PHILADELPHIA — President Donald Trump’s legal team suffered yet another defeat in court Friday as a federal appeals court in Philadelphia roundly rejected the campaign's latest effort to challenge the state’s election results.Trump’s lawyers vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court despite the judges' assessment that the “campaign’s claims have no merit.”“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” 3rd Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote for the three-judge panel, all appointed by Republican presidents.The case had been argued last week in a lower court by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who insisted during five hours of oral arguments that the 2020 presidential election had been marred by widespread fraud in Pennsylvania. However, Giuliani failed to offer any tangible proof of that in court.U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann, another Republican, had said the campaign's error-filled complaint, “like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together” and denied Giuliani the right to amend it for a second time.The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called any revisions “futile.” Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith and Judge Michael Chagares were on the panel with Bibas, a former University of Pennsylvania law professor. Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, sat on the court for 20 years, retiring in 2019.“Voters, not lawyers, choose the president. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections,” Bibas said in the opinion, which also denied the campaign's request to stop the state from certifying its results, a demand he called “breathtaking.”In fact, Pennsylvania officials had announced Tuesday that they had certified their vote count for President-elect Joe Biden, who defeated Trump by more than 80,000 votes in the state. Nationally, Biden and running mate Kamala Harris garnered nearly 80 million votes, a record in U.S. presidential elections.Trump has said he hopes the Supreme Court will intervene in the race as it did in 2000, when its decision to stop the recount in Florida gave the election to Republican George W. Bush. On Nov. 5, as the vote count continued, Trump posted a tweet saying the “U.S. Supreme Court should decide!”Ever since, Trump and his surrogates have attacked the election as flawed and filed a flurry of lawsuits to try to block the results in six battleground states. But they’ve found little sympathy from judges, nearly all of whom dismissed their complaints about the security of mail-in ballots, which millions of people used to vote from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.Trump perhaps hopes a Supreme Court he helped steer toward a conservative 6-3 majority would be more open to his pleas, especially since the high court upheld Pennsylvania’s decision to accept mail-in ballots through Nov. 6 by only a 4-4 vote last month. Since then, Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett has joined the court.“The activist judicial machinery in Pennsylvania continues to cover up the allegations of massive fraud,” Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tweeted after Friday's ruling. “On to SCOTUS!”In the case at hand, the Trump campaign asked to disenfranchise the state’s 6.8 million voters or at least “cherry-pick” the 1.5 million who voted by mail in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and other Democratic-leaning areas, the appeals court said.“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption,” Brann, a member of the conservative Federalist Society, wrote in his scathing ruling on Nov. 21. “That has not happened.”A separate Republican challenge that reached the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week seeks to stop the state from further certifying any races on the ballot. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is fighting that effort, saying it would prevent the state’s legislature and congressional delegation from being seated in the coming weeks.On Thursday, Trump said the Nov. 3 election was still far from over. Yet he said for the first time he would leave the White House on Jan. 20 if the Electoral College formalizes Biden’s win.“Certainly I will. But you know that,” Trump said at the White House, taking questions from reporters for the first time since Election Day.On Twitter Friday, however, he continued to baselessly attack Detroit, Atlanta and other Democratic cities with large Black populations as the source of “massive voter fraud.” And he claimed, without evidence, that a Pennsylvania poll watcher had uncovered computer memory drives that “gave Biden 50,000 votes” apiece.All 50 states must certify their results before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14, and any challenge to the results must be resolved by Dec. 8. Biden won both the Electoral College and popular vote by wide margins.___Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MaryclairedaleMaryclaire Dale, The Associated Press
The federal government is laying plans for the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, inking contracts with seven potential manufacturers and saying six million doses could arrive in the country in the first quarter of 2021. The most recent development from Ottawa came Friday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tapped former NATO commander Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead the national distribution effort. But various provinces have started spelling out their plans as well. Here's a look at what they've said so far: —Nova ScotiaThe province's chief medical officer of health says he will release a detailed plan for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once Ottawa shares more information. Dr. Robert Strang said Friday there is no certainty yet about the availability of a vaccine, but expressed hopes an initial supply will trickle into Nova Scotia early in the new year.Strang said a detailed provincial plan, to be released once the federal government has shared more specifics on its end, will include tight control of the supply and clear rules dictating who can be first in line for immunization. He said he's waiting for more federal guidance on issues ranging from priority groups to transportation and storage logistics. —QuebecThe province will be ready to start rolling out its vaccine plan as of Jan. 1, say senior politicians. Premier Francois Legault said Thursday that public health officials have already settled on the list of priority vaccine recipients, but did not release details. Legault said the province is also working to put the necessary infrastructure in place to support a vaccine rollout. That includes obtaining fridges capable of maintaining the extremely low temperatures needed by one of the most promising potential vaccine options, currently in development through pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.Quebec has also tasked assistant deputy health minister Jerome Gagnon, and former provincial public health director Dr. Richard Masse to oversee the province's vaccination effort. —OntarioPremier Doug Ford is among those leaders calling on Ottawa to provide more clarity as officials scramble to develop a provincewide vaccination strategy.Early speculation on the number of doses the province could receive was put to rest earlier this week when federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said such details were still in the works. But Ford has forged ahead, naming former chief of national defence Gen. Rick Hillier to oversee the province's vaccine rollout. Hillier said on Friday he hopes to have a plan developed by year's end, while Ford urged Ottawa to provide detailed information on potential vaccine delivery. "We need a clear line of sight into the timelines of the shipments," Ford said.—AlbertaThe province's top medical official has said she expects to receive 680,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine early in the new year, a figure not yet confirmed by the federal government. Dr. Deena Hinshaw has also said a number of hurdles and unknowns remain as the province works to devise its vaccination scheme. "These (vaccine) numbers, of course, depend on many factors,'' Hinshaw said on Nov. 18. "They depend on the final pieces of the trials that are underway going well. They depend on ensuring that the safety and the effectiveness of the early vaccines can be assured. All of those checks and balances must be cleared."On Friday, Hinshaw said the province is working with Ottawa to get vaccine, but it is "a bit of a moving target" on when vaccines might be available."But our goal is that whenever vaccine is available, we will be ready to start immunizing individuals on that highest priority list."—British ColumbiaProvincial health officials announced on Wednesday that a vaccine strategy for the province is already in the works. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province's top doctor, said Dr. Ross Brown of Vancouver Coastal Health will join the group working to organize the logistics around the distribution of vaccines.Henry said front-line workers as well as those in long-term care homes will likely have priority for vaccinations.She cautioned that while the province has contracts with vaccine makers, there can be challenges with offshore manufacturing."It's very much focused on who is most at risk and how do we protect them best," Henry said. "There's a lot of discussion that needs to happen."Henry said the province hopes to have vaccines in hand by January.—YukonPremier Sandy Silver told the legislature on Wednesday that the territory has been in discussions with various levels of government on a vaccine rollout plan. He said the goal will be to provide vaccines to elderly people and health-care providers.Silver said rural and remote communities should also get priority status in northern regions, a fact he said he's emphasized with federal authorities. The premier said he has joined the other provincial and territorial leaders in pushing for a national strategy to distribute the vaccine. “How confusing would it be for 13 different strategies right across the nation?” he said. Silver said the Pfizer vaccine could cause logistical problems for remote communities because of its cold-storage requirements, but those issues may not apply to other vaccines under development. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
ATLANTA — A panel of U.S. advisers will meet Tuesday to vote on how scarce, initial supplies of a COVID-19 vaccine will be given out once one has been approved. Experts have proposed giving the vaccine to health workers first. High priority also may be given to workers in essential industries, people with certain medical conditions and people age 65 and older. Tuesday's meeting is for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The panel of experts recommends who to vaccinate and when -- advice that the government almost always follows. The agenda for next week's emergency meeting was posted Friday. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have asked the Food and Drug Administration to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Moderna Inc. is expected to also seek emergency use of its vaccine soon. FDA's scientific advisers are holding a public meeting Dec. 10 to review Pfizer's request, and send a recommendation to the FDA. Manufacturers already have begun stockpiling coronavirus vaccine doses in anticipation of eventual approval, but the first shots will be in short supply and rationed. The Associated Press
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, of the Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn, calls a recent ruling by the Supreme Court regarding coronavirus restrictions on religious services a "good decision." (Nov 27)
Derek Mueller, a senior researcher at Carleton University, cut his scientific teeth studying mats of microbes on some of Canada's oldest, thickest and most remote sea ice. "They have some very interesting pigments in their cells to fend off harmful UV radiation," Mueller said in an interview. "It's kind of a tricky thing to do, physiologically. You never know. It could very well be that someday we discover something useful out of that life."That's one reason why he, along with colleagues and Inuit groups, are calling for stronger protections for Canada's northernmost waters as the so-called Last Ice Area rapidly lives up to its name. "It's so poorly understood," said Mueller, co-author of an article in the journal Science that urges the federal government to expand and make permanent the conservation of Tuvaijuittuq, 320,000 square kilometres of frozen ocean off the northern coast of Ellesmere Island.Tuvaijuittuq, which means "the place where ice never melts" in Inuktut, has the thickest and oldest ice in the Arctic. Because of how ice moves in ocean currents, Tuvaijuittuq is likely to be the last place it remains. The region is provisionally protected until 2024. But Mueller said the pace of Arctic warming argues for permanent status as a Marine Protected Area connected to Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere's north coast.Just last July, 40 per cent of the area's Milne Ice Shelf collapsed within two days -- 80 square kilometres of ice that had been stable for millennia now adrift. It happened so quickly an uninhabited research camp was lost."(The area's) under threat and we're hoping for conservation measures to mitigate that," Mueller said.The Qikiqtani Inuit Association is working with the federal and Nunavut governments to determine if Tuvaijuittuuq should be permanently protected and, if so, how. "QIA is leading an Inuit knowledge study which will really try to tackle what is current and historical Inuit use of the area," said Andrew Randall, the association's director of marine and wildlife stewardship. "(We're) looking at cultural sites, some of the impacts associated with climate change."Inuit want to understand what resources might lie in the area, Randall said. They also want to ensure Inuit play a role in managing and studying it, he added. "(Research) doesn't only mean bringing in more western scientists," he said.The Arctic sea ice ecosystem may seem desolate, but it's anything but, said Mueller. The ice supports a whole range of life important to humans and animals a long way away. As the rest of the circumpolar world shifts under climate change, ensuring that a piece of the frozen Arctic remains free of human disturbance is key to understanding both how things used to be and what they are becoming, said Mueller. Just this year, scientists discovered a whole ecosystem of shellfish, anemones, starfish and brittle stars living on shelves in pockets within the ice."What a wonderful surprise!" said Mueller. "We are now just beginning to understand this environment." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020. Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
Selwyn Township council members unanimously decided they want to create more parking spaces as part of the planned project to reconstruct Water Street in Lakefield. Angela Chittick, the township’s manager of community and corporate services, told councillors Tuesday that they have two options to consider for the street which runs along the Otonabee River. “One is to extend the trail from the dam to the bridge, that would create about 16 parking spaces. The other option would be there would be no bridge extension, and with that you would be creating about 21 parking spaces there,” she said. Some residents that provided feedback were interested in the trail connection, while other individuals, particularly from of the business community, were more concerned about parking spaces, Chittick said. Coun. Gerry Herron said he’s all for having additional parking spaces. “We need as much traffic down in the economic engine of Selwyn as we can get. I’ll give you a quick example; when Sears was in operation in Peterborough, each parking spot was about $200 an hour. So, if we factor that down to these five spots, if we’re gaining say $20 an hour and it’s an eight-hour day, it’s $800 per parking spot put into the local economy there,” he said. “We’ve set out on a mission to support our local businesses and I think we need to continue that trend.” Deputy Mayor Sherry Senis said lack of parking in Lakefield has been a perennial issue, so now that there’s the opportunity to add space, they should jump on it. “The parking spaces on Water are invaluable,” she said. “I also presented the options to the economic development business committee last night and their consensus was more is better. So, they also favour option two.” Adding more parking spaces isn’t leaving out the trail connection, Senis added. “There’s still the connection to the trail at the bridge, and it will still accommodate the concrete pad to do any bike repairs that we had heard about,” she said. Chittick said council’s decision will get incorporated into the final design for Water Street. “Then, moving forward from there, we’ll get the concept tidied up, sent back out to the residents and those that provided feedback on the design concepts, and we would post it online,” she said. “That would allow us to get the final engineered drawings prepared and ready for tendering and the hope would be that we could get this tendered in the new year and bring that price proposal back to council with some funding options as well as some staging options, depending on what the quoted amount is.” Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
RICHMOND, B.C. — A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport.The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet's domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada.The Calgary and Toronto airports have hosted studies to rapidly test passengers who are arriving, rather than departing.The study in B.C. involves researchers from the University of British Columbia and Providence Health Care, who are responsible for collecting the samples.The airport authority says in a statement a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19 and those who test positive would have to undergo testing approved by Health Canada, with their flights cancelled or changed at no charge.Dr. Don Sin, co-principal investigator and a professor at UBC's faculty of medicine, says the study will help public health leaders understand how people who don't have symptoms of COVID-19 are contributing to the spread of the illness."We know that asymptomatic carriers exist, but what we don’t know is exactly how common it is," he says in a statement.The airport authority says that prior to launching the study, researchers evaluated several rapid tests that use nose swabs and oral rinses, and passengers' test results should be available within 20 minutes.It says researchers plan to submit the results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal once the study wraps up, in an effort to contribute to a future testing framework for the aviation industry.The study is open to WestJet passengers who are B.C. residents between the ages of 19 and 80, and who haven't tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
POLITIQUE. C’est à l’occasion d’un conseil national tenu en mode virtuel que les membres de Québec solidaire ont voté en faveur d’un bouclier anti-austérité permettant de générer de nouveaux revenus pour l’État québécois. Une mesure souhaitée qui vise à protéger les travailleurs du Québec en évitant une nouvelle période d’austérité. «Il est inimaginable que le Québec revive une autre vague d’austérité! Notre système de santé est déjà en miettes, nos écoles sont déjà en ruines… voyons donc, on ne peut pas se permettre de couper encore! C’est impensable. Il nous faut un bouclier anti-austérité, pour protéger les familles contre des hausses de tarifs, il nous faut des nouveaux revenus pour éviter de rejouer dans le film d’horreur de l’austérité», insiste Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois en proposant un impôt spécial de pandémie sur les grandes corporations, un impôt sur les grandes fortunes et une taxe sur les grands pollueurs. «Pour nous, c’est important qu’on n’attende pas la fin de la crise de la COVID-19 pour mettre les gros pollueurs industriels au pas et qu’on investisse cet argent-là dans la transition écologique. On l’a dit hier, la crise climatique ne prend pas de break pendant la pandémie. Adopter une taxe sur les pollueurs, c’est faire preuve de courage», ajoute Manon Massé en précisant que le bouclier anti-austérité proposé par Québec solidaire devrait permettre d’aller chercher autour de 9 G$ annuellement. Ce qui permettrait un réinvestissement massif dans les services publics et des mesures pour relancer l’économie. «Les Québécoises et les Québécois ont fait leur part. Ils ont déjà payé pour la crise. Ils ont déjà fait assez de sacrifices. C’est au tour de ceux qui en ont profité de faire leur juste part et de payer la facture. Les grosses entreprises et les grandes fortunes doivent payer pour la crise sanitaire et financer le réinvestissement historique dans les services publics dont le Québec a besoin», souligne Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
We may not have Christmas parties or visits to Santa at the mall, but there is still one holiday tradition going strong this year: the Hallmark Christmas movie, and this year's run will feature the first Indigenous woman in the main cast.Five Star Christmas features Barbara Patrick, originally of Burns Lake, B.C., in one of the supporting leads as the member of a family who has to pose as staff at her father-in-law's fledgling bed and breakfast.The character is also a fashion blogger, and though her Indigenous identity never comes up in the script itself, Patrick says she was asked to dress in a way that reflects her heritage as a member of the Stellat'en First Nation.The result is subtle touches, including on screen appearances from Patrick's personal wardrobe, such as beaded mukluks and earrings made in her home community of Burns Lake."It's really cool," she said. "I really think that Indigenous people need to be represented on-screen and allowed to play these characters instead of being depicted in a negative or stereotypical light."The Hallmark Channel has come under fire in past years for a lack of diversity in its annual holiday films, which are big business for the B.C. film industry. But Patrick believes the approach taken by the director at incorporating her identity into the character's look is a sign of change."Hopefully, I will be the first of many Indigenous people to be playing on Hallmark," she said.Big break in 'big city' of Prince GeorgePatrick's journey to the small screen started back in 1998 when as a teenager she was shopping in the "big city" at Pine Centre Mall in Prince George.She was approached by a modelling agent about being in a local runway show and within months she had won a contest in Vancouver and was on a flight to a shoot in Japan."It was a whirlwind," Patrick said. "I hadn't even been into a Starbucks before."After going out for a few roles in commercials, Patrick decided she wanted to transition into acting and eventually made her way back to British Columbia and Vancouver where she now lives.In 2021, she will be seen in Kiri and the Dead Girl directed by Prince George, B.C.'s Grace Dove who starred in The Revenant and Monkey Beach.But for now, Patrick is excited to become part of people's holiday tradition of sitting down and watching an uplifting Christmas tale — so long as she can find a TV."My parents [in Burns Lake] have actually subscribed to the channel to watch me," she said. "I might have to Facetime in with them."Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The latest updates from Ontario and around Canada as officials try to contain the spread of COVID-19.
On Day 8 of his second-degree murder trial, Justin Breau took the stand and admitted to shooting Mark Shatford on Nov. 17, 2019. While the Crown has painted a picture of a "drug ripoff" gone bad, Breau told the court that he went to buy drugs from Shatford and his fiancée, Melissa Daley, when he was suddenly attacked by Shatford. Breau said he thought Shatford was going to kill him when he pulled the trigger. His testimony differed from that of four other people who were in the apartment at 321 Duke St. West at the time of the incident. Breau, 37, said he was at home with his mother and daughter on Nov. 16, 2019 and had fallen asleep in his room. He said he was awakened by a woman he had been seeing and the two of them drove to Rockwood Park before going to a "drug house" on Peter Street. He said the "establishment", which he compared to an after-hours bar, ran out of drugs. He said they waited around with several other people for the stock to be replenished, when he got a message from Daley's Facebook account through Messenger. It was a hand-wave emoji. Breau texted back asking if they had any "raw" — slang for pure cocaine. She responded by saying she only had "cut," which Breau described as a weaker form of cocaine, as a result of other substances added to it. The two texted back and forth and eventually settled on two grams of "cut" in exchange for 15 zopiclone pills and $70 cash. When she testified earlier this week, Daley said it wasn't her sending the messages from her account. She said it must have been Shatford. She said the two were both in bed watching a movie together at the time. One of the last messages sent from Daley's Facebook account was that the door was open. Breau said he had gone to 321 Duke St. West 30 or 40 times since the summer of 2018 — specifically to buy drugs. He said his preference was pure cocaine. Sometimes he paid cash, sometimes he traded zopiclone pills — often referred to as zops — and sometimes he didn't pay at all. Breau told the court that he had racked up a drug debt to Daley and Shatford of about $1,000, but had managed to get it down to $700 at the time of the shooting. Breau said he arrived at 4:20 a.m., made his way through the apartment, and knocked on the door of the master bedroom. Breau said he heard the chain lock being slid across and when the door opened, Shatford was standing there with Daley a few feet behind him. He said Shatford grabbed his $100 bill, reminded him of the money owed, and said Breau wasn't going to get anything that night. Breau testified that when he tried to grab the money back, Shatford hit him in the head with a long, shiny metal object. He said Shatford hit him two more times before he managed to get away. He said he fled the apartment, but that Shatford caught up to him on the stairs and hit him again in the back, causing him to fall down the stairs. Breau said he went as quickly as he could to the car he borrowed from his friend, who he identified as Angie Snodgrass. Breau said he dropped the keys as he got to the vehicle. He said he thought about opening the first door he came to and just jumping in and locking the doors, but he said he knew Shatford had a temper and worried that the would smash his way into the vehicle, drag him into the street "and beat me to death." So, instead, he reached in and grabbed a shotgun that he said he hadn't known was there until he opened the door. He said Shatford was in the midpoint of swinging the long metal object, described by other witnesses as a torque or socket wrench, when he pulled the trigger. Breau said the wrench "went ting, ting, ting on the ground" as it fell from Shatford's hand. He said Shatford took a few steps back and slowly fell to the ground. That's when he grabbed the car keys he had dropped, jumped in and drove away. He said one of the two men who went with him was in the vehicle, but he doesn't know what happened to the other man. Under cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Joanne Park asked Breau if he knew what a "drug rip off" is. Breau laughed and said he didn't really know. Park explained that it's when someone sets up a drug deal, but then, instead of going through with the deal when they meet up, the prospective buyer robs the dealer. Breau interrupted Park's explanation and said he "never heard of that." At the end of her questioning, Park suggested to Breau that it was a drug rip off and that Shatford "was just trying to get you out of the house." Breau didn't answer directly but said, "You're trying to put words in my mouth." Breau was the only witness called by defence lawyer Brian Munro before he closed his case on Friday afternoon. The jury will be back in court on Tuesday afternoon for final arguments from the Crown and defence. Mr. Justice Thomas Christie told the jurors to expect to receive final instructions from him Wednesday morning. Before they start deliberating, however, one of the 13 jurors will be selected at random and dismissed. The law only allows 12 jurors to deliberate.
OTTAWA — A spokesman for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his office accidentally sent out an account of a phone call with Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole that hadn't happened yet.The premature account of the call Friday said Trudeau chided O'Toole about Conservative MPs downplaying the deaths of Albertans and comparing the novel coronavirus to the flu.Alberta MP Rachael Harder shared a newspaper column on her Facebook page this week that pointed out provincial statistics saying that just 10 of 369 Albertans who had died of COVID-19 as of mid-November were otherwise healthy. And Ontario MP Dean Allison described COVID-19 as "influenza" in a talk-radio interview.After the call, the Conservatives said Trudeau raised neither of these incidents with O'Toole.And a second read-out of the call from the PMO, after the call had actually taken place, dropped all mention of the matter.It said simply that the two leaders had discussed "the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as vaccine distribution in Canada," along with issues related to president-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration in the United States.The Tory leader went into the conversation with proposals for how Canada can improve its relationship with the U.S. under Biden.In a letter to Trudeau, O'Toole said responding to the COVID-19 pandemic must be the first priority, including ensuring a continent-wide response to vaccine supply, the production of personal protective equipment and managing the border.O'Toole said after that must come dealing with the threat posed by China, and that Canada should seek to join an existing dialogue among the U.S., Australia, India and Japan to oppose Chinese military expansionism. The letter also talks about the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project that outgoing President Donald Trump approved but Biden opposes. O'Toole said it must be made clear to Biden the project is important to Canada's view of the bilateral relationship with the U.S.The letter cites a need for a collective effort on combating climate change, and a call to modernize the binational defence agreement known as Norad, which would include having Canada join the ballistic missile defence program. A copy of O'Toole's letter to Trudeau was obtained by The Canadian Press."This period of transition to the incoming Biden administration represents a unique opportunity to advance Canada's interests and values on the world stage," O'Toole wrote in the letter. "It is my sincere hope the Canadian and U.S. governments can work together for the mutual benefit of both our peoples who have endured so much this past year."A Conservative read-out after the call said the two leaders concluded their chat by mutually "reaffirming the importance of eliminating COVID-19 and by wishing their families well."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — New research suggests a bump in the number of fathers who planned to take time off with a new baby under a nascent national leave program could be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.It has been just over a year since the government started offering the use-it-or-lose-it extra weeks of paid time off work for non-birthing parents. The program was designed to mostly target fathers, who don't take paternity leave in large numbers.It was modelled after a program adopted over a decade ago in Quebec, which has the highest paternity leave rates in the country.A study published this month in the Journal of European Social Policy noted a five per cent rise in mothers' labour force participation rates after the Quebec policy came into effect, compared to Ontario where parents had no such policy at the time.The authors also noted Quebec mothers were less likely to work part-time or be unemployed than they would have been absent the paternity leave policy. The authors of the study also found the benefits were largest within the first three years of the new program being available to fathers, but fizzled out thereafter.Sample size could have played a role, but one of the authors said another explanation was timing: The period under review overlapped with the last big recession in 2008-2009.That raises questions about whether the impact of the Canada-wide version of the program could be shaped by an even sharper recession caused by COVID-19."It's a bit of a crystal ball in terms of will more fathers take it, will (fewer) fathers take it," said Andrea Doucet, an expert on parental leave policies from Brock University. She was not involved in the recently published study."But there's a whole part of this which is about social norms around gender and gender equality. The conversation (on paternity leave) has just changed enormously."The federal program, which launched in March 2019, includes five to eight weeks of extra paid leave for the second parent, with the length depending on whether a family chooses standard or extended benefits. It was designed to incentivize new fathers to take some time off work to care for their children, even if their partner stays home for much longer.The difference between the federal employment insurance program and the Quebec version lies in the income-replacement rate. Quebec's is about 70 per cent, while EI is 55 per cent, up to a limit. There are also differences in who can qualify, with individuals eligible in Quebec while EI depends on the eligibility of the mother, or first parent.Allison Dunatchik, one of the study's authors from the University of Pennsylvania, said the size of the take-up now depends on how many parents qualify and whether they can afford the drop in income."There's some question about whether that's really enough incentive to get men to change their leave-taking behaviour, particularly when we're in this context of greater economic uncertainty," she said."There is a lot we don't know about how these policies play out in the context of a recession." A report this month from Statistics Canada said the proportion of spouses or partners of recent mothers who claimed, or intended to claim, the EI leave increased to 35.4 per cent last year from 31.3 per cent in 2018 and 29.1 per cent in 2017.Employment and Social Development Canada, which oversees EI, couldn't say many parents used the sharing benefit last year and so far this year.Doucet said rates could actually go up as more fathers work remotely and take care of children at home because of school or daycare closures. Research suggests the more fathers are home, the more they want to get involved in care."They want to be involved. They don't just want to go to work the next day," she said. "All that could have some benefit. There could be some implications for fathers working from home, or their take up of leave."But, she added, the policy has to change.Doucet and two co-authors recently called on the government to boost the income-replacement rate and ease access, particularly in light of an economic downturn disproportionately affecting women.As is, about one-third of women don't qualify for EI parental benefits, Doucet said, noting many are mothers from low-income, racialized or new immigrant families."Parental leave is critical to shifting those gender equality patterns, so that if we ever get into another pandemic … things could be different," Doucet said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
The New Brunswick Legislature could be holding virtual sittings within the next two weeks.MLAs from four parties sitting on the legislative administration committee agreed Friday to get equipment and technology installed quickly so the assembly can resume its business.It adjourned on Tuesday because almost half of the MLAs are from the two zones that were under COVID-19 orange phase restrictions at the time. The province is discouraging travel into and out of those zones.Since then, a third zone, which includes the legislature itself, has been put into the orange phase.MLAs from the Green Party complained Tuesday that there was still no set-up for virtual sittings eight months after COVID-19 first appeared in New Brunswick.Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said in a statement that a service provider will start installing the system on Monday."The legislature must keep on working through COVID-19 outbreaks and beyond," he said. "This system will allow us to do just that."The new hybrid system could be up and running in time for committee hearings on legislation scheduled for next week.MLAs are scheduled to return for full sittings Dec. 8. Speaker Bill Oliver said he hopes the system will be ready for then, though that date could be pushed back if necessary.
VICTORIA — British Columbia's top doctor has a message for people who don't follow a provincial order to wear a mask in indoor public spaces: order takeout, shop online or stay home.Dr. Bonnie Henry said Friday she was saddened after hearing about store and restaurant employees facing aggressive customers who refuse to wear masks as COVID-19 numbers rise."I remind all of us about the severity of this illness and the fact that we have people who are suffering in our hospitals right now, and their families are suffering too," she said. The RCMP say they arrested a shopper at a Walmart in Dawson Creek this week after he allegedly assaulted an employee who asked him to wear a mask.B.C. set another single-day record with 911 cases of COVID-19, Henry said, adding that a total of 30,884 cases have been diagnosed in the province.Eleven more people have died, bringing the number of fatalities to 395, while a record 301 patients are in hospital.Some faith leaders have questioned Henry's order to ban even limited gatherings at churches, temples and other faith locations while restaurants and bars remain open.Henry said outbreaks have occurred in multiple faith locations despite safety measures in keeping with what is happening around the world."I'd like to be clear that these locations are not doing anything wrong," she said, adding COVID-19 precautions were being followed at the majority of worship places."These are not decisions that we make lightly," she said."We are facing a storm surge, and that is something we are facing globally."Henry said events that were safe even a few weeks ago now threaten the most vulnerable people who attend them as well as entire communities.However, she said most faith leaders understand the measures as they support their congregants from a distance."It is a cruel irony in many ways that when we most need to be with people, that is the most dangerous thing that we can do with this level of transmission we are seeing in communities across the province."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.The Canadian Press
Concerns are growing about the number of hospitals dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta.According to information published by Alberta Health Services, there are more than 160 COVID cases connected to active hospital outbreaks right now — and at least 20 deaths.Dr. Leyla Asadi, an infectious disease specialist in Edmonton, says such trends are a sad inevitability when it comes to a virus that has such widespread community transmission."It's just such a sneaky virus, and that's why you can try your best to protect those who are vulnerable," Asadi said. "You can try your best to keep areas safe from it. But it just hasn't worked."Hospitals with outbreaks or on watchIn Calgary, every hospital aside from the South Health Campus is either battling COVID outbreaks or has units on watch. Being on watch means there is evidence a confirmed case had recently interacted or stayed in the unit."Essentially, if there's an exposure that's concerning, you would call that a unit on watch," said Dr. Ash Sonpar, an infection prevention and control physician in Edmonton. "If there's a case that was acquired on the unit, then you would call that an outbreak. So as you see more community cases, you are going to have units on watch."As of Friday, AHS said Calgary hospitals with COVID-19 outbreaks or units on watch included: * Foothills Medical Centre has two units on outbreak. Two units at Foothills are now under watch. * Peter Lougheed Centre has four units on outbreak. One unit is currently under watch. * Rockyview General Hospital has four units on outbreak. One unit is currently under watch. * Alberta Children's Hospital has one unit currently under watch.In addition, a single site order is in place for Unit 59, a transition unit at Rockyview General Hospital, with at least 19 cases. That means staff, such as nurses, health-care aides and administration, cannot work on any other unit.AHS said in a memo to staff that there may be ongoing transmission on the ward, but the source isn't yet known. The possibility of worker-to-worker transmission has not been ruled out.Susan Slade, a vice-president with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, said many health-care workers are exhausted, with many working double shifts when colleagues go into isolation."It's a scary world in health-care right now, and it's just a tragedy what's happening in the health-care system right now," Slade said.
On Thursday evening the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division notified the public that a case of COVID-19 had been identified in an individual at Princess Margaret Public School in Prince Albert. The case was acquired outside of the school. “The division is hoping the recovery is quick and thorough and we extend our get-well wishes to this member of our school community and offer our support to the surrounding family. We also extend our support to the staff and students in our schools who are impacted by the isolation,” the release stated. The division was informed on Thursday of the positive COVID-19 test result and communication is being shared with the classrooms/cohorts, the connected staff, as well as with the school community. The learning program will continue remotely for those students affected. Princess Margaret will remain open for in-person classes for students who are not required to self-isolate. The division, in this case, did not announce the length of the isolation. As is the circumstance in all cases in the division due to privacy concerns, further details of the case will not be shared. The school’s COVID Response Plan contains many important measures, processes and protocols that add layers of protection for students and staff. School personnel will continue to be informed and guided by SHA as they manage this case. Staffs at schools in the division remain vigilant in ensuring proper safety measures are in place and personnel from the SHA continue to guide and inform school administration and staff. The division explained that although there has been no evidence that transmission has occurred within any Sask. Rivers schools and we all share responsibility to minimize the risk of COVID transmission. “The division deeply appreciates the support that students, parents and community members have demonstrated, especially as the number of cases in our region climbs.” The division emphasized that despite the challenges it is important that everyone continues to be diligent in performing the daily health screening and self-monitoring, stay home if not feeling well, call the HealthLine at 811 if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, practice proper hand hygiene, maintain physical distancing as much as possible, wear a mask when appropriate. The SHA’s local public health team continues to provide expert advice and strong support for our dedicated staff as we manage the pandemic in our communities. “The division is thankful to have such a cohesive team of administration and staff supported by our partners in Health.”Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Trafficking charges are pending for a male adult and a male youth after Behchokǫ NT RCMP seized more than 90 grams of pre-packaged illegal cannabis and trafficking paraphernalia, it said in a news release Friday.Behchokǫ̀ RCMP started the investigation last Sunday, Nov. 22.Police said they believe the illegal cannabis they seized was for the purpose of trafficking."We listen to our community and work with them to reduce and prevent the harm from the sale of illegal drugs," said Sgt. Ryan Plustwa, detachment commander of the Behchokǫ̀ RCMP, in the release.Behchokǫ̀ RCMP are asking residents who have information about suspicious activity to call the detachment at 392-1111 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. People can also text "nwtnutips" plus a message to 274637.
The grey clouds above Vancouver sent down the cold heavy rain of November Monday morning. In an industrial corner of the Downtown Eastside, Bill S. had left the tent he’d pitched against the side of a building to go have breakfast at the city’s Evelyne Saller Centre, which serves low-cost meals. When he returned, his tent and all his belongings were gone — taken, he assumed, by city workers, who had told him to pack up at around 8:30 that morning. “Where do they expect us to go?” asked Bill, who requested The Tyee not use his last name because of the stigma of being homeless. “We’re people too.” A health worker who Bill spoke with that day called Sarah Blyth, the founder of the Overdose Prevention Society on East Hastings. People donate sleeping bags and blankets to the society all the time, so Blyth was able to set Bill up with a new sleeping bag and a blanket. But it just kept raining, and the Overdose Prevention Society had no tents to give out that day, so Bill spent Monday night in a makeshift shelter that wasn’t up to the task of keeping the weather out. “Everything in it was in a puddle, including me,” Bill said, calling the experience “the worst alarm clock ever.” Precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on the Downtown Eastside. The number of people living on the street has grown as many housing providers limited or banned visitors to their buildings. Meanwhile, many drop-in spaces are closed or have reduced capacity. There are 379 fewer shelter spots open this winter in Vancouver than in 2019, because shelters need to limit the number of people allowed inside. Still, every day, city sanitation workers, often accompanied by police officers, spend their days scooping up homeless people’s belongings with pitchforks and dumping them into trucks. Overdose Prevention Society staff give people new sleeping bags and blankets, knowing the replacement items could very well end up in the back of a city sanitation truck the next day. “It’s a terrible cycle and it’s wasteful in a lot of ways,” Blyth said, adding she’d rather see city workers employed trying to help people find housing or make their lives on the street a little more comfortable. “I can’t imagine it’s a very fun job for whoever’s doing it — whether it’s a city worker or the police,” she said. “It can’t be rewarding at the end of the day to go home and say ‘I threw a bunch of homeless people’s stuff out.’” The city says sanitation crews “only clean up what is determined to be garbage,” and work with police to ask people to remove structures that have been put up on city property. Crews ask people who are camping on the sidewalk to “move along” and “will remove structures and material that is clearly garbage but not personal possessions,” the city said in a statement. But both Blyth and Andrew Ledger, the president of the union that represents city sanitation workers, say that’s not what happens. Blyth said she’s watched people cry as the only bedding they have is taken away. “I wouldn’t say we’re forcibly removing things, that’s not the case, but it’s not just unwanted debris that gets removed,” said Ledger, the president of CUPE 1004. “It could be someone’s life in a shopping cart that they’ve left somewhere, and all of a sudden it gets removed — those are the instructions that our members are given.” The Tyee caught up with Bill on East Hastings Street on Tuesday, the day after he’d had all his stuff taken away. Sheltering from the rain under a large black umbrella, Bill said he was planning to sleep outside again that night. Two small bags wedged between a railing and a building wall held all his possessions. Bill has been homeless since August. He can’t stand being in a shelter because of psychological problems that stem from once being in a coma, he said. Staying in a shelter with a lot of other people also brings up the trauma of losing his young son, who was apprehended by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. “I was a single father for nine months, and after I lost my place I lost control of my depression,” he said. “Being indoors made me think of my son too much. I can’t be indoors, I cry the whole night and I can’t deal with it.” Bill tries to find an out-of-the way spot every night, somewhere he won’t be blocking the sidewalk or the entrance of a building. “You don’t want to impede on somebody’s business because if you’re setting up on a sidewalk, what if you impede customers going in and out, so you’re costing them money,” Bill said. “You’re taking food off their kid’s plate.... It’s hard to find a spot that makes you comfortable and you’re not going to make someone and their business feel uncomfortable.” The place he’d found at Railway Street and Jackson Avenue ticked all those boxes. But he won’t go back there now. Bill said he tries to have good relations with the city sanitation workers, but he admits he’s yelled at them in the past when they tried to hurry him along as he tried to pack up. Then he apologized. “I shook his hand man-to-man and said sorry I was just having a bad day,” he said. “So there weren’t any hard feelings.” Ledger said the job city workers do is challenging, and they’re following instructions from the City of Vancouver to enforce existing bylaws. He said the real problem is that senior levels of government have not done enough to house people who are homeless. But Ledger said even before COVID-19 there weren’t enough spaces for people who are homeless to go during the day. For instance, the Drug Users Resource Centre — a low-barrier gathering place — was closed by Vancouver Coastal Health three years ago, Ledger said. “You could access laundry services, you could access food, washrooms and showers — you could just be in a space and not have to be on the streets all day.” Now because of COVID-19 precautions, there are even fewer places for people to go. “There is nowhere for homeless people to be except on the street,” Ledger said. “To continue to enforce a bylaw, when folks don’t have any other option of where they can be, is a questionable piece.” Ledger added that the city is likely trying to find a balance between the needs of people who are homeless with complaints from business owners and residents about street disorder. Earlier this fall, tenants of a rental building on West Hastings complained they couldn’t access their building because people were always in the entrance way. For several months Canada Post stopped delivering to over a dozen Downtown Eastside buildings because of crowding and blocked doorways. Blyth said it’s common to find a lineup of people waiting to get into the overdose prevention site when she opens the doors in the morning. Recently, staff helped a woman who was so cold that she was shivering uncontrollably. “I see people in the morning when I go in to open up, shaking and sleeping in doorways. People in wheelchairs, people with disabilities, people with mental health issues sleeping outside,” Blyth said. “It’s as bad as you can imagine."Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
Alberta Justice Minister and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu has temporarily authorized 700 provincial peace officers to enforce new COVID-19 restrictions. These officers will be able to give tickets and fines to anyone caught breaking those restrictions, which were announced earlier this week. Depending on the severity of the violation, fines for breaking health restrictions could range from a $1,000 ticketed offence to a $100,000 fine through the court system. When asked how officers would handle people intentionally ingoring the new rules out of protest, Madu said there would be no exceptions. “We are now faced with a very serious situation that requires that we hold people not compliant with these measures accountable,” he said. “You are going to see a heightened level of enforcement in those cases where there are individuals blatantly non-compliant with health measures.” At the press briefing, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said many new health restrictions announced earlier this week are now in effect. She urged Albertans to be patient with each other as citizens and businesses familiarize themselves with the rules. “If a line is a bit longer than usual or an employee asks you to follow a new policy that is in place, please do not take your frustrations out on these workers,” she said. “These new restrictions and measures create extra work and pressures for staff, owners and operators.” Father Mercredi Catholic High School has been placed on the provincial COVID-19 watch list after five positive cases have been reported in relation to the school. Schools are put on the provincial watch list after five or more cases have been acquired or transmitted in the school. After being added to the list, additional health measures may be put into place within a school to control the spread. The province then works with Alberta Health Services (AHS), the school and the school board to monitor cases. Currently, 89 Alberta schools are on the watch list. email@example.com Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today