Jared Denman says his wife was at home with their two-year-old daughter playing when she suddenly started hearing strange noises from the baby monitor.
Jared Denman says his wife was at home with their two-year-old daughter playing when she suddenly started hearing strange noises from the baby monitor.
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law. The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations. That includes Biden, who used the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month. “Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic. Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Some have had their Bibles opened to personally relevant passages during their ceremonies. Bill Clinton, for example, chose Isaiah 58:12 — which urges the devout to be a “repairer of the breach” — for his second inauguration after a first term marked by political schisms with conservatives. Others took their oaths on closed Bibles, like John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who in 1961 used his family’s century-old tome with a large cross on the front, similar to Biden’s. The tradition of using a Bible dates as far back as the presidency itself, with the holy book used by George Washington later appearing on exhibit at the Smithsonian on loan from the Masonic lodge that provided it in 1789. Washington’s Bible was later used for the oaths by Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But not every president has used a Bible. Theodore Roosevelt took his 1901 oath without one after the death of William McKinley, while John Quincy Adams used a law book in 1825, according to his own account. Some have employed multiple Bibles during their ceremonies: Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump chose to use, along with others, the copy that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. Harris did the same for her vice-presidential oath, using a Bible owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Harris has spoken of her admiration of Marshall, a fellow Howard University graduate and trailblazer in government as the high court’s first African American justice. “When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted Tuesday, referring to Marshall and friend Regina Shelton, whose Bible she swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. Harris, who attended both Baptist and Hindu services as a child, worships in the Baptist faith as an adult. While U.S. lawmakers have typically used Bibles for their oaths, some have chosen alternatives that reflect their religious diversity. Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2007 used a Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, prompting objections from some Christian conservatives. Jefferson’s Qur’an made a return in 2019 at the oath for Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chose a Hebrew Bible in 2005 to reflect her Jewish faith. Newly elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also Jewish and who swears in Wednesday, used Hebrew scripture belonging to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, opted for the Bhagavad Gita in 2013 after becoming the first Hindu elected to Congress. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the only member of the current Congress who identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” took her oath on the Constitution in 2018. ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Elana Schor, The Associated Press
The lawyer for two Alberta ranchers seeking a judicial review of the province's decision to rescind a nearly 45-year-old policy limiting coal mining in the eastern slopes says his clients should have been consulted before the decision was made in the spring of 2020. Richard Harrison says ending the government's coal policy, which was used by government and Alberta's energy regulator since 1976 as a guiding principle for the resource's development, should have triggered the province's duty to consult with key stakeholders, including landowners, municipalities and First Nations. "It was a significant protection that for 44 years was afforded to my clients," said the lawyer, referring to ranchers Mac Blades and John Smith. "The removal of that protection in the manner that the respondents [the Alberta government] decided to remove it, with no consultation, not even a phone call, does not do my clients justice," he said. Harrison said the 1976 policy was put in place following four years of "heavy consultation" and hundreds of public submissions. "And then to rescind it on the Friday of May long weekend in the middle of a global pandemic." "This is not a matter that can be swept under the rug of high policy, and disregarded and ignored by this court," said Harrison. Energy Minister Sonya Savage quietly announced the policy change on May 15, 2020. "When they exercise their discretion, they need to do so in a fair, procedural manner," Harrison told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Richard Neufeld. The two-day virtual court hearing is being held to decide on an application by the province to dismiss the ranchers' request for a judicial review of Savage's decision to rescind the coal policy. Unpopular, but not unlawful A lawyer for the Alberta government told the hearing Tuesday that the decision to scrap the policy was a "core, high level policy decision," and one that is "immune from this court review." Melissa Burkett said that while the decision may be unpopular for some Albertans, it's not unlawful. She said the court should not be turned into a political arena to decide such matters. The 1976 policy offered protections for certain lands along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains against open-pit and strip coal mining. Harrison admitted the policy was not a complete barrier to coal development on his clients' leased grazing land, but he instead agreed with an earlier characterization that described it as a "yellow light" for regulators who consider development applications in the so-called Category 2 lands. The policy described Category 2 lands to have "areas of high environmental sensitivity, in which neither exploration or development activities will be permitted," said Harrison, who read from a section of the policy, which stated that underground mining or in-situ operations "may be permitted in areas within this category." "It is still a policy that outlines very specifically that open-pit coal mining in Category 2 lands is to be discouraged," he said. Exploration permits issued Since the policy was rescinded in March 2020, the government has approved permits for coal exploration in an area covering hundreds of thousands of hectares along the area that forms the headwaters for several rivers that provide water for municipalities, industry and agriculture uses. Harrison says Australian-based Atrum Coal is one of the licence holders that is proposing an open-pit coal mine in his clients' "backyard." It's a development that he said would have a profound effect on his clients' ability to graze their cattle and earn a living. He said a conveyor belt for the open-pit mine would be located near the confluence of the Oldman and Livingstone rivers, near his clients' properties and grazing lands. Burkett told the court Tuesday the policy was obsolete because a robust, regulatory framework now exists for Alberta's energy regulator to consider applications for coal development. If the province's application for a dismissal fails, the actual judicial review would go ahead at some point in the future. Decision delayed Justice Neufeld said Wednesday afternoon that he will need some time to make a decision, so the case has been adjourned — likely until the spring. "I understand that this is a matter of public and private concern and we want to make sure that as we proceed, we're doing so in a thoughtful way," he said. Several groups are seeking intervenor status to join the ranchers seeking a judicial review: the M.D. of Ranchland, the Bearspaw, Siksika, Kainai and Whitefish First Nations, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Alberta Hiking Association, the Alberta Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Association, the Alberta Wilderness Association and the Livingstone Landowners Group. Two coal companies, Atrum and Cabin Ridge Ltd., are also seeking intervenor status. The lawyer for Atrum told the hearing that the Australian company would be seeking a "remedy" should a potential judicial review overturn the government's decision to rescind the coal policy. Cabin Ridge Ltd., which has secured leasehold rights to begin exploration work in the area, is the other company seeking intervenor status. "We seek to put forward some perspective, in terms of what the project proponents' legitimate expectations are, in terms of the rescission of that coal policy," said Keith Marlowe, a lawyer for Cabin Ridge. Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.
OTTAWA — The economy will go in reverse for the first quarter of 2021, the Bank of Canada said Wednesday as it kept its key interest rate on hold, warning the hardest-hit workers will be hammered again on a path to a recovery that rests on the rollout of vaccines.Workers in high-contact service industries will carry the burden of a new round of lockdowns, which the central bank warned will exacerbate the pandemic’s uneven effects on the labour market.The longer restrictions remain in place, the more difficult it may be for these workers to find new jobs since the majority move to a new job but in the same industry. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said in his opening remarks at a late-morning news conference that the first-quarter decline could be worse than expected if restrictions are tightened or extended.The central bank kept its key rate on hold at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday, citing near-term weakness and the "protracted nature of the recovery" in its reasoning.The short-term pain is expected to give way to a brighter outlook for the medium-term with vaccines rolling out sooner than the central bank expected.Still, the bank said in its updated economic outlook, a full recovery from COVID-19 will take some time. Nor does the Bank of Canada see inflation returning to its two per cent target until 2023, one year longer than previously forecast, and the bank's key rate is likely to stay low until then.Overall, there is reason to be more optimistic about the economy in the medium-term, but it will still need extraordinary help from governments and the central bank to get there, Macklem said.The bank’s latest monetary policy report, which lays out its expectations for economic growth and inflation, forecast that COVID-19 caused the economy to contract by 5.5 per cent last year.Despite an upswing over the summer and fall that may have spared the country from a worst-case economic scenario, the drive to a recovery will hit a pothole over the first three months of 2021.The bank forecasts real gross domestic product to contract at an annual pace of 2.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, before improving thereafter if severe restrictions start easing in February.The bank expects growth of four per cent overall for 2021, then 4.8 per cent next year, and 2.5 per cent in 2023.Trevin Stratton, chief economist at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, was more dour on lockdowns, saying the group doesn't expect them to ease until well into March."During this period, we need to provide the right kind of support to individual Canadians and to businesses to get them through the lockdowns, recognizing that neither group is in the same financial position as it was in March 2020," he said in a statement.For the central bank, that help could come through ramping up its bond-buying to force down interest rates, or a small cut to its key policy rate among options Macklem mentioned Wednesday.Keeping the door open to such a "micro" rate change is a shift in tone, as Macklem has previously said the current 0.25 rate is as low as it would go.The bank said the path for the economy will be like riding a roller-coaster as resurgence in COVID-19, or new, more virulent strains, weigh down a recovery in one quarter before leading to strong upswing in the next.Inflation may be equally rocky.Gasoline prices, which have weighed down the consumer price index during the pandemic, will by March be “well above their lows of a year earlier,” the bank’s report said. That should significantly bump inflation, the report said, possibly to two per cent in the second quarter.The bump will even out over the rest of the year. The bank forecasts inflation for 2021 at 1.6 per cent, then 1.7 per cent in 2022 and 2.1 per cent in 2023.Statistics Canada reported Wednesday the annual pace of inflation cooled in December to 0.7 per cent compared with 1.0 per cent in November. The agency also reported that the average last month of Canada's three measures for core inflation, which are considered better gauges of underlying price pressures and closely tracked by the Bank of Canada, was 1.57 per cent.The central bank’s lookahead rests on efforts to vaccinate Canadians by the end of the year without any hiccups in that timeline, which would mean broad immunity six months sooner than the bank previously assumed."It's going to be very important that Canada get the vaccines, we get them distributed to Canadians and that Canadians take the vaccine," Macklem said.A shorter timeline for vaccinations should mean less scarring overall for the economy in the form of fewer bankruptcies and fewer workers out of jobs for long stretches, which makes it more difficult for them to get back into the labour force.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the first quarter decline in real gross domestic product was 2.9 per cent.
Declining numbers of cases and positive tests for COVID-19 in Alberta show that restrictions put in place last year have been effective, the province's top doctor says. Alberta reported 21 more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and 669 new cases of the illness. Laboratories conducted about 14,900 tests over the past 24 hours putting the positivity rate at about 4.5 per cent. "It's very encouraging to see our positivity rate steadily declining since the peak in December," Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday at a news conference. "And I would say that the data that we have indicates that the restrictions put in place in November and December have achieved, so far, their intended outcome." It's critical that the province maintain enough restrictions to continue to drive those numbers down, Hinshaw said, given the high number of people still being treated in hospitals. "We need to build on our collective success by going slowly toward allowing some additional activities and not experiencing a rebound if we open too quickly," she said. Hospitalizations remain high Hospitals in the province are treating 744 patients for the disease, including 124 in ICU beds. "It is important to remember that it is the number of people currently in hospital that I am providing, not all those who have ever needed hospital care since the spring," Hinshaw said. "To put this into context, over the last 10 years, we have had an average of just over 1,500 total hospital admissions for influenza annually. For COVID-19, the comparable number comes from less than a year of data. More than 5,000 people have needed hospital care since the pandemic began for COVID-19 in Alberta." A total of 5,086 people with COVID-19 have been treated in hospitals since the pandemic began last March. That represents about 4.3 per cent of the total cases, which now sits at 118,436. Of those, 106,387 were listed as recovered and 10,565 were active. Of the patients hospitalized with the illness so far, 816 have ended up in ICU beds. Far greater toll on older people Slightly more than one per cent of all people infected have died. Alberta Health data shows the illness has taken a far greater toll on older people. To date, 1,265 of the 1,484 reported deaths (85 per cent) have been people aged 70 and older. A total of 109,089 people under the age of 70 have contracted the illness. In all, 218 of them have died, a rate of .0.19 per cent. To date, 9,347 people aged 70 or older have become sick. In all, 1,265 of them have died, a rate of 13.5 per cent. Older people also have a much higher chance of ending up in hospital. Those in their 20s who contract the illness have about a one in 100 chance of being hospitalized. Those aged 60 and older have about one in six chance. Here's a breakdown by age of those who have been infected, and those who had symptoms serious enough to require hospitalization. Under one, 644 cases, 34 hospitalized, 10 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 5.3 per cent) one to four, 3,671 cases, 14 hospitalized, two in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 0.4 per cent) five to nine, 5,094 cases, eight hospitalized, two in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 0.2 per cent) 10 to 19, 13,606 cases, 68 hospitalized, nine in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 0.5 per cent) 20 to 29, 22,025 cases, 241 hospitalized, 25 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 1.1 per cent) 30 to 39, 22,470 cases, 388 hospitalized, 40 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 1.7 per cent) 40 to 49, 18,678 cases, 489 hospitalized, 92 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 2.6 per cent) 50 to 59, 14,075 cases, 721 hospitalized, 164 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 5.1 per cent) 60 to 69, 8,788 cases, 879 hospitalized, 239 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 10.0 per cent) 70 to 79, 4,370 cases, 952 hospitalized, 172 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 21.8 per cent) 80+, 4,977 cases, 1,291 hospitalized, 60 in ICU. (Hospitalization rate, 25.9 per cent) A total of 95,243 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province.
Curiosity about a free newspaper in his mailbox turned into surprise when former St. John's mayor Dennis O'Keefe found his name printed inside — in a story that said he, along with the mayor of Calgary and other officials, was a target of interest for the Chinese Communist Party. "I couldn't believe it," said O'Keefe outside his St. John's home while holding a recent copy of the Epoch Times, which was distributed this month for free to households in the region. "I mean, I've had a lot of surprises in my life, believe me. But this one really takes the cake." The article said O'Keefe's name was found in a 2019 document that came from the Foreign Affairs Office in Daqing, a city in northeastern China. The paper said it obtained the document that included names "spanning a wide range of sectors and countries in which the Chinese regime seeks to cultivate talent." O'Keefe retired as mayor before the 2017 municipal election. "It's just inexplicable," said O'Keefe who called the article "terribly misleading," and said nobody from the Epoch Times contacted him for comment. The Epoch Times has been distributing free copies of its paper throughout Canada over the course of the last year in an effort to grow subscribers. The newspaper has often been controversial for publishing articles that promote unfounded conspiracy theories, some of them embraced by alt-right groups, and many of them about China. The newspaper has, for instance, promoted the belief that the novel coronavirus was produced in a lab in China, and that the American deep state stole November's presidential election from Donald Trump. What is the Epoch Times? The Epoch Times started 20 years ago in what the paper called a "response to communist repression and censorship in China." The paper is headquartered in New York and says it operates in 22 languages in 36 countries. Simon van Zuylen-Wood, a New York based journalist who recently did a deep dive on the paper's embrace of Donald Trump for The Atlantic magazine, said the paper has found favour with the conspiratorial strains of the American right wing. His Atlantic article was called "MAGA-land's Favorite Newspaper," with the subhead, "How the Epoch Times became a pro-Trump propaganda machine in an age of plague and insurrection." In a phone interview with CBC News, Zuylen-Wood called the Epoch Times a fast-growing newspaper that changed tack in the Trump era. He said what makes it unique is that it's backed and run by members of the Falun Gong sect — a spiritual movement that was persecuted and banned by the Chinese government in the late 1990s. The paper's connection to the Falun Gong has been widely reported in mainstream publications, including CBC News. When Trump ran for president, the paper saw that for "the first time in decades a major party's presidential nominee was running an overtly protectionist campaign, with China in his crosshairs." He wrote the "Falun Gong came to see Trump as a kind of killer angel, summoned from heaven to smite the Chinese government." The article goes on to say "The Epoch Times ramped up its spending on Facebook ads and hitched its wagon to the 45th president." That hitch has also proven lucrative. Van Zuylen-Wood said the paper's revenues have quadrupled in the last four years. The paper also has a large online presence. A recent NBC News report said the Epoch Times now has one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet. Van Zuylen-Wood says the paper has become one the "leading purveyors of content suggesting that the American election was stolen." He noted it also prints recipes, lifestyle stories and wellness tips. "So it's a strange mix of pedestrian and often kind of irrelevant news and then sort of hard right, often sort of conspiratorially laced content," he said. 'Utter nonsense' concerns resident That mix is what worries Lesley Burgess about the paper she found in her St. John's mailbox recently. She is among those who have voiced their concerns on social media about the paper and its content. "It has all these kinds of health and lifestyle stories woven in with all of this misinformation, basically," said Burgess. She said she had heard about the paper before but it wasn't until she looked through that she realized there was "utter nonsense" everywhere. CBC's request for comment from the Epoch Times has gone unanswered. "If you don't know any better, you might think this is a run-of-the-mill paper. And I think that's really dangerous," Burgess said. Kurt Phillips, a board member with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, has been following the subscription drive of the Epoch Times. He said the paper's content is of concern because it keeps disseminating disinformation about conspiracy theories on the far right such as "Spygate" and QAnon. Phillips said he's seeing stories from the paper shared in some mainstream conservative circles, which has the potential to radicalize people with misinformation. "It is contributing to an ever-growing divide between reality and a fictionalized version of the world that is especially dehumanizing and dangerous," he said. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
MANCHESTER, England — Bernardo Silva finally broke Aston Villa’s resistance by scoring off Manchester City’s 36th effort at goal before Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty sealed a 2-0 victory on Wednesday that extended the winning run of the Premier League’s form team to six matches. An end-to-end match in which City lost Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker to injuries looked to be heading for a draw, despite the home team’s dominance, when Silva received a pass from Rodri and smashed home a shot from the edge of the area in the 79th minute. The goal was contentious because Rodri was returning from an offside position when he dispossessed Villa defender Tyrone Mings before releasing Silva. No offside was given, though, with the officials seemingly feeling a new phase of play had started when Mings controlled the ball on his chest before being picked off by Rodri. Villa manager Dean Smith was sent off for protesting against the awarding of a goal he described as “farcical” and “pathetic.” “I said to the fourth official, David Coote, ‘Did you get juggling balls for Christmas?’" Smith said, explaining when he was shown a red card by referee Jonathan Moss. “I don’t think any other manager would get sent off for that.” Gundogan wrapped up the win in the 90th minute by converting a spot kick after Matty Cash raised his hand to block a goalbound header from Gabriel Jesus. City moved above Leicester to the top of the league, although Manchester United can reclaim first place by beating Fulham later Wednesday. It was Villa’s first league match since Jan. 1, after which there was a coronavirus outbreak in the squad that led to the training ground being closed. Villa reported that nine players contracted COVID-19 in that period but Smith was able to field a full-strength lineup against City, with the squad only back in training since Sunday. Villa, however, was on the back foot for the entire match, which was played in driving rain, only holding on thanks to a series of last-ditch blocks and some fine goalkeeping from Emi Martinez. City is in its best form of the season, having won nine straight games in all competitions. Pep Guardiola's team in unbeaten in 15. “No one else has won five, six in a row but it’s still the first leg of the season," Guardiola said. "A lot of games to do but the important thing is that the feeling is good.” Walker was substituted with an apparent leg muscle injury in the 27th minute, while De Bruyne hobbled off in the 59th shortly after being fouled by Jack Grealish. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says Ottawa is working with the provinces to prioritize vaccinating Indigenous people against COVID-19.Miller says that there is a need to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to Indigenous people living both on reserves and in urban centres. He says the government is focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care facilities and essential workers but other vulnerable Indigenous groups will get the COVID-19 vaccine next.In a news release Wednesday, Indigenous Services Canada said there have been 89 COVID-19 cases and nine deaths in long-term care homes in Indigenous communities on reserves.The number of COVID-19 active cases in First Nations communities reached a new all-time high this week with 5,571 reported cases as of Tuesday.The department said COVID-19 vaccine rollouts have already started in 169 Indigenous communities in all provinces and territories except Nova Scotia and P.E.I.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021.———This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Provincial officials say dry Christmas trees caused two recent fatal fires in Ontario. A spokeswoman with the Office of the Fire Marshal says most recently, four people were killed south of Ottawa after a dry tree caught fire on Jan. 10. Kristy Denette says the homeowners had two friends over for dinner when the fire started and quickly engulfed the home in flames, killing everyone inside. She says the home was too badly damaged to determine what lit the tree ablaze, but that faulty Christmas lights are often to blame in such situations. Earlier, on Dec. 28, she says a dry Christmas tree caught fire in Halton Hills, Ont., killing one woman. In that case, she says, the woman's partner was able to escape through an upstairs window, but she was caught inside and died. Denette says the couple had been planning on getting rid of the dry Christmas tree later that day. The Office of the Fire Marshal is encouraging everyone to get rid of their dry trees immediately. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Nova Scotia Police Review Board is looking into claims from convicted murderer Christopher Garnier's family that accuse Cape Breton Regional Police officers of conducting an illegal arrest and seizure of evidence in 2017. Garnier was taken into custody for breaching bail conditions after failing to present himself to the municipal force at his mother's basement door in Millville, N.S. during a compliance check His mother, Kim Edmunds, said she does not believe police were at her home as they have stated. "I honestly don't think they were," Edmunds told members of the board's three-person panel. "When somebody knocks on the door, it wakes me up." Alleged breach In February 2017, while awaiting trial for murder, Garnier took a trip to Cape Breton, where his mother lives. He was allowed to live at his father's house in Bedford or at his mother's residence in Millville as part of his bail conditions. Garnier was to submit to regular compliance checks from either members of the CBRP and Halifax Regional Police. Before his trip, Garnier called a Halifax police answering service to advise he was going to stay at his mom's place, although he did not leave his cell phone number with the service at that time. A CBRP officer testified under oath at a bail revocation hearing that he went to the Millville home in the early morning hours of Feb. 18, 2017, but Garnier did not present himself at the door. A Supreme Court judge later ruled Garnier did not intentionally breach his conditions, as he was likely asleep. That same year, Garnier was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of off-duty Truro police officer Catherine Campbell. Complaint launched Christopher Garnier's father, Vincent Garnier, is representing himself as a complainant at the police hearing into the actions of four officers. The men accused of misconduct are Const. Steve Campbell, Const. Gary Fraser, Const. Dennis McQueen and Const. Troy Walker. Each officer is represented by a lawyer, while a member of Cape Breton Regional Municipality's legal team is acting on behalf of the police organization. "We'll dig deep into the practices of the [CBRP] which I believe violate the constitution, violate the charter and violate aspects of the criminal code. Those are the informations I would like to bring forth over the next two weeks," Vincent Garnier said during a break in the proceedings. "The police, without a warrant, and without any consent of the property owners, accessed private property, walked into a private residence and placed a person under arrest." The board heard that photographs of the property were taken without the knowledge of the homeowner. Hearing continues Vincent Garnier said his family incurred more than $35,000 in legal fees as a result alleged breach. After his son's arrest, he filed a complaint with CBRP. An internal investigation found that if a breach had occurred, it was only minor. Members of the police review board, Hon. Simon J. MacDonald, Stephen Johnson and chair Jean McKenna are hearing arguments on both sides of the case at a Sydney hotel. Police will have a chance to explain their actions on the weekend in question once Vincent Garnier finishes calling witnesses. In total, 14 people are expected to testify at the hearing that is slated to run over two weeks. So far, the board has heard from Christopher Garnier's mother and stepmother, his uncle, and his former common-law partner. MORE TOP STORIES
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first speech as majority leader. “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin says he's rethinking his role on an all-party COVID-19 committee because of inconsistent pandemic guidelines that he is finding hard to justify to New Brunswickers. Austin said the recent watering down of red-phase restrictions, and the lack of information being provided to opposition party leaders, causes him to question the value of the committee. "That is something that frankly I have thought about," he said. "At what point do you throw up your hands and walk away?" The Alliance leader said he's not ready to quit yet but his support for the committee is "waning." And he said that's in part because it's difficult for opposition parties to both have a role in recommendations and at the same oppose COVID-19 policies they disagree with. "I'm honoured to be on the committee, and to be able to speak and to be a part of the discussion that happens … but at the same time, as opposition parties we have to have the flexibility to speak when we don't agree." He is also questioning whether moving four health zones to the red phase of restrictions this week was necessary. "I think we should have stuck it out in orange for a bit longer and see where we can go from there." Premier Blaine Higgs struck the all-party committee last March, the same week the first case of COVID-19 appeared in New Brunswick. It includes Higgs, key ministers and the leaders of the three opposition parties in the legislature. I was under the understanding that red meant lockdown, that there was no extra lockdown. - Kris Austin, People's Alliance leader Higgs had a minority government at the time and the committee was a way for the government to present a unified public health message to New Brunswickers that would not be undermined by partisan bickering. The premier kept the committee in place even after he won a majority in last September's election and told CBC News he hopes Austin won't break from the consensus. "It's important that we stay together as a team in our cabinet committee," he said. "This is no time after a successful 10 months to have diverse opinions in the public." But Austin said he's increasingly disenchanted with how the body works and is calling for "a real reset of this committee to determine how it's going to be done better." It has no decision-making power but gives feedback and advice on various COVID-19 measures. Only the actual Progressive Conservative cabinet has the power to approve pandemic measures. Higgs says though that the three opposition parties are getting "all the information" that he is given as premier by Public Health officials. "There's nothing new or different from what I'm presented." Consensus not always reached This isn't the first time cracks have appeared in the consensus. Last spring Green Party Leader David Coon broke ranks with Higgs over restrictions on temporary foreign workers that were later rescinded. At the time, Coon complained that the confidentiality oath taken by him and the other party leaders prevented him from discussing publicly what concerns he raised about the decision in the committee. And this week Liberal Leader Roger Melanson said the committee was given little notice of the change to red-phase rules to allow schools to stay open, a shift that Education Minister Dominic Cardy said had been in the works for some time. Austin said he supports schools staying open but questioned why the red-phase rules were being changed now. Consistency is the key to giving New Brunswickers confidence in COVID-19 measures, he said. But now the government is talking for the first time this week about a new, stricter lockdown phase beyond red. "I was under the understanding that red meant lockdown, that there was no extra lockdown. But now red seems to be another version of orange. Schools are remaining open, and yet we're targeting churches and hair salons." Among other rules in the red phase, only drive-in religious services are allowed, salons, gyms and entertainment centres must close, and restaurants are not allowed to provide in-housing dining. Higgs said keeping schools open is the only change to the red rules and described it as "a bridge" between red and orange restrictions. "The challenge becomes that we're all a bit frustrated with where we are now .. and how far do we go to shut this down?" The Alliance leader said he gets calls from New Brunswickers asking him, as a member of the committee, to explain certain decisions, but without "relevant, specific information" it's often hard to justify them. Austin's riding is part of Zone 3, which saw one new case on Tuesday when it was put in the red phase. The zone had a single new case again Wednesday. "People can't grasp that," he said, and it's made more difficult when he isn't even told where in the zone — which stretches from Minto and Chipman all the way to Perth-Andover and Plaster Rock — the cases are located. Higgs says he understands Austin is getting pushback and believes it's a reflection of rising case numbers. "In two weeks time, if this absolutely turns around, everybody's going to be thankful we made the moves we did. And if it doesn't turn around, people are going be saying 'do more.'"
One of Vancouver's independent movie houses is reclassifying itself as a sports bar in an attempted workaround of provincial health orders that forced cinemas to close. The Rio Theatre says that as of Saturday it will operate as a bar that shows sporting events on the big screen, part of a business pivot is says would comply with British Columbia's COVID-19 guidelines. Operators of the Rio have protested B.C.'s pandemic guidelines after being told in November they could no longer stay open. Over the Christmas holiday, the theatre used its marquee to question the decision to close theatres while malls could operate. Movie theatres in most parts of the country have been forced to close under local guidelines. Some indie theatres have continued to operate concession stands to stay in business, while the owners of Ottawa's ByTowne Cinema chose to permanently close in December. The Rio says it will take a different road. "Screw the arts. We're a sports bar now," read a marquee outside the theatre posted Tuesday on Rio's social media channels. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. The Canadian Press
In the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak that has already killed four residents, a family member of a resident at Amberwood Suites said staff there did everything they possibly could have to protect residents’ lives. Linda Vlach is the daughter of 94-year-old Amberwood resident Gertrude Phillips, who is doing well right now after coming through her own bout with the virus and having to isolate herself. Vlach said she credits her mom's survival with the intense level of care at the home. "I felt really that Amberwood did everything they possibly could,” she said. “Once it was found out there were positive cases in the building, they just flat out ordered in all the PPE (personal protective equipment) they would need.” Vlach said rolling PPE carts were set up outside each suite so that staff and care givers could get fresh equipment every time they went into a room. Vlach said she is not worried for her mom's safety. She said Amberwood has been especially careful about the virus right from the beginning, and that with so many people being asymptomatic, it was the kind of thing that could have happened anywhere. Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) revealed earlier this month that an outbreak was discovered at the home Jan. 5. As several days passed, PHSD revealed that five staff members and 33 residents of the home were also infected. Several of those who tested positive were transferred to Health Sciences North. Several others were put into self-isolation in their suites. On Jan. 15, PHSD reported one resident had died. On Jan. 18, PHSD reported two more residents had died. Then on Jan. 19, PHSD reported a fourth Amberwood resident had died. Vlach said her mother was one of the residents who had tested positive and was put into isolation. It was an uncertain time for her family, but her mother seemed to adjust well, she said. "Well she is very much a social creature. She is one of the gals that likes to be out for everything, the exercises, or the bingos or anything that was going on. She was always there early, with bells on," Vlach said. "It was almost bizarre for my mom to hear she had tested positive. So we all braced ourselves and expected the worst, maybe. Then for her to have no symptoms; you know she is just baffled by it. At her age, she is diabetic. She has a heart condition. She just managed to be asymptomatic and come through it all." Vlach said as much as residents had to endure complete isolation, she said it has also been difficult for the staff at Amberwood. "I think it has been very hard on the staff,” she said. “I think for them it has been devastating. I think it is very hard really on the staff not just to have lost people they probably feel were friends, I think it is very hard on them going to work everyday to have to worry about COVID itself.” She said that the lockdown has changed the entire atmosphere at the home, but it is something that is so necessary. "It has changed dramatically the way the building functions, you know, as far as people not being able to get together, to people not being able to leave or to go out to things they would normally go out to," Vlach said. She added that she is the only family caregiver that was approved for her mother, as per provincial rules. She had to undergo in-house training and COVID-19 testing for that role. Although there are five siblings in her family, Vlach is the only child allowed to actually go and see her mother on a daily basis. "Yes, they have closed off any visitation in the suites themselves. For family members to go in they were able to visit on the outside patio as long as the weather allowed, or the inside private dining room. And those spaces were sanitized and controlled as far as how many people were allowed in," she explained. That is no longer allowed, but Vlach said her mom is still able to use the phone to stay in contact with family members. "She has plenty of activities in her suite. She has always kept herself busy and with lots to do. She has DVDs and music and digital photo screens, and reading. Once she realized the building was in lockdown and isolation in the suites, she just settled in and made herself comfortable. We have a big family too so we all keep in touch with her, with lots of phone calls and things that perk her day up." In the meantime, the lockdown continues, said Vlach. She said staff and management at the home are doing all they can to make things comfortable, but there's no mistaking the seriousness of the situation. A screener is posted at the main door. Masking is mandatory. Things have even changed at meal time, said Vlach. No one sits four to a table. People sit alone and eat by themselves. "Yes, it's hard, but they felt it was important, and it certainly increased the workload on the staff," said Vlach. "I don't have any concerns. It is certainly so unfortunate that this happened in the building, this outbreak. People lost their lives. That's so tragic. This is devastating for the families," said Vlach. "But today if you ask my mom, she will say, I couldn't be in a better place. I feel safe here." Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
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A 46-year-old Pictou County, N.S., man has been charged with multiple firearms offences after police say his attempt to euthanize his dog with a handgun ended up injuring another man. According to an RCMP news release, police responded to a complaint of a firearms discharge resulting in injury at 8:19 p.m. on Jan. 16. The release said the man was outside his Bigney, N.S., home when he tried to shoot his dog, which had bitten several people, but missed. The bullet struck a 21-year-old man inside the house. A subsequent search of the home resulted in the seizure of 29 long guns and nine handguns, according to police. The man was arrested and later released on conditions. The victim was taken to hospital and released with minor injuries. The dog is alive and was seized by animal control. The man is scheduled to appear virtually in Pictou provincial court on March 29 to answer to multiple firearms charges. MORE TOP STORIES
WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump’s hand-picked chief of U.S. international broadcasting has quit amid a burgeoning staff revolt and growing calls for his resignation. Michael Pack resigned as the chief executive office of the U.S. Agency for Global Media just minutes after President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday. The agency runs the Voice of America and sister networks. Pack had created a furor when he took over the agency last year and fired the boards of all the outlets under his control along with the leadership of the individual broadcast networks. The actions were criticized as threatening the broadcasters' prized editorial independence. Biden had been expected to make major changes to the agency's structure and management but Pack’s early departure signalled those may be coming sooner rather than later. Though many presidential appointees resign when a new administration comes in, Pack was not required to so. His position was created by Congress is not limited by the length of a particular administration. In resigning, Pack cited the incoming administration’s desire for new leadership at the agency. “I serve at the pleasure of not one particular president, but the office of the president itself,” Pack said in a resignation letter sent to staffers. “The new administration has requested my resignation, and that is why I have tendered it as of 2PM today.” The letter said that "a great amount of much-needed reform was achieved in the past eight months, some of this work is outlined in a series of recently-released agency statements.” Yet those statements were seen by many, including Republican and Democratic lawmakers and a significant number of employees, as being antithetical to the agency's mandate to provide international audiences with unbiased, uncensored and nonpolitical information. VOA was founded during World War II and its congressional charter requires it to present independent news and information to international audiences. Pack is a conservative filmmaker and former associate of Trump’s onetime political strategist Steve Bannon. Pack’s moves raised fears that he intended to turn venerable U.S. media outlets into pro-Trump propaganda machines. His actions had done little to dissuade those concerns and had attracted a large amount of criticism from supporters of the agency's mission. Indeed, just on Tuesday he appointed new conservative members to the boards of Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks. Only last week, Pack attracted new criticism when one his top aides demoted a VOA White House reporter after she asked a question of then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. That reassignment prompted a new round of criticism and demands for VOA chief Robert Reilly to resign. In addition to Republican criticism, the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Robert Menendez. D-N.J., demanded changes in leadership. Biden’s team had made clear it was not pleased with Pack's record on the job and had sent numerous signals that he should go. Pack’s appointments to specific networks and boards of directors may be more difficult for the Biden administration to rescind without congressional action. Some appointees now enjoy federal employment protections. Transition officials said last week they were looking into ways that legislation could be amended or replaced to make dismissals of certain personnel easier. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Ontario's police watchdog cleared an officer of wrongdoing in the shooting death of a man west of Toronto on Wednesday, saying there were no reasonable grounds to lay charges in the incident that took place last year. The Special Investigations Unit noted, however, that there were legitimate questions about the Peel Regional Police officer's conduct on the evening that Jamal Francique was shot in the head in Mississauga, Ont.Joseph Martino, the director of the Special Investigations Unit, said in a report that the officer told investigators he feared for his life when Francique drove at him during a botched arrest."Confronted by a vehicle that the subject officer had reason to believe was intentionally being driven in his direction, the officer's decision to disable its operating mind by shooting in the direction of the driver was not devoid of logic," Martino wrote.There were, however, aspects of the officer's conduct that raised questions, Martino said. "One may question, for example, the wisdom of the (subject officer) placing himself in the vicinity of a vehicle whose driver was evidently attempting to flee from police," Martino wrote. "There are those who would also take issue with shooting at a moving vehicle when the prospect of stopping the vehicle in its tracks is low and the risk of contributing to a dangerous situation on the roadway is real. On the other hand, one must be mindful of the fluid and dynamic nature of the incident."Police were investigating Francique for allegedly dealing drugs and possessing a firearm, the SIU said.Officers were unable to confirm if Francique had a gun or was dealing drugs, but decided to arrest him for allegedly breaching bail conditions, the SIU said.On Jan. 7, 2020, several plainclothes officers and their unmarked cars gathered near Francique's home in Mississauga, Ont., where they waited for him to get into his car.Around 5:45 p.m., the SIU said, Francique got into an Acura TSX and began to drive, but one officer was late blocking him in the driveway.A second unmarked police car came behind Francique and tried to hem him in, the SIU said, while other officers got out of the cars and rushed to the area, guns pointed at the young man. Francique accelerated toward a grassy area, the SIU said, and struck one car while one officer jumped out of the way. At that point another officer on foot fired his gun four times as Francique drove towards him, the SIU said. The Acura came to a halt 30 metres away after it hit a home. The SIU said officers did not approach the car for fears of a gun — which was later found in Francique's satchel — and waited until tactical officers arrived more than two hours later at 8:05 p.m.The tactical team then approached with a shield and smashed the rear windows."Mr. Francique was seated in the driver’s seat in obvious and acute medical distress," the SIU wrote. "He had suffered a gunshot wound to the left side of the head."Francique was taken to St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and died three days later.Knia Singh, a lawyer representing Francique's family, criticized the SIU."The SIU has failed to serve Ontario's diverse community in a way that fosters confidence in the process," Singh said. "The public perception from affected communities, lawyers, and human rights organizations, is that the SIU is heavily biased in favour of police."- with files from John Chidley-Hill.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
CALGARY — Increasingly uncomfortable with a shrinking timeline, the world governing body of skiing halted Calgary's pursuit of the world freestyle and snowboard championships next month. Freestyle Canada and Canada Snowboard were working feverishly on plans to host the event Feb. 24 to March 14 at Canada Olympic Park, with the first of roughly 500 athletes due to arrive Feb. 15. Calgary would have been stand-in host city. China was the original site of the 2021 championships doubling as test events for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The logistics of holding an international, multi-disciplinary snow-sport championship amid the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately caused China to give up on it. Freestyle Canada and Canada Snowboard were in fruitful discussions with Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services, but the Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) could no longer tolerate the uncertainty with the clock ticking down, said Freestyle Canada chief executive officer Peter Judge. "There was a just an increasing discomfort from the FIS side around the duration it was taking and the uncertainty of what it might look like on the other side," he told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. "We had a good plan, but in this day and age, there's just no certainty. FIS was looking for that certainty." FIS had tentatively scheduled Calgary as world championship host with a "to be confirmed." Athletes would have quarantined upon arrival with regular testing before being able to train in cohorts. "This isn't on the province. It's not their fault," Judge said. "Alberta Health and the authorities are doing their job. Just because we're having an event, there's bigger things in play. "It's disappointing. We thought we could make it all work and get it in and make our international partners comfortable, but at the end of the day, there wasn't that comfort or confidence level." The championship would have included men's and women's freestyle and snowboard big air, halfpipe and slopestyle plus freestyle's moguls and aerials. Ski and snowboard cross and alpine snowboard weren't in the proposal because there isn't enough terrain at COP to include those events. FIS announced earlier this week that the ski and snowboard cross world championships will be held Feb. 11-13 in Idre Fjäll, Sweden, where the Canadian ski cross team is racing World Cups this week. Pandemic postponements and cancellations created an ever-changing international snow sport calendar this winter. World championships in the other freestyle and snowboard disciplines may also be broken up and held at various sites that have been able to host World Cups this season. WinSport's Canada Olympic Park still has an important role to play as a training mecca for Canada's 2022 Olympic team. Athletes who haven't been able to travel and compete elsewhere are using it as a long-term training base. Canadian snowboarders and the freestyle halfpipe and slopestyle teams were there this month before departing for the X Games in Aspen, Colo., going ahead Jan 29-31. The moguls team arrives in Calgary on Thursday before heading to Deer Valley, Utah, in February. The aerials team will eventually end up in Calgary too, Judge said. "Right now, it's about getting as many training days in as we can in February, March, April and getting that mileage in," he said. Freestyle Canada and Canada Snowboard will now try to bring a series of World Cup events to Calgary in December as part of Canadian athletes' preparation for the Winter Olympics. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
COMMUNAUTÉ. C’est finalement un montant de 40 235 $ qui aura été amassé via Gofundme afin de créer une bourse d’études pour Jacob, le fils de l’urgentologue Karine Dion. «Je suis vraiment émue. Je pensais faire une petite campagne pour mon hôpital, mais c’est tout le Québec qui est solidaire pour aider Jacob et honorer la mémoire Karine», constate avec reconnaissance la Dre Geneviève Simard-Racine qui s’était d’abord fixé un objectif de 10 000 $ à recueillir pour créer une bourse d’études pour le fils de son amie. «Il y a eu aussi le 13 janvier, en soirée, un parcours commémoratif dans l’hôpital de Granby. Nos gens pouvaient se recueillir et déposer une étoile dans un cadre. Il y avait également un livre qui sera remis à David, le conjoint de Karine, où l’on pouvait laisser un mot», rapporte-t-elle. À son tour, la Dre Simard-Racine a invité «les aidants à accepter de se faire aider». Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Lundi, l’Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ) a lancé une campagne afin de contrer l’intimidation dont sont victimes les élus. Le maire de Matane, Jérôme Landry, a profité de l’occasion pour révéler qu’il a reçu plusieurs lettres anonymes contenant des menaces d’agression physique. L’UMQ constate une « dégradation du climat politique dans de nombreuses municipalités ». Les réseaux sociaux sont notamment pointés du doigt par sa présidente Suzanne Roy comme vecteurs d’intimidation. Il n’est en effet pas nécessaire de chercher bien longtemps sur Facebook pour trouver des messages consternants dans lesquels se mêlent méchanceté gratuite, fausses accusations et insultes à l’endroit des maires et conseillers municipaux. Certains élus ont toutefois remarqué que cette campagne ne faisait pas le tour de la question. C’est le cas de Virginie Proulx, conseillère municipale de Rimouski représentant le district du Bic. « C’est important de valoriser le respect. Les attaques personnelles, ça n’a sa place nulle part, en politique comme ailleurs. Mais j’ai l’impression qu’il manque une partie dans leur campagne de sensibilisation, c’est celle qui touche les élus entre eux », note-t-elle. Par le passé, Mme Proulx a évoqué à plusieurs reprises l’intimidation dont elle aurait été victime lors de séances de travail du conseil municipal, tenues à huis clos, « où il n’y a aucun témoin, il n’y a pas de procès-verbaux, personne n’est filmé, il n’y a même pas d’ordre du jour public. Dans ces séances-là, il y a de l’intimidation qui se fait partout au Québec. » Elle a finalement été exclue de ces rencontres en mai dernier suite à un échange de courriels avec un citoyen Dans les derniers mois, la mairesse de Sainte-Luce Maïté Blanchette Vézina et l’ex-maire de Saint-Paul-de-la-Croix Simon Périard ont également affirmé que les réunions derrière les portes closes menaient parfois à de l’intimidation entre élus municipaux. « Tu comprends pas » Quelle forme prend cette intimidation? Personne ne le dira clairement, car si un élu victime d’intimidation rapporte des propos insultants ou menaçants qui lui ont été adressés par un de ses collègues, il brise la confidentialité des échanges et s’expose à des poursuites! À Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac, Annette Rousseau a été suspendue pendant 10 jours de ses fonctions de conseillère municipale. La raison? Elle a répondu à une question d’un citoyen concernant les projets d’aréna dans la ville, alors que le conseil municipal voulait que ses intentions (discutées dans des rencontres à huis clos) restent inconnues de la population. Suite au référendum qui a finalement réglé cette question en novembre dernier, Mme Rousseau a démissionné. Sonnée par la défaite (elle défendait le non), elle ne supportait plus non plus l’ambiance autour de la table du conseil municipal, où elle se faisait régulièrement narguer et où elle constatait un manque de respect envers la population de son quartier, Notre-Dame-du-Lac. « Je me faisais dire des choses comme "Bon, elle s’en souvient plus…" ou "Non Annette, tu comprends pas" », se souvient-elle. Ces petites remarques ont fini par lui pourrir la vie. « C’était rendu qu’à partir du jeudi, je pensais aux réunions du lundi soir et je dormais mal. C’est quoi que je n’ai pas compris? Pourquoi je suis tout le temps une deux de pique? C’est parce que j’étais contre eux autres! » Tendre la main aux citoyens? Sans excuser les dérapages des citoyens fâchés, Virginie Proulx aimerait que les élus fassent un effort pour comprendre pourquoi la population est parfois frustrée. La pandémie et ses contraintes plombent assurément l’ambiance, mais ce n’est pas tout selon la conseillère du Bic : « Je suis convaincue que le manque de transparence peut choquer les citoyens. On le voit, la CAQ se fait attaquer là-dessus en ce moment. Les gens ont maintenant accès à tellement d’informations, vraies ou non, qu’on ne peut plus juste leur dire "Voici la vérité, avalez-la". Ils veulent avoir un peu plus accès à ce qui se passe. » D’autres élus arguent plutôt que si les débats du conseil municipal avaient lieu en public, cela nourrirait encore plus la machine à sortir les propos de leur contexte que sont les réseaux sociaux – le conseiller de Sacré-Cœur Sébastien Bolduc a notamment défendu cette position. Il existe également des craintes que des personnes se retournent contre un conseiller qui aurait voté contre leurs intérêts. Virginie Proulx n’est pas en désaccord. « Effectivement, dans certains cas, on peut avoir peur de représailles, par exemple d’un promoteur dont le projet a été rejeté. Ça peut alors être justifié de proposer un huis clos. » « Le problème, c’est que la totalité est à huis clos, poursuit-elle. Ça laisse une image d’opacité qui fait en sorte que les citoyens ont l’impression que quand ils apprennent la nouvelle, il est trop tard pour donner son avis. » À plus long terme, cela n’incite pas ces mêmes citoyens à se lancer en politique municipale, pense-t-elle également. En mettant l’accès sur les messages que les citoyens envoient aux élus, la campagne de l’UMQ ne risque pas de mener à un débat en profondeur. Elle élude également un autre aspect de l’intimidation : celle que des élus font parfois subir aux citoyens sous la forme de menaces de poursuites. Par exemple, à Saint-Vianney, le maire a déjà envoyé une mise en demeure à un groupe de résidents du village qui a créé une page Facebook pour surveiller les activités du conseil municipal.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir