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
CALGARY — Shares in Imperial Oil Ltd. were rising after it announced late Monday it would write down up to $1.2 billion on Canadian assets it doesn't think it will ever develop.In a brief news release, it said it has reassessed the long-term development plans of its unconventional natural gas portfolio in Alberta and no longer plans to develop a "significant potion" of those assets.It says that will result in a non-cash writedown of between $900 million and $1.2 billion in the current quarter.In Toronto, Imperial shares rose by as much as 94 cents or 4.2 per cent to $23.42 on Tuesday morning, despite falling benchmark U.S. oil prices.Imperial said the exploration lands it is shelving haven't been developed and aren't producing, adding the move doesn't include natural gas prospects that are also rich in petroleum liquids.Last week, the Calgary-based company said it would lay off about 200 of its 6,000 employees across Canada as part of a cost-cutting initiative due to low oil prices, adding it has reduced the number of contractors it employs by about 450 since the start of the year."We did not expect the company to allocate much to its unconventional assets in 2021 (or beyond) given its focus on the oilsands as well as cash returns to shareholders," said CIBC analyst Dennis Fong in a report.He added he expects Imperial's move to be "immaterial" to his financial estimates.Imperial is 69.6 per cent owned by U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil Corp., which said in October it would cut its global workforce by about 15 per cent, equating to about 14,000 jobs.Exxon announced Monday it would take an after-tax impairment of US$17 billion to US$20 billion thanks to removing certain natural gas assets from its development plan.Imperial committed in March to cut spending by $1 billion, including a $500 million reduction in capital spending plus $500 million in lower operating expenses, due to lower energy demand caused by lockdowns to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Companies in this story: (TSX:IMO)The Canadian Press
Regina– On Nov. 19, the Ministry of Health released updated modelling information which provided four possible forecasts of what could happen in the coming months as COVID-19 spread across Saskatchewan. Several slides referenced Nov. 29 as part of a 14-day forecast. So what actually happened? Generally speaking, even with regularly climbing daily case counts in Saskatchewan, reality has been much less harsh than those models were predicting. While Saskatchewan has continued to show exponential growth in its 7-day average new case count, reality turned out to be much lower than the projected forecast. The “14 Day Forecast of Lab Confirmed Cases (to Nov. 29, 2020)” slide shows a band of possibilities, with a “50 per cent Forecasted Value” line, the “Upper Credibility Interval (97.5 per cent),” and the “Lower Credibility Interval (2.5 per cent).” The chart also says “*Interpret with caution.” The forecasted 50 per cent value was roughly 1,400 cases per day on Nov. 29, with the upper number coming in around 2,100 and the lower number at 660. In actuality, Saskatchewan’s new case count on Nov. 29 was 351, one of its highest days, but its 7-day average on that day was 250 cases per day. Three days earlier the average case count of 243 cases per day exceeded the 240 case per day level – a doubling from 120 average cases per day reached 16 days earlier on Nov. 10. Saskatchewan had been seeing a doubling of average cases per day roughly every 14 days since Oct. 10. Similarly, the “14 Day Forecast of Acute Hospital Admissions (to Nov. 29, 2020)” was also substantially off the mark. It’s 50 per cent forecast line came in at 90 new admissions per day, with the high mark at 130 and the low mark at 40. The daily COVID-19 updates from the province do not speak of new admissions per day, but rather provide how many people are in hospital, overall new cases, recoveries and deaths. So while the total number of people in hospital may increase by eight, as it did on Nov. 30, there will be churn within the number for people recovering and going home, and new admissions coming in. Thus, in reality, on Nov. 30, Saskatchewan had 123 people in total hospitalized throughout the province, the highest level to date. That was an increase from 115 the day before. On Nov. 30, the 325 new cases also came with were 49 recoveries. There were two deaths reported on Nov. 30, and 23 people were in intensive care. Manitoba and North Dakota compared With 325 new cases announced on Nov. 30, Saskatchewan’s 7-day average is now 262.9 cases per day. That number shows a continuing growth pattern, but perhaps not as sharply as the previous two months had been, and it may no longer be on the same exponential curve that it had been on from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15. In comparison, Manitoba has remained relatively flat since Nov. 13, when its 7-day average case count hit 400.4. Since then there have been fluctuations in the daily count, but the average has remained in a narrow band between 371.6 and 422.7 average cases per day. On Nov. 30, Manitoba’s 7-day average was 392.4 cases per day. Prior to mid-November, Manitoba had been undergoing exponential growth at a rate almost exactly the same as Saskatchewan, but roughly 16 to 18 days ahead of Saskatchewan’s curve. By Dec. 1, that had stretched to 30 days, as Saskatchewan’s growth rate slowed and Manitoba’s flattened out. North Dakota, which received national headlines as one of the worst affected states in the union, has not only flattened its curve, but bent it substantially down in the last two weeks of November. North Dakota, too, had been seeing exponential growth of new COVID-19 cases for the two months leading up to mid-November, albeit at a lower rate of growth than either Saskatchewan or Manitoba. Its overall numbers were much higher, however. North Dakota’s 7-day average crested on Nov. 18, at 1,415.7 average cases per day. Its highest individual case count for a day was 2,278 on Nov. 14. But in the two weeks since, that 7-day average case count made a steady decline, falling to 1035.7 by Nov. 27, and 848.1 on Nov. 30. On an individual day bases, Nov. 30 was the best day North Dakota had seen in over a month, with 598 new cases. The last time the state had a number in the 500s, it was Oct. 26, at 527. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
The Fort McKay Métis Group is planning to break ground on a solar farm as early as next year, making it the second project of its kind in the Wood Buffalo region. Ron Quintal, chair of the group and president of the Fort McKay Métis Nation, said the groundbreaking ceremony is expected to be held sometime in spring 2021. At the same time, the company is looking at larger solar projects closer to Edmonton that could be finalized within the next two years. Details such as costs and size of the solar farms are being finalized. The projects do not represent a switch away from the group's work in the oilsands, but a response to growing demands for renewable energy sources. “You can’t have success in green energy by just shutting out the rest of the energy sector,” said Quintal in a Monday interview. “For our community to be able to build these green projects, we’re going to have to use monies raised from the energy industry.” The McKay Métis Group is also negotiating other equity projects, such as stakes in the proposed Alaska to Alberta railway and the Trans Mountain expansion. Last week, the company appointed Crystal Young as its new CEO. Part of her role will be directing these new green energy projects. For Young, Indigenous-led energy companies should be the ones leading the way in renewable energy development. “Indigenous-led companies understand the importance of giving back to communities,” she said in an interview. “We all have the same vision.” Locally, a new solar farm in Fort Chipewyan is the most recent example of an Indigenous-led energy company pursuing green energy projects. The project, completed by Three Nations Energy, will provide 25 per cent of Fort Chipewyan’s energy annually. The solar farm is designed to cut greenhouse gas emission by 2,170 tonnes and save up to 800,000 litres of diesel fuel annually. Suncor, Canada’s second largest oilsands producer, has also tapped into the renewable energy sector by investing in four wind power farms across Canada. For Quintal, renewable energy and oil are energy sources that are complimentary, rather than adversarial. He also hopes the energy needs of oilsands projects will be met with future green energy sources. Quintal says this will bring operational cost savings that could be invested elsewhere. “I think that’s a win-win for everybody,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.orgSarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
Santa will be able to make his visit to P.E.I. on Christmas Eve, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison informed Islanders at her regular weekly briefing Tuesday morning that Santa had been pre-approved for travel."I received a special alert this morning to tell me there is no COVID-19 in the North Pole. Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, the elves and the reindeer are all safe and healthy. They know that COVID-19 has been very hard for children and families around the world," said Morrison.Santa is still asking his elves to practise physical distancing and wash their hands regularly, she said.As for Elf on the Shelf, Morrison noted that the annual visitor arrived at her house Tuesday morning, having qualified as a rotational worker who is to become part of her family bubble. Other families' elves will be treated the same way.Holiday guidelinesThe Chief Public Health Office will be posting guidelines for Islanders celebrating Christmas and New Year's later this week, Morrison said.With the Atlantic bubble suspended, Morrison said Islanders need to avoid unnecessary travel."I urge Islanders to not travel off-Island over the holidays," she said."I urge families, including students who live off-Island, to consider not coming home for the holidays, and that's hard to say."For those who do wish to come to the Island, pre-travel approval will be required and arrivals will need to be prepared to self-isolate for 14 days.Morrison is recommending levees not be held this year. As with any gathering, any levee that is held will require an operational plan.More from CBC P.E.I.
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
Here's the latest for Tuesday December 1st: Barr says no widespread voter fraud; Biden announces his economic team; Iran vows revenge for killing of nuclear scientist; Hurricane season comes to an end.
The first region-wide social needs assessment and strategy in the Regional District of Nanaimo is now underway. The partnership between the RDN, Town of Qualicum Beach, District of Lantzville, City of Nanaimo and Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee will turn a lens on what families, children and youth need as well as how to improve social supports and address housing and homelessness, access to services, safe affordable transportation and discrimination and stigma. The project has been made possible in part thanks to a $125,000 grant from the B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction as administered by the Union of BC Municipalities. An additional $60,000 from the RDN’s 2020 budget rounds out the total amount devoted to the project. In November, a $140,000 contract was awarded to Kelowna-based Urban Matters, an advisory company that focuses on social and community development projects. An engagement plan is underway and will include working with community health networks (like the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative) and individuals with lived experience in poverty as well as consulting with the community. The plan will be presented to the RDN board early next year for endorsement. The RDN’s senior long-range planner, Courtney Simpson, said staff are also “in ongoing conversation with First Nations to understand how they would like to be involved in the process.” The RDN is situated within the traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw, Snaw-Naw-As and Qualicum First Nations. Simpson explained there are a few phases to the project. The assessment phase includes a scan of existing services, including “checking with service providers to ensure nothing is missed.” A baseline study follows, which will “measure social needs of the community such as data related to the social determinants of health.” Social determinants of health are social and economic factors that determine health and can include income, education or employment as well as experiences of discrimination, racism and historical trauma. After the baseline study, a gap analysis will be conducted followed by development of a strategy on how to address those gaps. The project’s request for proposals highlights Island Health’s 2019 Local Area Profile for Greater Nanaimo, which shows, among other insights, that “measures of low income, housing affordability and vulnerability in children are lower than the Island Health and B.C. average,” and the “the proportion of persons who are members of a low-income household in the RDN is higher than the Island Health and B.C. average for all age groups except for seniors.” Project staff will consult information collected via the soon-to-be-released Regional Childcare Assessment as well as the Regional Housing Capacity Assessment, which identified a critical need for housing for single income and lone-parent households among other needs. The Islands Trust has conducted several studies over the years that will inform the project, including a 2019 report on strategic actions for affordable housing in the Trust Area and the 2018 Northern Region Housing Needs Assessment. Gabriola LTC Trustee Scott Colbourne said the regional approach to address needs like housing and social services is vital work. “If you can’t get a service on Gabriola, you end up in Nanaimo, if you can’t get a service in Oceanside or Parksville, you end up in Nanaimo or Victoria. If we kind of get a handle on how this all works together, that causes less stress for people and families.”Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder
Northern environmentalists say the federal government's fiscal update on Monday was a missed opportunity — and it should have done more to help the region hardest-hit by climate change to emerge from COVID-19 with a greener economy.The wide-sweeping update includes promises to fund reconciliation efforts, speed up universal broadband access and body cameras for RCMP officers.It says $380 million is going to a support fund for Indigenous communities during the second wave of the pandemic. It also points to $272 million that the government has given airlines and businesses to keep the North's supply chains connected, along with more funding for environmentally-friendly home retrofits, money for consultations on electrical infrastructure projects, and more electric charging stations for cars.An organizer with a group that advocates for a "Green New Deal" in Canada, or a proposed package of government investments that build an environmentally-friendly economy by reducing social inequality, says that plans to promote greener homes, electric vehicles and tree-planting don't create meaningful change.Ellen Gillies, the organizer with Our Time Yellowknife, said on Facebook to CBC that the update "is very much in line with the Liberal's playbook to date — progressive language and lofty promises with little to no transformative commitments or actions on social, economic and climate justice."For example, the budget update promises $1.5 billion for closing the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities, but the government is actually spending more than $16 billion on the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline alone, Gillies notes.Gillies also says there is no mention of where the money will come from — and she and her organization want it to come from the wealthiest people and corporations."It's really disappointing to me that even with so many people in need, Trudeau's government shies away from taking on the billionaires who have been profiting from the pandemic," she said.Planet on a 'bad trajectory'William Gagnon, a green building engineer and former campaigner for Green Party leadership candidate Courtney Howard, agrees that the proposal doesn't go far enough. He compares the update to "when you crave moose meat … and someone delivers you cucumber sushi."Gagnon points to the many jobs in the oil and gas sector that were lost because of the pandemic, saying this is the moment to help more people get jobs in renewable energy instead.He also says that according to estimates he has done with other advocates for green building, making every building carbon neutral in the territory alone would cost almost half of the budget the country has set aside to pay for building retrofits across Canada.Sebastian Jones, with the Yukon Conservation Society, says certain green efforts like those on habitat restoration and tree-planting won't apply to the North — home to sparse boreal forests and rocky tundra, where habitat loss in the vast region has been minimal."Our planet is in a really bad trajectory," he said."I probably wouldn't have whinged about this if it weren't for the signals we did get from the federal government … that this crisis is a chance to build back greener and better."The fiscal update says an upcoming climate plan from the government "will highlight further work and investments in areas like renewables, clean fuels and hydrogen."The fiscal update says $64.7 billion is also "proposed" to help the territorial governments with pandemic response for 2020 and 2021.
OTTAWA — The Canadian economy posted its best three-month stretch on record during the third quarter of the year, growing at an annualized pace of 40.5 per cent on the back of household spending.The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, Statistics Canada said, but unlike 55 years ago, the rise last quarter was fuelled by a record drop during the preceding three-month stretch.Wide parts of the economy effectively shut down in March and April, creating a pent-up demand among consumers as the savings rate soared in the second quarter.The lifting of lockdowns and further restriction rollbacks during the three-month stretch of July, August and September opened an economic relief valve.Statistics Canada said Friday that there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates, driven down by the central bank in a bid to prod spending, as well as on home renovations.Households also spent more on goods like cars, as consumer spending jumped, although it still remains five per cent below its pre-pandemic peak, leaving a lump of cash in bank accounts as households don't have their pre-pandemic spending options.The savings rate stood at 14.6 per cent, a drop from the record-high 27.5 per cent in the previous quarter, but still far higher than the two per cent at the end of 2019.CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said that suggests Canadians will have the resources to spend post-pandemic. "Over the next year, I think the focus still needs to be on returning Canadians to a more normal way of life," he said in an interview. "That will return Canadian spending habits to a more normal way of life, and that will return the Canadian economy to a more normal way of life."Despite the overall increase, Statistics Canada said real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.How the next few quarters play out may rest on households continuing to spend, and whether government aid is toned down as the federal Liberals have indicated would happen if economic conditions improve.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking outside his Ottawa residence, said the positive third-quarter figures showed that federal spending has helped families and businesses stay afloat. "There are still tough times ahead," he said. "So we'll continue to be there for people, especially those who are hardest hit by this crisis."The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada said, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October's figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.Economists suggested the economy could limp to the finish line of 2020 amid the tightening of restrictions and threats of localized lockdowns. Overall, the economy is likely on track to contract by over five per cent this year, economists say."There is a good chance that the economic recovery doesn’t just stall, but shifts into reverse this winter," TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam wrote."While light has finally appeared at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccine distribution, it will not cure the near-term pain in store for the Canadian economy."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
CENTRE WELLINGTON – A heritage study in Centre Wellington has identified 18 areas of importance and recommends prioritizing urban areas for further study. At a special committee of the whole meeting on Monday, a Cultural Heritage Landscape (CHL) study draft report was presented to Centre Wellington council. Mariana Iglesias, senior planner with the township, said with recent development pressures in the township they’ve found the need to protect larger areas that are historically and culturally significant. These areas are called CHLs, which the presentation to council identifies as a grouping of heritage features such as buildings, structures, spaces, views, archaeological sites or natural elements valued together. This study was commissioned as a starting point to identify the most significant CHLs in collaboration with the public, Indigenous groups and stakeholders. Annie Veilleux, consultant from Archaeological Services Inc., said the township is known as a scenic area with the Grand River being the backbone of influencing development in the township. “The significant CHLs are spread out throughout the township but are concentrated on the Grand River corridor,” Veilleux said. The study further identified higher priority areas that are more likely to have adjacent development, risk of altering heritage attributes or with more economic and tourism benefits. The report prioritizes the following urban areas for technical studies: Veilleux said CHLs in rural areas tend to be more stable. Also, those owned and managed by the Grand River Conservation Area have existing regulations and protections. These lower priority areas include: Council was very receptive to this report with councillor Kirk McElwain saying it should be part of the local school curriculum. He asked if a CHL designation provides any additional protection and noted that GRCA properties could be threatened by recent proposed changes to conservation authority mandates. Veilleux clarified that this report does not give protections to the CHLs but provides recommended priority areas for further study. “Following this study, the township may take on additional technical studies that are CHL specific and those studies would have the opportunity to develop protection measures for these places,” Veilleux said, adding that these measures could come from the heritage, planning, zoning. The CHL study is open for comments from the public until Jan. 29 where it will be later finalized and approved by council. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
Quebec's plan to allow people to gather over the Christmas period may be scrapped, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Premier François Legault said Tuesday."We have hospitals that are approaching their limit of COVID patients," he said."We are not going in the right direction."Legault said that if the number of hospitalizations continues to increase, it will be "difficult to take that risk."A final decision will be made Dec. 11.Quebec's rolling seven-day average of cases has climbed back up in recent weeks, and there are now more than 700 people in hospital with the virus.The premier has tempered expectations for the holiday season since announcing on Nov. 19 that gatherings would be permitted over a four-day period — provided those meeting isolate for the week before and after.Last week, following consultations with public health, Legault said only two gatherings would be allowed during the four-day period.The province is expected to announce additional guidelines for holiday shopping later this week.
Police body cameras hit the streets of Iqaluit on Monday as part of the RCMP's national pilot project. The Nunavut roll out starts with two officers per shift wearing body cameras, which officers will have the ability to turn on and off. By mid-January, four officers per shift will be equipped with the cameras, and by mid February all six officers per shift. Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal announced the project in October after a year of intense police scrutiny across the country. "It's completely unacceptable for Inuit and their families to be suffering at the hands of police at the level that they are," Vandal told CBC News in reaction to the high rates of police-related deaths in Nunavut. "That needs to stop." But the debate on what benefits the cameras may offer is far from over, according to experts. CBC News asked experts to weigh in on the main benefits claimed by police — greater accountability and transparency and an increase in trust between police and communities. The experts flagged major concerns and holes in the RCMP's approach but also expressed cautious optimism. With a lack of scientific data and controlled experiments in Canada, including by the RCMP, academic Erick Laming told CBC News he worries about what the Mounties' intentions are with the pilot project. Public may never see critical footage"The main reason for the project seems to be the emotional environment we're living in right now," said Laming, a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto from the Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation in Ontario.Politicians appear to be reacting to that environment by offering a solution that is not tested or thought out, he added. For example, a crucial issue is deciding what video footage will be released to the public and when, Laming said. The RCMP currently do not have any policies to specifically govern the release of body cam footage. The only way to make the release of that footage truly independent is to have a third-party agency, outside of the RCMP, decide what to release, said Laming. "Is it really increasing transparency? Because some of this footage may never see the light of day. It really depends what policies are in place," he said. Body cams were first introduced in England in 2005 as a way to collect better evidence, Laming said.They have since been used by police to justify their own behaviour in volatile situations, he said. "That's a valid argument. But in terms of whether it's going to improve accountability or transparency, there's no evidence in Canada that [body cams] have done that," he added. Body cams won't prevent shootings: American law professorIn communities that have been historically over-policed, video footage used to justify police's behaviour can perpetuate the problem of being over-policed, Adam Benfoardo, an American law professor in Philadelphia told CBC News. "When we have footage, it may simply, in the eyes of the public, say, well, actually, the police officers were right — these people are dangerous," Benforado said from Drexel University. Controlled studies of body cams in the US have resulted in inconclusive findings, he added. But one thing seems clear — the cameras have not reduced the rate of police shootings of brown and black people in the US, Benforado said. The day before CBC spoke with him, Benforado said a 27-year-old black man was shot by police two blocks from his home in downtown Philadelphia. Police officers involved in the shooting wore body cams at the time, and citizens filmed the incident on cell phones, said Benforado. That didn't prevent the shooting, he said. "Why? Because the thing that mattered the most, which is that the 27-year-old man was having a mental health crisis, is probably not the cameras. It's probably race. It's probably training that officers have and the lack of training in addressing people who are having mental health crises," said Benforado. Video evidence crucial in criminal investigationsBut video camera evidence is crucial in order to conduct investigations of police shootings after the fact, Ian Scott, former director of Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, told CBC News. Scott charged the officer who shot Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar in 2013 with murder. "I could not have laid that charge without the compelling video evidence. So that's led me to the conclusion that body worn cameras would be extremely helpful in doing those kinds of investigations," Scott said. Scott did not have body cam footage in that case — but mostly footage from CCTV cameras on the streetcar. He said any video evidence in such investigations can be crucial. This benefit of body cams is difficult to quantify in a price analysis but justified when investigations of fatal shootings lead to justice, Scott said. "If we can have more thorough reviews with better evidence, then I think the long-term outcomes will lead to the community having greater sense of trust in their police," he said.
The Ontario government has announced it will be providing financial relief for families facing new education-related expenses in the COVID-19 era. The announcement, totalling $380 million, will provide parents or guardians with a one-time payment of $200 for each child aged 0 to 12 or $250 if their child or youth aged up to 21 with special needs. Parents or guardians residing in Ontario will have to complete an online application to apply for the funds — applications will remain open until January 15, 2021. The program was launched Monday at a press conference in Vaughan, by Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “During this very difficult period, our parents have been the unsung heroes in the fight against COVID-19, whether it’s screening their child before school or assisting them with remote learning,” said Ford. “Parents have been there for us, and our government will continue to be there for them. That’s why we’re providing additional payments to help families with some of the costs of learning and childcare as we battle the second wave of COVID-19.” The new Support for Learners program was designed to offset additional learning costs, whether their children attend school in person, online or a mix of both. Funds can assist with additional education expenses during COVID-19. This initiative is part of the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. “COVID-19 has imposed many costs on families in this province, which is why we are again providing financial support directly in the pockets of working parents,” said Minister Lecce. “Our priority remains keeping schools safe and open, and supporting families every step of the way through this incredible challenge.” To be eligible for funding, you must live in Ontario and be a parent or guardian to a child that is between the ages of zero and 12 or if the child has special needs, the age limit will be increased to 21. For students with special needs, the provincial government is defining special needs as any student reported to be receiving special education programs or services by their school board, any child enrolled in licensed child care reported to be receiving special needs funding or support, and any child identified as having a special need. On the Ontario government website, it indicates that it doesn’t matter if your child is enrolled in school or child care. All children are eligible based on their age. Parents will be eligible to apply if their child attends a publicly funded school, attends a private school, attends a First Nation operated or federally operated school, attends school in-person or online, is homeschooled, is enrolled in child care, or a child that stays home. Only one parent or guardian may apply for each child. Each application will be verified, processed and paid separately. Parents or guardians with more than one child may not receive payments at the same time. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.comSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
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
People should expect a slippery rush hour drive Tuesday night, and even Wednesday morning's commute might be snowy, according to Environment Canada.Meteorologist Peter Kimbell told CBC News the City of Toronto can expect two to four centimetres of snow during the day, and another two to four this evening.That's not "earth shattering" accumulation, he said, but it will be steady, alongside temperatures below zero."It's not great for driving conditions," he said, adding that because it's early in the season, people are not used to driving in snow."You have to be really extra cautious because of that fact," Kimbell said.Conditions will likely be worse north of the city, he added, in areas like York Region and Newmarket.The system is slow moving, so it will be "with us for some time," Kimbell said.Environment Canada's forecast is calling for the return of sunny skies on Thursday.
The Northwest Territories' first private retailers of cannabis will open their doors soon, after the government announced final approval in a press release Tuesday morning.Two stores, ReLeaf NT and Trailblazers Cannabis Shop, were named in the release.ReLeaf has been operating as a cannabis accessories store since early April of last year from a storefront at 5123 51st St. in Yellowknife. Luke Wood, the proprietor, has been a vocal advocate for private retail since legalization.ReLeaf won the right to operate as a private retailer after completing an extensive application process for the territory's single license, issued as a request-for-proposals in May.Trailblazers Cannabis Shop, by contrast, appears to be the creation of the Yellowknife Liquor Shop, which has been the city's sole retail cannabis location for the past two years.Responding to concerns identified more than two years ago that selling alcohol and cannabis in the same place could lead to abuse, the territorial government "and the Yellowknife Liquor Shop agreed to separate liquor sales and cannabis sales," the release reads.The new, cannabis-only retailer will occupy a nearby unit in the same strip mall as the Yellowknife Liquor Shop at 100 Borden Drive in Yellowknife."Cannabis will no longer be available for purchase at the Yellowknife Liquor Shop," the release reads.Big plans for cannabis shop, says ownerAt his shop Tuesday evening, Wood was doing some final preparations before opening for business with cannabis for sale.Before COVID-19, Wood's shop sold accessories, records, and tools for growing cannabis. The store still has remnants of that inventory, like a single brightly-coloured panel of mood lights for sale and a display of glass pipes.But Wood said there's a major difference between running a cannabis-lifestyle store and a shop that also actually sells the product: "Customers.""We wanted to hit the ground running so we opened this [store]," he said. "But it's been very slow. And then COVID[-19] hit."Now that the store has its retail licence, Wood wants to bring in books on safe consumption and cooking and bolster the shop's record collection. He said he's even thinking about starting an internet radio station.He also wants to start selling products from local artists, a move he hopes will "reach out to the community ... and get rid of the stigma" around cannabis.High hurdles for new operatorsIn the last year, cannabis sales generated more than $3.5 million worth of revenue in the N.W.T., according to numbers from the NTLCC. More than $2 million of that was spent in Yellowknife alone.In the N.W.T., the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC) is the only legal wholesaler of cannabis. Private retailers must purchase their stock from the commission's limited selection and comply with strict health and safety requirements to operate.Any would-be retailers must follow a 23-page information guide in preparing their application to operate, which includes getting the government's final sign-off on everything from the store's displays to its name.Wood said his licence took 18 months to secure. Now that he's got it, he said he expects his biggest competition will be with the grey market.People who buy weed from non-licensed suppliers say they find the product is cheaper and more consistently available, he said. But Wood hopes his shop can "take away the mystery" for people who are new to the drug. "There's.a huge, bright future," he said. "It's just the beginning of the whole thing."
For more than 90 years, Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre has been serving families in Little Burgundy — organizing clubs, classes and camps — and helping strengthen the social fabric of the neighbourhood.At the start of the 20th century, Charles Johnson, the owner of Johnson Wire Works, saw a vivid contrast between the booming industrial sector along the Lachine Canal and the squalid living conditions and lack of social programs for families nearby.He had the idea of opening a "social settlement" in the area — a place to better the lives of others in the service of God — and he approached the local church to make it a reality.It opened as Tyndale House in 1927 with the support of the Presbyterian Church. Tyndale House offered programs such as Sunday school and child nutrition. Its summer camp gave children the opportunity to get out of the city.Even through the Great Depression, it continued to serve the community, though with a reduced budget.After decades of fundraising to build a more suitable home for the growing number of children it served, in 1951 Tyndale House moved from an old house on des Seigneurs Street to its current location, 870 Richmond Square.In the decades that followed, it expanded its offerings. Its space became home to many local groups, including the White Shield Club, Girl Guides and the Scouts.A report to the Presbyterian Church from the time reported that by 1956, Tyndale House was being used by 2,000 people each month.In the late 1960s, the city began expropriating nearby land and demolishing buildings as part of an "urban renewal" project, which resulted in some Tyndale families moving away and fewer volunteers being available. But classes, hockey and other activities continued as the neighbourhood kept evolving.In late 1970, St. George's Corner opened in a former food market on St-Antoine Street, where congregation members of St. George's Anglican Church would gather, and it became a community hub that worked closely with Tyndale House.In the following years, St. George's entered into a partnership with Tyndale, and moved into a neighbouring building on Richmond Square. The partnership officially took the name of Tyndale St-Georges in 1976.In the decades since, Tyndale St-Georges has expanded its programs to include services for adults, seniors and refugees, thanks to the work of a small staff and many volunteers.Its major projects today include early youth development programs, after-school programs, camps, its youth co-op and its pre-employment program for adults.But 2020 brought unique challenges to Tyndale St-Georges, with the pandemic making regular fundraising activities more difficult.To help make up for that, a campaign to raise $125,000 by the end of the year is underway — with a donor matching the money gathered if the target is reached.In addition to monetary donations, these are the kinds of other items the Tyndale St-Georges would love to receive: * New winter clothing for children 0 to adolescence. These would be given to participants in their programs in need of winter clothes as well as children of the adult participants at Tyndale's Adult Centre. * School supplies to use at the centre and also to give out to young participants of the centre's programs. * Pre-prepared food baskets that the centre could give out to their adult and senior participants as gifts.For details on how to give, please contact Tina Naim at firstname.lastname@example.org.During the month of December, CBC will be working with Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre to showcase stories of people in our community who are making a difference for our "Make the Season Kind" campaign. For more stories and to learn more about this campaign, visit http://cbc.ca/bekindqc and make a donation here.
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
Le 26 novembre, l’Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ) soumettait son mémoire lors des audiences publiques du Comité consultatif sur la réalité policière. Parmi les grands enjeux abordés, l’importance pour le gouvernement de se doter d’une stratégie proactive afin de faire face au problème grandissant de la gestion des cas de santé mentale dans la province. La présidente de l’UMQ et mairesse de Sainte-Julie, Suzanne Roy, était en ondes à Radio-Canada pour discuter des principaux points soulevés dans le document soumis. « C’est une constatation que l’on fait depuis plusieurs années, a expliqué la mairesse lors de son entretien avec l’animateur Patrick Masbourian. Avec le désengagement du gouvernement en matière de santé mentale, on se retrouve avec des corps policiers qui doivent faire de plus en plus d’interventions. De 2016 à 2019, on parle d’une augmentation de 20% des appels qui sont liés à des enjeux de santé mentale, que ce soit une question de détresse de suicide ou de schizophrénie. Ce sont souvent des situations de crise qui demandent des interventions lourdes et prennent beaucoup de temps. » À titre d’exemple, la présidente de l'UMQ mentionne le cas de Sherbrooke où les policiers consacrent 17 heures de travail au quotidien à la gestion de situations impliquant des citoyens aux prises avec de potentiels ennuis de santé mentale. « Et ça ne touche pas que les grandes villes, a ajouté Mme Roy. Je pense entre autres à la Régie intermunicipale de police Richelieu/Saint-Laurent. On y reçoit 2 000 appels par année qui sont liés à la santé mentale. C’est vraiment un phénomène qui croît. Les policiers doivent remplacer le filet de sécurité social depuis le désengagement des dernières années dans le milieu de la santé. Et ce, sans avoir nécessairement tous les outils pour pouvoir intervenir. » La mairesse a également profité de l’occasion pour rappeler l’importance de tenir compte également du bien-être des agents qui doivent intervenir dans des situations parfois délicates et éprouvantes. « Il faut penser à la santé psychologique de nos policiers. Nous croyons qu’il pourrait vraiment y avoir une campagne ayant pour but de valoriser leur métier. Question notamment de renforcer le lien de confiance qui existe avec la population. Cela permettrait par ailleurs d’augmenter le bassin de candidats et candidates au niveau du recrutement. Ce sont des éléments qu’il nous semble important de soulever à ce moment-ci de l’histoire de nos corps policiers. »Steve Martin, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève