Conservative MP Blaine Calkins made the gesture while criticizing Liberal policies towards Alberta and Western Canada.
Conservative MP Blaine Calkins made the gesture while criticizing Liberal policies towards Alberta and Western Canada.
MILTON, Ga. — In a black face mask and cap, activist Garrett Bess walked up driveway after driveway of million-dollar homes in suburban Atlanta on a recent afternoon, placing a flyer in each door, ringing the bell and stepping away to make a socially distanced pitch to vote for the conservative candidates in Georgia's pivotal U.S. Senate runoff elections.Bess' group, Heritage Action for America, plans to knock on half a million doors before the state's two Jan. 5 contests that will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate.“Everyone in Georgia knows the candidates,” said Janae Stracke, a colleague of Bess’ who also canvassed the subdivision. "There’s not a lot of convincing to do. They’ve made up their mind. It’s mostly knowing when to vote, how to vote, encouraging them to vote.”This election season, the coronavirus pandemic has upended traditional get-out-the-vote efforts where campaign workers go door to door to encourage people to cast ballots. With people staying at home and limiting contact with outsiders, an extended conversation with a campaign worker who shows up uninvited may actually encourage people to vote for someone else.But it's a sign of how important the two Senate elections are that both parties and independent advocacy groups are going all in on their in-person get-out-the-vote efforts.After the GOP lost the presidential election in Georgia for the first time in 28 years, conservatives are urging Republicans to get more aggressive with their turnout efforts in the state to match the outreach of former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.After Abrams lost the 2018 governor's race, she devoted herself to voter outreach, convinced that the state was a genuine battleground if Democrats galvanized young voters, minorities and people moving in from other states. She raised millions of dollars to organize and register hundreds of thousands of voters in the state — efforts credited with helping Democrat Joe Biden win Georgia.Republicans have to catch up, Republican operative Karl Rove told Fox News.“Let’s not kid ourselves: This is a real race,” said Rove, who is leading fundraising efforts for the runoffs.The National Republican Senatorial Committee expects to have 1,000 staffers on the ground in Georgia. For comparison, the Republican National Committee had a total of 3,000 paid field staff across the whole country during the presidential race.Democrats carry their own baggage into the runoff. In many parts of the country, they limited face-to-face campaigning ahead of the Nov. 3 election because of the pandemic, arguing that was the responsible thing to do. But that decision was second-guessed in places such as Florida.The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to spend millions on voter registration and turnout efforts.Outside groups are also hitting the ground, and the in-person appeals will be supplemented with a fusillade of phone calls, text messages, mailers and ads aimed at boosting turnout for the races pitting Republican Sen. David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock.Turnout tends to drop precipitously in runoff contests in Georgia. And activists fear there might be even more of a falloff this time, when the excitement of the Trump-Biden race is over. So getting voters to come back to the polls becomes more of a focus than “trying to find new voters or win over voters who voted for your opponent,” said Charles Bullock, an expert on Southern politics at the University of Georgia.Historically, that drop-off has disproportionately affected Democrats, so the party faces strong headwinds heading into January. The Republican candidate has beaten the Democrat in seven out of eight runoff elections since 1992, including two U.S. Senate races.Democrats have reason for optimism after Biden's win, but his margin of victory was tiny — less than 13,000 votes of nearly 5 million cast — and it’s been 20 years since the state elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate.But groups whose efforts tend to favour Democrats are charged. On Friday, representatives of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America went door to door in a neighbourhood just outside Atlanta encouraging people to vote for Ossoff and Warnock.“If we don't get those two seats in Congress, everything we did to flip Georgia blue is not going to help us,” Phyllis Morrow told a couple that pulled over in their car.The African Methodist Episcopal Church in Georgia, which has more than 150,000 parishioners in the state, is asking members to call eligible voters in their congregations, encourage them to vote early and assist with rides if they need help getting to the polls on Jan. 5.Bishop Reginald T. Jackson said Black voters are excited and “realize the eyes of the nation are on Georgia.”"They know people are going to be looking to see whether or not Blacks turn out,” he said.The New Georgia Project, a group founded by Abrams, will try to register some of the estimated 35,000 people who have finished their felony sentences and can requalify to vote as well as some of the estimated 23,000 people who are turning 18 before the runoff, Executive Director Nse Ufot said.Ufot said the group also aims to knock on 1 million doors before the runoff, up from 500,000 before the general election, and is training volunteers to take coronavirus precautions.In Milton, Bess and Stracke were in friendly territory. The affluent, mostly white city about 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of Atlanta showed strong support for President Donald Trump in the November election. The neighbourhood they canvassed last week featured manicured lawns and spacious homes set back from the street.“Oh, you have no problem here,” Holly McCormick, 73, told Bess after he rang her doorbell. The flyers he carried warned that Georgia was the country’s “last line of defence from a socialist takeover.”McCormick called the outcome of the presidential race “rigged” though there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and she said Trump’s claims of illegal votes made her more energized to vote for Perdue and Loeffler in January.“We have to hold the Senate,” she said.___Associated Press writer Jeff Amy in Atlanta contributed to this report.Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press
TORONTO — An angry Premier Doug Ford lashed out on Friday at anti-lockdown protesters outside his home, accusing them of intimidating nearby residents and saying their actions wouldn't sway him.His neighbours, Ford said in offering them a sincere apology for getting caught up in the situation, make no government decisions and never signed up to be targets."Stop acting like a bunch of buffoons out there and start respecting the people of Ontario," Ford said at his daily briefing. "This is totally unacceptable that my neighbours are being intimidated, being threatened, and these people, they need to stop."Protesters opposed to measures aimed at curbing the lethal spread of COVID-19 have gathered outside the premier's west-end Toronto home daily. Their actions, he said, are unacceptable."You want to protest me, come down to Queen's Park," Ford said. "You can do cartwheels, you can jump up and down." Ford took aim at Independent legislator Randy Hillier, who did lead an anti-mask and anti-lockdown rally at the legislature on Thursday. Police ticketed Hiller, whom Ford called irresponsible, for allegedly breaking health rules imposed to curb COVID.Hillier's supporters took to social media to denounce the citation and restrictions as unnecessary. Ford, however, said it's unfathomable that some people believe coronavirus disease to be a hoax when in fact the virus is so serious. "Look at the states to the south of us that want to ignore the regulations — they're blowing up," he said. "They have mobile morgues driving around in Texas collecting bodies. If that's not a wake-up call, I don't know what is."On Friday, Ontario reported a record 1,855 new infections, a 25 per cent surge in a day, and 20 new deaths. The province has now seen 109,361 cases, 3,575 of them fatal.Ford defended the restrictions that have shut down many businesses and limited gatherings as public health authorities urged people to stay home except for essential reasons. The measures, he said, were proven effective earlier this year."The proof is in the pudding: When we did it last time, we were down to almost 100 cases, which is unheard of in a population of 14.77 million people." The protesters outside his house, Ford said, were special interest and political groups. Small business owners on his street and elsewhere in the neighbourhood were among those anti-lockdown protests end up hurting, he added.Ultimately, Ford said, the protesters were violating the very tenets of political discourse. "There's an unwritten rule here in Canada: You don't go after people's families and neighbours," he said. "You want to come at me, come at me, and leave my family and leave my neighbours alone."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
The Delta Chi fraternity headquarters says it has closed down operations of its Windsor chapter and suspended all its members after racist and hateful messages were allegedly exchanged by its members connected to the University of Windsor chapter.It will seek to permanently close the chapter as part of an internal investigation."I am appalled and disgusted at what was presented to the University and our International Headquarters," Jerod Breit, Executive Director of Delta Chi, said in a statement to CBC News."That anyone, let alone members of Delta Chi, would say or believe in what these students, many now alumni, have expressed is deeply disturbing."The statement said the international headquarters, based in Indianapolis, will seek the maximum penalty for the members allegedly involved, which is permanent expulsion. It went on to say that the International Fraternity Headquarters "has placed the Windsor chapter under conservatorship, suspended the student membership of all undergraduates, and ceased operations indefinitely, pending the outcome of the commission hearing." It added that it will then seek a permanent suspension of the chapter."Delta Chi denounces all forms of hatred, racism, bigotry and violence, and holds individuals accountable for actions that do not reflect our values," the statement said.The messages included hateful comments directed at wide variety of ethnic and religious groups, homophobic slurs and comments celebrating violence.Windsor police confirmed Friday they are investigating.Some faculty at the University of Windsor expressed outrage in response to the incident."We're reeling, that's about all I can say," said Richard Douglass-Chin, an associate professor of English and women's studies. "It's not that we're shocked, because I think that this is an issue. What's shocking about it is it's coming to the public eye, and people are starting to talk about it," he added. "Which is good because it's there, and it has been there."Sujith Xavier, an associate professor in the Faculty of Law, was critical of a statement from the university which distanced itself from the fraternity."[The fraternity members] are part of our community and we have to take responsibility for what they did, which were racist, homophobic, etc. And so for [University of Windsor president Rob Gordon] to then say, to kind of push against this, I think is really disingenuous."The private Facebook messages allegedly made by members and alumni of the frat were exposed by two university anti-racism groups, which sent them to the university demanding action.The university Thursday denounced the messages and said it would launch an investigation. The university statement said that Delta Chi, like all fraternities and sororities at the university, does not have a formal relationship with the University of Windsor or its student union, but sometimes books university spaces 'for meetings or activities." That opportunity was immediately suspended.University President Robert Gordon said in an updated statement Friday that the university had retained legal experts to investigate the messages."The investigation is being led by Malcolm McKillop, Laura Williams, and Richard Appiah. Each of them has deep experience as a legal professional and investigator of discrimination and equity-related issues," he said."Their investigation will work to verify the highly inappropriate messages and actions and confirm any violations of the University's code of conduct. Its purview will extend to making any recommendations of disciplinary action."He said the investigation will begin on Monday, and said the university has encouraged anyone with information that may assist the investigation to share it with the investigators.In a separate letter Friday to the Windsor chapter's president, the headquarters ordered the chapter to cease all operations immediately. That includes everything from social functions to messaging between the chapter's members.The letter files six charges against the chapter, including "Violation of the Delta Chi Basic Expectation 2 - 'I will respect the dignity and worth of all persons. I will not physically, mentally, or psychologically or sexually abuse or haze any human being.'"The letter also said that the fraternity's conservator has removed all the executives at the chapter from their positions.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government made sure to sign deals with a variety of potential COVID-19 vaccine producers to ensure Canadians would get one that works. He says that if everything goes according to plan, most Canadians will receive their immunization by next September.
There are no windows in Robyn O'Drowsky's classroom.Her walls would usually be plastered with posters and kids' art. Instead, she's staring at drab off-white brick, a few lockers and more coat hooks than she has coats.She's hunkered down in the girls' change room at St. Mary's Catholic School, in Elora, Ont., converted into her Grade 5 virtual classroom. She lives with her parents, who are older and more vulnerable to COVID-19, so she opted to teach online this year."It's strange because I am kind of just in here talking to a computer," she said. But she's made it work. "I have my en suite, which is my own private bathroom, and I'm set up in here pretty well."The province estimates as of mid-October, some 450,000 students were learning online. O'Drowsky, or Ms. O as students call her, is one of the teachers making it happen. It's been a steep learning curve, as teaching online is an entirely new concept for most teachers and many of Ontario's school boards.For the first few months, O'Drowsky was working and planning lessons pretty much whenever she was awake. She's now mentoring in-class teachers in case everyone has to pivot. "If that happens, my kids are already set. We are flying," she said. "I feel like these children are super resilient."The online model has given her a glimpse into student's lives that she wouldn't get in a regular classroom. She's met lots of pets and always knows when someone forgets to change out of their pyjamas. It's also helped with managing behaviours. She doesn't have to deal with humming, singing or fidgeting anymore."I find we're getting through lessons a lot faster."'Speaking into the void'The hardest part has been figuring out how to maintain a one-on-one connection. In a regular classroom, students would just come up to O'Drowsky's desk."It's a work in progress but as we go, I feel like the kids are getting more confident," she said.LISTEN Virtual teachers discuss how online school is going:That lack of connection has been challenging for Albert Fong, who teaches high school science and physics at The Woodlands School in Mississauga. He's got a hybrid classroom, with some students in-person and others online."This model we have is taking a lot of joy out of teaching because I'm often speaking into the void," he said. "They've muted their microphones and I don't know if they're listening."He's been trying to find joy in little things. Like when a student unmutes at the end of class to say bye.Fong has been teaching for 16 years. This year has been the most difficult. He's a hands-on teacher, teaching a hands-on subject. He's tried his best but it's hard to replicate when students aren't there in-person."I try to not think to June ... most teachers in my position are just thinking a couple days ahead."Parents now in the classroom tooTypically teachers wouldn't be sitting down, staring at a screen all day, so they've had to get used to that, too."It's exhausting," admits Alex Mitchell, virtually teaching a Grade 6/7 split for the Catholic school board in Pembroke, Ont. "I have a new found appreciation for desk workers."He's got a big office to himself, so he's brought a yoga mat and stretches during breaks, off camera of course.It's Mitchell's first year teaching in a public board so he's getting a far different experience than if he was starting in a physical classroom. He's finding parents are playing a bigger role than he thought."For the first time ever, parents are in the classroom," he said. "It's kind of new for me to have to manage adults as well as children."Mitchell's also learned snow days aren't a thing. While his in-person counterparts got a snow day a few days ago, he had to wake up early to dig himself out."That was the very first thing they told us at our very first staff meeting. There will be no snow days. Don't ask."He has been cherishing the "almighty" mute button though, something he hopes to bring when he returns to a physical classroom, post-pandemic."[It's] the ultimate classroom management tool."
More than once during the weeks leading up to the provincial election Premier Moe referred to the province as being a supplier of raw materials to the world, but is this where the province should remain? Over 70% of Canada’s farmland is located in the prairies and historically, Saskatchewan was referred to as the “bread-basket of the world”, but with the shift away from primarily wheat production and the growth of the oil and gas sectors, that title has fallen into disuse. Yet, Saskatchewan remains in the realm of a primary producer. The problem with that status became evident earlier this year when COVID-19 arrived on our doorstep. As a province we are heavily reliant on other districts to supply our finished products and when they run into problems, such as the outbreaks of the coronavirus among their employees, the ripples are felt all along the food chain. But the authors of a new report just released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives highlights another factor that while many across the prairies realize its happening, may not realize the full extent nor the implications of the trend. For years ‘bigger is better’ has been mantra of our culture, bigger homes, bigger trucks, bigger toys, and this is true of farming as well. Since the 1980’s farmers in Saskatchewan have been encouraged become bigger. Marginal farmland was pulled into production to make for bigger crops. Bigger equipment could complete the farmers work in less time and well, bigger equipment meant that it was possible to work more land, and the cycle continued. The era of broadly distributed land ownership, of food production by small and medium-sized family farms, is fading and the small farm is all but extinct. The number of young farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba has, according to the report Concentration Matters: Farmland Inequality on the Prairies, declined by more than 70 percent, in just one generation—since 1991 (Statistics Canada Table 32-10-0169-01). The report authored by Darrin Qualman, Annette Aurélie Desmarais, André Magnan, Mengistu Wendimu for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) states that while it remains the case that local families do operate the vast majority of our farms, there are fewer and fewer of those families every year. Thirty-eight percent of the farmland in Saskatchewan is operated and controlled by just 8 percent of Saskatchewan farms or just over 2,400 operations. These 2400+ farms average 9,382 acres in size, though many are much larger. The reduction in the number of small farms, the concentration of farmland and farm income into fewer and fewer large operations, and barriers to entry created by rising land prices (See Farm Credit Canada, Farmland Values Report), all make it more difficult for young and new farmers to enter agriculture, the report goes on to say. This difficulty in gaining access to farmland is therefore, effectively stifling the possibility of farming as a career choice for young Canadians (Qualman, Akram-Lodhi, Desmarais, and Srinivasan, 2018). Farms larger than 10,000 acres make up less than 2 percent of total Prairie farms, yet those very large operations captured approximately 15 percent of gross revenues and net income. On average, these very large farms earned net incomes of more than $820,000 before depreciation. At the other end of the size distribution, farms smaller than 1,000 acres, though they make up 53 percent of total farms, captured just 21 percent of revenues and 18 percent of net income. On average, these farms earned net incomes of just over $34,000 each. Because margins are tight and per-acre net income is low on cattle farms and grain and oilseed farms, a young or new farmer on a small farm with few acres paid for has a very limited ability to pay for additional acres, large farms often have greater capacity to borrow money (on better terms than those usually offered to smaller farms), and as a result unless a young farmer can partner with another, either a family member or another farmer looking to start ‘slowing down’, there is no avenue for him or her to get in and fewer and fewer farm children are returning to the farm. In 2014, for instance, 73 percent of farmland transactions involving an ownership change were between arms-length parties (neighbours), whereas 27 percent were among family members (Magnan and Sunley 2017). The rate of farmland concentration however, is running far ahead of the rate of farm loss. Since 1966, Canada has lost half of its farms, but the number of farmers who control the vast majority of land is far smaller than the numbers above suggest. According to the report, across the Prairie Provinces, farms larger than 5,000 acres, which represents 7 percent of all farms, own 27 percent of all farmland that is owner-operated, also those same 7 percent of Prairie farms that are larger than 5,000 acres, lease 67 percent of government leased farm land and rent or lease 35 percent of all land rented or leased by farmers from non-government farmland owners. So, while it may remain the case that our farmland is owned by local families, it is also the case that most is owned by a very small percentage of families. In 2016, 37,622 farm operations owned about half of all Canadian agricultural land in private hands. Translated into number of people, the authors of the study made a rough assumption that each farming operation included, in some combination of parents, children, spouse/partner, about 2.5 landowners. Thus those 37,622 farm operations become 94,055 people (less than .3% of the Canada’s entire population) own half of the country’s food-producing acreage. The great exit of young people from rural to urban areas is well documented in report after report in Statistics Canada library, but to bring this into a more local perspective, the 1976 census shows the population of the RM of Fish Creek to be 591, by 1981 that number had dropped to 510. (https://archive.org/details/1981939081982engfra/page/n47/mode/2up?q=Fish+Creek+RM) Twenty years later, the population was 382 and while that number is now recorded as 345, in the intervening years it did drop as low as 307 at one point. The report concludes that unless government policies or economic shocks alter these trends, 20 years from now, the area of land operated by small farms will be negligible, and farms larger than 5,000 acres may operate 50 to 60 percent of Prairie farmland (up from about 37 percent today).Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
Moose Jaw Minor Hockey says it has a plan to keep kids on the ice in the coming month, while following the province's new restrictions.New measures announced earlier this week, which came into effect Friday, include suspending all team and group sports for a period of at least three weeks. Athletes under the age of 18 can still practise, though, provided they are able to distance and keep group sizes to a maximum of eight.A tweet by the association Thursday night saying hockey was still on received backlash on social media, with some believing the tweet meant the association still planned on playing games."Maybe it was a poorly worded tweet. I do apologize for that," said Moose Jaw Minor Hockey president Chris Flanagan, adding a tweet has been sent clarifying the plan."We are not playing games. We are just training in our groups of eight. We're following every single restriction and guideline that the province has set out this week." The new schedule until the end of the year will see teams get one to two hours of ice time each week to practise, with a maximum of eight players on the ice at a time and everyone wearing masks.Coaches can split their ice time in half, so two groups of eight players can get on the ice on the same day, or they can have eight players on for the entire time slot, and then have another group of eight on for the next practice.Flanagan said other regulations include not using player benches and requiring everyone to come to the arena dressed to practise. No hockey bags are allowed, and safety captains are to attend and take attendance for COVID tracing.Parents are not allowed to watch the practices, and can only come in to tie the skates of their children.Flanagan said they are also adding more restrictions beyond the province's requirements, such as trying to keep kids together who attend the same school."[We'll] try to keep them all together so we're not mixing bubbles from the school system."In a letter to parents, the association said there will be zero tolerance for teams that break any of the restrictions.Those that do will be have their practice times put on pause until further notice."We're going to give it a shot here for the next couple of weeks," Flanagan said. "If it doesn't work, if teams aren't showing up or players don't want to participate, we'll re-look at our plan here and make a decision."We believe the mental health of physical activity is a very important thing for these kids. And right now we believe we can achieve that while being safe and following the guidelines."
CALGARY — The Calgary Zoo says two giant pandas are on their way home to China today. The zoo said in May that it would be sending the pair back early because the COVID-19 pandemic was making it difficult to source bamboo.The plant makes up 99 per cent of the animals' diet and the zoo has said it was an expensive and all-consuming effort to cobble together supplies from across North America.The zoo says on Twitter it was a difficult decision to send the pandas home three years earlier than planned. It says it took months of hard work to secure international permits to get the pandas home. The zoo posted photos of reams of paperwork needed for the journey, the crates that were to carry the pandas and the Lufthansa Cargo plane that was to take them to China. The two adults, Er Shun and Da Mao, were on loan from China to Canadian zoos as part of a 10-year deal signed in 2012. They were to stay in Calgary until 2023.Two cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, were born in Toronto in 2015. They were sent to China as planned in January. The price tag to have the pandas in Calgary was around $30 million, including $14.4 million for the Panda Passage exhibit itself. Expanded parking lots, washrooms and restaurants were also required to accommodate an expected influx of visitors. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
THUNDER BAY — A Thunder Bay man accused of an armed robbery of a pizza delivery driver in late August appeared in court this week to plead guilty to several, unrelated charges connected to fraud from earlier this year. Colton Herneshuhta, 21, pleaded guilty to a total of 13 charges relating to fraud, forgery, a break and enter and breaching probation orders on Thursday, Nov. 26 in a Thunder Bay Zoom courtroom. Court heard several instances where Herneshuhta used fake cheques to defraud several agencies in the city from January to April. On Jan. 6, Herneshuhta attended a loan agency business on Red River Road and presented a forged cheque for $1,139. A few days later, the business learned the cheque was fraudulent and alerted police who identified Herneshuhta as the person who cashed the cheque. He was also on probation at the time. On Jan. 9, Herneshuhta again used more fake cheques at two different businesses on Red River Road totalling $900. In a different case, another complainant gave Herneshuhta her debit card and pin number after he lied about why he needed it, according to Herneshuhta lawyer's George Joseph. “Mr. Herneshuhta made attempts to withdraw money that were outside the perimeters of the representation he made to (the complainant),” Joseph said. He initially attempted to withdraw $1,499, but was only able to take out $500, court heard. In April, Herneshuhta used a fake cheque of $850 to defraud the Children’s Aid Society. A few months later in August, Herneshuhta was identified as a suspect of a break and enter at a business on Victoria Street on Aug. 2. The Crown stated there was no estimate provided by the business of the damage caused or items stolen. Joseph told the court his client has struggled with a cocaine addiction for 10 years which has fuelled his criminal behaviour. Since being in custody, Herneshuhta has remained sober and has been working on his education as well as taking advantage of programs while in custody, Joseph said. Herneshuhta was sentenced to a joint submission of six months in custody, less pre-sentence custody. Crown counsel Piera Pasloski said Herneshuhta’s criminal record is limited and acknowledged his addiction which has been driving his criminal behaviour. “Mr. Joseph shared with me at the counsel pre-trial that Mr. Herneshuhta has had an extremely hard-wired addiction problem since age 11,” she said. “The hope is he will get himself the treatment he needs once he is released and that this behaviour will cease.” Herneshuhta was given credit at an enhanced rate for the time he has spent in pre-sentence custody of 136 days. He has 44 days left to serve going forward. After his custodial sentence, he will be placed on probation. Part of his probation conditions include participating in any assessments for counselling and substance addictions as well as completing any treatment programs if he is directed by probation. He is also not to contact any of the complainants or enter the businesses he defrauded. He will have 12 months to pay a victim surcharge fine for each of the 13 counts. Herneshuhta was not ordered to pay a restitution order. Herneshuhta also has outstanding charged connected to an alleged armed robbery from Aug. 24 of a pizza delivery driver. He is scheduled to return to court for these matters in early December.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante can now add "author" to her resume with the publication of a graphic novel in which she recounts her entry into politics and takes subtle digs at the sexism she's encountered along the way.'"Okay, Universe: Chronicles of a Woman in Politics," tells the story of Simone Simoneau — modelled on Plante — a young community organizer who decides to take the plunge into politics by running for a seat on city council.Published in both English and French and co-authored by illustrator Delphie Cote-Lacroix, the book follows the initially hesitant Simoneau as she learns to fundraise, knock on doors and recruit volunteers.Plante, 46, said she began to toy with the idea of publishing a book after she won the mayoralty in 2017. Writing a typical political autobiography didn't appeal, she said."For me the graphic novel format was always what I wanted," she said in a recent interview at her publisher's offices."I think it’s accessible, it can be fun, and I love graphic novels myself."The book is based on Plante's own sketches and anecdotes she began jotting down in 2013, during her first run for a seat on city council. Four years later, she became the first woman elected mayor of Montreal after her surprise defeat of experienced incumbent Denis Coderre.While the writing and drawings were initially a form of self-care to help her "stay balanced," she said she eventually came to see that her story might inspire others, especially young girls."I wanted to show, and maybe tell, people it’s OK not to have all the keys and codes to do something you think would be a good thing to do or you believe in," she said."Just go for it."She began working with Cote-Lacroix on evenings and weekends, taking about two years to finalize the story and illustrations.Plante said that, much like her character in the book, she had been looking for a new challenge before her entry into politics. Then she received a phone call from left-wing municipal party Projet Montreal, which was looking to diversify its slate of candidates.In the book, Plante doesn't shy away from the challenges faced by women who put themselves in the public eye. At one point, one of her character's posters is defaced by sexist graffiti. In another, her character's husband gets effusive praise for helping to care for the couple's children — something the book points out is a given for female political spouses. While the book "won't change sexism," Plante said she hopes it will help highlight the double standards women face.Three years into her mandate, Plante has had a bumpy year, marked by a global pandemic that has devastated the city's economy and criticism over her administration's failure to implement its big visions for affordable housing and transportation. She has also faced anger over what some have described as an anti-car agenda, which includes building bike lanes, eliminating parking spots and temporarily closing some streets to vehicle traffic to create "sanitary corridors." At times, that criticism has escalated to the level of death threats.While some criticism is to be expected, Plante attributes much of the public anger directed her way to the anxiety wrought by the pandemic."Not to minimize their actions of being very aggressive, violent or doing death threats, but I like to hope in the future, when people are less stressed and in a better position, things will calm down," she said.She also faced criticism earlier this year over her novel itself, with some high-profile commentators questioning her decision to "draw cartoons" as the city was embroiled in the COVID-19 crisis.Plante dismissed this as unfounded, especially since she says the writing process wrapped up in late 2019."People were just kind of trashing the book (without) even reading it, which I thought was sad, because it wasn’t about the content, it was about criticizing the author," she said. However, she did push back the book's publication for a few months when the pandemic's second wave began.Plante said she would still recommend politics to young people who want to make a difference, even as she acknowledges it's a "tough" career that comes with unusual levels of public exposure. "But hopefully people see in the book, the love that you get from your volunteers, it's a community, it’s people working together," she said."It’s worth it."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
Face coverings will be mandatory for everyone at the Mark Arendz Ski Park in Brookvale, P.E.I., this winter, officials say.The province posted plans for the park on the provincial website Thursday, outlining how things are going to work this year with the COVID-19 pandemic. They made the changes in co-ordination with public health on P.E.I.Like all indoor spaces on P.E.I., masks will be mandatory indoors at the park — and face coverings will be required outdoors while snowboarding or skiing downhill or cross-country. "Just to be on the side of caution and be safe," said Erin Curley, the assistant superintendent for the park, in an interview with CBC Radio: Island Morning Friday. Face coverings can include a non-medical mask or a balaclava — those are commonly used by skiers for warmth anyway. Chairlift bubblesCurley said skiers will be encouraged to only stay in the lodge as long as it takes to warm up then head back outside, to limit contact with one another indoors, including staff. Ski rental areas will have capacities listed on the doors, and staff will monitor those and other lodge areas. The canteen in the lodge will be closed, Curley said, but they have vending machines to offer snacks. Washroom facilities will be open but capacity will be limited.What about the chairlift? Curley said the rules for the quad chairlift are different because it is outdoors, and officials are still deciding how they will line up skiers so they are physically distanced.> People are super excited to have an option for the winter to be able to get out. — Erin Curley"We are encouraging family and friend bubbles to use the same chair and if you're not part of a family-friend bubble, to ride alone," Curley said, noting this could mean longer lineups on busy days. The park will offer downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snowshoeing and fat biking. But it won't be able to offer a repair shop or locker rentals. Ski school sold outAll the 260 weekend ski school slots for kids this year are sold out, Curley said, because they had to reduce numbers to allow for physical distancing. Last year the school taught about 475 children on weekends. "It is a considerably lower number this year, but it all comes back to what we felt we could manage safely," Curley said.Season passes to the park are also selling briskly. So far the park has not set a limit on those. "People are super excited to have an option for the winter to be able to get out," Curley said. Closer to the beginning of ski season, the ski school will begin taking bookings for private lessons. Their target opening date is Dec. 19, and will depend on whether there is enough snow. "Every chance we get, we'll make snow," Curley said. More from CBC P.E.I.
OTTAWA — Champion ice-dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Olympic champion swimmer Mark Tewksbury were among 114 athletes, artists, scholars and community leaders named to the Order of Canada. Gov. Gen. Julie Payette's office announced the new honourees Friday morning. Others in the group include Indigenous writer Thomas King, winemaker John Peller, dancer and choreographer Elizabeth Langley, geriatrician Roger Wong, Cree elder Doreen Spence, sports academic Dr. Sandra Kirby, wheelchair basketball coach Tim Frick and ex-politicians Bill Graham and Allan Rock. Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018. They're being honoured for their athletic excellence and for inspiring a new generation of figure skaters. "Feeling all wrapped up in emotion ... Upon learning about being invested into the Order of Canada, I couldn’t help but think that as a kid, I would have never known to dream so big," Virtue posted on Twitter. "I am humbled by this honour." Tewksbury, who is being named to the top companion rank, won gold in the 100-metre backstroke at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The 52-year-old Calgary native came out publicly as gay in 1998 and has been an advocate of LGBTQ rights as well as a prominent member of Canada's Olympic movement, serving as chef de mission of the 2012 London Olympic team. He is being honoured for athletic excellence and sport leadership, and for championing human rights. Kirby, a rower at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, is being honoured for her research on athlete harassment and her advocacy for equity, inclusion and safety in sport. Frick coached Canada's women's wheelchair basketball team to three straight Paralympic gold medals from 1992-2000 and four straight world championship gold medals from 1994-2006. He is being honoured for his expertise in coaching and for his contributions to the advancement of parasports in Canada. The Order of Canada is one of the country's highest civilian honours. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. The Canadian Press
A Pembroke, Ont., woman who was found guilty of impaired driving causing death in 2015 has lost her dentist's licence for six months.According to the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, Christy Natsis will also be monitored for the next two and half years through office visits, pay $7,500 in costs to the college and receive an official reprimand.The college cited Natsis breaking the law and acting with "disgraceful, dishonourable, unprofessional or unethical conduct."Those allegations were uncontested, a spokesperson for the college said, and the hearing proceeded with an agreed statement of facts and a joint submission for the penalty.The college held a teleconference on Thursday and announced its decision.Natsis was found guilty in May 2015 — after a 55-day trial that stretched over three years — of impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death in the March 2011 crash that killed Bryan Casey.She was eventually sentenced to five years in prison, which she unsuccessfully appealed.
The mother of homicide victim Preston Thomas made a rose to honour her son and said she plans to take the rose with her to every court appearance of the man charged with his murder. “This rose is a symbol of the justice I want for my son,” Lillian Thomas posted on social media. Joel Yuzicapi, 28, appeared in Saskatoon Provincial Court Nov. 17. He has been in custody since his arrest on Aug. 4 in the 200 block of Avenue S North. Police charged him with second-degree murder in connection to the death of 27-year-old Preston Thomas. According to Saskatoon Police, they were called to a hotel on Airport Drive at about 7:20 a.m. on Aug. 1 for a report of an injured man in one of the hotel rooms. When they arrived they found Thomas deceased. Police say the victim and accused were known to each other. Yuzicapi is scheduled to appear again in Saskatoon Provincial Court on Dec. 2 for case management. Saskatoon Police Major Crimes continues to investigate. If anyone has information they are asked to contact the Saskatoon Police at 306-975-8300 and to ask to speak with an investigator in Major Crimes or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. firstname.lastname@example.org Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter / The Battlefords News-OptimistLisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Nova Scotia's housing minister says a rent cap and ban on renovictions — evictions in order to renovate or repair rental units — announced this week are a start, and that work continues to find more affordable places for people to live. Chuck Porter said he's having daily conversations with people in the private and non-profit sectors to increase Nova Scotia's affordable housing stock. "That's vital. That's most important to us," he told CBC's Information Morning on Friday. "I don't think that anybody is going to have a conversation with anyone whereby we're going to get any agreement and invest in anything that does not include an affordable housing component, and I think that developers and others understand that as well."Listen to the full interview with Housing Minister Chuck Porter here:The two per cent cap on rent announced Wednesday is temporary, and will expire Feb. 1 2022, or whenever the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted. What long-term solutions look like will be up to the new Affordable Housing Commission, Porter said. "Everybody's going to have a chance to be heard because there will be subcommittees and focus groups, etc. There will be opportunities for everyone to offer their input and there's nothing better than an informed decision."Porter spoke with CBC's Information Morning as part of its in-depth look at affordable housing issues in a series called Unaffordable or Unfit: Nova Scotia's Housing Challenge.Opposition leaders also weighed in, saying the changes Porter announced this week are needed, but not enough. "The government has profoundly neglected affordable housing over the seven years of their mandate, and the solution to this is for the government to get back in the housing business, to get back in the housing game in a very serious way," said NDP leader Gary Burrill. * He said a long-term rent control plan is also key and has proven to be effective in other provinces. Tim Houston, leader of the Progressive Conservatives, disagrees. "I've met with a number of ... people and organizations on the front lines of this. I've asked every single one of them, 'Do you want rent control? Is rent control part of the solution?' I've yet to find one of them say, 'Please implement rent control. This will really help us.' Because it won't and they know it won't."Listen to the full interview with Gary Burrill and Tim Houston here:MORE TOP STORIES:
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Public health officials say the COVID-19 outbreak linked to Nipissing University's athletic community has grown to 16 cases.The outbreak was first declared on Tuesday when six people tested positive for COVID-19.North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit did not say how many were students or staff.The health unit says the growth in cases is expected as high-risk contacts are tested.It says close contact tracing has been completed for positive cases.The health unit had said that the individuals interacted with other people at the university's gym and at social gatherings in the community.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.The Canadian Press
KYIV, Ukraine — The president of Belarus said Friday that he would not remain in the post he has held for more than 26 years if his country adopts a new constitution. However, President Alexander Lukashenko did not describe the amendments he is seeking or give a timeline for when a new constitution might be adopted. Lukashenko has repeatedly raised the prospect of a new constitution since the Aug. 9 presidential election in which he won a sixth term produced protests demanding his resignation. The Belarusian political opposition and some poll workers have alleged the election was rigged. The opposition views the talk of constitutional revisions as a delaying tactic aimed at sapping the momentum of the near-daily protests, which have occurred throughout the country and attracted crowds sometimes numbering more than 100,000. Belarusian authorities have called for a national assembly of thousands of people in late December or January to discuss proposed constitutional changes. “I will not work with you as president under the new constitution,” Lukashenko said in comments released by his press service. The remarks came a day after Lukashenko met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who expressed support for a new Belarusian Constitution. Russia has close ties with Belarus, and Moscow has offered Lukashenko security assistance if he requests it. Lukashenko, who has been in office since 1994, has refused to negotiate with the opposition on a trasnfer of power or a new presidential election. Police have taken a hard line against the demonstrations, and human rights activists say more than 19,000 people have been detained and thousands of them beaten. The Associated Press
Il s’agit d’un retour dans sa ville natale pour la propriétaire de ce nouveau commerce, Mylène Jomphe. Elle avait quitté la région il y a quelques années pour aller faire son cours en pâtisserie. Elle a ensuite travaillé pour une usine de chocolat dans la région de Québec. Par contre, l’usine dans laquelle elle œuvrait a fermé. Elle a donc saisi cette occasion pour revenir dans sa région d’origine et ouvrir une chocolaterie. Pour l’instant, il est possible de retrouver 14 variétés de bouchées individuelles. Parmi celles-ci, il y a des produits inspirés de la région comme une bouchée aux bleuets ou à la chicoutai. Il y a aussi 9 saveurs de barres de chocolat. Jusqu’à maintenant la réponse de la clientèle est plus que positive selon Mme Jomphe : « Il y a beaucoup de gens qui viennent à la chocolaterie et on reçoit de bons commentaires de leur part. De plus, le temps des fêtes arrive vite et j’ai beaucoup de demandes pour mes chocolats. » Elle ajoute qu’elle commence aussi à avoir de la demande pour ses produits à l’extérieur et que certaines personnes lui ont même demandés de lancer une boutique en ligne. Pour ce qui est du nom, Niapisca, celui-ci s’inspire en partie d’un monolithe qui porte ce nom sur l’île Niapiskau qui est présente dans la Réserve de parc national de l’Archipel-de-Mingan. Mylène ajoute que son père qui est sculpteur a fait une représentation de ce monolithe surnommé Madame de Niapisca il y a quelques années. Le nom s’est donc imposé de lui-même pour la chocolaterie. Pour celle qui débute dans le monde des affaires, elle explique qu’il y a plusieurs défis. « Je commence à réaliser toutes les choses pour avoir son entreprise. Il y a la production, la paperasse, la comptabilité en plus des commandes et de l’emballage. » Malgré tout, la jeune entrepreneure se montre confiante pour la suite des choses.Vincent Berrouard, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nord-Côtier
The organizer of the Halloween house decorating contest in Innisfil is back with a new contest just in time for Christmas. Jennifer Richardson has created Light it up Innisfil as way to keep the safe festive times going. “Same idea, same contest. Same everything, just Christmas style instead of Halloween,” said Richardson, who had 94 households participate in her Halloween decorating contest. Participants in the contest paid an entry fee of $10 and competed for best decorated in their wards, and in other categories. “We were able to give the (Innisfil) food bank and Christmas 4 Kids each just over $500, and they needed it,” she said. “It was crazy how empty the shelves were.” The Christmas house decorating contest is once again going to support those two charities. “All of our schools usually do such huge fundraisers for them and they can’t, which is why I chose them,” Richardson said. Residents looking to participate should join the Light it up Innisfil Facebook page. The cost to enter the contest is $10. Local politicians have once again agreed to judge, with winners being picked for each municipal ward, MP and MPP’s favourites, Mayor’s choice, Friends of the Library’s choice, and online voting for the best lighting display and best inflatable display. Judging will happen between Dec. 11 and Dec. 18. “Anyone can come and check out the lights, and they’ll have access to see the map online, but only Innisfil residents will be allowed to vote,” Richardson said. Richardson said she has already had local businesses reach out to donate prizes, including items from Koala Tea, Cookstown Antique Market, Due North Photography, Hot Box Huts, Nubridge Auto, and Telus. Richardson said she will be randomly drawing winners for prizes, too, so she encourages everyone to enter. “It doesn’t matter what your decorations are, big or small, just enter,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s for a great cause, for two very well deserving community charities.” For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/LightitupInnisfilShane MacDonald, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Windsor-Essex is becoming a "red" zone as of Monday following a dramatic escalation in COVID-19 cases this month.It's the third straight week the region has moved up a category that mandates tighter pandemic restrictions on activities and behaviour.Yet another bump-up "hurts" says Mayor Drew Dilkins, but he called on the community to pull together to protect each other."The fact that we have moved three times in the past three weeks is an obvious indicator that the situation in our region is significant, and getting worse," he said in a statement."It hurts having to take another step back, but that's what we'll do, and together we'll regroup as a community and refocus our efforts on keeping each other safe."Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott announced the decision Friday afternoon as Windsor-Essex was one of five regions placed in new categories."Over the last week we have seen a shift in the trends of key public health indicators in regions across the province, and by moving these five regions to a new level in the framework, we can ensure that the necessary targeted measures are in place to stop the spread of the virus and allow us to keep our schools and businesses open."The "control - red" category is the second-highest tier of public health restrictions in the province's COVID-19 response framework. The next step would be a full lockdown.Under red-level restrictions, indoor dining is limited to 10 people and dining must close at 10 p.m., with alcohol sales ending an hour earlier. Gyms are limited to 10 patrons at a time, and indoor social gatherings have a limit of five people.A full list of the restrictions is available here.The announcement follows weeks of rising COVID-19 cases in the region. As recently as early November, Windsor-Essex was in the "prevent - green" restrictions category, the least strict tier.There are currently 354 active cases in the region, 51 of which were announced earlier on Friday. Two schools are shut down due to outbreaks, and there are four outbreaks in long-term care or retirement facilities.In response to the surge in cases, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit announced Friday that it will be adding at least 17 staff, including COVID-19 investigators.The move to the red tier of restrictions was anticipated. Dr. Wajid Ahmed, the region's medical officer of health, said Wednesday that Windsor-Essex technically meets the criteria though that call would be made by the province.Sarnia-Lambton will move into the yellow "protect" level starting Monday, according to Lambton Public Health.Response from cityIn a news release Friday, the City of Windsor said that it will be taking additional measures beyond those mandated by the red level.It said will suspend recreational services in pools, arenas and community centres for a two-week period starting Sunday. The suspension will be reassessed after two weeks.Concerns from businessesEarlier this week, one business owner, Tom Lucier of Phog Lounge, said he can't keep up with how quickly the rules and regulations have evolved."Right now, they're essentially closing us without closing us and we're jumping through hoops day-to-day and it's just not fair, it's kind of silly," he said. Caesars Windsor casino told CBC News that it would temporarily close on Monday due to the new restrictions.Brian Yeomans, chair of the Downtown Windsor BIA, previously told CBC News he's heard concerns and frustration from members."[Businesses] did a fantastic job through the summer and making sure that everything was safe, they followed all those guidelines, they followed all the rules," he said. "And when things aren't getting better, they're the ones that are still being punished instead of people that are having these house parties, that are leaving and going and doing other things and that's infuriating."