Chris Murphy has more.
Chris Murphy has more.
Canada's main share index is set to extend its rally over the coming year as the likely rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine bolsters prospects for the economically sensitive financial and resource stocks that dominate the index, a Reuters poll found. "The run-up in stocks will likely not end in 2021 as (U.S.) stimulus likely comes early in the new year, vaccines start to get distributed in the second half of the year and most companies go back to normal in the latter part of 2021," said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investments. A vaccine rollout would "benefit Canada more than most countries because of the large proportion of value and cyclical stocks on the TSX," said Matt Skipp, president of SW8 Asset Management.
Le 29 octobre dernier, un étudiant de Techniques d’animation 3D et de synthèse d’images du Cégep de Matane, Anthony Técher, a eu l’honneur de recevoir une mention spéciale pour sa bande dessinée « Monsieur H » à l’occasion de l’édition 2020 du concours CégepBD, réunissant près d’une centaine d’inscriptions cette année. En 3e année au Cégep de Matane et originaire de l’île de la Réunion, Anthony Técher a été félicité pour son oeuvre intitulée « Monsieur H », une bande dessinée de quatre planches traitant de la mélancolie moderne et de la sensation de perdre pied, une œuvre ayant vu le jour à l’occasion du confinement du printemps dernier. Malgré le contexte de l’édition 2020, 94 inscriptions ont été enregistrées au concours, qui est organisé par le Collège de Valleyfield depuis 1996. Les planches soumises ont été évaluées selon différents critères comme la qualité technique, les illustrations, la composition des éléments narratifs et l’originalité du scénario. Si Anthony Técher n’a pas figuré sur le podium, il est parvenu à recevoir l’une des six mentions spéciales accordées par le jury. En effet, le jury a souligné le « récit simple » du bédéiste ainsi qu’un « ton mélancolique soutenu par un dessin efficace et un design des personnages réussi ». L’illustrateur Mathieu Benoit, responsable de l’activité, a félicité M. Técher pour son « utilisation imaginative de la typographie et les couleurs choisies qui appuient l’ambiance claustrophobe » dans le récit. M. Técher a eu l’occasion de développer ses compétences artistiques lors de ses études au Cégep de Matane. « Cela fait longtemps que je dessine, mais jusqu’ici c’était surtout sur du papier. Pour ce projet-là, j’ai pu me mettre à fond dans le dessin numérique et développer de nouvelles compétences acquises au cégep. Sans ma formation au cégep, je n’aurais jamais pu me sentir assez à l’aise en digital painting pour participer au concours », a expliqué l’étudiant. Sa copine, Zoé Marchal, qui étudie en Techniques d’intégration multimédia, l’a notamment beaucoup aidé au niveau de l’histoire de la bande dessinée. « Le confinement du printemps m’a permis d’avoir plus de temps pour me pencher sur ce projet. Avant le confinement du printemps, la réalisation de la première planche, entre les heures de cours et les travaux à rendre, m’avait pris environ deux semaines. Après ça, j’étais capable d’en terminer une en trois jours », a commenté le bédéiste, qui avait accès à des tablettes graphiques pour l’aider.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Pour arriver à la Côte-Nord, il faut rouler des heures et des heures vers l’est. Ensuite, un contrôle routier nous attend. Avant d’embarquer sur le traversier direction Tadoussac, deux policiers s’arrêtent à chaque véhicule. « Qu’est-ce que vous allez faire sur la Côte-Nord ? » demandent-ils à chaque automobiliste, décourageant ceux qui s’y rendraient par plaisir. La mesure n’est que préventive, mais elle fait partie du plan que chapeaute le médecin-conseil de la Direction de la santé publique de la Côte-Nord, le Dr Richard Fachehoun. Visage des conférences de presse pandémiques nord-côtières, Richard Fachehoun peut aujourd’hui se réjouir du bilan provisoire de sa région. À ce jour, pour 90 000 Nord-Côtiers, les autorités ne recensent que 200 cas de COVID-19 et 2 décès. La région est une des seules régions du Québec, avec l’Abitibi, les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, le Nunavik et une partie de la Baie-James, à demeurer une « zone jaune ». Le chapelet de villages étendu sur plus de 1300 kilomètres de côte offre un avantage certain, admet le Dr Fachehoun. « La densité de la population est faible. Mais, le principal, c’est vraiment le rôle que joue la population. Si on veut contrôler la situation, c’est la population qui va la contrôler. » Originaire du Bénin, l’homme à l’œil vif a dû longtemps cheminer avant d’en arriver à ce poste stratégique. D’abord médecin généraliste en Afrique de l’Ouest, à « [prendre] en charge des patients atteints de VIH », il arrive dans la belle province en 2008. Entre Montréal et Québec en passant par Gatineau, il obtient ses équivalences québécoises avant de s’établir sur la Côte-Nord, il y a trois ans. La neige « qui fait disparaître les maisons » n’a pas manqué de le surprendre, ni les innombrables sentiers pour combler son besoin de course à pied. « Courir, c’est passionnant. Quoique ces derniers mois, non, parce que les gens parlent beaucoup des ours qui se retrouvent sur la piste cyclable… mais c’est passionnant ! » « Passionnant » aussi que de travailler avec les Autochtones, dit-il. Une passion qui s’est transformée en défi lorsque la COVID-19 a forcé la mise en place d’une « cellule innue ». En début de crise, la haute direction du CISSS s’est réunie avec les élus locaux pour protéger ces milieux tissés serrés. « [Les élus innus] avaient des réponses à tout. Ils étaient proactifs », salue le Dr Fachehoun. Rapidement, des points de contrôle bloquent l’entrée de villages à tous les non-résidents. Puis, des enquêtes épidémiologiques « faites en collaboration avec les services de santé des communautés autochtones » tiennent la pandémie en échec chez les quelque 15 000 Innus de la région. Autre défi pour l’équipe du Dr Richard Fachehoun : le fly in fly out ou, autrement dit, le navettage des travailleurs dans les mines dispersées sur le territoire. Pour assurer le contrôle sanitaire de ces industries jugées essentielles par Québec, les minières ont établi des plans : des cycles de travail plus longs, un nettoyage des navettes aériennes et des mesures d’isolement. « Toutes les minières ont été visitées », assure le Dr Fachehoun. Pour les autres recoins d’autant plus isolés, comme Schefferville, Anticosti ou la Basse-Côte-Nord, l’absence de lien terrestre avec le Québec complique l’offre de soins. Pour prévenir toute éclosion, un isolement est imposé aux voyageurs, doublé d’un test de dépistage au premier et au septième jour après leur arrivée sur place. La logistique du dépistage sur ce territoire de 236 000 kilomètres carrés n’a pas non plus été de tout repos. « Au départ, toutes les analyses étaient faites à Rimouski », explique Richard Fachehoun. Avant que l’échantillon ne traverse le fleuve et que le patient connaisse le résultat, cinq jours pouvaient alors s’écouler. Après avoir mis au point un protocole d’analyse sur place, les résultats sont maintenant connus dans un délai de 24 heures, se félicite le médecin. N’empêche, il encense surtout son équipe pour avoir convaincu les Nord-Côtiers de l’importance des gestes barrières, comme la distanciation physique. « C’est la population qui a le rôle déterminant. Si la population respecte les mesures, on n’aura pas de cas », rappelle-t-il, bien au fait que « les gens sont habitués à faire des “collures” ». Cette « chaleur humaine », qu’il tente à regret de dissoudre chez ses concitoyens, l’avait pourtant bien charmé lors de sa première visite sur la Côte-Nord. À l’époque, il se souvient s’être fait interroger en pleine rue par une citoyenne, curieuse de voir un nouveau visage. « Automatiquement, j’ai fait le parallèle », raconte-t-il. « À Montréal, tout le monde se dépasse. À Québec, sur la piste cyclable ou bien quand on fait de la course, on se salue. Mais ce qui frappe sur la Côte-Nord, les gens t’arrêtent pour te parler. C’est plus inclusif. C’est un petit milieu. »Jean-Louis Bordeleau, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Some snowbirds in Peterborough County are choosing to stay put this winter. Currently residing on Lake Kasshabog north of Havelock, Les Morris and Lois Galbraith have been heading south for the past six year. “We have gone to Florida in the past, but the last few years we’ve gone to an island in Honduras called Roatán,” Galbraith said Although they’d love to go away, the numbers in both the U.S. and Honduras are staggering, she said. “I can’t believe people are actually going to go away in this,” Galbraith said. As for Honduras, Morris noted it’s a Third World country and while the island is modern with many activities for tourists, it’s not really equipped to handle the COVID-19 virus. “Our contacts down there say that they’re not even paying much attention; they’re still having big parties and not wearing masks and there’s lots of COVID cases. I’m 88 and Lois has a bit of a chest problem, she has a puffer, and we just can’t take the chance,” Morris said. She said even if they could, they wouldn’t go to the U.S. anyway. “They’re crazy. They’re paying no attention to anything. Maybe when Biden takes over, things will change,” he said. Norwood resident Bonnie Davidson said she and her husband normally flock south for a month during the wintertime, but decided it would be better to stay home this year. “I mean, we’re both in our 70s and my husband, his mother is also with us and she’s 102, and so we just decided it’s better to stay home for a lot of reasons,” she said. “We have no cases in Norwood and we’ve only ever had two in nine months, so we’re safe here.” Linda Black, a Buckhorn resident who has gone to Estero, Fla. for five months during the winter season for the past seven years with her husband, said they’ve decided to stay in Canada this year for two reasons. “The atmosphere is not good anymore, with Trump and the election and everything being divided. And who wants to go where everybody’s sick. It costs too much for us to get sick down there. Your insurance only covers so much,” she said. Morris said he and Galbraith have heard that a lot of people are turning their cottages into winter homes so they can stay. Asphodel-Norwood Mayor Rodger Bonneau said he has several friends that are snowbirds who are doing this. “I’ve actually had to run out and do some work on some of furnaces for them just to make sure they can actually stay home now. We are going to see an impact, but a lot of the residents are the people that stay here all summer long and are Canadian citizens anyways,” Bonneau said. However, Black said she knows a couple of people from Buckhorn that are still heading south. “They’re flying down and then they’re going to rent a car because they’re one of these trailer people that have really nowhere to live in the wintertime, so it makes it difficult for them,” she said. Black said she believes a lot of snowbirds don’t want to go south this year because of the health and safety of themselves and others. “Our community that we go to in Florida has a mixture of people both young and old, so you don’t want to go down there and catch something from them, or give something to them, because you can also be asymptomatic. Especially some of the older people there. They just couldn’t handle it,” she said. Because where they live is so isolated, Morris and Galbraith said it’s good COVID-wise, but not good in an emergency with the winter weather on its way. “It’s a bit of a worry, but we’ll survive it,” Galbraith said. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
NEW YORK — With police brutality continuing to devastate Black families and the coronavirus ravishing Black America disproportionately, the world was driven to the significance of this year’s Juneteenth more than ever before.And Beyoncé knew she wanted to release a song on that momentous day — so she dropped “Black Parade,” an anthemic jam where she proudly sings about her heritage, hometown and returning to her African roots.Months later, the song — and others focused on protesting, police brutality and the overall Black experience — are taking centre stage at the 2021 Grammy Awards.Beyoncé’s “Black Parade” scored nominations for two of the top awards: song of the year and record of the year. The track will also compete for best R&B song and best R&B performance.“There could have been a different approach as far as releasing the record and capitalizing off of timings of other things, but we really wanted to get it out during a time where we could all remember the feeling and the energy,” Derek Dixie, a longtime collaborator of Beyoncé’s who co-wrote the song with the pop star, said in an interview with The Associated Press.“It’s not always about the money and about catching streaming numbers and things like that. Sometimes it’s just about what it is — which was making our people proud.”“Black Parade” helped Beyoncé land nine nominations, making her the overall top Grammy contender. Dixie earned three Grammy nominations for co-writing and co-producing the song.For song of the year, “Black Parade” will compete with H.E.R.’s “I Can’t Breathe,” the R&B singer’s track about police brutality.Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture,” a protest song he created in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, scored nominations for best rap song and best rap performance. Proceeds from the song will support the Black Lives Matter movement, Breonna Taylor’s attorney, the Bail Project and the National Association of Black Journalists.Anderson .Paak also released a song on Juneteenth — the holiday that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free — and it’s competing for two awards. “Lockdown” is nominated for best rap performance and best music video..Country singer Mickey Guyton wrote the track “Black Like Me” a year ago but released it this year because she felt it was extremely relevant. Now, it’s nominated for best country solo performance, giving the performer her first-ever Grammy nomination.“It’s been so hard in the country music community and trying to get country music to even support my music and for me to get a Grammy (nomination), it just goes to show that writing your truth is just the way to go,” Guyton told the AP on Tuesday. “And not only writing your truth, but really bringing your brothers and sisters up with you.”But Guyton admits that everyone’s response to her song wasn’t warm. It features the lyrics, “If you think we live in the land of the free/You should try to be Black like me."“I released it and I did get people that were very angry. There were even radio stations that people were like, ‘Get this (expletive) off of my radio station,’” she said. “I would get people writing me messages like, ‘Well, if you don’t like it here then leave.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it’s just as much my country as it is yours.’”Guyton added that some “radio stations were scared to play (‘Black Like Me’) because they were (angering) their listeners because their listeners didn’t want to hear that.”“But I wasn’t writing that song for them, I was writing that song got the people that understand this exact walk that I’m walking," she continued. “It’s for them."Apart from “Black Parade,” Beyoncé also earned nominations for her film honouring Black art and Black history, “Black Is King,” as well as her ode to dark- and brown-skinned women, “Brown Skin Girl.”Dixie, who has worked as Beyoncé’s music director and has produced, engineered and arranged songs for the singer, said he’s grateful he’s working with an artist who boldly speaks about Black pride in her music.“It’s just good to see that she’s willing to put that type of energy out and not necessarily be thinking about: ‘What’s going to guarantee me a No. 1? What’s going to guarantee me this?' It’s a part of our conversation, it’s a part of the process, but when it’s necessary to put that art out there, to put that energy out there, she’s usually ... leading the pack in that regard,” Dixie said. “So I’m grateful to be associated with her on that path.”Guyton added that it’s comforting to see some many Black musicians reflect the current times in their music, and she’s grateful to the Grammys for acknowledging those kinds of songs.“It’s so important because so often Black people, and Black women especially, are getting overlooked and constantly get overlooked and you’re constantly just trying to get people to remember that you’re there,” she said. “It feels like we’re seen and I don’t think we’ve always felt seen.”“I use this scenario of going into any grocery store — if you go to any grocery store ... and you look for hair products for someone who is ethnic and ... you see an entire aisle full of every and any hair product you can possibly think for someone that is not Black. But whenever it comes to finding hair products for a Black person, we’re designated a shelf. And today, it doesn't feel like we’re designated a shelf.”The 2021 Grammy Awards will air live on Jan. 31.Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
Despite a global pandemic, Victoria, B.C., is still one of the best "small cities" in the world, according to UK-based magazine Monocle.The magazine, which explores urban culture around the world, looked at cities with fewer than 250,000 people for their second annual Small Cities Index. The cities chosen were described as "well-connected cities that offer great business opportunities, a welcoming culture and access to nature."According to the index, Victoria placed No. 5, making a significant jump from 16 just a year ago. Porto, Portugal, took top honours followed by Leuven, Belgium; Itoshima, Japan; and Lucerne, Switzerland. Tomos Lewis, the Toronto bureau chief for Monocle, says the charm of a small city is not feeling lost in an anonymous metropolis."From having spoken to people from a variety of sectors who have lived in Victoria either for a long time or just moved there, that kind of intimacy comes part and parcel with moving to a city like Victoria," said Lewis to host Kathryn Marlow on CBC's All Points West.Cities were graded according to accessibility to international travellers, having "a good, progressive mayor," access to nature and for being warm and welcoming. Ratings also incorporated sustainability, environmentally conscious planning and opportunities for business. The magazine had compliments for Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps who it said "introduced initiatives to encourage young Canadians and foreigners to relocate here" such as free bus passes for children and bike lanes across the city. It also praised the city's diversifying economy, specifically noting its financial-services and ocean-research sectors, and its literary and food scene.Victoria has seen its fair share of challenges during the global pandemic including increased homelessness, a devastating shut-down of its tourism sector and rising housing costs."We do feel that all cities have their challenges that are particular to that place in question. But we don't think that those should always totally overshadow the other things a city has going for it," said Lewis.He said Victoria's civic attempts to address these issues is what earned it a top spot."This idea of the community first stepping in to try and solve, address and shine a spotlight on what those issues are and try to solve them I think is what gives a place its magic and that's certainly what we found having reported on Victoria for so many years from our vantage point."
Vendredi dernier, le quotidien Le Journal de Québec a publié l’annonce du retour de l’éolien dans la ligne de mire d’Hydro-Québec pour 2021. Le député de Matane-Matapédia Pascal Bérubé a réagi à cette nouvelle, qu’il définit de majeure pour la région dans un contexte de relance économique du Québec. Le chef parlementaire du Parti québécois a d’ailleurs validé l’article journalistique auprès du gouvernement, dont le ministre des Ressources naturelles, Jonatan Julien, qui lui a confirmé l’intérêt renouvelé de New York pour l’électricité verte du Québec. « Cette nouvelle est importante pour nous, alors qu’elle tend à démontrer un virage du gouvernement de la CAQ sur le développement de l’éolien », a répété Pascal Bérubé. Il réitère que cette relance ouvrira des portes pour le Bas-Saint-Laurent et la Gaspésie. « Il y a également la possibilité d’exploiter d’autres filières pour s’assurer de notre sécurité énergétique », a-t-il rappelé. Des négociations sont en cours pour remettre le projet d’Apuiat sur les rails, ce même projet sur lesquels les élus régionaux misaient pour la survie de Marmen dans l’Est. Pascal Bérubé a doublement confirmé que le premier projet serait Apuiat. « Nous n’avons pas d’échéancier évidemment, mais le gouvernement du Québec me confirme qu’il y a une volonté d’aller de l’avant avec l’éolien, ce qui est majeur dans les circonstances. » Et pour le Parti québécois, cela se traduirait en un éventuel appel d’offres pour un projet de l’Alliance de l’Est. Selon le Parti québécois, l’Alliance de L’Est rapporterait pour l’ensemble des communautés de la région et permettrait la consolidation d’emplois chez Marmen, entre autres. « On ne sait pas si ce sera suffisant à court terme pour relancer Marmen », a toutefois précisé M. Bérubé. « D’autant plus que le coût a considérablement diminué ces dernières années, mais ça on le savait déjà. C’est le gouvernement de la CAQ qui a tardé à le réaliser. » Selon lui, les communautés locales pourraient bénéficier de retombées sur plusieurs décennies. « C’est l’ensemble des communautés de notre territoire qui vont chercher des revenus supplémentaires. De plus, le couplage de l’éolien et de l’hydroélectricité est une bonne combinaison d’énergies vertes », a-t-il lancé. Le Parti québécois suivra le dossier de près. Les députés péquistes continuent d’espérer un appui formel de la part du gouvernement québécois. Ils ont publiquement demandé à la ministre responsable du Bas-Saint-Laurent et de la Gaspésie, Marie-Eve Proulx, de porter ce projet au conseil des ministres, qui pourrait apporter une fortune à ces régions et étant « très faisable », a noté Pascal Bérubé. « Ce serait une des plus belles annonces qu’on pourrait faire dans les prochaines années », a-t-il affirmé.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
The Township of Carlow Mayo had a public meeting on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. so residents could comment on the passing of the township’s draft cannabis bylaw, and the council could answer their questions about the bylaw. Many municipalities have faced illegal cannabis operations doing business within their borders, including Carlow Mayo, one of them being the illegal cannabis operation that was taken down by the OPP on Hartsmere Road in McArthurs Mills on Sept. 15. Mayor Bonnie Adams stressed that with this amended bylaw, it will impose restrictions on where cannabis operations can be permitted within their township, and hopefully curb these illegal cannabis production facilities from starting up in the first place. After taking and answering residents’ questions on the issue, council voted unanimously to adopt this amended bylaw. Adams thanked everyone for coming and explained that the purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for individuals to comment on the draft bylaw and pose any questions they may have before it was passed by council. The bylaw in question is bylaw 26-2020, which is a bylaw to amend the comprehensive zoning bylaw 33-2004, in accordance with Section 34 of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990. “Without the amendments we are proposing, we would have no authority on where and how cannabis operations could be established that are licenced or registered by Health Canada. Please be assured that council does not take this lightly. It’s a major problem for us and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that our municipality is protected from any illegal operations that could occur within our municipality,” she says. Adams mentioned that back on Aug. 14, she had attended a Hastings County Zoom meeting with Councillor Dan Hughey and deputy clerk and treasurer Jenny Snider to discuss this problem. She said their concerns were addressed to MP Derek Sloan, MPP Daryl Kramp, inspector detachment cmdr. Scott Semple from the OPP, insp. Jim Walker from the OPP Organized Crime and Enforcement Bureau, Warden Rick Phillips with Hastings County and Warden Marg Isbester from Lennox Addington. As a result of the meeting, letters were sent to Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and Federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu to ensure that all three levels of government are working in cooperation toward the issue of addressing illegal cannabis operations. Adams explains that in the letters the municipalities suggested some recommendations including; that Health Canada should share information about cannabis certifications with municipalities so they can ensure that certificate holders are compliant with the township’s zoning bylaw, that police forces have the necessary resources to monitor and take action against cannabis operations that conduct their business illegally, that the province provide means to amend legislation to establish a new provincial offence that creates an offence when unlicensed cannabis operations breaking planning and environmental regulations and when they ignore building codes, and that a suggested $100,000 fine be in place to act as a deterrent. If all else fails, the township would like to be able to collect any outstanding fines through municipal property taxes. While there has been no word from Minister Hajdu yet, Adams had heard that Minister Clark had shared these recommendations with Attorney General Doug Downey, solicitor General Sylvia Jones, the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus and the Association of Municipalities of Eastern Ontario Monica Turner. “As you can see, we are not sitting doing nothing with regards to this awful thing that has come into our community,” she says. This amended bylaw only applies to illegal cannabis operations, not those more limited operations for personal and medical use. Industrial hemp production, which is a larger scale growing endeavor, is also not the target of this bylaw. Industrial hemp is a food and fibre non-drug variety of cannabis with a low THC content of less than 0.3 per cent. In 2014, over 100,000 acres of industrial hemp were grown in Canada. If anyone has any concerns that a larger scale operation is not growing industrial hemp, and is instead growing illegal drug cannabis, they should contact the OPP to investigate. Questions from residents had been submitted in advance of the meeting, so that the council could look into them and provide the most detailed answers possible during the meeting. Residents posed questions to council wondering whether the township knows whether Health Canada issues a licence to a particular property for a cannabis operation, and also whether the township can put a limit on the number of cannabis operations within the township. On behalf of council, Adams answered that Health Canada does not forward this information to the township, and that the township is uninformed about licence approval so they have no idea how many cannabis operations there are so cannot put a limit on them so far. Residents also asked council what regulations are being put in place to prevent cannabis operations from being too close to residential properties, and how the safety of the community is being ensured. Adams replied that with the new bylaw, cannabis operations must be in a permitted zone and must meet the required setbacks from sensitive land use, and adhere to other requirements set out in the bylaw. With regard to safety, Adams urged residents that if they have concerns about illegal and criminal activity, to contact the OPP and they will investigate. Questions also arose about how the township would regulate the smell from cannabis operations and the environmental impacts of cannabis operations with respect to water and waste. Adams replied that operations licenced and registered with Health Canada are permitted indoors only and that they must have an air treatment control system for the building or structure. With regard to water supply, cannabis operation owners are required to provide confirmation that there is adequate water supply for daily usage and for fire suppression. Private septic systems or other onsite disposal systems will be necessary to confirm that discharge from the facility can be handled appropriately. If an offsite handling is needed, the owner will provide documentation of agreements with approved waste handlers to the township’s satisfaction. Residents also asked if pre-existing cannabis operations would be taken care of by this new bylaw, and what these cannabis operations might do to local property values. Adams said that the new bylaw would not apply to pre-existing cannabis operations but that the township was working on a new bylaw that would pertain to the nuisance that may come with a cannabis operation, like the odour for example. With regard to property values, Adams said that they can’t forecast real estate values or MPAC assessments and that there are many factors that determine these values. Also asked by residents was how the township would enforce the amendments if licencing information is not given to the township. Adams answered that the amendment to the bylaw would allow the township’s chief building official and bylaw enforcement officer to have more ability to help them enforce the Ontario building code and the township’s zoning bylaw, and that all illegal operations will need to be reported and handled by the OPP. Having no more submitted questions and none from the gallery, Adams thanked everyone present for coming out, for posing their questions and for their comments. “We’re trying to bring this situation to light and to let you know what we’re trying to do to prohibit it and address the concerns,” she says. Adams then brought forth a motion by Hughey and seconded by Councillor Mike Cannon to adopt bylaw 26-2020. Council passed it unanimously and the public meeting was adjourned.Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
Recently there has been an informal change in health directives in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division when a student tests positive for COVID-19. Last weekend Saskatoon Public Schools changed their guidelines where entire classes have to isolate after a single positive case in a class. Saskatchewan Rivers School Division director of education Robert Bratvold explained that they have been following a similar guideline in their division for over a week. “There is some variation but essentially the increase in community cases increased demands on the Health team so much that they cannot do the full contact tracing in a classroom. Now when a case occurs, all the students and staff in that classroom are sent home for isolation,” he explained. For example, when Saskatchewan Rivers announced a series of cases on Sunday each of the classrooms in in Debden Public School, Ecole Arthur Pechey School in Prince Albert, John Diefenbaker Public School and Carlton Comprehensive High School all had affected classrooms isolate. When a case was reported at Carlton on Nov. 2 only close contacts were placed on 14 day isolation. Schools in the division have remained open when a case has been detected in a classroom. There was also an outbreak, which means more than two cases in the same location, declared at the Global Sports Academy in Carlton on Nov.13. Another outbreak in the division was declared at W.P. Sandin School in Shellbrook on Oct. 30. The other active school outbreak is at the Prince Albert Catholic School Division’s Ecole St. Mary High School and was declared on Oct.24. All of these outbreaks are still listed as active by the province. Outbreaks have to declared over by an SHA Medical Health Officer before they can be removed from the list. According to a n SHA release sent out Tuesday, eight per cent of all infections come from educational institutions. Cases are more likely teachers or staff and test positivity is higher in the 14-year-old to 19-year-old age range for students. The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health were not available to comment as to whether isolating whole classrooms is a provincial policy as of deadline. Saskatoon Public Schools has a similar policy. “I cannot speak to the potential that this becomes a provincial practice, but I can foresee that as a possibility in the not too distant future.” The Prince Albert Catholic School Division was also not available for comment before deadline.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
As expected, the 2020 ski year will be different (by a long shot) than previous years. Get used to seeing more sanitizing stations, increased cleaning by staff and plenty of signage reminding you to be physically distanced. Each B.C. Interior resort is taking its own approach to navigating COVID-19. We took a look at the approaches of a few and compiled some of the important bits below. While there are some differences, there are plenty of commonalities. Namely, if you’re showing symptoms, stay home. For a full run-down of the rules, click on the links below, questions can be directed to a friendly guest services agent. SUN PEAKS RESORT TICKETS There will be a limited amount of day tickets available for sale each day to manage guest numbers.Tickets should be purchased online in advance to guarantee access, as window ticket sales may not be available for the majority of the season. Seasons pass sales were limited this year to facilitate on-mountain social distancing. Use tap payment when possible. WHAT TO WEAR A face covering will be required in lift lines, while riding chairlifts, and any time you’re not seated while visiting outdoor dining facilities. When indoors, guests are asked to wear a double-layered face mask that covers your nose and mouth. Outdoors, a face covering, like a scarf, is acceptable. BAGS There is no indoor storage for belongings available this winter. Guests are asked to leave all personal belongings in their vehicle, and ensure your vehicle is locked and items are secure. Parking lots are being monitored by additional security. LESSONS Private and group lessons are available with limited numbers, children six to nine years and 13 and up can have up to three participants ages 10 to 12 can have a maximum of five students plus the instructor. WHAT YOU WON’T SEE OPEN (AT LEAST FOR NOW) Tube time and bungee trampoline. Childminding is also unavailable until further notice. RIDING THE CHAIR Guests who are travelling or skiing together can be seated together on chairlifts. Groups of guests will not be seated with people outside of their bubble. Two unrelated single skiers may ride lifts together, sitting on opposite sides of the quad chairlift. But singles will not be required to ride with another guest if they are not comfortable and would prefer to ride alone. BIG WHITE PASS SALES Season passes are no longer available. Day tickets will be available for purchase online only. The tickets will be collected at one of 15 pick-up locations around the resort. Big White will be a “cashless resort,” bring your debit or credit card if you’re looking to make a purchase. TRAVEL/PARKING Express bus service from the Central Okanagan and Kelowna will be unavailable this year. On weekends and during peak periods, skiers and boarders will be greeted by a parking attendant, who will guide you to an appropriate place to park. FACE MASKS Wear a mask or face covering in all lift lines, loading and unloading the lifts, and in all indoor spaces. Plexiglass partitions have been installed at all counters where customers and staff interact. SILVERSTAR (Tentatively opening Dec. 4) FACE COVERINGS Coverings required for both staff and guests in all indoor spaces, except when seated to eat or drink. They will also be required outdoors when two metres of physical distance cannot be maintained. When riding a shuttle, waiting in a lift line, loading and riding a chairlift, or entering a facility, you will be required to wear a face covering. OPENING DATE Weather permitting, SilverStar will open for the season on Friday, Dec. 4. The resort stated on its webpage that it’s confident that this this date, which is later than its traditional opening day, will allow more acreage and lifts to be open, helping to spread guests out over the mountain. The resort will also be open to only season passholders at first as it assesses its operations and capacity limits. Information about when day ticket holders can access the mountain will be announced at a later date. PARKING SilverStar is implementing an online parking reservation system, meaning you have to let it know you will be coming in advance. The resort stated the system will help reduce crowds on peak days and enable appropriate physical distancing. LIFTS Guests will notice additional spacing measures, including extended maze designs, more lateral spacing and increased signage, to encourage physical distancing. Guests will self-group and load chairlifts with their party. Lift attendants will not require guests to ride a chairlift with people they do not know. The mountain also stated high-capacity chairlifts and closed cabin carriers “may be the exception, and may be loaded in a way that allows for physical distancing.” SNOW SPORTS To begin the season, SilverStar will offer private lessons for related parties of up to five. The resort said it may revisit offerings based on changes to the government health and safety procedures, with further information provided at a later date. ON MOUNTAIN DINING The mountain will be offering an expanded grab-and-go and take out menu. All purchases will be cashless. The resort is encouraging guests to bring their own lunch and have allocated new additional designated areas for people to eat while remaining physically distanced. REVELSTOKE MOUNTAIN RESORT (Tentatively opening Nov. 27) MASKS AND FACE COVERINGS Masks or face coverings will be mandatory for everyone throughout the resort. This includes in the village base area, all indoor facilities, lift lines and while riding in the gondola and on chairlifts. Revelstoke defined appropriate masks and face coverings are defined as any double-layer material that adequately covers a person’s mouth and nose. On-site ticket sales are being eliminated, with all ticket sales to be done online. Reservations will not be required for season passholders and any pre-purchased lift products. Daily capacity restrictions will be in place. RIDING THE LIFTS Guests will have the option to ride the lifts either in mixed or private cohorts. Mixed cohorts will be loaded onto the gondola with six passengers per gondola cabin, or four people per chair. Private cohorts can load up to eight people per gondola cabin or four people per chair. Gondola cabins have been protected with the Integral Surface Protection Program, which is used to limit the ability of viruses to stay on surfaces. Lift attendants that may need to physically assist with loading/unloading will wear the appropriate personal protective equipment. SNOW SCHOOL Group lessons will not be offered with the exception of Kids Weekend Programs. Weekend programs are being limited to residents within the Columbia Shuswap Regional District. Snow School participants will be required to undergo a self-health screening prior to starting their lesson. All Snow School staff and guests will be required to wear a face covering, except when they are moving on skis or snowboards. Private Lessons will be available for ages four and up. FOOD AND BEVERAGE Seating will be reduced in all venues with tables spread out to allow for adequate social distancing. Tables will be sanitized after every use. Face coverings will be required for guests and staff when inside any food and beverage outlet, except when seated at a table and eating or drinking. Expanded outdoor seating will be available at Revelation Lodge. Expanded room service from the Rockford Bar | Grill and Mackenzie Tavern. Online ordering will be available for all food and beverage outlets. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
For the last three years, the Steveston Historical Society has presented Songs in the Snow, a series of evenings celebrating the holidays with live music and entertainment. This year, the event will be presented virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Cancelling was not something we ever considered,” says executive director Rachel Meloche. “We figured that if we could find a way to make it virtual and do something, somehow, that at least we could still have the event and it would give people some of the magic.” Thanks to help from loyal sponsors, the historical society team was able to pivot this year. The Richmond Arts Coalition sourced all the musicians and performers, and local cartoonist Cartoon Katie will do live caricature drawings of participants watching on Zoom. “I know that the music industry has really suffered this year, and we had the funding so we wanted to get it into the hands of the artists who need it the most right now,” says Meloche. Registration is free or by donation, and people can also pre-order and pick up free craft kits as well as hot drink and cookie packages. Meloche says the driving force behind Songs in the Snow is that the holidays are expensive, and so many events have a fee associated with them. The event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on three Saturdays (Dec. 5, 12 and 19). Each night will have different crafts and performances so people can register for all three. Performers will be live through their own individual broadcasts. And Meloche is heartened by the ability to bring some holiday cheer to people’s homes. “That’s what we wanted to do, just bring a little bit of the magic of Songs in the Snow to people,” she says. “I’ve heard from a family that they’re all participating from their own houses—so we’re bringing people together, just differently. “It’s going to be a really different and difficult holiday season for a lot of people. If we can bring some brightness, then I’ve done my job.” To register for tickets, visit www.historicsteveston.ca.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
A woman from Georgia says her family's reunion was saved by a man from British Columbia who drove them to the Alaskan border after they got stranded in a snowstorm and appealed for help.Lynn Marchessault began her trip with her two children, two dogs and a cat on Nov. 10 from Georgia to the Alaska border to join her husband, who serves in the U.S. military."I had never driven in the snow," she said in an interview on Monday. "It was like a whiteout kind of snowstorm. I wasn't really familiar with that, or even knew what it was called until this day."The family's pickup truck was pulling a U-Haul and did not have the appropriate winter tires to get through the winding, mountainous roads when they stopped at a highway lodge for temporary workers in Pink Mountain, B.C., on Nov. 17.She began looking for someone passing through the area who could drive them when Gary Bath, a Canadian ranger and military veteran, stepped up to the wheel.Marchessault said she and her husband talked to Bath and his family on the phone before they embarked on the rest of their trip."I felt good about it from the beginning, like I knew these were good people and that it was a good choice to make," she said.Marchessault said her trip was supposed to have taken place about two months ago but it got delayed by COVID-19, adding that she was "naive" about the road conditions.Bath, who lives in Fort St. John, said he wanted to help the family be together for Christmas, and he was doing something nice for fellow service members."A little bit like Santa Claus in this case," he said with a chuckle.Marchessault said the 1,700-kilometre drive to the Alaskan border near Beaver Creek, Yukon, is "not a road for the faint of heart.""Oh my goodness, beautiful views, amazing views, but some of those parts of the road were a little bit scary for me," she said laughing."I mean, Gary's just over there driving like a champ, you know, been doing it his whole life. But for me, I was like 'Oh my goodness.' Sometimes I would tell him I have enough anxiety and sweaty palms over here in this seat for the both of us and then he would just kind of chuckle." Bath said the two-day trip was "quite windy and really bumpy" but "not too bad."The two families hope to meet up soon."I'm so glad that the whole thing was over, but it was so hard to say goodbye to Gary and leave him," Marchessault said."We really bonded. I think we've become good friends. He's a great and grand guy and his wife is pretty awesome."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press
Council will be scrutinizing staff recommendations around budget items at its special council meeting this Thursday morning. One of the items to be added to the operating budget is capacity to bring on a second summer municipal law enforcement student next year. Staff rationalizes the increase in budget by stating in its agenda report that an additional hire in that position would assist in dealing with the increase of a seasonal influx of complaints, as well as provide additional enforcement on weekends and holidays during summer months. The anticipated impact to the 2021 operating budget for the Protective and Development Department would be $12,270. Further in budgeting, council will have the opportunity to indulge in detailed discussions around operating and capital budget recommendations coming forward from the various divisions within the corporation. Part of it involves not increasing wages for council and volunteer firefighters and changing the summer student staff complement from 10 summer students hired for 18 weeks to four positions hired for 26 weeks and two summer students hired for eight weeks changed to three summer students hired for 18 weeks. It's not clear how this affect students away at university or college, who aren't home for more than half the year. The staff report also alludes to discussions being held between the YMCA and township staff about a loan that will be offered to the non-profit, in collaboration with neighbouring municipalities. The staff report goes on to list the total community grants given this year. The number comes out at $251,000 and increases to $290,000 for next year based on requests that have already been received by council. Staff is also recommending deferral of a few capital projects that were identified in bridge inspections reports over the years. The suggestion is to defer the projects for another couple years. The three projects to be deferred until 2022 are the Granny White bridge, Rumney Road culvert replacement and Rosemount Road - north bridge. In concluding the report, staff is still bringing forward a 2.7% increase in tax rate for 2021, unless reserve funds are used to bring it down to the 2% council has requested. In addition, staff is presenting options for acquiring infrastructure funding to support projects such as Oakwood Park improvements, upgrades to Tay Community Rink, Port McNicoll fire hall health and safety upgrades and resurfacing Tay Shore Trail. The meeting can be viewed online or an audio-only version can be accessed via phone at (705)999-0385 using the meeting ID 897 6141 3858.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com
A lengthy appeal process came to its end Nov. 13, when the LPAT (successor to OMB) decided in favour of allowing the application for the Petyon pit. The pit, proposed in Southgate on Grey Road 9, about three km east of Grey Road 109. was opposed by some local residents. Two of those whose names were attached to the LPAT appeal were Douglas Karrow and Jo Chisholm, who had appeared at Southgate council over the years. As a pit application, there are planning concerns which involve the local municipality. The Official Plan Amendment was passed by Southgate and by Grey County in about three years ago. There is also a separate application, and an appeal, under the Aggregate Resources Act process. The proponent, Huttonville Sand & Gravel, was represented by Stovel & Associates. Ms Chisolm, a neighbour of the pit, and Mr. Karrow raised a number of issues, one of these being the cumulative effect of the number of pits in the Holstein area. The decision referred to the planning process where the commenting agencies did not indicate they found any cumulative negative effect aft considering noise, dust, water table quality and quantity, ecology, traffic, and land use compatibility. As well, the decision found that the evidence supported the position that the applications and accompanying studies had demonstrated that there would be “no negative impacts on the natural features or their ecological functions.” No further conditions were placed on the licence, as the decision noted that the licenced area had already been adjusted, additional water monitoring wells installed and the County had addressed traffic-related requirements.M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald
EDMONTON — The ivy and tropical plants spread across a living wall in the lobby of a landmark Alberta government building are being cut down earlier than planned because of a bug infestation.The United Conservative government had intended to remove the 223-square-metre plant installation in the Edmonton Federal Building's lobby next year to save the annual $70,000 maintenance cost.But the acting press secretary for Infrastructure Minister Tricia Velthuizen says a bug infestation was discovered recently, so it was decided to order the wall's immediate removal.About half of the greenery was torn down Monday, exposing the metal space which used to collect the fresh air generated by the plants to send through the rest of the building.Velthuizen said the living wall — which Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio said he thought was cool when he visited Edmonton — was something nice that the province can no longer afford.She said the wall will eventually be replaced with art from the provincial collection as part of upgrades to the building's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. Velthuizen did not say when the new system will be in place or how much it will cost.The Edmonton Federal Building is just northeast of Alberta’s legislature. It was originally built by Canadian government to house its main federal offices in Western Canada. It underwent extensive renovations and, in 2015, more than 600 government staff and members of the legislature moved in.The building made headlines years ago when a tony penthouse apartment was added to the renovation design for then-premier Alison Redford and her daughter. The suite became known as the "Sky Palace" in the ensuing controversy. The company Nedlaw Living Walls Inc. installed the plants in 2014 and was hired to maintain the installation. Spokesman Adam Holder said the wall was built as part of building's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system and provided fresh air. He said he was disappointed to hear the decision to remove it and suggested maintenance costs could easily have been trimmed if the UCP government had asked."Before they rip the wall out, it would have been of paramount importance for them to know that they literally could have cut their $70,000 year maintenance bill by three-quarters," Holder said."It was extremely healthy, (and) if they were able to do quarterly maintenance on it (instead of monthly), that's where I get my 75 per cent from."Holder added the UCP government may face more costs than it expected ripping out the wall."This is going to cost almost seven figures for them to not only rip it out, (but also to) redesign the space and re-engineer the air-handling system. This was literally connected to a lot of ductwork throughout the entire building, not to mention the rooftop units, and the actual air extraction system was designed with this wall," he said."So now it has to be recalibrated. And you may be in a situation where you have to buy new equipment, or re-engineer old equipment. It's certainly not just a matter of, you know, kind of ripping out a floor lamp and that's the end of it."Jim Hole, son of former lieutenant-governor Lois Hole and the operator of a well-known greenhouse just north of Edmonton, said he understands why some people would be upset about the wall's removal."The downside is, of course, you lose the beautiful esthetics. You lose that nice humidity that comes from the plants. You do lose some filtration of air that may be a bit stale and some of the pollutants that occur indoors," Hole said.Everybody, including Alberta's political leaders, should be around plants on a regular basis to become healthier mentally and emotionally, he said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press
Sun Peaks stakeholders are adapting to the start of a winter season unlike any other, facing new COVID-19 protocols and restrictions that will greatly impact the resort and community. On Thursday, Nov. 19, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a number of measures meant to tamp down community spread of COVID-19, after the province faced successive days of record-breaking new cases. The measures included a provincial order for British Columbians to minimize socializing—which in most cases means seeing only their own household—wear a mask in indoor public and retail spaces and suspend all events and community-based gatherings, including religious services. Indoor group physical activities, such as spin classes, hot yoga, and high intensity interval training (HIIT), are also suspended. The order is in effect from Nov. 19, 2020 at midnight to Dec. 7, 2020 at midnight. Henry also sent out a strong recommendation to the public against non-essential travel throughout the province, and specifically called on Vancouverites to “go to local mountains,” in addition to an already standing order against travel to or from the Fraser Valley Health (FVH) or Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) regions. On Wednesday B.C. Premier John Horgan called for all non essential travel to and from the province to cease, cutting off other important markets for the resort. The situation creates a host of issues for Sun Peaks and other Thompson Okanagan resorts, which are reliant on destination guests, especially in light of international travel restrictions still in effect. Though the changes are significant, the mountain is prepared and they won’t change much in terms of their day-to-day operations, said Aidan Kelly, chief marketing officer for Sun Peaks Resort LLP (SPR). “There was nothing in the orders yesterday, that really changes much of how we were planning to operate,” said Kelly. “It just just means that our visitation is going to drastically change.” Kelly said the resort operator is encouraging the public to follow the provincial guidelines and offering a full-refund for both ticket sales and accommodation until Dec. 7,the end date of the period covered by the provincial order. “We’re urging people to respect the recommendations and, and alter your plans accordingly,” said Kelly. Kelly said SPR has already seen cancellations for the period in question. “The phones have definitely been ringing in terms of people cancelling and changing [plans],” said Kelly. “But the good thing is that….your first few weeks of opening, are very heavily skewed towards the local market anyway, so not a massive amount of people that were planning ski vacations at this time of year.” Kelly said the resort has sent a memo to staff, highlighting its refund policy and asking them to encourage the public to follow the provincial health officer’s recommendations. Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality Mayor (SPMRM) Al Raine said the situation is “tricky” from an enforcement perspective for small municipalities. Bylaw workers, he added, can face threats by people who don’t want to follow the rules. “You can see across the country and in other countries, that sometimes when people are confronting people about not wearing a mask they, they can get rude or violent,” said Raine. “But certainly, our instruction to our bylaw people is that if there is ever a physical confrontation, they should back off immediately and call the police.” Raine said he does encourage the public to contact bylaw if they see a situation, such as a party. “If they see behavior that threatens community health they should inform the bylaw immediately,” said Raine. Raine added the municipality will also look into its policy regarding staffing, as some staff have returned to work in the last couple months, after previously working from home. “I suggest we may have to take another look at that,” he said. The surge in recent cases have cast a great deal of uncertainty over the season, as SPR local businesses and accommodation providers are staring down the potential of a loss of the important Lower Mainland and Alberta markets over the busy Christmas season. Kelly said he’s hopeful the next couple weeks will stem the tide of the virus and that the recommendation won’t be extended. “We’re hopeful that this is a bit of a circuit breaker, and it doesn’t have to extend out through the end of December or anything like that, because then it’s a different kettle of fish that you have to evaluate then.” Matthias Schmid, owner of McSporties rental and retail, said the prospect of the Lower Mainland and other regions being cut off for the long-term would have a significant impact on local businesses, many of which reported a strong summer season fuelled by domestic travellers after having had to shutter their businesses in March. “During the summer months Sun Peaks saw a ton of traffic front the Lower Mainland. They were coming to do the VRBOs, they were renting bikes and hiking,” said Schmid. “The Lower Mainland really fed Sun Peaks this summer, so I would say that’s a major artery for us that’s cut off.” Schmid said the rapidly changing situation has caused significant challenges from a planning perspective, as clients from around B.C. and other provinces face uncertainty about whether or not they will be able to come to the resort. “It’s really hard,” he said. “That’s probably the most challenging thing I’d say, it’s the lack of sort of being able to plan.”Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
OTTAWA — One of Canada's most controversial ex-ambassadors to China says he repeatedly tried to improve the living conditions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor after their imprisonment in the People's Republic almost two years ago.John McCallum also said Tuesday he regrets speaking about the October 2019 Canadian election in a meeting with Chinese officials in the months leading up to it.McCallum, the former Liberal cabinet minister who was fired as Canada's envoy to China in January 2019, was testifying at the special House of Commons committee on Canada-China relations.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired McCallum after he made a series of public comments that broke with the government's line following the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor, nine days after Canada's arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou in December 2018 on a U.S. extradition warrant.McCallum said that's when everything changed in Canada's relations with China, and that he has no doubt Kovrig and Spavor would be free right now had Meng not been arrested."From that moment onwards, the top priority of the government and of myself as ambassador was to secure the release of the two Michaels," said McCallum, noting that he has been one of the few people to visit them in prison."On more than one occasion, I tried to convince the Chinese that if they were unable to release Kovrig and Spavor they should at least improve their living conditions. Sadly, as you all know, Canadian efforts in this area have so far been unsuccessful."The committee has been examining Canada's relations with China, which have plummeted to an all-time low since December 2018. That will likely include making recommendations about dealing with Chinese security agents who intimidate Canadians of Chinese descent on Canadian soil.McCallum appeared relaxed over a video link and displayed no ill will to the government that ended his decades-long career as a politician and then a high-level political appointee. MPs from all parties gave McCallum warm respectful greetings, with the Conservative MP Michael Chong telling him he liked an old book he had written.Trudeau appointed his former immigration minister – McCallum was the political architect of the campaign to bring tens of thousands of Syrian refugees to Canada in 2016 – to Beijing as a gesture of how he valued Canada's relations with China."I think I've done some useful things in my career," he said, citing the Syrian refugee effort, serving as Jean Chretien's defence minister when "we said no" to the United States' request to enter the Iraq war in 2003 and helping bestow honorary Canadian citizenship on South Africa's Nelson Mandela. "But I've never claimed to have led an error-free career."McCallum said he had regrets about his part of his meeting with Chinese officials in the summer of 2019, after he lost his ambassadorship. He said he used the opportunity to lobby for the release of Kovrig and Spavor, or at least improve their living conditions."I painted a dark picture of plummeting support for China among Canadians. And I also mentioned as part of this darkness an impending election. Now, in hindsight, I regret having spoken of the election. I don't think it was appropriate,” McCallum recalled.It likely didn’t make any difference, he said, "because at the end of the day, the Chinese refused to release or even improve the living conditions of our two detainees."In July 2019, McCallum told the South China Morning Post that he had warned China's foreign ministry that more harmful actions against Canada would only help what he said was the less-China-friendly Conservative party get elected.Conservative MPs wrote to Canadian Security Intelligence Service director David Vigneault, calling the comments "very disturbing." Then foreign affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said they were "highly inappropriate." McCallum also said that as ambassador, he rejected an unspecified number of Chinese visa applications on the advice of Canadian security agencies but noted at the time that Australia had a bigger problem with Chinese meddling than Canada. That has changed, he said."What happens to Australia today is a guide for what might happen to Canada down the road." Earlier Tuesday, Chong urged Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne to adopt a more consistent approach to getting tough with China.The Conservative foreign affairs critic told Champagne in a separate Commons committee meeting that the government needs to show Canadians how it will deal with growing Chinese intimidation of Canadians within Canada.Champagne replied that Canada has taken a smart and firm approach with China lately that includes speaking out against its ill treatment of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and of ethnic Muslim Uighurs.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
“Together, these public servants will restore America globally, its global leadership and its moral leadership,” US President-elect Biden said.View on euronews
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s governor says that once coronavirus vaccines become available, they will be optional in the state’s K-12 public schools.Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday that vaccines will be very important for Tennessee to “ultimately really be able to handle” the pandemic. But he says he doesn’t foresee vaccine mandates for school districts in Tennessee.In his words, “Vaccines are a choice and people have the choice and will have the choice in this state as to whether or not they should take that vaccine.”The state’s health commissioner says the first doses could arrive in Tennessee around Dec. 15. The first wave will be reserved for frontline health care workers and first responders. She says widespread availability would likely be in late spring or early summer.___HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:— Tokyo governor: Japan can host Olympics despite virus spike.— Millions in US stick to Thanksgiving travel plans despite CDC warnings.— Keep the mask: A vaccine won’t end the US crisis right away.— Just in time for December holidays, England to cut its mandatory 14-day quarantines for travellers from unsafe virus countries to as little as five days with testing regimen.— Los Angeles on the brink of a stay-home order as coronavirus cases rise.— Drones to the rescue: Berlin lab seeks quicker virus tests.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak___HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:EL PASO, Texas — Officials in El Paso County in Texas plan to impose a new curfew in hopes of combatting a surge in coronavirus cases that is overrunning the border area’s hospitals and funeral homes.El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego has said Gov. Greg Abbott’s office has approved the curfew. In a letter sent last week to Abbott, Samaniego said the curfew would be limited in nature and would not interfere with people seeking to access essential or nonessential services.The county judge and state officials have been at odds over Samaniego’s efforts to implement rules to slow the virus’ spread in the border city of El Paso.Earlier this month, an appeals court overturned an El Paso County order that would have closed nonessential businesses, including gyms and salons.___INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has nearly recorded its most COVID-19 deaths for a single month with a week remaining as health officials on Tuesday added 103 more deaths to the state’s pandemic toll.The Indiana State Department of Health’s daily update included the new deaths mostly occurring over the past several days through Monday, and which push November’s total to at least 991.Indiana’s monthly high for COVID-19 deaths was 1,041 in April, when at most the state’s moving seven-day average was 42 fatalities a day. That daily average has now reached 51 as Indiana’s hospitals are treating nearly double the number of coronavirus patients as at any point since seeing their first infections in March.Coronavirus hospitalizations have reached a level where health care leaders say the system is becoming overwhelmed and some hospitals have started rationing care to treat those most severely ill.___ATLANTA — Although White House officials are pushing Georgia to do more to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday that the responsibility rests with individual Georgians, as he implored them to take precautions over Thanksgiving.The holiday comes at a perilous moment for the state. Although the virus is spreading more slowly in Georgia than in 40 other states, according to figures kept by The Associated Press, the number of infections is still rising rapidly and approaching the peak Georgia saw in late July.The Republican governor repeated the same guidance he’s been giving Georgians since summer, that they should wear masks, keep their distance from others, wash their hands, and follow Kemp’s rules, including bans on large gatherings. The governor said he wasn’t planning any other measures, such as a statewide mask mandate, or renewed restrictions on businesses.Also on Tuesday, a second member of Congress from Georgia tested positive for COVID-19.Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Allen of Evans announced Tuesday that a test shows he has the coronavirus. Allen represents the 12th District stretching from Augusta across all or part of 19 counties.He says he has no symptoms and will isolate at home. Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson of West Point tested positive in October after experiencing mild symptoms. U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler had isolated after she got a positive COVID-19 test on Friday, but has since gotten two straight negative tests.___LOS ANGELES — A California judge has rejected a request from a restaurant industry group to block the nation’s most populous county from reinstating a ban on outdoor dining, a plan the group said would devastate businesses and workers.The California Restaurant Association asked a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Tuesday to block the order until county health officials provide medical or scientific evidence that it poses an unreasonable risk to public health.The group challenged an order issued Sunday in light of soaring coronavirus cases that prohibits restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars from providing in-person, outdoor dining.The new rule scheduled to take effect Wednesday would restrict restaurants, bars and other businesses in the county to takeout and delivery.___JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s top health official said he is exhausted trying to convince people in the state to take the coronavirus seriously and follow public health guidelines.“I’ll just to confess to you guys, I’m exhausted trying to convince folks to do stuff. It’s just going nowhere,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s state health officer, said Monday during a meeting with members of the Mississippi Senate.Mississippi, with a population of about 3 million, has reported more than 144,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 3,729 deaths from COVID-19. Hospitalizations are rising, with 946 people hospitalized in Mississippi with coronavirus Monday, compared with 560 on Nov. 4, according to the state Department of Health.Speaking to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Monday, Dobbs said there is no “collective will” among the public to prevent the virus.___ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Atlantic City’s casinos are slowly resuming live entertainment, bringing back a staple of the casino experience as they comply with government-mandated restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Hard Rock on Tuesday announced a series of Motown-themed Christmas shows from Dec. 11-30, saying its customers are getting antsy with months of coronavirus restrictions.“Public demand is looking for activities, especially with outdoor temperatures keeping everyone inside,” said Hard Rock president Joe Lupo. “The large showrooms, with better air circulation and spacious seating, and less than 10% of normal (occupancy) can provide that safe and fun night out.”Tickets will be sold as individual tables of two and four seats to ensure social distancing.___BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s department of health has released figures showing that November has become the state's deadliest month due to complications from COVID-19.State officials confirmed Tuesday a record high of 37 deaths in the last day, bringing the overall death toll to 883 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 317 fatalities in November, surpassing the October tally of 295.Figures released Monday by Johns Hopkins University researchers lists North Dakota’s death count as the 39th highest in the country and the eighth highest per capita at 112 deaths per 100,000 people.State health officials said fatality updates on Tuesday are typically higher because of lag in reporting from the weekends.___MOSCOW — Russia has released new results claiming its experimental coronavirus vaccine is highly effective and will cost less than vaccines made by some Western competitors.Russian Direct Investment Fund, which bankrolled the development of the shot, says Sputnik V will cost less than $10 per dose — or less than $20 for the two doses needed to vaccinate one person — on international markets. The vaccine will be free for Russians. Developers of the vaccine say it was 91.4% effective, according to new trial data.Pfizer and Moderna shots cost about $20 and $15-25 per dose respectively, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.Russia drew international criticism for giving Sputnik V regulatory approval before it underwent advanced testing among tens of thousands of people required to ensure its safety and effectiveness.Russia has reported 2.1 million confirmed cases and more than 36,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.___COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio might get the potential coronavirus vaccine by Dec. 15, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday, citing his office’s conversations with federal officials.Any vaccine candidate must be peer reviewed and get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.The priority would be distribution to health care workers, followed by populations considered at high-risk for the coronavirus. The governor didn’t identify which company’s vaccine the state would receive.Meanwhile, nearly 4,500 patients in Ohio are hospitalized with COVID-19-related symptoms. That includes more than 1,000 on intensive care units and more than 570 on ventilators, according to state Health Department data.The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen from 4,724 cases on Nov. 9 to 8,277 on Monday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.—-MADRID — Spain is reporting a new daily record of 537 coronavirus deaths since the resurgence of the pandemic.The country’s 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 of population fell Tuesday to 362. That’s down from 529 on Nov. 9, at the peak of the resurgence.Spain has since enlisted emergency measures limiting movement and social gatherings.Spain’s total coronavirus cases stands at nearly 1.6 million, with more than 43,600 deaths.___TOKYO — Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike remains firm about safely hosting the Olympics in July.Japan has experienced an uptick in infections this month, with a nationwide daily total exceeding 2,000 as the government tries to balance preventive measures and business activity.International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach spent four days in Tokyo last week trying to assure the public and sponsors the Olympics will take place on July 23.Koike credits widespread use of masks for Japan’s lower infections compared to the United States and Europe. Tokyo topped 500 cases last week. It reported 186 new cases on Tuesday for a total of nearly 38,200.The health ministry says Japan has 135,000 total cases and nearly 2,000 confirmed deaths. The U.S. has 12.4 million cases and more than 258,000 deaths. Britain leads Europe with 1.5 million cases and 56,000 confirmed deaths.___NEW YORK — Governors and mayors are ratcheting up mask mandates and imposing restrictions on small indoor gatherings that have been blamed for accelerating the spread of the coronavirus.Officials are banking on voluntary compliance since such measures are largely unenforceable.Health experts say if people disregard the new state and local restrictions and socialize anyway, that could put greater stress on overburdened hospitals and lead to an even bigger spike in sickness and death after the holidays.The nation is averaging 172,000 new virus cases per day, nearly double since the end of October, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.The U.S. leads the world with 12.4 million cases and nearly 258,000 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.___OMAHA, Neb. — The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus in Nebraska remains near record levels, but the total has remained relatively the past week.The state says 971 people were hospitalized with the virus on Monday. Over the past week, that figure has gone up and down between a low of 961 last Wednesday and Friday’s record of 987.But more social distancing restrictions could be triggered soon because more than 23% of the state’s hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients. Gov. Pete Ricketts has said that more restrictions will be imposed when that figure reaches 25% of the state’s hospital beds.Nebraska reported 1,860 new cases of the virus Monday to reach 115,921. The state reported 25 new deaths for a confirmed total of 934.___GUILFORD, Maine — A Maine medical supply manufacturer has been awarded more than $11 million from the federal government to produce millions of additional testing swabs.Republican Sen. Susan Collins says Puritan Medical Products of Guilford received the money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Collins says the company will increase its production of swabs by three million per month.The White House in June said the federal government was providing more than $75 million for Puritan to double its production to 40 million swabs per month.The company’s total production is at least 90 million per month now, Collins says.The state has reported nearly 10,800 cases and 189 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.___MADRID — Spain officials say health workers and residents in elder care homes will be the first group vaccinated when potential doses arrive.Health Minister Salvador Illa says Spain has signed agreements with five vaccine producers and hopes to do so with two more. Once the vaccines are approved by the European Medicines Agency, Spain hopes to receive 140 million doses.Given most vaccines will involve two doses, he says this should be enough to vaccinate some 80 million people and cover any possible problems with some vaccines.Spain, with a population of 47 million, intends to give vaccines for free and provide the excess vaccines to countries outside the European Union that need them, Illa says.The government hopes to vaccinate some 2.5 million people in the first stage between January and March and the rest of the population by mid-year. The vaccinations will be given in Spain’s 13,000 public health centres.Spain has reported more than 1.5 million cases and more than 43,000 confirmed deaths.The Associated Press
The RCMP sergeant who headed the foreign and domestic liaison unit responsible for Meng Wanzhou's arrest says she saw no problem with Canada Border Services Agency officers questioning the Huawei executive before she was taken into police custody.Sgt. Janice Vander Graaf testified in B.C. Supreme Court Tuesday that the original plan she discussed with her supervisor would have seen RCMP officers board Meng's plane on arrival from Hong Kong in order to execute a provisional arrest warrant.But by the time she arrived at the airport on Dec. 1, 2018, Vander Graaf said her officers had agreed instead that the CBSA would intercept Meng once she got off the plane and then take her to a secondary examination area to begin an immigration admissibility examination."This seemed like a reasonable course of action and it seemed like a safe course of action," Vander Graaf said."[The CBSA] had to do what they had to do, and I didn't have any input on what they were planning on doing or what they needed to do for their job or their responsibility. So I had really no sense of the timeline of how long they would take."Fraud and conspiracy chargesVander Graaf was testifying at a hearing to gather evidence in advance of extradition proceedings next year. Defence lawyers plan to argue that the delay in the arrest amounts to a violation of Meng's rights because CBSA officers questioned her about her business without a lawyer, seized her electronic devices and asked her for the passcodes, which they later gave police in error.Meng faces fraud and conspiracy charges in New York in relation to allegations that she lied to an HSBC executive about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.Prosecutors claim that by relying on Meng's alleged lies to continue financing Huawei, HSBC was placed at risk of loss and prosecution.Vander Graaf is the third RCMP officer to testify so far.She took the stand after two days of testimony from Const. Gurvinder Dhaliwal, one of the two officers who was tasked with executing a provisional warrant for Meng's arrest.Conflicting evidenceDhaliwal was the exhibits officer responsible for making sure that Meng's phones and laptops were kept secure. He and Vander Graaf are at the centre of conflicting evidence relating to defence allegations that RCMP improperly shared technical information about the electronic devices with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.In testimony, Dhaliwal claimed he took pictures of the serial numbers, make and model of the devices and then sent them to the RCMP's file coordinator and a supervisor, Staff. Sgt. Ben Chang.Vander Graaf's contemporaneous notes later record Dhaliwal telling her that Chang provided the serial numbers to the FBI. But Dhaliwal told a defence lawyer Tuesday that he had no recollection of Chang telling him he had sent the information — or of telling Vander Graaf it had happened.Meng's lawyer, Scott Fenton, suggested that Dhaliwal did recall the conversation. But Dhaliwal said he was "positively sure" he didn't speak to Chang.Chang has retained a lawyer and is refusing to testify, according to the defence.'These things are fluid'By the close of proceedings on Tuesday, Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley had not yet reached the topic of the discrepancy between Vander Graaf's notes and Dhaliwal's memory.He dwelt instead on the circumstances surrounding Meng's arrest. From the outset, Vander Graaf seemed to echo previous testimony in which RCMP officers have stated they were mainly concerned about safety considerations and ensuring CBSA officers were able to carry out their duties in an area that was under their jurisdiction.The day before the arrest, she says she spoke with her supervisor, acting Insp. Peter Lea, who favoured boarding the plane directly in order to arrest Meng the moment her flight landed.Vander Graaf said she didn't think it was the kind of emergency situation that would necessitate officers making the arrest on the plane.She characterized Lea's idea as a "strong" suggestion."These things are fluid and other information arises," she said. "So I would suggest a course of action, but if there was a reason to change that then that would be fine."In his testimony, Dhaliwal said he didn't see why Meng couldn't have been arrested as she walked off the plane, leaving the CBSA to conduct their examination after she had been cautioned of her rights. The defence has repeatedly suggested that Canadian authorities deliberately delayed the execution of the warrant —which called for Meng to be arrested "immediately" — so the CBSA could gather information illegally for the FBI.Meng's legal team will have a chance to make those arguments at a hearing on abuse of process sometime next spring.Those proceedings were originally scheduled for February, but on Tuesday, the Crown said they anticipated a delay which might involve the calling of even more witnesses to respond to the evidence currently being heard.Meng has denied the allegations against her.