per cent, or at 25 per cent capacity, and for how long? What is this government's plan to help Saskatchewan small businesses?” In reply, Minister of Trade and Export Development Jeremy Harrison said, “The reality is that this government has stepped up with the most comprehensive supports for small business of any jurisdiction in the entire country. “We worked incredibly closely with our business community, through all facets of the pandemic. We came forward with the Small Business Emergency Payment early on in the pandemic, to support small businesses. Sixty-five hundred small businesses took advantage of that program, over $30 million distributed through that process. We then came forward with the Tourism Sector Support Program, which was the benchmark for supporting the tourism and hospitality industries in the entire country. Over $35 million allocated to that program, over 450 businesses supported directly and designed very closely in consultation with the leadership from that industry. The results have been positive. We've seen the lowest unemployment rate in the entire country, by a significant margin. We've seen merchandise exports leading the country in growth. We're going to be continuing and have been continuing to work very, very closely with our business community, and I would encourage the member opposite to stay tuned.” Young campaigned in the election during her last month of pregnancy, and gave birth to a daughter just days before election day. She won her seat in one of the closest races in the election, defeating incumbent cabinet minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor. Young has had her newborn daughter with her in the house at times. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury