Heather Abbey, a controversial Indigenous entrepreneur from Saskatoon, appeared on a Halloween-themed episode of Wheel of Fortune Tuesday night and walked away with $21,500 US after solving a puzzle with the phrase, "The Horror, The Horror."Indigenous artists who watched the game show say the real horror is that Abbey still owes them thousands of dollars for a failed trade mission to Tokyo in July 2019, on top of the $62,000 of public money she owes Creative Saskatchewan, a provincial arts agency.Abbey said she is making monthly instalment payments on her debt to Creative Saskatchewan. The arts agency confirmed that to CBC News.But it's little consolation to the artists who say they're owed money. "It kind of drains me emotionally to see her doing things like [appearing on Wheel of Fortune] still with no remorse for the artists and entrepreneurs she used and harmed," said Cree fashion designer Agnes Woodward, who lives in North Dakota, but is originally from Kawacatoose First Nation, about 115 kilometres north of Regina.To take part in the trade mission, Woodward and her husband Whirlwind Bull, a painter, spent more than $6,000 on flights, hotel, food, transportation and a delegate fee of $400 each. The trip did not go as Abbey promised it would. Afterward Abbey sent the couple messages — provided to CBC News — in which she pledged to repay them $3,000."If you owe a lot of money to people and you're on national TV? Like, she has no remorse and no conscience," said Bull. Bull said they paid $1,300 to cover hotel rooms, only to have Abbey check the Canadian delegation into a $20/night Airbnb at the last minute. CBC confirmed that a hotel in Tokyo is trying to collect $15,000 in cancellation and no-show fees after Abbey confirmed the group's reservation just hours before arrival, but failed to show up.Bull said he made a joke of Abbey's appearance on the game show. " 'Oh good, now she's going to pay us back.' But I know she's not going to." Abbey was prepared for backlashAbbey, a Cree woman from Little Pine First Nation, located 200 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon, has won numerous awards and government grants for empowering Indigenous artists and for her much-lauded website Indig Inc., an e-commerce platform that allows Indigenous artists to sell their homemade products. It is now offline.She now lives in West Hollywood, Calif., studies at Los Angeles Film School and delivers food part-time."I'm passionate about creating authentic Native American content for the big screen and the small screen," she told Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak on the show.In an article posted to West Hollywood Times, Abbey said she was hoping to win enough money to help pay for her education and take her family on a trip to Paris. WATCH | Heather Abbey's Wheel of Fortune win:However, in an email to CBC News, Abbey said that when she receives her winnings, she will spend the money in three ways: repaying Indigenous delegates that weren't able to attend the Tokyo trip, repaying Creative Saskatchewan and buying a new bed set for each of her two children."I knew that everything would flare up again if I made it on the game show, but I also knew it was an incredibly long shot in the first place — from application to audition to being selected onto the show to the actual game show itself!" she wrote."All in all though, I'm pretty proud of how I played, and that I have actual money coming to make my payments — delivering food isn't exactly keeping me in the money!"Government auditAfter a CBC News investigation last year, Creative Saskatchewan decided to audit five projects undertaken by Abbey and her e-commerce company Indig Inc., that received more than $160,000 total in taxpayer money between 2015 and 2019. The audit concluded that Abbey met expectations for three grants — worth nearly $100,000 combined — that helped to fund, among other things, website design and training for Indigenous artists to create leather mittens and beaded earrings.The two failed projects included a trade mission to Japan for Indigenous artists from Saskatchewan and a retail space for Indigenous artists in a Saskatoon shopping mall."I plan to repay every debt I have," Abbey told CBC News in January, when asked about her outstanding debts.Abbey also said none of her actions were malicious or fraudulent, rather that some business gambles didn't pan out.Creative Saskatchewan spokesperson Craig Lederhouse said the arts agency has an agreement with Abbey to collect the money owed over time."To date, Ms. Abbey is honouring that agreement and has been making monthly payments," he said. "Financial details of the agreement are confidential."Abbey has outstanding debts with more entities than the Saskatchewan government. Public records and court documents show two credit unions and two landlords are seeking $64,000 from Abbey for unpaid loans and rent.Abbey still maintains that some of the delegates are also responsible for the lack of sales on the Tokyo trip, insisting they treated it like a "vacation." A half dozen artists interviewed by CBC News deny that.As for her life now, Abbey said, "after the storm comes the rainbow. Cliché, but true.""Last year I was cancelled, and in retrospect it was probably the best thing to ever happen to me," she said. "Aside from these payments that I still plan to make, I'm free."So yeah, did last year destroy me? Hell yeah it did, but it also rebuilt me into someone that is stronger, and has even more empathy and life experience. Trying to better the world for a few people broke me completely, but it also gave way to being truly happy."
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated an increase in mail-in and early voting, which was already taking place in recent elections, and has led to talk of an election "season" of vote counting — a development that has chagrined U.S. President Donald Trump."It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on Nov. 3, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate, and I don't believe that's by our laws," Trump said between campaign stops on Tuesday.Trump appeared to be confusing media projections with actual certified results from the states themselves. He did not object, for example, when Arizona was projected for him by the networks on election night in 2016 but not officially certified by the state until two days later."Results are never certified on the night of the election," Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said on Tuesday. Boockvar's statement applies nationwide, with state certifications taking place between Nov. 5 and Dec. 8.With one big exception in 2000, which caused a reorganization and rethink of modelling and exit poll methods, media projections the night of an election have been on point. It's the process which enabled Trump to make a victory speech around 3 a.m. ET after election night in 2016, as Hillary Clinton had conceded to his campaign 30 minutes earlier, even with very close margins in four states, three of which went to Trump.Trump's rationale would see many Americans outside of the country, including service members, disenfranchised if their ballots aren't received by election day. The State Department estimated over 614,000 cast a ballot outside the U.S. in 2016, including over 51,000 serving in the military.In fairness to the president, things can get confusing in the United States with no overriding federal election commission. The decentralized electoral college system sees many states projected the minute after polls close, while others are unclear.So, here's a look at who makes the projections, an estimated time frame for some key states and a few examples that illustrate the republic has survived waiting several hours or longer not knowing the result.The mediaCNN and the traditional three U.S. over-air networks ABC, CBS and NBC form the National Election Pool (NEP) consortium, utilizing Edison Research data. The Associated Press trumpets the 2018 midterm performance of its VoteCast survey, also used by Fox News."If AP cannot definitively say a candidate has won, we don't speculate," David Scott, AP deputy managing editor, said this week.Dan Merkle, executive director of elections at ABC News, made similar comments to its polling website partner, FiveThirtyEight, assigning a confidence level of 99.5 per cent before its consortium would make a call in any state.Generally speaking, the media organizations and their vendors employ exit polls of early and same day voters, phone polls of early and mail-in voters and statistical models that follow recent trends at a granular county or district level. Projections aren't made until a representative sample from the state, geographically and demographically, can be assured.It's important to remember that, in terms of the presidential contest, most states are not up for grabs. Both the Cook Political Report and nonpartisan aggregator 270 to Win have a total of 337 electoral college votes categorized as not in doubt at all or little doubt. All told, about 15 states are rated as toss-up or as a "lean" to one party or the other."States like Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, those are states that we expect to count similar to in the past.… If it's a one- or two-point race, yes, we'll be waiting for more data. But if we have a few-point margin, three, four, five points, those races should be projectable," Merkle told FiveThirtyEight.Florida state officials were able to begin processing and verifying early ballots 22 days before the election, so their dump of results in the early hours after polls close will be significant and a mix of early and day-of voters.WATCH l Texas activists work hard to overcome voting obstacles:In a scenario where Florida's 29 electoral college votes can be projected for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Trump's path is foggy at best.Jim Messina, a former campaign manager for Barack Obama, told the New Yorker this week his consulting group has over 60,000 different simulations involving different pathways, and all theoretical Trump wins involve him carrying Florida."It's just the math," said Messina.If Florida indeed goes to Trump or is up in the air, the focus turns to a small number of northeastern and Midwestern states.States such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania would most likely not be projected on election night, ABC's Merkle said, and therefore it would be "somewhat surprising" if an overall winner of the presidency is projected on election night or into its wee hours.The statesSome 70 million Americans had voted by Oct. 27, and states vary as to whether those ballots can be processed ahead of the closing of in-person polls, as well as what date postmarked ballots will be accepted by.Officials from the perceived swing states are confident they can handle the increase in early voting."Our estimate is Friday [Nov. 6] before we can ensure all these ballots will be tabulated and processed," Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said recently."I do expect the overwhelming majority of ballots will be counted in a couple of days," Pennsylvania's Boockvar has said, while for his part Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has said he expects their result to be known by Nov. 4.These states aren't laggards. States such as Utah and Washington are expected to take longer to fully tabulate their results. But those states won't be eyed obsessively as they are seen as comfortably projected for Trump and Biden, respectively.If Ohio can't be projected on election night, things could get interesting. Under state law, there are no results announced between election night and when the final total is certified, a time frame of weeks given that the postmarked ballots are eligible to be counted if received by Nov. 13.The state says it will update outstanding absentee vote totals, which could help deduce if it's statistically possible for a candidate to catch up.Americans have gone to bed uncertainU.S. elections are held on the first Tuesday in November, and even in less challenging times than a pandemic, the accepted result spilled into the next day or later.As historian Michael Beschloss pointed out in a 2016 article, despite a subdued speech around 3 a.m. following election day, Richard Nixon in 1960 did not officially concede. As they would a few more times in the pre-internet age, Americans awoke to an early edition newspaper on their porch stating the race was still too close to call.NBC broke into a game show around noon that Wednesday with a Nixon aide reading his concession speech to Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy.WATCH l Monitoring a U.S. election not unusual, but 2020 brings unique challenges:"The outcome of Tuesday's election hung in the balance for hours," The Associated Press reported in 1968. In that year, as well as in 1976 and 2004, candidates conceded to the eventual winner early morning or midday on the Wednesday. Americans perhaps got lulled into expecting an immediate result after three landslides in the 1980s followed by two elections in the 1990s that were not especially nail-biting affairs. Then came 2000.Democratic nominee Al Gore famously conceded to George W. Bush after some networks projected Florida to fall for the Republican. Gore soon called Bush back to rescind that concession as more data came in throwing the projection into doubt. Confusing ballots saw some Floridians "overvote" for two candidates and others not sufficiently punch their card for any candidate.On that Dec. 12, Gore lost a key Supreme Court ruling and conceded the next day. Bush edged Gore by 537 votes in the Florida count.While those unique circumstances won't be duplicated, "many of the fundamental pathologies unearthed by the 2000 debacle remain," writes Richard Hasen in the recent book Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust and the Threat to American Democracy."Political actors realized that the courts were fertile grounds for fighting over election rules," Hasen said.Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court has had to rule on a number of rule challenges during this campaign, including Wednesday on Pennsylvania's absentee ballots.In terms of the media, the fallout from 2000 saw the Voter News Service consortium ditched and eventually replaced by the NEP.Beware red or blue 'mirage'Election experts have warned that results reported in some states on election night could have a red or blue "mirage" — a scenario in which one candidate is ahead but votes counted later show a decided advantage for the other candidate.Pennsylvania, for example, has reported that Democrats had requested mail-in or absentee ballots by more than a two-to-one margin over Republicans.In the 2018 midterms, Trump targeted a Florida election official with unsubstantiated allegations of criminal wrongdoing as he seemingly refused to accept that absentee ballots with a decided Democratic advantage began to be tabulated after election night. Those votes narrowed the advantages Republican candidates held — and ultimately retained — in Florida's gubernatorial and Senate races.The transition of power relies heavily on good faith dealings between candidates. Trump has only said he'd concede if this year's result is "fair," though he hasn't defined what that means.Hasen lobbies for the centralized reforms and an end to "blue state" and "red state" approaches to election rules. In order for Americans to respect results this year and beyond, he says, a bipartisan group of respected political elders may need to be called on to attest to the contest's fairness.One such group, the National Council of Election of Integrity, slammed Trump's comments on Tuesday."Trump is more a symptom of the American electoral system's malfunction than a cause," Hansen wrote. "The problems will exist even after he leaves the political scene."What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Your questions help inform our coverage. Email us at Ask@cbc.ca
HARRIGAN COVE – Beverly Ledden’s husband woke her at 1 a.m. on August 27 and said, “Ambulance. I am having a heart attack.” She called 911, routed through her online phone service, but all Bell landlines in the area were down at the time. The couple cannot get a reliable cell signal at home in Harrigan Cove. Ledden had found the cost of a landline expensive and opted instead for a computer-based line. Her ‘Magic Jack’ line accepted the 911 call and its U.S. headquarters transferred the call back to the local landline provider in Canada, which in this case is Bell. Since Bell was down, the emergency call was not successfully forwarded. Calling neighbours for help from her Magic Jack line was futile, as their Bell landlines were out. “On August 26-27 we had no landline available to us and no 911 service. My husband, who had a heart attack that morning on Aug 27, was very fortunate we got help,” she told The Journal during a recent interview. Ledden was able to get him into their car before he passed out and drove to the nearest community, Port Dufferin, where there was intermittent cell service in front of the SR Balcom Centre. With one bar on her cell phone, she was able to reach the 911 service for help. Now Ledden is lobbying politicians to deem cell service an essential one for all Nova Scotians. She wrote, in part, to Councillor David Hendsbee, District 2, HRM: “I had to put my husband in the car and drive until I had cell phone service. Bell has the only phone service on the Eastern Shore with landlines. Cell is non-existent … If even one life could be saved by having these essential services that would be enough.” During the emergency, Ledden had the presence of mind to give her husband an aspirin at home and then Emergency Health Services transported him to Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital (ESMH) where – fortunately – the emergency department happened to be open. Due to COVID restrictions she was unable to accompany her husband at the hospital. Mr. Ledden was stabilized at ESMH and then transferred to the QEII in Halifax. “He had three stents put in the left descending arterial artery and, thankfully, is recovering nicely,” Ledden says. “I was very lucky to get him in the car before he lost consciousness and get to where I could get cell service.” Ledden says for residents of rural Nova Scotia, essential services must be a priority, including cell service. “We have lobbied for Internet and did have some success in a number of communities with fibre-op service – but for just a small portion of the folks who live on the Eastern Shore. I have an Internet phone as the price of Bell Aliant with long distance is reaching the $100 mark. Although we are in the HRM, even dialing companies, doctors or any other services in Halifax are long distance,” she explains. The convenience and cost of the Internet phone was appealing, as the couple have all the services they were getting from Bell Aliant – and even long distance in North America – for less than $6 a month. For peace of mind, at 8 a.m. on Aug. 27, Ledden called Bell to have a landline installed. Katie Hatfield, Bell Aliant spokesperson, told The Journal in an email: “We first heard from Ms. Ledden on the morning of August 27 following her husband’s health issue … We connected her residence with Bell Aliant service the same day.” Ledden travelled to the city to be with her husband and, when she returned, she discovered she still had no Bell connection. It was a week later before the couple had a landline dial tone. “We heard back from Ms. Ledden on August 31 to report that there was no dial tone, and we scheduled a technician visit for the following day, September 1. Due to a scheduling issue on our end, the repair was completed on September 3. We don’t have any records of any further service issues at Ms. Ledden’s home, but we did speak to her on September 25 about some billing concerns and credited her account for a month of free service for the inconvenience,” said Hatfield. “There is no cell service along the Eastern Shore except if you are fortunate enough to get a weak signal or have no landscape (hills and valleys) in the way,” says Ledden. “Since the storm Dorian went through last year and put us off the grid for phone service and Internet, we have been experiencing outages and poor lines with our phone service from the only landline provider in many areas. Trees on lines and poles being pulled over have become very hard on our landlines.” “October 7 we also had no Bell landlines for approximately 24 hours again,” an exasperated Ledden says. The cost continues to rise but the service does not change. “For $97 a month, I now have a landline from Bell Aliant – as well as my Magic Jack Internet phone and a cell phone I can only use in certain communities. Really, if the communication lines are out your call to 911 will not go through. Cell service should be considered an essential service to everyone not just those who live in populous areas. Every life should count,” she advocates.Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole's efforts to straddle the divide between social conservatives and more moderate members of his caucus were on display Wednesday as the House of Commons gave approval in principle to a bill that would outlaw the discredited practice of conversion therapy. The bill passed easily by a vote of 308-7 but exposed divisions within Conservative ranks. O'Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs. But seven of his MPs voted against it, two abstained and eight others made it clear they were supporting it only grudgingly for now, in hopes that it will be amended by the Commons justice committee. Former leader Andrew Scheer was among those who simply did not show up for the vote. O'Toole allowed his MPs a free vote on the issue, part of his bargain with social conservatives that helped him secure the Conservative leadership in August. The bill would criminalize the practice of forcing children or adults to undergo therapy aimed at altering their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some Conservatives have expressed fears the bill would outlaw conversations between parents and their children or counsel from religious leaders. O'Toole himself has said "reasonable amendments" are necessary to clarify that point. During debate on the bill earlier this week, former leadership contender Derek Sloan went so far as to suggest it would outlaw prayer. Sloan has previously said the bill amounts to child abuse. Justice Minister David Lametti has dismissed those fears, arguing that the bill does not criminalize conversations that are meant to provide guidance to those questioning their gender or sexuality. Sloan was among the seven Conservatives who voted against the bill Wednesday. Others supported the bill for now but made their reservations crystal clear. "With the best of faith, I vote in favour of sending this flawed bill to committee," said Saskatchewan MP Cathay Wagantall as she registered her virtual vote. By contrast, all Liberal, Bloc Quebecois, New Democrat, Green and independent MPs who took part in the vote supported the bill. A number of Liberal MPs made a point of announcing that they were "proudly" voting in favour. The NDP questioned the validity of votes that came with "qualifiers," prompting Speaker Anthony Rota to remind MPs that when voting virtually, they are supposed to say simply whether they are for or against the motion, with no other comment. During question period moments before the vote, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a veiled shot at the sincerity of O'Toole's profession of support for the bill. "Conversion therapy is rooted in the harmful premise that one's sexual orientation or gender identity could and even should be changed," Trudeau told the Commons, in response to a setup question from a Liberal backbencher. "Our legislation will criminalize efforts to force someone to change or hide who they are. While Conservatives couch their support for conversion therapy behind misleading arguments, on this side, we will always stand up for the rights of Canadians." The bill would ban conversion therapy for minors and outlaw forcing an adult to undergo conversion therapy against their will. It would also ban removing a minor from Canada for the purpose of undergoing conversion therapy abroad and make it illegal to profit from providing the therapy or to advertise an offer to provide it. The practice has been widely discredited as cruel and traumatic. The Canadian Psychological Association says there is no scientific evidence that conversion therapy works but plenty of evidence that it causes harm to LGBTQ individuals, including anxiety, depression, negative self-image, feelings of personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships and sexual dysfunction. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2020. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — People thinking about warm weather getaways in the coming months should probably plan to stay home, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health said Wednesday. Dr. Robert Strang responded to reports a Halifax-based travel agency is offering two weeklong trips to Cuba reserved exclusively for residents of Atlantic Canada. He questioned the "wisdom" of non-essential foreign trips while the COVID-19 pandemic rages around the world. "The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to advise against non-essential international travel," Strang told reporters. "Choosing to support our local hotels, restaurants and other businesses is the safest and wisest choice for Nova Scotians to make." Absolute Travel Specialists says it will charter two Air Canada flights -- one in February and another in March -- for Atlantic Canadians who want to get some sun in the winter and stay safe from COVID-19. The company said Tuesday a hotel in Cayo Coco will be reserved exclusively for Atlantic Canadians during their stay. Federal law stipulates that Canadians who leave the country must quarantine for 14 days upon their return. Atlantic residents who leave the Atlantic region -- even if they stay in Canada -- must also isolate for two weeks when they return home. Strang cautioned the second wave of COVID-19 is expected to last for at least the next two to three months. "There are no guarantees where we might be with COVID here in Nova Scotia during these coming months and we really don't know with any certainly what 2021 is going to bring either locally, nationally or internationally," he said. On Tuesday, Prince Edward Island's chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, said the planned trips to Cuba were "not realistic." Morrison said her province would maintain its two-week self-isolation requirement for the "foreseeable future," adding that it was unlikely any changes would be made before the Christmas season. Strang, however, said his province is considering employing rapid testing at its border with New Brunswick for travellers from outside the Atlantic region. He said rapid tests can shorten the two-week isolation period. Starting next month, officials in Alberta will be rapid testing foreign travellers at the Calgary airport and the Coutts land border crossing. Travellers who test negative will be allowed to end their isolation after taking a second test a week later. Strang said he is looking to learn from the Alberta pilot. "As evidence evolves, the epidemiology evolves, our goal is always to find the appropriate balance of keeping things open but also having the necessary level of safety," he said. Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, leaving the province with five active cases of the disease. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2020. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
Meghan, the wife of Britain’s Prince Harry, won her bid to have a privacy action against a tabloid newspaper postponed until next Autumn after a judge heard a confidential reason from her lawyers for seeking a delay. Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex and a former actress, is suing Associated Newspapers over articles in the Mail on Sunday that included parts of a handwritten letter she had sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018. Judge Mark Warby said on Thursday he had granted the delay for the trial, which was due to have started in London on Jan. 11, until the autumn of 2021.
Some mailed their votes weeks ago, and now U.S. and dual citizens living in Toronto are preparing for a close presidential race that will have consequences in this country too.Toronto is home to 78,371 people who are eligible to vote in Tuesday's election, according the Federal Voting Assistance Program.Tyler Thom is one of them. The American citizen has been living in Toronto since 2018 and is a Canadian resident. Originally from Wisconsin, the 32 year-old mailed his ballot to his home state."I'm nervous," Thom said in an interview. "Regardless of the outcome."Thom says the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and frayed race relations continue to make the United States a deeply divided country. He believes Democratic nominees for president and vice president, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, will be able to bring Americans together.Immigration, health care, key issues"No one is listening to each other right now," he said. "I talk to my friends and family. A lot are legitimately scared. It sounds like it's the start of civil war. I don't want to be alarmist, but regardless of the election, there are tough times ahead."Thom also worries about the current administration's attempts at repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He says some of his family members could be affected by changes to their health care.As well, immigration is a major issue for him. Thom came to Canada after his husband, who is Mexican, was denied residency status in the United States."I'm very frustrated with the U.S. immigration system. Trump has done nothing to make it better. He's only incited more racism and more fear," Thom said.Republican focused on fiscal policyMark Feigenbaum, a lawyer and dual citizen based in Toronto, is also getting anxious about the election results. But the long-time Republican and chairman of Republicans Overseas Canada is hoping for another four years for President Donald Trump.Feigenbaum, who grew up in Los Angeles and specializes in cross-border tax law, says he focuses on fiscal issues as a voter, and less on Trump's personality and policy moves made in other areas."My Republican tendencies lean towards the fiscal side — lower taxes, smaller government, less regulation — and less on the social side. I saw what vice president Biden's plan was in the debates and I don't think that's the right path," Feigenbaum said.According to the research done after the 2016 presidential election by the Federal Voting Assistance Program, there are more than 620,000 people eligible to vote in U.S. elections living in Canada.Interest in Democrats AbroadDianna English, a Toronto resident and volunteer communications officer with Democrats Abroad, says voters living in Canada could actually influence the outcome of the election in key swing states, such as Michigan."We do have the capacity to turn key elections if we get out and vote," English said.Getting the vote out in Canada has not been easy for any party. Just five per cent of people living in Canada eligible to vote in the U.S. election four years ago cast absentee ballots.English believes that will change this year, at least for Democrats based in Canada. She says Democrats Abroad has experienced a 35-per-cent increase in membership this year and that membership has grown by 90 per cent since 2016.English adds that web traffic to votefromabroad.org, which assists expatriate voters, is up this year as well. She believes that the impact of the Trump presidency has been global and the results of this election will matter to US citizens no matter where in the world they live."Americans know that the effects of a second Trump term aren't going to stop at the border," English said.
Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday that a warning from the FBI on hack-and-leak operations before the Nov. 3 presidential election played a role in its decision to limit the reach of stories from the New York Post that made claims about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son. Zuckerberg said it had seen attempts by Russia, Iran and China to run disinformation campaigns. "One of the threats that the FBI has alerted our companies ... to was the possibility of a hack and leak operation in the days or weeks leading up to this election," he said.
NICE, France — An attacker armed with a knife killed three people inside a church Thursday in the southern French city of Nice, prompting the government to raise its security alert status to the maximum level hours before a nationwide coronavirus lockdown. It was the third attack in two months in France that authorities have attributed to Muslim extremists, including the beheading of a teacher. It comes during a growing furor over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were republished in recent months by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo — renewing vociferous debate in France and the Muslim world over the depictions that Muslims consider offensive but are protected by French free speech laws. Other confrontations and attacks were reported Thursday in the southern French city of Avignon and in the Saudi city of Jiddah, but it was not immediately clear if they were linked to the attack in Nice. French President Emmanuel Macron said he would immediately increase the number of soldiers deployed to protect schools and religious sites from around 3,000 currently to 7,000, and France's anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation. French churches have been ferociously attacked by extremists in recent years, and Thursday's killings come ahead of the Roman Catholic All Saints' holiday. The assailant was wounded by police and hospitalized after the killings at the Notre Dame Basilica, a half-mile (less than a kilometre) from the site in 2016 where another attacker plowed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd, killing dozens of people. Thursday's attacker was believed to be acting alone, and police are not searching for other assailants, said two police officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be publicly named. “He cried ‘Allah Akbar!’ over and over, even after he was injured,” said Christian Estrosi, the mayor of the Mediterranean city who confirmed a woman and a man died inside the church, while a second woman fled to a nearby bar but was mortally wounded. “The meaning of his gesture left no doubt.” Shots punctuated the air and witnesses screamed as police stationed at the grandiose doors to the church appeared to fire at the attacker inside, according to videos obtained by The Associated Press. For a time after the attack, explosions could be heard as sappers detonated suspicious objects. It was the third attack since Charlie Hebdo republished the caricatures in September as the trial opened for the 2015 attacks at the paper's offices and a kosher supermarket. The gunmen in that attack claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group and al-Qaida, which both recently called anew for strikes against France. A verdict is planned for Nov. 13, the fifth anniversary of another series of deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris. The series of recent attacks come amid renewed outcry over depictions of Islam's most revered prophet — whose birthday was marked in several countries Thursday — and the French government's fierce defence of the right to publish and show them. Muslims have held protests in several countries and called for a boycott of French goods. Dozens of Pakistani students rallied in the capital Thursday to denounce Macron. “With the attack against Samual Paty, it was freedom of speech that was targeted," Prime Minister Jean Castex told lawmakers Thursday, referring to the teacher who was beheaded after showing his class caricatures of the prophet during a civics lesson. "With this attack in Nice, it is freedom of religion.” Earlier, the lower house of parliament suspended a debate on France’s new virus restrictions and held a moment of silence for the victims. Castex rushed from the hall to a crisis centre overseeing the aftermath of the Nice attack and later returned to announce the alert level increase. Macron left for Nice almost immediately. “Very clearly, it is France which is under attack,” Macron said as he stood before the church. He added that all of France offered its support to Catholics "so that their religion can be exercised freely in our country. So that every religion can be practiced. ” In Avignon on Thursday morning, an armed man was shot and killed by police after he refused to drop his weapon and a flash-ball shot failed to stop him, one police official said. And a Saudi state-run news agency said a man stabbed a guard at the French consulate in Jiddah, wounding the guard before he was arrested. While many groups and nations have been angered or frustrated by France's position on the cartoons, several issued their condolences Thursday. The French Council of the Muslim Faith condemned the Nice attack and called on French Muslims to refrain from festivities marking the birth of Muhammad “as a sign of mourning and in solidarity with the families of victims and the Catholics of France.” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the attack. "We stand in solidarity with the people of France against terror and violence,” the statement said. Relations between Turkey and France hit a new low after Turkey’s president accused Macron of Islamophobia over the caricatures and questioned his mental health, prompting Paris to recall its ambassador to Turkey for consultations. The attack in Nice came less than two weeks after Paty, the teacher, was beheaded. In September, a man who had sought asylum in France attacked bystanders outside Charlie Hebdo's former offices with a butcher knife. French Roman Catholic sites have also frequently been targeted, including the killing of the Rev. Jaqcues Hamel, who had his throat slit while celebrating Mass in his Normandy church by Islamic militants and a plot to bomb Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral. Those attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group, which also is believed to have recruited a man now on trial for an unsuccessful plot to attack a church. Nice’s 19th-century basilica Notre Dame de l’Assomption is the largest church in the city, but smaller and newer than the cathedral 1 mile (2 kilometres) away. The basilica’s twin neogothic towers are a landmark feature in the heart of the city. ___ Hinnant reported from Paris. Associated Press writers Angela Charlton and Thomas Adamson in Paris and Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul contributed to this report. Lori Hinnant And Daniel Cole, The Associated Press
The worldview of Canada when it comes to immigration has once again propelled the country’s brand to the top of the charts in a comprehensive study that evaluates the perceptions of 50 nations. While this year’s analysis is “marked by an overall decline in perception of nations’ reputations,” Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada were the top three in the 2020 Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index (NBI). Canada ranked third for a second consecutive year. The country scored the most points when it came to perceptions on immigration, governance, and its people. Canada also ranked fifth in the exports dimension, and among the top 10 countries in both tourism and culture. “Canada’s leading performance on the ‘People’ dimension is driven by high ratings for each of the attributes measured within that category,” Jason McGrath, Ipsos senior vice president told New Canadian Media. “Canada ranks first for the welcoming nature of its people, and for the desire of having a close friend from Canada,” McGrath said. “The employability of Canadians is also highly ranked by global citizens, placing Canada at number two of all measured nations for this attribute.” On Immigration and Investment, Canada performed well on all attributes that form this dimension, he added. “In particular, Canada is the top-rated nation for being a place that global citizens would want to live and work for a substantial period of time, and Canada is the leading country that cares about equality in society. “Canada’s relative weaknesses in this dimension [immigration] are for being a good place to study for educational qualifications, and having businesses that global citizens would like to invest in. It’s worth noting, however, that Canada ranks in the top-five of all nations measured for each of these attributes, demonstrating that even in these areas Canada performs well.” What really does make a difference is the impact a country is perceived to have on the rest of humanity and the planet, whether positive or negative, said Simon Anholt, who designed and launched the Nation Brands Index in 2005. “And since a powerful and positive ‘brand image’ feeds directly into more tourism, more trade, more talent and more investment, such considerations should be right at the top of any government’s economic planning. The NBI is telling us yet again that if countries want to do well, they need to do good,” he said. The pandemic and how governments have handled it have also had an effect on the reputational rankings. The United States and China are the nations with the most notable declines in the overall NBI rank in this first brand index measurement since the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States’ decline is triggered by a sharp decrease in public opinion of its Governance, People, Tourism, as well as Immigration and Investment – traditional areas of reputational strength for the United States. China saw an overall rank decline of 12 positions, from 23rd place last year to 35th place this year. China’s ranking fell across multiple categories this year – particularly Governance, People, Tourism, and Immigration-Investment. Both countries are facing similar reputational challenges stemming from trade tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic, the study authors said. Conversely, Australia and New Zealand are two nations with notable improvements on the overall NBI rank because of how they approached the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has reflected positively on these nations’ leadership, infrastructure, and societal values. Earlier this month, the Environics Institute released a study showing Canadians have become more open, accepting and supportive of immigrants and refugees, a new study shows. By a five-to-one margin, the public believes immigration makes Canada a better country, said the Environics Institute, which updated its research on Canadians’ attitudes about immigration and refugees last week. “Strong and increasing majorities of Canadians express comfort with current immigration levels, see immigrants as good for the Canadian economy and not threats to other people’s jobs, and believe that immigration is essential to building the country’s population,” the study authors said in their executive summary. The Top 5 rankings of the 2020 Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index (NBI). Fabian Dawson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Canadian Media
SYDNEY — Morgan Toney, the Mi’kmaq fiddler, is gearing up for his debut album. The 21-year old likes to blend the sounds of his fiddle with Mi’kmaq songs like the Mi’kmaq honour song and the Ko’jua. And he hopes the unique sounds can draw people in. “I know the Mi’kmaq nation was going to love it and play it and play it, but I was curious to see what a non-Indigenous audience was going think and so far, they love the song,” said Toney. His song has been featured on the radio and by other news outlets and the feedback has been positive. ABOUT THE ARTIST Toney considers both We’koqma’q and Wagmatcook First Nations his hometowns and takes a lot of pride in his Mi’kmaq culture. Toney wanted a way to display that culture through song and was inspired by Experience DRUM! which blends Indigenous, Black, Celtic and Acadian music to tell the story of Nova Scotia. He hopes the album can do the same for Unama’ki. Toney says the album will be six to eight songs and will incorporate other sounds like guitar, drums, harp and banjo sounds. The project is still in development and Toney hopes to cover the album's costs, $7,000, though a Go Fund Me page he set up with producer Keith Mullins. “Since the first time I stepped up on stage, people have asked me, 'Do you have a CD out? Where can I buy your music?’” said Toney. “Now I’m listening and because of Keith’s vision, we’re making it possible.” Mullins sees a lot of potential in Toney and says he’s hard-working, humble and dedicated. The 42-year-old has played music professionally since he was 15 years old and was intrigued the first time, he heard Toney play. He found the blended sounds striking. “I never heard someone do that before, but it made so much sense,” said Mullins. He's been around fiddle music since his grandfather, Bernie Ley, and Lee Cremo studied the music together. Mullins thinks Toney’s style has plenty of appeal because Mi’kmaq communities love the fiddle and it’s an easy way for non-Indigenous people to learn about Mi’kmaq culture. Mullins has built up connections in the industry and figured an emerging artist like Toney needed all the help they could get during the pandemic. “It’s extremely difficult for new artists to get started because there's no real systems of support set up for touring gigs,” said Mullins. He explained tours are great places for emerging artists to make connections in the industry and to make a little money. Mullins said Toney is off to a great start having performed at the Celtic Colours earlier this month, but he still wanted to support him. He’s been showing Toney how to apply for grants and the other supports in the province. The pair was recently in Eskasoni First Nation shooting the music video to Ko’jua and they have plans to shoot another music video for “M’sit No’kma,” (all my relations) a song dedicated to the Mi’kmaq fishers in Saulnierville, NS. Toney isn’t quite sure what show he’ll play next, but he does know music will always be a part of his journey. “I just know that the fiddle is my pilot and I’m putting all of my trust in the fiddle to take me to my next destination,” said Toney.Oscar Baker III, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post
When word got out a wood pellet company had a permit to log part of the Interior Temperate Rainforest east of Prince George, the wood chips hit the fan. Earlier this year Pacific BioEnergy (PacBio), a Prince George company that manufactures wood into pellets for fuel, received approval to cut a section of the Inland Rainforest north of Purden Provincial Park. “Why are they allowing primary forest to be logged for pellets?” asked Michelle Connolly, ecologist and director of Conservation North, which has called for a moratorium on logging in the Interior Rainforest. PacBio gets 75 per cent of its raw material from harvested slash piles and mill waste residue. It’s their sourcing of the remainder that meets opposition. “If you can turn any piece of wood into pellets,” said Connolly, why not log previously harvested trees outside the rainforest? The PacBio logging block has never been harvested and includes units of Interior Cedar Hemlock (ICH) containing western hemlock, western redcedar, Douglas-fir and Cottonwood. According to PacBio, the redcedar reach around 27 metres high and Douglas-firs 40 metres tall or more. The company assessed the majority of trees 120 to 190 years old – not old growth. Connolly disagreed. "Those stands are old," she said, estimating the Douglas-firs were 200 to 300 years or more. Even partial logging will damage the ecosystem, she said. Whether an ecologist or a forester, both perspectives may be correct. Don Wilkins has managed a 400 square mile trapline in the Purden area for 25 years. Decades of clearcutting has sent several species into decline, he said. "The only part that really remained natural is the piece... that was interior rainforest," said Wilkins. "That's what (PacBio and Canfor) are trying to log out now." Several First Nations and forestry companies have logging licences in the larger Prince George area. By press time, PacBio was the only company contacted willing to speak about specific operations, sharing its data for an independent ecological analysis. “We are not clearcutting the old growth forest,” said John Stirling, CEO of PacBio. “And we're not clearcutting purely making pellets.” The company will leave 30 per cent of the forest dispersed across the block, including 90 per cent of the redcedar and Douglas-firs which comprise 19 per cent of the stand, said Aiden Wiechula, PacBio forestry planner. The trees will be sold for their highest value to local mills, and ‘waste’ wood used for pellets, Stirling said. “Traditionally, in that area, in that cut block, the retention would generally be zero per cent,” said Wiechula. “That's a pretty big difference.” Ecologists don't argue the company is exceeding legal guidelines, it's government regulations that fall short. Then there's the tricky evolving public perspective to consider. A recent independent old growth review commissioned by the government reported a ‘paradigm shift’ in how British Columbians valued the natural environment. Society no longer wants publicly-owned forests managed with timber as the core value (and biodiversity as a constraint), the report stated. Instead, biodiversity must be the core outcome, and timber the benefit of a healthy ecosystem –a significant divergence from current practice. Both Premier John Horgan and BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau have committed to implementing the report's recommendations. Since the recommndations only cover legally defined old growth, the PacBio logging area wouldn’t be protected (although no one knows how the societal paradigm shift in values will play out over time), said ecologist Dr. Karen Price. Lead author of a scientific analysis of the province's old growth, Price and co-author, professional forester Dave Daust, analyzed and cross-referenced PacBio’s information with publicly available data. Price assessed the unlogged forest as just shy of old growth: ‘mature, with veterans’ (Douglas-firs) and possibly ‘approaching the ecological value of old growth.’ From an ecological perspective, the forests should not be logged, said Price. In regions like the Purden, with minimal old growth left, mature forests should be retained “so they can recruit towards old growth,” she said. Less than five per cent of productive Inland Rainforest is left in the Interior, all of it at risk of irreversible biodiversity loss, Price said. “Essentially, the productive forests in the valley bottoms are logged pretty much entirely.” What remains is the less productive, less biodiverse forest on the high slopes – the ‘guts and feathers’ – that timber companies consider less economically viable for harvesting, she said. “Those are the pieces that are left to maintain biodiversity, store carbon, and deal with resilience,” said Price. “And it's not going to work.” One problem with the Purden logging licence, is what’s missing from the Prince George Timber Supply Area (TSA) regulations, said Price. “The current legal targets don’t require ANY old growth in the inland temperate rainforest,” she said. “The PG TSA is not a shining document.” Originally written 17 years ago, the document acknowledged Interior Cedar Hemlock ‘units’ needed different forestry management, recommending a process be developed in 2004 to address their protection. “Yet that never happened,” said Price. “The Interior Cedar Hemlock fell through a crack.” Regulators never followed through to define what that protection should entail. “It’s not (PacBio’s) fault we're in this predicament,” Connolly said, acknowledging the company’s efforts towards transparency. “It's the government's job to protect these places.” Fran@thegoatnews.caFran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
Elected officeholders in Wichita are formally chastising three GOP officials over a plot to smear the Democratic mayor of Kansas' largest city and then try to shift the blame to a local Republican Party chairman. The controversy stems from an ad published on YouTube during the mayoral election last year that falsely suggested that Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple was accused of sexual harassment when he served in the Kansas Legislature. In a recently released recording from last year, Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, Wichita City Council member James Clendenin and state Rep. Michael Capp can be heard plotting to frame Sedgwick County Republican Party Chairman Dalton Glasscock for the smear video.
Democrat Joe Biden says President Donald Trump "has just given up" on fighting the coronavirus, and he says the American people deserve better. Biden took a pause from campaigning Wednesday to get a virus briefing from public health experts. (Oct. 28)
Rebekah Coxe and her daughter Arielle got creative with the abundance of snow that fell in mid-October. In the early afternoon of Oct. 16 at the Yellowhead Apartment complex, the pair scooped up handfuls of snow and built a snowman. "We used rocks for the eyes and buttons, and sticks for the arms," Coxe said. "We put it right by the door. The face was (pointed toward) our door, just to make people smile." Julie Carr, who lives in the complex too, said she saw them working together as she left for work. "It was a breath of fresh air to see that - to see mother and daughter build a snowman, carefree, letting kids be kids," Carr said. But when Carr arrived home from work in the early morning hours the next day though, she saw a sad sight. "It was absolutely destroyed - half the body was on the ground,” she said. “It's so disheartening." Before she went inside, Carr picked up the pieces to return it to its original structure, as much as possible. She even went to her apartment and got a toque to put on the snowman. "I thought the daughter might like it," she said. Carr wrote a small sign, 'Let It Snow' and hung in on one of the repaired snowman's arms. "I wanted to protect the child from the feeling of despair and hopelessness in people," she said. "(When) you're a child, you shouldn't be exposed to that. I wanted to protect her from the feeling that I had when I discovered what had been done." Carr said the damage was done by a person. "There were no animal tracks or any evidence of animal activity," she said. "There would be no apparent reason for an animal to come in and target the snowman, to feel threatened to attack it." "Jasper National Park is such a beautiful place to live," Carr said. The harsh action "goes against what we believe as a community, the values we have". Carr did her best to repair the snowman, but Coxe and her daughter saw the damage when they left for school later that morning. "There was a big boot print in it. It was kicked in the centre snowball and the top half was kicked off," Coxe said. When four-year-old Arielle caught sight of it, Coxe said, she got pretty upset and started crying. “I was a little bit upset,” Coxe said. “It's 'Why do this to a little kid? Don't ruin a kid's spirit.’" They had to return to their apartment to get a few more items and Rebekah wrote a note: "To whoever kicked down our snowman… You broke my daughters heart… Thanks... Get in the spirit." and taped it to the snowman's arm. Arielle is feeling better about it now, Coxe said. "I told her it might melt, and that we might build a new one. She still does ask who kicked her snowman down,” she said. Rebekah implored whoever did it, "Don't take the happiness from a little kid. It was hard work for her to build it and we just built it to make people smile."Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Nova Scotia's Official Opposition wants to overhaul the system currently in place to help those struggling with their mental health as well as those dealing with addiction.The proposed plan would create "the most progressive mental health support system in Canada," Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston said Wednesday as he unveiled his party's plan.That plan includes: * Allowing private practitioners, including psychologists, counsellors and social workers, to bill the province to provide care to those without private insurance. * A 24-hour-a-day mental health support service over the phone. * A dedicated 9-8-8 mental health crisis line. * A promise to boost the budget for mental health services by $100 million a year, which is a 30 per cent increase. * The creation of a separate and distinct department of mental health and addictions.Speaking to reporters at a Halifax hotel, Houston said access to mental health care should be universal."There's many parts of our community that can't afford private care, so they do without," he said. "There's many parts of our society that don't have private coverage through their employer, so they do without."I don't want them to do without it. I won't allow them to do without under my leadership, under our government."Bringing in private practitioners to provide care is an attempt to lower wait times for care deemed non-urgent, which range from a nine-day wait in Colchester County to a 238-day wait at Cape Breton clinics, according to the Health Department's website. This is the second major policy announcement Houston has made in recent months. In August, he announced his party's plans for long-term care in the province. The PCs have promised to invest nearly $1 billion in creating at least 2,500 to 3,500 single bedrooms over a three-year period.Houston acknowledged the plans could be seen as platform planks for a-yet-to-be-called provincial election, but he said Nova Scotians have a right to know where he and his caucus stand on important issues facing the province."It's important to us that Nova Scotians know what we stand for and know where our focus will be and know what we will do," he said. "That can be described as a platform."Houston described the McNeil government's reorganization of health administration into a single authority as "a disaster," but he defended his party's desire to create a stand-alone department of mental health and addictions."For me, looking specifically at addictions and mental health, it needs a focus that it's not getting," said Houston. "It needs a focus at the highest level of government."MORE TOP STORIES
The evacuation of a remote Ontario First Nation over the latest development in a decades-long water crisis has highlighted the need to focus on reserve water infrastructure systems as a whole and involve community members in managing them, observers say. Training residents to manage First Nation water facilities, ensuring distribution systems function properly, and developing standards for on-reserve water infrastructure are all examples of what can be done to solve the issues such as those experienced by the Neskantaga First Nation, experts and Indigenous officials said. Neskantaga is subject to Canada’s longest-standing boil-water advisory, which has been in place for a quarter of a century. Residents were evacuated last week -- for the second time since last year -- following the discovery of an oily sheen in the reservoir. Amid the evacuations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walked back his previous commitment to lift all on-reserve boil-water advisories by March 2021, saying the pandemic was behind the delay. Dawn Martin-Hill, who leads research projects related to water and Indigenous communities at McMaster University and Six Nations of the Grand River, said lifting boil-water advisories looks good on paper, but water access is a larger issue that demands a slate of solutions, including community involvement. Her researchers are developing a training program for water management that people will be able to follow remotely from their communities, including a virtual reality component. “This is a government strategy that should have been developed when they started building these water treatment plants. But as I travel the country, that's what's desperately needed ... they need people trained and they need access to certifying them,” said the Indigenous studies associate professor. One of Martin-Hill's research teams is developing sensors for community members to test water at different stages, she said. Other sensors will be used for digital maps of source water systems. Local Indigenous knowledge is also underutilized, Martin-Hill said, pointing to some solutions she’s come across in her research like reintroducing Indigenous plants to water sources to help clean the water before it gets to treatment plants. In Neskantaga, Chief Chris Moonias has said the community urgently needs fixes to its water distribution system so residents can have access to running water 24/7. He has also requested repairs to water-related hardware in homes, the installation of two mobile membrane water treatment units, and a review of the plan to end the drinking water advisory. Moonias has further called for an investigation into the business practices of contractors and engineering companies that have worked on water treatment facilities in Indigenous communities. Ottawa has committed to provide $16 million for upgrades in Neskantaga, and has said it will cover the costs related to the evacuation and bottled water for the residents who stayed behind. Michael McKay, director of infrastructure and housing with Nishnawbe Aski Nation -- which represents 49 First Nations in northern Ontario including Neskantaga -- said there are issues with water infrastructure work done in the 1990s on reserves by outside contractors. Neskantaga was placed on a boil water advisory shortly after the treatment facility was built early in the decade due to issues with treating the source water, McKay said. Alvin Fiddler, Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, said there's also a need for standards for water on reserves. “As long as we don't have any kind of standards developed and resources for communities to be able to meet those standards, we will continue to see situations like what we're seeing now Neskantaga,” Fiddler said. One Ontario First Nation, located northeast of Kenora, Ont., recently lifted a drinking water advisory this month following upgrades to its water treatment and distribution system. But the chief of Grassy Narrows -- which has also been dealing for years with water-related mercury poisoning that Ottawa has committed to building a treatment centre for -- said the community still faces water-related challenges. Chief Rudy Turtle said the community's current water treatment plant does not have capacity for the population growth that’s expected over the next few years, and the community needs a new one. “This is almost like a temporary fix, " he said. "We need a whole new water plant looking into the future.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2020. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
After serving as secretary on the Jasper Minor Sports board for 18 years, Tamar Couture is stepping down. Her youngest son, Nash, is now playing elite hockey in Whitecourt and, Couture said, "Without a connection to hockey, I'm not connected to the position - I'm not around all the time. "As well, after 18 years, perhaps it's time for some new ideas, new enthusiasm, to infuse the board and the association.” Couture got involved with the board after attending an AGM. "The only other people were the board members and myself, and one other person," she remembered. "The secretary at the time was stepping down and I decided that if I wanted to have my child participate, then I better step up." While she was officially secretary, she was always the “general go-to person”. Couture oversaw "the top end of things” to make sure the board always had directors and was at every meeting to record the minutes. She also organized referee clinics for hockey referees, Jasper Minor Sports’ Christmas power skating camps, and team photos. Couture has had a variety of experiences since she started the day of the AGM. "I would say the year that we hosted the Bantam C Provincials 2009 in Jasper was one of the highlights,” she said. That year, Jasper Minor Sports hosted nine teams from all over Alberta, working with Lee Chorley and Dave Ewanchook to make it all happen. Couture said another highlight was working an Oilers 50/50 in 2011 - a huge fundraiser for Jasper Minor Sports that allowed them to purchase new uniforms for all the teams. About volunteering, Couture noted for an organization to be able to offer programs and services is quite often dependent on volunteers. Without volunteer coaches, managers and board members there would be fewer options for the youth of Jasper to participate in. "I learned about new sports and their operations and got to work with so many different people in our community,” she said. “It started as a way to be engaged in the sports of my children but grew to a chance to participate in our community. “The kids and parents that I got to know, the fun of participating in a large group was invaluable learning.” Couture is keeping busy training her replacement, Shannon Hofuis, who was a member of the board who offered to take over the role. "The board asked me to stay another year," she said, but, "I would like to gracefully bow out (before then)". Jim Koss, director of Jasper Minor Sports, and his wife, Becky, paid tribute to Couture’s years of dedication to the group. They said in an email, “Jasper Minor Sports relies on community volunteers to organize, guide and connect the pieces for youth soccer, baseball and hockey teams. One valuable volunteer and joining force for all of Jasper Minor Sports’ teams is Tamar Couture.”The Kosses said Couture has been a key contributor to building and strengthening Jasper Minor Sports for the last 18 years. “Her passion for supporting youth athletes and their families is apparent in the countless hours she has spent balancing books, making phone calls and mentoring other community volunteers,” they said. “The strong Minor Sports foundation that we all now enjoy can be attributed to Tamar’s passion for volunteerism and community. “Her presence at the rink will be missed now that her three boys, Jack, Cooper, and Nash, have moved along in their hockey careers. “Her impact, however, will always be felt.” Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Crowsnest Pass has always prided itself on its rich history and coal mining tradition. Coincidentally, the first two delegations who presented at the Oct. 20 regular council meeting are both intent on adding to that legacy. Resurrect the Roxy Crowsnest Cando announced that a purchasing agreement had recently been reached between the society and the private owners of the Roxy Theatre in Coleman. It is Cando’s intention to restore the theatre to its former glory to act as a centre for the growing performing arts community in Crowsnest Pass. The theatre, built in 1948, is made of an asymmetrical entranceway and a prefabricated quonset with a large movie theatre screen and stage that sits around 300 people. The theatre has not been occupied since 2003, though the Alberta government is currently reviewing the structure for historical designation. Only two other theatres of the same style exist in Canada: the Alma Theatre in Wainwright and Blue Ridge at the Roxy in Victoria, B.C. Cando is currently asking for donations and applying for grants from both provincial and federal governments to reach the project fundraising goal of $150,000. The idea is to have $50,000 raised by the end of 2020 to finalize acquisition of the building and to then secure $100,000 to complete the engineering and restoration studies needed to proceed with the project. Once completed, the goal is to ensure operations of the theatre maintain it as a community asset. “The operator could be Cando, it could be leased out to another group to operate,” said Fred Bradley, Cando’s engineering director. “Right now we see it as a Cando project, and I think Cando is quite excited at the office space it could have there, office space for perhaps other community performing groups or culture groups.” “We do want to make sure that it’s operated as a social enterprise,” he continued. “We think that the facility is there to make some profit and invest that money back into the building and further some of the other objects of Cando to further the cultural, youth and recreational activities in the community.” Restoring the unique facility, said Coun. Lisa Sygutek, will greatly aid in the creation of an arts district in Coleman and add to Crowsnest Pass’s reputation of being an arts centre in southern Alberta. “A facility this fantastic, this unique, puts us on the map,” she said. “If at some point you required some funding, I would have no problem with you coming back to council and we’d debate that.” More information and project updates on the Roxy project can be found on the Cando website at crowsnestcando.ca/the-roxy-project. Montem Resources quarterly update Wade Aebli, Montem’s manager of environment and community, provided a brief update to council on the Tent Mountain mine and Chinook project. Negotiations are still being held over how the provincial Tent Mountain regulatory process is going to proceed. The other big announcement was that exploratory drilling in the Chinook Vicary area has begun. The drilling will confirm the coal quality as hard-coking coal, as well as investigate if the area has structurally thickened coal seams, which will determine the potential for the open-cut mining. Rapid decision-making A number of municipal issues put forward by administration were decided upon in quick succession. Changes to add sections for employees’ psychological and social well-being to the municipality’s health and safety policy were unanimously accepted. Council passed first reading of Bylaw 1057, 2020, a land use bylaw redesignation. The bylaw will rezone a property in Coleman from a recreation and open space (RO-1) designation to residential (R-1). Administration received a development permit application for a residential addition to the property. It was discovered that part of the land was designated as residential while the other was set aside for recreation and open space. After going through municipal records and past council meeting minutes, it was determined the split zoning was a mistake. Second and third readings will be presented after a public hearing can be scheduled. In another bylaw, council unanimously passed first, second and third readings of Bylaw 1060, 2020, which coincides with the golf course road closure bylaw (Bylaw 1025, 2019). After council passed Bylaw 1025 back in September, administration provided a certified true copy of the bylaw to the surveyor in order to register the road closure with Alberta Land Titles. ALT informed the surveyor that the bylaw could not be registered until technical errors in the bylaw were amended, all of which are covered in Bylaw 1060. As a final item, council requested that administration investigate using the fire department to hose down community main streets and sidewalks throughout the municipality as a way to provide summer cleaning. The request came after a citizen submitted a letter asking for an increase in street cleaning. Virtual RMA convention and FRIAA protection At the invitation of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta, council decided to register for the organization’s annual conference on Nov. 3 and 4. The event is being held virtually this year in light of the pandemic. Council approved the registration of all council members who can attend. Should all of council attend — including CAO Patrick Thomas and the municipality’s newly elected councillor — registration will cost $1,600. Additionally, in conjunction with a $30,000 grant from the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta, council endorsed an interagency structural fire protection exercise. The exercise will be conducted in 2021 with emergency services from Pincher Creek, Sparwood, Elkford and the MD of Willow Creek. Representatives from the RCMP and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry will also attend. The exercise will help protective services better understand different operating systems and equipment, as well as the municipalities’ capabilities and limitations. The exercise will include the deployment of a sprinkler trailer, wildfire firefighting equipment, and command post operation equipment. Strategic plan check-in To help in its efforts, administration distributed a report reviewing council’s strategic plan. The goal is to have a future discussion with council members to gauge priorities, as well as create a metric that will help administration measure when a strategic priority has been sufficiently accomplished or addressed. “The whole idea is when we look five years from now and we’ve checked all these boxes, we would all say that was success,” said CAO Thomas. Appropriate metrics, he added, would also allow council and administration to communicate that success to the public. One advantage council identified of administration bringing the strategic plan forward as an agenda item was the sheer number of projects that were conveniently summarized and grouped into one document. “It really does show how many irons are in the fire,” said Mayor Blair Painter. Further discussion will take place after council members have had time to review priorities and brainstorm appropriate metrics for action items. Next meeting The next regular council meetings will be held in the MDM Community Centre on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. Agenda packets will be made available online at https://bit.ly/CNPagenda.Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
The program is part of a collaboration among federal and provincial government departments and private organizations to combat the damaging effects of acid rain on aquatic species in Eastern Nova Scotia. Begun in 2016 along the West River near Sheet Harbour, this will be the first large-scale treatment of its kind for the St. Mary’s watershed. “We are days away from our first application,” said Scott Beaver, president of the St. Mary’s River Association, adding that the initiative is part of three-year, $1.2 million program supported by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Coastal Restoration Fund. “A very large portion of our grant is going to be spent on this project.” The actual work is being carried out under the auspices of the provincial Departments of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Lands and Forestry in partnership with the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, Perennia Food and Agriculture Inc., and Dalhousie University. According to a provincial government statement, “The province is using agricultural lime to reduce the effects of acid rain and support restoration of trout and wild Atlantic salmon habitat in the West River near Sheet Harbour and the St. Mary’s River watershed… Lime works into the soil and eventually seeps into rivers. Eighty hectares will be treated this month.” Edmund Halfyard, a biologist at Perennia who has extensively researched salmon population trends in both the West and St. Mary’s Rivers, said: “Data suggests that this helicopter liming project effectively repairs the damaging effects of acid rain on forests, soils, streams and fish. It also demonstrates that multiple partners working together can contribute to a healthier Nova Scotia environment and renewable economy.” SMRA Vice-President Kenny Silver said the new project is slated for Barren Brook, off the West Branch of the St. Mary’s, west of Lower Caledonia. “We’re using a using a helicopter with a bucket filler – the same sort of thing that would be used to fight forest fires. The idea is to showcase different ways liming can be done. In this case, dispersing lime on the land will hopefully improve the soil.” Since 2016, more than 263 hectares (650 acres) of land in the province has been treated with more than 2,600 tonnes of agricultural lime.Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
When Halifax's newest ramen restaurant opens Thursday there will be one thing missing: tips.Jamie MacAulay, owner of Coda Ramen on Gottingen Street, said staff at his restaurant will instead be paid higher wages, roughly $17 to $22 an hour, and receive health benefits.The new tipless system will mean more consistent income for staff and works out to be "significantly higher" than minimum wage plus tips, according to MacAulay.In an industry that's known for relying on tips and underpaying employees, he sees it as a way to help staff during an uncertain time."We really think like this is the progressive future for the industry," MacAulay told CBC's Information Morning.Menu prices at the restaurant will be raised slightly to account for the change, MacAulay said, but he added that it won't cover all that's lost. "We take the hit on the end as the business owners but our goal is that it'll create a more professional environment for our staff and we'll generate long-term professionals that stay with us," he said. MacAulay used to own Water and Bone on Charles Street in Halifax's north end, but closed the ramen restaurant last spring after the pandemic arrived in Nova Scotia and decimated the service industry. "It's been really tough on everyone so we said if we're going to do this again that we should really look at changing the model that works better for our staff," he said. MacAulay said senior cooks and staff at Coda Ramen will earn a living wage, which is $22/hour in Nova Scotia, and new staff will gradually work up to that amount.If a customer doesn't like the service they're getting or the food they're eating, MacAulay said that shouldn't be reflected in how much money staff make. "That's something that falls on us as business owners. If we're not accomplishing that, if we're not putting that product out and that service then we need to work on that so our staff shouldn't have to suffer in their wages," he said.It's a move restaurants elsewhere in Canada have already taken or are considering. In Toronto, three restaurants signed on to a pledge this summer to end tipping and instead price it in to the cost of meals. But in Edmonton, the owners of the city's first no-tipping restaurant abandoned the idea after about a year, saying the system was "untenable."Before Coda Ramen decided to go tipless, MacAulay asked staff and people on social media what they thought of the idea and said the response was "overwhelmingly positive."Still, he admits the new direction will likely come with a few challenges. Right now, he sees it as an experiment. "The first one through the door is always the bloodiest," he said. "It's going to be a lot of challenges and a lot of things to work out but we're hoping that, you know, with our following of loyal guests and customers that everyone's on board with this to help make it work." MORE TOP STORIES
Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil upset Montreal's Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-5, 7-5 Wednesday in first-round action at the Erste Bank Open. Pospisil, a qualifier at the ATP 500 indoor hardcourt tournament, broke world No. 21 Auger-Aliassime in the final game of each set. Auger-Aliassime hit into a double-fault facing set point in the first, and Pospisil converted on triple break point in the second.
The Ottawa Senators' busy off-season continued Wednesday with the signing of forward Alex Galchenyuk. The 26-year-old Galchenyuk was an unrestricted free agent after splitting last year between Pittsburgh and Minnesota. The Senators are Galchenyuk's fifth team since June 2018.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday announced applications will be released for a new program: the COVID-19 Resilience Stream. This is a federal-provincial "funding stream" will make more than $1 billion available for municipalities, Indigenous communities, long-term care homes, day cares and schools, and other community projects, to further "critical" infrastructure projects.
Fans jubilant over the Dodgers’ World Series win danced in the streets and set off fireworks across Los Angeles. The win ended a 32-year World Series drought after a COVID-shortened season with the Dodgers beating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1. (Oct. 28)