Tananarive Due discusses the importance of Jordan Peele’s Get Out in creating a new renaissance of Black horror.
Tananarive Due discusses the importance of Jordan Peele’s Get Out in creating a new renaissance of Black horror.
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
This past Sunday, Nov. 29, the first Sunday of Advent, the people of Dundalk Wesleyan Church started an effort to help those in need that they hope the community in Dundalk and Southgate may join. Pastor Chris Lang said the idea came for one of their church members last year and was a great success in the congregation, so they are opening it up. The effort aims to help stock the shelves of the Dundalk Food Bank with a Food Drive that will take place during the season of Advent. Advent is the time when Christians count down the days until Christmas when they celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Food Drive is called a “Reverse Advent Calendar Food Drive” because instead of counting down, the Food Drive instead adds items each day. At the end, people have assembled a large box of non-perishable food items ready for the Food Bank. The Food Drive runs until Sunday Dec. 20. There is a list of food items for each day of the Food Drive. For example Nov. 29, peanut butter; Nov. 30 - canned meat; Dec. 1 canned vegetables; Dec. 2, mac and cheese and so on. Members of the community who are not connected to the church are invited to participate in this Food Drive as well. They can donate the food items week by week at a box at the Co-operators office at 40 Main St. E., Dundalk, or contact the church to make arrangements to drop off the finished box. You can email the church at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
The COVID-19 pandemic made it harder for many to find and afford menstrual products. It also gave Isabela Rittinger and scores of other volunteers in and around Toronto time to do something about it. Rittinger, a first-year student at Queen’s University in Kingston stuck attending virtual classes from home in Pickering, jumped into the fray by creating an international chapter of a U.S.-based period movement in March. By the summer, she and a group of others, including many students, had split off to create Bleed the North and declare Canada’s first ever National Period Day, part of a campaign to fight menstrual stigma and period poverty, the inability to afford pads and tampons, which can cost between $75 and $150 a year. The group, now numbering 80 people, has since collected and distributed more than 10,000 period products, in kits of 11 pads and 7 tampons, enough to cover a typical menstrual cycle. It was all Rittinger could do to feel useful at a time of massive upheaval, and the community and team-building helped get her through the worst of those early days. “I don't know what I would have done with my time and how I would have faced the COVID lockdown if not for the people I had met at Bleed the North,” she said in an interview. “Those few months at the beginning were really, really dire and it was just like, if I didn't have this to pour all my time and my heart into I don't know where I would be.” Bleed the North started off collecting donated pads and tampons and delivering them to shelters and individuals in need in Durham Region outside Toronto, but has since eyed getting student trustees on school boards across Ontario to pitch for them to make period products freely available in all secondary school bathrooms. “We hear all the time from menstruators afraid to go to the bathroom holding a pad or a tampon,” said Mia Medic, who takes a lead on Bleed the North’s advocacy efforts. “That's stigma, that's period stigma.” “No one in school, no teacher, has ever told me to not be ashamed to have a period,” she added, noting the group plans to create a sex education toolkit for teachers in the coming months and recalling her experience learning the biological basics in grades 5 and 6. She said it was important to get products into all bathrooms “so every student who menstruates has access to products,” pointing out that “not all women menstruate and not all those who menstruate are women.” Independent of their efforts, Peel District School Board recently said it would provide free period products after a student trustee push, but there is no provincewide legislation. “Even sparking conversations within school boards and within authority figures is super, super important,” Medic said. “I would love to hear (Education Minister) Stephen Lecce talk about periods and talk about menstruation, even if we don't get anywhere, just to hear people in power speak about it is a win for us, because it's a start.” One-third of the under-25s in a Plan Canada survey of 2,000 cisgender women conducted in early 2018 said they struggled to afford menstrual products. (It did not include the specific experiences of trans men and non-binary menstruators.) Those in Indigenous and rural communities suffer acutely from a lack of affordable access, with a box of tampons costing between $16 and $40 in rural Indigenous communities that Bleed the North is trying to reach. “I think one for us coming into 2021 is figuring out how we can support communities that we don't necessarily live near because obviously a lot of us are young 17, 18-year-olds who in their cars go to different communities and drop off products to shelters,” Rittinger said, noting it might make more sense to fundraise and e-transfer to remote shelters and other sources. Bleed the North itself has largely subsisted on small individual donations of cash and goods to distribute, including a contactless drive-thru drop-off where it raised $500. A peer organization called Menstruation REDefined hosted a virtual art auction and sent them half the proceeds. The federal government proposed to make federally regulated workplaces provide workers with free menstrual products in May last year, while in Ontario a bill tabled by the opposition NDP’s Bhutila Karpoche at around the same time to declare a provincial menstrual hygiene day has stalled at first reading. British Columbia's government issued a first-in-Canada ministerial order requiring all public schools to provide free menstrual products for students in school bathrooms last April. Bleed the North’s monitoring of legislative efforts elsewhere show little to no movement. The group said it has received interest from advocates on university campuses and other sites in other provinces (it has a couple in Quebec already) and is looking to expand across the country next year. “We're hoping to expand nationally next year and having contacts all across the country that we can rely on to start this in their own communities and hopefully reach as many people as possible.”Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
NEW YORK — The annual publishing convention and trade show known as BookExpo, a decades-old tradition where guest speakers have ranged from Bill Clinton to Margaret Atwood, may be coming to an end.ReedPop, which has managed BookExpo for a quarter century, announced Tuesday that effectively immediately it was “retiring” the event, along with the fan-based BookCon and merchandise-based UnBound. Any future for the convention depends on the wishes of the book community. As in other industries, publishers have debated the necessity of holding BookExpo when much of the business once conducted there has moved online.BookExpo used to be rotated around the country, from Los Angeles to Chicago to Washington, D.C., but it was held almost exclusively in recent years in Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center. New York publishers looked to reduce costs, including cutting back sharply on how much space they purchased on the convention floor.Earlier this year, BookExpo and BookCon were held virtually because of the coronavirus. The status for next year's show was already in doubt."The pandemic arrived at a time in the life cycle of BookExpo and BookCon where we were already examining the restructure of our events to best meet our community’s need," Reed event director Jennifer Martin said in a statement."This has led us to make the difficult decision to retire the events in their current formats, as we take the necessary time to evaluate the best way to move forward and rebuild our events that will better serve the industry and reach more people than we were able to before. We remain committed to serving the book community and look forward to sharing more information in the future.”Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle, who has praised BookExpo as a chance for the industry to gather under one roof, said in a statement that he hoped such occasions would happen again.“Among the many traditions we greatly missed this year was having an industry event that brings together booksellers, authors and publishers," he said. "In this virtual world, Penguin Random House is continuously investing in innovative ways to connect our community members with one another, and we look forward to working with our industry partners to explore a newly imagined event where we all can come together to celebrate books and their essential role in our society and culture.”Booksellers have been meeting annually since the early 20th century, although the modern convention dates back to 1947 and the founding of the American Booksellers Association Convention and Trade Show. The ABA, the trade group for independent owners, served as host until the mid-1990s, when tensions with the superstore chain Barnes & Noble and some publishers led to legal action and to the association's selling the show to Reed.Usually held in late spring, BookExpo was once a prime venue for upcoming books to “break out,” and for publishers to place orders with booksellers and bring in top authors to meet with store officials, agents, librarians and journalists.At a given convention, a dais might be shared by Atwood, William Styron and Margaret Thatcher, or by Bill Murray and Julia Child. At a 2006 luncheon in Washington, speakers included Amy Sedaris and John Updike, whose elegy for all the Manhattan bookstores now closed so moved the audience that few remembered what was said by the third featured author, a first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.But over the past few years, visiting authors lacked the star power of previous guests, and attendance fell to the point where sizable parts of the Javits centre floor were empty.In 2018, when Michelle Obama was looking to promote the fall release of her memoir “Becoming,” she didn't come to BookExpo, but instead addressed the convention of the American Library Association. And this year highlighted doubts over whether an in-person gathering raises sales: The market has remained stable despite the pandemic and the convention being held online.Meanwhile, other industry meetings continue, including regional shows and the increasingly popular Winter Institute, managed by the American Booksellers Association. The Winter Institute will be held virtually in February 2021."The retirement of BookExpo feels like the end of an era," ABA CEO Allison K. Hill told the AP, adding that the need for booksellers to gather was as strong as ever. "ABA is exploring new ways to bring booksellers, publishers, and authors together in the future. For now, we’ll keep bringing everyone together virtually.”Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
The remains of a 17-year-old soldier were unearthed four years ago in Belgium — and it turns out they are those of a member of the Newfoundland Regiment, who fought in the First World War and died 103 years ago. The details of the discovery and identity were announced Tuesday at an event at The Rooms in St. John's, with the provincial archivist being acknowledged as having played a major role in the process. Pte. John Lambert died Aug. 16, 1917. He was born July 10, 1900, in St. John's, according to officials with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. His remains were discovered during an archeological dig near St. Julien, Belgium. There were three other sets of human remains found, but it's not clear if the others have been identified. Lambert's name was memorialized on the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in Bowring Park, which commemorates soldiers from Newfoundland who died during the First World War and have no known grave. Lambert lied about his age to fight in warAccording to a biography on the federal government's website, Lambert lied about his age and claimed he was 18 years old when, in fact, he was 16. He joined the 2nd Battalion in Scotland, and made his way to France, where he joined the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment in June 1917. Members served with the 88th Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division of the British Expeditionary Force.On Aug. 16, 1917, an attack was launched by the Newfoundland Regiment — in what become known as the Battle of Langemarck — with members successfully overtaking the enemy's trenches and bunkers. Lambert suffered wounds during the attack, and later died from them. Another 26 men were killed in that battle. N.L.'s provincial archivist played key roleLambert's remains were found alongside a number of artifacts in 2016. Those included a shoulder title of the Newfoundland Regiment, an Inniskilling Fusiliers cap badge, two Hampshire Regiment shoulder titles, general service buttons, British bullets and a few other small items.DNA samples from the soldier's descendants made it possible to confirm Lambert's identity — making it the first time a Newfoundland Regiment soldier has been identified by this process, according to the provincial government. It was Greg Walsh, the provincial archivist and director of The Rooms' provincial archives, who "provided vital archival research to locate Private Lambert's direct descendants," according to a Newfoundland and Labrador government media release. Walsh, speaking to reporters at Tuesday's event, praised Lambert for being "so courageous."When pressed about the fact that this was the first local case of its kind, Walsh acknowledged the significance, but noted it was a team effort. "I just feel like it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, I have ever been asked to do, and I'm so proud of the work I did, and the work we did as a team," he said. "I do feel like we have put a name to a face and that's a huge part of what we do as archivists and we don't get to do that everyday."Patience and tenacityHow Walsh got to the point of identifying the remains was a lesson in patience and tenacity. "Military records confirmed there were 16 Newfoundland Regiment soldiers who had fought in the vicinity, with no known grave. Walsh, began his year-long search with this list of 16 soldiers and proceeded to find living descendants for 13 of the 16," reads a statement. Walsh combed through many information sources, including vital statistics registers, census records, newspaper records, phone books and online search engines, to find anything that might help with the process. Ultimately, it was a combination of historical, genealogical, anthropological, and DNA analysis that helped the Casualty Identification Review Board identify Lambert, according to the government's website.Col. Perry Grandy, who is chairman of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council, said identifying Lambert, and the process that led to that, are both significant. "This has connected our modern day life with something that happened in history that we only read about," Grandy said. Burial to come at 'earliest opportunity'The Canadian Armed Forces have notified Lambert's surviving next of kin, and are providing them with ongoing support, according to the government. Lambert, who was born to Richard and Elizabeth Lambert, will be buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's New Irish Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, as the "earliest opportunity," according to the federal government. It's expected that family members, along with representatives from the Canadian, United Kingdom and Belgian governments will attend, as will representation from the Canadian Armed Forces. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
BRUSSELS — European Union lawmakers lashed out Tuesday at the head of Frontex over allegations that the border and coast guard agency helped illegally stop migrants or refugees entering Europe, calling for his resignation and demanding an independent inquiry. The lawmakers grilled Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri over an investigation in October by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said that video and other publicly available data suggest Frontex “assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea.” The report said personnel from the agency, which monitors and polices migrant movements around Europe’s borders, were present at another incident and “have been in the vicinity of four more since March.” Frontex launched an internal probe after the news broke. “In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign,” senior Socialist lawmaker Kati Piri said in a statement after the parliamentary civil liberties committee hearing. “There are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.” Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn't be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or being members of a social or political group. Frontex’s board met to discuss the allegations late last month. The board said afterwards that the European Commission had ordered it to “hold a further extraordinary meeting within the next two weeks in order to consider in more detail the replies provided by the agency.” That meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9. “Migrants and refugees are very vulnerable to pushbacks by border guards,” Greens lawmaker Tineke Strik said. "We must be able to rely on an EU agency which prevents human rights violations from happening and not inflict them. But Frontex seems to be a partner in crime of those who deliberately violate those human rights.” Strik raised doubts about whether the internal Frontex probe would produce results and urged the assembly's political groups to consider launching their own inquiry. Leggeri said that no evidence of any Frontex involvement in pushbacks had been found so far. He said EU member countries have control over operations in their waters, not Frontex, and he called for the rules governing surveillance of Europe's external borders to be clarified. “We have not found evidence that there were active, direct or indirect participation of Frontex staff or officers deployed by Frontex in pushbacks," he told the lawmakers. When it comes to operations, Leggeri said, “only the host member state authorities can decide what has to be done.” Leggeri also said that Frontex staff were under extreme pressure around the time of the alleged incidents in March and April. He said that Turkish F-16 fighter jets had “surrounded” a Danish plane working for Frontex, while vessels were harassed by the Turkish coast guard and shots fired at personnel at land borders. He called for EU “guidance” on how to handle such situations. The allegations are extremely embarrassing for the European Commission. In September it unveiled sweeping new reforms to the EU’s asylum system, which proved dismally inadequate when over 1 million migrants arrived in 2015, many of them Syrian refugees entering the Greek islands via Turkey. Part of the EU's migration reforms includes a system of independent monitoring involving rights experts to ensure that there are no pushbacks at Europe’s borders. Migrant entries have dropped to a relative trickle in recent years, although many migrants still languish on some Greek islands waiting for their asylum claims to be processed or to be sent back. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she still has confidence in Frontex’s managing board but remains deeply concerned about the allegations. During a visit to Morocco, Johansson said that the report "concerns me a lot. If it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable. A European agency has to comply to EU law and fundamental rights with no excuse.” Johansson said she has “full confidence in the process that (has) gone on in the management board and the sub-group they are setting up” to continue the investigation, but, she noted that “there were a lot of questions put to the director. And he has not answered these questions.” ___ Tarik El Barakah reported from Rabat, Morocco. Lorne Cook And Tarik El Barakah, The Associated Press
Megan Gail Coles, a writer whose debut novel Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club became a Canadian literary sensation, has been named ArtsNL's artist of the year.Coles was named the winner Tuesday afternoon at a physically-distanced ceremony held at the LSPU Hall in downtown St. John's.The novel, which was published in 2019, was a contender in the most recent Canada Reads competition, and was short-listed for the Giller prize.The book, set on a stormy winter's night in and around an upscale St. John's restaurant, circles around a set of characters who work there and their often dysfunctional relationships."I would especially like to thank the Great Northern Peninsula, the island of Newfoundland, who are responsible for my best and bad bits, whether they want to really acknowledge that sometimes or not," said Cole, who grew up in Savage Cove. In a short speech, Cole also thanked her "friends and family, who put up with my antics during the creation period, which can sometimes be taxing for everyone." Cole, who is also a playwright, won the 2019 BMO Winterset award for the novel. She won the same prize in 2014 for her short fiction collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome.ArtsNL usually holds a gala for its annual awards ceremony. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a scaled-back ceremony was held on Tuesday afternoon, and live streamed over the internet.Other winners of the 35th ArtsNL Awards included:Danielle Irvine, a veteran theatrical director and the artistic director at the Perchance Theatre in Cupids, received the Artists' Achievement Award.Emily Bridger, an actor, writer and director who has been making films in the St. John's area, received the CBC Emerging Artist Award.WATCH | We prepared this video about nominees of the 2020 ArtsNL awards: Joanna Barker, a singer-songwriter and a music teacher at the Mushuau Innu Natuashish School, received the Arts in Education Award.David Hood, a retired chartered accountant who has volunteered his time for numerous arts organizations, including Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, the Bonavista Biennale, St. Michael's Print Shop, MusicNL and the Garrick Theatre, received the Patron of the Arts Award.Bernice Morgan, the bestselling author of Random Passage and many other books, received the Hall of Honour Award. "I am deeply, deeply honoured to be here today," said Morgan, who thanked the artists who came before her for inspiration, as well as for public support of the arts and the library system she credited for nourishing her mind. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
CBC's Faith Fundal says we are "at a time where more and more people are feeling safe to come out". And they are "excited" by Elliot Page's news.
WASHINGTON — American factories grew at a slower pace last month and there are concerns that surging coronavirus infections will endanger an economic recovery. The Institute of Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Tuesday that its manufacturing index dipped to 57.5 in November from 59.3 in October. Any reading above 50 signals that manufacturing is expanding. The ISM index plunged in the spring but has since bounced back and now shows factories on a six-month winning streak. New orders and production grew more slowly last month. Hiring actually dropped, reversing a gain in October. New export orders grew faster. Sixteen of 18 industries surveyed reported growth last month, led by apparel and mineral manufacturers. The U.S. economy collapsed from April through June and has since been recovering. But a sharp increase in infections is raising fears that the recovery will lose momentum as state and local governments issue lockdown orders and Americans stay home on their own to avoid infection. “For now, the manufacturing sector appears to be weathering another round of virus outbreaks fairly well,? Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a research note. “However, the outlook is uncertain given targeted restrictions and shutdowns, at home and abroad, could disrupt activity and weigh on demand.? Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press
Prior to the pandemic, Artem Polyvyanny used to choose where he wanted to live and work pretty much on a whim. “Africa was going to be a place I wanted to go but it’s mostly closed, Asia is almost completely closed too,” says the 34-year-old from Toronto. He had settled on going to Europe to see friends, but had to change plans recently as countries there began to implement new COVID-19 lockdowns.He now finds himself in Mexico, a destination that came about through a process of elimination.“I can’t go to many of the places I want to go.”Canadians living the digital nomad lifestyle say remote work in foreign countries has become cheaper as a result of the pandemic, but the freedom to go where they wish has been heavily limited. Digital nomads, who often freelance or work remotely full-time, are accustomed to a lifestyle where they can pick and choose where they’d like to live. However, travel restrictions are one of the biggest changes they’ve had to come to terms with.Polyvyanny says what he loses in choice, he’s getting back in value as the price of housing and flights has dropped dramatically as regular tourist traffic plummets across the world. He snagged a one-way ticket from Toronto to Playa del Carmen for only $170, and was able to negotiate prices while picking a place to stay.Vanessa Perez, a freelance marketing consultant from Montreal, says she was used to working abroad for seven months every year prior to the pandemic.This year, she worked in Paris for only one month in September. She made the choice to travel to Western Europe because she felt governments there were more serious about implementing safety measures for COVID-19.It’s not a typical destination for digital nomads, who usually opt for cheaper regions like Southeast Asia where they have the added benefit of a favourable currency exchange rate. Perez, who previously lived in Columbia and El Salvador, says it was worth the extra cost to continue the nomadic lifestyle.Now back in Montreal, Perez says she’s planning to work abroad in February, but is careful about committing.“I can’t buy a ticket now for February because I don’t know how things will even turn out in December,” she says, adding that insurance coverage and visa restrictions are a constant concern.“It’s day to day, week to week to see what will be the next step.”For Canadians, Mexico has proven to be a convenient destination where a visa is easy to come by.Lisa Shiller, a Torontonian who currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, said she’s able to live in the country with a six-month tourist visa that she received on arrival.She said renewing her visa is as simple as leaving the country and coming back again, which is much cheaper during the pandemic because of lower living costs.“Mexico has this stance where it’s like, ‘yes, come here, bring your dollars, spend your money,’” said Shiller, who has lived in Mexico throughout the pandemic, only returning home once after seven months to renew her visa.But she said the lifestyle isn’t quite the same, as she's avoiding air travel and can't explore the country like she had planned to. The silver lining is that she’ll save more money and can still travel by vehicle. Polyvyanny, who returned to Toronto at the start of the pandemic, says he decided to go back to Mexico because he felt it wasn’t worth spending so much to live in Canada’s largest city when most events are cancelled and city life is disrupted.“Pretty much all of the good things about Toronto were taken away,” he says.“There’s no reason to pay a premium on everything if I’m not able to enjoy this city.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press
Some nurses who left their jobs at Health PEI to take positions with Veterans Affairs Canada asked for, but were denied, a secondment from their provincial jobs, according to the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay.That's from the latest in a series of letters between MacAulay and P.E.I. Health Minister James Aylward. Aylward wrote to MacAulay in October, expressing concern about a hiring campaign by VAC by which the federal department had lured away at that time, according to Aylward's numbers, 25 registered nurses, two social workers and one psychologist from Health PEI.Health PEI said this week that the number of nurses who have left for VAC has now reached 32.As part of its effort to clear up a backlog of tens of thousands of disability claims, a spokesperson for VAC told CBC the department has hired 125 nurses across Canada, including 55 on P.E.I. Overall the federal department plans to hire 300 temporary staff and aims to clear up the backlog by March 2022. However the Parliamentary Budget Office says the job will require more staffing and an extra year to complete."Given the size of our province and corresponding size of the nursing workforce within our health-care system, this recruitment campaign has had a significant negative impact on our health human resources," Aylward wrote to MacAulay in the first of two letters the health minister tabled in the P.E.I. Legislature.Aylward went on to say some long-term care facilities also lost positions, and were operating with "a skeleton staff."Aylward told MacAulay it was "counterproductive" for a federal department to be taking nurses from provincial health care while Ottawa was at the same time sending additional resources to the provinces to help them deal with COVID-19.> I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada. — Lawrence MacAulay"The number of nurses that have migrated from our system to your department has left a potential significant nursing gap should we experience a second wave resulting in a critical situation," Aylward wrote in a followup letter dated Nov. 17.In that letter, Aylward asked about the possibility of Health PEI receiving some of the nurses back from VAC on secondment.Nurses denied requests for leave, says MacAulayBut in response, MacAulay said some of the nurses hired by VAC had asked for a secondment working the other way around: they had asked Health PEI to be allowed to temporarily leave their provincial positions to help VAC clear up the backlog, but that request was denied."My department offered this option for consideration at the time of the recruitment campaign, recognizing the pressures that all health systems were facing," MacAulay wrote to Aylward."I understand that many nurses were not granted leave when they requested it from the province's health authority, and subsequently made their own decision to join Veterans Affairs Canada."MacAulay said the positions are only temporary, and that he'd instructed his department "to be as helpful as possible on this matter." He said VAC is "willing to assist the province with its pandemic response should the current situation change."Nurses in search of 'work-life balance': unionMona O'Shea, the head of the P.E.I. Nurses' Union, said she found it "interesting" Aylward reached out to MacAulay over the nursing shortage. She said the province was already facing a significant number of nursing vacancies even before VAC started recruiting.She said Aylward might have done better to take his concerns to the union. She said nurses are looking for "better work-life balance," and are being denied requests for "temporary leave of absence for education, for movement within the system, vacation, being called back to work when on vacation."O'Shea said nurses are feeling "undervalued, not appreciated and always being asked to do more with less."More from CBC P.E.I.
Quebec City has inaugurated a memorial to the victims of the 2017 mosque shooting. The commemorative work designed by artist Luce Pelletier is located near the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec, in the city's Ste-Foy district. Mayor Regis Labeaume said the Jan. 29, 2017 attack on the centre left families, a community and an entire city in mourning when six Muslim men were gunned down shortly after the end of evening prayers. Labeaume says the people of Quebec City want to live together in harmony, a sentiment reinforced by another recent tragedy, a sword attack that left two people dead and five injured in the city's historic district on Halloween night. He says the memorial, titled "Vivre Ensemble" (Live Together), is a way of making it clear that "hate will never win." The monument is composed of several elements that symbolize the meeting of different communities, with the part near the mosque serving as an area for meditation and commemoration. The area for reflection includes a written recounting of what happened that night while the commemorative portion includes the names of the six men engraved on stones, each adorned with perforated aluminum sheets with patterns inspired by their countries of origin: Morocco, Guinea, Tunisia and Algeria. Family members of the six victims — Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzeddine Soufiane and Aboubaker Thabti — as well as some survivors were present for the unveiling today. "This tragedy left a permanent scar on the hearts of thousands of residents," Labeaume said. "To demonstrate that we remember, that we still think about the victims today, we are proud to pay homage with the magnificent commemorative monument." The president of the mosque gave an emotional address with a message for the children of the six victims. "For the kids present today, the children of our lost friends, you have felt that everyone loves you," Boufeldja Benabdallah said. "When you cross people on the street, they embrace you. You are like their children, everyone loves you and everyone wants you to become the great citizens of tomorrow, to honour this city and to honour your parents' memory." The Quebec City man convicted of six counts of first-degree murder in the killings was sentenced to life in prison in February 2019. Following a successful appeal decision last week, he is eligible to apply for parole after serving 25 years in prison. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
HARDCOVER FICTION 1. “Rhythm of War” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor) 2. “Daylight” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing) 3. “A Time for Mercy” by John Grisham (Doubleday) 4. “The Law of Innocence” by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown) 5. “All That Glitters” by Danaielle Steel (Delacorte) 6. “The Return” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing) 7. “The Sentinel” by Child/Child (Delacorte) 8. “Fortune and Glory” by Janet Evanovich (Atria) 9. “Tom Clancy Shadow of the Dragon” by Marc Cameron (G.P. Putnam's Sons) 10. “Piece of My Heart” by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster) 11. “Marauder” by Cussler/Morrison (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 12. “Batman: Three Jokers” by Johns/Fabok (DC) 13. “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (Riverhead) 14. “Three Women Disappear” by Patterson/Serafin (Little, Brown) 15. “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman (Atria) HARDCOVER NONFICTION 1. “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (Crown) 2. “Dungeons & Dragons: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything” (Wizards of the Coast) 3. “Forgiving What You Can't Forgive” by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson) 4. “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey (Crown) 5. “Dolly Parton, Songteller” by Dolly Parton (Chronicle) 6. “A Wealth of Pigeons” by Martin/Bliss (Celadon) 7. “Frontier Follies” by Ree Drummond (William Morrow) 8. “Modern Comfort Food” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter) 9. “No Time Like the Future” by Michael J. Fox (Flatiron) 10. “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House) 11. “The Answer Is...” by Alex Trebek (Simon & Schuster) 12. “Guinness World Records 2021” (Guinness World Records) 13. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle (Dial Press) 14. “The Forgiveness Journal” by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson) 15. “HHR: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style” by Elizabeth Holmes (Celadon) MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS 1. “Wyoming True” by Diana Palmer (HQN) 2. “Leopard’s Rage” by Christine Feehan (Berkley) 3. “The River Murders” by Patterson/Born (Grand Central Publishing) 4. “When You See Me” by Lisa Gardner (Dutton) 5. “The Night Fire” by Michael Connelly (Grand Central Publishing) 6. “Spy” by Danielle Steel (Dell) 7. “A Christmas Message” by Debbie Macomber (Mira) 8. “Spirit of the Season” by Fern Michaels (Zebra) 9. “A MacGregor Christmas” by Nora Roberts (Silhouette) 10. “The Museum of Desire” by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine) 11. “A MacCallister Christmas” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle) 12. “The Vanishing” by Jayne Ann Krentz (Berkley) 13. “The Christmas Backup Plan” by Lori Wilde (Avon) 14. “The Devil's Boneyard” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle) 15. “One Touch of Moondust” by Sherryl Woods (Harlequin) TRADE PAPERBACKS 1. “Home Body” by Rupi Kaur (Andrew McMeel) 2. “Texas Outlaw” by Patterson/Bourelle (Grand Central Publishing) 3. “Redefining Anxiety” by John Delony (Ramsey) 4. “No One Asked for This” by Cazzie David (Mariner) 5. “The 19th Christmas” by Patterson/Paetro (Grand Central Publishing) 6. “Forgiving What You Can't Forget Study Guide” by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson) 7. “The Truths We Hold” by Kamala Harris (Penguin Books) 8. “Una tierra prometida” by Barack Obama (Debate) 9. “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart (Grove) 10. “Burn After Writing” (pink) by Sharon Jones (TarcherPerigee) 11. “The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook” by Jeffrey Eisner (Voracious) 12. “Air Fryer Cookbook” by Jenson William (Jenson William) 13. “Interesting Stories for Curious People” by Bill O'Neill (LAK) 14. “Circe” by Madeline Miller (Back Bay) 15. “Burnout” by Nagoski/Nagoski (Ballantine) 5. “Circe” by Madeline Miller (Back Bay) The Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Roger Mandle, an internationally renowned art scholar and the former longtime president of the Rhode Island School of Design, has died, RISD said Tuesday. He was 79.Mandle died over the weekend, the school said in a statement, without elaborating. A cause of death was not given.Mandle served as president of RISD from 1993 to 2008. He was credited with helping modernize the school, one of America's most prestigious four-year art colleges, and quadrupling its endowment to over $400 million. He previously served as deputy director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.A former member of the National Council on the Arts appointed by former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Mandle helped shape and guide the U.S. art and design agenda.“My mission, my vision, is to contribute to our humanity and quality of life and to make Providence and the Rhode Island School of Design a globally recognized centre of art, design and right-brained thinking,” he once said.From 2008 to 2012, Mandle was executive director of the Qatar Museums Authority, overseeing more than a dozen museums, including the Museum of Islamic Art, the Qatar Natural History Museum and the National Museum of Qatar.Later, he launched a consulting firm dedicated to assisting museums and universities in strategic planning, board and senior staff development and mentoring, and advice during important transitions.He was a former director of the Toledo Museum of Art, a former associate director of the Minneapolis Institute of Art and a member of the Ohio Arts Council.“The American arts and higher education communities have lost a giant," Democratic U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in a statement, calling Mandle “an extraordinary man and a great civic leader.”“His influence on generations of artists and others whose lives were made better through the arts will live on,” RISD President Rosanne Somerson said in a statement.Mandle is survived by his wife, the abstract painter and acclaimed mixed media artist Gayle Wells Mandle; son Luke Mandle; daughter Julia Mandle; and five grandchildren.Funeral arrangements were incomplete Tuesday.William J. Kole, The Associated Press
Regina– On Nov. 19, the Ministry of Health released updated modelling information which provided four possible forecasts of what could happen in the coming months as COVID-19 spread across Saskatchewan. Several slides referenced Nov. 29 as part of a 14-day forecast. So what actually happened? Generally speaking, even with regularly climbing daily case counts in Saskatchewan, reality has been much less harsh than those models were predicting. While Saskatchewan has continued to show exponential growth in its 7-day average new case count, reality turned out to be much lower than the projected forecast. The “14 Day Forecast of Lab Confirmed Cases (to Nov. 29, 2020)” slide shows a band of possibilities, with a “50 per cent Forecasted Value” line, the “Upper Credibility Interval (97.5 per cent),” and the “Lower Credibility Interval (2.5 per cent).” The chart also says “*Interpret with caution.” The forecasted 50 per cent value was roughly 1,400 cases per day on Nov. 29, with the upper number coming in around 2,100 and the lower number at 660. In actuality, Saskatchewan’s new case count on Nov. 29 was 351, one of its highest days, but its 7-day average on that day was 250 cases per day. Three days earlier the average case count of 243 cases per day exceeded the 240 case per day level – a doubling from 120 average cases per day reached 16 days earlier on Nov. 10. Saskatchewan had been seeing a doubling of average cases per day roughly every 14 days since Oct. 10. Similarly, the “14 Day Forecast of Acute Hospital Admissions (to Nov. 29, 2020)” was also substantially off the mark. It’s 50 per cent forecast line came in at 90 new admissions per day, with the high mark at 130 and the low mark at 40. The daily COVID-19 updates from the province do not speak of new admissions per day, but rather provide how many people are in hospital, overall new cases, recoveries and deaths. So while the total number of people in hospital may increase by eight, as it did on Nov. 30, there will be churn within the number for people recovering and going home, and new admissions coming in. Thus, in reality, on Nov. 30, Saskatchewan had 123 people in total hospitalized throughout the province, the highest level to date. That was an increase from 115 the day before. On Nov. 30, the 325 new cases also came with were 49 recoveries. There were two deaths reported on Nov. 30, and 23 people were in intensive care. Manitoba and North Dakota compared With 325 new cases announced on Nov. 30, Saskatchewan’s 7-day average is now 262.9 cases per day. That number shows a continuing growth pattern, but perhaps not as sharply as the previous two months had been, and it may no longer be on the same exponential curve that it had been on from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15. In comparison, Manitoba has remained relatively flat since Nov. 13, when its 7-day average case count hit 400.4. Since then there have been fluctuations in the daily count, but the average has remained in a narrow band between 371.6 and 422.7 average cases per day. On Nov. 30, Manitoba’s 7-day average was 392.4 cases per day. Prior to mid-November, Manitoba had been undergoing exponential growth at a rate almost exactly the same as Saskatchewan, but roughly 16 to 18 days ahead of Saskatchewan’s curve. By Dec. 1, that had stretched to 30 days, as Saskatchewan’s growth rate slowed and Manitoba’s flattened out. North Dakota, which received national headlines as one of the worst affected states in the union, has not only flattened its curve, but bent it substantially down in the last two weeks of November. North Dakota, too, had been seeing exponential growth of new COVID-19 cases for the two months leading up to mid-November, albeit at a lower rate of growth than either Saskatchewan or Manitoba. Its overall numbers were much higher, however. North Dakota’s 7-day average crested on Nov. 18, at 1,415.7 average cases per day. Its highest individual case count for a day was 2,278 on Nov. 14. But in the two weeks since, that 7-day average case count made a steady decline, falling to 1035.7 by Nov. 27, and 848.1 on Nov. 30. On an individual day bases, Nov. 30 was the best day North Dakota had seen in over a month, with 598 new cases. The last time the state had a number in the 500s, it was Oct. 26, at 527. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
The final decision lies with the Ministry of Health, but Grey Bruce Health Services has made its recommendation for the contractor for the new Markdale hospital. That name has not been released. The call for tenders from pre-qualified bidders was earlier this summer, and the bids have been reviewed locally. The Ministry of Health is expected to approve the bid within a few months, when the name will be made public. Site preparation should begin this spring, a press release from GBHS said. “We are checking off the milestones for this project, and getting ready to transition from the years of planning to physically building our new hospital,” said Gary Sims, GBHS President and CEO. Teams are working through the transition plans to co-ordinate the two-year project. The $70 million build will be about 68,000 sq. ft. with inpatient beds, a palliative care bed, 24/7 emergency care, lab and diagnostic imaging, as well as outpatient services. Two ambulance bays will be housed at the hospital. The community in the central and south Grey area was deeply involved in the project from the time of the public fundraising campaign in 2004. The hospital will replace an aging existing facility. Over more than 15 years since then, advocacy by locals including MPP Bill Walker has supported the new build, which is now close to seeing shovels in the ground. GBHS operates six hospitals in the Grey Bruce region. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
Regina police have charged a 17-year old girl who allegedly stole a vehicle with a four-year-old child inside.Officers were called to the 2100 block of Albert Street around 8:17 p.m. CST on Nov. 21 for a report of a stolen vehicle, according police.Police were told a 31-year-old woman had given three young women a ride in her car while her child was also in the vehicle.Police said the driver stopped and got out of the vehicle briefly, at which point one of the passengers got in the driver's seat and started driving away. When the mother tried to stop her, the driver allegedly tried to hit her with the car.The suspect left the four-year-old on a street a few minutes later, police said. Two people found the child and called police.Officers identified the suspect and learned she had fled to Calgary. A warrant was issued for her arrest on Nov. 24. She was arrested by Calgary police for an unrelated matter.The suspect, who can't be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was brought back to Regina on Monday and charged with offences including abduction of a child under 14-years-old, assault with a weapon (vehicle) and auto theft.
The federal Liberal government unveiled a suite of environmental measures on Monday as part of its fall fiscal update, proposing spending on things such as ecosystem restoration, clean transport and energy efficiency. The government’s Fall Economic Statement, tabled by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, also sets up some signposts pointing to a “green transformation,” including issuing the first federal green bonds next year. Ottawa will be exploring the possibility of border carbon adjustments, where a fee is imposed on imports from countries without carbon pricing, so foreign products don't undercut those produced in Canada by companies subject to Canadian carbon pricing systems. And it will be setting up an “action council” focused on developing a sustainable finance market in Canada that would see capital flows redirected toward green initiatives. That will include looking at “enhancing climate disclosures,” the government said, as directors of Canadian corporations face mounting obligations to act on the risks posed by the climate crisis as part of the responsibilities of their jobs. But with Canada’s deficit projected to hit $381 billion in 2020-21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is pushing back any larger stimulus plan until a vaccine is being distributed and outbreaks and shutdowns are in the rearview mirror. “When the virus is under control and our economy is ready to absorb it, we will deploy a three-year stimulus package to jumpstart our recovery,” reads the statement. “Key to this stimulus plan will be smart, time-limited investments that can act fast and make a long-run contribution to our future shared prosperity, quality of life, competitiveness and our green transformation.” Reaction was muted from some opposition members. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole dismissed the economic statement soon after Freeland tabled it as “putting the economy on hold.” He portrayed the government’s approach as wrongheaded, looking forward to future stimulus potential without first getting public health fundamentals correct. The Liberals were “not willing to ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, by taking steps to secure new revenue sources from large corporations making “massive profits” during the pandemic. “This is the exact opposite of what people need,” he said. Funding to address issues such as retrofits and clean transport was central to proposals issued last month by a coalition of more than two dozen environmental and conservation groups in Canada. The Green Budget Coalition’s roadmap for a federal green recovery called for $10 billion for energy efficiency retrofits in buildings, among other commitments. Monday’s economic statement commits to $2.6 billion over seven years for Natural Resources Canada to provide up to 700,000 grants of up to $5,000 each for homeowners and landlords to carry out energy-efficiency upgrades. The government said buildings account for 17 per cent of emissions, and “helping Canadians make their homes more energy efficient can support our environmental objectives, while making homes more comfortable and more affordable to maintain.” “We know that Canada’s future competitiveness depends on our ability to take advantage of the net-zero green economy,” Freeland said in Parliament after tabling the document. “Our growth plan must continue to advance our progress on climate action and promote a clean economy.” Efficiency Canada executive director Corey Diamond said home retrofits were a big environmental and economic boost, creating local jobs nationwide and contributing to Canada's journey to net-zero emissions. “The announcement today is a start, and a piece of the puzzle,” Diamond said. “But a lot more is required if we're going to be able to help Canadians.” He said there appeared to be “gaps in some high-impact areas,” including specific supports for low-income programs. “What is essential in all of this, however, is that the federal strategy integrates with existing programs on the ground, across the country,” he said. The Green Budget Coalition had also asked the federal government for $2.6 billion for “nature-based climate solutions” and $4.8 billion to support protected areas. The economic statement proposes to spend $3.16 billion over the next decade, starting in 2021-22, in order to follow through with its promise to plant two billion trees. It also proposed up to $631 million over 10 years, starting next year, to “implement climate smart, natural solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to ecosystem loss.” The statement acknowledges that Canada’s grasslands, wetlands and peatlands are “highly valuable for their ability to store greenhouse gases,” and proposes funding to “restore degraded ecosystems, protect wildlife, and improve land and resource management practices.” The government estimated that these kinds of “nature-based solutions” can provide “almost 40 per cent of the emission reductions needed by 2030.” Because of jurisdictional issues, both of those initiatives will require Ottawa to work with a wide range of partners, including provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities, conservation authorities and non-governmental organizations. The government also touted a $98-million Natural Climate Solutions for Agriculture Fund, to capitalize on the potential of Canadian farms to increase carbon sequestration and “realize other environmental benefits” that will come out of a future “Canadian Agri-Environmental Strategy.” Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, said the economic statement was “yet another promise to go big on climate change and inequality at a future date.” Canada has made decades of “down payments without ever sealing the deal,” Stewart said. “We can fight the pandemic in a way that lays the groundwork for a greener, more equitable and inclusive future but this economic update doesn’t do that.” He said environmental groups will have to "keep the pressure on" for the forthcoming new 2030 emissions reduction target, and plan to achieve it, as well as the 2021 budget. The government said it was “committed to ensuring that Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy is achieved in a way that is fair and predictable for our businesses, and supports Canada’s international competitiveness.” To this end, the economic statement said the government was “exploring the potential” of a border adjustment for carbon, working with the United States, Mexico and “like-minded economies” in Europe. The government also plans to set up a public-private Sustainable Finance Action Council, as institutions and investors around the world increasingly evaluate climate change risks to company assets. The Bank of Canada has warned that sectors such as oil and gas are exposed to risks that could spill over into “fire sales.” “Developing sustainable finance in Canada will promote the long-term growth and stability of our financial system in the face of climate change,” reads the economic statement. The commitment is worth $7.3 million over three years. Finally, Ottawa announced its intention to “issue the federal government’s first-ever green bond in 2021-22,” that it said would help finance its green infrastructure spending. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National ObserverCarl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
TORONTO — Canadian bank executives say an economic rebound is on its way after months of governments and financial institutions working to offset turmoil with loans, deferrals, interest rate cuts and subsidies.The chief executives of Bank of Nova Scotia and BMO Financial Group said Tuesday that they are starting to see signs of improvement and are feeling reassured by countries like Canada, the U.S., Chile and Peru, which have spent on average 17 per cent of their gross domestic product on relief measures. "We are seeing clear evidence that the stimulus is having the desired impact," Scotiabank's Brian Porter said on a conference call to discuss the bank's latest financial results."In Canada, retail spending has reached pre-pandemic levels, the housing market is experiencing robust growth and auto sales have largely recovered." Porter, who called himself "cautiously optimistic" about 2021, hadn't factored in the potential rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, but if Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca get the go-ahead to inject people with their early vaccine candidates, he said his optimism would grow even more.Meanwhile, BMO chief executive Darryl White was also feeling positive about 2021, but warned that troubles are still lingering as many countries, including Canada, plunge into a second wave of COVID-19."While the path of the pandemic and the economic recovery remains uncertain, we now know that vaccines will be available relatively soon, and there's good reason to be optimistic about the associated economic recovery accelerating as 2021 progresses," he said.The remarks came as their companies started to see the expiration of consumer relief programs they launched to help Canadians hit hard by the pandemic. Scotiabank offered $120 billion worth of relief for customers throughout the pandemic, while BMO said it granted payment deferrals to more than 256,000 retail accounts in Canada and the U.S. since March. Both spent much of the pandemic stowing away cash to protect themselves from bad loans, but were able to ease up in recent months.Scotiabank's provisions for credit losses in its latest quarter totalled $1.1 billion, up from $753 million a year ago, but down from nearly $2.2 billion in the third quarter.BMO's amounted to $432 million, up from $253 million a year ago, but down from nearly $1.1 billion in its third quarter.BMO also looked to protect itself further by winding down its non-Canadian investment and corporate banking business in the energy sector — a move White said would help better allocate resources in places where they can deliver strong returns now and in the future."Going forward, BMO Capital Markets' energy business will be focused on the Canadian energy market, where we believe our competitive positioning is strongest and where we will continue our deep and long-standing commitment to supporting clients," he said.BMO reported a fourth-quarter profit of nearly $1.6 billion or $2.37 per share, up from nearly $1.2 billion or $1.78 per share a year ago.On an adjusted basis, BMO says it earned $2.41 per share, down from an adjusted profit of $2.43 per share in the same quarter last year.Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of $1.90 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.Revenue totalled nearly $6 billion, down from almost $6.1 billion in the same quarter last year.The results pushed BMO's stock up by 3.6 per cent or $3.33 to reach $96.66 in late morning trading.Meanwhile, Scotiabank reported a fourth-quarter profit of $1.9 billion or $1.42 per diluted share, down from $2.3 billion or $1.73 per diluted share in the same period a year earlier.On an adjusted basis, the bank earned $1.45 per diluted share for the quarter ended Oct. 31, down from an adjusted profit of $1.82 per diluted share last year.Analysts on average had expected Scotiabank to earn an adjusted profit of $1.22 per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.Revenue totalled $7.5 billion, down from nearly $8 billion in its fourth quarter last year.Scotiabank's stock climbed by 2.9 per cent or $1.83 to reach $65.03 in late morning trading.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BNS, TSX:BMO)Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
China successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon's surface on Tuesday in a historic mission to retrieve lunar surface samples, Chinese state media reported. China launched its Chang'e-5 probe on Nov. 24. The mission will attempt to collect 2 kg (4-1/2 lbs) of samples in a previously unvisited area in a massive lava plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, or "Ocean of Storms".