The presidential race in Texas is closer than it’s been for 50 years, but some are concerned about the roadblocks facing many voters, which some consider voter suppression.
The presidential race in Texas is closer than it’s been for 50 years, but some are concerned about the roadblocks facing many voters, which some consider voter suppression.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration.Some Republicans are expressing doubt that Neera Tanden could be confirmed by the Senate after she spent years attacking GOP lawmakers on social media — and many panned the choice.Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed Tanden’s rhetoric was “Filled with hate & guided by the woke left.”Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said Tanden's “combative and insulting comments" about Republican senators created “certainly a problematic path." He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." Moderate Susan Collins, R-Maine, a target of Tanden's, said, “I do not know her or much about her, but I've heard she's a very prolific user of Twitter.”Such sentiment is notable considering the GOP's general reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump's broadsides on Twitter. But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate.That could be especially daunting for Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the centre-left Center for American Progress, given her history of political combat.Biden's transition team released a litany of praise for Tanden from figures including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.Other Democrats also rushed to defend Tanden's nomination. Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett said Tanden “grew up on welfare and lived in public housing. She experienced first hand the importance of our social programs. Her extraordinary career has been devoted to improving opportunities for working families. She is an excellent choice to lead OMB.”“Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director,” added Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the party’s progressive wing. “The American people decisively voted for change - Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve.”On the Senate floor, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it's impossible to take Republicans' criticism of Tanden seriously.“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump,” Schumer said.At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government.If Democrats should win runoff elections for Georgia’s two GOP-held Senate seats, Tanden’s job would become hugely important because the party would gain a slim majority in the chamber. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals. OMB would have a central role in such legislation.Top Democrats, Biden included, supported anti-deficit packages earlier in their careers, but the party has since changed. Biden was a force behind the establishment of the Obama deficit commission, which was created to win votes of Democratic moderates to pass an increase in the government’s borrowing cap and was chaired by former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.Tanden shares a commonly held view among Democratic lawmakers that Republicans usually profess concerns about deficits only when Democrats are in power, pointing to tax cut packages passed in the opening year of Trump’s administration and former President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut.___Taylor reported from Washington.Zeke Miller And Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
A special group of northern Canadian Armed Forces reservists are helping a northern Saskatchewan community guard against the threat of COVID-19.Members of the Wollaston Lake Canadian Ranger Patrol spent the weekend getting ready to support the nearby Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation to prepare for any coronavirus cases.While Hatchet Lake has not had any cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, officials looked at rising counts in neighbouring communities, and didn't want to take any chances."We're lucky we have nothing," said Hatchet Lake Chief Bart Tsannie."But we don't know what's coming tomorrow or the next week or the next month because the virus is right on our doorstep."According to the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority, on Sunday there were 89 cases in the Far North East region, where Hatchet Lake is located.The Ranger group will be doing whatever it can to help out the community, especially elderly people."Right now, we're just piling wood for the people who can't get wood for themselves," said Peter Gazandlare, a band councillor and veteran member of the Rangers."We're doing whatever we can to help out the community at this time."The Wollaston Lake Rangers were mobilized in the community for three months at the start of the pandemic, but were called down in the summer.Another group of Rangers in Ile-a-la-Crosse were also activated this spring, helping out the community with emergency planning and distributing supplies.Chief Tsannie said a group of health workers, elders and others have been meeting in the community weekly, to try to make sure the virus doesn't get a foothold in the community.The Canadian Rangers perform a wide variety of roles in the community, including search and rescue and emergency preparedness across northern Canada.The Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation is located 700 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.
Chatham-Kent Police have charged the organizer of a weekend rally against COVID-19 restrictions that drew a crowd of more than 100 people. A 32-year-old Wallaceburg woman accused of organizing a “Freedom Group” rally in Chatham over the weekend was issued a Provincial Offences Act Summons for failing to comply with a continued section 7.0.2 order as per Ontario Regulation 364/20, of the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020, section 10.1(1). If she is convicted, the fine for the offence is at least $10,000 and up to $100,000. It could also include a sentence of up to one year in jail. According to police, the number of protesters exceeded the limit for an outdoor gathering, set at 25 people. Police said a person convicted of this offence is liable to a fine of not less than $10,000 and not more than $100,000 and could be imprisoned for up to one year. A few days before the Chatham protest, Chatham-Kent Police Chief Gary Conn warned police would be taking a “zero-tolerance” approach to COVID-19 rule-breakers. According to Conn, Chatham-Kent citizens have had ample time to learn the health and safety measures they’re expected to follow; therefore, violations would no longer be tolerated. “During these difficult and challenging times, those jeopardizing public safety and contradicting the law will be held accountable to the courts,” said Conn. “The law is clear and requires responsible action.” “My understanding is that they did not respect the guidelines that were followed, and there are consequences for that,” said Don Shropshire, Chief Administrative Officer for Chatham-Kent. “It’s not like we’re out to try and get people. We’re trying to educate in advance and trying to get people to take reasonable precautions, so we don’t have activities that are going to encourage the spread of COVID.” Mayor Darrin Canniff said he isn’t just concerned with anti-mask protests. He said he is also concerned with any situation, such as upcoming Christmas gatherings, that could “escalate the spread of COVID.” Despite rules clearly laid out and charges having been laid, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health still can’t predict what people will do. “But there seems to be a polarized view that some people are adopting that (they’re) denying the very existence of this pandemic,” said Dr. David Colby. “I don’t really understand that way of thinking.” Charges have been laid against organizers of similar rallies that have been taking place across the province recently, including one that drew about 200 people to Victoria Park in London on the weekend. The accused is set to appear in court on Jan. 6, 2021, to answer to the charge.Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
WASHINGTON — First responders and frontline workers being challenged by the deadly coronavirus pandemic are highlighted in White House Christmas decorations that also give a special nod to Melania Trump's redesigned Rose Garden.It’s the final Christmas in the White House for the Trump family, although the president continues to insist — despite evidence to the contrary — that he won the Nov. 3 election. President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office on Jan. 20.The first lady said “America the Beautiful” is her theme for the decor, and that it was inspired by Americans' shared appreciation “for our traditions, values and history."Workers on the front lines of a pandemic that has killed more than 266,000 people in the United States and infected more than 13 million others are recognized in the Red Room with a Christmas tree dotted with handmade ornaments, as well as other decorations around the parlour.The gingerbread White House — a sweet confection made of more than 400 pounds (181 kilograms) of dough, gum paste, chocolate and royal icing — is on display in the State Dining Room and for the first time includes the Rose Garden, which the first lady recently renovated, and the First Ladies’ Garden.Ornaments on the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room — a Fraser fir from Shepherdstown, West Virginia, that stands more than 18 feet (5.49 metres) tall — were designed by students who were asked by the National Park Service to depict what makes their states beautiful.A buck and a crane are featured in three-dimensional art hanging in windows of the Green Room, where American wildlife is the highlight. Classical urns lining an East Wing walkway hold groupings of foliage from different regions of the country.Trees and other decorations in the East Room feature planes, trains and automobiles — including models of Air Force One — in a nod to triumphs in innovations and technology. Wrapped gifts beneath decorated trees lining the Cross Hall bear tags that say “peace," “love,” “faith” and “joy.”Monday's unveiling of the Christmas decor came weeks after Mrs. Trump was heard on an audio recording using profanity as she complained about the pressure of having to decorate for the holiday in the past. The recording of the July 2018 conversation was made and released to CNN by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who was fired from the White House earlier that year.Wolkoff published a tell-all book about her friendship and breakup with Mrs. Trump, whom Wolkoff blames for not defending her after questions arose about spending for Trump's 2017 inauguration, which Wolkoff helped produce.This year some 125 volunteers from around the country used 62 trees, 106 wreaths, more than 1,200 feet (366 metres) of garland, more than 3,200 strands of lights and 17,000 bows to decorate the 132-room White House over the course of Thanksgiving weekend.The library is decorated to recognize the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Stockings for the president, first lady and their 14-year-old son Barron hang from a fireplace in the room where presidential china patterns are displayed.After previewing the decorations for the media, the White House on Monday planned the first of many holiday receptions that are expected to be smaller in size given coronavirus concerns.A few miles north of the White House, the wrapping also came off the Christmas decorations at Vice-President Mike Pence's official residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory.Karen Pence said “Old Fashioned Christmas" is their theme. The home is decorated with natural and rustic elements, including pine cones, seasonal berries, burlap, galvanized aluminum and plaid ribbon, along with seven Christmas trees and 35 wreaths.Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
No matter what's been thrown their way, organizers of this year's Jasper Santas Anonymous program are doing their best to see that families have food and gifts to enjoy this Christmas season. This year, more families than ever will be accessing Santas Anonymous due to the COVID-19 pandemic contributing to more unemployment, isolation and financial stress. Pattie Pavlov, general manager of Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce, said this year, as many as 100 families are participating. In years past, it has hovered around the 70, 80 point. She and Ashley Chorley, operations manager with Chamber, are working with "the new and different nuances" that have been presented by the COVID pandemic. With COVID as one of the primary concerns, they wondered how they would get items to families safely, Pavlov said. "It's very important that we adhere to COVID (protocol), in collecting and distributing the items donated," she said. "We did consult with the Edmonton Santas Anonymous group. We were on the right track. We just wanted to confirm we were doing this properly. It was a learning experience." Chorley some items, including fabric, plush items, plastics and toys have to be put in isolation to discourage COVID transmission. For example, she said, plastic items have to sit for about 72 hours and plush items for a week, which complicates packaging them. Fortunately, with a list of families in the program already started, she and Pavlov can organize items by group. Some of the usually-held get-togethers have been cancelled, including Skate with Santa at Mildred Lake, and a photo opportunity with Santa at Bearhill Lodge. Pavlov said, “With the (allowable) gathering of 10, how are you going to restart the number of families? Pieces of the puzzle just don't come together." But other plans are coming together: the Mitten Line fundraiser at TGP, for example. At the grocery store, mittens are available at the cash registers with values of $10, $20, $50 and $100 with proceeds going to Santas Anonymous. "Some people have already purchased mittens and we're excited about that,” Pavlov said. Shoppers at TGP can also designate a portion of the money paid for groceries to the campaign at the time of purchase. Then there's The Snowball Fight. "We cut out a quantity of snowballs and we are giving them to banks specifically, and encouraging them to compete against others - a friendly competition," Pavlov said. "We're asking them to be creative with their displays." Folks can purchase a snowball for whatever amount they choose, with proceeds going to Santas Anonymous. The pastry team at Jasper Park Lodge has also added to the festive mix of fundraisers. Pavlov said they created an “absolutely unbelievable” gingerbread cottage to be raffled off. The detail in the house is something to behold - there are books on bookshelves, the inside of the log cabin lights up, and there's a pond outside with cattails along the shore. “It's big and so beautiful," Pavlov said. The masterpiece is on display at the Santas Anonymous Facebook page and tickets can be purchased at $5 apiece from Jasper Community Team Society board members. "As has been the tradition since Santa's Anonymous started," Pavlov noted, "there have been collection boxes placed throughout town. Anything you want to support Santas Anonymous with can be done through donations - toys, toques, mitts." Sites include Pharmasave, IDA Rx Drug Mart, Jasper General Store, Ransom, the Jasper Library and Nesters Market. Pavlov said the Chamber will also accept donations at Robson House. "Give us a call and we'll grab it (where it has been safely left),” she said. “I'd also encourage people to bring gift cards.” Another way to donate in a contactless way is via e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winning ticket for the gingerbread house will be drawn on Dec. 17. Proceeds from the Snowball Fight and Mitten Line fundraisers will be announced on Dec. 22.Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Federal opposition parties took aim at the Liberal government's economic plan on Monday, saying the measures included in the fiscal update fall far short of what Canadians expect and need.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland today announced the first steps in a multi-year plan to build a Canada-wide child care system to reduce costs for families and encourage more women with kids to join the workforce.To pay for this proposed program — and to collect more revenue to cover a ballooning budget deficit — Freeland also unveiled the government's plan to levy sales taxes on digital companies.Freeland said the government will create a new federal secretariat on early learning and child care that will work with the provinces and territories to design a new national system modelled on the one already in place in Quebec, where parents have access to child care services for less than $10 a day."Just as Saskatchewan once showed Canada the way on health care and British Columbia showed Canada the way on pricing pollution, Quebec can show us the way on child care," the fall economic statement reads.The finance minister said the next federal budget — expected sometime in spring 2021 — will present a more concrete plan on how Ottawa will provide "affordable, accessible, inclusive and high-quality child care from coast to coast to coast." The federal government is committing $20 million now to begin the work of crafting its new "child care vision."The government says the need for such a national system is obvious now, given how the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the precariousness of work for many women.Government data show that more women than men have been forced to stay home from their jobs to care for their kids during this pandemic-induced recession, because of mounting child care costs and a lack of available spaces."COVID-19 has caused a she-cession, rolling back many of the hard-won gains women have worked for over past decades," the economic statement reads, using a term coined to describe the dramatic decline in the number working women this year."Canada cannot be competitive until all Canadian women have access to affordable child care."The fall economic statement tabled by Freeland includes $70-100 billion in unspecified fiscal stimulus spending over the next three years, earmarked for jump-starting an economy hammered by lockdowns. The money to pay for a national child care plan could be drawn from those funds.While the details have yet to be worked out, the federal government will send more than $400 million to the provinces and territories starting in the next fiscal year to begin recruiting more early child care educators ahead of a possible surge in new spaces.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the Liberal plan to launch a secretariat pushes a national child care plan further down the line, when support is needed now to help care providers struggling with staff shortages and spiking COVID-19-related costs."The Liberal government is nowhere near what is required to not only keep the existing spaces. They're nowhere near even expanding to get to universal child care. That's where we're at right now," Singh said."What that means is families are making the impossible choice, saying, 'We can't find a place for our kids to go. I don't know if I can go back to work.' And that's a shame," Singh said.Speaking on CBC's Power & Politics, Freeland said she can't just "wave some sort of a magic wand" and create a national child care program overnight — especially when there are federal and provincial jurisdictional responsibilities to consider."I can tell you, I'm really ready to put my shoulder to the wheel on this one," she said. "I personally believe so strongly and so passionately that the time has come."Feds to levy sales taxes on all digital products, servicesFreeland also announced a plan to start levying digital sales taxes on consumers nationwide for the first time — a new system that could raise as much as $1 billion over the next five years.Under the current rules, foreign-based digital businesses without a physical presence in Canada can sell goods and services without charging the GST or HST.U.S.-based Netflix, for example, doesn't levy the GST or HST on its digital streaming services nationwide — but Apple, which does have Canadian operations, charges all its iTunes customers the relevant taxes.(Quebec and Saskatchewan already require Canadian and foreign digital service suppliers to register for and collect provincial sales tax on services like Netflix and Spotify.)The government says the current regime is unfair to Canadian companies and "deprives the government of tax revenues that could be used to better the lives of everyone."Freeland said sales taxes will apply to all goods and services consumed in Canada — regardless of how they are supplied. It's consumers who will pay the tax, not the companies themselves.While the federal government has long said it would coordinate any new regime with other Western nations, Freeland said Canada is now prepared to go it alone on taxing digital companies.Former finance minister Bill Morneau had said the government would pursue digital sales taxes only once other G20 nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) crafted standards that could be applied in all jurisdictions. That international work is still ongoing.Some observers — including Michael Geist, an internet law professor at the University of Ottawa — have warned it will be difficult to create this new tax as there will be significant administrative and enforcement challenges.The government will consult with digital companies on how best to structure this new tax, but the government said Monday it plans to start collecting the funds in July 2021. The government says it expects to fetch $1.2 billion more in revenue over the next five years from the measure.The decision to tax services offered by companies like Netflix is an about-face for this Liberal government. In the 2015 federal election campaign, then Conservative leader Stephen Harper promised a government led by him would never tax Netflix and the Liberals responded with a no-Netflix-tax promise of their own.However, in the 2019 campaign, the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens all presented proposals in their platforms to tax multinational corporations that conduct their business online.Singh said his party isn't satisfied with a plan to simply apply the GST to online business. He said he wants Canada to go much further and start taxing the revenue of large digital giants that do business in Canada. "That's a concrete measure to actually make them pay," he said. "Applying a GST is really meaningless."Singh said companies like Amazon and others he described as "pandemic profiteers" — businesses that have seen sales soar during this health crisis — don't shoulder enough of the tax burden.The leader said Canada should look to replicate France's plan to apply a 3 per cent tax on large tech companies' local revenues — a revenue tool that was postponed in January in the face of U.S. threats of retaliatory tariffs.New tax on short-term rental accommodationsAnother new tax will be applied to short-term rental accommodations booked in Canada on sites like Airbnb and VRBO.Airbnb does not collect sales taxes from its customers. It's up to individual hosts to add the GST or HST to the rate they charge for a space — but the tax is applied unevenly and it's not required for hosts who make less than $30,000 a year in rental income.With Freeland's new proposal, the GST and the HST will be collected on all stays and remitted by either the property owner or the companies that coordinate these digital bookings. It is estimated that this tax will increase federal revenues by $360 million over the next five years.The government is also proposing millions more dollars in funding for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to continue its crackdown on tax avoidance.The tax collector will receive $606 million over the next five years to fund new initiatives "targeting international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance."The money will be used to hire offshore-focused auditors to target the Canadians who hide income and other assets overseas. The money also will give the agency more capacity to audit "higher-risk tax filings" by high-net worth people, says the economic statement.The government estimates that these measures will recover $1.4 billion in revenue over five years.The cash injection follows a similar investment in 2016 that, the government said, is showing some positive early results — an estimated $3 billion in additional federal tax revenues have been assessed since the government started sending the CRA some $350 million more a year in funding. It is not yet known how much of that money owed has been collected.
Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation Chief Bart Tsannie welcomed 20 Canadian Rangers to his remote northeast community on the weekend. Tsannie said the First Nation asked for the rangers’ assistance to help its COVID-19 response efforts as case numbers climbed in the far north. “The cases are right on our doorstep” as they emerge in other remote communities like Fond du Lac, Tsannie said. As of Sunday, the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority reported 284 active cases of COVID-19 in its communities. In a prepared statement, a Department of National Defence spokeswoman said the rangers deployed on Saturday. Their role is to help make and distribute supports like food, firewood and care packages. They will also help spread information on health measures and precautions, the spokeswoman said. The request for help covers 30 days, after which the deployment will be assessed depending on the community’s needs. “(The rangers) will support the community of Hatchet Lake until the emergency has abated and the province along with other federal and private sector resources are able to effectively support the community without (Canadian Armed Forces) intervention,” she said. The rangers previously deployed in April to assist communities like Wollaston Lake, Île à la Crosse, Fond du Lac and Lac La Ronge with their response efforts, she said. That work included wellness checks, transportation, and assisting local officials. Other efforts included hunting, gathering, and fishing for local residents and helping elders with harvesting, cutting and delivering firewood. They also delivered medication and groceries and refilled and hauled water for residents. Similarly, they helped set up local clinics, transport humanitarian goods and work as information runners for command centres, she said. She added the four ranger patrols in northern Saskatchewan tasked with operation LASER, which aims to assist with COVID-19 responses, stood down on July 17. As of Monday morning, Tsannie said there were no COVID-19 cases in his community. He said the First Nation nevertheless responded to increasing regional case counts with tightened restrictions on Nov. 27. He said some residents have avoided taking those precautions, and some have continued to travel out of the community, “which is really, really tough. So the rangers will be extra help.” He said the First Nation has a positive relationship with the rangers. “If there’s ever COVID in Hatchet, we’re going to utilize them a lot.”Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
Students in grades 7-12 have now moved to online classes until at least Jan. 11, and diploma exams will now be optional for the rest of the school year. Nailah Fuko, a Grade 10 student at Edmonton's W.P. Wagner School, said she found out she'd be back to learned online while scrolling through Instagram. "I came upon this post that was talking about the government saying that we were moving online," Fuko said in an interview on Edmonton AM. "And I was like, 'Oh, this is new.'" Rebecca Boroditsky, a Grade 10 student at Ross Sheppard, said she's not worried about the academic implications of going virtual. Hear the students talk about their next month online: "For the socializing portion, I'm kind of sad," she said. "I've made friends and I won't really get to talk to them anymore until January." Boroditsky said she had been enjoying the quarter system schools brought in instead of the usual two semesters. In quarters, the classes are longer and Boroditsky said she had been liking her ceramics class she's taking. "We have more time to really get into it and do lots of project things, whereas with the shorter classes ... there's less time because you have to designate time to clean up and get set up, and that eats into a good portion of the class if it's shorter," she said. Fuko said she prefers a semester setup. "I think they sped up a lot of the material and it wasn't as easy to learn," she said. One practical difference is that online learning will make it easier to physically distance. Boroditsky said that was much easier in classrooms than in hallways or at lunch. Fuko said her friends are being careful and do care about safety and what's going on with COVID-19. "I definitely think students particularly are very worried and trying to do their best with what the rules are and how to follow the rules," Fuko said.
Travellers entering New Brunswick from Maine are now facing screening from provincial officials in addition to federal border services.Public Safety officers have established checkpoints along the U.S. border to boost enforcement of travel rules.The U.S. land border has been closed since March to stop the spread of COVID-19, but several exemptions allow for essential travel to continue into Canada.Some people who travel for work, such as daily commuters, can continue to cross regularly without self-isolating for 14 days. But New Brunswick has enforced stricter criteria, at times going beyond federal rules.Travellers entering the province are required to apply and receive approval through the New Brunswick travel registration program.Now the Department of Public Safety, which has enforced provincial travel restrictions since March, is starting spot checks along the Maine border.Spokesperson Coreen Enos said peace officers and police officers may deny entry or issue fines of $240 plus fees if a traveller is not complying with the rules. Fines can reach $10,200 plus fees, if an offence is brought to court."We will be increasing our presence along the New Brunswick-Maine border to ensure that travellers coming into the province are here for essential reasons and have registered their travel and received an approval," Enos said in an emailed statement.She said no tickets had been issued at the Maine border, and no travellers denied entry, as of Sunday. The province's legal ability to send travellers back to the U.S. is disputed.Premier Blaine Higgs hinted at the changes in a news conference on Nov. 23."We will continue, however, to monitor the borders in the northern part of the province between ourselves and Quebec, and we are enhancing our monitoring of the U.S. border," he said CBC News requested an interview with Public Safety officials and was told no one was available. Checkpoint in downtown St. StephenThe increased presence by peace officers is noticeable in St. Stephen, where traffic across the international border reduced to a trickle after the shutdown in March.Mayor Allan McEachern said Public Safety has set up a checkpoint directly behind the Canada Border Services Agency port of entry, on Milltown Boulevard in the downtown."You'll see the officers' car parked there, and one or two officers will be standing there greeting the vehicles as they come through and questioning them," he said.Peace officers have also been present throughout the town, which is currently under the orange phase, along with the rest of the Saint John health region.McEachern said there's concern in the community that people with exemptions to cross for work are shopping at stores in the U.S. and could spread COVID-19."There are incidents where you're hearing of people taking those extra trips when they're not needed," he said.New cases of COVID-19 are rising in Maine, with neighbouring Washington County reporting more than 60 cases in the last 14 days.Calais, Maine, which is across the St. Croix River from St. Stephen, put the town on alert after more than two dozen cases were announced.Tightened travel rulesNew Brunswick has tightened isolation exemptions over the past few weeks in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases.People who travel outside of the province for work are now expected to self-isolate for 14 days, with certain exceptions. Daily commuters in border communities, those transporting commercial goods, and some workers for maintenance of critical infrastructure remain exempt.Residents of Campobello Island are also permitted to drive into the U.S. to access essential goods and services, or to travel to mainland New Brunswick.With the collapse of the Atlantic travel bubble on Nov. 23, nearly all travellers returning to New Brunswick must self-isolate for 14 days.Province claims it can deny entryThe provincial government says approval by the Canada Border Services Agency does not guarantee entry into New Brunswick.Travel restrictions only permit international visitors to enter for work, medical treatments, child care and custody arrangements, attend school, visit immediate family or for a compassionate reason.When registering to enter the province, people must provide their reason for entry and contact information at least five days before travelling. This can be done through an online form or by phone.Enos said Public Safety officers working near the Maine border are "empowered to return a traveller to a point of entry" and deny entry.But an expert in border control says that falls beyond provincial powers.Kelly Sundberg, an associate professor in the department of economics, justice and policy studies at Mount Royal University, said international border security and inspection are exclusively under federal jurisdiction."Once the CBSA has cleared them, they are entitled to remain in Canada for the duration of the time allotted," he said. "The province has no say in returning that person to the United States or removing them."CBC News asked the Canada Border Services if it has returned travellers to the U.S. at the request of New Brunswick, and did not receive a response.While the new measures are unique, some provinces have agricultural officials inspect livestock for disease and boats for noxious weeds after federal ports of entry.Sundberg helped create the Canada Border Services Agency and has worked in customs and immigration. He said New Brunswick could strike an agreement for the agency to enforce its rules, which is already done for provincial limits on tobacco and alcohol imports."There's clearly a need for closer relations and interaction between provincial authorities and the federal government."
