Pro-Trump protesters rallied outside vote-tabulation centers in a few cities around the country Friday, including Phoenix as the ballot counting effort in Arizona continues. (Nov. 6)
Pro-Trump protesters rallied outside vote-tabulation centers in a few cities around the country Friday, including Phoenix as the ballot counting effort in Arizona continues. (Nov. 6)
WASHINGTON — A former Trump campaign associate who was the target of a secret surveillance warrant during the FBI's Russia investigation says in a federal lawsuit that he was the victim of “unlawful spying.”The suit from Carter Page alleges a series of omissions and errors made by FBI and Justice Department officials in applications they submitted in 2016 and 2017 to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to eavesdrop on Page on suspicion that he was an agent of Russia.“Since not a single proven fact ever established complicity with Russia involving Dr. Page, there never was probable cause to seek or obtain the FISA Warrants targeting him on this basis,” the lawsuit says, using the acronym for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.Page has received death and kidnapping threats and has suffered economic losses and “irreparable damage to his reputation," according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal court in Washington.The lawsuit to some extent echoes the conclusions of a Justice Department inspector general report that found significant problems with the four applications. Former FBI and Justice Department leaders who were involved in signing off on the surveillance have since testified they wouldn't have done so had they known of the extent of the issues, and the FBI has initiated more than 40 corrective steps aimed at improving the accuracy and thoroughness of applications.In the complaint, Page accuses the FBI of relying excessively for information on Christopher Steele, a former British spy whose research during the 2016 campaign into Donald Trump's ties to Russia was funded by Democrats. It says the FBI failed to tell the surveillance court that Steele's primary source had contradicted information that Steele had attributed to him, or that Page had denied to an informant for the FBI having “any involvement with Russia on behalf of the Trump campaign.”The complaint also accuses the FBI of having misled the surveillance court about his relationship with the CIA, for whom Page had been an operational contact between 2008 and 2013. A former FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, pleaded guilty in August to altering an email to say that Page had not been a source for the CIA.The suit names as defendants the FBI and the Justice Department, as well as former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and additional officials who were involved in the Russia investigation.Despite the problems with the warrant applications, the scrutiny of Page, who was never charged with any wrongdoing, accounted for only a narrow portion of the overall investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.The same inspector general report that detailed problems in the applications also concluded that the FBI had a legitimate basis for opening the Russia investigation, and did not find evidence that any of its actions were influenced by political bias.____Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAPEric Tucker, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canadian egg and poultry farmers who've lost domestic market share due to two recent free trade agreements will soon have access to $691 million in federal cash, Canada's agriculture minister announced Saturday.Marie-Claude Bibeau shared details of the long-awaited funds in a virtual news conference. "Today we position our young farmers for growth and success tomorrow," she said. The money follows a previously announced $1.75 billion for the dairy sector linked to free trade deals with Europe and countries on the Pacific Rim, one that came into effect in 2017 and the other in 2018.The dairy sector funds were to flow over eight years, and the first $345 million payment was sent out last year.But on Saturday Bibeau announced a schedule for the remaining payments that will see the money flow over three years beginning with $468 million in 2020-21, $469 million in 2021-22 and $468 million in 2022-23.Bibeau said the most recently announced funds for dairy farmers amount to an average farm of 80 cows receiving a direct payment of $38,000 in the first year. David Wiens, vice president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, said the money will help farms make investments for the future. "I think particularly for the younger farmers who have really struggled since these agreements have been ratified, they can actually now see opportunities, how they can continue to make those investments on the farm so that they can continue on," he said. The payments are based on formulas devised by working groups formed after the trade deals were signed, Bibeau said.What that means is the money doesn't reflect precisely how much the various industries have lost due to the deals, she said. "It's really our best understanding of the future impact and to give them the possibility to adapt." The dairy, poultry and egg industries in Canada are regulated to ensure a steady income for farmers in that sector, but Canada's foreign trade partners argue the system is protectionist.That made the trio of industries a sticking point in three separate trade deals Canada has concluded in recent years — the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe (CETA), the Comprehensive and Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) and the Canada — United States — Mexico Trade Agreement (CUSMA). Trading partners wanted more Canadian access for their products, which Canadian suppliers said would result in massive hits to their bottom line. The Liberals' March 2019 budget had in turn allocated up to $3.9 billion in compensation for the trade concessions made on supply management.The funds announced by Bibeau Saturday are linked only to CETA and the CPTPP, but she said the latest arrangement does use up the balance of the previously announced funds. "I think it's a great day because there's something on the table," said Benoit Fontaine, chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada, who said he had yet to see the details of the funding arrangement for his sector.The money announced Saturday comes ahead of Monday's reveal of the fiscal fortunes of the Liberal government, in the form of an economic update that is expected to lay out how much has been spent on emergency COVID-19 related programming but also outline some new spending in other areas. Bibeau said the funds announced Saturday will be reflected there, but said the amount to be set aside as compensation for the Canada-U.S.-Mexico deal is still being decided. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
A North Vancouver not-for-profit is hoping to make the lives of hundreds of residents impacted by COVID-19 a little brighter this festive season with a surprise gift but is calling for a little bit of help to get the job done. North Van Cares has just launched its Holiday Helpers initiative and is asking the community to nominate someone they know on the North Shore who is senior, immuno-suppressed, isolated, bereaved or just needs a little extra cheer this year, to receive a special gift pack. The initiative has a lofty goal of handing out up to 300 presents to residents who are nominated. "We’re specifically looking for those folks who would never ask for help but could use a little extra joy this season," Jacquie McCarnan, the founder of the not-for-profit organization, said. "We all know people who give so much of themselves and never ask for anything. Those are the people we want to help." She said seniors and immuno-suppressed folks who may not have family around to help out this holiday season are their main target. "It’s not a charitable thing for the needy, it’s more a pick me up for people who just need a bit of joy," McCarnan said. McCarnan launched North Van Cares in March when the pandemic first hit hard as a Shopping Buddies initiative to help seniors get groceries and prescriptions during quarantine. “The reason I started North Van Cares is because my own parents, who live in Ontario, are 88 and 90, and they’ve never accessed social services and they wouldn’t even have a clue how to do that or how to get their groceries delivered,” McCarnan said. She said as she thought about her own parents, she realised there must be people on the North Shore having similar issues and set out to help them. From there the not-for-profit blossomed, and McCarnan has since created two T-Shirt campaigns, with nine North Shore neighbourhood designs, which have raised more than $2,000 to help support a variety of groups, including Backpack Buddies, North Shore Rescue, North Shore Black Bear Society, Neighbhourhood House, and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Profits from more recent T-shirt sales will also go towards the Holiday Helpers initiative. All the Holiday Helpers gifts will be North Vancouver-inspired and include donations from the community. The gifts will also have a handmade card created by local students – with the surplus of cards set to be delivered to residents at seniors’ homes in the area for Christmas. McCarnan said the initiative had already received a bundle of donations, so the gifts would “have really lovely surprises for so many.” “There are so many people who are going to be so lonely these holidays because they’re not going to be able to have their families come and visit like in the past,” she said. “I just thought, so what can we do to cheer them up?” For anyone who’d like to contribute, the group is still accepting donations. A donation of just $20 means they can add another nominee to the list. To nominate someone to receive a Holiday Helper’s gift pack go to Nominate a Neighbour. Nominations close Dec. 15. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
KENAI, Alaska — A petition by the state of Alaska to delist three species of Arctic ringed seals as threatened has been rejected.The decision by the National Marine Fisheries Service on Wednesday was based on “threats associated with ongoing and projected changes in sea ice and on-ice snow depths stemming from climate change within the foreseeable future." The federal agency also said that the state of Alaska's petition did not present new information that had not been previously examined.The National Marine Fisheries Service listed three subspecies of ringed seal — the Arctic, Okhotsk and Baltic — as threatened in 2012. The federal agency had listed them as threatened because warming temperatures and diminished sea ice had an adverse effect on the population and overall health of the species, the Peninsula Clarion reported.The Alaska Department of Fish and Game criticized the decision to reject the petition in a statement on Wednesday.“Ongoing research, along with traditional knowledge compiled since the listing shows no evidence of declines in ringed seal populations,” Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang said in the statement. “The seals are handling current environmental changes well. ESA listings should be reserved for imperiled species. It is difficult to believe that a species with a healthy, robust population that numbers in the millions can be threatened with extinction.”The state agency also said that keeping the seals' listing “will have significant consequences for the economy of the State and subsistence opportunities for Alaska Natives with little to no conservation benefit to ringed seals.”The Associated Press
Friends and relatives of an Ontario Provincial Police officer killed in the line of duty last week remembered him Saturday as a "man of kindness, gentleness and love," who doted on animals and would drop everything to help someone in need.Const. Marc Hovingh also had a unique sense of humour that could spark joy and laughter even in the hardest times, his brother Hans Hovingh said during a small service held in a high school in M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island."He could laugh with you, he could laugh at you and he could laugh at himself," Hans Hovingh said.The officer could charm his way out of a dispute with a flash of his "trademark gap-toothed grin," a shrug of his shoulders and a laugh, said another brother, Albert Hovingh."When he did this there's no way you could stay angry with him," Albert Hovingh said. "I suspect that's why he got away with a lot of stuff, not only as a child but also later in life."Marc Hovingh's wife, Lianne Hovingh, described her late husband as her best friend, and recalled hearing how he would sometimes hold off on handing out tickets to drivers who he knew were going through difficult times.She thanked the public for the "ocean of love and prayers" she and their four children - Laura, Nathan, Elena and Sara - have received since her husband's death.Masked mourners, many of them in police uniform, gathered Saturday to pay tribute to the fallen officer, who died on Nov. 19 in a shooting that also left a civilian dead in the island community of Gore Bay, Ont.Hovingh, a 28-year veteran of the force, was one of the officers who responded to a call regarding an "unwanted man'' on a property.According to the Special Investigations Unit — Ontario's police watchdog — Hovingh and civilian Gary Brohman died in hospital after an exchange of gunfire.Ontario Premier Doug Ford was among a handful of politicians and dignitaries who attended the service. The Ontario Provincial Police Association said the funeral was otherwise private, with attendance available via livestream. At one point, more than 1,100 viewers tuned in to the ceremony. An online fundraiser for Hovingh's family had also raised more than $100,000 by mid-afternoon Saturday, with some donations coming in during the funeral.Provincial police Commissioner Thomas Carrique said the officer's death has left him and others across the force with a "broken heart," and praised Hovingh's "courageous response" to the incident that ultimately claimed his life."How is it possible to be so sad but yet so proud at the same time?" he said during the service.One of Hovingh's colleagues and friends, Const. Marie Ford, described him as someone who cared deeply for his community and always rooted for the underdog, yet shunned the attention he received for his good deeds."He didn't need to be promoted and he refused accolades," she said in a tearful tribute.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28., 2020 Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
PARIS — Tens of thousands of critics of a proposed security law that would restrict the filming of police officers protested across France on Saturday, and officers in Paris who were advised to behave responsibly during the demonstrations repeatedly fired tear gas to disperse rowdy protesters who set fire to France's central bank and threw paving stones.The mood was largely peaceful, however, as dozens of rallies took place against a provision of the law that would make it a crime to publish photos or video of on-duty police officers with the intent of harming their “physical or psychological integrity.”Civil liberties groups, journalists, and people who have faced police abuse are concerned that the measure will stymie press freedoms and allow police brutality to go undiscovered and unpunished.“We have to broaden the debate, and by doing that, we say that if there were no police violence, we wouldn’t have to film violent policemen," Assa Traore, a prominent anti-brutality activist whose brother died in police custody in 2016, told The Associated Press.She was among at least 46,000 people who packed the sprawling Republique plaza and surrounding streets carrying red union flags, French tricolour flags and homemade signs denouncing police violence, demanding media freedom or calling for the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron or his tough-talking interior minister, Gerald Darmanin.The crowd included journalists, journalism students, left-wing activists, migrants rights groups and citizens of varied political stripes expressing anger over what they perceive as hardening police tactics in recent years, especially since France’s yellow vest protest movement against economic hardship emerged in 2018.Violence erupted near the end of the march as small groups of protesters pelted riot police with small rocks and paving stone. The officers retaliated with volleys of tear gas, prompting minor scuffles. Rioters then set fire to the facade of the central bank and to police barricades; in the melee fire trucks struggled to reach the site.Macron's government says the law is needed to protect police amid threats and attacks by a violent fringe.But the chief editor of French newspaper Le Monde, Luc Bronner, argued at the protest that the law against publishing images of officers is unnecessary.“There are already laws that exist to protect civil servants, including police forces when they’re targeted, and it’s legitimate – the police do a very important job," Bronner said. “But that's not what this is about. It’s about limiting the capacity of citizens and along with them, journalists, to document police violence when they happen.”While journalists have been the most outspoken over the security bill, it could have an even greater impact on the efforts of non-journalists who film police during aggressive arrests, notably minorities who can try to fight police abuse and discrimination with a few seconds of cellphone video.“There were all those protests in the summer against police violence, and this law shows the government didn’t hear us... It’s the impunity. That’s what makes us so angry," protest participant Kenza Berkane, 26, said.Berkane, who is French and of North African origin, described being repeatedly stopped by police for identity checks in the metro or while going to school. while white friends were allowed to pass. “We ask ourselves, when will this stop?”The cause has gained renewed importance in recent days after footage emerged of French police officers beating up a Black man, triggering a nationwide outcry.Macron spoke out against the video images on Friday, saying “they shame us.”Video that surfaced Thursday showed the beating of music producer Michel Zecler, following footage of the brutal police evacuation Tuesday of migrants in a Paris plaza. The officers involved in the beating of Zecler were suspended pending an internal police investigation.An internal letter from Paris Police Prefect Didier Lallement called on officers to use “probity, the sense of honour and ethics” when policing Saturday's protests, which were authorized by authorities despite France's partial virus lockdown.Through most of the march police hung back, chatting while holding their helmets or watching silently as protesters shouted “Shame!” at them.The crowd was overwhelmingly peaceful, but some in the unruly minority came equipped with gas masks and helmets.Article 24 of the proposed security law criminalizes the publishing of images of police officers with the intent of causing harm. Anyone found guilty could be sentenced to up to a year in jail, and fined 45,000 euros ($53,000).Many protesters, police and journalists have been injured during protests in recent years, including several Associated Press journalists.Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Friday that he would appoint a commission to redraft Article 24, but he backtracked after hearing from angry lawmakers. The commission is now expected to make new proposals by early next year on the relationship between the media and police.___Alex Turnbull in Paris contributed to this report.Angela Charlton And Thomas Adamson, The Associated Press
Wife of OPP Const. Marc Hovingh, Lianne Hovingh, spoke at his funeral Saturday and read an email from the son of a family friend. Const. Hovingh died last Thursday in a shooting that also left a civilian dead in Gore Bay, Ont., on Manitoulin Island.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Sarah Fuller made history, but her barrier-breaking kickoff was the only highlight for Vanderbilt as Missouri dominated the Commodores 41-0 on Saturday.Fuller became the first woman to participate in a Power 5 conference football game when she kicked off to start the second half. Fuller delivered a low kick that bounced to the 35-yard line, where Missouri pounced on it. She never got the chance to attempt a PAT or field goal, as the Tigers (4-3) rarely allowed the Commodores (0-8) to cross midfield in the Southeastern Conference game.Larry Rountree rushed 21 times for 160 yards and three touchdowns. Connor Bazelak completed 30 of 37 passes for 318 yards. Running back Tyler Badie had seven catches for 102 yards and scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter. True freshman quarterback Brady Cook got his first snaps of the year in mop-up time and threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Damon Hazelton.Vanderbilt gained just 196 total yards against a stingy Missouri defence that has held three of its last four opponents to 10 points or less. Ken Seals completed 11 of 19 passes for 79 yards. Keyon Henry-Brooks rushed 15 times for 64 yards but lost a fumble in Missouri territory to end a rare promising drive for the Commodores to open the third quarter.Fuller, a senior goalkeeper on the Vanderbilt soccer team, joined the football team this week after helping the Commodores win the Southeastern Conference Tournament last weekend. COVID-19 protocols and restrictions left Vandy football coach Derek Mason with a limited number of specialists available against Missouri. Mason reached out to soccer coach Darren Ambrose for some help, and Fuller agreed to give the sport a try.THE TAKEAWAYMissouri: Senior linebacker Nick Bolton is making a bid for All-SEC and All-American honours. Bolton finished with nine tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup against Vanderbilt. He has 76 tackles on the season.Vanderbilt: An otherwise forgettable game will be remembered for Fuller’s participation. No woman had appeared in an SEC football game or for any Power 5 team. Women have played college football at other levels. Liz Heaston became the first woman to score with two extra points for Willamette in NAIA on Oct. 18, 1997. Katie Hnida was the first woman to score at the Football Bowl Subdivision level with two extra points for New Mexico on Aug. 30, 2003. April Goss was the second with an extra point for Kent State in 2015. Tonya Butler was the first woman to kick a field goal in an NCAA game for Division II West Alabama on Sept. 13, 2003.UP NEXTMissouri: The Tigers are scheduled to play Arkansas at home on Saturday.Vanderbilt: The Commodores visit Georgia on Saturday.___More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25Joe Walljasper, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Quebec set a new record for daily COVID-19 infections Saturday while surpassing the threshold of 7,000 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. The province reported 1,480 new confirmed cases Saturday, exceeding the previous record set on Thursday of 1,464 new diagnoses. Meanwhile, the 37 most recent deaths pushed the provincial total to 7,021. "We must continue to respect health measures throughout Quebec and in all settings if we want to limit the transmission of the virus," Health Minister Christian Dube said through his Twitter account. Of the deaths, 10 were recorded in the past 24 hours while another 23 were recorded during a five-day period between last Saturday and Thursday. The number of hospitalizations increased slightly, with nine more patients seeking care for a total of 678. The number of patients in intensive care increased by three to 93. The Quebec government has said it will need to see a reduction in cases to trigger a plan to allow for a maximum of two gatherings of 10 people from three households between Dec. 24 and 27. Health authorities want people to quarantine for one week before and one week after the proposed four-day gathering period. The province is expected to introduce new measures and some restrictions for patients in long-term care homes and seniors residences ahead of the holidays to keep COVID-19 out of those facilities. "Those new rules are going to be published early in the next week," Dr. Horacio Arruda said on Friday during a news conference in the Saguenay. On Saturday, four long-term care homes and 14 seniors' residences were listed as critical in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases. Much of the province has been at the highest COVID alert since October, with restaurant dining, gyms and entertainment venues now shuttered until at least Jan. 11. The province has 11,716 active cases of COVID-19. Montreal reported the most new infections with 429, followed by Monteregie, south of Montreal, with 215 cases and Lanaudiere, northeast of the city, with 120. The province has now reported 139,643 COVID-19 cases and 7,021 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, along with 1,179 new recoveries for a total of 120,906. The province conducted 29,652 tests on Thursday, the last day for which numbers were available. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Baby spinach sold under the brand Fresh Attitude is being recalled in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario due to possible salmonella contamination.The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a notice on Friday and says the product may have been distributed in other Atlantic provinces.The recall includes the 312-gram package with a best before date of Dec. 4, and the 142-gram package with best before dates of Dec. 4 and Dec. 5.The recall was triggered by VegPro International and is being investigated.The food inspection agency says people should check to see if they have the recalled product and throw it out or return it to the store.Food contaminated with salmonella may not look or smell spoiled but can lead to infections. Young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at the highest level of risk.Short-term symptoms can include fever, headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, while long-term complications may include severe arthritis.There have been no reported illnesses linked to the recall.
People who visited curling facilities in two communities in northern Saskatchewan during specific periods in November are required to self-isolate due to the risk of COVID-19 exposure, the Saskatchewan Health Authority says.All individuals who attended any events at the Lakeland Curling Club in Christopher Lake between Nov. 16 and 22 are considered close contacts, and required under public health orders to isolate for 14 days from their last attendance, the health authority said in a Saturday media release.The order includes people who visited the Lakeland Curling Club board meeting on Nov. 16.People who visited the curling rink and lounge at the Richardson Pioneer Recreation Centre in Shellbrook also need to isolate if they curled or socialized at the facility at any time between Nov. 9 and Nov. 26, said the SHA.In addition to the required self-isolation, the agency strongly recommends COVID-19 testing for anyone who was at either location during the affected dates. People can book a testing appointment by calling HealthLine 811. Christopher Lake is about 35 kilometres north of Prince Albert, while Shellbrook is about 45 kilometres to the west of the city.
OTTAWA — There was a strong message conveyed to cabinet ministers last week as senators grilled them on the Trudeau government's bill to expand access to medical assistance in dying.We told you so.Ministers were repeatedly reminded that when the federal government introduced its first bill in 2016 to legalize doctor-assisted death in Canada, senators warned it was unconstitutional and predicted it would be struck down by the courts. A majority of senators voted at that time to drop the central pillar of the bill: that only those whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable should be eligible for an assisted death.The government rejected the amendment and senators ultimately backed down. But, as they'd predicted, the near-death provision was subsequently struck down in a Quebec Superior Court ruling in September 2019.Now, some senators are convinced the bill introduced to bring the law into compliance with that ruling is also unconstitutional. And they're pondering how far they should go to protect the rights of Canadians seeking access to medically assisted death.All legislation must be approved by both houses of Parliament. The Senate can defeat a bill outright, although that has rarely happened.If the Senate amends a bill, it is sent back to the House of Commons to decide whether to accept or reject the changes. The Senate can dig in its heels and insist on an amendment rejected by the Commons, potentially leading to legislation ping-ponging back and forth between chambers without resolution.In practice, however, because senators are not elected, they generally acquiesce to the will of the Commons, as they did on the 2016 assisted-dying bill.But some senators argue that a different standard applies when fundamental constitutional rights are at stake."If it's a very clear violation of a constitutional right, I think we have the right, the moral obligation even, to stick to our position and to insist (on amendment)," says Sen. Pierre Dalphond, a former Quebec Appeal Court judge who sits with the Progressive Senate Group.Dalphond is highly skeptical that the government's latest assisted-dying bill, C-7, is constitutional. He's awaiting further explanations from the government before making a final decision.Appointed in 2019, Dalphond was not in the Senate when the chamber last debated medical assistance in dying legislation. But some senators who did live through the 2016 debate seem particularly determined not to let history repeat itself.Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan believes Bill C-7 violates the guarantee of equality rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by specifying that people suffering solely from mental illnesses will not be allowed access to an assisted death. He thinks the proposed two-track approach to eligibility — one set of rules for people who are near death and more restrictive rules for those who aren't — is similarly problematic."I think the government has created another bill that will have to come back … in two or three years after a court challenge," Carignan says.He believes the government is determined to proceed cautiously on assisted dying and is quite content to have the courts force its hand every step of the way. The trouble with that approach, in his view, is that it forces vulnerable people who are suffering unbearably from serious illnesses to spend time, money and energy fighting for their rights in court."That's really tough. So I think if we want to protect those people we have to insist and say, 'Look, don't go there another time.'"Fellow Conservative Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu is hopeful the Senate will propose, and the government will agree, to a compromise this time: amend the bill to remove the mental illness exclusion but give the government one or two years to come up with guidelines and safeguards before that part of the law goes into force.He said that could "be a good compromise" that would avoid a potential standoff between the Senate and the government over the issue.Dalphond is inclined to support such a compromise because it would force the government to act on the issue, rather than leave it to be discussed, possibly without resolution, during a promised parliamentary review. That review must grapple with other thorny matters, such as whether to allow advance consent for assisted death, as well as access to the procedure for mature minors."We have an opportunity maybe to straighten things up now. Why wait another one, two, three years? … People will be suffering during that period."The composition of the Senate has changed considerably over the past four years so it's not yet possible to gauge whether the current crop of senators will go as far as — or further than — senators did in 2016 to protect charter rights. There are certainly many senators who are passionately opposed on moral grounds to any expanded access to assisted death, and especially opposed to extending it to people suffering solely from mental illnesses.But senators with extensive legal backgrounds — both veterans like Carignan and more recent appointees like Dalphond — who grilled ministers last week during committee hearings on the bill all questioned its constitutionality.The most recently appointed senator, Brent Cotter, a prominent legal ethicist and former senior public servant in Saskatchewan, pointedly asked Justice Minister David Lametti whether he believes senators have a duty to ensure legislation is constitutionally valid.Lametti did not answer and Cotter concedes it's a question he's wrestling with himself."The nice thing about the Senate is, on the one hand, I do think we have to advance our viewpoint on the basis of principle and we have much more luxury to do that in a less partisan Senate," says Cotter, a member of the Independent Senators Group."And on constitutionality, it's quite possible that senators need to be firm … But at the same time I don't think we have the right to overreach because we are involved in a role where we are appointed, we are not elected by constituents and we need to be respectful of the electoral process that leads to government according to law."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
There will be fewer places to pick out the perfect real Christmas tree on the North Shore this festive season, with new COVID-19 rules making it increasingly difficult for groups to get approval to set up their annual fundraising events. But, in true Christmas spirit, residents will still have the opportunity, thanks to a lot of effort put in by some of the local Lions Clubs and Scout troops to gain approval by meeting Covid-19 guidelines put in place by the provincial health authority. Eric Miura, Lynn Valley Lions Club president, said having to jump through more hoops than usual to get the event set up was an “understatement,” but the club was pleased it could make a contactless drive-thru Christmas tree lot a reality for the community. “We have some experience hosting events over this COVID period, so I think that’s why we haven’t been rejected,” he said, explaining the club had been working on an intensive proposal for the past six months. “It’s a tradition, and the Lynn Valley Lions Club is more than happy to do all the paperwork and make sure it’s safe. We know that we can handle the safety, it’s just a lot of protocols and a lot of procedures. “We’re proud of our ability to adapt.” Miura said the club moved its event from the parking lot at the Royal Canadian Legion's Lynn Valley branch to a much larger site in the Moodyville area, partnering with Wall Financial, and even built roads to make the drive-thru possible. He said people could either choose their tree online – variety, size, price – or drive through and view the trees and pick one from their car at the site at East Second Street and Ridgeway Avenue. “Everyone has to stay within their cars and all of our team members must be family units working in their particular zone on the site,” Miura said. Community members will need to book a time slot in advance online to visit the site, so numbers can be controlled and managed appropriately. While the drive-thru tree lot adds festive cheer to the lives of North Vancouverites, Miura said the event was also important because the club’s future applications for community gaming grants were associated with how much an organization fundraises. “We do raise a fair bit, but this is our largest fundraiser – so it’s almost a double whammy if we don’t make a good effort,” he said, also noting that proceeds from the tree lot go back into the community to help schools and other organizations. The Christmas Tree Market drive-thru opened Friday, Nov. 27. Sadly, not all clubs will be opening their tree lots. After 75 years of helping make the holidays brighter, Dave Weightman, president of the Ambleside Tiddlycove Lions Club, said the club would not be running its annual tree lot fundraiser in Ambleside this year due to confusion surrounding the provincial restrictions. He said the club had made the hard decision not to open, believing they did not have provincial permission based on the tree lot being classified as a fundraising event but later discovered on Nov. 24 that changes had been made that they were not informed about. “I found out five minutes ago that on the Nov. 19, unbeknownst to us, the ministry of health changed our designation from an event to a vending market and that would have allowed us to open," he said, speaking on Nov. 24. Having cancelled much of their plans, he said the club could no longer go ahead with their market as their tree grower had now sold off most of his trees. Weightman said the club had worked closely with the District of West Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health to put forward a plan that they felt met the COVID-19 guidelines of B.C. Health, and he wished he had known sooner of the designation changes. “We asked for reclassification as our plan outlined numbers restrictions which would see very limited numbers, masked, and distanced in a 12,000-sqare-foot outdoor setting," he said, explaining his original plan. The funds raised from the annual event usually allow the club to support many North Shore charities and foundations, which Weightman said would be greatly missed. “It’s just disappointing, like everything else we’re facing,” he said, with the hope the club’s tree lot would reopen in 2021. Similarly, West Vancouver Scouts posted to their website the tree lot at Taylor Way and Clyde Avenue at Park Royal will not be opening “due to restrictions and the uncertainty around COVID-19.” However, the 11th Seymour Scouts were able to set up their annual tree fundraising sale, and said they have “no shortage of Christmas trees” at their event in Deep Cove. The tree sale, which runs Nov. 27 to Dec. 23. has been relocated to Dollarton Village, at 489 Dollarton Hwy., and the scouts have advised people to “please follow all COVID protocols” when picking up a tree, including wearing a mask and physical distancing. Their website states that additional safety instructions are posted at the tree lot.Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A lab in Alaska failed to report over 1,600 positive coronavirus tests to the state health department in the past month, according to a state official.Dr. Louisa Castrodale, an epidemiologist with the state, said Friday that Beechtree Labs did not report 1,636 positive test results out of 13,169 tests conducted, most of which were done in the last two weeks. Beechtree is a new commercial lab based out of Anchorage.The announcement is a sign that climbing daily case counts reported by the state reflect only a part of total cases, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Castrodale said that understaffing at clinics, labs and the state’s Department of Health and Social Services have also caused backlogs that have affected the entire coronavirus data system.“It’s fair to say that the system is stretched,” Castrodale said.Coleman Cutchins, a clinical pharmacist who leads the state health department's testing effort, said that patients and providers still received their test results from Beechtree within two days.The results not reported to the state include 357 positive cases in Anchorage and 880 positive cases in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.The state's health department reported its second-highest single day tally of virus cases on Friday with 735 new confirmed cases.The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.The Associated Press
In the fall of 2019, Bernie McClean had to dry every single bushel of canola on his farm in northwest Saskatchewan — something he never had to do before.Weather was just one of various challenges farmers in the province had to deal with last year.According to Statistics Canada, realized net farm income was up in six provinces, but not in Saskatchewan, where farmers saw a $307 million decline — the largest in Canada. Lower oilseed receipts contributed to the drop, said a Statistics Canada report released this week."The real difficulties actually began in the fall of 2019," said McClean."Excessive amounts of rain during harvest that turned into cold weather and actually eventually it turned into a fair bit of snow. And that stopped harvest completely. There were a lot of areas that the snow melted and we were able to get going again."But those types of conditions, they increase the costs substantially."McClean and his family grow grains and oilseeds on their Glaslyn-area farm, including wheat, oats, barley, canola and forage crops. Part of their land recently also became home to bison.In 2019, he and his family were able to harvest all their crops in the fall, but "it was right to the very final minute to get it done," he said."There have been a number of years that have been difficult in the northwest part of Saskatchewan."Farm income rose in Canada, not in Sask.Overall, Canada's farmers saw an increase in realized net income of 14.9 per cent from 2018, to $5.5 billion in 2019. According to Statistics Canada, the increase is the result of higher cannabis and livestock receipts in the country, along with increased program payments.The drop in realized net income in Saskatchewan, though was 14.4 per cent.A drop in realized net farm income in Saskatchewan means that there was a reduction in income relative to expenses during that year, explains Richard Gray, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan's department of agricultural and resource economics.The total net income, which takes inventory change into account, also dropped in Saskatchewan in 2019. Trade disputeGray says two main factors affected oilseed income."The harvest was very long and delayed," he said. "There was significant acreage of canola that was not harvested in 2019 but was left to the spring to harvest in 2020."So that grain, which would have been income, was left in the field because of weather conditions."The other factor, according to Gray, was a large outbreak of African swine fever in China. The disease reduced the size of hog herds in the country, and consequently the demand for oilseeds.A trade dispute with China also created headaches for the province's canola farmers, after China effectively stopped buying the crop from Canadian producers."Saskatchewan farmers produce the most canola in the country and they were the most affected by the drop in price," said Todd Lewis, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. He is a fourth-generation farmer in the Gray district, south of Regina.The trade dispute with China "seems like a long way from Saskatchewan, but it really does come straight to the farm gate here in the province."There is a possible upside to the Canada-China dispute, said McClean."The trade disruption that we've experienced with China has actually taken the blinders off a little bit and allowed us to investigate and further explore other or emerging markets … whether that's export markets or whether it's opportunities right here in Canada," he said.2020 a better year for Saskatchewan's oilseed farmersAfter the lows in 2019, this year has been much better for Saskatchewan oilseed farmers. "There was an early harvest," said Gray."Grain shipments have been at a record level. Because of the recovery in the hog herd in China, soybeans and oilseed prices are actually higher this year. So prices have gone up, volumes [have] gone up."According to the provincial government's final crop report, Saskatchewan saw above-average crop quality this year. While rail disruptions in 2019 caused problems for producers, the economic slowdown due to COVID-19 has allowed for improved movement of grain in 2020, said McClean.The livestock industry, on the other hand, has been negatively affected by COVID-19, with some slaughter plants closing down, said Lewis.Farmers and ranchers now have to feed more cattle, but the price for feed grain has gone up, he said."So it's been positive for the grain producers."
With COVID-19 once again spreading through parts of Nova Scotia, the province is taking a different approach to testing for the virus than it did during the first wave.Capacity at the province's microbiology labs has been building since the early days of the pandemic, different types of tests have become available in recent months, and the province's current outbreak is affecting a different demographic — all contributing to the strategic shift.When COVID-19 first arrived in Nova Scotia, testing was restricted mostly to those with multiple symptoms and close contacts of known cases. Now, public health has a much broader call for testing, including to Halifax bar staff and patrons.At Friday's COVID-19 briefing, Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said the new strategy is because of the prevalence of asymptomatic spread among the 18-35 age group in Halifax — the current epicentre of Nova Scotia's outbreak."With no symptoms, the only way to find people infected with COVID-19 is to test them," said Strang.This kind of widespread testing wouldn't have been possible during the first wave because of lab capacity.In March, the province's microbiology labs were able to complete only 200 and 250 COVID-19 tests per day.That capacity has been gradually building, and last month Strang said the province could handle 2,500 daily tests, although it was averaging far less than that. On Thursday, lab technicians completed a record-setting 3,109 tests in 24 hours.Even the opposition Progressive Conservatives offered some praise for the numbers, saying in a news release the uptick appeared to be "an indication that the need to extensively test is being taken seriously."PC leader Tim Houston said he remained disappointed that testing hadn't ramped up sooner, "but I am hopeful that the government has now turned the corner."Still, there are more people waiting for tests than the province can administer and process in a day. Strang said that as of Friday 8,000 people had identified themselves as bar staff and patrons in need of testing, creating a backlog.Everyone who has requested it will get an appointment and results, eventually, said Strang, but they may have to wait. Some of those people — like those who have been notified of a potential exposure that requires testing — are being asked to self-isolate while they wait.Strang asked for patience."We're very much building the plane and flying it at the same time when it comes to this asymptomatic testing as part of our outbreak response," he said.Nova Scotia's testing has also broadened with the introduction of rapid tests, also called point-of-care tests. While the rapid tests are more likely to yield false results than a standard lab test, experts say the data from widespread rapid testing can provide valuable insight into the spread of the virus, and inform decisions about public health restrictions and guidelines.Since last weekend, when the first rapid-testing site popped up for a few hours in an empty nightclub, rapid testing has attracted thousands of people to locations around Halifax. Strang said that as of Friday, 2,700 rapid tests had been administered. From those, at least 11 potential cases were identified, but positive results from a rapid test aren't counted in the official provincial tally of COVID-19 cases until they've been verified by a lab test. The province has not consistently reported results of followup lab tests.What's still to comeWith the recent detection of COVID-19 in wastewater in Wolfville, N.S., the province is setting up a rapid-testing site there on Monday. Strang said the research findings are not definitive, but Public Health will test that population as a precaution.Rapid tests were deployed in long-term care homes for the first time on Friday to volunteers, employees and designated caregivers.Strang described it as "serial testing" that will be repeated every two weeks. It launched at three Halifax-area homes and will eventually expand provincewide, he said."This is part of our effort to monitor, reduce and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, and none of us need a reminder about how important that is," said Strang. Earlier this week, Premier Stephen McNeil said rotational workers might also be targeted for rapid testing in the near future. On Friday, he said travellers coming in from outside Atlantic Canada could eventually be targeted, too.McNeil pointed to a pilot program underway in Alberta that's screening incoming international travellers to reduce quarantine time, and a recent pilot program for rapid testing by Air Canada at Toronto's Pearson airport."We won't be opening up to the rest of Canada any time soon," said McNeil.But, he added, rapid testing "would have to definitely be part of that opening up."MORE TOP STORIES
A year after Canadian Forces soldiers helped clear snow in the great snowfall of January 2020, the military may be called to domestic duty again in Newfoundland and Labrador to help distribute COVID-19 vaccine. Premier Andrew Furey says he not only welcomes it, he’s already been in touch to make it happen. “We know how important a role our friends in the military played early this year during Snowmageddon,” he said during Friday’s virtual COVID-19 briefing in St. John’s, “so we’re very happy to continue to welcome their efforts in helping us get through the next phase in this pandemic.” That phase may start within the next few weeks, but Furey admitted the delivery of vaccine to Canada will be gradual. According to some quick math, he said the province may receive up to 50,000 doses by March 2020. Those will go to vulnerable groups such as elderly and Indigenous groups, as well as health-care workers on the front lines. The province saw four new confirmed cases Friday, all between the ages of 40 and 70. Three of them have not been linked to another case yet, but the chief medical officer of health said that’s not a major concern. “It’s still very early in the investigation, so it doesn’t mean we don’t know the source,” Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said. “It just means that we’re starting the investigation.” The province now has 31 active cases. Fitzgerald said the current influx of cases still doesn’t surprise her, but the next four to six weeks could be a tipping point. “This has the potential for a perfect storm as the threat of COVID and Christmas collide,” she said. “But we know so much more than we did seven months ago. We have the tools to prevent COVID from taking hold in our province.” Added Health Minister Dr. John Haggie: “We have said before, and will probably end up saying it again, that we will see cases from time to time. The important thing is that these are identified, contained and traced.” Fitzgerald says her office has been flooded with questions about what partners and children of rotational workers can or can’t do under current policies. So she offered some rules, which only apply if the worker is asymptomatic and has not returned from outside Canada or a workplace with an outbreak. A partner: • can go to work at any time if a worker is asymptomatic; • can work in a personal care home, as long as personal protective equipment is worn; • should wear a mask if around other people (that includes teaching); • should wear a mask when in another house with extended friends or family. However, she said the rules for children have not changed. “The reason that we did not include children in this policy change is that we do not want to be further stigmatized any more than they sometimes already are,” she said. “And let me be very clear in saying stigmatization should not be happening. It is completely unacceptable and, to be honest, it is heartbreaking for me to hear.” She said parents should act if they witness any form of bullying going on. “Ask your child to imagine themselves in the classmate’s position and how sad and worried they must be feeling. Teach them the golden rule, to treat others as you want to be treated.” She advised parents to make sure they’re setting a good example. “Your children see when you’re afraid, and little ears are everywhere. If you voice concerns about a neighbour or another parent who recently travelled, your child will pick up on that.”Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
For the first time, people can vote in this year’s Festival of Trees online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each year, festive trees are decorated by local merchants and organizations and displayed inside Steveston’s Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site. In addition to the new online voting option, the cannery will also be open for in-person viewing and voting, starting Tuesday (Dec. 1) with additional protocols in place. There will be 15 trees decorated this year, says marketing and visitor services manager Mimi Horita. She adds that, as expected, some groups have cancelled due to different circumstances during this unusual year. “We did not hold a ‘decorating party’ this year, and scheduled the decorating times over a one-week period to ensure safe distancing,” Horita says of the changes to this year’s planning. While advance tickets are not required, capacity will be reduced to allow for physical distancing. In keeping with new public health restrictions, all visitors must wear a face mask while visiting the display. Staff and volunteers at the cannery also wear masks at all times. The Festival of Trees will be open daily from Dec. 1 to 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Dec. 24 it will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Regular admission is $11.90 for adults and $10.20 for seniors, with youth under age 17 and society members able to enter for free. Admission will be by donation on Sundays: Dec. 6, 13 and 20. For more information, call 604-664-9009.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
The end is in sight for thousands of Islanders who have had to adjust their daily commute to and from Charlottetown because of the Capital Drive construction project.The project, which began in early November, was expected to take up to five weeks to complete.Traffic has been detoured, causing congestion in residential areas such as Lewis Point.The closure was needed to replace twin stormwater culverts under Capital Drive.Scott Adams, the city's manager of public works, estimates up to 25,000 vehicles would normally travel along Capital Drive every day.He said if everything continues to go well, it should reopen to traffic by the end of next week. "We've been very fortunate this year, the weather has been excellent for this time of year," he said."So Monday we're looking at concrete curb going in and then, the following two to three days, asphalt. So we're hoping by the end of next week, Capital Drive will be reopened to through traffic."More from CBC P.E.I.
Another person in Saskatchewan who tested positive for COVID-19 has died.The person is in the 80-plus age group and is from the northwest zone, the province said in its Saturday COVID-19 update.The province also reported 197 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to date in Saskatchewan to 7,888.Community transmission has been found in a number of locations, the province reported.That includes: * A recent outbreak among a teenage hockey team resulted in nine players and one coach testing positive. Multiple teams are currently self-isolating as a result. * A recent outbreak at a curling bonspiel resulted in positive cases on teams from several cities and towns across the province. * Positive cases among attendees at a recent funeral has led to the potential exposure of more than 200 people. * Seventeen nurses working in one hospital were recently required to self-isolate after being identified as close contacts to positive cases linked to sporting events and community transmission.The province said investigating and contact tracing these incidents has delayed notification of possible exposure resulting in further transmission."With significant outbreaks continuing to occur among larger gatherings and sporting events, the public is urged to follow the public health orders in place and are reminded these orders are enforceable," said the news release.Regina had the most new cases on Saturday, with 73, followed by Saskatoon, with 56 new cases.The other cases were in the far northwest (six), far northeast (four), northwest (five), north central (17), northeast (five), central west (one), central east (five), southwest (16), south central (five) and southeast (two) zones.The location of the two other new cases is pending.The seven-day average of daily new cases is 234 (19.3 new cases per 100,000 population). Of the 7,888 reported cases, 3,322 are considered active, with 4,521 people having recovered from the illness.There are now 106 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 88 people receiving in-patient care.Thirty of those patients are in Saskatoon, and 18 are in Regina. There are 19 patients receiving in-patient care in the southeast zone, nine in the northwest and seven in north central. The far northwest, northeast, central east, southwest and south central zones each have one person receiving in-patient care.Eighteen people are in intensive care, including 11 in Saskatoon and five in Regina. The north central and southwest zones each have one patient in intensive care.A total of 244 health-care workers have been infected with the virus.In the last three days, the province has recorded eight deaths. There have now been 45 deaths in total related to COVID-19 in the province. Saskatoon now has 1,108 active cases and Regina has 636 active cases.On Friday, 3,359 COVID-19 tests were processed in Saskatchewan.