Waves hitting the rocks on a sunny but windy day in Nova Scotia.
Waves hitting the rocks on a sunny but windy day in Nova Scotia.
WASHINGTON — Disputing President Donald Trump’s persistent, baseless claims, Attorney General William Barr declared the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.Barr's comments, in an interview Tuesday with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month's voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”The comments, which drew immediate criticism from Trump attorneys, were especially notable coming from Barr, who has been one of the president's most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voting could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.More to Trump's liking, Barr revealed in the AP interview that in October he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel, giving the prosecutor the authority to continue to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe after Biden takes over and making it difficult to fire him. Biden hasn't said what he might do with the investigation, and his transition team didn't comment Tuesday.Trump has long railed against the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign was co-ordinating with Russia, but he and Republican allies had hoped the results would be delivered before the 2020 election and would help sway voters. So far, there has been only one criminal case, a guilty plea from a former FBI lawyer to a single false statement charge.Under federal regulations, a special counsel can be fired only by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest. An attorney general must document such reasons in writing.Barr went to the White House Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting that lasted about three hours.Trump didn't directly comment on the attorney general's remarks on the election. But his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his political campaign issued a scathing statement claiming that, "with all due respect to the Attorney General, there hasn’t been any semblance” of an investigation into the president's complaints.Other administration officials who have come out forcefully against Trump's allegations of voter-fraud evidence have been fired. But it's not clear whether Barr might suffer the same fate. He maintains a lofty position with Trump, and despite their differences the two see eye-to-eye on quite a lot.Still, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer quipped: “I guess he’s the next one to be fired.”Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud.That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.The Trump campaign team led by Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence.But local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making unsupported claims, prompting grave concerns over potential damage to American democracy.Trump himself continues to rail against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. He recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but he still refuses to admit he lost.The issues they've have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.But they've gone further. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.Barr didn't name Powell specifically but said: “There's been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.”In the campaign statement, Giuliani claimed there was “ample evidence of illegal voting in at least six states, which they have not examined.”“We have many witnesses swearing under oath they saw crimes being committed in connection with voter fraud. As far as we know, not a single one has been interviewed by the DOJ. The Justice Department also hasn’t audited any voting machines or used their subpoena powers to determine the truth,” he said.However, Barr said earlier that people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said a remedy for many complaints would be a top-down audit by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all," he said, but first there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. ... And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on."___Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Community concerns surrounding the future of the moose population near a small, remote First Nation west of Williams Lake has led its newly-elected chief to ink a five-year memorandum of understanding with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS). Yunesit’in government (Stone) is the latest First Nation to reach such an agreement with the COS to promote wildlife sustainability through joint communication, collaboration and enforcement. “It’s going to open the door to have some meaningful meetings, and taking better jurisdiction and care of our moose and deer population out west,” Chief Lennon Solomon said Nov. 30 outside the Tsilhqot’in National Government office in downtown Williams Lake. Solomon, who was elected chief of Yunesit’in in Sept. 2020, said the community voiced their concerns to him after seeing a decline in moose numbers in recent years. COS Insp. Len Butler of the Thompson Cariboo Region said working with Solomon is a real benefit. “We have the same concerns, and it’s the unlawful hunting of cow moose and if we’re working together, it’s much better than working apart on these issues,” Butler said. “Having that backing and us working together is good for the moose populations but also all the species of wildlife.” This year has seen an increase in illegal hunting activity such as hunting on private lands and trafficking, Butler noted, stating there has also been a lot of ‘unfortunate’ night hunting activity within the area. Butler and Solomon both agreed there is more than one factor leading to the moose population’s decline, including predation and logging. Tsilhqot’in National Government Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse described the Yunesit’in caretaker area as prime moose habitat that has been heavily logged. The area was also heavily impacted by wildfires that tore through the region in 2017. “They’d say that our hunters used to go out in the wilderness and get lost, now there are so many logging areas out there they go out on the logging roads, and they get lost,” Alphonse said. Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
The remains of a 17-year-old soldier were unearthed four years ago in Belgium — and it turns out they are those of a member of the Newfoundland Regiment, who fought in the First World War and died 103 years ago. The details of the discovery and identity were announced Tuesday at an event at The Rooms in St. John's, with the provincial archivist being acknowledged as having played a major role in the process. Pte. John Lambert died Aug. 16, 1917. He was born July 10, 1900, in St. John's, according to officials with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. His remains were discovered during an archeological dig near St. Julien, Belgium. There were three other sets of human remains found, but it's not clear if the others have been identified. Lambert's name was memorialized on the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in Bowring Park, which commemorates soldiers from Newfoundland who died during the First World War and have no known grave. Lambert lied about his age to fight in warAccording to a biography on the federal government's website, Lambert lied about his age and claimed he was 18 years old when, in fact, he was 16. He joined the 2nd Battalion in Scotland, and made his way to France, where he joined the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment in June 1917. Members served with the 88th Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division of the British Expeditionary Force.On Aug. 16, 1917, an attack was launched by the Newfoundland Regiment — in what become known as the Battle of Langemarck — with members successfully overtaking the enemy's trenches and bunkers. Lambert suffered wounds during the attack, and later died from them. Another 26 men were killed in that battle. N.L.'s provincial archivist played key roleLambert's remains were found alongside a number of artifacts in 2016. Those included a shoulder title of the Newfoundland Regiment, an Inniskilling Fusiliers cap badge, two Hampshire Regiment shoulder titles, general service buttons, British bullets and a few other small items.DNA samples from the soldier's descendants made it possible to confirm Lambert's identity — making it the first time a Newfoundland Regiment soldier has been identified by this process, according to the provincial government. It was Greg Walsh, the provincial archivist and director of The Rooms' provincial archives, who "provided vital archival research to locate Private Lambert's direct descendants," according to a Newfoundland and Labrador government media release. Walsh, speaking to reporters at Tuesday's event, praised Lambert for being "so courageous."When pressed about the fact that this was the first local case of its kind, Walsh acknowledged the significance, but noted it was a team effort. "I just feel like it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, I have ever been asked to do, and I'm so proud of the work I did, and the work we did as a team," he said. "I do feel like we have put a name to a face and that's a huge part of what we do as archivists and we don't get to do that everyday."Patience and tenacityHow Walsh got to the point of identifying the remains was a lesson in patience and tenacity. "Military records confirmed there were 16 Newfoundland Regiment soldiers who had fought in the vicinity, with no known grave. Walsh, began his year-long search with this list of 16 soldiers and proceeded to find living descendants for 13 of the 16," reads a statement. Walsh combed through many information sources, including vital statistics registers, census records, newspaper records, phone books and online search engines, to find anything that might help with the process. Ultimately, it was a combination of historical, genealogical, anthropological, and DNA analysis that helped the Casualty Identification Review Board identify Lambert, according to the government's website.Col. Perry Grandy, who is chairman of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council, said identifying Lambert, and the process that led to that, are both significant. "This has connected our modern day life with something that happened in history that we only read about," Grandy said. Burial to come at 'earliest opportunity'The Canadian Armed Forces have notified Lambert's surviving next of kin, and are providing them with ongoing support, according to the government. Lambert, who was born to Richard and Elizabeth Lambert, will be buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's New Irish Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, as the "earliest opportunity," according to the federal government. It's expected that family members, along with representatives from the Canadian, United Kingdom and Belgian governments will attend, as will representation from the Canadian Armed Forces. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
CALGARY — Suncor Energy Inc. is forecasting higher spending and production in 2021 based on benchmark U.S. oil prices staying near their current levels of around US$45 per barrel.It says it predicts daily oil and gas production between 740,000 and 780,000 barrels of oil equivalent in 2021, an increase of about 10 per cent compared with this year driven by higher bitumen output from its oilsands operations.It expects capital spending of between $3.8 billion and $4.5 billion, including sustaining capital of $2.9 billion to $3.4 billion, an increase of about nine per cent over 2020's expected spending of $3.6 billion to $4.0 billion.The Calgary-based company forecasts refinery throughput of 415,000 to 445,000 barrels per day based on a utilization rate of between 90 and 96 per cent.Suncor says it expects to repay between $500 million and $1 billion of debt and will introduce a $500-million share repurchase program.In reports, analysts said the guidance was in line with what they were expecting.Credit Suisse analyst Manav Gupta pointed out that Suncor cut capital and operating spending earlier this year and lowered its dividend payments."Suncor almost broke even in the third quarter of 2020, and now is getting ready to pay down portion of the debt it took on to navigate the crisis," he added.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:SU)The Canadian Press
York Regional Police released surveillance video on Tuesday of a convenience store robbery in Richmond Hill in the hope that it will draw in tips. Officers said the robbery occurred the evening of Nov. 3 and they’re working to identify the suspects, both of whom are believed to be men.
NEW YORK — The annual publishing convention and trade show known as BookExpo, a decades-old tradition where guest speakers have ranged from Bill Clinton to Margaret Atwood, may be coming to an end. ReedPop, which has managed BookExpo for a quarter century, announced Tuesday that effectively immediately it was “retiring” the event, along with the fan-based BookCon and merchandise-based UnBound. Any future for the convention depends on the wishes of the book community. As in other industries, publishers have debated the necessity of holding BookExpo when much of the business once conducted there has moved online. BookExpo used to be rotated around the country, from Los Angeles to Chicago to Washington, D.C., but it was held almost exclusively in recent years in Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center. New York publishers looked to reduce costs, including cutting back sharply on how much space they purchased on the convention floor. Earlier this year, BookExpo and BookCon were held virtually because of the coronavirus. The status for next year's show was already in doubt. "The pandemic arrived at a time in the life cycle of BookExpo and BookCon where we were already examining the restructure of our events to best meet our community’s need," Reed event director Jennifer Martin said in a statement. "This has led us to make the difficult decision to retire the events in their current formats, as we take the necessary time to evaluate the best way to move forward and rebuild our events that will better serve the industry and reach more people than we were able to before. We remain committed to serving the book community and look forward to sharing more information in the future.” Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle, who has praised BookExpo as a chance for the industry to gather under one roof, said in a statement that he hoped such occasions would happen again. “Among the many traditions we greatly missed this year was having an industry event that brings together booksellers, authors and publishers," he said. "In this virtual world, Penguin Random House is continuously investing in innovative ways to connect our community members with one another, and we look forward to working with our industry partners to explore a newly imagined event where we all can come together to celebrate books and their essential role in our society and culture.” Booksellers have been meeting annually since the early 20th century, although the modern convention dates back to 1947 and the founding of the American Booksellers Association Convention and Trade Show. The ABA, the trade group for independent owners, served as host until the mid-1990s, when tensions with the superstore chain Barnes & Noble and some publishers led to legal action and to the association's selling the show to Reed. Usually held in late spring, BookExpo was once a prime venue for upcoming books to “break out,” and for publishers to place orders with booksellers and bring in top authors to meet with store officials, agents, librarians and journalists. At a given convention, a dais might be shared by Atwood, William Styron and Margaret Thatcher, or by Bill Murray and Julia Child. At a 2006 luncheon in Washington, speakers included Amy Sedaris and John Updike, whose elegy for all the Manhattan bookstores now closed so moved the audience that few remembered what was said by the third featured author, a first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. But over the past few years, visiting authors lacked the star power of previous guests, and attendance fell to the point where sizable parts of the Javits centre floor were empty. In 2018, when Michelle Obama was looking to promote the fall release of her memoir “Becoming,” she didn't come to BookExpo, but instead addressed the convention of the American Library Association. And this year highlighted doubts over whether an in-person gathering raises sales: The market has remained stable despite the pandemic and the convention being held online. Meanwhile, other industry meetings continue, including regional shows and the increasingly popular Winter Institute, managed by the American Booksellers Association. The Winter Institute will be held virtually in February 2021. "The retirement of BookExpo feels like the end of an era," ABA CEO Allison K. Hill told the AP, adding that the need for booksellers to gather was as strong as ever. "ABA is exploring new ways to bring booksellers, publishers, and authors together in the future. For now, we’ll keep bringing everyone together virtually.” Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
BRUSSELS — European Union lawmakers lashed out Tuesday at the head of Frontex over allegations that the border and coast guard agency helped illegally stop migrants or refugees entering Europe, calling for his resignation and demanding an independent inquiry.The lawmakers grilled Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri over an investigation in October by media outlets Bellingcat, Lighthouse Reports, Der Spiegel, ARD and TV Asahi, which said that video and other publicly available data suggest Frontex “assets were actively involved in one pushback incident at the Greek-Turkish maritime border in the Aegean Sea.”The report said personnel from the agency, which monitors and polices migrant movements around Europe’s borders, were present at another incident and “have been in the vicinity of four more since March.” Frontex launched an internal probe after the news broke.“In his handling of these allegations, Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has completely lost our trust and it is time for him to resign,” senior Socialist lawmaker Kati Piri said in a statement after the parliamentary civil liberties committee hearing. “There are still far too many unanswered questions on the involvement of Frontex in illegal practices.”Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements, which say people shouldn't be expelled or returned to a country where their life and safety might be in danger due to their race, religion, nationality or being members of a social or political group.Frontex’s board met to discuss the allegations late last month. The board said afterwards that the European Commission had ordered it to “hold a further extraordinary meeting within the next two weeks in order to consider in more detail the replies provided by the agency.” That meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 9.“Migrants and refugees are very vulnerable to pushbacks by border guards,” Greens lawmaker Tineke Strik said. "We must be able to rely on an EU agency which prevents human rights violations from happening and not inflict them. But Frontex seems to be a partner in crime of those who deliberately violate those human rights.”Strik raised doubts about whether the internal Frontex probe would produce results and urged the assembly's political groups to consider launching their own inquiry.Leggeri said that no evidence of any Frontex involvement in pushbacks had been found so far. He said EU member countries have control over operations in their waters, not Frontex, and he called for the rules governing surveillance of Europe's external borders to be clarified.“We have not found evidence that there were active, direct or indirect participation of Frontex staff or officers deployed by Frontex in pushbacks," he told the lawmakers. When it comes to operations, Leggeri said, “only the host member state authorities can decide what has to be done.”Leggeri also said that Frontex staff were under extreme pressure around the time of the alleged incidents in March and April. He said that Turkish F-16 fighter jets had “surrounded” a Danish plane working for Frontex, while vessels were harassed by the Turkish coast guard and shots fired at personnel at land borders.He called for EU “guidance” on how to handle such situations.The allegations are extremely embarrassing for the European Commission. In September it unveiled sweeping new reforms to the EU’s asylum system, which proved dismally inadequate when over 1 million migrants arrived in 2015, many of them Syrian refugees entering the Greek islands via Turkey.Part of the EU's migration reforms includes a system of independent monitoring involving rights experts to ensure that there are no pushbacks at Europe’s borders. Migrant entries have dropped to a relative trickle in recent years, although many migrants still languish on some Greek islands waiting for their asylum claims to be processed or to be sent back.EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she still has confidence in Frontex’s managing board but remains deeply concerned about the allegations.During a visit to Morocco, Johansson said that the report "concerns me a lot. If it’s true, it’s totally unacceptable. A European agency has to comply to EU law and fundamental rights with no excuse.”Johansson said she has “full confidence in the process that (has) gone on in the management board and the sub-group they are setting up” to continue the investigation, but, she noted that “there were a lot of questions put to the director. And he has not answered these questions.”___Tarik El Barakah reported from Rabat, Morocco.Lorne Cook And Tarik El Barakah, The Associated Press
Budget talks will continue but Southgate council has provided its feedback on major projects proposed for next year. While council can only approve the budget for the next year, members are presented with 10-year forecasts so they can look ahead at what’s coming. These are only projections. Projects sometimes get delayed for reasons beyond the control of the municipality, or moved forward if there is a good grant opportunity. The project funding doesn’t only come from the same year’s taxation. Projects are also financed by development charges, township reserves, transfers from other levels and in some cases by loans or grants. PLANS FOR TOWNSHIP FACILITIES ARE COMPLEX A big discussion is planned on facilities. Staff had originally proposed construction of a new multi-use facility in 2021. That has been delayed by more pressing needs for increased staff space due to COVID-19. Still, questions remain about that facility and its timing, whether any money will be dedicated to the Olde Town Hall pending proposals from private parties in the upcoming Request for Proposal. Right now, the building department is now operating out of the library, and council is meeting virtually. Discussions will include whether the council should return to the chambers or leave the space to allow more room for staff at the Hopeville office. Other facilities needing to expand are the fire station and Dundalk depot. In the past, the CAO has mentioned putting the Dundalk works and the township building departments in Dundalk, as the county has plans (no date yet decided) to move its sand dome out of town. In general discussion of the capital projects, councillors raised questions about costs expected from growth, especially in Dundalk. The CAO said that new development helps keep rates down. Instead, right now, the force that is a pressure on taxes is the need to keep roads and bridges in good condition, he said. LIBRARY The library anticipates an expenditure of $40,000 to expand the collection, for furnishings and to go to an infrastructure reserve in 2028. FIRE About $725,000 is budgeted in 2021 with the main expense being adding a new rescue/pumper/tanker. In 2022, about $300,000 for an expansion of one bay is forecast. ROADS The proposed roads budget is $3.7 million. That includes various construction projects as well as a plow truck, a loader and a one-tonne truck replacement. At an earlier discussion on Nov. 17, public works manager Jim Ellis asked council to consider whether it wanted to continue having staff work with outside contractors on infrastructure projects. Many paving projects are planned. The 2019 road conditions study found that about one-third of the hard-top roads in Southgate have a condition rating of 5 or less, meaning they need replacement of surfacing and are past asphalt maintenance strategies. Mr. Ellis posed the possibility of turning sections of low-traffic roads back to gravel to save money on roads needing re-construction. He said while 50 to 200 vehicles per day would be typical in that category of road, some sections had an average of seven vehicles per day, with the maximum of 35 in one day in a two-week study. So while a section of road like that might pop up closer to the top of the list for repairs, he said, it might be more worthwhile to put the money into a more-travelled road from slightly lower on the list. About $40,000 is anticipated to be spent on downtown improvements. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
L'Institut Tshakapesh a annoncé qu'en collaboration avec les écoles membres de l'organisation, elle allait de l'avant avec le virage numérique. Cette démarche est notamment accélérée par les circonstances actuelles qui découlent de la pandémie et elle fait partie du plan d'action du ministère de l'Éducation qui a pour objectif d'outiller numériquement les élèves innus pour favoriser leur réussite éducative. Ainsi, l'Institut mettra en branle une série de mesures pour effectuer ce virage numérique. En ce moment, des iPad acquis par l'organisme au printemps sont distribués dans les écoles membres. Selon l'Institut, cet outil permettra de : « valoriser les méthodes d’enseignement innovantes qui favoriseront des apprentissages chez tous les élèves tant en classe qu’à la maison.» Les écoles membres auront aussi accès à la suite Microsoft Office 365. L’Institut Tshakapesh est convaincu de mettre en place des mesures des conditions gagnantes qui contribueront à la réussite des élèves. « C’est avec fierté que l’Institut Tshakapesh contribue à la transmission des savoirs traditionnels et contemporains. Nous encourageons les écoles à profiter du virage numérique pour adapter et intégrer des outils qui serviront à l’apprentissage de l’Innu-aimun et de l’Innu-aitun », affirme Alexandre McKenzie, président de l’Institut Tshakapesh. De son côté, la directrice générale de l'Institut, Marjolaine Tshernish, tient à souligner le rôle des directions d'écoles dans le virage numérique. Elle explique : « Ces dernières ont mobilisé leur équipe-école dans l'intégration de ces nouveaux outils pour soutenir les méthodes d'enseignement innovantes. Un modèle à promouvoir qui met de l'avant l'inclusion et la réussite des élèves innus et qui permettra des interventions adéquates auprès des enfants les plus à risque. » Formation L’Institut Tshakapesh offre aussi un plan de formation et de soutien pour s'assurer que ce virage numérique se passe dans les meilleures circonstances. Il y aura donc des formations autant pour les professeurs, les élèves et les parents pour que tous soient en mesure de bien maîtriser les nouveaux outils technologiques. D'ailleurs, l'Institut souligne l’apport de partenaires comme Écoles branchées, Apple et les ressources spécialisées de l'organisme qui ont partagé leurs compétences et leur expertise pour rendre possible ce projet. Les communautés membres de l'Institut Tshakapesh sont Uashat mak Mani-utenam, Ekuanitshit, Essipit, Matimekush, Nutashkuan, Unamen shipu et Pakua Shipu.Vincent Berrouard, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nord-Côtier
Ontario is reporting 1,707 new cases of COVID-19 today, and seven new deaths due to the virus.Health Minister Christine Elliott says 727 new cases are in Toronto, 373 in Peel Region, and 168 cases in York Region.The province also reported 299 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 253 among students.Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 737 out of Ontario's 4,828 publicly funded schools.In the province's long-term care homes, 743 residents currently have COVID-19 and six new deaths have been reported today. The province says 109 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. The Canadian Press
Up to $100,000 will be given to the N.W.T. resident or company that submits the strongest proposal for an investment in technology. That financial pledge comes from the N.W.T. Manufacturing Innovation and Technology Contribution, a GNWT fund designed to find a project that will reduce costs, increase productivity for an N.W.T. business, and increase local employment. Members of the N.W.T. Manufacturing Association and new businesses looking to become a manufacturer can apply, as can individual N.W.T. residents. Those applying must be prepared to make an equity contribution of at least 20 per cent of the cost of their proposal. The project seeks to “support and encourage innovation in the N.W.T. manufacturing sector by supporting research into existing and emerging technologies.” Entries must be submitted by December 13. Application details and eligibility criteria can be found on the GNWT’s website.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is turning to a nasal spray as its primary flu vaccine for residents between the ages of two and 59. FluMist was originally available only for private purchase this year, but is now being offered by the Ontario government as demand continues across the province, according to a memo to the mayor and council from Dr. Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health.The spray will be available at OPH clinics starting Friday. It will also be distributed to pharmacies and family physicians, OPH said.The unprecedented demand for the influenza vaccine this year caused some pharmacies to run out, delaying vaccination for some Ottawa residents.Nasal spray 'proven to be effective'Etches said the nasal spray, which is authorized for use in Canada in children and adults up to 59, is "proven to be effective" and has the support of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. OPH has distributed the spray in previous flu seasons, Etches said. Infants, adults over 60, people who are immunosuppressed, pregnant women and those with uncontrolled asthma will receive a flu shot instead of the spray.Concerned about the possibility of a "double pandemic" and the resulting strain on the health-care system, public health officials have been especially adamant about residents getting vaccinated against influenza this season, and residents have apparently heeded the call.More than 48,000 Ottawa residents have been vaccinated against influenza since OPH began the current campaign in October. That's more than four times the number vaccinated during the previous flu season. "OPH will continue to offer available appointments on our website based on community demand and vaccine availability," Etches wrote. "OPH continues to recommend that individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications seek out opportunities to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible."
FRANKFURT — The OPEC oil producers' cartel was to push ahead with a new round of discussions Tuesday about how much to pump next year as countries wrestled over whether to extend the production cuts that have been supporting prices depressed by the pandemic.Members adjourned a videoconference after a first day of deliberations Monday ended without an agreement. They also put off from Tuesday to Thursday a meeting with non-OPEC oil producers like Russia, who have been co-ordinating their actions with the cartel in recent years to increase their influence.Oil producing countries face a difficult situation. The pandemic has sapped demand for fuel across the economy, which induced them to cut back production this year to keep prices from sagging even more than they have. Yet the lower production means less revenue for governments that depend on oil sales to fill state coffers.And the outlook for demand is mixed across the globe; economies in the U.S. and Europe have been disrupted by a second upsurge in coronavirus infections, while activity and travel in China have rebounded more strongly.Oil traded 19 cents lower at $45.15 per barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That is off from $63 at the start of 2020.The sag in demand has been reflected in lower prices to consumers for auto fuel in the U.S. Gasoline prices at the pump dipped well below $2 per gallon in many parts of the country in May as the pandemic took hold, and have remained flat after a mild rebound. The U.S. average was $2.12 as of Nov. 30, down 45 cents from the same week a year earlier but little changed from this summer, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.Analysts at UniCredit bank said the oil producing countries were likely to agree to extend this year's production cuts of about 7.7 million barrels a day.“In our view, the delay should not be a concern and we still expect the current curbs to be extended into the first quarter of 2021,” they said, adding that it is not unusual for OPEC meetings to last longer than scheduled and virtual discussions slow the negotiation process.“Moreover, both Saudi Arabia and Russia – the two leaders of the group – favour an extension of the cuts and this should be enough to square the circle and finalize the deal on Thursday.” Saudi Arabia tends to take a leadership role within OPEC, while Russia is the biggest non-OPEC country to co-ordinate with the cartel.David McHugh, The Associated Press
A symbol of magic and happiness, the World Tree has been set up in Jasper for the third year running in Robson Park. "This is an ideal location within Jasper's residential area, nestled in a green space bordering our schools, the library and the Jasper Art Gallery," said Marcia DeWandel, one of the volunteers behind the tree, in an email. "It creates a festive community hub during the cool, dark winter season." This year’s tree was harvested in a valley close to town, as part of the area's FireSmart program. It was set up on Nov. 30 by municipal staff, with help from the volunteer trio of DeWandel, Traudi Golla and Penny Bayfield. DeWandel said there has been a great deal of support from community organizations. The Municipality of Jasper gave approval for the initiative in October, 2018. Other community groups that have helped the World Tree be a shining light include Community Outreach Services, the Jasper Volunteer Fire Brigade, the Jasper Municipal Library, Jasper Artists Guild, the Dutch Guy, SAW Construction, Friends of Jasper and Parks Canada Although the World Tree is not a fundraiser, DeWandel pointed out that in 2018 and 2019, Santas Anonymous encouraged donations through the sale of tree decorations and hot chocolate at the site. Adaptation to the reality of COVID means events have to happen in different ways. "Like the rest of the world, the pandemic has prompted us to think outside the box," DeWandel said. "The World Tree is needed this year, and its light and energy will remain in Robson Park this season." While there won't be a formal lighting event, the tree will be lit on Dec. 4. Volunteers are encouraging festivities and giving in a slightly different way this year. "Visit the World Tree with your cohort and decorate," DeWandel said. "The more love the tree receives, the brighter it shines. Students from all the schools are still encouraged to make decorations and place them on the tree." DeWandel also encouraged folks to donate to Santas Anonymous by purchasing raffle tickets for the "amazing gingerbread house" or visiting the mitten donation line at TGP. "Support your community by shopping locally," she said. DeWandel hopes the World Tree becomes a tradition in Jasper, with coordination done by a formal group. For 2020, she said, "The World Tree will continue to bring happiness and joy this holiday season. It represents a sense of normalcy during a time of uncertainty. “The tree is community, it is fun, it is magic and it is hope."Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
Fines totalling more than $180,000 were issued to people accused of breaking Manitoba's COVID-19 rules in the last week, the province said Tuesday.Of the 100 tickets issued, nearly half were for not following various public health orders. In total, 20 per cent of the tickets were related to gatherings larger than five people, Premier Brian Pallister said at a news conference on COVID-19 enforcement."It's critical right now that we don't gather with people outside of our households, and we need the full participation of all Manitobans in order for these strict public health measures work," he said at a news conference.In addition, 22 fines worth $5,000 each were issued to businesses, for various offences. Of those businesses, Springs Church in Winnipeg was given four fines totalling $20,000 related to a large drive-in service held last weekend contrary to public health orders, according to data from the province.One person was also fined $1,296 over that service. Enforcement officers are still investigating and are expecting to hand out more tickets."There will be consequences for those who disregard public health orders," he said. "It's incredibly disappointing that anyone would blatantly disregard public health orders in place to protect Manitobans."The Superstore in Brandon, Man., was also fined twice, and now owes $10,000, the province says.In addition, 23 tickets worth $298 each were issued to people for not wearing a mask in indoor public places. The remaining seven were band bylaw tickets issued by Manitoba First Nations Police Service.In all, a total of $181,574 in fines was issued from Nov. 23 to 29, up from $126,082 a week earlier.The Church of God in Sarto, Man., near the city of Steinbach, was fined $5,000, and six people were given individual tickets of $1,296, after the church tried to hold a large drive-in service on Sunday. They were blocked by RCMP officers, which led to more than 100 cars lining the highway trying to get into the church's parking lot.Pallister said 30 tickets have also been issued to people who took part in a large demonstration in Steinbach on Nov. 14. Officers are investigating and are expecting to hand out additional tickets, he said.Pallister says if repeat offenders don't get the message, the province could find other ways to get people to stay home, including tougher fines. "The fact is, if you take $1,000 out of somebody's pocket, then that better be a deterrent. And if it isn't, $5000 will be," he said."And if it's a store and it does it again, you can close them. So the fact of the matter is we've got more serious steps we could take if we need to. I just obviously hope and pray we don't have to take those next steps."WATCH | Pallister's message to COVID-19 rule breakers:Asked about municipalities that aren't enforcing COVID-19 restrictions, Pallister said that if they won't do it, the province will. "We'll be enforcing in municipalities just as we did this past weekend, whether they have municipal officials there or not," he said."So I would emphasize to people who think that they can get away with something in one RM because there's nobody from the RM enforcing, that there are other people who are certainly willing to do that and are."The update comes after Manitoba hit a record high for COVID-19 hospitalizations on Monday with 342 people in hospital, 43 of them in intensive care units.On Tuesday, Manitoba reported a record 16 deaths in one day, as the province added 283 new cases to its total.Last week, Pallister said the province had issued close to 100 tickets from Nov. 16 to 22, totalling $126,082. It was a significant increase from the week before, when Pallister announced the province was hiring a private security firm to help crack down on COVID-19 rule breakers.Meanwhile, RCMP said they have issued 21 fines between Nov. 21 and Nov. 27.Of those, eight were issued for hosting a gathering, five were for failing to self-isolate, four were for having guests from outside of a household, three were for failing to wear a mask and one was for attending a large gathering, according to a news release issued Tuesday.Officers also gave 49 verbal warnings during this time, RCMP say.Since April, Manitoba RCMP have issued 188 warnings and 99 fines.WATCH | Update on COVID-19 enforcement measures:
CHARLOTTETOWN - Sukhmeen Caur is concerned about the impact India's farm reforms will have on its farmers, she said. "It's harming people," she said. "Because of these laws, there's going to be no food on the table." Caur, who's originally from Punjab, India, was one of about 10 to 15 people demonstrating by the Charlottetown cenotaph on Nov. 30 - many of whom were members of P.E.I.'s Sikh community. They were raising awareness and showing their support for the Punjab and Haryana farmers protesting a series of laws imposed by India's government in September. The farmers believe their livelihood will be affected by the reformed laws, and when about 300,000 attempted to march into the city of Delhi last week they were met with police barricades, tear gas, and water cannons, demonstrator Manpreet Singh said. "They were stopped forcefully," he said. "They were beaten, they were harassed." Singh, who's also from Punjab, said farming is a primary source of income for India. While the goal of the reforms was to give more control to farmers, the farmer's main concern with them is that a minimum price for what their crops can sell for is no longer guaranteed or regulated, potentially giving corporations more control and profit. For example, one Indian farmer reported selling his wheat crop for 7 rupees per kilogram, after which the buying corporation processed and sold it for 150 rupees per kilogram, Singh said. "They're not treated like people. They're treated like animals," he said. While rising tensions have resulted in a meeting to be called between some of the country's farm unions and the Indian government on Dec. 3, the Charlottetown demonstration was to oppose the police and government's violent response to the protests for showcasing a lack of democracy, Singh said. "I have my right of speech in this country," he said. "But in my country right now, it is not trying to listen to the farmers." Caur added that accurate news coverage on the protests out of the country is difficult to find due to social media censorship, so the Charlottetown demonstration was to inform Islanders of what was going on. "I am here, I should also know what's going on here," she said. "(And) they should know what's going on in India." While only a maximum of 20 people was permitted to gather at the Nov. 30 demonstration due to COVID-19 protocol, Caur noted a larger rally may be held in the near future pending the Chief Public Health Office's approval. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
Prior to the pandemic, Artem Polyvyanny used to choose where he wanted to live and work pretty much on a whim. “Africa was going to be a place I wanted to go but it’s mostly closed, Asia is almost completely closed too,” says the 34-year-old from Toronto. He had settled on going to Europe to see friends, but had to change plans recently as countries there began to implement new COVID-19 lockdowns.He now finds himself in Mexico, a destination that came about through a process of elimination.“I can’t go to many of the places I want to go.”Canadians living the digital nomad lifestyle say remote work in foreign countries has become cheaper as a result of the pandemic, but the freedom to go where they wish has been heavily limited. Digital nomads, who often freelance or work remotely full-time, are accustomed to a lifestyle where they can pick and choose where they’d like to live. However, travel restrictions are one of the biggest changes they’ve had to come to terms with.Polyvyanny says what he loses in choice, he’s getting back in value as the price of housing and flights has dropped dramatically as regular tourist traffic plummets across the world. He snagged a one-way ticket from Toronto to Playa del Carmen for only $170, and was able to negotiate prices while picking a place to stay.Vanessa Perez, a freelance marketing consultant from Montreal, says she was used to working abroad for seven months every year prior to the pandemic.This year, she worked in Paris for only one month in September. She made the choice to travel to Western Europe because she felt governments there were more serious about implementing safety measures for COVID-19.It’s not a typical destination for digital nomads, who usually opt for cheaper regions like Southeast Asia where they have the added benefit of a favourable currency exchange rate. Perez, who previously lived in Columbia and El Salvador, says it was worth the extra cost to continue the nomadic lifestyle.Now back in Montreal, Perez says she’s planning to work abroad in February, but is careful about committing.“I can’t buy a ticket now for February because I don’t know how things will even turn out in December,” she says, adding that insurance coverage and visa restrictions are a constant concern.“It’s day to day, week to week to see what will be the next step.”For Canadians, Mexico has proven to be a convenient destination where a visa is easy to come by.Lisa Shiller, a Torontonian who currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, said she’s able to live in the country with a six-month tourist visa that she received on arrival.She said renewing her visa is as simple as leaving the country and coming back again, which is much cheaper during the pandemic because of lower living costs.“Mexico has this stance where it’s like, ‘yes, come here, bring your dollars, spend your money,’” said Shiller, who has lived in Mexico throughout the pandemic, only returning home once after seven months to renew her visa.But she said the lifestyle isn’t quite the same, as she's avoiding air travel and can't explore the country like she had planned to. The silver lining is that she’ll save more money and can still travel by vehicle. Polyvyanny, who returned to Toronto at the start of the pandemic, says he decided to go back to Mexico because he felt it wasn’t worth spending so much to live in Canada’s largest city when most events are cancelled and city life is disrupted.“Pretty much all of the good things about Toronto were taken away,” he says.“There’s no reason to pay a premium on everything if I’m not able to enjoy this city.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press
A 45-year-old Saskatchewan man is facing impaired driving charges following a two-vehicle crash south of Fort Saskatchewan that killed two Alberta teenagers and left a third seriously injured. In a news release, Fort Saskatchewan RCMP stated that the accused was impaired on Sept. 17 when the pickup truck he was driving collided head-on with an SUV on Highway 21 near Township Road 542. The accident happened at about 9 p.m.Two of the three teenagers in the SUV — Kai Peters, 16, and Alexandra Ollington, 17, both of Sherwood Park — died at the scene.The third, 15-year-old Morgan Maltby, remains in hospital with "life-altering" injuries. Her family in Fort Saskatchewan is "hopeful that rehabilitation can be started soon in order for her to gain mobility," RCMP said in the Tuesday news release.Following the crash, officers launched an immediate investigation into the driver, stated the news release.The "complex investigation" included a collision analyst and forensic reconstructionist at the scene, witness evidence and a laboratory analysis of the driver's blood alcohol content. The accused — a resident of Caronport in southern Saskatchewan — is charged with operation of a motor vehicle while impaired causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.He is also charged with operation of a motor vehicle while impaired causing bodily harm and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm. "The families of the three victims of this crash expressed their relief that this investigation has led to charge," Cpl. Devon Lafreniere said in a statement. "Waiting for this news has been hard on the families, and while they understand that the ongoing criminal process will continue to be challenging, it is finally a step forward."The RCMP with Victim Services Unit will continue to support the families through their long road ahead."
Consumer advocates are protesting a move by the Trump administration that they say will make it harder for the government to punish airlines that treat passengers unfairly.On the Friday during a four-day Thanksgiving weekend, the Transportation Department made final its proposal for defining unfair and deceptive practices by airlines.The rule deems that airline policies – around things like how ticket prices are advertised – are unfair only if they cause unavoidable and “substantial injury” that isn’t offset by some benefit. That is a high bar, in the view of consumer advocates.In addition, the rule lets airlines request a hearing before the department issues new regulations.Charlie Leocha, a travel consumer advocate, said the agency's rule could clear the way for airlines to go to court and overturn regulations that require them to advertise the full cost of tickets and to give passengers a chance to return to the gate if planes are stuck on the ground for hours.Under the new rule, “airlines can do anything they want in terms of passenger protection with no worries,” he said. “This is not good for consumers, and it is a big win for airlines.”The Transportation Department said it received 224 comments, with about 180 of them filed by individuals who argued that the proposal weakens consumer protection. The two Democrats on the Federal Trade Commission also criticized the proposal — commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter wrote that the rule “will seriously hamper the Department’s ability to fulfil its statutory mission of protecting aviation consumers.”The rule was praised by Airlines for America, the main trade group for big U.S. airlines, which argued that current regulations can be arbitrary.“This reform is a critical step forward in ensuring a data-driven regulatory process, which will produce widespread and lasting benefits for air travellers, airlines and the economy,” the group said in a statement.The Transportation Department, led by Trump-nominated Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, acknowledged drafting the rule in response to a request from the airline trade group and a 2017 Trump executive order that urged agencies to reduce regulations.The Transportation Department will soon will be under new leadership after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. Consumer advocates believe the Biden administration will be more pro-consumer. However, even if Biden’s people want to reverse last week’s decision, now they will have to go through a long rule-making process to do so.The airlines have chafed for years under an Obama administration rule that requires them to use the all-in price — including any mandatory taxes and fees — when advertising airfares. The carriers say that's unfair because retailers and other businesses can usually advertise prices before taxes and fees.If the Biden administration is unable to reverse last week's rule, “it's likely consumers will find shopping for flights to become more confusing and frustrating,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst with Atmosphere Research Group in San Francisco.___David Koenig can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriterDavid Koenig, The Associated Press
This past Sunday, Nov. 29, the first Sunday of Advent, the people of Dundalk Wesleyan Church started an effort to help those in need that they hope the community in Dundalk and Southgate may join. Pastor Chris Lang said the idea came for one of their church members last year and was a great success in the congregation, so they are opening it up. The effort aims to help stock the shelves of the Dundalk Food Bank with a Food Drive that will take place during the season of Advent. Advent is the time when Christians count down the days until Christmas when they celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Food Drive is called a “Reverse Advent Calendar Food Drive” because instead of counting down, the Food Drive instead adds items each day. At the end, people have assembled a large box of non-perishable food items ready for the Food Bank. The Food Drive runs until Sunday Dec. 20. There is a list of food items for each day of the Food Drive. For example Nov. 29, peanut butter; Nov. 30 - canned meat; Dec. 1 canned vegetables; Dec. 2, mac and cheese and so on. Members of the community who are not connected to the church are invited to participate in this Food Drive as well. They can donate the food items week by week at a box at the Co-operators office at 40 Main St. E., Dundalk, or contact the church to make arrangements to drop off the finished box. You can email the church at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald