RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, and Vinegar Strokes spill the tea on the wigs and outfits that can make the difference to their confidence levels.
RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, and Vinegar Strokes spill the tea on the wigs and outfits that can make the difference to their confidence levels.
ATLANTA — President Donald Trump badgered and pleaded with Georgia's election chief to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state, suggesting in a telephone call that the official “find” enough votes to hand Trump the victory. The conversation Saturday was the latest step in an unprecedented effort by a sitting president to pressure a state official to reverse the outcome of a free and fair election that he lost. The renewed intervention and the persistent and unfounded claims of fraud by the first president to lose reelection in almost 30 years come nearly two weeks before Trump leaves office and two days before twin runoffs in Georgia that will determine control of the Senate. Trump confirmed in a tweet Sunday that he had spoken with Georgia's secretary of state, Republican Brad Raffensperger, a day earlier. Audio snippets of the conversation were posted online by The Washington Post. A recording of the call was later obtained by The Associated Press from a person who was on the call. The president, who has refused to accept his loss to the Democratic president-elect, is heard telling Raffensperger at one point: “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.” Georgia's certified election results show Biden won the state's Nov. 3 election by 11,779 votes. The White House referred questions to Trump's reelection campaign, which did not respond Sunday to an emailed request for comment. Raffensperger's office did not respond to a text message seeking comment. Biden senior adviser Bob Bauer said the recording was “irrefutable proof” of Trump pressuring and threatening an official in his own party to “rescind a state's lawful, certified vote count and fabricate another in its place.” “It captures the whole, disgraceful story about Donald Trump's assault on American democracy,” Bauer said. At another point in the conversation, Trump appeared to threaten Raffensperger and Ryan Germany, the secretary of state's legal counsel, by suggesting both could be criminally liable if they failed to find that thousands of ballots in Fulton County had been illegally destroyed. There is no evidence to support Trump's claim. “That's a criminal offence,” Trump says. "And you can't let that happen. Trump has repeatedly attacked how Raffensperger ran Georgia’s elections, claiming without evidence that the state’s 16 electoral votes were wrongly given to Biden. “He has no clue!” Trump tweeted of Raffensperger, saying the state official “was unwilling, or unable” to answer questions about a series of claims about ballot handling and voters that have been debunked or shot down by judges and election authorities. Raffensperger’s Twitter response: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.” There was no widespread fraud in the election, which a range of election officials across the country, as well as Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have confirmed. Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia, key battleground states crucial to Biden’s victory, have also vouched for the integrity of the elections in their states. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two tossed by the Supreme Court, which includes three Trump-nominated justices. The Senate runoffs pit Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Raphael Warnock and Sen. David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff. With the Senate up for grabs, the candidates and outside groups supporting them have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the contests, deluging Georgia with television ads, mail, phone calls and door-knocking efforts. Loeffler said she had not decided whether to join Republican colleagues in challenging the legitimacy of Biden’s victory over Trump. The Democratic candidates whose wins Tuesday would help clear roadblocks for the new administration’s agenda awaited a campaign visit from Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris. Trump has persisted in attacking top Georgia Republicans over his election loss in the state, raising fears that his words could cause some Republicans to stay away from the polls. “I believe that we will win on Tuesday because of the grassroots momentum, the unprecedented movement energy in Georgia right now,” Ossoff told CNN's “State of the Union.” He said “it feels in Georgia like we are on the cusp of a historic victory.” Loeffler, when asked about siding with the growing group of Senate Republicans seeking to contest the Electoral College count, said she was “looking very closely at it, and I’ve been one of the first to say, everything’s on the table.” She told “Fox News Sunday” that ”I’m fighting for this president because he’s fought for us. He’s our president and we’re going to keep making sure that this is a fair election.” Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta who has continued to preach as he campaigns for office, seemed to allude to the runoff in a message delivered Sunday. He told viewers watching remotely due to the pandemic that they are “on the verge of victory” in their lives if they accept that God has already equipped them with the ability to overcome their adversaries. “When God is with you, you can defeat giants,” said Warnock, who ended the early morning service by encouraging Georgians to vote on Tuesday. “It’s so very important that your voice be heard in this defining moment in our country,” he said. “I would not be so presumptuous as to tell you who to vote for.” Loeffler was appointed to fill a vacancy when Republican Johnny Isakson resigned his seat, and she will be in the Senate, win or lose this coming week, until the election is certified. Perdue’s seat will temporarily be vacant after his term expires Sunday at the end of six years. Harris was scheduled to be in Savannah on Sunday afternoon. Trump and Biden plan last-minute, in-person efforts Monday to mobilize voters after more than 3 million people cast ballots early. The president continues to create turbulence for Loeffler and Perdue by questioning Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia and the reliability of the state’s election systems. Trump also tweeted that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, also Republicans, “have done less than nothing. They are a disgrace to the great people of Georgia!” The president last week called on Kemp to resign; the governor dismissed it as a “distraction.” Despite the attacks, Loeffler said she believed voters would heed Trump's expected plea during his upcoming visit that they should turn out. “He’s going to tell voters the same thing: You have to get out and vote Georgia, because this is too important,” Loeffler said. Perdue, who is in quarantine after being exposed to a staff member with the coronavirus and won't appear with Trump at Monday's rally, said he would have joined the electoral challenge in the Senate if he had been in Washington. “I’m encouraging my colleagues to object. This is something that the American people demand right now,” he told Fox News Channel's “Sunday Morning Futures.” ___ Superville reported from Washington. Jeff Amy, Darlene Superville And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
LONDON (Reuters) -World stock markets hit record highs on Monday, the first trading day of the new year, as investors hoped the rollout of vaccines would ultimately lift a global economy decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chinese yuan surged nearly 1% against the dollar, while the greenback plumbed its lowest levels against a basket of peer currencies since April 2018.
The Japanese government said on Monday it was considering declaring a state of emergency in and around Tokyo as coronavirus cases climb, casting fresh doubt over whether it can push ahead with the summer Olympics and keep economic damage to a minimum. Citing government sources, Kyodo News reported that preparations were being made for a state of emergency that would take effect by Friday and last about a month. Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures, which have requested an emergency declaration, asked residents to refrain from non-essential, non-urgent outings after 8 p.m. from Friday until at least the end of the month, and said eateries must close by that time.
Britain began vaccinating its population with Oxford University and AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shot on Monday in a world first, racing to give protection to the elderly and vulnerable as a new surge of cases threatened to overwhelm hospitals. Against a darkening backdrop of record daily cases, Britain touted a scientific "triumph" as dialysis patient Brian Pinker, 82, became the first person to get the Oxford/AstraZeneca shot outside of a trial. "I am so pleased to be getting the COVID vaccine today and really proud that it is one that was invented in Oxford," said Pinker, a retired maintenance manager, just a few hundred metres from where the vaccine was developed.
OCTOBER The Richmond Arts Council’s annual exhibition looks a little different this year. While an in-person showing wasn’t possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the council began preparing in April for the possibility of offering its Midsummer Art’s Dream show virtually. “While we didn’t want to give up on a physical show, we (also) didn’t want to get to September and be forced to cancel,” said council president Susan Ness. “So we decided to plan for two versions of the same exhibition, one physical and one virtual.” Amid an emerging trend in retail, another brick and mortar business prepared to shut its doors. But unlike many shops whose closures have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, the Beat Merchant Record Shop in Steveston village—set to close March 31, 2021—is shifting its focus to the growing online market. “I think to have lasted 15 years with a store is a major achievement, as we have had online shopping and streaming to compete with which is more convenient for a lot of people,” said owner Frankie Neilson. Growing up in the age of Twitter and Facebook, Lindsay Wong is at home online. And so while the opportunity to become Richmond’s ninth annual Writer-in-Residence came amidst a global pandemic, the award-winning author of The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family eagerly shared advice to emerging writers through free virtual public workshops and conversations. “The pandemic affects everyone differently,” said Wong. “Some people are caring for sick or elderly family, and some parents weren’t sure about sending their kids back to school. I hope our (conversations) will help bring people together to talk and write about our experiences and to put them into meaningful narrative.” Richmond city council approved a mandatory mask policy for civic buildings, including city hall and community centres. The idea was first presented by Coun. Bill McNulty, who said he wanted Richmond to “lead and set an example” when it came to measures that could help curb the spread of the virus. A much-anticipated bus mall in downtown Richmond is now in operation. The Brighouse loop, just south of the Canada Line Station at No. 3 Road and Buswell Street, opened Oct. 19 to replace the on-street exchange on No. 3 Road which has served 13 regular bus routes plus the N10 NightBus. According to TransLink, the previous on-street exchange served nearly 12,000 customers on an average weekday while providing access to local and long-haul bus routes as well as connections to the Canada Line. In neighbourhoods like Hamilton, where agriculture continues to be a community identifier, one of the longstanding traditions is celebrating Halloween at the pumpkin patch. But in the age of the coronavirus, that simply wasn’t deemed safe this year for students at the local elementary school. So on Oct. 30—they day before trick or treating—the pumpkin patch was delivered to the kids. In a strong display of camaraderie and co-operation that helps define a community, Hamilton residents, parents and local businesses teamed up to make this Halloween as memorable—and joyful— as any previous. “This year has been very challenging from the start, especially for the kids,” says Mark McCallum, entering his second year as principal at Hamilton elementary.“We thought it would be a fun thing to do, adding to (the kids) coming to school dressed up in their costumes.” Cyclists and art lovers across Richmond were invited to participate in a cycling art tour developed by the city. Part of the RichmondHasHeart campaign, the tour aims to bring Richmondites together safely while maintaining physical distancing protocols. City staff said the activity was developed during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic to invite community members to engage with and access the arts in meaningful ways—while staying safe. The program is free, self-guided and contactless, and is available to participants on their own or in small groups. It was a unique environment with no fans in the stands, but the Richmond Sockeyes were back playing hockey in October. The perennial cup contenders again found themselves in a familiar place as the Pacific Junior Hockey League season (PJHL) got underway—atop the standings. Under the guidance of new head coach Bayne Koen, the Sockeyes won their first seven games before the season was again abruptly halted by health authorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps best known as mom to two of BC’s top swimmers, Barbara Johns, mother of Brian and Kevin and wife to Lawrie, passed away peacefully Oct. 24 at age 72. Johns was a pillar of the swimming community—and that’s an understatement. Conservatively, she officiated at some 300 meets, and spent another 600 days (the equivalent of two years) on deck, loving every minute. Sports—swimming in particular—were a passion. Like family, she poured everything into sports. NOVEMBER Each year on Nov. 11, Canadians gather to mark Remembrance Day, a chance to remember war, loss and sacrifice. “People use this as a time to reflect back on the losses and sacrifices over time in the various conflicts that have occurred,” said Sgt. Patrick Madderom of the 39 Service Battalion at Richmond’s Sherman Armoury. “Nowadays war and conflict do continue, they’re present, and it’s important to recognize the sacrifices that continue to this day, and recognize the tragedies that exist on a global scale such as the First World War and the Second World War so we can strive to avoid them in the future.” Unable to observe Remembrance Day with the usual school-wide assembly because of COVID-19, leadership students at McNair secondary came up with a novel way to pay their respects: via a commemorative video. Students brainstormed how they could get creative and mark the occasion while respecting COVID-19 protocols. Their video tells a story, beginning with a child who comes across a box of his grandfather’s items from the war. The opening is used to link to the historical section of the video, which includes video clips, images and audio from the First World War. Dorothy Barnes thought she was going to the store for cat food and toilet paper. Instead, she came home $675,000 richer from a Set for Life Scratch & Win ticket. The Richmond resident, who claimed her prize using BCLC’s alternate prize-claim process, stopped in at the Shoppers Drug Mart on Williams Road where she decided to purchase the ticket. Richmond’s temporary patio program—recently extended for another year—has been a big success for the businesses that implemented it, including Steveston’s Shady Island Bar & Grill. The temporary patio program was initially introduced by the city in May in response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Shady Island opened its space in June, and it proved to be the restaurant’s most popular area over the summer. A historic result, the Oct. 24 provincial election saw three of Richmond’s four ridings flip from the BC Liberals to the NDP. The NDP’s Aman Singh was officially elected in the Richmond-Queensborough riding with 47.65 per cent of votes after mail-in and absentee ballots were counted. In Richmond-Steveston, NDP candidate (and city councillor) Kelly Greene won the seat with 52.07 per cent of votes after final count. In Richmond South Centre, NDP candidate Henry Yao maintained his election night lead to win the riding by a margin of less than 200 votes—50.67 per cent to 49.33 per cent. Richmond North Centre incumbent Teresa Wat was the lone Liberal to win, holding her seat with 51.26 per cent of votes. Across Richmond, voter turnout was low. Richmond-Steveston saw the highest turnout, with 55.95 per cent of registered voters casting a valid ballot, followed by Richmond-Queensborough with 49.61 per cent. In the other two ridings, only 40 per cent of registered voters participated in the election. After the final provincial count, the NDP holds 57 seats, the Liberals 28 and the Greens two. DECEMBER Thanks to funding from BC Housing, the Salvation Army Richmond House Emergency Shelter on Horseshoe Way added additional 15 beds this winter season, bringing its capacity to 45 people. All 45 beds were full as of a Dec. 1 update. In addition, the temporary emergency response centre in the old Minoru seniors’ centre is open through March 31 with 45 beds. Almost 100 new rental homes are coming to Richmond for people with low to moderate incomes. BC Attorney General David Eby, the minister responsible for housing, said the projects will mean new, affordable homes for a wide range of people—from seniors on fixed incomes to growing families and people with disabilities. While December is normally a busy time of year for the retail sector, this past holiday shopping season was a little more unpredictable for major Richmond malls. “The prediction for retail is that people are starting their shopping earlier in the year,” said Lansdowne Centre marketing manager Bronwyn Bailey. While the usual surge in shoppers was less predictable this year, all four malls surveyed—Lansdowne Centre, Aberdeen Centre, Richmond Centre and McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport—expected customer numbers to increase in December. The City of Richmond announced operation of its animal shelter would transfer from RAPS to the BC SPCA as of Feb. 1, 2021. The new agreement with the BC SPCA coincides with the start of construction of the new Richmond Animal Shelter, which will replace the existing facility at 12071 No. 5 Rd. The new facility will be built on the same site, so the existing shelter will close from next spring until construction is complete in two years. “Continuity of care and service for stray, abandoned and in-need animals in our community is important, especially during this construction phase,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. Steveston’s annual holiday tradition, Winter in the Village went ahead in 2020 with some changes. For the first time, people could vote online for their favourite tree in the Festival of Trees, where local merchants and organizations decorate trees that are then displayed inside Steveston’s Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site. There were 15 trees decorated this year, said marketing and visitor services manager Mimi Horita. She added that, as expected, some groups cancelled due to different circumstances during the unusual year. “We did not hold a ‘decorating party’ this year, and scheduled the decorating times over a one-week period to ensure safe distancing,” Horita said of the changes to planning. As the year wound down there were a pair of major contributions toward the new acute care tower at Richmond Hospital. Local real estate developer Michael Ching donated $200,000 to the cause and also has partnered with South China Morning Post to donate $50,000 towards Richmond Hospital Foundation’s Surgical Restart Campaign. He also donated 25,000 masks to Vancouver Diamonds Lions Club as a part of its disposable masks fundraiser for the Richmond Hospital Foundation. Longtime friends of Richmond Hospital, Johnny Fong and Rebecca Cheng donated $1 million toward future projects. They collectively pledged $700,000 to the new Yurkovich Family Pavilion (new acute care tower) and donated $300,000 to the Surgical Restart campaign, committing to match further donations dollar for dollar up to $300,000. And the Richmond School District circulated students’ art on greeting cards, choosing nine students and a 10th collaborative piece by a Grade 6/7 class) thanks to an initiative thought up by district arts administrator Catherine Ludwig.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
WASHINGTON — The Latest on the new session of Congress (all times local): 4:55 p.m. Nancy Pelosi has been narrowly reelected Sunday as speaker, giving her the reins of Democrats’ slender House majority as President-elect Joe Biden sets a challenging course of producing legislation to tackle the pandemic, revive the economy and address other party priorities. The California Democrat, who has led her party in the House since 2003 and is the only woman to be speaker, had been widely expected to retain her post. Rep. Kevin McCarthy R-Calif., again will be the chamber’s minority leader. To gain her victory, Pelosi had to overcome some Democratic grumbling about her longevity, a slim 222-211 edge over Republicans after the November election, and a handful of absences because of the coronavirus. There are two vacancies in the 435-member House, and whatever happens Democrats will have the smallest House majority in two decades. ___ 4:10 p.m. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan says in a statement that Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory is “entirely legitimate.” He is condemning efforts by some Republicans to object to the results and overturn the election in the congressional count of electoral votes on Wednesday. The group of House and Senate Republicans are echoing President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. Ryan, who left Congress in 2019, says it “is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than a federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections and disenfranchise millions of Americans.” Ryan urged the lawmakers to reconsider, saying “the fact that this effort will fail does not mean it will not do significant damage to American democracy.” The objections will force votes in both the House and Senate, where they are expected to be rejected. There was not widespread fraud in the election, as has been confirmed by a range of election officials and by William Barr, who stepped down as attorney general last month. Nearly all of the legal challenges put forth by Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges. ___ 1:55 p.m. A bipartisan group of 10 senators has issued a statement calling for Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win. The senators, including four Republicans, said in the statement on Sunday that efforts by some Republicans to overturn the results in favour of President Donald Trump “are contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people and only serve to undermine Americans’ confidence in the already determined election results.” Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Mitt Romney of Utah signed on to the statement, which said “it is time to move forward.” A separate group of Senate Republicans, led by Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, say they plan to object to the election results when Congress meets on Wednesday to tally Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College victory over Trump. The objections will force votes in both the House and Senate, but none are expected to prevail. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has urged Republicans not to object. And several other GOP senators have criticized the efforts, splitting the party as the new Congress begins. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said Sunday that the objections are “bad for the country and bad for the party.” Fraud did not spoil the 2020 presidential election, a fact confirmed by election officials across the country. ___ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW CONGRESS Read more: — More GOP lawmakers enlist in Trump effort to undo Biden win — EXPLAINER: As Georgia awaits, Republicans still have Senate control — Biden flexes Georgia muscle alongside GOP in Senate races — Memorial held for congressman-elect who contracted COVID-19 — Senate race thrusts ‘Black America’s church’ into spotlight ___ WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON: 1 p.m. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is calling the effort by Sen. Ted Cruz and other Republican senators to overturn the presidential election a “dodge” that doesn’t go far enough in helping President Donald Trump. Graham said in a statement Sunday that Cruz has a “high bar” to show there was evidence of problems with the election. The South Carolina senator also said Cruz’s proposal has “zero chance of becoming reality.” Cruz of Texas is leading a coalition of 11 GOP senators who vow to challenge the election results unless Congress agrees to launch a commission to investigate the outcome. They and others are prepared to object Wednesday when Congress convenes for a joint session to confirm Biden’s 306-232 electoral tally over Trump. Graham, a top Trump ally, said that approach “is not effectively fighting for President Trump. It appears to be more of a political dodge than an effective remedy.” ___ 12:15 p.m. The 117th U.S. Congress is beginning as the House and Senate have gaveled in to swear in new members. Both chambers are holding rare Sunday sessions to open the new Congress on Jan. 3, as the Constitution requires. All members of the House and roughly one-third of the Senate will be sworn in. Democrat Nancy Pelosi was set to be reelected as House speaker by her party, which retains the majority in the House but with the slimmest margin in 20 years. Control of the Senate is in question until Tuesday’s runoff elections for two Senate seats in Georgia. The outcome will determine which party holds the chamber. ___ 12:05 p.m. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is declining to say much about the effort by a growing number of Republican senators to overturn the presidential election. McConnell told a reporter Sunday at the Capitol, “We’ll be dealing with all of that on Wednesday.” The Republican leader was referring to this week’s joint session of Congress to confirm the Electoral College tally that Joe Biden won, 306-232, defeating President Donald Trump. McConnell has privately urged Republicans not to object to the election results. He has said it would force Republicans to essentially choose between Trump’s demands and the will of the voters. A dozen Republican senators, and more Republicans in the House, plan to object on Wednesday. ___ 11:55 a.m. Sen. Ted Cruz says Congress has an obligation to ensure the presidential election was lawful, explaining why he and some Republican colleagues will raise objections when Congress meets this week to certify the Electoral College vote. He tells Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that the aim is to restore Americans’ “confidence in our electoral system.” Numerous federal and state officials have said the election was conducted fairly and without evidence of fraud on a scale so grand that it would have altered the outcome. Democratic President-elect Joe Biden defeated Republican President Donald Trump by some 7 million popular votes and 306-232 votes in the Electoral College. Trump has refused to accept his loss and continues to falsely claim the election was “stolen.” Groups of House and Senate Republicans plan to vote against certain state electors on Wednesday, but it will not halt Biden’s swearing-in as president at noon on Jan. 20. ___ 11:15 a.m. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley is hitting back at GOP colleagues who are criticizing his attempt to overturn the presidential election won by Joe Biden. In a lengthy email, the Missouri Republican defended his rationale for challenging President Donald Trump’s defeat. He and other Republicans are planning to mount objections to the results when Congress convenes for a joint session Wednesday to confirm the Electoral College tally. Hawley specifically defended himself against criticism from GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania as he challenges that state’s election results. Hawley, a Trump ally and potential 2024 presidential candidate, insisted that constituents back home have been “loud and clear” that they believe Biden’s win over Trump was unfair. “It is my responsibility as a senator to raise their concerns,” Hawley wrote late Saturday. ___ 10:30 a.m. Sen. Ron Johnson is insisting that the extraordinary effort by congressional Republicans to challenge Joe Biden’s presidential victory is not intended to thwart the democratic process but “to protect it.” In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the Wisconsin senator pointed to an “unsustainable state of affairs” where he claimed that many people in the country don’t accept the election as legitimate. He contends that more transparency is needed to “restore confidence” in results that states and the Electoral College have certified. A group of 11 senators led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas say they will reject the Electoral College results during a joint session Wednesday unless a commission is appointed to conduct a 10-day audit of the vote. They are zeroing in on the states where President Donald Trump has raised founded claims of voter fraud. Johnson isn’t offering new evidence of voting problems. And he does acknowledge that Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, found no evidence of widespread election fraud. Multiple lawsuits filed by Trump’s legal team have been repeatedly dismissed, by the Supreme Court and by Trump-appointed judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence. When Johnson insisted that “tens of millions of people” believe the presidential election was “stolen,” NBC’s Chuck Todd suggested that Johnson “look in the mirror” as to why that is. Todd cut off Johnson’s unsubstantiated assertions. Todd told Johnson: “You don’t get to make these allegations that haven’t been proven true.” ___ 8 a.m. The start of the new congressional session on Sunday comes during a tumultuous period in U.S. history. A growing number of Republicans are working to overturn Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump, and a surge of coronavirus infections is imposing limits at the Capitol. Rep. Nancy Pelosi is set to be reelected as House speaker by fellow Democrats, who retain the House majority but with the slimmest margin in 20 years. Opening the Senate could be among Mitch McConnell’s final acts as majority leader. Republican control depends on Tuesday’s runoff elections for two Senate seats in Georgia. It’s often said that divided government can be a time for legislative compromises, but lawmakers are charging into the 117th Congress with the nation more torn than ever, disputing even basic facts including that Biden won the presidential election. The Associated Press
With daily COVID-19 counts on the rise, Toronto’s top doctor says the city is planning to announce new restrictions on businesses this week. Brittany Rosen has more from experts, who say they aren’t certain further measures will slow the spread.
A third of Ontario's long-term care homes are reporting COVID-19 outbreaks, marking a new record for the province, as advocates say spread among staff has forced some facilities to seek new sources of support to care for residents. According to provincial data, 207 of the 626 long-term care homes in Ontario are currently experiencing outbreaks of the virus, including 19 new ones reported Sunday. The CEO of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, which represents nearly 70 per cent of homes in the province, says the rising number of outbreaks is pushing the system to its limits."We have to find a way to stem this," Donna Duncan said by phone Sunday. "Where there are extraordinary circumstances, we need to make sure we get out ahead of them so we don't see the type of crises that we saw in the (first wave)." A spokeswoman for Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton said enhanced testing efforts have allowed authorities to detect infections before the virus spreads through facilities.While the number of facilities with at least one COVID-19 case may be at an all-time high, the size and nature of those outbreaks has shifted during the second wave, Krystle Caputo said in an email.On Sunday, the province logged 1,140 COVID-19 cases among long-term care residents and 1,130 infections among staff. More than half of the 207 facilities with outbreaks have no resident cases, Caputo said.By comparison, she said, at the peak of the first wave on May 18, 2,538 residents and 1,615 staff were infected across 190 facilities. An independent commission that's examining the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Ontario's long-term care homes has so far come out with two sets of interim recommendations. While older Canadians may be at the highest risk for COVID-19 complications, Duncan said the steady spread of the virus among long-term care workers is compounding critical resource shortages that could jeopardize the health of staff and residents alike.Moreover, many hospitals are facing their own capacity concerns, Duncan said, so those health-care workers won't be able to offer the same help to long-term care homes that they provided last spring.Duncan said long-term care homes are working with the province to find alternative forms of backup, including the Canadian Red Cross and student support workers."Unfortunately, this virus moves quickly, and we've seen it move through the hospital system as well," Duncan said. "That really does deflect resources from long-term care."The head of the Ontario Hospital Association has said a number of hospitals are also facing staffing shortages as health-care workers have been redeployed to testing centres, labs and long-term care homes.Ontario reported 2,964 new COVID-19 cases and 25 more deaths related to the virus Sunday.Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 786 new infections in Toronto, 346 in Peel Region, 308 in York Region, 197 in Durham and 187 in Windsor-Essex County.There are 998 hospitalizations in the province, including 329 intensive care cases, and 228 patients on ventilators.The province said there's been an average increase of 2,792 new cases per day over the past week, with Ontario setting a single-day record of 3,363 diagnoses on Saturday.Public health authorities said they processed 49,803 tests since their last update, and 5.6 per cent came back positive.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 3, 2021.Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
Charges are pending and four people police say were involved in multiple incidents in Regina on Saturday afternoon are in custody. Officers were called to East Dewdney Avenue following reports about a man walking into a convenience store with a handgun in his waistband. The man then left the store, got into a vehicle with three other people in it and drove away.Police located the vehicle, conducted a traffic stop and took two men and one woman into custody without incident. The fourth occupant, a woman, was still inside the vehicle and drove away.The police news release said "several minutes later" the vehicle was involved in a crash near the Winnipeg Street exits on Ring Road.The woman driving the suspect vehicle sustained minor injuries in the crash and was taken to hospital before being arrested. Police said the driver of the other car was not injured.There was no indication in the police news release about when the first call came in, when the traffic stop occurred or when the crash happened. A request for comment was not immediately returned. Police said the incident is still under investigation and asked anyone with information to call the Regina Police Service or Crime Stoppers.
Earth-centred children's programs that seek to build ethical partnerships with Indigenous communities have an important role in learning about weathering climate change.
by Rob Paul Local Journalism Initiative Reporter There are plenty of uncontrollable factors those in the Ag industry must deal with every year, from weather to unpredictable market trends. This year brought more than anybody could have expected with the Covid-19 pandemic hitting Canada in March. APAS VP Ian Boxall says the pandemic’s impact on the Saskatchewan Ag industry was yet another roadblock in a year full of them. “I think 2020 has had lots of challenges for the Ag industry,” said Boxall. “I think as we start every year—let’s go back to January 2020—we saw some market disruption early on in the new year with some trade issues that Canada was having. We also saw some transportation issues, like we always see in the winter in this country. “As things progressed into the spring and Covid came in, I think there was quite a bit of uncertainty on the onset of Covid around access to inputs to get the crop in the ground. As it warmed up and farmers got out into the field, I think many had a very tough start to the year this year. “There was a lot of crop left out after the wet fall of 2019 so it was pretty tough to start in the spring—with that crop being left out there, there was also a lot of money left out in the fields still. I think we saw some producers have some cashflow issues because of that. “When you have all that money tied up and sitting out in the field and you haven’t been able to harvest it, that leads to producers in the province having some cashflow issues—which is expected when you have that much crop left out. I think the growing season went very well, people got the crop in and there were some dry areas, but I think most of the province ended up with some pretty average crop.” Although grain producers didn’t go unscathed, Boxall thinks the effect Covid-19 has had on the livestock sector has been major and will likely have a lasting impact as Canada comes through the pandemic. “It definitely had a huge impact on the livestock sector,” he said. “We saw huge issues within the supply chain for livestock with slaughtering plants and processing plants for beef and pigs. They were really hit hard with Covid, it didn’t so much hit the grain side, but I know the livestock sector was really hurt here. “They were hit really hard and I think they still might be feeling some of that, even now. It has affected their bottom line, that’s for sure. I think probably horticulture and livestock are the two sectors probably hit hardest in Saskatchewan and Canada because of Covid.” Something Boxall is hopeful for as 2021 is set to begin is increased help for the Ag industry through more flexible support programs. With the impact Covid-19 has had on the sector and agriculture being the backbone of Canada, he thinks both the provincial and federal government need to make aiding producers a priority. “I think the grain sector had a pretty good year,” he said. “We didn’t see huge yields, but I think we saw some pretty average yields across the province. Let’s hope that this vaccine gets rolled out and we don’t have any supply chain issues in the livestock sector in 2021. “As a producer and someone involved in Ag policy, I’m curious to see what the province is going to say on the whole BRM and AgriStability shortly, I thought it would announced by now, but maybe it won’t be until the New Year. “I’m interested to see what happens with that and what the federal government has proposed with it being retroactive to 2020, I hope there’s some support there for the livestock producers that have been hit so hard.” As the Covid-19 vaccine begins to be accessible to the general public, Boxall sees agriculture as the key sector that will help get Canada back on track after the pandemic. “The federal government has put some new money on the table in AgriStability,” he said. “We’re waiting to see if the provinces will sign on to that, that will help some producers. Is AgriStability the appropriate BRM program? I think lots of people would argue not. “I think it could be rejigged for the 2023 framework, that would be a more implementable and adaptable program. It would adapt a little more to some of the circumstances we’ve seen over the last framework. We saw some major trade issues and some erosion in some markets where it’s still been trigger payments. “With some of that, I’m hoping that maybe some new programs are written for the 2023 framework that would work better. But in saying that, I think agriculture in this province and this country will be a driving factor to get the economy back on track once we do have Covid in check. “There’s always positives and I think that’s one producers should be proud of and I think governments, both provincially and federally, will be looking at agriculture to drive us out of this downturn we’re seeing.” NoneRob Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator
WASHINGTON — Wednesday's congressional joint session to count electoral votes has taken on added importance this year as congressional Republicans allied with President Donald Trump are pledging to try and undo Democrat Joe Biden’s victory and subvert the will of the American people. The Republicans — a dozen senators and many more House members — are citing Trump's repeated, baseless charges of widespread fraud. They say they will officially object to the results, forcing votes in the Republican-run Senate and the Democratic-controlled House that will almost certainly fail. There was not widespread fraud in the election, as has been confirmed by a range of election officials and by William Barr, who stepped down as attorney general last month. Neither Trump nor any of the lawmakers promising to object to the count have presented credible evidence that would change the outcome. Nearly all of the legal challenges put forth by Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges. The Supreme Court, which includes three Trump-nominated justices, has also denied requests to hear a pair of cases aimed at invalidating the outcome of the election in key battleground states. The congressional meeting on Jan. 6 is the final step in reaffirming Biden’s win, after the Electoral College officially elected him in December. The meeting is required by the Constitution and includes several distinct steps. A look at the joint session: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CONGRESS MEETS WEDNESDAY? Under federal law, Congress must meet Jan. 6 to open sealed certificates from each state that contain a record of their electoral votes. The votes are brought into the chamber in special mahogany boxes used for the occasion. Bipartisan representatives of both chambers read the results out loud and do an official count. The president of the Senate, Vice-President Mike Pence, presides over the session and declares the winner. The session begins at 1 p.m. EST. WHAT DOES THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRE? The Constitution requires Congress to meet and count the electoral votes. If there is a tie, then the House decides the presidency, with each congressional delegation having one vote. That hasn’t happened since the 1800s, and Biden’s electoral win over Trump was decisive, 306-232. HOW DOES THE SESSION UNFOLD? The two chambers meet together midday to count the votes . If the vice-president cannot preside, there is precedent for the Senate pro-tempore, or the longest-serving senator in the majority party, to lead the session. That’s currently Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. The presiding officer opens and presents the certificates of the electoral votes in alphabetical order of the states. The appointed "tellers" from the House and Senate, members of both parties, then read each certificate out loud and record and count the votes. At the end, the presiding officer announces who has won the majority votes for both president and vice-president. WHAT IF THERE’S AN OBJECTION? After a teller reads the certificate from a state, any member can stand up and object to that state’s vote on any grounds. But the presiding officer will not hear the objection unless it is in writing and signed by both a member of the House and a member of the Senate. If there is such a request, then the joint session suspends and the House and Senate go into separate sessions to consider it. For the objection to be sustained, both chambers must agree to it by a simple majority vote. If they do not both agree, the original electoral votes are counted with no changes. The last time such an objection was considered was 2005, when Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, both Democrats, objected to Ohio’s electoral votes, claiming there were voting irregularities. Both the House and Senate debated the objection and easily rejected it. It was only the second time such a vote had occurred. WHO IS EXPECTED TO OBJECT? Dozens of House Republicans and a smaller group of GOP senators are expected to object to the count from some swing states where Trump has alleged fraud, despite the consensus of nonpartisan election officials and even Trump’s former attorney general that there was none. None of the members have presented detailed evidence and none of them objected to the swearing-in of congressional lawmakers who won election on the same ballots. In the Senate, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley was the first to say he would join with the House Republicans. On Saturday, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced a coalition of 11 additional senators who vowed to vote against unspecified state electors on Wednesday unless Congress appoints an electoral commission to immediately conduct an audit of the election results. Hawley and Cruz are both among potential 2024 presidential contenders. The challenges have split the party. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has urged his colleagues not to object, saying last month on a private call that the vote would be “terrible.” Several other Senate Republicans have criticized the effort as well, including Texas Sen. John Cornyn and South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican. Thune said last month that any objections will go down “like a shot dog” in the Senate. On Sunday, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said the challenge is “‘bad for the country and bad for the party." WHAT IS PENCE’S ROLE? Pence’s role is largely ceremonial and he has no power to affect the outcome, despite Trump's wishes to the contrary. The role of the vice-president as presiding officer is often an awkward one, as it will be for Pence, who will be charged with announcing Biden’s victory — and his own defeat — once the electoral votes are counted. Pence won’t be the first vice-president put in an uncomfortable situation. In 2001, Vice-President Al Gore presided over the counting of the 2000 presidential election he narrowly lost to Republican George W. Bush. Gore had to gavel several Democrats’ objections out of order. In 2017, Biden presided over the count that declared Trump the winner. Biden also shot down objections from House Democrats that did not have any Senate support. ONCE CONGRESS COUNTS THE VOTES, WHAT’S NEXT? The joint session is the last official chance for objections, beyond court cases that have so far proven ineffective for Trump and his team. “I think there comes a time when you have to realize that, despite your best efforts you’ve been unsuccessful,” Cornyn said earlier this month. ___ AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report. Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
A second Montreal hotel has agreed to open its doors to the city's homeless population, as long as they test negative for COVID-19.Along with Hotel Place Dupuis, Hotel Universel in Montreal's east end has been designated as an additional place for people to shelter.Because of concerns over social distancing, Montreal public health has ordered some of the city's warming shelters to close temporarily.This means alternative space is opening up at hotels, and the Old Royal Victoria hospital has expanded it's COVID-19 red zone from 25 beds to 100.People who are homeless staying at the Old Royal Vic who recover from COVID are being transferred to private rooms at Hotel Universel, which is currently housing 40 people."Self-isolating is a privilege," said Nakuset, executive director of the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal.She told CBC that there have been issues with contact tracing for people in the homeless community who do test positive."People are scrambling right now because we're not equipped to be red zones. We're not equipped to manage the COVID-positive cases," she said.For Sam Watts, CEO of the Welcome Hall Mission, the new beds come at a crucial time."It was the right thing to do in order to make sure we could have as many spaces [as possible] in the event that we were seeing more positive cases," he said.He said if the demand increases, there's a possibility of expanding the number of rooms offered. "We have to try and make sure nobody has to be on the street. I think it's a bad idea if people don't have a place to go to self-isolate."
A software engineer from Regina has been able to combine her passions for bullet journaling and art to develop an app that she's using to track her mood through the COVID-19 pandemic.Rochana Sawatzky says she first tried bullet journaling — a bullet journal contains sections to log daily to-dos, keep a monthly or weekly calendar, jot down notes, track both physiological and mental health, plus record both short- and long-term goals — to cope with her worries about the pandemic, but says she couldn't see herself putting in the daily work if it was just for herself.So she developed Beautiful Mood, an app that sends users a notification to rate their mood on a scale from "terrible," to "amazing.""In one way I think it's just kind of cathartic — like at the end of the day, to come in and say, 'Oh, this is how my day was,' and just to have a place that's judgment free, where you can express yourself," Sawatzky told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "But also, there's reporting within the app that can help you know what's contributing to good and bad days, so you can have a better idea of what's affecting your mood."Sawatzky says she had never applied her love of art professionally, but in developing the app she was able to design the graphics users see after they enter their mood for the day. Each month features a new theme designed by Sawatzky to give users something to look forward to.While she's not a very social person, she says, her best days have been those when she was able to go outside and see her friends. With the winter months and COVID-19 upon Saskatchewan, Sawatzky says while it's a bit tougher to socialize right now, she's making a conscious effort to get out. On the bad days in particular, she says, the app has been quite handy. Being able to reflect on previous bad days and literally see the good days that followed is a particularly helpful aspect of the app.It's a personal example of how noticing trends, she says, can lead to behavioural changes."Just being able to see a clear thing that says, 'Hey, this makes me happy,' [has] definitely influenced how I try and live my life," Sawatzky said.
The Municipality Trent Lakes is considering restricting the maximum number of people permitted to attend a rental cottage to eight, which could have a significant impact on the local economy, says Kathy Schreiber. Schreiber has been renting a cottage, which accommodates 16 people, in the township with her parents, siblings and their children for the past four years. She says they support businesses in the area throughout the duration of their stays. The township’s decision, which will be made in May or June, could potentially draw away thousands of renters, Schreiber said. The Kawartha Cottage Rentals online rental service organizes cottages by number of bedrooms, allowing interested renters to see how many cottages there are that have seven or six bedrooms, for example, she said. “If you just look at that website, and I’m making an assumption now because I don’t know that they’re all in the township, but let’s say on that website that there’s 50 rentals that are advertising more than eight for July and August, let’s call that eight weeks,” Schreiber said. “So, 50 rentals times eight weeks is 400 rentals of … let’s call it an average of 10 people. That’s 4,000 people and the township is planning on popping the news to in May or June, and I’m not including the landlords now.” She said she doesn’t believe changing the number of individuals allowed at a rental cottage will help improve some of the mayor’s concerns surrounding renters. “Basically, what I heard her (the mayor) say was that renters are a problem, they’re disrespectful to neighbours, and they leave garbage around. I think that’s a little bit what her lens is and that’s a very prejudicial lens to have,” Schreiber said. “I don’t think that respect should be defined by whether you pay rent or a mortgage, I think respect should be defined by the person that you are.” At this point in time, it would be difficult to find another cottage to rent, she said. “With COVID, bicycles have sold out, skies are pretty much selling out, and cottages are selling out. Even back in August, they were renting for this coming summer,” Schreiber said. Going to the rental cottage each summer is important to Schreiber and her family, she said. “My mom and dad, for them, it’s everything. They’re so happy when they see all of their family together and they’re happy when they see us together. But it’s also huge for us. I mean, it’s a big deal,” Schreiber said. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
Canadians should receive the same COVID-19 vaccine for both shots — except in very specific and unlikely situations, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada."Currently, no data exist on the interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines," according to PHAC's recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines.However, the recommendations state that "attempts should be made to complete the vaccine series with a similar type of COVID-19 vaccine" if the product used for the first dose is unavailable or unknown.The two vaccines currently approved for use in Canada — manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — are both messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines."The spike proteins encoded by either of the authorized mRNA vaccines have the same sequence and are stabilized in the same manner to remain in the pre-fusion confirmation, though other vaccine components like the lipid nanoparticle may be different," the recommendations read."Active surveillance of effectiveness and safety of this mixed schedule will be important in these individuals. Accurate recording of vaccines received will be critical."Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said it is "extremely unlikely" that someone wouldn't know which vaccine they were given.Chagla told CBC News on Sunday that it's been one of the government's mandates that people have documentation on which vaccine they received, along with a lot number in case any adverse reactions are linked to a particular vial.Chagla said the prospect of mixing vaccines requires further study in clinical trials, particularly if one dose is a mRNA vaccine and the other is an adenovirus-based vaccine like those produced by AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson or CanSino.While studies on vaccine mixing could yield interesting developments, he said the theory isn't meant to be part of public policy yet if there is enough access to vaccine products to ensure people receive the same vaccine for both doses.WATCH | Why Canada has been slow to get COVID-19 vaccines in arms:While Canada's approach could change based on any gleanings from these studies, he does not recommend mixing vaccines until there is evidence to support it."Theoretically, yes, they could be synergistic, but theoretically they could blunt each other out, you might make the wrong response to one and then have the other on board," he said. "And so as much as we think one plus one equals two, it may not. It may be one plus one equals zero in this sense."British guidelines OK mixing in certain instancesNew guidelines from the British government also said there is no evidence to support vaccine interchangeability, "although studies are underway."The advice said that while every effort should be made to complete the dosing regimen with the same vaccine, patients can be given different vaccines if they are at "immediate high risk" or are considered "unlikely to attend again.""[If] the same vaccine is not available, or if the first product received is unknown, it is reasonable to offer one dose of the locally available product to complete the schedule," according to the U.K. guidelines, which were published on New Year's Eve.Dr. Mary Ramsay, head of immunizations at Public Health England, said this would only happen on extremely rare occasions, and that the government was not recommending the mixing of vaccines, which require at least two doses given several weeks apart."Every effort should be made to give them the same vaccine, but where this is not possible it is better to give a second dose of another vaccine than not at all," she said.
A British judge ruled on Monday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should not be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges including breaking a spying law, saying his mental health problems meant he would be at risk of suicide. The United States said it would continue to seek the extradition of Australian-born Assange and U.S. prosecutors are set to appeal Monday's decision to London's High Court. The U.S. authorities accuse the 49-year-old of 18 offences relating to the release by WikiLeaks of vast troves of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables which they say put lives in danger.
Four people who died in a New Year's Day helicopter crash in northern Alberta were identified Sunday as members of a close-knit farming family. Wade Balisky, 45, his wife, Aubrey Balisky, 37, and two of their daughters, Jewel, 8, and Fleur, 2, were killed in the crash. They are survived by the couple's three other children: Chevey, 16, Remington, 14, and Indya, 12. The family lived together in the small farming community of DeBolt, Alta., about 45 kilometres east of Grande Prairie. Chris Warkentin, the Conservative MP for Grande Prairie-Mackenzie and a cousin of Aubrey's, released a statement on the family's behalf on Sunday evening. Warkentin said Wade, a farmer, loved to fly, travel, boat and play, and shared great joy in doing these things with his family. Aubrey was an artist and photographer who cherished her family and provided constant encouragement to them and her friends, Warkentin said. "Wade and Aubrey loved their extended family, friends and neighbours," Warkentin said. "The coffee was always on at their farm and their door was always open. They made strangers into friends at an alarming rate and made a priority of keeping those relationships meaningful." The couple shared a deep Christian faith and would have celebrated their 20th anniversary on Jan. 19. Warkentin said he was close with his cousin Aubrey and he grew up in the same neighbourhood as Wade, whom he described as an "experienced pilot." "The families are very, very close," he said. "It goes back a couple of generations, at least a generation or two that our families have known each other." Crash under investigation Warkentin said the helicopter crashed on a property jointly owned by Aubrey's father and his own father, which he believed was "totally coincidental." The crash site, in Birch Hills County, is about 500 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. "Our families want to thank all those who have reached out to us over the past hours and days. We are overwhelmed by your love and support," Warkentin said. "Thank you for your prayers. We need them now and will need them in the hours, days and years ahead." Police were dispatched Friday night to respond to a call from an emergency location transmitter in a Robinson R44 helicopter in the Birch Hills County area, Alberta RCMP said on Saturday. On Saturday, a spokesperson from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said the agency had completed its initial examination of the site and said investigators will now gather information, including the pilot's training experience and the aircraft's maintenance history.
TORONTO — Canadian companies may have spent the past year laying off staff and dealing with temporary closures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, but that isn't stopping many from rewarding workers this holiday season.Several, including the country's top banks, say they are planning to thank their staff for a year of hard work with year-end bonuses — and some are even topping up the amount.An online survey of 600 senior managers from companies with 20 or more employees in Canada revealed 48 per cent plan to offer year-end bonuses this year.The survey conducted by consulting firm Robert Half and research company Dynata between Nov. 20 and Dec. 7 also showed that 27 per cent plan to increase bonuses this year, 59 per cent will keep them the same as previous years and 14 per cent will reduce them.David King, Robert Half's Canadian senior district president, said so many companies are paying a bonus and even upping them because the pandemic is making continuity and high performance more important.“Companies still need to prioritize the retention of top-performing employees, particularly at a time when many are taking on heavier workloads, working remotely and balancing home or family commitments,“ he said in an email.Royal Bank of Canada, the country's second most valuable company on the TSX, said it will offer bonuses to recognize everything its staff have done to support each other, their clients and their communities in a tough year.The Toronto-based bank decided to give bonuses after "considering the external environment and the long-term interests of shareholders and employees," said spokesperson Andre Roberts."This year, RBC’s overall performance was impacted by the unprecedented challenges brought on by the global pandemic and while year-end results were down year-over-year, our performance demonstrated the strength, stability and operational resilience of our franchise," he said.Fellow banks — TD Bank Group, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Bank of Nova Scotia and Bank of Montreal — also said they will be paying bonuses.Meanwhile, engineering firm Siemens Canada announced it will split $3.4 million between all employees that aren't senior managers.Each staff member will wind up getting $1,550, said Siemens President Faisal Kazi said in a release announcing the bonus.Claudine Mangen, a Concordia University professor who has researched corporate disclosures, wasn't surprised to hear that companies are rewarding staff despite economic uncertainty.Many businesses, especially those in delivery or e-commerce like Amazon, have done well during the pandemic, so it wouldn't make sense for them to withhold a bonus if their future is looking is bright, she said.E-commerce company Shopify Inc. eclipsed RBC to become the most valuable company on the TSX during the pandemic and reported massive profits as it helped small businesses switch to online sales. The Ottawa-based company did not respond to a request for comment about what it is doing with bonuses.But not every company had Shopify's fortune. Many more laid off workers, or slashed salaries or had to find a way to pivot to new businesses.While Mangen expected those companies to stop or reduce year-end bonuses, some may have a case for sticking with them, she said."If you're a company that has had to fundamentally change its business model... and you see certain employees that are really thriving in this new environment, of course you don't want them to be hired by somebody else," she said.That incentivizes companies to toy with bonuses or non-monetary compensation like covering childcare costs or extended parental, Mangen said. Others will be more arbitrary with bonuses or offer different sums to employees in different areas of the company, depending on how impacted some departments were by COVID-19, she said.Top TSX companies Brookfield Asset Management, Manulife Financial Corp. and CN Rail all declined to share any info about how they are handling bonuses.So did Air Canada, which has used rounds of layoffs to combat waning interest in travel amid COVID-19.Enbridge spokesperson Tracie Kenyon said her company has yet to end its fiscal year, so "it is too early to discuss 2020 bonuses." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 3, 2021.Companies in this story: (TSX:RY, TSX:BNS, TSX:BMO, TSX:TD, TSX:CM, TSX:SHOP, TSX:BAM, TSX:CNR, TSX:AC, TSX:MFC, TSX:ENB)Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
The election took place in India's northern city of Dharamsala, which is home to Tibet's government-in-exile.View on euronews