Sen. David Tkachuk tells a group of pro-pipeline protesters to "roll over every Liberal" before walking back his remark as a "figure of speech."
Sen. David Tkachuk tells a group of pro-pipeline protesters to "roll over every Liberal" before walking back his remark as a "figure of speech."
Reaction from various sectors to Saskatchewan's newly announced COVID-19 restrictions ranges from disappointment to criticism of "half measures" to a grudging acknowledgment that something had to be done.The latest measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus, which were announced Wednesday and come into effect Friday, include suspending sports competitions, further limiting gatherings at restaurants and in places of worship, discouraging gatherings beyond immediate households and encouraging mask use for younger children.The new provincial rules suspend "all team/group sports, activities, games, competitions, recitals, practices, etc. … including amateur and recreational leagues for all groups."Kelly McClintock, general manager of the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, said the government advised athletics organizations in the province to re-examine their return-to-play guidelines starting last week, so the decision to suspend all games came as a surprise."We assumed that there would be some more restrictive guidelines put in place this week," he said. "We didn't assume that we'd be shut down completely.… It's disappointing."The new measures do say that athletes under the age of 18 can continue to practise, as long as they're masked, physically distanced, and in a group no larger than eight.McClintock says that will be difficult to actually do under the new regulations."Most teams are anywhere from 12 to 20 players … so I'm not sure how many people will actually take advantage of that from a team perspective," he said. Bob Reindl, executive director of Saskatchewan Athletics, said young track and field athletes will face similar challenges. "Right now in Saskatoon they only have an hour to practise anyways," he said. "So you can only have eight people, and it usually takes an hour for 30 kids to go through. It's going to be difficult."Despite those challenges, Reindl said suspending sports was simply the right thing to do. "It had to be done," he said. "There's no doubt about it. The numbers are high, the government had to do something, and we knew it was coming. Both Alberta and Manitoba already shut down sports in their provinces."Until team sports resume, McClintock is worried about how children will cope with one less outlet to keep fit and spend time with friends. There are over 20,000 minor hockey athletes alone in the province, he said."Kids need the activity from a mental health perspective and a physical health perspective," he said. "Now, that's going to be cut down, and that's the disappointing part." 'Have to be some education' on masks: daycareWednesday's new measures also extend mandatory, non-medical masking to all students, employees and visitors in schools and daycares. Children under three are exempt, but those between the ages of three and 12 should wear a mask if they are able to, the new rules say.Nancy Lautner, executive director of Tykes and Tots Early Learning Centre in Saskatoon, says the guideline threads the needle between keeping kids healthy and not setting a bar that would be impossible for them to meet. "I do appreciate that the province worded the masking policy for the young children the way they did, in terms of saying very young children should wear a mask if they are able to," she said."Some of our three to five year olds are certainly capable of wearing a mask and they won't have an issue with it, but some are not. So I appreciate that they've left that leniency." At Tykes and Tots, students in the before- and after-school programs have already been wearing masks, as have staff members.Now, it will be a matter of educating the younger children on how to mask up — but early childhood educators are experts on teaching hygiene to kids."There will certainly have to be some education that staff will have to do, in the same way that they educate about washing your hands and sneezing into your elbow and things like that," said Lautner. 'Each business is in limbo'Restaurants and licensed establishments such as bars and nightclubs will now have to limit their seating to four people per table, and will also have to maintain a record of all their guests.Shawn Moen, a co-founder of 9 Mile Legacy Brewing in Saskatoon, says the limited financial support in the face of increasing public health restrictions have posed a challenge to his business. "Traffic has slowed significantly," he wrote on Twitter. "We are allowed to stay open (and I'm grateful for the operational flexibility) but our customers are being told to stay home. The result has been a slowdown."And he says programs like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), which are intended to help businesses cover wages and rent, are insufficient."Many public-facing businesses won't have sufficient support from these programs, don't have experiences and products that are portable and will be faced with voluntarily closing due to lack of business or safety concerns," he said. If businesses are forced to shut down by a qualifying public health order, they qualify for additional support through CERS. But for now, in Saskatchewan, restaurants and bars are allowed to stay open. "Each business is in limbo right now [and] they are being asked to close pre-emptively and risk ineligibility for supports or stay open and keep bleeding financially," said Moen. Nurses union 'utterly disappointed'In a statement released on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses criticized the new COVID restrictions for not going far enough, saying its membership is "utterly disappointed" with "half measures."SUN says the limited measures, as opposed to a full "circuit-breaker" lockdown, are not enough to contain the virus and will lead to greater economic disruption and loss of life in the week ahead.
Glen Quann, a 60-year-old London man, is dead following a collision on Highway 401 earlier this week, the Ontario Provincial Police said in a news release. The crash, which occurred around 11 a.m. Monday, took place after Quann's vehicle and another collided in the eastbound lanes of Highway 401, east of County Road 42. The passenger in Quann's vehicle was brought to hospital with life-threatening injuries. The driver and passenger of the other vehicle were not injured. At the time, police closed the eastbound lanes of Highway 401 at County Road 42 for several hours to complete an investigation. An investigation is still ongoing and police ask that anyone with information to contact the Ontario Provincial Police at 1-888-310-1122 or the Chatham-Kent detachment at (519) 352-1122. More from CBC Windsor
Oskenontona Philip Deering sees working with beads as a way for people to connect with each other, predating modern language — even going back millennia.Deering, whose shop in Kahnawake provides that essential part of Indigenous beadwork to the community, is known to many simply as Beadman."We don't get as many customers as we need to stay afloat so I go out on the road," he told CBC Montreal's Let's Go.Before the pandemic, he would regularly visit Indigenous communities in Quebec and Ontario, as well as travel to the Atlantic provinces and Manitoba to sell his beads.It's when he was invited to visit Cree communities along James Bay that he was given the nickname."The first community I went to, they said, 'Hey, Beadman's here!" says Deering, who has been selling beads full time for two decades."They started calling me Beadman, nobody knew my name."The moniker stuck, enough that when Kahnawake locked down, he opened a shop in Montreal called The Beadman EmporiumThe emporium is now part of the Métèque art space in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, where the exhibit Bead By Bead is currently on display.The exhibit is a collaboration with Native-Immigrant Art Hive, where Deering is a cultural interpreter."We can sell on the internet, and with COVID we actually have to … but you want to see the colours right there and touch the beads, look at the quality of the beads," Deering said.He says beadwork is "a community tradition" in his family going back generations.His great-great grandmother sold beadwork at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto in the late 1800s, and his mother did the same nearly a century later.During the industrial revolution, "all kinds of jobs or ways of living that people had went by the wayside. People had to find new skills, new trades to work at," Deering said."During that time, beadwork was kind of a fallback position"It was seeing his mother do her beadwork, and travelling with her, that taught him its significance.She would stop at other Indigenous communities along the way to purchase more beadwork to increase her stock by the time they reached Toronto.It was from his mother that he learned: if you want to sell beads, the best way is to visit people.Young artists breathe new life into traditionWhile he said interest in the craft seemed to diminish near the end of the 20th century, a new generation of artists has reinvigorated the practice."There are new kinds of beads that we never saw before … Once the powwows reopen you can visit and see that beadwork is a booming trade right now."He points to beads that are tens of thousands of years old found in Africa and the Middle East to show that it's a tradition long observed around the world.Those beads go beyond ceremonial purposes, he says — they were used to record events before humans had the words to describe them."Human language is a symbolic process, it requires the ability to think symbolically. And beads also can be a symbol," he said."As Iroquois people we would use beads to record our treaties and agreements and also to use them for various social gatherings and invitations. The list goes on and on."He says beadwork illustrates "our ability to work together in harmony."The Bead by Bead exhibition continues until Dec. 6 at Métèque (5442 Côte-Saint-Luc Rd.), more information here.Listen to the full segment on Let's Go below:
Chatham-Kent Public Health has released a graphic to show the far-reaching impacts of a COVID-19 outbreak at a local church that led to nearly 500 people isolating. According to the graphic, 21 people who tested positive for the disease attended a place of worship, which is the Word of Life Church in Blenheim. Chatham-Kent Public Health declared an outbreak at the church late last month.This set off a chain of events that ended with 40 people testing positive for COVID-19 in 24 separate households, three of whom were hospitalized. The virus' spread was not contained to any one industry or area, and affected everything from the church itself to group living settings to households to a blood donor clinic. "We are sharing information about this outbreak now to show how easily COVID-19 can spread, and how we all need to work together to stop it," Chatham-Kent Public Health said in a news release.The graphic was based on data collected in October.Laura Zettler, an epidemiologist with Chatham-Kent Public Health, says the unit wanted the visual to serve as a reminder to the public."Really this visual was meant to show that what all of us do really matters, and it's truly a community effort to contain COVID-19," she said."Everyone that's part of the visual were all doing regular, everyday things ... going to church, going to work and doing things to help others, going to school, spending time with their family and friends. So many people were potentially exposed just doing everyday activities," she added. "Nothing extravagant, no big gatherings, and in settings where precautionary measures are in place. This is how easy this spreads ... and why our collective efforts are so important right now."Effects go beyond infectedZettler said the unit felt it was important to emphasize that the effects of the outbreak were not limited to those who tested positive. Nearly 500 people had to self-isolate, including members of the church, 170 people attending school and 180 people who attended blood donor clinics."If we just look at the people who tested positive, that's really not looking at all the other lives that were impacted by this outbreak," Zettler said. In a video accompanying the graphic, Chatham-Kent medical officer of health Dr. David Colby echoed that thought."We were lucky, with a lot of effort, we were able to keep our numbers down to only 40 positives with this outbreak, but look at all this trouble for people," he said while motioning to the graphic. "This is not a blame game. Everybody who's referred to here is a victim, not a cause. But we all have a role to play."And for the Word of Life Church itself, the recovery process has only just started.In a Facebook message to CBC News, a representative from the church declined to do an interview, but said that the outbreak is over and that the church would like to move on.According to the church's Facebook page, it has reopened its soup kitchen and food bank this week. "Well soup kitchen opened today for the first time in several weeks, it felt so good to be back doing what we love to do and what we know God has called us to do," a Wednesday post reads. "That was our biggest concern during our shut down, our friends on the streets of Blenheim. I can't tell you how much we missed seeing each one, it's not about just handing out food, it goes much deeper than that."
Although the Italian government says it won't make a COVID-19 vaccine compulsory - there is growing hesitation among Italians over its safety.View on euronews
After a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alessandro Costantini is thrilled to be back on stage. The artistic director will star alongside Jake Deeth in YES Theatre’s production of Mark Crawford’s play “Bed & Breakfast,” which will be performed at The Sudbury Theatre Centre from Nov. 27 to Dec. 13. “It’s this really beautiful story about this couple who inherit a home in this small town and decide to move out there and open a bed and breakfast,” said Costantini. “It’s about them figuring out how to be who they are in this community where people like them aren’t really front and center.” The narrative follows Brett and Drew, a gay couple who have just lost their seventh bidding war on a house in Toronto. When Brett learns that he has inherited the family home, they decide to try their hand elsewhere. But when they start to experience some friction in their new community, they discover that the simple life is more complicated than they thought. The hilarious and heartwarming comedy explores what it means to be “out” in the country, skeletons in the closet, and finding a place to call home. It also features more than 20 different characters – all played by two actors, Costantini and Deeth. “We play 11 characters each. It’s written for two actors because the protagonists are telling the story of how they got to be there,” said Costantini. “It’s a little bit like theatre Olympics. It’s a very athletic play. There are no costume changes, and we never leave the stage. Every time we switch into another character, it’s all physicality and our voice that delineates who we are.” That’s why Costantini said that having Janie Pinard on board as the director of the performance has been such a boon. “Janie, Jake and I have been very close collaborators for over a decade now, and we knew this would be the perfect opportunity to work with her again. She is a very skilled physical theatre artist who trained in Montreal and California,” he said. “She is the perfect artist to be leading us in this production because it is such a physical piece.” Although YES Theatre normally puts on larger productions, this time Costantini was on the hunt for something smaller. The reason is that he had the safety of both the audience and the artists involved in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic. But he was also drawn to the narrative of “Bed & Breakfast” because it’s about community. “Even though this is just two people, it’s really about a community and about all the different perspectives that exist in that community,” he said. “It’s a beautiful story to help create empathy. It is a gay couple, and they have to navigate being out in this town. Like every place, there are people who are more open and accepting to it, and there are others who are a little behind the beat. This play really does both – it offers the audience a lot of laughs and packs a punch in terms of being a piece of thought-provoking piece of theatre.” Costantini added that all COVID-19 regulations will be followed during the live performance. Ticket sales are limited to 50 tickets per performance, and all patrons will be seated according to social distancing guidelines. The Sudbury Theatre Centre is also offering contactless ticket services. Ticketholders will be able to gain entry to the theatre by simply providing their name at the entrance. Hand sanitizer will be readily available, and there will be volunteers stationed at the washrooms to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed. Tickets for Bed & Breakfast are available online at www.yestheatre.com and through The Sudbury Theatre Centre box office. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
Some small businesses in rural P.E.I. are feeling the local love this year, thanks in part to a social media group called Support Local P.E.I.Cathy Donnelly started the group in April 2020 after someone asked her for a list of P.E.I.-owned and -operated businesses. She said that before she even finished creating the list, more than 200 people were wanting a copy, so she decided to create a Facebook group instead."I was always a supporter of local businesses, but with the [COVID] shut down it really struck me that, as businesses were being forced to shut their doors, many businesses were at risk of being shut down permanently," Donnelly wrote."People look to local businesses to support their sports teams, to donate to fundraisers, etc. Now, they needed our help."Donnelly said the page also helps show Islanders don't need to leave P.E.I. to get what they need."Farmers to supply meats, vegetables and of course potatoes, Island artisans for unique one-of-a-kind gifts, clothing stores, print shops, computer repair, accounting services, restaurants, bake shops and more," Donnelly wrote.'It's been dramatic'Margaret McEachern, who owns Knit Pickers in Mayfield, P.E.I., was one of the first businesses to join the Support Local P.E.I. group.She said the number of locals coming to her shop has grown since she started posting in the group."It's been dramatic, for me, most of my social media followers were from away and all over the world, but not too much locally," McEachern said. "When COVID hit, and the support local group opened up right about that time, as more and more people were joining, what I was finding is more and more people, local people, were connecting with me through social media, were interested in events." McEachern said those local connections mattered, as she faced a summer with limited tourist traffic on the Island, usually the mainstay of her business. "About 90 per cent would have been visitors, perhaps 10 per cent local and that certainly has shifted," McEachern said."Even in terms of the customers that I'm doing for Christmas now, it's almost all local. So that's really cool. People are really engaged and really supportive of the whole support local idea." Not just retailMcEachern said the group applies beyond just retailers. "It's also involving catering, for instance The Yellow House over in North Rustico caters events, and if you're having an event, hire a local musician," McEachern said."Support the local farmers or me. I'm also supporting local shepherds because the wool is local."McEachern said the group has also helped her build connections with other small businesses on P.E.I., and she has even started "knit nights" that bring locals into the shop. "The drop in income from visitors this summer, of course, is dramatic, but the support from locals has enabled me to stay open and to carry on," McEachern said."So without that, without the support of the local people, it would be a real challenge." 'Still surprised'Brenda Doiron is also feeling grateful for the support of the Support Local P.E.I. group.She opened The Makers Place in 2019, next to her home in Rusticoville, P.E.I., featuring the work of 25 artisans, including products she and her husband make."My first year I had no idea what to expect, but the majority of my customers were visitors, with some locals mixed in," Doiron said. "But this year, the local support was fantastic. A really conscious effort to support local."Doiron said her business is actually up this year, compared to last. "Crazily enough, better, being as 2019 was my first year, so the word wasn't out," Doiron said. "Then, with the real drive to support local this year made a huge difference. I am still surprised, every time I open the door, at the amount of people that are out looking for handmade, Island-made goods." 'Beautiful surprise'Last year, Doiron closed the shop at Thanksgiving, but is staying open weekends until Christmas this year, thanks to the increased local support."It's at peak now, it's the Christmas season," Doiron said. "But I do think it will continue, to some degree, because there's been a lot of great discoveries on the Island this year."Doiron said she wasn't sure what to expect of 2020."I was very unsure of even opening, because it was early COVID times, certainly not where I am now with people coming in and enjoying the shop as much as they are," Doiron said. "So it's just been a really beautiful surprise. I so appreciate it all."More from CBC P.E.I.
A report produced by the N.W.T.'s department of industry, tourism and investment offers a peek into the dramatic negative impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked on the territory's tourism industry.Released earlier this month, "Tourism in the NWT: A Year in Review: 2019-2020" examines the tourism industry's performance from April 2019 through March 2020. The study uses data from several sources, including airport exit surveys, parks permitting reports, and visitor exit surveys.While the territory only saw a modest drop in visitors over that period — about two per cent — the monthly statistics for March 2020, when the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic and the territory closed its borders to non-essential travel, illustrate a dramatic drop.Airport passengers across the territory fell precipitously compared to March 2019. At the Yellowknife airport, the territory's largest, 14,174 passengers transited through the airport in March 2020, a 53.3 per cent drop from the year before.The decline was even greater in regional airport hubs: both Fort Smith and Hay River saw passenger volumes fall by more than 70 per cent, and in Fort Simpson, just six passengers were reported during the month, representing a drop of 99.5 per cent.The report also tracks hotel occupancy in Yellowknife, where in March 2020, occupancy fell to 48.4 per cent, a drop of more than 36 per cent from the previous year. In February, one month before the global pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization, occupancy sat at more than 82 per cent.Food and beverage spending in the territory during the month of March also fell by more than 32 per cent compared to the year prior.While the numbers only capture the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic on the territory's tourism industry, they largely correlate with concerns raised by tourism operators in the territory, many of whom have said they have had to alter or close their businesses during the pandemic.In April, Northwest Territories Tourism CEO Cathy Bolstad told CBC that they had already estimated an $18 million hit to the territory's tourism industry due to the pandemic.In response, the territorial and federal governments have offered some tourism related supports to businesses, in addition to more general COVID-19 relief funding available to small businesses.Territorial operators pivoted to "staycations" to residents during the summer months to cope with border restrictions, but still saw hundreds of job losses across the industry.
Starting this coming Monday, the P.E.I. government says masks will be mandatory for staff and students in grades 10-12 at all times inside a school building, including while sitting at their desks. Exemptions will be made for when students are eating or drinking, and certain other situations. As well, all visitors to all P.E.I. schools (not just high schools) are being reminded that they must wear masks at all times.Contact tracing is underway at three potential COVID-19 exposure sites in Charlottetown — the Atlantic Superstore, Gahan House pub and Terra Rossa restaurant and so far, all tests have come back negative. The case and the exposure locations were revealed on Wednesday during an unscheduled public health briefing. In her weekly interview with CBC News: Compass, Morrison talked about the recent case and outlined how the CPHO investigates possible spread.New Brunswick's premier announced Thursday that as of midnight, everyone returning to that province — including people from P.E.I. — must self-isolate for 14 days to help curb the spread of coronavirus. The new rule comes as New Brunswick confirmed 12 new cases and said Fredericton will join the Saint John and Moncton regions in the orange zone. Elsewhere in the Atlantic provinces, Nova Scotia reported 14 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 114 active cases, and Newfoundland and Labrador added three new cases.A social media group is compiling a growing list of Island businesses to help people shop local during the pandemic.Engaging with green living things like plants can help relieve pandemic stress, says certified forest therapy guide Julietta Sorensen Kass. Islanders in hospital and long-term care in western P.E.I., suffering from isolation in the pandemic, can now explore the world using virtual reality headsets.UPEI and Holland College are recommending students not leave the Island during the Christmas holidays, but are making plans in case they do.P.E.I.'s Department of Justice and Public Safety says it is dealing with a spike in people seeking approval to come to the Island.This year's Victorian Christmas Market in downtown Charlottetown is cancelled due to COVID-19. There are two active COVID-19 cases in the province. P.E.I. has seen a total of 70 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations. Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
The lawyer representing Chantel Moore's estate says the disciplinary actions ordered by the Edmundston police chief against Insp. Steve Robinson are "a good start" but the lawyer will also ask to have the New Brunswick officer suspended for a period without pay.T.J. Burke said Police Chief Alain Lang essentially validated the formal complaint that accused Robinson of "laughing and smirking" while speaking to a CTV reporter on June 4, hours after Moore was shot dead by an officer who went to her apartment for the purpose of conducting a wellness check. Robinson has been ordered to take the 12-lesson Indigenous Canada course, offered online by the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta."That's something that every high-ranking officer in the country should have already," said Burke, who was informed of the sanctions against Robinson on Nov. 17. According to Burke, upon completing the course, Robinson is also ordered to meet with a "Madawaska Maliseet elder" to discuss "what he discovered on his journey for knowledge and to discuss the impact of his comments in the media."Furthermore, Robinson is required to take media relations training and must recommend cultural awareness training options for other employees of the Edmundston police force. All steps must be completed by Dec. 31, 2020.In an email statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Edmundston police said Chief Lang could not comment, as "per Section 22.1 of the New Brunswick Police Act (NBPA), repository of disciplinary and corrective measures are confidential."'Policing is being scrutinized': lawyerBurke said Robinson's behaviour embarrassed police forces across the country. "Laughing and chuckling on TV after a young woman was shot by one of his constables?" Burke said."We're in an era where policing is being scrutinized as a result of many things. One is the disproportionate amount of Black, Indigenous and people of colour who are being arrested by officers, who are being incarcerated by the courts and measured in the context of systemic discrimination." When asked how long a suspension without pay he would ask for from the New Brunswick Police Commission, Burke said he'd be looking at other cases. The average person might think a week would be appropriate, Burke said, but precedent might suggest two or three days is more realistic. "That's going to hurt him financially a little bit."More importantly, Burke said, it would send a message of deterrence."Other police officers will understand that when you get in front of a television camera and you're going to be broadcast all throughout the province, the Atlantic region and the country after a serious police intervention situation … you shouldn't be smirking and laughing about your officer's conduct," Burke said. "It's offensive to the highest degree."Robinson apologized for his conduct back in June, and a statement was published on the City of Edmundston website."I understand that my reaction on camera caused frustration and concern. I sincerely apologize if it was interpreted or perceived as recklessness or lack of compassion. This is absolutely not the case. I have deep sympathy and express my condolences to the victim's family, friends and to the Aboriginal community," Robinson said.'I'm hoping they might call on me to guide this person' Imelda Perley, an instructor at the Mi'kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre at the University of New Brunswick and organizer of a healing walk in Moore's memory, said she welcomes the suggestion that Robinson meet with a Wolastoqi elder.She would even like to be chosen to help.> They need to be humble enough to admit they don't know anything about us. \- Imelda Perley, speaking about police"I wish [the police would] call on us, those who have been working in cultural awareness, to talk about how to heal systemic racism," said Perley. "I'm hoping they might call on me to guide this person through … awareness, humility, sensitivity, competency and, ultimately, safety."Perley said there are Indigenous courses available in New Brunswick and she would have liked to see Robinson take one in his own province.Perley said there's a lot more that police could do to promote a positive ongoing relationship with Indigenous communities. "They need to be humble enough to admit they don't know anything about us," she said. "You can't just do this through an online course. You can't just download information and think it's going to change you."Robinson "should come to our community and our council fire. Come for a drive in our communities. Come see our children, who play with limited playgrounds. Come see where there's no sidewalks. Then you'll see what health threats we face, and not assume you know what's best for our well-being."
George Bilodeau and Doug Ford have something in common. When it comes to reliable broadband internet access, especially in rural, remote and Northern communities, the mayor of the Municipality of Huron Shores and the premier of Ontario are like a dog with a bone. According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, more than 1.4 million people in Ontario do not have broadband or cellular access, and about 12 per cent of households in the province are underserved or unserved from a broadband perspective. As more services move online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, poor internet service has left many individuals, businesses, and health0care organizations at a distinct disadvantage. In an effort to close some of those gaps, the Ford government has pledged an additional $680 million on top of a previous $315 million to support Ontario’s Broadband Cellular Action Plan, which hopes to provide 220,000 households and businesses with greater access. This nearly $1 billion investment over a six-year period will be used for shovel-ready projects that will connect unserviced and underserviced communities during COVID-19. Bilodeau hopes that with a big dose of community enterprise, Huron Shores will be able to leverage some of that funding to solve some of the internet connectivity issues in his region. “I’ve done a lot of lobbying, presentations, and cold calls over the last few months, and I always say that the system we have right now is like a two-lane highway, and we are trying to put the traffic of a six-lane highway onto two lanes,” he said. “That’s what we have now. We need a new backbone, which will mean a whole new line. Up-to-date fibre that will be able to take on six-lane traffic with no difficulties whatsoever. Our technology right now is maybe 25 years behind.” Bilodeau is spearheading a $150-million regional broadband network infrastructure project titled Huron & Manitoulin Community-Owned Fibre Infrastructure. If successful, it would provide high-speed internet services to thousands of residents along a corridor that runs from Echo Bay to Nairn Centre, including Manitoulin Island. “The problem is that all the major companies in this area are not really interested in giving us proper broadband services. Right now, we get minimum service, and the promise to bring us into the 21st century is just not there,” explained Bilodeau. “They do Band-Aid solutions here and there, but nothing is up to the capacity that is needed for economic development, industry, and health services.” Huron Shores decided to take matters into its own hands. Bilodeau is endeavoring to build a community-owned system where the municipalities involved would form a corporation and administer the broadband network. “What we’re looking at is a wholesale point of view. We don’t want to take business away from the internet service providers that are in the region. What we would do is supply a better product to these internet service providers, so they can sell a better product to households,” he said. “It would be easy to do a 50/10 and even a gig if a household wants a gig (gigabite). For hospitals and schools, we’re looking at 10 gigs.” The project has already garnered support from more than 30 communities and First Nations along the corridor, including Whitefish River First Nation, Elliot Lake, and Espanola. In fact, almost 90 per cent of the communities along the corridor have sent letters of support with resolutions to Huron Shores. Much of the “legwork” for the project is almost completed, added Bilodeau, including details like how they are going to bring the fibre into the area, and where it’s going to come from. Now, all they need is financial support from the provincial and federal governments. By partnering with ROCK Networks, an Ottawa-based communications systems company, Huron Shores and Whitefish River First Nation were able to put together an application for the provincial government’s Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program. At the end of September, they received a “positive nod” from the government indicating that their project has been asked to advance to stage 2 of the application process. “Stage 2 is the financing. We need to secure a grant from the provincial government to cover 25 per cent of the cost of the project, which would equal about $37.5 million,” said Bilodeau. “If we are successful in doing that, then the next step would be to see if we could get matching funding from the federal government.” The $1 billion investment from the provincial government doubled the funding for Ontario’s ICON program, bringing the total to $300 million. The program now has the potential to leverage more than $900 million in total partner funding to improve connectivity in areas of need across Ontario. ICON is just one of several provincial initiatives underway to improve connectivity across northern, eastern, and southwestern Ontario. The federal government also recently expanded and enhanced the Universal Broadband Fund to support high-speed internet projects across the country. Originally designed as a $1 billion, the government increased funding for the UBF to $1.75 billion to help connect more Canadians and better prepare for the future. Recognizing the need to accelerate this progress, Nickel Belt MP Marc Serre announced the launch of the Rapid Response Stream of the UBF, an accelerated application process that will allow shovel-ready projects to get started right away. The stream will benefit local telecom companies in Northern Ontario and further contribute to the region’s economic recovery. The application period is now open and community partners and stakeholders are encouraged to apply. “Our communities’ economic development and ability to overcome the challenges of this pandemic greatly depends on having access to quality and affordable internet and cellular coverage for all,” said Serre. “Working closely with municipal governments, the private sector and stakeholders, I will continue to advocate to ensure this important funding will benefit Nickel Belt-Greater Sudbury.” Achieving greater internet connectivity is something that isimportant for Bilodeau, and the communities that he is working with, and he hopes that this project will open up opportunities for the region. “Just as an example, (the other day) I was supposed to have a Zoom meeting with Greg Rickford, the minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. We were not able to do the Zoom conference,” said Bilodeau. “I had to go on the landline, and I was holding my laptop looking at a slide deck. Minister Rickford was initially on his cellphone, but then he had connectivity issues, so we were both on landlines, with our laptops in front of us. We had to use two old technologies while I was trying to sell my idea.” His region, he added, is really like a “second Muskoka.” “In the last 15 years, Elliot Lake has seen more than 400 new cottages built north of the city. We all need broadband services,” he said. “This will open up opportunities in the region. People won’t need to be down in Toronto working in a tower. They will be able to come up here, build a home, and be able to work from home if we are able to get this project up and running.” The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Nova Scotia's central region, and with most of the new cases in the 18 to 35 age range, many are wondering about the role of universities in making sure students are following the Public Health guidelines.Two off-campus Dalhousie University students tested positive for the virus over the weekend and a house party on Edward Street with about 60 people took place Friday night. It was broken up by Halifax police and one $1,000 ticket was issued."I live in a university community and there are definitely more parties going on than that one," said Michelle Scully, a third-year Dalhousie student who lives off campus in Halifax.Scully said while she receives emails about Public Health guidelines from the school, at no point has Dalhousie told students there would be academic consequences for not following Public Health protocols."If people continue to have such large gatherings, I think they need to enforce further consequences," she said.Verity Turpin, Dalhousie's acting vice-provost of student affairs, said the university expects its students to "share that responsibility" for keeping the university and surrounding Halifax community safe and healthy, which includes avoiding large gatherings such as parties."In the case of any event off campus, I think it's important to recognize that at Dalhousie, we look at our students as independent adults," Turpin said. "They are responsible for following all of the laws in our province when they decide to come back and live as part of our community."Turpin said the school is in constant contact with students, such as sending out emails and notifications from the Dalhousie app about Public Health guidelines, as well as advisers and faculties speaking directly with students about the requirements.St. FX, Acadia address off-campus partiesOther universities in the province have made an effort to crack down on large student gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if those students are living off campus.Both Acadia University and St. Francis Xavier University required students to sign a code of conduct form, telling students they would face discipline or academic consequences for breaching health protocols. These universities both have in-person classes this semester.At Acadia, the university president, Wolfville's mayor and the student union president went door to door, visiting houses and speaking with students directly about following Public Health guidelines. Turpin said student ambassadors from Dalhousie did similar door-to-door visits in neighbourhoods surrounding campus.St. FX has also taken away practice and training privileges for student-athletes after a large off-campus party. St. FX said at the time students found to have violated the school's code of conduct could face suspensions. The university also did its own investigation into the event.A Saint Mary's University spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday that "a SMU community member" tested positive for COVID-19.Cale Loney said in an email on Wednesday that the university has been sharing the health protocols with students and that "violation of those protocols can be subject to discipline under the university's code of student conduct."Dal's Faculty of Health takes more direct approachWhile Dalhousie as a whole has not made clear that there will be academic consequences for those who disregard the COVID safety measures, the Faculty of Health decided to do just that last month.Dean Dr. Brenda Merritt said students in her faculty, roughly 1,500 of which take part in on-campus learning this semester, were given an honour statement this semester.In it, students had to agree to stay up to date on and follow the current health requirements, and failing to do so "could result in dismissal or suspension on the grounds of professional unsuitability.""We felt strongly that this is part of our identity as health professionals and health researchers that we should be doing this," Merritt said."We did hear some feedback from students that they wanted something like this, they wanted their peers to be accountable, so to raise the feeling of safety on campus and in clinical placements."These students are also using an in-house COVID pre-screening app before they attend any face-to-face classes. Merritt said so far, these students seem to be following the rules."From what I'm hearing, they are really communicating well with each other about it and calling each other out on things," she said."They are taking this very seriously. They know that if we have an outbreak on campus, their programming stops."Merritt said there is a "rippling effect of a shutdown," which would mean pharmacists, nurses and other health students would not graduate on time, causing "a big strain" on the healthcare system.85 of November cases in ages 18 to 35A spokesperson for the province said that of the 118 cases reported in November as of Tuesday, 85 were people between the age of 18 and 35. The province could not offer a breakdown of how many of those cases are university students.Halifax Coun. Waye Mason has been calling for more fines to be given out to those involved with the Edward Street party — which he adds were "probably" Dalhousie students — and that the university needs to step up."Dalhousie has to take responsibility, both for helping to address the policing issues that happen in the neighbourhood around the university, and in going out and educating students when they are off campus about what the expectations are," he said."Unfortunately this year Dalhousie chose not to participate in funding Dal Patrol or going out with the police to knock on doors in the problem neighbourhoods. I think that's certainly something that the neighbours, and I, would like to see happen again."During Tuesday's news briefing, Premier Stephen McNeil said there will be stronger enforcement for illegal gatherings going forward, "including a $1,000 fine for every person who walks through the door.""All of the universities have been supportive and we will continue to work with them," he said. "It's a critical demographic that we will need to be vigilant on and keep on top of."MORE TOP STORIES
Some New Brunswickers can expect light snow and freezing rain on Thursday.Environment Canada issued a special weather statement earlier this morning for central and northwestern parts of the province. They include: * Campbellton and Restigouche County * Edmundston and Madawaska County * Grand Falls and Victoria County * Mount Carleton * Stanley, Doaktown and Blackville area * Woodstock and Carleton CountyIn central New Brunswick, periods of light freezing rain or rain will start this afternoon and continue overnight."Although amounts are expected to be light, over high terrain, the freezing rain could last several hours," the national weather agency said in a statement.Meanwhile, the northwestern regions will see light snow or freezing rain in the afternoon. This will change to light freezing rain or rain in the evening. "Precipitation is expected to change to showers after midnight," Environment Canada said."In some localities, especially over high terrain, several hours of freezing rain is likely.
A police officer overseeing enforcement at the Vancouver airport testified in court on Thursday that he had concerns about a plan by Canadian federal police to arrest Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on the plane she arrived on two years ago. Meng's nearly three-hour interrogation by Canadian border agents prior to her December 2018 arrest by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on a U.S. warrant has become a flash point in her ongoing extradition hearing.
Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the federal government have thrown the Port of Sydney Development Corporation a lifeline.The port is facing a $600,000 deficit this year after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the cruise ship season.CBRM council has voted to allow the port to use reserve funds created by the dredging of Sydney Harbour in 2012, but two councillors questioned whether the port administration has first done enough to cut costs and increase revenues."My problem ... is that to basically turn over all that money and it can just be gone if nothing else is achieved," District 10 Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger said during discussion of the port's finances at CBRM's inaugural council meeting on Tuesday.District 8 Coun. James Edwards said he supports the port, but he was the only councillor to vote against allowing access to the special reserve fund."There was some pertinent questions asked, but I think there was lots of opportunity for more explanation," he told reporters afterwards.The federal, provincial and municipal governments and Nova Scotia Power created a $38-million fund to dredge Sydney Harbour eight years ago to accommodate larger cargo, coal and cruise ships.There was some money left over after the project finished and the port has been allowed to use it for various purposes.Some of the money was supposed to be used to fix the shore-based navigational aids that were no longer aligned with the newly dredged channel, but eight years later, the Coast Guard has still not undertaken that work.The Coast Guard said in an email that the navigational aids in Sydney Harbour currently mark the channel safely and it will maintain them in future.The federal government had required the port to set aside $800,000 of the $1.1 million remaining in the reserve fund for navigational aid costs, but has since given its approval to use that money to cover this year's deficit.Port CEO Marlene Usher said cruise ships and passengers supply the majority of the port's revenues, but there have been none this year."Hopefully we will get some cruise [ships] next year, but at this point I'm not very optimistic," she said.Some staff have been laid off and others have taken a 20-per-cent pay cut or foregone raises.Usher said there is no fat left to cut, but the port needs to remain open to take delivery of gasoline, diesel and heating oil for all of Cape Breton."Fuel vessels come in every week and if we don't have the doors open and the lights on, that would be catastrophic for the island," she said.If not for the pandemic, the port's current finances would be at least as good as last year's, Usher said."You'll see when we present our audited financial statement at our AGM that we were $700,000 over budget, to the good, so we've been responsible and we'll get back there," she said.Cruise ship traffic is booked in Sydney up to 2026 and it will return eventually, she said, but in the meantime the board has to find new revenues to ease reliance on one industry.'Need to diversify'"We need to diversify that area," Usher said. "We need to make the port a part of downtown and downtown a part of the port."For example, extending the boardwalk would allow pedestrians easier access to shops on the dock that are normally open for cruise ships.Meanwhile, the port is losing revenue after announcing the opening of its second cruise ship berth earlier this year.Usher said there are vessels that would use the new dock, but there are unexpected difficulties with power at the facility.A new financial plan will be presented to council in the new year, she said.MORE TOP STORIES
ST. MARY’S – The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s’ newest councillors have asked staff to explore making pension plans available to elected officials. The move would be a first for St. Mary’s, where councillors have been responsible for looking after their own retirement savings. But, said district one Councillor Courtney Mailman, “It’s kind of nice to be breaking new ground.” Mailman, district two Councillor Charlene Zinck and district three/five councillor, Warden Greg Wier – all newcomers to council – spearheaded the notion at the committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 18. “Because myself, Warden Wier and Councillor Zinck are all under retirement age and we all have full-time jobs, we wanted to look at the possibility of investing back into a retirement plan,” Mailman said. “Warden Wier had mentioned it to me and I expressed an interest, and he had mentioned it to Councillor Zinck and she expressed an interest, and then the other councillors were on board with looking into it.” Still, she added, “the sole responsibility for this would fall on us. We are not expecting, you know, a 50/50 split or a matching from the municipality. This is just something that we thought we would look into. We may all go ahead, or one of us may, but it would set a precedent for the future, for full-time working councillors to have that option.” Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald confirmed that staff are now working on the initiative. “We just got direction to go ahead and pursue it,” he said. “It [a pension plan] would just be through a bank. It would basically be an RRSP kind of thing.” It’s not clear what, if any, management costs the municipality might incur as a result of such a scheme. Currently, the Municipal Government Act in Nova Scotia does not require elected representatives to “buy in” to the one or more types of pension plans that are mandatory for, and administered on behalf of, town and city staff. In St. Mary’s, councillors, the warden and deputy warden don’t receive salaries, per se, but active “remunerations” set in each year’s operating budget. In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021, each St. Mary’s councillor will earn $13,043; the warden, an additional $8,300; and the deputy warden, a further $5,929. Regarding any future pensions, Mailman said, “It would be taken off our income as councillors and then just go out into some form of investment for us to have down the road.” Before that, MacDonald said, “We’re going to get somebody in to talk to us about it. The councillors can ask questions directly then.”Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Women from First Nations communities in New Brunswick have a new online store to help find a bigger audience for their art and to make up for sales lost to COVID-19.The site is called Nujintuisga'tijig E'pijig, which means "Indigenous women salespeople or vendors" in the Mi'kmaq language, and currently features 16 artists — but there is room for up to 30.Leona Newkinga, a Mi'kmaw and Inuit woman who lives in Elsipogtog, has her bead work featured on the site. She hopes it can bring a bigger audience to her work."My goal is to reach more people," said Newkinga.She already has pieces with Buffy Sainte-Marie and Jeremy Dutcher, but she'd like her work to go all over the globe."I was thinking to myself, 'Wouldn't that be amazing if, like, one of my pieces were like further than I have ever been?" she said.No negotiations Newkinga started beading about five years ago and said she wasn't very good at first, "so the prices were really cheap."But she honed her skills after a disappointing exchange with a potential customer who was inspecting something Newkinga had for sale at a craft sale."This woman, she says 'Your work is only worth five bucks' and that devastated me because I put hours into it," said Newkinga."I knew I wanted to be at a point where nobody can negotiate prices," and she accomplished that.Newkinga said people seem to have a new respect for Indigenous art in the last few years. "From when I first started out to now, it's the big difference," she said.Newkinga said COVID-19 hurt her income because she runs a business selling Indian tacos at pow wows over the summer, and those haven't happened this year. COVID-19 also put a damper on her creative output."I try not to bead if I'm not feeling good or anything like that, because everything, your energy, is woven into your pieces," she said.But, Newkinga said she's back at it and recently received a sparkling new shipment of beads. She hopes the website will help sell her newest creations.Tahnee Simon started beading after her grandmother showed her how to make a flower when she was in grade school.Over the years, Simon would put her beading aside, but she always came back to it."I could drown in it for like three to four hours and not realize how much time went by," she said."It's relaxing for me."Simon has a full-time job with Mi'kmaq Child and Family Services but decided to bead professionally as a 'side-gig' after a co-worker suggested it. "I was super nervous because, I'm not the one to be the centre of attention or, like, have my name out there," said Simon."It was a big step for me but I'm happy I did it because I love seeing customers wearing my work and it still feels awesome."Simon is happy to be part of the pilot project and hopes people enjoy her work."I thought it was such a great idea to get all Indigenous women names out there and give the public an idea of what we can do," said Simon.If the site takes off, Katherine Lanteigne, director of Women in Business New Brunswick said the project could be opened up to other Indigenous women in Atlantic Canada.
If the novel coronavirus was going to affect an industry in 2020, horse racing was a strong contender. Though it's a major money-maker in the province, generating $2.3 billion of Ontario's GDP, in the past it relied on people having a little extra money to spend, and coming together en masse on race day to place bets. At the beginning of the summer race season, things didn't look good, admits Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain, who is on the executive of the horse racing association.But once the Lakeshore Horse Racing Association was allowed to have 100 people in the grandstand in Leamington, wagering ended up being as strong as ever."Certainly we were pleased with the comeback that we had and we were able to end up having a very positive season," said Bain. According to Bain, on any given Sunday this summer, the average total wagered was around $24,000. Key to that was online betting. "This year we did do all the simulcast wagering and we got out to a vast market. So maybe next year, hand in hand we'll bet yet again higher than ever," said Mark Williams, president of the association.Williams said people from as far away as Nova Scotia were betting on races in Leamington.This year's season went from early August to the end of October. The association is asking Ontario Racing to add two more race dates next year, but Williams is not optimistic that will happen. Meanwhile, those who depend on the local horse racing industry for their livelihoods are betting on a good year next year. Waverly Livingston is a stable hand at Woodslee Farms where she takes care of race horses and horses who are retired. She says without the local industry she would lose her job."I would have a very hard time finding another job, and there are only so many other farms ... in the area that take people," said Livingston.She is one of three employed at the stables owned by Don and Anita Leschied. Leschied says he spends between $500 and $1,000 a week keeping his horses."One of my first part time young ladies is now a veterinary technician who stayed in Essex County," said Leschied. "We are the second or third largest agricultural industry of the entire agricultural component in the province of Ontario," said Leschied.Leschied adds that the horse racing industry in Essex County, Chatham-Kent and Lambton county employs 10,000 people. More than 45,000 Ontarians owe their permanent jobs to the horse racing and breeding industry, according to research paid for by Ontario Racing.
Alberta is about to adopt a new law that would make sweeping changes to the way automobile insurance works, but privacy advocates say a critical aspect of the legislation has so far slipped by with little public attention or scrutiny — the expansion of "usage-based insurance." Among many other changes, Bill 41 would make it easier for insurance companies to monitor drivers' behaviour by collecting detailed data through devices embedded in their vehicles or software installed on their smartphones. The implications of this are little known and poorly understood by many Canadians, says Privacy and Access Council of Canada president Sharon Polsky. She believes the Alberta legislation, which could pave the way for similar laws in other provinces, ought to be more fully considered before changes are made that will be hard to undo. "This bill should be halted in its tracks," she said. "The Government of Alberta and other governments across the country need to update the access and privacy legislation to meet current needs, to genuinely give us a right of privacy and to put us in control of our information." Insurance companies, however, say the legislation is long overdue and would put Alberta more in line with practices that have been in place for years in the United States, allowing drivers to prove their safe behaviour through technological means and thereby save money on their insurance premiums. Government says law will 'increase fairness' United Conservative Party MLAs say the new law would create more options for consumers, especially those who want insurance products tailored to their driving needs. "This is expected to increase fairness in the marketplace and further ensure that consumer costs adequately reflect individual risks and driving habits," Finance Minister Travis Toews said during second reading of Bill 41 in the legislature. To that end, he said the new law "will allow greater ability for industry to provide innovative insurance options … and greater flexibility in applying usage-based insurance." Ron Orr, the UCP MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka, said the legislation means "Alberta drivers will have more choice and control over their own insurance costs." Polsky, however, says many people don't fully understand what they're signing up for when they agree to hand over so much data from their vehicles and smartphones to insurance companies, or where that data could ultimately end up. She also worries the monitoring devices, while voluntary in theory, could be made effectively mandatory through pricing, if drivers who refuse to be tracked face exorbitant premiums. Alberta 'the first' to go this route Some insurance companies already offer discounts to drivers who are willing to allow themselves to be monitored. But so far they are not allowed to sell usage-based insurance in other ways. The new law will allow usage-based insurance "however insurers wish to use it, so long as they can meet the regulatory requirements," said Celyeste Power with the Insurance Bureau of Canada. "Alberta was the first to announce full use of usage-based insurance," she said. "And just afterward, Ontario announced that they were sort of getting rid of restrictions around it, as well. In other jurisdictions, it's not available for use in that kind of broad way." She believes the new law presents an "opportunity for some really cool ideas and cool technology to come to Alberta." For example, she says drivers could opt for a pay-per-kilometre insurance option, where they would have a "way lower" base premium and then pay incrementally for the amount they actually drive. That option, she says, would be especially appealing to younger people who don't drive a lot but drive responsibly. Currently, young drivers face higher premiums as a group, due to the fact that their age demographic is considered to be higher risk by the actuaries who set insurance rates. Power says usage-based insurance is a fairer way to set individual rates. How the tracking works If you agree to the tracking, your driving habits would be monitored either through a device installed in your vehicle or software that uses the GPS, accelerometer and other bits of hardware built in to your smartphone. Power says different companies would track you in different ways, but basically they would keep an eye on things like how fast you drive, how quickly you accelerate, how hard you brake, how often you drive, what time of day you drive, where you drive, and so on. Less driving and better driving behaviour would be rewarded with lower premiums. More driving and unsafe behaviour would be punished with increased costs. She says most companies offer an online dashboard so you can track your own driving data, and even push notifications if you're racking up too many charges, similar to data-overage warnings on your cellphone. In the United States, she says, usage-based insurance has been correlated with safer roads, as it makes drivers more aware of their habits and provides a financial incentive to drive safely — or drive less. But, she says, it's not a product for everyone. "If you don't feel you're a good driver or you're speeding too much down the (Highway) 2 between Calgary and Edmonton, usage-based insurance is not for you," Power said. It also takes some getting used to. "If you think you're an amazing driver and the technology is telling you you're not, yeah, you might be a little bit resistant to it," Power said. "I think it just depends on the person." Data use, privacy and regulation Power says the use of personal data would be directly regulated by Alberta's Automobile Insurance Rate Board (AIRB) and be subject to oversight from the privacy commissioner. But Polsky, with the Privacy and Access Council of Canada, says most people don't understand just how much information is being harvested by these types of monitoring devices. She says some smartphone apps that insurance companies use to track drivers in other jurisdictions require users to keep them running 24 hours a day, even when they sleep. "They want all of it monitored so that we can enjoy more affordable rates based on relinquishing our privacy?" she said. "That is a very, very high price to pay." She also believes privacy laws, both in Alberta and nationwide, are outdated or lack the regulatory teeth to deal with international companies that collect data in Canada but store it in other countries. Alberta's Opposition NDP has also criticized the legislation, saying it gives too much power to the AIRB, which they say is too close with the government and the insurance industry. Numerous people on the AIRB board of directors either work in or previously worked in insurance, and the NDP have also pointed out that Jason Kenney's former chief of staff is now a registered lobbyist on behalf of the insurance industry, among other clients. "Bill 41 is giving the industry more control, giving the lobbyists more control," Edmonton-South West NDP MLA Thomas Dang said during second reading of the legislation. What's next The bill has passed second reading and is at the committee of the whole stage in the legislature, where MLAs can propose and vote on amendments. Additional debate was scheduled for Tuesday evening. It still needs to pass third and final reading to ultimately become law. If that happens, Polsky says, other provinces will likely look at similar laws. "We are now living in a monkey-see, monkey-do political era and the danger is if it's good enough for one jurisdiction, well it must be good enough for another jurisdiction," she said. "So if this is allowed to become 'mandatorily voluntary' in Alberta, it's just a matter of time before it proliferates across the country, at our peril. So it's up to us to understand what's at stake and voice our views to our elected representatives." Power, meanwhile, believes Alberta is leading the way in modernizing Canada's insurance-regulatory system, which she says has lagged behind the United States, where some form of usage-based insurance has been around for the past decade. She also says concerns over privacy and price hikes for people who don't agree to be monitored are overblown. "We haven't seen any examples in the U.S. or any other jurisdictions around the world where the usage-based insurance product essentially became almost mandatory just by the way it's priced," Power said. "It is sort of funny when you think about it," she added. "People are like, 'I don't want something tracking my movement or tracking this or that.' And yet, we carry around our phones all the time and they're tracking absolutely everything we do. "So it's kind of getting to a world now where everything is being tracked, anyway."
SHERBROOKE – If a good deal of politics is learning how to soothe savage breasts, then a background in music wouldn’t be the worst thing a budding municipal councillor could offer. Courtney Mailman, the new district one councillor in the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, says staff and colleagues could not have been more accommodating. “I have a lot to learn, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I’ve been doing some municipal training, and the councillors who were already there have been very helpful and willing to share their knowledge.” That’s a good thing for the music therapy graduate from Acadian University and current Recreation Director at High-Crest Sherbrooke nursing home. Otherwise, she might have had to pull out her guitar or roll in her piano. “I also sing,” she laughs. Mailman is one of four rookie councillors who were either acclaimed (as she, Greg Wier and James Fuller were) or elected (as Charlene Zinck was) into office in the October municipal election. Her reasons for throwing her hat into the ring are clear. “Being a municipal councillor is a new role for me and I am excited and eager to take on this new challenge,” she says. “My main priority is to get to know the people and businesses in my district, to hear their ideas and concerns and to represent them to the best of my ability. Integrity and transparency are important to me and I plan to work hard for my community. I look forward to partnering with other committees and agencies for the betterment of the Municipality of St. Mary’s.” She comes by these commitments honestly enough. Born in Halifax and raised in towns and communities across the province, the 37-year-old’s parents emphasized the importance of giving back. “My dad always told me not to complain about something if I’m not going to do anything about it,” she says. “He always said that if I wanted change, I should jump in and be a part of that.” To this end, perhaps, she’s worked for The Salvation Army as a community services liaison in Kentville, where a big part of her job was advocating for clients and building community partnerships. She also administered its food bank and Christmas hamper programs. “Plus, my family has fostered children since I was 15 and I had always been very involved and invested in the children who came to stay in our home,” she says. Sure, but why local politics now? Between her job and volunteering, her husband Kyle and their dog Tillie, it’s not as if she hasn’t enough to do. “Believe it or not, I wanted to take a more active role,” she says. “I want to be a voice for the people in my district, in the development of our community.” And in these fractured times just about everywhere, that might be music to many ears. Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal