Venezuela's government is encouraging private firms to sign import and export deals with companies in Asia and the Middle East as part of an effort to limit the impact of U.S. sanctions, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter. The plan expands on President Nicolas Maduro's existing commercial relationships with allies such as Turkey and Iran, which have already been providing the cash-strapped government with food and fuel in exchange for gold.
TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors have hired former New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach Chris Finch and ex-Raptors 905 head coach Jama Mahlalela as assistant coaches for Nick Nurse's staff. Raptors assistant coach Patrick Mutumbo will take over as coach of Raptors 905, a G League team.Raptors assistants Brittni Donaldson and John Bennett also will join the Raptors 905 staff.Finch spent the past three years in New Orleans. Previously, he was an assistant coach with Denver (2016-17) and Houston (2011-16).Prior to his time in the NBA, Finch guided Rio Grande to two consecutive appearances in the G League final, including a championship in 2010.Finch also was head coach of the British men's national team at the 2012 Olympics, with Nurse serving as one of his assistants.Mahlalela was an assistant coach with the Raptors for five seasons (2014-18) prior to becoming head coach for Raptors 905 the past two year. A native of Swaziland, Mahlalela grew up in the Greater Toronto Area.The Raptors open training camp this weekend in Tampa, Fla. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
COPENHAGEN — Denmark has decided to end all oil and gas activities in the North Sea by 2050 and has cancelled its latest licensing round, saying the country is "now putting an end to the fossil fuel era.”The Danish Parliament voted late Thursday to end offshore gas and oil extraction, which had started in 1972 and made the country the largest producer in the European Union. Non EU-members Norway and Britain are larger producers, with a bigger presence in the North Sea.Denmark is this year estimated to pump a bit over 100,000 barrels of crude oil and oil equivalents a day, according to the government.That is relatively little in a global context. The U.K. produces about ten times that amount while the U.S., the world's largest producer, pumped over 19 million barrels of oil a day last year. Environmental activists nevertheless said the move was significant as it shows the way forward in the fight against climate change.Greenpeace called it “a landmark decision toward the necessary phase-out of fossil fuels.”“This is a huge victory for the climate movement,” said Helene Hagel of Greenpeace Denmark. Wealthy Denmark has “a moral obligation to end the search for new oil to send a clear signal that the world can and must act to meet the Paris Agreement and mitigate the climate crisis."The 2015 landmark Paris climate deal asks both rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns. It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).Denmark has been an early adopter of wind power, with more than a third of its electricity production deriving from wind turbines. They are considered key in the transformation of the energy system and should enable Denmark to no longer be dependent on fossil fuels in 2050 for electricity production.The agreement to end oil and gas extraction means that a planned eighth licensing round and any future tenders have been cancelled and makes 2050 the last year in which to extract fossil fuels in the North Sea.It was backed by both the left-leaning parties as well as the centre-right opposition, suggesting the policy is unlikely to be reversed.“It is incredibly important that we now have a broad majority behind the agreement, so that there is no longer any doubt about the possibilities and conditions in the North Sea,” said Climate Minister Dan Joergensen, a Social Democrat.According to official figures, the move would mean an estimated total loss for Denmark of 13 billion kroner ($2.1 billion). The industry has earned the small Scandinavian country over 500 billion ($81.5 billion) since the 1970s.In October, energy group Total pulled out of the latest tender process leaving only one applicant, Ardent Oil, according to authorities.In June, the Danish Council on Climate Change - an independent body that advises the government - recommended ending any future exploration in the North Sea, saying a continuation would hurt the country’s ambitions as a front-runner on fighting climate change.Jan M. Olsen, The Associated Press
Nominations are open to recognize individuals in the territory who “work to strengthen the arts, culture, heritage and languages of the N.W.T.” The Minister’s Culture and Heritage Awards celebrate “outstanding leadership in the North” and raise awareness about the importance of protecting, preserving and celebrating the different cultures and unique ways of life in the territory. There are five categories: According to the GNWT's website, a Minister's Choice Award will also be handed out this year at the discretion of RJ Simpson, the minister. Awards will be given to winners virtually this year, due to COVID-19. Northerners looking to nominate a peer must submit the necessary form by January 8, 2021.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Three public schools in Windsor-Essex have reported new cases of COVID-19.The Greater Essex County District School Board website says a coronavirus case has been identified at East Mersea Public School, Leamington District Secondary School and Walkerville Collegiate Institute.Memos have been posted to each school's website informing of a "high-risk exposure" case of COVID-19 in the school community.The schools say they are working with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) to provide lists of close contacts."If you have not been contacted, you or your child(ren) have not been identified as close contacts. The WECHU is contacting any individuals (students and staff) who have an identified high-risk exposure with the confirmed case, and will give directions to follow," the memos state.Parents are being told to monitor their children daily for symptoms of the virus.To date, there have been 86 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the GECDSB, 74 of which are still active. Frank W. Begley Public school, where 49 cases have been diagnosed among students and staff, has been closed for two weeks.Within the Catholic school board, there are 18 active cases and outbreaks have been declared at two schools. One of the schools, W.J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School, has been closed for two weeks.
COVID-19 has made things difficult for municipalities, especially when it came to tax collection for the 2020 tax year. During a normal year, Tisdale has a reminiscing tax discount period from May to November, with a 15 per cent tax discount for those residents who pay in May and the discount diminishing over the following months by five per cent, said Brad Hvidston, Tisdale’s administrator With COVID causing financial challenges for residents, Hvidston said they changed the rates so the discount dropped by two per cent over the following months so that residents could still take advantage of the discount if they paid later. While Al Jellicoe, Tisdale’s mayor, said this was appreciated by residents, tax payments came into the town as usual with 95 per cent of property taxes paid by the end of May, Hvidston said. People save up during the year, he said, in order to take advantage of that discount. “By the time COVID hit in March and taxes were due in May, a large amount of people had their taxes mostly accumulated by them. I'm anticipating that next year will be the year that we see the impact on COVID.” With tax challenges being expected for the coming year, Hvidston said the council will have to decide how they can help residents deal with this in the future. The tax update was reported during the council meeting on Nov. 30.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is adjusting the scope of his agenda to meet the challenges of governing with a narrowly divided Congress and the complications of legislating during a raging pandemic.Rather than immediately pursue ambitious legislation to combat climate change, the incoming administration may try to wrap provisions into a coronavirus aid bill. Biden's team is also considering smaller-scale changes to the Affordable Care Act while tabling the more contentious fight over creating a public option to compete with private insurers.Biden is already working on an array of executive actions to achieve some of his bolder priorities on climate change and immigration without having to navigate congressional gridlock.The manoeuvring reflects a disappointing political reality for Biden, who campaigned on a pledge to address the nation's problems with measures that would rival the scope of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal legislation. But Democrats acknowledge that big legislative accomplishments are unlikely, even in the best-case scenario in which the party gains a slim majority in the Senate.“Let’s assume my dream comes true,” Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said, referring to a tight majority for his party. “I think we have to carefully construct any change in the Affordable Care Act, or any other issue, like climate change, based on the reality of the 50-50 Senate.”“There’s so many areas, which we value so much that Republicans do not, that it will be tough to guide through the Senate under the circumstances,” the Illinois Democrat added.Biden's agenda hinges on the fate of two Senate runoff races in Georgia, which will be decided on Jan. 5. If Democrats win both seats, the chamber will be evenly divided, with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.In that event, Biden's agenda items stand a better chance of at least getting a vote. If Republicans maintain control, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might not bring the new president's priorities to the floor.Biden's initial focus on Capitol Hill will be a multibillion-dollar coronavirus aid bill, which is certain to require significant political capital after lawmakers have been deadlocked over negotiations on Capitol Hill for months.The president-elect said Thursday on CNN that while he supports a $900 billion compromise bill introduced this week by a bipartisan group of negotiators, the bill is “a good start" but it's “not enough” and he plans to ask for more when he's in office. His team is already working on his own coronavirus relief package.People close to Biden's transition team say they're looking at that stimulus as a potential avenue for enacting some climate reforms — like aid for green jobs or moving the nation toward a carbon-free energy system — that might be tougher to get on their own.Durbin mentioned President Barack Obama’s first term as a precedent for what Biden will encounter when he takes office.Then, Obama was forced to focus much of his early energy on a stimulus package to deal with the financial crisis, and he spent months wrangling with his own party on his health care overhaul. Obama also enacted financial regulatory reform, but other progressive priorities, like cap and trade legislation and immigration reform, ultimately lost steam.And he had a significant House and Senate majority at the time.Still, some Republicans argue that if Biden approaches negotiations in good faith, there are some common areas of agreement. Rohit Kumar, the co-leader of PwC's Washington National Tax Services and a former top aide to McConnell, said it's possible to find a compromise on some smaller-scale priorities, like an infrastructure bill, addressing the opioid crisis and even a police reform bill.“There is stuff in the middle, if Biden is willing to do deals in the middle — and that means being willing to strike agreements that progressive members don’t love, and maybe have them vote no, and be at peace with that,” he said.Indeed, speaking on CNN Thursday, Biden expressed optimism about cutting deals with Republicans. He said when it comes to national security and the “economic necessity” of keeping people employed and reinvigorating the economy, “there's plenty of room we can work.”Still, he acknowledged, "I’m not suggesting it’s going to be easy. It’s going to be hard."But here, progressives, not Republicans, could be the roadblock. Waleed Shahid, spokesperson for the liberal Justice Democrats, said progressives are “worried and anxious” about Biden's history of making what he called “toxic compromises with McConnell."“I think progressives will probably play a key role in trying to push Democrats to have a spine in any negotiations with Mitch McConnell,” he said. “People will hold him accountable for what he ran on.”Shaheed said he believes progressives could play a role in pushing the Biden administration to embrace a more “aggressive approach” and pursue executive actions to address some Democratic priorities.And indeed, Biden’s transition team has already been at work crafting a list of potential unilateral moves he could take early on.He plans to reverse Trump’s rollback of a number of public health and environmental protections the Obama administration put in place. He’ll rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord and rescind the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries. He could also unilaterally reestablish protections for “Dreamers” who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children.But some of his biggest campaign pledges require congressional action and are certain to face GOP opposition.Biden has promised to take major legislative action on immigration reform and gun control, but prior legislative efforts on both of those issues — with bipartisan support — have failed multiple times.He’s also pledged to roll back the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy, forgive some student loan debt and make some public college free — all heavy lifts in a closely divided or Republican-controlled Senate.“It’s easy to be skeptical and pessimistic in this Senate,” Durbin said. “I hope that they give us a chance to break through and be constructive and put an end to some of the obstruction.”Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
Denmark on Friday agreed on a deal with parliament to put at least 775,000 electric or hybrid cars on Danish roads by 2030 in its latest move to reach its ambitious target reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70% in 2030. The government also announced a broader aim of having as many as one million low or zero-emission cars on the road by 2030, but the current deal would secure financing for the first 775,000. There are currently only around 20,000 electric cars in Denmark, a fraction of the 2.5 million cars currently on Danish roads.
Firefighters battling a blaze in a Southern California canyon made some progress toward containment but were up against more high winds and low humidity on Friday, which threatened to stoke the flames that forced thousands to evacuate. The Bond Fire, which was about 10% contained on Friday afternoon, broke out around on Wednesday night on the road for which it is named and quickly engulfed much of Silverado Canyon, egged on by strong Santa Ana winds. "Firefighters worked through the night extinguishing hot spots, mopping up around structures and stopping the forward spread of this fire," Captain Paul Holaday of Orange County Fire Authority said in a video posted to Twitter on Friday.
The mayor of a popular tourist town just north of Montreal has a message for residents in nearby red zones: do not flock to the Laurentians to organize large gatherings for Christmas.Much of the Laurentians region is designated as an orange zone, and Morin-Heights Mayor Tim Watchorn wants it to stay that way."If the cases start going up and spreading because people don't respect the rules and don't stay in the red zones, then all our businesses will be closed, our cases are going to spike and we'll end up in a red zone also," Watchorn told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.On Thursday, the province's premier announced Christmas gatherings in red zones would be banned. Two gatherings of up to 10 people are still allowed in yellow zones. People in orange zones can get together in groups of six.As recently as three weeks ago, sensing that more and more visitors from other regions were popping up, mayors in the Laurentians asked the Quebec government to put in police checkpoints in the area. François Legault denied the request, and on Thursday, he shot down the idea once again."I think the key will be to make sure people respect the rules in stores, in homes" said Legault. "I think it's more important that we put police efforts in these directions than putting efforts on controlling the travelling between regions."If people do decide to head to the Laurentians for Christmas, the executive director of Mont-Tremblant's tourism board says the least they can do is stay with people from their households, and avoid going to indoor public places."We'd like to remind that they have to stay together with the same address," said Daniel Blier. "They cannot gather with other people. They cannot go to bars or restaurants, except for takeout."Watchorn says he doesn't mind people travelling to the Laurentians for outdoor activities. It's the indoor gatherings that worry him, as well as what he considers to be a lack of willingness by the province to enforce public health guidelines.He is encouraging Montrealers and others with properties up north to visit during the holidays, but is urging them to respect the rules."Spend Christmas up here, it's beautiful," he said. "Go cross-country skiing, go fat biking, do what you have to do but just don't do huge gatherings. We don't need our health-care workers up here and in Montreal to suffer through the next couple months because we didn't respect the rules."WATCH | Dr. Cécile Tremblay on the positives of a scaled down Christmas:
Canada added more jobs than expected in November, Statistics Canada data showed on Friday, though the pace of growth slowed and the numbers reflect labor conditions before more lockdowns were imposed later in the month. Canada added 62,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5%, beating analyst predictions of a gain of 20,000 jobs and for the unemployment rate to remain at 8.9%. "Canada's labor market continued to outrun COVID in November," said Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets.
MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off the inaugural meeting of a global council on artificial intelligence by warning of the danger of unbridled digital technology, despite its potential to change the world for the better.The virtual summit marks the latest step in the slow march toward international co-operation on digital governance amid growing concerns over data privacy, built-in bias and deployment in war.Canada first set out on that path two years ago, unveiling plans with France for a standing AI forum during a meeting of G7 countries in Quebec.Since then, 13 other states have signed on to the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to guide policy development with an eye to human rights, establishing expert panels and involving government, industry and academia.Speaking ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, Trudeau said AI has the potential to combat diseases and climate change, but also to "create new challenges if left unchecked."Last month, the Liberal government tabled legislation to give Canadians more control over their information in the digital age, with potentially stiff fines for companies that flout the rules.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
The singer is perfectly at ease letting people see what he’s really going through.
Les habitants des treize municipalités ainsi que des territoires non organisés de la MRC du Fjord-du-Saguenay peuvent désormais être rejoints via un nouveau système d’alerte et de notifications de masse en cas de sinistre. Le préfet de la MRC du Fjord-du-Saguenay, Gérald Savard, en a fait l’annonce, jeudi matin, quelques heures avant la tenue d’un test général. Selon les explications fournies par voie de communiqué, le nouveau système permettra aux services responsables de la gestion des urgences d’expédier gratuitement des messages par téléphone, messages textes ou courriels en cas d’urgence. Des avis d’intérêt public comme des avis d’ébullition, fermetures de rues, bris de ponceaux, évacuations, inondations, incendies de forêt ou autres situations d’urgence figurent dans la panoplie de messages possibles. Le nouveau système a été mis en place afin de répondre au règlement du ministère de la Sécurité publique portant sur les procédures d’alerte et de mobilisation en cas de sinistre. Pour bénéficier du service, les citoyens doivent cependant être inscrits via le lien sur la page d’accueil du site Internet de chaque municipalité. Jeudi après-midi, un premier test a été effectué auprès de l’ensemble des citoyens des municipalités et territoires. Ceux qui ne l’ont pas reçu sont priés de procéder à leur inscription.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
When Stéphanie Chouinard and her husband, Sean, were looking to buy their first home in Toronto this year, they discussed how kids would fit into the picture — searching for a home near a French school, but also one that offered enough space. The couple had been living in a one-bedroom rental, and despite saving, recognized that some areas were out of reach. Their search narrowed in on East York, but even there, Chouinard said any “livable” houses or townhouses they saw were north of $800,000. So a federal program offering help to first-time home buyers, which capped purchase prices at around $505,000, wasn’t an option. “When we saw that program, we knew right away that this wasn’t going to be helping us at all,” said Chouinard. While their combined income was enough for a family-sized home — and high enough to also render them ineligible for the incentive — Chouinard believes the federal rules may have excluded other young families who were looking to have children in their first homes. “If you have a family or are planning to have a family in the near future, that program will very likely not be of much use to you,” she said. And though a federal economic update this week outlined changes to the program to come for Toronto in the spring, Chouinard believes families looking for something beyond a modest apartment will still be “very, very limited.” The federal program offers a shared-equity mortgage through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to reduce the amount that first-time buyers need to save for a down payment and lower monthly mortgage costs. Ottawa pays either five or 10 per cent of the price, and homeowners later pay back that same percentage of the home’s updated value. In its first year, fewer than 10,000 mortgages across Canada were approved through the program — despite a three-year goal of helping 100,000 families. Alberta and Quebec have seen the most uptake: from Feb. 1 to Sept. 1 this year, there were 712 mortgages approved and accepted in Edmonton, 378 in Calgary, and 55 in Airdrie, Alta., but just one in Vancouver, six in Victoria and 16 in Toronto. From Sept. 1, 2019 to Feb. 1, there were more than 4.5 times as many approved and accepted mortgages in Calgary than there were across the Greater Toronto Area. Montreal saw nearly seven times as many approved and accepted mortgages as the GTA in that time. The government has recognized since at least the last election that changes were likely needed for Canada’s hottest markets, and said this week they were coming in spring. Households earning up to $150,000 instead of $120,000 will soon qualify in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria, and their purchases can total 4.5 times their income, instead of only four times. “It’s not going to get you a three-bedroom downtown or anything, but it’s more aligned with the Toronto housing market,” said Heather Tremain, CEO of the non-profit developer Options for Homes. She sees the changes as positive, but she urged Ottawa to dig deeper into why some may have resisted using it in its first year, including the fact it effectively requires the buyer to pay mortgage insurance, by keeping down payments below 20 per cent. Tremain believes some first-time buyers may have balked at that extra monthly cost, and pursued other options to try to reach that 20 per cent mark instead. She said she’d also heard concerns from lenders about the government sharing any home value appreciation. Paul Taylor, president and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada, echoed those concerns and added that some buyers may also struggle with the very idea of co-owning their homes. Though he believes the changes coming in the spring are a “net positive,” he also questioned whether the incentive would be as successful as the feds had projected. When asked by the Star about the first-year numbers for the program and several of the concerns in this story, a federal department of finance official reiterated in an email the rule changes planned for spring 2021. They would “make homeownership more affordable,” they wrote. Both Tremain and Ken Bowman of Meridian Credit Union backed the incremental approach that Ottawa seemed to be taking. “I don’t think frenetic change on something as important as a housing strategy is particularly inspiring,” Bowman said. Both speculated that the pandemic may have hindered uptake in 2020. But UBC professor Paul Kershaw, founder of the research and advocacy group Generation Squeeze, believes a fundamental shift is needed to address the challenges that first-time buyers face in big cities. While he believes the strategy is “well thought-out,” he urged more attention to the root causes of unaffordability. He pointed to a Generation Squeeze report last year, which found that it took a typical 25- to 34-year-old in the GTA 21 years to save up a 20 per cent payment for an average-priced home. If first-time buyers were getting older in the city, Kershaw said others may find themselves in the same situation as Chouinard. “They need to have enough space in that home so that they’re not using closets as a nursery,” he said. Diana Petramala, a senior economist with Ryerson University, said even with the updated rules, new buyers looking near downtown Toronto would be limited mostly to one-bedroom units, or older two-bedrooms. Buying a townhouse might be more possible, she said, in the outskirts — areas like Durham or Simcoe. While Chouinard and her husband were ultimately able to purchase a first home with three bedrooms within the city, it took a combined household income well above the cutoff for federal help and renting into their 30s to do so. Chouinard said a friend of hers recently left the city after nearly a decade, feeling it just wasn’t affordable; she suspects others are in the same boat. “It does eat away at the attractiveness of Toronto as a city for young professionals,” she said. Victoria Gibson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
The Congress of Aboriginals Peoples (CAP) is calling on the resignation of Saskatchewan’s Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Christine Tell. More than 100 inmates at Saskatoon Correctional Centre have tested positive for COVID-19. “Minister Tell has fumbled the ball in her role as minster responsible to Saskatchewan correctional facilities,” said National Vice-Chief Kim Beaudin Dec. 3. “This requires leadership with a level of foresight and compassion that is lacking in her public response to COVID-19.” The CAP is also calling on the federal government to intervene in Saskatchewan’s provincial jail system. They want all non-violent inmates to be released immediately. They also want testing of all inmates and staff and measures to ensure infected inmates are given separate living quarters from other inmates. "Our people are now facing a death sentence in Saskatoon Correctional Centre due to Covid-19,” said Beaudin. "These are lives being intentionally put at risk, and is nothing short of a genocidal, colonialist policy.” Saskatchewan’s Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety department was contacted for comment on the situation at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre but have not responded. Earlier this week protesters – concerned for their loved ones inside - picketed in front of the Saskatoon Correctional Centre. A group of Saskatchewan lawyers sent a letter Tuesday to Tell calling for the release of non-violent, low-risk inmates who are elderly and have compromised immune systems. CUPE 1949, the union that represents 130 lawyers and legal staff at Legal Aid Saskatchewan, says the outbreak at Saskatoon Correctional Centre shows the volatility of the situation. “Our jails are overcrowded with vulnerable people who have virtually no means of protecting themselves,” said Julia Quigley, President of CUPE 1949. “Once the virus gets in, our clients are at an incredible risk.” Quigley said the majority of inmates in Saskatchewan are on remand, meaning they haven’t been convicted of any crime. “In essence, these inmates have a bull’s eye on their backs, and yet they are legally innocent,” said Quigley. She said that Saskatchewan remands people at twice the national average and the majority of inmates in Saskatchewan prisons are Indigenous and medically vulnerable to COVID-19. “This virus doesn’t discriminate, but the criminal justice system does. Our Indigenous clients will bear the brunt of the Saskatoon outbreak, and any other outbreaks if we don’t contain it.” “We cleared the jails effectively in the first wave, without any discernible risk to the public. We need to do it again, now,” added Quigley. Noel Busse, director of communications for Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice/Corrections and Policing, however, told the News-Optimist in July that no prisoners were released early from Saskatchewan jails during the COVID-19 pandemic. “No sentenced offenders have been released early as a result of COVID-19,” Busse said about the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic that hit the province. In March, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections and Policing put in measures to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread. They used existing infrastructure and program space in correctional facilities to create additional separation between offenders and staff. They also restricted the movement and placement of offenders within a facility, and provided personal protective equipment to corrections staff and offenders. COVID-19 also prompted the province’s Crown prosecutors to rethink remanding some defendants who were charged but not yet convicted. Some non-violent inmates held on remand in Saskatchewan’s jails were released while waiting for trial. Saskatoon Correctional Centre is a provincial jail run by the province of Saskatchewan. As of Dec. 4 there are no COVID-19 positive cases in the federal penitentiaries in the province, such as the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert, the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon, Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, and Willow Cree Healing Lodge. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off the inaugural meeting of a global council on artificial intelligence on Friday by warning of the danger of unbridled digital technology, despite its potential to change the world for the better. The virtual summit marks the latest step in the slow march toward international co-operation on digital governance.
Area grandmothers are tying orange ribbons on fixtures in downtown Brighton to raise awareness about gender-based violence. Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN) Northumberland is leading the orange campaign locally. Orange has been chosen by the United Nations as the colour to represent the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world by 2030. “To this end, our group (decorates) downtown Brighton with orange bows and cards, as well as mans a display at the Brighton Public Library to promote increased awareness of the impact of violence against women and girls,” GRAN Northumberland’s Betty Ann Knutson told the Brighton Independent. Sixteen days of activism against gender-based violence is an international campaign that occurs annually. The campaign runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, commencing on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and winding down on Human Rights Day. “We now have lots of orange bows on Main Street, at King Edward Park, at the municipal building/library and even at Tim Hortons,” added GRAN Sharon Graham. GRAN is described as a dynamic network of volunteers across Canada advocating at local, national and international levels. The group strives to garner Canadian and international support for measures that will significantly improve the quality of life for Africa's grandmothers as they strive to hold their families and communities together in the face of the AIDS pandemic. “Our current efforts focus on ensuring access to affordable medicines, improving access to education, ending violence against women and girls and (granting) the right to economic security and social protection,” Graham noted. GRAN Northumberland welcomes women from across the county to join in on its advocacy work. Call Graham at 613-475-2094 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and/or visit www.grandmothersadvocacy.org for more information. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
Ontario’s justice system will continue to push forward and modernize beyond the rapid transformations forced by the pandemic, Attorney General Doug Downey told the Empire Club of Canada on Thursday. During the lunchtime virtual meeting, Downey talked about some of the advancements made in the province's justice system since emergency measures were enforced in March to ensure it could operate safely. “It wasn’t long before capacity was expanded to conduct 100 per cent of proceedings involving a person in custody” and advancing to remote hearings, said Downey, who is also the local MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. “Behind the scenes, we were making targeted investments to update technology in a sector where fax machines were still an acceptable way of doing business.” The initiatives included remote court access, the new use of digital signatures and service by email, all of which are now becoming permanent staples of the system. As a result, he said, the system has become stronger by becoming more accessible and more resilient. “We really did rely on fax machines, millions of pages of paper, and technology that was just slightly better than Morse code to share information,” he said, adding that just two days ago the word 'telegram' was replaced by 'email' in a civil rule. Within months, the old paper-based system has been modernized to allow for online filing of more than 450 different documents. As a result, 95 per cent of civil proceedings are filed online and more than 70 per cent of family matters. Information about court cases are now available online, meaning people don’t have to line up at the courthouse to gain access. And a platform to power online and in-person hearings was also adopted. Last June, the changes allowed 20,000 people to log into an online Superior Court hearing to witness a judge deliver a sentence in a high-profile case. In September, the Superior Court reported 50,000 hearings had been conducted virtually. The lesson, Downey said, was to not just address yesterday’s issues, but to look at solutions for tomorrow’s sustainability and resilience and to not be afraid of change. He also suggested adopting a design for a courthouse implementing some of the customer service elements available in an airport. Or creating an app that allows the user to schedule a court appearance from a cellphone. “The pandemic showed us, in stark terms, how far behind Ontario’s justice system had fallen,” he said. “Now we know better, and we’ll do better. In this new approach, justice accelerated means justice delivered.” During a question period, he pointed to Ontario’s tribunals, which were largely shut down after the COVID-19 crisis and prevented normal interaction. Downey said he’s struck a deal with British Columbia’s attorney general to adopt its four-year-old online tribunal system for $1, provided Ontario takes care of the updates.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s president has renewed his vitriolic attacks on French President Emmanuel Macron, saying he hopes France will get rid of him soon. Speaking after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Macron “trouble” for France, which he said was experiencing a dangerous time under his leadership. “My wish is for France to get rid of the Macron trouble as soon as possible,” Erdogan said. Otherwise, Erdogan claimed, France would not be able to overcome the Yellow Vest protest movement against social injustice in the country. Erdogan also said France has lost its credibility as an intermediary of the Minsk group, which was created in the 1990s to encourage peaceful resolution for the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. France has sided with Armenia in that conflict, and Turkey with Azerbaijan. Erdogan’s comments come amid harsh rhetoric from both leaders. Macron tried to avoid further escalation Friday, calling for “respect” after Erdogan's attack, and deflecting a question on the spat. The French leader also told Brut, a news website, that Erdogan was in the process of limiting the liberty of the Turkish people. Relations have been tense over a host of issues, including what Erdogan characterizes as French Islamopohobia, energy disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya. In October, Erdogan said Macron needed his head examined for defending caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. At the time, French authorities denounced Turkish “propaganda” against France and Paris recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations. The French presidency responded to Erdogan's comments in October with unusually strong language, saying: “Excess and rudeness are not a method” and “we are not accepting insults," and called for changes in Erdogan's “dangerous” policy. The Associated Press