Spotted on the side of the road near Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan.
Spotted on the side of the road near Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Originally scheduled to be completed in December, further construction of Gabriola Island’s Village Way Path is now on hold until spring 2021. Asphalt surfacing meant to go in through the Village Core section of the 1.5 km long, two-metre wide path has been delayed “due to weather conditions and paving material availability,” according to Yann Gagnon, the Regional District of Nanaimo’s manager of parks services. “The path will be in a usable condition over the winter, much like a widened gravel road shoulder,” he said. The RDN confirmed delay of completion of the Village Way will not delay the start of the construction of the Huxley Park skatepark in 2021. Work completed so far on the Village Way includes survey layout, tree assessment and removals, retaining wall construction, clearing and path base construction on sections between the Gabriola Professional Centre and Church Road. In the fall, staff determined fewer trees needed to be removed than planned. Using a hydro-excavator, crews exposed the root systems of trees in close proximity to the work site to assess if they would be damaged by further excavation work required to install the path. “This exploratory digging consequently allowed more trees to be retained as opposed to removing trees based on the assumption that the construction of the new path will damage their root system beyond their ability to recover,” Gagnon explained. As a result, trees have been saved in front of the Madrona Marketplace. Adaptations have also been made to parts of the path that will run in front of Gabriola Elementary School. Staff decided to reorient the path to “meander around live trees.” The adjustment will see dead trees or ones identified as declining removed instead. The construction method has also been adapted so that the gravel is “floating” overtop of the existing soil and root masses “as opposed to using a traditional path building method which includes excavation to sub-grade, which considerably damages healthy root systems,” Gagnon said. The completed path will run along the north side of the road from the junction of North and South roads to the 707 Community Park entrance at Tin Can Alley. The RDN has been working with the Ministry of Transportation since 2014 to make the path a reality. In July, the RDN board awarded the $971,349 construction contract to Windley Contracting. The project is entirely funded by the Electoral Area B Community Works Fund.Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
Police body cameras hit the streets of Iqaluit on Monday as part of the RCMP's national pilot project. The Nunavut roll out starts with two officers per shift wearing body cameras, which officers will have the ability to turn on and off. By mid-January, four officers per shift will be equipped with the cameras, and by mid February all six officers per shift. Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal announced the project in October after a year of intense police scrutiny across the country. "It's completely unacceptable for Inuit and their families to be suffering at the hands of police at the level that they are," Vandal told CBC News in reaction to the high rates of police-related deaths in Nunavut. "That needs to stop." But the debate on what benefits the cameras may offer is far from over, according to experts. CBC News asked experts to weigh in on the main benefits claimed by police — greater accountability and transparency and an increase in trust between police and communities. The experts flagged major concerns and holes in the RCMP's approach but also expressed cautious optimism. With a lack of scientific data and controlled experiments in Canada, including by the RCMP, academic Erick Laming told CBC News he worries about what the Mounties' intentions are with the pilot project. Public may never see critical footage"The main reason for the project seems to be the emotional environment we're living in right now," said Laming, a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto from the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation in Ontario.Politicians appear to be reacting to that environment by offering a solution that is not tested or thought out, he added. For example, a crucial issue is deciding what video footage will be released to the public and when, Laming said. The RCMP currently do not have any policies to specifically govern the release of body cam footage. The only way to make the release of that footage truly independent is to have a third-party agency, outside of the RCMP, decide what to release, said Laming. "Is it really increasing transparency? Because some of this footage may never see the light of day. It really depends what policies are in place," he said. Body cams were first introduced in England in 2005 as a way to collect better evidence, Laming said.They have since been used by police to justify their own behaviour in volatile situations, he said. "That's a valid argument. But in terms of whether it's going to improve accountability or transparency, there's no evidence in Canada that [body cams] have done that," he added. Body cams won't prevent shootings: American law professorIn communities that have been historically over-policed, video footage used to justify police's behaviour can perpetuate the problem of being over-policed, Adam Benfoardo, an American law professor in Philadelphia told CBC News. "When we have footage, it may simply, in the eyes of the public, say, well, actually, the police officers were right — these people are dangerous," Benforado said from Drexel University. Controlled studies of body cams in the US have resulted in inconclusive findings, he added. But one thing seems clear — the cameras have not reduced the rate of police shootings of brown and black people in the US, Benforado said. The day before CBC spoke with him, Benforado said a 27-year-old black man was shot by police two blocks from his home in downtown Philadelphia. Police officers involved in the shooting wore body cams at the time, and citizens filmed the incident on cell phones, said Benforado. That didn't prevent the shooting, he said. "Why? Because the thing that mattered the most, which is that the 27-year-old man was having a mental health crisis, is probably not the cameras. It's probably race. It's probably training that officers have and the lack of training in addressing people who are having mental health crises," said Benforado. Video evidence crucial in criminal investigationsBut video camera evidence is crucial in order to conduct investigations of police shootings after the fact, Ian Scott, former director of Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, told CBC News. Scott charged the officer who shot Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar in 2013 with murder. "I could not have laid that charge without the compelling video evidence. So that's led me to the conclusion that body worn cameras would be extremely helpful in doing those kinds of investigations," Scott said. Scott did not have body cam footage in that case — but mostly footage from CCTV cameras on the streetcar. He said any video evidence in such investigations can be crucial. This benefit of body cams is difficult to quantify in a price analysis but justified when investigations of fatal shootings lead to justice, Scott said. "If we can have more thorough reviews with better evidence, then I think the long-term outcomes will lead to the community having greater sense of trust in their police," he said.
Quebec's plan to allow people to gather over the Christmas period may be scrapped, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Premier François Legault said Tuesday."We have hospitals that are approaching their limit of COVID patients," he said."We are not going in the right direction."Legault said that if the number of hospitalizations continues to increase, it will be "difficult to take that risk."A final decision will be made Dec. 11.Quebec's rolling seven-day average of cases has climbed back up in recent weeks, and there are now more than 700 people in hospital with the virus.The premier has tempered expectations for the holiday season since announcing on Nov. 19 that gatherings would be permitted over a four-day period — provided those meeting isolate for the week before and after.Last week, following consultations with public health, Legault said only two gatherings would be allowed during the four-day period.The province is expected to announce additional guidelines for holiday shopping later this week.
DHL is among the shippers gearing up to transport virus vaccines within the U.S. as soon as they are approved for distribution. (Dec. 1)
As opposition critics and some premiers accuse his government of falling behind on a vaccine distribution plan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today sought to reassure the country that his government will be ready to deploy shots soon after they receive the necessary Health Canada approvals.Trudeau said the independent scientists reviewing the clinical trial data submitted by the drugmakers behind four promising vaccine candidates are working hard to ensure the safety of these products before Ottawa starts shipments.With recent polls showing that a sizeable number of Canadians will refuse a vaccine altogether, or will wait some time before lining up for a shot, Trudeau said he wants Canadians to be assured that the science will not be rushed and Canada's regulators will only approve a product that works."In this COVID-19 pandemic, keeping Canadians safe means getting a vaccine as quickly as possible, but it also means making sure that the vaccine is safe for Canadians," Trudeau said.Trudeau said once the regulator gives the green light to one of those vaccines, Canada will mobilize its public health infrastructure to deploy it to the provinces and territories.WATCH: Trudeau is asked about how vaccines will be deliveredThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to meet on Dec. 10 to review the Pfizer product. Health Canada's chief medical adviser, Supriya Sharma, has said regulators here are expected to make decisions on timelines similar to those followed by the U.S.Speaking to reporters at a COVID-19 briefing, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said today the government is planning for vaccines to arrive in the first three months of 2021.Based on her conversations with the drugmakers, she said, she's hoping a vaccine will be available to Canadians well before the end of March."As soon as Health Canada has provided its approval, we are well-placed to begin deliveries to Canadians as soon as possible. We will kick into the delivery process ASAP. That's why we have the refrigerators procured. That's why we have the needles, syringes and gauze procured," she said.The U.S. has publicly released a robust distribution plan — 20 million Americans are expected to be vaccinated in December alone. Canadian officials have been largely quiet about how the deployment will be conducted here, beyond offering assurances that the provinces and territories will be ready to go.Anand said she wanted to clear up what she called "misinformation" that has been circulating in recent days.Anand confirmed that Canada already has received 34 of the freezers needed to store vaccines that must be kept at temperatures well below zero, with another 92 freezers soon to follow. The Pfizer product, for example, needs to be kept at approximately -80 degrees Celsius to remain stable.All told, between the newly procured cold storage and existing federal capacity, 33.5 million doses of frozen and ultra-frozen vaccines can be stored here at this point, Anand said.WATCH | Anand: Vaccine delivery dates are being negotiated nowBeyond storage, the shots also need to be transported by qualified shippers. Anand said more details on end-to-end logistics will be revealed in the coming days.Anand said Canada was among the first countries to sign agreements with pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna for their vaccines, which use groundbreaking messenger RNA technology, or mRNA. These vaccines essentially direct cells in the body to make proteins to prevent or fight disease.While some have suggested Canada is at the "back of the line" on vaccine availability, Moderna's co-founder confirmed to CBC News on Sunday that Canada will be among the first countries in the world to get access to doses.On Monday, the Massachusetts-based company applied to the FDA for emergency use authorization (EUA) of this vaccine in the American marketplace.The company's final clinical trial data is encouraging, demonstrating the vaccine is 94.1 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 and 100 per cent effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.'Amazing data'In July, Moderna began administering its vaccine and a placebo to 30,000 clinical trial participants in the U.S.Of the 15,000 people who received the vaccine, only 11 developed COVID-19. None of those 11 people became severely ill. Among the 15,000 people who received the placebo — a shot of saline that does nothing — 185 developed the novel coronavirus. Thirty of those 185 patients reported severe illness and one died."This is striking," Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA's vaccine advisory committee, told CNN Monday. "These are amazing data."Moderna's chief medical officer said he became emotional when he saw the data Saturday night. "It was the first time I allowed myself to cry," Dr. Tal Zaks said. "We have a full expectation to change the course of this pandemic."The federal government secured an agreement on Aug. 5 with Moderna for 20 million doses of its vaccine, with the option to procure an additional 36 million doses if necessary.First in lineMarginalized groups, such as seniors in long-term care homes, and front line health care workers are expected to be among the first to be inoculated, said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public officer. She added that other essential workers, such as grocery store clerks, could also be ahead of other Canadians.The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), which provides independent advice to the Public Health Agency of Canada, has provided some guidelines on which "key populations" should be among the first to be vaccinated.Ultimately, it will be up to the provinces and territories to identify who gets a shot first. But Trudeau said Tuesday that the premiers agree that these plans should be largely harmonized nationwide.While some provinces and territories have voiced serious concerns about a lack of detail on how and when vaccines will be available, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said those jurisdictions are well-placed to administer these vaccines when they do arrive because they lead mass inoculation campaigns each year during flu season.WATCH: Hajdu says vaccine distribution a 'very delicate dance'"They already have systems in place, they already have capacity in place, they already have processes in place to lead sophisticated immunization programs," she said."I say to Canadians: hang on. We can get through this winter together and relief is on the way."The government has frequently pointed to its massive order for 414 million vaccine doses from seven different companies — the most of any country per capita — but Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said that procurement push means little if millions of Canadians are kept waiting longer than citizens in other Western countries."A robust portfolio in 2023 doesn't help us as we enter 2021," O'Toole said Monday in his response to the government's fall economic statement."This government is not providing a plan, they're not providing clarity and it's clear, having been late on rapid tests, on the border, there's no clarity or competence."In question period Tuesday, O'Toole again pushed the government to offer a firmer date for access to a vaccine. Trudeau said again they'd be available shortly after Health Canada signs off.O'Toole also slammed the government for partnering with a CanSino, a Chinese-run pharmaceutical firm, early in the pandemic to jointly develop a vaccine.WATCH: Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand talks about freezer capacityThat deal was abandoned after the regime in Beijing blocked shipments of vaccine samples meant to be used in clinical trials in Canada, which prompted the government to turn to U.S. firms for supply. O'Toole said Canada should have never trusted the Chinese in the first place.The Conservative opposition is now pushing for a parliamentary probe into the CanSino deal at the Commons industry, science and technology committee.
Northern environmentalists say the federal government's fiscal update on Monday was a missed opportunity — and it should have done more to help the region hardest-hit by climate change to emerge from COVID-19 with a greener economy.The wide-sweeping update includes promises to fund reconciliation efforts, speed up universal broadband access and body cameras for RCMP officers.It says $380 million is going to a support fund for Indigenous communities during the second wave of the pandemic. It also points to $272 million that the government has given airlines and businesses to keep the North's supply chains connected, along with more funding for environmentally-friendly home retrofits, money for consultations on electrical infrastructure projects, and more electric charging stations for cars.An organizer with a group that advocates for a "Green New Deal" in Canada, or a proposed package of government investments that build an environmentally-friendly economy by reducing social inequality, says that plans to promote greener homes, electric vehicles and tree-planting don't create meaningful change.Ellen Gillies, the organizer with Our Time Yellowknife, said on Facebook to CBC that the update "is very much in line with the Liberal's playbook to date — progressive language and lofty promises with little to no transformative commitments or actions on social, economic and climate justice."For example, the budget update promises $1.5 billion for closing the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities, but the government is actually spending more than $16 billion on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline alone, Gillies notes.Gillies also says there is no mention of where the money will come from — and she and her organization want it to come from the wealthiest people and corporations."It's really disappointing to me that even with so many people in need, Trudeau's government shies away from taking on the billionaires who have been profiting from the pandemic," she said.Planet on a 'bad trajectory'William Gagnon, a green building engineer and former campaigner for Green Party leadership candidate Courtney Howard, agrees that the proposal doesn't go far enough. He compares the update to "when you crave moose meat … and someone delivers you cucumber sushi."Gagnon points to the many jobs in the oil and gas sector that were lost because of the pandemic, saying this is the moment to help more people get jobs in renewable energy instead.He also says that according to estimates he has done with other advocates for green building, making every building carbon neutral in the territory alone would cost almost half of the budget the country has set aside to pay for building retrofits across Canada.Sebastian Jones, with the Yukon Conservation Society, says certain green efforts like those on habitat restoration and tree-planting won't apply to the North — home to sparse boreal forests and rocky tundra, where habitat loss in the vast region has been minimal."Our planet is in a really bad trajectory," he said."I probably wouldn't have whinged about this if it weren't for the signals we did get from the federal government … that this crisis is a chance to build back greener and better."The fiscal update says an upcoming climate plan from the government "will highlight further work and investments in areas like renewables, clean fuels and hydrogen."The fiscal update says $64.7 billion is also "proposed" to help the territorial governments with pandemic response for 2020 and 2021.
BERLIN — The European Union drug agency said Tuesday it may need four more weeks to approve its first coronavirus vaccine, even as authorities in the United States and Britain continue to aim for a green light before Christmas.The European Medicines Agency plans to convene a meeting by Dec. 29 to decide if there is enough safety and efficacy data about the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for it to be approved. The regulator also said it could decide as early as Jan. 12 whether to approve a rival shot by American pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc, which submitted its request to U.S. and European regulators this week.If its vaccine is approved, Germany-based BioNTech said the shot's use in Europe could begin before the end of 2020 — but that seems quite ambitious, given that the EU Commission usually needs to rubber-stamp the regulator's decision. Still, the agency has also left open the possibility that the date of that meeting will be brought forward if data comes in faster.Any approval granted by the European regulator will be conditional on companies submitting further information to confirm the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks.The date now being eyed would be later than some European countries had hoped. Germany, which has given BioNTech 375 million euros ($450 million) in funding to develop the vaccine, has been preparing to start immunizing people from mid-December onward.On Tuesday, officials in Germany, France and the Netherlands cautioned that vaccine programs likely won't start until the end of the year.“With the information we got in recent days we have to assume that approval will only happen around the turn of the year,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said.“It has moved because some studies obviously need a little longer to be submitted," he said. "What’s important is to be prepared.”His comments were echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, who said authorities in those countries are working to begin vaccinating people in the first week of January.“It won’t be a vaccination policy for the broader public” during the first few months, Macron said at a news conference.BioNTech and U.S. partner Pfizer have said that clinical trials showed their vaccine is 95% effective. The two companies have already submitted data to regulators in the United States and Britain, and approval might come from them first.Hospitals in England have been told they could receive the first doses of the Pfizer shot as early as the week of Dec. 7 if it receives the OK, the Guardian and Financial Times reported. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s scientific advisers are holding a public meeting Dec. 10 to review Pfizer’s request to allow emergency use of its vaccine, and a decision could come shortly thereafter.Stephen Evans, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that although the main drug regulators will all analyze the same data, the European regulator's decision-making process is slowed by the bureaucracy of the 27-nation bloc.He explained that approval at the EMA “requires co-operation from member states, who each have a say in the authorization of a vaccine.”British regulators also are assessing another vaccine developed by researchers from Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca.Whichever of the three regulators — American, British or European — acts earliest would be giving the first approval of a COVID-19 vaccine that’s been that’s been rigorously tested in tens of thousands of people in trials that meet common scientific standards.Numerous other vaccines are also being worked on. Russia and China have even begun administering shots of locally developed vaccines and selling them to other countries but have not published evidence from advanced studies proving the vaccines are safe and effective.Globally, every country that has a drug regulatory agency will have to issue its own approval for any COVID-19 vaccine, although countries with weak systems usually rely on the World Health Organization to vet the shots. In the EU, countries typically accept EMA approval for vaccines and drugs unless there is a specific issue the country wants examined further.Multiple successful vaccines will be needed to end the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in Europe and the U.S. and so far left more than 1.4 million people worldwide dead.Authorities and drugmakers have pledged to work together to immediately begin rolling out the first shots once approval comes in, whether that’s in the United States or Europe.“Depending on how the authorities decide we can start delivering within a few hours,” said BioNTech's chief operating officer, Sierk Poetting.But officials caution that while some people may receive a vaccine in the coming weeks, it will likely take years to give billions of people around the world the shot, or two if a booster is necessary, meaning that people will be living with some virus control measures at least well into next year.While the three major vaccines so far submitted for approval seem to prevent people from getting sick, it is still unclear whether they prevent people from picking up the virus entirely — and crucially — passing it to others.The EU's top official said Tuesday around 2 billion doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines have been secured for the bloc's 27 nations and called hope for their quick approval "a huge step forward toward our normal life."EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, however, urged EU citizens to remain “disciplined till we have reached finally a vaccination that is appropriate to eradicate this virus.”Even after vaccines are approved, manufacturers and regulators will be monitoring how well they are received by patients to determine the frequency of rarer side effects that may only appear when millions are immunized.___Cheng reported from London and Petrequin from Brussels. Associated Press writers Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___This story has been updated to correct that Pfizer and BioNTech asked for expedited approval of their vaccine, not an emergency use authorization.Frank Jordans, Maria Cheng And Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press
Three men accused of killing a Battleford man had more court appearances but the matters were adjourned again. Isaac Melko, 22, Charles Michael Lewis MacLean, 23, of North Battleford, and Jacob Joseph Ballantyne, 25, of Edam, appeared in North Battleford Provincial Court Nov. 25 via CCTV but the matters were set over to Jan. 13, 2021, to be spoken to. The three, along with a young offender, are charged in connection to the murder of 27-year-old Ryan Gatzke. A badly injured Gatzke was found in a house in Battleford in October 2019. He was taken to the North Battleford hospital where he was declared deceased. Maclean was charged with manslaughter, a firearms offence, and break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence. Melko, Ballantyne and the young offender - who can’t be named in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act - were charged with second-degree murder, break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, disguise with intent, carry a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, possession of a firearm without a license, and unauthorized possession of a firearm.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy posted its best three-month stretch on record during the third quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 40.5 per cent on the back of household spending.The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, Statistics Canada said, but unlike 55 years ago, the rise last quarter was fuelled by a record drop during the preceding three-month stretch.Wide parts of the economy effectively shut down in March and April, creating a pent-up demand among consumers as the savings rate soared in the second quarter.The lifting of lockdowns and further restriction rollbacks during the three-month stretch of July, August and September opened an economic relief valve.Statistics Canada said Friday that there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates, driven down by the central bank in a bid to prod spending, as well as on home renovations.Households also spent more on goods like cars, as consumer spending jumped, although it still remains five per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, leaving a lump of cash in bank accounts as households don't have their pre-pandemic spending options.The savings rate stood at 14.6 per cent, a drop from the record-high 27.5 per cent in the previous quarter, but still far higher than the two per cent at the end of 2019.CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said that suggests Canadians will have the resources to spend post-pandemic. "Over the next year, I think the focus still needs to be on returning Canadians to a more normal way of life," he said in an interview. "That will return Canadian spending habits to a more normal way of life, and that will return the Canadian economy to a more normal way of life."Despite the overall increase, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.How the next few quarters play out may rest on households continuing to spend, and whether government aid is toned down as the federal Liberals have indicated would happen if economic conditions improve.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking outside his Ottawa residence, said the positive third-quarter figures showed that federal spending has helped families and businesses stay afloat. "There are still tough times ahead," he said. "So we'll continue to be there for people, especially those who are hardest hit by this crisis."The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada said, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.Economists suggested the economy could limp to the finish line of 2020 amid the tightening of restrictions and threats of localized lockdowns. Overall, the economy is likely on track to contract by over five per cent this year, economists say."There is a good chance that the economic recovery doesn’t just stall, but shifts into reverse this winter," TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote."While light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccine distribution, it will not cure the near-term pain in store for the Canadian economy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
COVID-19. Avec 6500 employés du réseau de la santé absent du travail et le nombre de cas qui reste élevé, le premier ministre a émis des réserves sur la possibilité que les Québécois puissent se réunir du 24 au 27 décembre. La décision finale sera prise d’ici le 11 décembre. «On ne va pas dans la bonne direction. Si le nombre d’hospitalisations continue d’augmenter malheureusement, ça ne sera pas possible d’avoir les deux rassemblements à Noël», a reconnu François Legault. «Il faut poursuivre nos efforts pour protéger notre personnel du réseau de la santé. C’est d’abord à eux qu'on va penser pour prendre la décision finale pour les réunions de Noël», explique-t-il. Le premier ministre a également invité à la prudence dans les centres commerciaux en rappelant que la distance de deux mètres se doit d’y être respectée . Par ailleurs, François Legault s’est montré ouvert à la suggestion du Parti libéral du Québec d’entendre Horacio Arruda dans le cadre d’une commission parlementaire qui permettrait aux députés de le questionner sur la gestion de la pandémie. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The Northwest Territories' first private retailers of cannabis will open their doors soon, after the government announced final approval in a press release Tuesday morning.Two stores, ReLeaf NT and Trailblazers Cannabis Shop, were named in the release.ReLeaf has been operating as a cannabis accessories store since early April of last year from a storefront at 5123 51st St. in Yellowknife. Luke Wood, the proprietor, has been a vocal advocate for private retail since legalization.ReLeaf won the right to operate as a private retailer after completing an extensive application process for the territory's single license, issued as a request-for-proposals in May.Trailblazers Cannabis Shop, by contrast, appears to be the creation of the Yellowknife Liquor Shop, which has been the city's sole retail cannabis location for the past two years.Responding to concerns identified more than two years ago that selling alcohol and cannabis in the same place could lead to abuse, the territorial government "and the Yellowknife Liquor Shop agreed to separate liquor sales and cannabis sales," the release reads.The new, cannabis-only retailer will occupy a nearby unit in the same strip mall as the Yellowknife Liquor Shop at 100 Borden Drive in Yellowknife."Cannabis will no longer be available for purchase at the Yellowknife Liquor Shop," the release reads.Big plans for cannabis shop, says ownerAt his shop Tuesday evening, Wood was doing some final preparations before opening for business with cannabis for sale.Before COVID-19, Wood's shop sold accessories, records, and tools for growing cannabis. The store still has remnants of that inventory, like a single brightly-coloured panel of mood lights for sale and a display of glass pipes.But Wood said there's a major difference between running a cannabis-lifestyle store and a shop that also actually sells the product: "Customers.""We wanted to hit the ground running so we opened this [store]," he said. "But it's been very slow. And then COVID[-19] hit."Now that the store has its retail licence, Wood wants to bring in books on safe consumption and cooking and bolster the shop's record collection. He said he's even thinking about starting an internet radio station.He also wants to start selling products from local artists, a move he hopes will "reach out to the community ... and get rid of the stigma" around cannabis.High hurdles for new operatorsIn the last year, cannabis sales generated more than $3.5 million worth of revenue in the N.W.T., according to numbers from the NTLCC. More than $2 million of that was spent in Yellowknife alone.In the N.W.T., the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC) is the only legal wholesaler of cannabis. Private retailers must purchase their stock from the commission's limited selection and comply with strict health and safety requirements to operate.Any would-be retailers must follow a 23-page information guide in preparing their application to operate, which includes getting the government's final sign-off on everything from the store's displays to its name.Wood said his licence took 18 months to secure. Now that he's got it, he said he expects his biggest competition will be with the grey market.People who buy weed from non-licensed suppliers say they find the product is cheaper and more consistently available, he said. But Wood hopes his shop can "take away the mystery" for people who are new to the drug. "There's.a huge, bright future," he said. "It's just the beginning of the whole thing."
Canada is readying a new tax on foreign home buyers to help tamp down on speculative purchases from overseas, cited as a factor behind sharp rises in housing prices in some markets that have left many Canadians unable to afford homes. "Speculative demand from foreign, non-resident investors contributes to unaffordable housing prices for many Canadians," the government said in its Fall Economic Statement. "The government is committed to ensuring that foreign, non-resident owners, who simply use Canada as a place to passively store their wealth in housing, pay their fair share."
LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, will spend Christmas at Windsor Castle instead of their Sandringham estate for the first time in decades.Buckingham Palace officials said Tuesday that the monarch and her husband may see some members of their family briefly in accordance with guidelines, but Christmas celebrations will likely involve just the couple.“Having considered all the appropriate advice, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have decided that this year they will spend Christmas quietly in Windsor,” a spokeswoman said.The queen is not expected to attend church on Christmas Day to avoid large crowds of well-wishers gathering.The royal family spent many Christmases at Windsor Castle when the queen’s children were small, but since the 1980s the royal family has celebrated Christmas and New Year at the queen’s country estate, Sandringham, in Norfolk, eastern England.Hundreds of people typically gather near the historic church at Sandringham on Christmas Day to greet the royal family as they arrive for their morning service.Officials in the U.K. say coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed for five days over the festive season to allow people to travel to see friends and family. Three households can form a “Christmas bubble” and socialize from Dec. 23 to 27.___Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakThe Associated Press
MONTREAL — Bombardier and Alstom say they have received all the necessary regulatory approvals required to complete the US$8.4-billion sale of the Canadian company's railway division to Alstom.The companies say they now expect the transaction to close on Jan. 29, 2021.Bombardier has been working to transform itself from a maker of trains and aircraft into a company focused on business jets. Alstom shareholders voted to approve the deal on Oct. 29.The sale is expected to make Alstom the second-largest manufacturer of rolling stock, behind China's CRRC.Alstom has committed to establish its North American headquarters in Montreal, which will oversee 13,000 employees, set up a research centre and improve production at the Bombardier Transport plant in La Pocatiere, where the order book is almost empty. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:BBD.B)The Canadian Press
Kathie Hogan of Powassan, a small community in the North Bay region is getting ready for a chilly night on the roof of the local Home Hardware Building Centre — for a good cause.After the cancellations of several food bank fundraisers in the North Bay region due to COVID-19, Hogan said she "had to do something." To get people motivated to reach into their pockets, Kathie Hogan, made a promise to her donors.If she was able to raise $1,000 she vowed to rustle out her camping gear from the closet and spend the night on top of the local Home Hardware store. Hogan said she managed to surpass her goal last Thursday, and with Home Hardware agreeing to match donations of up to $2,000 she's managed to raise a total of about $5,000 so far.'Donate to send Kathie camping'"I still have to go around collecting the jars, people are still handing me money on the street. It's just been an incredible, incredible experience to be part of this small town feeling," she said, "People are throwing all sorts of bills into these jars." The donation jars are labelled, "Donate to send Kathie camping on the Home Hardware roof."> Well, I've fed the chickens, shoveled the driveway and now I've got to gear up for tonight. — Kathie HoganAnd so the time has come, for Hogan to deliver on her quirky promise — on Giving Tuesday no less. "Well, I've fed the chickens, shoveled the driveway and now I've got to gear up for tonight. It's very, very blustery here in Powassan," Hogan said, "I'm determined to go through with it, it's going to be windy and snowy." During her fundraising campaign, Hogan said, she's been stopped on the street by community members delightedly perplexed by the prospect of seeing her camping out on the roof.'It's going to be fine'She said locals have even offered up camping gear to help keep her toasty on what will likely be a chilly December night. Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for the North Bay region Tuesday evening. According to the agencies forecast, Hogan could wake up to between 20 and 30 centimetres of snow on Wednesday morning on the Home Hardware roof. To this, Hogan said she will be bringing a shovel with her for her "cold winter's nap.""I don't know. It's going to be fine," she said, "I have the love of the community that will keep me warm." More CBC Sudbury stories
AGRICULTURE. À l’occasion du Congrès général 2020, les membres de l'Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) discutent des enjeux et des pistes de solutions pour cultiver l’autonomie alimentaire du local au global. «La crise sanitaire sans précédent que nous traversons a testé la résilience de tous les maillons de la chaîne agroalimentaire. Les deux paliers de gouvernement ont déployé beaucoup de ressources pour assurer un bassin suffisant de main-d'œuvre locale et étrangère et pour mettre à la disposition des agricultrices et des agriculteurs des mesures de soutien permettant d'atténuer l'impact de la pandémie. Cette reconnaissance québécoise et canadienne du secteur agricole comme priorité stratégique à l'économie de nos régions et essentielle à la sécurité alimentaire de nos concitoyens est une orientation gagnante sur laquelle il faut s'appuyer pour les mois et les années à venir», a déclaré le président général de l'UPA, Marcel Groleau, dans le cadre de ce congrès qui réunit virtuellement 400 délégués le 30 novembre et le 1er décembre. «La dernière année a non seulement galvanisé l'intérêt de nos concitoyens pour nos produits, mais elle a aussi démontré à quel point l'autonomie alimentaire de la province et du pays constitue un enjeu prioritaire. Le gouvernement québécois a investi des sommes importantes ces derniers mois pour faire croître cette autonomie. Le gouvernement canadien, qui a beaucoup fait depuis le début de la crise pour sécuriser l'approvisionnement alimentaire des citoyens, devra lui aussi prévoir rapidement des investissements pour favoriser le développement de sa principale assise, c'est-à-dire l'agriculture», ajoute le président de l'Union, faisant notamment référence aux 157,2 M$ annoncés récemment par le gouvernement québécois pour accroître l'autonomie alimentaire de la province. «Tous les paliers de gouvernement reconnaissent maintenant sans équivoque l'importance stratégique du secteur agricole. Pour permettre à notre agriculture d'aller plus loin et d'atteindre son plein potentiel, il est essentiel de favoriser sa compétitivité par un appui indéfectible, comparable à nos voisins du Sud, à l'Europe et aux autres pays de l'Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques», souligne-t-il. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The number of empty units in Toronto community housing has “steadily increased” in the last few months, despite efforts to fill those vacancies rapidly with people living in city shelters. While the agency reached a historically low vacancy rate of 1.78 per cent last November, by this fall it rose to 2.35 per cent. The rate for market rent units was still less than one per cent, but the rate was 2.54 per cent for rent-geared-to-income and 3.04 per cent for seniors housing. Coun. Ana Bailao, Mayor John Tory’s housing advocate, said it was “crucial” to address the swelling vacancies as quickly as possible, given the need for affordable housing in Toronto. “With the situation we have in the city, we can’t afford to have empty units,” Bailao said. Sheila Penny, chief operating officer with Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), attributes the increase in empty units to a pause in seniors housing rentals during the pandemic, city rules about filling vacancies, and a lack of supports in the city's northwest corner and Scarborough West Hill area for high-needs tenants. “It might be counselling for alcohol addiction, it might be mental health counselling,” Penny said of the missing supports. There was also an issue with “desirability” along the Sherbourne strip, she said, with one building in the downtown area showing a vacancy rate of around six per cent. In one case this summer, before a former Toronto shelter resident was moved into a Sherbourne-area apartment, the unit had sat vacant for a year — in part, because no tenants being relocated from a Regent Park building slated for demolition chose to move there. After COVID-19 hit, the city and TCHC implemented a strategy to move people from shelters into vacant social housing units, and provide various supports like furniture and food. Spokesperson Bruce Malloch said the first phase filled 300 vacant units across their properties. A second phase will target the northwest corner, Scarborough West Hill and Sherbourne areas specifically, Penny said, with the city approving around 300 more units for the program. As for the city rules, Penny said TCHC is usually required to offer empty units to overhoused tenants — those living in too-large homes — before turning to its protracted wait list. For a subsidized bachelor unit, the city warns of seven-plus year waits; for a one-bedroom, it can be 12-plus years. Because of a higher vacancy rate part way through 2019, TCHC was allowed to bypass the over-housed list for several months. That led to the historic low the agency reached last November. Now that the vacancy rate has risen again this fall, the city has agreed to let TCHC bypass the overhoused list once again while working on better processes for filling vacancies, she said. Coun. Paula Fletcher, who sits on TCHC’s tenant services committee, said pausing the priority on moving overhoused tenants was an “emergency response,” but it’s one she doesn’t think can last without jeopardizing access to bigger units. “There’s only so many two-bedroom, three-bedroom or four-bedroom places…If somebody is filling one, (and) they don’t have enough people to live in it, then it’s people on the waitlist who need a three- or four-bedroom place that aren’t going to be able to get it right away.”Victoria Gibson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
For more than 90 years, Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre has been serving families in Little Burgundy — organizing clubs, classes and camps — and helping strengthen the social fabric of the neighbourhood.At the start of the 20th century, Charles Johnson, the owner of Johnson Wire Works, saw a vivid contrast between the booming industrial sector along the Lachine Canal and the squalid living conditions and lack of social programs for families nearby.He had the idea of opening a "social settlement" in the area — a place to better the lives of others in the service of God — and he approached the local church to make it a reality.It opened as Tyndale House in 1927 with the support of the Presbyterian Church. Tyndale House offered programs such as Sunday school and child nutrition. Its summer camp gave children the opportunity to get out of the city.Even through the Great Depression, it continued to serve the community, though with a reduced budget.After decades of fundraising to build a more suitable home for the growing number of children it served, in 1951 Tyndale House moved from an old house on des Seigneurs Street to its current location, 870 Richmond Square.In the decades that followed, it expanded its offerings. Its space became home to many local groups, including the White Shield Club, Girl Guides and the Scouts.A report to the Presbyterian Church from the time reported that by 1956, Tyndale House was being used by 2,000 people each month.In the late 1960s, the city began expropriating nearby land and demolishing buildings as part of an "urban renewal" project, which resulted in some Tyndale families moving away and fewer volunteers being available. But classes, hockey and other activities continued as the neighbourhood kept evolving.In late 1970, St. George's Corner opened in a former food market on St-Antoine Street, where congregation members of St. George's Anglican Church would gather, and it became a community hub that worked closely with Tyndale House.In the following years, St. George's entered into a partnership with Tyndale, and moved into a neighbouring building on Richmond Square. The partnership officially took the name of Tyndale St-Georges in 1976.In the decades since, Tyndale St-Georges has expanded its programs to include services for adults, seniors and refugees, thanks to the work of a small staff and many volunteers.Its major projects today include early youth development programs, after-school programs, camps, its youth co-op and its pre-employment program for adults.But 2020 brought unique challenges to Tyndale St-Georges, with the pandemic making regular fundraising activities more difficult.To help make up for that, a campaign to raise $125,000 by the end of the year is underway — with a donor matching the money gathered if the target is reached.In addition to monetary donations, these are the kinds of other items the Tyndale St-Georges would love to receive: * New winter clothing for children 0 to adolescence. These would be given to participants in their programs in need of winter clothes as well as children of the adult participants at Tyndale's Adult Centre. * School supplies to use at the centre and also to give out to young participants of the centre's programs. * Pre-prepared food baskets that the centre could give out to their adult and senior participants as gifts.For details on how to give, please contact Tina Naim at firstname.lastname@example.org.During the month of December, CBC will be working with Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre to showcase stories of people in our community who are making a difference for our "Make the Season Kind" campaign. For more stories and to learn more about this campaign, visit http://cbc.ca/bekindqc and make a donation here.
Alberta hospitals are preparing to double-bunk critically ill patients, revamp operating and recovery rooms and reassign staff to treat an expected surge of COVID-19 patients destined for intensive care units. The measures are so far beyond the normal standards, it shows that Alberta is preparing for a crisis, says a long-time critical care doctor. "This is something that would only be carried out if there's a concern that we're going to get something close to what would be a disaster situation, or something that you would prepare for in a war," said Dr. Noel Gibney, referring to double-bunking ICU patients in a room designed for one. As Alberta hit a new record of 96 COVID-19 patients in ICUs on Monday, it also reached another ominous landmark — a record number of new daily cases, at 1,733. COVID's presence in Alberta ICUs has more than tripled during the last month. On Oct. 30, 24 people were critically ill with an infection. Provincial chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the data show Alberta is not yet at its peak of hospitalizations or patients critically sick with COVID. "We do need to make sure we're bending the curve early enough that we never get to that point where we don't have capacity to care for everyone," she said at her daily media briefing. Hospitals across the province are working to dedicate 2,200 beds for COVID patients, as they did last spring, Premier Jason Kenney said in the legislature. "Let us hope it is not necessary," Kenney said. "And ultimately, that's up to Albertans to respond positively to both the restrictions and guidelines articulated by the government last week." He also said the government will release data within days showing the projected impact of the pandemic on Alberta's health-care system. The effort to ramp up ICUs Dr. David Zygun, medical director for the Edmonton zone with Alberta Health Services, said hospitals can and will handle the growing caseloads of people sick with the potentially fatal strain of coronavirus. The goal is to add more than 250 general ICU beds within weeks, bringing the provincial total to 425, up from the previous 173. To do it will require some "unconventional" moves, he said. The University of Alberta's hospital's ICU is already accommodating two COVID patients in a room designed for one, a practice AHS calls "cohorting." Spokesperson Kerry Williamson said in an email the practice is not happening in other hospitals yet, but the measure is part of pandemic adaptation plans to meet increasing demand. The Misericordia Hospital in west Edmonton has moved their ICU to their cardiac care unit to allow for better isolation of patients, he said. The Grey Nuns Hospital in Mill Woods has moved its cardiac care unit to a different part of the hospital building to allow more space for the ICU, he said. Although Calgary ICUs were over capacity on Monday, Edmonton ICUs had about 18 spare beds at last count. AHS director Zygun said hospital staff are trying to proactively discharge hospital patients, move stable patients to less taxed facilities, open decommissioned space in buildings and reduce non-urgent surgeries to prepare for an influx. To make space in intensive care, they're also postponing surgeries that aren't urgent or emergencies and staffing previously unused beds, he said. If ICU and cardiac care beds are full, staff will then turn convert operating theatres and recovery rooms to temporary ICUs, Zygun said. "Obviously, the space is not ideal, but certainly we feel that we can manage it safely," he said. Gathering adequately trained staff to care for so many critically ill patients is one of the key challenges AHS faces, he said. They turn first to people who recently retired or transferred away from jobs in the ICU. AHS has also proactively trained some employees who work in related areas, such as emergency and in operating rooms or recovery units. Those professionals would be matched with teams of experienced ICU employees, he said. Staffing scramble, cramped spaces But Dr. Darren Markland, an intensive care physician at Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital, says it's not as simple as teaching professionals new skills. Critically ill patients are complex and demanding, and staff are continually making judgment calls. ICUs have never operated in the way the contingency plans are suggesting, he said. "It's going to be a challenge, and the first couple weeks that we transition will have unfortunate consequences as we're learning how to do this model," he said. He repeated a previous call for a lockdown to take pressure off hospitals. "Waiting to see if these things work is a liability," he said. Gibney likened managing a critically ill patient to flying a jumbo jet 24 hours a day. ICU nurses typically train for six months and spend a couple of years on a unit before they feel confident, he said. He said it will also be difficult to give patients the best possible care if they are cramped for space. "They're not doing everything they can," Gibney said. "They still have restaurants open. You can still go to the casino tonight and play the slots and have a few drinks. Go to the bar. To have those things open while the hospital is preparing for a disaster situation is madness."