Bingo halls received the green light to continue operating after Saskatchewan introduced new COVID-19 restrictions last week, but a drastic reduction in capacity has led some to make the hard decision to close voluntarily.When provincial safety measures initially limited bingo hall capacity to 150 patrons, Amalgamated Charities Inc. (ACI) — a non-profit that operates five bingo halls in Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw — made it work.They typically seat up to 550 people, ACI President Patsy Warren said, but adapted to reduced patronage and safety regulations by blocking off tables and chairs to allow physical distancing, hiring additional cleaning staff, and checking visitors' temperatures at the door."Everything went as normal and everyone was pretty cooperative. So, it was running good," Warren said on Monday's Morning Edition.However, she said the latest capacity restrictions that came into effect on Friday have now made business unsustainable — and with the safety of patrons and staff also in mind, the organization's five bingo halls will be closed until Dec. 17."[The restrictions] just made it impossible for us to remain open, which is unfortunate for the charities, as lots of those rely solely on their bingo funds," Warren said.Safety of staff, customers also a priorityAdditional restrictions were announced by the provincial government on Nov. 25 and implemented Friday after cases of COVID-19 surged across Saskatchewan.Premier Scott Moe said residents need to "slow down a little bit," but a return to the tighter restrictions on businesses —like those introduced earlier in the pandemic — would hinder the economy."The overwhelming majority of Saskatchewan businesses and their employees in this province are operating safely day-to-day so it would be terribly unfair, and it would have a huge negative impact to close down all of those businesses, and put thousands of Saskatchewan people out of work," Moe said.The restrictions included a further reduction in capacity at casinos, bingo halls, arenas, live theatres, movie theatres and performing arts venues — all of which can now host just 30 patrons at a time.And according to Warren, with about 100 staff and 104 charities working through ACI's five bingo halls, the patron cap is simply too low — there is no way to turn a profit."We just had to make a really hard decision … but when it came down to it financially, if we can't pay the bills, there is no money to disperse to the charities … [and] they're going to be working for nothing," Warren said."And we felt the safety of our staff, our charities and our customers as well — that definitely came into factor."Great supportWarren is not the only one with safety in mind.Earlier this month, and before the latest restrictions were introduced, more than 400 doctors signed a letter that called in part for a 28-day closure of bars, bingo halls, gyms and places of worship.Warren said she still worries the closure will leave charities supported by the ACI in the lurch; the multiple religious groups, charities, non-profits and sports groups that would normally use their bingo halls to raise money will be losing thousands of dollars a month.But when the bingo halls announced their decision to close, Warren said they were met with understanding."When we made our decision and we posted it that we were deciding to close, we had great support from customers on our Facebook page," Warren said."So the response has been really good. And, you know, 'We'll be there when you reopen' … So we're hoping that that happens."The bingo halls that will be closed until Dec. 17 are: * Leisure Time Bingo in Moose Jaw. * Bingo Palace in Regina. * Centennial Bingo in Regina. * Fantasyland Bingo in Regina. * ClubWest Bingo in Saskatoon.
OTTAWA — Advocates of stricter gun control are urging the Trudeau government to get on with promised reforms, saying they are months overdue. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has pledged new measures, including a buyback of recently outlawed firearms, tougher storage provisions and steps to control handguns. Heidi Rathjen, coordinator of the group PolySeSouvient, told an online news conference Monday that several months later there are no signs of progress on legislation. "We urge minister Blair to return to the gun file with force and to aim to meet his commitments without delay." The plea came days before the Dec. 6 anniversary of the shootings of 14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique, which Rathjen witnessed as a student. The federal government outlawed a wide range of firearms by cabinet order in May, including the one used at Polytechnique, saying the guns were designed for the battlefield, not hunting or sport shooting. The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons, meaning they can no longer be legally used, sold or imported. The measure has met with stiff criticism from some firearms owners and the federal Conservatives, who question the value of the ban. Blair has promised to follow the move with legislative changes to further tighten restrictions on firearms. “There is more to do, and we’re committed to doing it," Blair's spokeswoman, Mary-Liz Power, said Monday. "We will introduce legislation designed to deliver on the promises that we made to Canadians in the last election." PolySeSouvient wants to see the new prohibitions on assault-style guns, brought in through regulation, embedded into law to complete the ban and render it permanent — something the Liberal government has signalled it will do. It also wants the Liberals to legislate a system of pre-authorization for guns to ensure only new models inspected and authorized by the RCMP can enter the Canadian market. Blair has said the coming legislation will create a new evergreen framework for classification of firearms to ensure federal intentions can’t be easily overridden. But also on Monday, Blair announced a three-year delay in setting regulations for "marking" guns so they can be traced to registered owners if they're seized in connection with crimes. Those rules were due to kick in Tuesday after years of previous delays. His department said that without clear record-keeping requirements for some guns, it isn't sure how to to connect markings to owners. But it said it's committed to a marking system nonetheless, if not right away. "The government will not reintroduce the long-gun registry," the announcement concluded. Eyeing the next wave of federal legislation, PolySeSouvient also wants the government to: — Limit firearm magazines to five bullets to reduce the damage a mass shooter can do; — Give police officers easier access to commercial sales record data to help detect bulk gun purchases; — Invest significant efforts and resources in strengthening the screening and monitoring of gun-licence applicants and licensed owners; — End the importation and manufacture of handguns. The Trudeau government plans to empower provinces and cities to take steps to manage the storage and use of handguns within their individual jurisdictions, given that they have different needs and concerns. PolySeSouvient has counselled the government to avoid off-loading handgun restrictions onto municipalities, saying local bans are generally ineffective, as the patchwork of local and state laws in the United States shows. According to the RCMP the number of restricted firearms — predominantly handguns — registered to individuals or businesses rose to 1,057,418 last year from 983,792 in 2018. Claire Smith and Ken Price, whose daughter survived a Toronto shooting in July 2018, pressed Monday for a ban on the private ownership of handguns. "It's been over two years since our daughter was shot," Price said during the news conference. "And from our perspective, there has been zero legislative progress on handguns and the situation keeps getting worse." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — After a weekend that saw 24 new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, health officials reported 16 more on Monday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 138.Fifteen of the latest cases were reported in the central zone, which includes Halifax.The other case is connected to the Northeast Kings Education Centre high school in Canning, N.S. The school will remain closed for the week, and students will be learning remotely. Public health is investigating to determine whether the new case is connected to one previously reported in the school.In a news release Monday, Premier Stephen McNeil said there has been strong public interest in the province's pop-up rapid testing for people without COVID-19 symptoms. "These are important pieces of our collective effort to contain the virus," McNeil said.Health officials said 628 tests were administered at the pop-up site in Dartmouth on Sunday, yielding six positive results. The individuals involved were directed to self-isolate and have been referred for a standard test.Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia Health Authority issued a public exposure notice concerning a bar and restaurant in downtown Halifax. People are asked to book a COVID-19 test if they were at the Highwayman on Barrington Street on Nov. 19 between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.Anyone who visited the Bluenose II Restaurant on Hollis Street on Nov. 23, Nov. 24, or Nov. 25 between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. is asked to do the same. New Brunswick reported six new cases on Monday after 20 cases were confirmed on the weekend. Five of the province's six new cases are in the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton regions, which remain under heightened public health restrictions including restricted travel and mandatory masks in public.Health officials say the remaining case is in the Bathurst area. Newfoundland and Labrador is ramping up its traveller scrutiny as health officials announced one new case of COVID-19 Monday.The province pulled out of the so-called Atlantic bubble last week, closing travel to all non-residents except those arriving for purposes deemed essential. Starting Tuesday, all essential travellers will have to submit a form and obtain a reference number to show border officials when they arrive, according to a news release Monday.Newfoundland and Labrador has 36 active cases of COVID-19, with 338 cases confirmed across the province since the onset of the pandemic.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.— Written by Sarah Smellie in St. John's, N.L.The Canadian Press
Six teams from the second-tier Betfred Championship have applied to fill the Super League void left by the departure of the financially troubled Toronto Wolfpack.Bradford, Featherstone, Leigh, London, Toulouse and York all met Monday's deadline.Super League, which wants to return to 12 teams in 2021, has said the winning bid will be decided by Dec. 16, although the deadline could be extended.Toronto stood down July 20, saying it could not afford to play out the remainder of the pandemic-affected season. The transatlantic rugby league team's subsequent bid for reinstatement under new ownership in 2021 was rejected Nov. 2.The Wolfpack remain mired in a sea of red ink with players and staff unpaid since June 10. Majority owner David Argyle, unable to fund the franchise, has stepped away. The Toronto-based Australian entrepreneur has said his ownership group poured $30 million into the franchise — with more bills waiting. The London Broncos had a taste of the top-tier Super League in 2019 after edging the Wolfpack 4-2 to win promotion in the Million Pound Game in October 2018 at Lamport Stadium in Toronto. The Broncos were relegated on points difference after a 10-19-0 campaign in their first season."A strong London side opens doors in the media and commercially that Rugby League needs as a national game," Broncos CEO Jason Loubser said in a social media posting to fans.Featherstone Rovers were on the losing end of the 2019 Million Pound Game, beaten 24-6 by the Wolfpack in Toronto. Featherstone CEO Davide Longo says that alone is "the best argument for the 12th (Super League) spot on merit."“We believe we can offer an application as strong as any that highlights Featherstone Rovers as the best example outside of Super League of a club that has maintained a sustainable model whilst still being competitive on the pitch over the past decade," he added in a statement.“Furthermore, the club has developed the stadium, training facilities and off-field infrastructure that is compatible to many Super League sides."The York City Knights can point to their new home, the 8,000-capacity LNER Community Stadium.The Leigh Centurions submitted a 430-page document to support their application.France's Toulouse, which was on top of the Championship when play was suspended in March due to COVID-19, got support for its bid from former player and coach Trent Robinson, currently in charge of the NRL's Sydney Roosters."It's time for rugby league to feel the impact of Toulouse," he said in a video.The Bradford Bulls were once a rugby league powerhouse but were relegated in 2014 after being docked points due to financial problems.Toulouse (5-0-0), Leigh (4-0-0), Featherstone (4-0-0) and London (4-1-0) occupied the top four of the Championship standings when play was suspended. Bradford (2-2-0) was seventh and York (0-4-0) 13th.The Super League currently consists of 10 English teams and France's Catalan Dragons.In other Wolfpack news, the GoFundMe page set up by club officials to help players and staff feeling the pinch of missed paycheques raised 9,964 pounds ($17,265). The goal was 30,000 pounds ($51,990), which would have amounted to about $1,000 per person.Toronto, which began life in the third tier of English rugby league in 2017, was 0-6-0 in its debut Super League campaign when the pandemic hit.\---Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
GENEVA — As several European countries have suspended access to the ski slopes to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief said the risk of catching COVID-19 while skiing is likely minimal.“I suspect many people won’t be infected barrelling down the slopes on their skis,” said Dr. Michael Ryan said at a WHO news briefing on Monday. The U.N. health agency has previously said the coronavirus transmits much less easily outside because it is dispersed in the fresh air. Restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 have kept ski lifts closed in Italy, France, Germany, Austria and elsewhere.Ryan said the danger of coronavirus spread from skiing is from many of the other activities linked to the sport.“The real issues are going to come at airports, tour buses taking people to and from ski resorts, ski lifts ... and places where people come together,” Ryan said. "We would advise that all countries look at the their ski season and other reasons for mass gathering,” he said, warning that indoor socializing after skiing might be particularly risky.Earlier this year, ski resorts in France, Italy and Austria were the sites of several superspreading events that helped seed COVID-19 outbreaks across the continent.Ryan said that rather than targeting any specific sport like skiing or hiking, governments should consider how best to reduce contact between people to prevent the spread of COVID-19.“The issue is any activity that involves large numbers of people moving into a concentrated space and then using public and other transport to get there and back needs to be managed carefully,” Ryan said.WHO noted that last week marked the first time global cases of COVID-19 have dropped since September, citing the effectiveness of recent lockdown measures across Europe. WHO's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called it “welcome news,” but said the decrease should be "interpreted with extreme caution.”Tedros said that the upcoming holiday season should prompt people to think twice about how they might celebrate during the pandemic.“Being with family and friends is not worth putting them all (and) yourself at risk,” he said. "We all need to consider whose life we might be gambling with in the decisions we make.”___Follow AP’s coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakThe Associated Press
Strathmore has moved to make its fire department more diverse and inclusive by hiring a deputy fire chief to a new recruitment position. Laurie VandeSchoot, the town’s new assistant chief of diversity, inclusion and recruiting, was introduced during the regular Strathmore town council meeting on Nov. 18. VandeSchoot is a municipal government, change management and strategic planning specialist with a 28-year career with the City of Calgary who also consults internationally and locally and instructs at Bow Valley College in Calgary. “Laurie is known for building inclusive and high-performance cultures that strengthens communities,” said Judy Unsworth, Strathmore Fire Department deputy chief, during the meeting. VandeSchoot has experience in diversity services, equity solutions, mental health, public participation, strategic planning and sustainable development, said Unsworth. Furthermore, VandeSchoot leads the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) diversity leadership program, chairs the International Fire Chiefs human relations committee, and is the national co-chair of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) national subcommittee on diversity inclusion, among other leadership roles. “Under the direction of chief (Trent) West, I am super excited about what we can do here in Strathmore,” said VandeSchoot. “I’m passionate, as you can tell, about diversity and inclusion – it’s kind of my lifeblood. When we talk about diversity, inclusion and recruitment, diversity and inclusion is our purpose, recruitment is where we start from.” Diversity is about more than numbers, she added. “It’s not just about how many people you have that are different, it’s about that sense of belonging, it’s about that sense of inclusion and how we can create a culture of openness, belonging and wellness.” The hiring of VandeSchoot highlights the importance of welcoming all people to Strathmore’s community and environment, said Strathmore town Councillor Denise Peterson. “It shows that we’re not just saying these things, that we’re actually taking action to embrace inclusion and to break down those barriers that we’ve seen.” Peterson added the position will help develop partnerships with Siksika Nation.Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
OTTAWA — Key elements from the federal government's fiscal update, delivered by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Monday afternoon:A boatload of borrowing. The federal deficit is sailing toward $381.6 billion this year, but could close in on $400 billion if widespread lockdowns return in the coming weeks, according to the fall economic statement. A big reason for that eye-popping sum is the total cost of Ottawa's response to COVID-19, which amounts to $490.7 billion. That also means more than $8 out of every $10 in federal and provincial support comes from the capital, down from $9 out of every $10 from the July fiscal snapshot.The "Netflix tax." For the first time, Netflix and other foreign streaming giants such as Amazon and Apple TV+ will be subject to sales tax in Canada, according to the fiscal update. The government says GST/HST will apply to all companies that provide digital services — which means Netflix and Airbnb would charge sales tax on subscriptions and reservations north of the border. While the European Union moved to tax digital platforms two years ago, Freeland said Canada is prepared to act "unilaterally if necessary."Work-from-home tax break. Employees working from home with "modest expenses" in 2020 can claim up to $400, based on time spent at the dining-room desk. Canadians can make the claim "without the need to track detailed expenses," and the tax man "will generally not request" confirmation from employers, the economic statement says.Increasing fiscal-stabilization payments. Responding to a call from provinces whose finances have taken a beating, the Liberals say they will increase the maximum payment under a program designed to help provincial governments deal with temporary economic shocks. The cap will go from $60 per resident, set in 1987, to $170 per person and increase with economic growth.Support the troops. The government is also proposing to sign off on an additional $600,000 to top up the Veterans Emergency Fund that would ensure more financial support for veterans whose well-being is at risk "due to an urgent and unexpected situation."All the wage. For businesses, the government wants to bring the wage subsidy back to 75 per cent of company payroll costs and extend the business rent subsidy to mid-March. The Trudeau government had previously extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to the summer, while the adapted business-rent subsidy — revised from a less popular iteration that hinged on landlord participation — was slated only to continue through the end of the year.Clean water for Indigenous communities. The government is pledging to invest $1.5 billion in 2020-21 to work toward lifting all long-term drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities, and $114 million each year after. The Liberals have maintained a years-long pledge to lift all outstanding boil-water advisories for Indigenous residents by March 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that about 95 advisories had been lifted since the party came to power in 2015, but more than 60 remained the last time figures were updated before the pandemic.A $100-billion stimulus. The government plans to spend between $70 billion and $100 billion over the next three years to stimulate the economic recovery from COVID-19. The boon amounts to between three and four per cent of GDP, and will tilt toward a "greener, more innovative" bounce-back, though the details are to be determined.Get retrofit. Ottawa is aiming to dole out $2.6 billion over seven years to help homeowners make their digs more efficient, starting in 2020-21. The cash, channelled through Natural Resources Canada, would take the form of up to 700,000 grants of $5,000 or less to help with projects that could range from energy-efficient heating to solar-panel installations. The upcoming plan, with eligibility retroactive to December 2020, fulfils a Liberal election promise from last year.Cash for families. Looking to boost temporary support for parents, the Liberals plan to provide up to $1,200 per child under six years old for low- and middle-income families that are entitled to the Canada Child Benefit, starting next year. The bump marks an increase of nearly 20 per cent above the benefit's current maximum payment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
Cory Gaudette grew up in the small Greater Sudbury community of Chelmsford. When he thinks back on his childhood, he remembers feeling awkward and misunderstood. Moving through the world, he says, being an openly gay teen presenting strong feminine qualities brought on a host of challenges. So much so, that it often felt like a balancing act, he said, trying to stand upright in a world he felt didn't always accept him. Grappling with his identity and sexuality was fraught with difficulties which, he said, eventually led him to abusing drugs and even spending about five months at Penetanguishene's Central North Correctional Centre for robbing a store. It was there, that Gaudette says he met rock bottom. "That got out of hand really quickly. I really lost the person that I was and the person that I wanted to be," he said, "I was really just like a shadow of myself." But it was also the place he found hope and self-expression in poetry. 'I decided I was going to turn my life around'"This was where I decided I was going to turn my life around," he said, "I wanted to journal, I wanted to write diary entries ... but I couldn't formulate these sentences and describe how I was feeling and then, it all just started coming out as poetry." Now, Gaudette is aiming to get others excited about poetry with a new self-published poetry anthology called Feminine Grit. The anthology has been published under his drag name, Emma Daniels.Together with a host of local contributors, the book explores what it means to be femme or display feminine qualities in a world charged with toxic masculinity.> We have all these really strong voices kind of coming out that weren't really heard before who were put on the side burners for a really long time. — Cory Gaudette, editor of Feminine Grit"It's a very feminine act to write poetry, you're putting all these vulnerabilities onto the page and I find that's why a lot of people don't share their poetry. But that's how I turned to poetry and it was a very big healing process." The anthology gives voice to 27 local contributors in northern Ontario, who belong to a range of diverse communities including LGBTQ, BIPOC and Indigenous people. The anthology features 62 poems and a mosaic of vibrant art. So far, Gaudette said, he's managed to sell out of the first 200 copies and is in the process of getting another 200 in the coming days. "I think with everything going on in the world now, we have all these really strong voices kind of coming out that weren't really heard before who were put on the side burners for a really long time," he said, "And those voices need to be heard." Raising money for women escaping violenceWhat's more is that, $1 from each copy sold goes toward the Genvera House, an emergency shelter for women escaping abuse from their intimate partners (including same sex partners), as well as women 50 years and over who are escaping abuse from their live-in caregiver, in Sudbury.To print the book Gaudette set up a GoFundMe account, where he raised about $900 to be able to pay contributors and afford printing fees. Bay Used Books in Sudbury ,where the anthology is being sold, matched that amount totalling $1800 to help with the costs of creating the book. So far, Gaudette has raised about $200 from the book to go toward the Genevera House but his ultimate goal is to raise about $1,800 to go to the shelter. However, if that number should be more, that would an added bonus. For the next group of copies, he said he's hoping to find more vendors who will sell the book. But for now, people can find it at Bay Used Books. Have a listen
A Nova Scotia court has weighed in on another lobster dispute. This one isn't over catching lobster, but shipping them. The dispute pits two transportation companies against one another over a cargo of crustaceans that arrived, in the words of the adjudicator Raffi A. Balmanoukian "bereft of life.""These Homarus americanus who had prematurely joined the choir invisible had to be destroyed or sold 'as is' for salvage value," he said.The choice of words in his decision are familiar to anyone who has watched Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch.Longstanding relationshipThe dispute is between Flying Fresh Air Freight and Connors Transfer. The two companies have a longstanding business relationship shipping lobster and other products.At this time last year, FFAF contracted Connors to truck about 4,700 kilograms of lobster to Quebec and Ontario for eventual shipment to France, Belgium and South Korea.According to evidence at this small claims court hearing, live lobster should be shipped at temperatures between 2-4 C. But that didn't happen in this case."On arrival, all shipments save one had varying degrees of damage due to low shipping temperatures, in some cases well below that which was appropriate," Balmanoukian wrote in his decision. "It was in evidence before me that many lobsters were dead and indeed some are encrusted in ice. Select sub-freezing crate temperature readings were in evidence before me."Limitation of liabilityThe question for the adjudicator was how much Connors owed FFAF.Connors had FFAF sign a limitation of liability agreement years ago, capping the value of lost lobster at just $2 per pound.Balmanoukian found that the agreement applied in this case, so while the losses totalled $21,703.86, Connors is only on the hook for $11,175.80.In his decision, the adjudicator noted that the only trucking story with more Atlantic Canadian flavour is the "Great Moosehead Beer Heist of 2004," in which more than 50,000 cans of beer destined for the Mexican market disappeared from a truck in New Brunswick. A New Brunswick truck driver was subsequently convicted in that case.MORE TOP STORIES
Following a lengthy discussion at Chatham-Kent council last week, only one area rated tax charge will be eliminated in the municipality. Chatham-Kent staff recommended that all three charges be eliminated to allow for a more streamlined and simplified approach towards property tax calculations. This would have resulted in all property owners in Chatham-Kent paying equally for the three services through the base levy, regardless of how frequently the service is used in their community. According to Chatham-Kent police Chief Gary Conn, services are offered everywhere in the municipality, whether a community requires the major crime unit, critical incident response team or the drone unit. He clarified that the police service level is the same in rural areas as it is in urban areas. “It’s the same level of service,” said Conn. “It’s not dependent upon area rating. The level of service is dependent upon a totality of variables that are taken into consideration, primarily the nature of the call and the urgency. The level of service does not change whether you reside within a rural area or an urban area.” He added a police cruiser is basically an “office on wheels” that allows officers to do their work while being ready to deploy for a call in short order. However, some councillors noted they see cruisers more often in urban areas than Chatham-Kent’s rural communities. Councillors said the level of proactive policing service wasn’t the same for rural areas. Eliminating area rating for policing would have resulted in a $102.65 annual increase per $100,000 assessment for taxpayers in 16 rural areas. A flat rate would have provided $75.84 in annual savings per $100,000 assessment for taxpayers in the urban areas of Chatham, Wallaceburg, Dresden, Ridgetown, Blenheim and Tilbury. Councillor Amy Finn argued that in an urban setting, your chances of seeing a police car is 20 times greater than seeing one out in the rural areas … “Yes, if someone calls 9-1-1, you quickly send an officer as fast as you can there,” said Finn. “If there’s a suspicious vehicle (in Bothwell or Tilbury), the response time for that call is a lot different than if you see a suspicious vehicle in Chatham.” Council spent nearly an hour and a half debating the topic. In an effort to make it easier on taxpayers, Councillor Melissa Harrigan put forward an amendment that if the recommendations pass, they be phased in over three years. Councillor Harrigan said residents have told her they would like to see additional police visibility, as well as more proactive policing in these areas. “In talking to rural residents about this, a common comment that I receive back is, ‘If we’re going to pay more for police services, you have to promise that we’re going to get more’,” said Harrigan. She said council might be approaching the issue in the wrong way. “Why aren’t we looking at adding services and raising rural rates?” questions Harrigan. “Instead of just kind of finding that equilibrium between geographically rural and geographically urban.” Ultimately, council voted in favour of keeping the area rating charge in place for policing (11-7) and streetlights (10-8) and voted in favour of eliminating it for horticulture (10-8). This means the property tax burden for the municipality’s horticultural services will be evenly spread among taxpayers across Chatham-Kent. At the same time, the costs for policing and streetlights will still be determined by where a specific property is located. The votes for and against were as follows: \- Elimination of area rating for police services, resulting in the inclusion within the base levy. Voting yes were Bondy, Crew, Faas, Hall, Kirkwood-Whyte, B. McGregor and Sulman. Voting no were Authier, Ceccacci, Finn, Harrigan, Latimer, McGrail, C.McGregor, Pinsonneault, Thompson, Wright and Mayor Canniff. Motion defeated 11-7. \- Elimination of area rating for streetlights, resulting in the inclusion within the base levy. Voting yes were Bondy, Crew, Faas, Hall, Harrigan, Kirkwood-Whyte, B. McGregor and Sulman. Voting no were Authier, Ceccacci, Finn, Latimer, McGrail, C. McGregor, Pinsonneault, Thompson, Wright and Mayor Canniff. Motion defeated 10-8. \- Elimination of area rating for horticulture, resulting in the inclusion within the base levy. Voting yes were Bondy, Crew, Faas, Hall, Harrigan, Kirkwood-Whyte, McGrail, B. McGregor, Sulman and Mayor Canniff. Voting no were Authier, Ceccacci, Finn, Latimer, C. McGregor, Pinsonneault, Thompson and Wright. Motion carried 10-8.Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News