Campaign season for Canada’s 2019 federal election is underway and all but two parties plan to explicitly change the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States.
Campaign season for Canada’s 2019 federal election is underway and all but two parties plan to explicitly change the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States.
Venezuela's government is encouraging private firms to sign import and export deals with companies in Asia and the Middle East as part of an effort to limit the impact of U.S. sanctions, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter. The plan expands on President Nicolas Maduro's existing commercial relationships with allies such as Turkey and Iran, which have already been providing the cash-strapped government with food and fuel in exchange for gold.
The Humboldt Special Olympics Floor Hockey Team took home the Special Olympics Canada Team of the Year Award. TSN hosted the award ceremony on Facebook Live on Dec. 3 with athletes and coaches sending in their thank you videos for the ceremony. The team has been collecting the hardware over the last two years with a bronze medal win during the 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Invitational youth games in Toronto and another bronze win at the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay 2020. Floor hockey has been part of the Humboldt Special Olympics sporting list for the last 16 years. Ever since the team lost fellow teammate, Brody Hinz, in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, the team has played to honour him, said Vic Rauter, a TSN announcer, during the ceremony. “Since the loss of their friend and teammate, the Special Olympics Humboldt Broncos floor hockey team have been on a mission to honour those lost and those who were affected.” This award comes on the cusp of two provincial awards in October, another team award for the floor hockey team and a coaching award from coach Brain Reifferscheid. Reifferscheid said the award was unexpected and the coaches and players are pretty happy and proud and excited and humbled by the honour, he said. The provincial award was enough of a surprise for the team to wrap their heads around and celebrate but it was not long after before they were contacted by Special Olympics Canada about their national award. This will be the second year in a row that a Humboldt Special Olympics athlete or team has received a national award from Special Olympics Canada, with Tianna Zimmerman from Englefeld taking home Athlete of the Year during the 2019 award ceremony as well as the provincial honour that same year, just like the floor hockey team. This two year stretch at both the national and provincial level said a lot about the Special Olympics Humboldt, Reifferscheid said. “We've got a group of athletes that are very sports-minded and committed to achieving high goals. It also says something about the Special Olympics Humboldt organization, all the volunteers and coaches and all the sports. Everyone has a piece of contributing to helping athletes be successful.” On behalf of the Humboldt Special Olympics floor hockey team, they are honoured to receive this award, Reifferscheid said.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
BERLIN — Veteran German diplomat Helga Schmid, a key behind-the-scenes negotiator of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, was named Friday as the new administrative head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The Vienna-based regional security organization plays an important role in trying to resolve conflicts in Europe and on its periphery, including Ukraine. Its 57 members include Russia and the United States. A career diplomat, the 59-year-old Schmid was the German embassy's spokeswoman in Washington during the early 1990s, before taking senior roles at the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin, and later moved to Brussels. She spent the last four years as the head of the EU's diplomatic service. The post of OSCE secretary general comes with a three-year term that can be renewed once. The secretary general is the administrative head of the OSCE, complementing the presidency which rotates annually among member states. A branch of the organization also conducts election monitoring missions, including during last month's U.S. presidential vote. The Associated Press
The mayor of San Francisco on Friday ordered new lockdowns and business restrictions across the Bay Area in the face of the COVID-19 surge, as political leaders nationwide ramp up pressure on Americans to stay home until vaccines can be distributed. The new measures announced by Mayor London Breed, a first-term Democrat, apply across five Bay Area counties and are among the harshest of any major U.S. city, closing all personal services, outdoor dining and most public gatherings. California Governor Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat, said on Thursday he would impose similar stay-at-home orders statewide, to take effect region-by-region as intensive care beds reach capacity.
Northumberland County hopes residents dig a program that provides them with free tree saplings to plant on their properties. Applications for Northumberland County's Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) replacement tree program have reopened following two years of successful EAB replacement tree programs that resulted in the local planting of 24,000 trees. County residents are invited to apply to receive free tree saplings as part of a five-year program subsidized by the county. Residents can apply to receive between 25 to 150 trees to plant on their property in Northumberland. There will be 12,000 trees subsidized through this year's application process on a first-come, first-served basis. Tree species available through the program include various types of oak, maple and pine as well as spruce, birch and tamarack. All successful orders will be available for pickup from Lower Trent Conservation in the spring. This program was developed to replace trees that are being removed as part of Northumberland County's 10-year plan to remove hazardous trees as a precaution to prevent injury or damage. This plan was developed in response to the EAB, an invasive insect that attacks and kills ash trees. For every tree removed as part of the plan, Northumberland County will subsidize about 10 native trees for residents to plant on their property. For more information about the program and to apply to receive free saplings, visit Northumberland.ca/EABprogram. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Northumberland News
WELLINGTON COUNTY – A newly-announced mobile addictions services van in Wellington County aims to bridge healthcare gaps in rural areas of the county. Stonehenge Therapeutic Community recently got $900,000 in funding from Ontario Health to enhance their addiction services. Kristen Kerr, executive director of Stonehenge Therapeutic Community, said about a third of this is going toward a project to serve the needs of rural Wellington County residents who face substance use issues. They are expanding their Rapid Access Addiction Clinics (RAAC), where there is only one in Wellington County, with a mobile van that can address issues with transportation, a common gap in health services in the county. “These clinics offer specialized medical addiction services and that can be hard to access when you live in a rural community,” Kerr said. “Sometimes it can be quite a long geographic distance to get to a clinic that is stationary. We have four existing clinics but most of them are far from Harriston for example.” Kerr said another issue in rural areas when accessing addiction services relates to anonymity. The thought is In a smaller community, people who are using such services can be more easily identified by other residents. The van itself will act as a mobile medical clinic that is staffed with a nurse practitioner. “It will be able to go to more central or accessible locations so that folks from the rural areas can more easily access the clinic,” Kerr said. The nurse practitioner can provide medicine services, addictions counselling and referrals. Kerr said they are working out the fine details with their rural healthcare partners such as precisely where the van will go in the county and therefore couldn’t say exactly where it will be making stops. Some of the funding is also going toward enhancing supportive housing they have in Guelph for those who face substance-use issues and have some level of involvement in the justice system. Kerr said the van concept was created from feedback about barriers clients face in rural areas and they will continue to listen and learn how they can improve. “I think listening to those who need to access service and listening to the voice of people with lived experience is key to knowing what more we need to do,” Kerr said. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
Nominations are open to recognize individuals in the territory who “work to strengthen the arts, culture, heritage and languages of the N.W.T.” The Minister’s Culture and Heritage Awards celebrate “outstanding leadership in the North” and raise awareness about the importance of protecting, preserving and celebrating the different cultures and unique ways of life in the territory. There are five categories: According to the GNWT's website, a Minister's Choice Award will also be handed out this year at the discretion of RJ Simpson, the minister. Awards will be given to winners virtually this year, due to COVID-19. Northerners looking to nominate a peer must submit the necessary form by January 8, 2021.Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut continues to fall, but it will be some time before community outbreaks are officially over, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said in a news conference Friday at the Legislative Assembly. The territory reported a total of 51 active cases on Friday, with eight new cases reported in Arviat, and says 155 people are recovered. Patterson says most people will be immune from catching COVID-19 again for at least two or three months. "It means that we are moving in the right direction and we can be optimistic," he said. Of those 51 active cases, 44 are in Arviat. The community is in lockdown and there is community transmission still happening."In Arviat, there has been progress but there continues to be evidence of community transmission," Patterson said. "I urge people to stay isolated if you have been told by public health to isolate."There also remain seven active cases in Whale Cove, but no cases are recent, he said.In Rankin Inlet all cases were reported as recovered as of Thursday.In a news release, Patterson said the community had "successfully flattened the curve," but said existing restrictions are still in place and won't be changed until everyone in the community is finished their mandated isolation. Missed the government update? Watch it here:Moderna vaccine most 'appropriate' for NunavutWhen COVID-19 vaccines are available, Patterson said it's more likely that Nunavut will receive the Moderna vaccine because storage and shipping requirements for the Pfizer vaccine aren't appropriate for remote locations. If there is access in Nunavut to the Pfizer vaccine it will be in Iqaluit because of the cold storage required for the vaccine. "We're expecting that we won't get any of that vaccine in Nunavut," he said. A vaccine isn't a "magic switch" but "the more people get it, the less chance there will be of further outbreaks that are happening right now," he said.Patterson said the government is working on education and communications plans to "combat the misinformation" that could scare people into feeling the vaccine is unsafe. "It's certainly a concern," he said. "We'll do everything we can to ensure Nunavummiut have accurate, up to date information and that individuals will also have the right to make the choice."Help make holidays safe, says premierIn Rankin Inlet there will be residents isolating for the next 10 days at least and an outbreak can't be considered as over for around a month, Patterson said. Sanikiluaq won't be considered clear of COVID-19 until two weeks from now. "COVID-19 is not over in Nunavut. Everyone needs to ensure they do their part to bring us to zero active cases in the territory and remain committed and prepared for a potential resurgence of the virus," he said in a statement. Public health is following 752 people for symptoms of COVID-19 or contacts of people with the virus. "Our case numbers are going down but that does not mean that we can relax our hard work to eliminate this virus," Premier Joe Savikataaq said. "Let's stay safe and make sure this holiday season is as safe as possible for everyone." Anyone who may have had contact with COVID-19 is asked to call a COVID-hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, or to notify their community health centre, and isolate at home for 14 days, the Health department said.The department is asking residents not to visit their community health centres in person. The news conference will air later in the day on CBC Radio.
For the second time in the past five days, Niagara Region Public Health has advised District School Board of Niagara that one individual at Port Colborne High School has tested positive for COVID-19. The first case was confirmed on Nov. 29. As a result of the two COVID-19 cases, three classrooms have been closed. Local school boards will not identify the individual who tested positive. However, the provincial online database that tracks school-related COVID-19 cases does identify the Nov. 29 case as staff member. Today’s case will not be immediately known as the provincial database lags behind school boards in its reporting. In a media release, DSBN said, “As part of COVID-19 case management and infection control protocol, students and staff who had close contact with the individual have been contacted and told by NRPH to stay home and self-isolate.” Provincial guidelines indicate “an outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection.” Public health has not indicated if it will declare an outbreak at Port High. Preventative COVID-19 practices that Port Colborne High School has been following since classes started, such as wearing PPE, physical distancing, maintaining hand hygiene, and doing the daily health screening, will continue, DSBN said. 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: firstname.lastname@example.orgSean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
In the wake of a pledge by the City of St. John's to spend $3 million to support a bid to host the Canada Summer Games in 2025, questions are being raised about that decision and whether such an event could be a success.On Monday, city councillors voted unanimously in favour of a plan that allots spending over three budget years starting in 2022.The agreement for future spending comes amid some sharp belt-tightening, with the Metrobus budget slashed by $800,000, and a proposal to increase sidewalk snow-clearing denied, as the city continues to struggle with both COVID-19 and financial problems that have been looming for years. That contrast has some people wondering about city hall's priorities. Ophelia Ravencroft, who recently ran in the Ward 2 byelection, has been vocal about increasing mobility services, like public transit and snow-free sidewalks. She said she isn't opposed to the Canada Games coming to St. John's, but says she's frustrated to see it approved so easily and quickly."We've had to fight so hard to get those things to the front of this conversation, to a legitimate position at all, but the minute an event like this comes up, automatically it's kind of, yes, we'll spend lots, we'll invest in this very heavily," she said Thursday."I think it shows we understand some things as being economic drivers and not others, and I think that's fundamentally flawed."Municipal politicians estimate the games could bring in $80 to $110 million to the St. John's region. Coun. Dave Lane called it "a smart investment.""When we look to a significant event that's going to pump money into the economy, into people's pockets, to support businesses and people's livelihoods, a small investment for such a huge gain is something we felt is important for us to do on behalf of residents and businesses in this city," Lane told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.Ravencroft doesn't pick apart city hall's estimate that landing the games will be a boost to economy. But, she argues, the ability to ride the bus to work or shop instead of spending money on car insurance or taxis can also free up money to circulate within the city, and that needs to given equal weight."We can support economic drivers, but we should support all economic drivers," she said.An athletic reality checkThe city's $3 million is only a portion of what's required to run such a large-scale event. Looking to past Canada Games, the federal government can be expected to chip in about $40-million to implement the needed athletic infrastructure, said one expert, showing that what the city may pay out could end up only being a drop in the bucket compared to the return.Bas Kavanagh co-authored a report in 2014 to assess what was needed to host the games, and how best to prepare. As 2021 approaches, he said there's no way St. John's can meet those recommendations now."There's a difference between doing it, and doing it right," he said Friday.Kavanagh pointed to a laundry list of needed fixes: baseball and soccer pitches like the King George V Field need upgrades. The Swilers Rugby Club, the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre and some Memorial University facilities require work, and rowing and cycling infrastructure also needs to be addressed.Along with physical buildings, his report recommended increasing supports to increase athlete performance. Ideas like a committee that monitors training programs and provides resources such as coaching skill upgrades, physiotherapists and massage therapists have not materialized.A lack of support translates into athletic standings, he said, leaving he province's athletes under-prepared for what may come in competition."We've been pretty pathetic performing at the Canada Games. And the opportunity to host, as the task force looked at it, would've been a good opportunity to get the athletes ready to compete and actually be competitive," Kavanagh said."But right now without those recommendations being followed, we wouldn't perform very well. And we wouldn't perform very well in 2025."Kavanagh said the province needs to act swiftly on that report from six years ago."Every day that we lose is going to impact performance in 2025," he said.Meanwhile, with the city's bid for the event now approved, the Canada Games Council will now review it. A public announcement of its decision is expected in February.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
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A new program that looks to connect Canada’s resort communities in an effort to tackle climate change has called on the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) to become a founding partner. “We believe our love of adventure in nature demands our participation in the fight to save and protect it,” said David Erb, executive director of Protect Our Winters Canada (POW). “We're a not-for-profit organization that's really focused on aligning the outdoor industry, which includes everyday enthusiasts like myself and, and others that might visit Blue Mountain to ski or hike, professional athletes and industry brands,” he explained during a recent deputation to TBM council. POW focuses its efforts on organizing, educating and equipping businesses, social influencers and the general population to advocate for systemic policy solutions to climate change. In recent months, POW has been approaching municipalities across Canada that rely on adventure tourism in an effort to seek out partnerships for collaboration on an inter-municipal climate awareness plan. Prior to approaching TBM, POW also invited the municipality of Whistler, the Town of Banff, the municipality of Jasper, Ville de Mont Tremblant, the University of Waterloo, interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change and Hot Planet Cool Athletes Canada, to also become founding members. “The fact that we've been identified and have been invited into this group — you'll note that we're the only Ontario municipality — so I definitely think we have to put our commitment behind this and we can't just be their name, we've got to be there in actual action as well,” said TBM Coun. Andrea Matrosovs. “So much can be learned from each other, both across Canada, and the world. I was quite impressed when I did research on POW that this isn't just Canada, but it's a worldwide network,” she continued. The program strives to assist its partner municipalities in developing a Climate Action Plan blueprint by providing projections on impacts, assessment on local and tourist related CO2 emissions and identifying strategies, best practices, technology efficiencies, and engagement strategies. “We aim to increase the resilience and future viability of Canada’s adventure tourism sector by evaluating climate-change risks, developing strategies to decarbonize ski and adventure tourism destinations, and transition resort communities on climate resilient pathways,” Erb explained. POW also plans to create a Resort Municipality Climate Coalition (RMCC), which will leverage the collective experience of Canada’s resort communities to create a forum to exchange information, ideas, successes and challenges. “The intention behind this RMCC is that we can bring together other resort municipalities from across the country, no matter what stage they're at in their climate planning, and create a community where we can really forward each other's efforts,” Erb said. The program will be based out of the University of Waterloo, and is also backed by the Climate Caucus, a non-partisan network of 250-plus elected local leaders working collectively to create and implement equitable policy, which aligns with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services science. Erb adds there is no direct cost to partner municipalities for the first year of the program, as POW is currently in the process of acquiring funding through Canadian Climate Action and Awareness Fund. In the second year of the program, POW will be asking founding partners to make a $50,000 annual contribution for two years. According to Erb, the funds can be allocated directly, indirectly or in-kind. For example, wages for staff working on climate planning or allocation of consultant fees would be considered as indirect contributions. “There's no cost to doing this. It's essentially a working committee that will come together and resource one another,” he said. “However, that would likely lead to part two, which is a commitment for in-kind matching funds. And, that can be a very flexible ask, it doesn't need to be new dollars, we just need to have the ability to point to dollars in your budget that are being allocated toward climate planning.” According to Jeffery Fletcher, manager of solid waste and environmental initiatives for TBM, the town has already begun work in some of these areas through such sub-committees, such as the sustainability advisory committee. “This is a great opportunity for the town to take advantage of some great academia and influential groups like the Climate Caucus. As well as all the other resorts that are involved. Together we can gain some real momentum,” Fletcher said. Erb adds that the threat of climate change is a stark reality for the outdoor tourism industry, pointing to the impact the climate crisis is having on the length of the winter season. “As you may know, ski operators have a magical number of 100 days. If they can operate for 100 days in a winter, that's generally their break-even point and anything above that is a surplus,” Erb said. “But, as soon as they dip below 100 days, it's really questionable if they're able to sustain their overall operations.” “A major engine of our economy is Blue Mountain Resort and the other resorts that operate in the area, not to mention the rest of the outdoor winter activities that happens here and some of our smaller tour operators. It's a big part of economic sustainability, but it's also apart of our social sustainability as well,” Matrosovs added. Following the deputation from Erb, TBM council moved a motion to join the RMCC as a founding member and also directed staff to provide a follow-up report regarding the request for a commitment to allocate in-kind matching funds to the program once federal funding is in place. “This is an important opportunity for us, whatever noise we can make will be amplified greatly by being part of an organization like this,” added TBM Deputy Mayor Rob Potter. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
NEW YORK — A year after a series of concerts in Puerto Rico that ended up being his last because of the pandemic, Daddy Yankee is bringing those performances to YouTube as a Christmas gift to his fans around the globe.“DY2K20,” the digital version of his show “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” will be released in three parts on Yankee's YouTube channel, with the first installment out Friday. The others will drop on Dec. 14 and Dec. 21, respectively.“I wanted to give a Christmas present to all my fans during the pandemic, bring the party to their homes free of charge, bring them joy in such difficult times,” the reggaeton star told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Miami.Yankee, who has stayed mostly out of the spotlight in 2020, said that while the pandemic has hit many very hard, it has also allowed him to do something he hadn't done in three decades: Focus on his health and rest.It's something he had to gradually learn after gaining 40 pounds (almost 20 kilos) during the first months of quarantine.“Maybe because of the anxiety... I started eating and eating and eating and I put on the pounds like never before. I got to weigh 230 pounds (105 kilos) ... But I recovered my normal weight from 10 years ago. That was my focus,” said the “Despacito” and “Gasolina” singer, adding he achieved his goal by watching what he ate and exercising, a lot.“I devoted myself to my health and to something that was unknown to me, which was rest,” he said. “I started to learn how to live with calmness and to appreciate it... And I feel different, I feel in a new phase completely.”Now that he gained some balance in his life, he feels ready to reactivate his career. In addition to “DY2K20,” he has another surprise for his fans: A new music collaboration he will release in the coming days, although he wouldn't provide details yet.For now, he said he was blessed to finally share with the world the footage of a show staged at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot, which involved over 80 people who worked with “great passion, great creativity.” It was well-received, going from two scheduled dates to a full residence, with 12 sold-out shows, or 170,000 tickets.What many don't know is that a technical problem on opening night resulted in a new business opportunity: Massive concerts in the daylight hours, something never seen before on the island.After getting stuck on a platform over the stage, Yankee announced to the audience that he would give them an extra show for free, and it was a matinee. He adjusted the content to make it family friendly, and ended up doing one more that way.Another unique aspect of “Con Calma Pal’ Choli,” which featured artists like Ozuna, Wisin & Yandel and Nicky Jam, was the use of holograms to replace those who weren't there to perform live.“I wanted the artists to be gigantic, on people's faces, so the audience could feel that they were in front of them and we achieved that,” Yankee said. “It was a concert that became a residence, like if Las Vegas had moved to Puerto Rico.”___Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner.Sigal Ratner-Arias, The Associated Press
ROUYN-NORANDA-Une adolescente de 14 ans a perdu la vie en milieu de soirée jeudi, après avoir été heurtée par un véhicule sur le boulevard Saguenay, à Rouyn-Noranda. Les circonstances exactes de l’accident ne sont pas encore connues. «Nous avons parlé aux personnes impliquées dans la collision, et l’enquête se poursuit, indique la Sgt. Nancy Fournier, du service des communications de la Sûreté du Québec. Des enquêteurs et des experts en reconstitution ont travaillé toute la soirée et toute la nuit pour tenter d’en savoir plus.» L’accident est survenu dans le secteur Noranda-Nord, à l’angle du boulevard Saguenay et du chemin England. «Il s’agit d’un secteur où la limite de vitesse passe de 70 km/h à 90 km/h, en direction de La Sarre, souligne la Sgt. Fournier. Pour le moment, il est trop tôt pour dévoiler l’identité de la jeune victime, puisque nous devons aviser les proches de son décès. Ce que nous pouvons dire pour le moment, c’est que ni l’alcool, ni la drogue ne sont en cause.» La passagère du véhicule a dû être transportée à l’hôpital, après avoir subi un violent choc nerveux.Michel Ducas, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
Had the ATAC mining access road in the Beaver River watershed been built, it would have constituted a “breach of the honour of the Crown” and betrayed First Nations people, according to a decision document released by the Yukon government after inquiries by The Narwhal. The document provides insight into the territorial government’s Nov. 27 decision to reject the proposed all-access road by Vancouver-based ATAC Resources, a mining exploration company with gold and copper claims in the region. The document also sheds light on concerns raised by the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, on whose territory the claims are located. The rejected road was given a conditional green light by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board in 2017 but was awaiting a final decision from the Yukon government. The new route would have opened access to a 65-kilometre portion of the company’s three mineral claims that form the Rackla gold property and connected Keno City to the Tiger gold deposit, the site of a planned ATAC Resources’ open-pit gold mine. The First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun was “strongly opposed” to the project going ahead, the decision document reveals. The document contains a list of concerns raised by the nation, including fears the road would have caused “significant adverse impacts” on treaty rights such as hunting, fishing and trapping in traditional territory. That list also noted concerns the road would have prevented Na-Cho Nyäk Dun citizens from adequately exercising treaty rights in “one of the few remaining wilderness areas in its traditional territory.” The road would have “fundamentally alter[ed] an untouched portion of” the nation’s territory and would have “alienated” citizens from their lands. “Approving the application would permanently impair the process of reconciliation that the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, the Yukon government and Canada have been engaged in for more than 30 years,” the document states. Na-Cho Nyäk Dun Chief Simon Mervyn did not return a request for comment. Andrew Carne, ATAC Resources’ vice-president of corporate and project development, told The Narwhal this week that the company is seeking legal counsel on the Yukon government’s decision and that, as a result, there’s little else he can state at this time. “ATAC does not agree with many material aspects of the government’s decision,” Carne said in an email to The Narwhal. In an ATAC Resources’ press release, president and CEO Graham Downs said the road’s cancellation suggests Yukon isn’t open for business. “We are extremely disappointed with and surprised by this decision,” he wrote. The Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society has warned that roads such as the one ATAC Resources’ proposed can fragment wildlife habitat, interrupt migratory patterns and lead to an increase in mining activity and hunting pressure. The Beaver River watershed, northeast of Mayo, is a vast expanse of relatively intact wilderness that’s home to moose, grizzly bears and wolves. According to the Yukon government’s decision document, ATAC Resources’ plan for the road didn’t adequately consider cumulative effects on the region’s ecosystem — particularly on wildlife. Todd Powell, director of mineral resources at the Yukon Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, told The Narwhal the company did not review wildlife impacts “in a meaningful way.” “The bigger the project, the bigger the effects are. In this case, a road into an area like that was going to have fairly significant effects.” The company’s plan to mitigate effects on wildlife “simply didn’t go far enough,” he said. According to ATAC Resources’ draft management plan, mitigation efforts included building the road in the Rankin Creek valley, where fewer wildlife are present, reducing or suspending traffic during calving and rutting and making the route private to prevent hunting. The company also said it would conduct road patrols to further deter hunting. The decision document notes there were baseline data “deficiencies” that would have affected environmental monitoring efforts. In its draft management plan, ATAC noted Lebarge Environmental Services conducted eight aerial and three ground surveys of wildlife between 2010 and 2013 that noted the project area is home to species that are considered of “special concern” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada including woodland caribou, grizzly bear, wolverine, collared pika, horned grebe, rusty blackbird, peregrine falcon and dolly varden. Threatened species that are found in the project area, according to ATAC, include the common nighthawk and the olive-sided flycatcher. Without adequate monitoring, Powell said there was little hope potential impacts could be mitigated in the future, which contributed to the Yukon government pulling the plug on the project. The Beaver River watershed is largely roadless and the ATAC road would have set a new “precedent” for mineral exploration in the territory, the document states. No roads longer than 50 kilometres have been built for operations that, like ATAC Resources’, are purely exploratory over the past decade, the document notes. “Far more typically, existing access routes and new access routes have only been upgraded or constructed once mine development and production has been authorized.” ATAC Resources is not currently operating any mines in the region and is not permitted to. The company is only permitted to conduct exploratory work until 2024, which raised questions about the need for the access road and concerns the company wouldn’t have long enough to successfully build and decommission the road as proposed. “The nearness of the expiration date doesn’t suggest that they would have a reasonable timeframe to get all of that work done,” Powell said. A sub-regional land use plan for the Beaver River watershed was recently launched by the Yukon government and the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation. Work on the plan is set to continue, regardless of the ATAC road cancellation, Powell said. “Everybody recognizes that this is a highly mineralized area with lots of potential,” he said. “The commitment remains in place to finalize [the land use plan] as soon as we can.” Randi Newton, conservation manager with CPAWS Yukon, recently told The Narwhal she hopes that the sub-regional land use plan will be replaced with a much broader plan that encapsulates the entire Beaver River watershed. CPAWS recently released a report that cautioned the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board against approving road projects before land use plans are completed. “Land use planning can take that broader view of how much development is allowable in an area, which areas should we keep remote and free of roads,” Malkolm Boothroyd, the report’s author and campaigns co-ordinator at the Yukon chapter of CPAWS, told The Narwhal in a previous interview. Powell said that while the sub-regional land use plan won’t be scrapped, it could help inform a region-wide plan in the future, so the intention now is to finish what has already been started. Lewis Rifkind, mining analyst at the Yukon Conservation Society, told The Narwhal his organization has been highlighting concerns associated with the ATAC road since its inception. While he questions why it took the Yukon government so long to cancel the project, he’s hopeful environmental protection is coming to the region through land use planning. “It does give us a chance to protect or manage a pretty large-scale landscape,” he said. “Now we can do the planning without having the road dictate certain land uses.”Julien Gignac, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
Ralentie par la pandémie de COVID-19, qui a causé une baisse de 3 % des heures travaillées en 2020, l’industrie de la construction au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean devrait rebondir de 9 % en 2021, soutenue par les investissements publics. Comme le veut la pratique, la Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ) vient de publier son bilan 2020 et les perspectives de la prochaine année pour cette industrie qui compte 170 000 travailleurs à travers la province, dont 6000 au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. Selon les prévisions publiées, les travailleurs oeuvrant dans le secteur des chantiers électriques devraient profiter de l’année 2021 avec l’accélération de la construction de la nouvelle ligne Micoua-Saguenay d’Hydro-Québec, un projet d’une valeur de 793 M$ qui doit être complété en 2022. L’ensemble du projet sera partagé avec la Côte-Nord, qui a subi une baisse de 28 % des heures travaillées en 2020. La CCQ ajoute à la liste la réfection de la centrale d’Isle-Maligne par Rio Tinto, au coût de 160 M$, d’ici 2026, ainsi que la réfection du centre de cuisson d’anodes avec un investissement de 209 M$. La construction du parc éolien Val-Éo figure également parmi les chantiers liés à la production d’électricité. Il y a lieu de croire que certains travailleurs de la région profiteront de la réouverture du chantier Romaine 4, sur la Basse-Côte-Nord, ralenti dans la dernière année par des problèmes de sécurité. La CCQ prédit une hausse de 28 % des heures travaillées. La réfection de la Centrale Rapide-Blanc, en Mauricie, sera également une source d’activités pour les travailleurs de la région, alors qu’un entrepreneur du Lac-Saint-Jean vient d’y décrocher un contrat de 12 M$. Dans le secteur résidentiel, l’année 2021 pourrait être marquée par l’ouverture de trois chantiers de maisons des aînés ainsi que par le début de la construction du stade de soccer intérieur de Jonquière. Le démarrage des grands projets se fait attendre alors que Métaux BlackRock est toujours à la recherche de financement pour pouvoir lancer la construction d’une mine de ferrovanadium et d’une usine à Grande-Anse, bien que l’entreprise ait tous les permis en main pour lancer la construction. Il en va de même pour le projet d’exploitation d’apatite d’Arianne Phosphate. Résidentiel Les données publiées pour la construction résidentielle n’incluent pas de prévisions régionales, mais la CCQ indique que ce secteur terminera 2020 avec 51 550 mises en chantier, une hausse de 7 % comparativement à 2019. Un total de 32 millions d’heures travaillées figure au tableau, en baisse de 3 %. La CCQ prédit une baisse de 3 % en 2021 avec 47 000 habitations construites et 31 millions d’heures travaillées. La baisse du nombre d’entrées de résidants non permanents, qui était en forte croissance ces dernières années, et la crise sanitaire expliquent la baisse anticipée. Industriel Selon les chiffres publiés, l’année 2020 aura été plutôt éprouvante pour le secteur industriel. L’activité allait déjà en ralentissant depuis le milieu de 2019, et le secteur peine à reprendre sa vitesse de croisière depuis la réouverture des chantiers. Le volume de travail s’établira à 9,5 millions d’heures travaillées, en baisse de 17 % par rapport à 2019. Ce sera le plus faible niveau d’activité généré par le secteur depuis le milieu des années 1990. La fermeture des chantiers de la fin mars au début mai explique en grande partie ces faibles résultats. De plus, l’incertitude entourant la pandémie a entraîné l’annulation ou le report de divers projets, comme c’est le cas des travaux prévus par Valero à Lévis, qui sont repoussés à une date indéterminée. Institutionnel Le secteur institutionnel et commercial a été ralenti dans sa forte impulsion amorcée en 2018, et perdra 10 % en 2021, avec un volume de 88,0 millions d’heures travaillées, toujours selon ce qui est avancé par la CCQ. Loin d’être une catastrophe dans les circonstances, ce niveau se révèle être celui qui a été atteint il y a deux ans seulement. En 2021, le secteur reprendra graduellement du poil de la bête, même si l’incertitude risque d’être encore présente. Du côté du commercial, la confiance est ébranlée et différents acteurs privés pourraient repousser leurs projets.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
With the election of Colin Ratushniak and Julie Baschuk, and the re-election of Chief Tammy Cook-Searson, the leaders of the Lac La Ronge Tri-Community are excited to start working together to improve the Lac La Ronge area. This has included some quick work by the leaders and their administration to push for a mandatory masking policy in the tri-community area that matched provincial regulations. When the provincial government brought in a mandatory masking policy for all Saskatchewan communities over 5,000 people, the communities of La Ronge and Air Ronge and the Lac La Ronge Indian Band did not individually fit that bill. Mandatory masking mandates were slowly increasing as the number of new cases in the province started to grow and policies in Saskatchewan’s major cities were announced on Nov. 3. By Nov. 13, all communities over 5,000 were required to have mask requirements for public spaces. Together, the Lac La Ronge Tri-Communities did have the necessary 5,000 person population for the government to include them in the masking policy and a letter to the province was quickly drafted and signed by all three leaders that same day. Thanks to the Village of Air Ronge staff the letter was drafted and signed as quickly as possible with the letter even being taken to leaders’ homes at 10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13, Ratushniak said. Even though the province has since expanded its mandatory masking policy to include the entire province, this letter is still a sign of something bigger, said Ratushniak, La Ronge’s newly elected mayor. “It shows our willingness to work together to work for better things in the communities and safety in general. Masking is just one part of the equation, I think that there's much more that needs to be done.” Baschuk unseated long-serving former Air Ronge mayor Gordon Stomp, who had an uninterrupted reign since 1977 when the village was incorporated. While people respected the work that Stomp has done, the voting results showed that they are excited for the potential that Baschuk brings to the table, she said. A diverse and inclusive council was something that she wanted coming into the mayor's chair, Baschuk said, as well as a more modernized way of communicating and being transparent with residents of Air Ronge. Seeing how women are underrepresented in government and business, seeing the mixed council at the table is great to see, she said. “It's nice to see the community be able to stand with me and support me along in this. And we saw two other women elected to our councils. We now have two women and two men [and] we've got a lot more equality happening, which is fabulous.” Cook-Searson has worked with four different mayors from La Ronge and Air Ronge during her time as chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and was re-elected for her sixth term in May. When she was first elected in 2005, she was the youngest among the three leaders. Now she finds she is the oldest, she laughed. With Ratushniak and Baschuk new to the mayoral roles, Cook-Searson is excited to continue the various partnerships among the three communities, including their shared sewer, water, and fire services. Now, she said, the relationship is even more open between the three with Cook-Searson saying she can text the other two and have discussions whenever something comes up. With a diverse leadership team, Baschuk said they are going to bring fresh perspectives to the table with a community that has room to grow. “Right off the hop we're willing to work together in a co-operative way, so we know that and improve the quality of life within each of our communities.” While Baschuk knows that they are not the only ones in the province working together as municipal partners, she hopes that the tri-community can be role models to other communities who want to join together to solve local issues.Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
MADRID — Spain’s armed forces chief has dismissed as ‘’not representative” leaked chats by retired military officers allegedly talking about shooting political adversaries and praising late dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.In a statement Friday, Air Force Gen. Miguel Villarroya Vilalta also said the remarks by the retired military members “damage the image of the Spanish Armed Forces and only confuse public opinion.’’The messages from a private Whatsapp group were published recently by Spain’s Infolibre news website. They reportedly were posted by members of the General Air Force Academy class that started training in 1963, when Franco still ruled the country.Some of them were among dozens of retired officers who wrote King Felipe VI last month to criticize Spain’s left-wing coalition government. The letters to the monarch included some of the language used by far-right politicians and expressed discontent with the “social-communist” government led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and its deals with separatist parties in parliament.The royal palace has not commented on the letter.It is not clear how many people were involved in the chats.Spain’s defence minister Thursday asked prosecutors to investigate, saying both the letters and the chats were “reprehensible.”The country’s leading conservative opposition Popular party has refrained from condemning the comments while its ally, the far-right VOX party, has said it identifies with the ex-military members.Villarroya said the Spanish armed forces did not look to the past and were “always in (the) service of the Spanish people and the constitution.”According to Infolibre, one of the WhatsApp chat participants, while discussing activists advocating for the northeastern Catalonia region’s independence from Spain, wrote: “There is no other choice but to start shooting 26 million (expletive).”Another group chat member referred to Franco, who helped lead a military rebellion that led to Spain’s 1936-39 Civil War and then became the country’s dictator, as “the Irreplaceable.”The armed forces were a backbone of Franco’s regime until the dictator died in 1975. Spain’s peaceful transition to democracy didn’t lead to a widespread purge in the military ranks as happened in other countries emerging from authoritarian regimes.In 1981, a coup d’état bid by a few members of a paramilitary police force ended when then-King Juan Carlos I, Felipe’s father, condemned the plot on national television.____Associated Press writer Aritz Parra contributed to this report.CiaráN Giles, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canada's national unemployment rate was 8.5 per cent in November. Here are the jobless rates last month by province (numbers from the previous month in brackets):— Newfoundland and Labrador 12.2 per cent (12.8)— Prince Edward Island 10.2 per cent (10.0)— Nova Scotia 6.4 per cent (8.7)— New Brunswick 9.6 per cent (10.1)— Quebec 7.2 per cent (7.7)— Ontario 9.1 per cent (9.6)— Manitoba 7.4 per cent (7.1)— Saskatchewan 6.9 per cent (6.4)— Alberta 11.1 per cent (10.7)— British Columbia 7.1 per cent (8.0)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020 and was generated automatically.The Canadian Press
La tenue d’un exercice d’instruction sur la base de Valcartier par plusieurs militaires membres du Régiment du Saguenay, du 20 au 22 novembre dernier, soulève des interrogations et des craintes pour la famille de l’un d’entre eux en raison des risques potentiels de propagation de la COVID-19. Au cours des derniers jours, un citoyen de Chicoutimi, dont le fils est membre du Régiment du Saguenay et qui vit sous le même toit que ses parents, s’est interrogé sur la pertinence de tenir des exercices militaires regroupant plusieurs dizaines de personnes dans les deux zones rouges nécessitant le transport des participants. Selon le récit de l’interlocuteur, le jeune homme a été transporté en minibus jusqu’à Valcartier avec tout son équipement à bord en respectant la mesure de distanciation tandis que le port du masque aurait été plus ou moins respecté, une affirmation difficile à vérifier. Le parent concerné aurait tenté de dissuader le fils d’âge majeur de participer à l’exercice militaire, mais il aurait répondu que ses petits frères et sœurs allaient à l’école, ce qui le légitimait de se rendre à Valcartier. « La participation au Régiment du Saguenay se fait sur une base volontaire. Il y a des pères de famille là-dedans. Notre crainte est que mon fils revienne avec le virus et nous contamine, moi et ma conjointe, qui sommes confinés en télétravail, ainsi que ses petits frères et sœurs. On comprend que le Régiment du Saguenay est sa seule source de revenus », mentionne ce parent inquiet. Mis au fait de la situation, l’adjudant-chef du Régiment du Saguenay, François Girard, confirme que 43 membres du régiment, dont lui-même, ainsi que des membres de la réserve oeuvrant comme policiers à la Base miliaire de Bagotville, ont été transportés à Québec pour des manœuvres d’instruction. Des exercices d’attaques en zone rurale, de patrouille de reconnaissance et de rappel sur tour ont été effectués. L’adjudant-chef assure que toutes les mesures édictées par la Santé publique ont dû être respectées à partir du transport des militaires, qui a été effectué avec des autobus d’une capacité de 47 passagers remplis à 50 %, jusqu’aux mesures de distanciation sur le terrain. M. Girard nie que les masques ont été enlevés à bord. M. Girard précise que depuis le printemps, le Régiment du Saguenay a été mis en pause et a dû annuler une quantité importante d’activités prévues au calendrier tandis que plusieurs membres du commandement oeuvrent en télétravail. L’autre réalité est que les militaires doivent continuer de conserver leurs capacités opérationnelles afin de pouvoir faire face à toute situation d’urgence, opérations terrain, sauvetage, etc., ce qui exige la tenue d’entraînements collectifs comme ceux tenus à la fin novembre. « Dans nos directives, tout est observé quant au respect des règles. Il nous faut des gens qui vont continuer à faire ce qu’ils ont à faire. Pour ça, il nous faut être en santé. Aussitôt qu’on a des doutes, on ferme les unités. » M. Girard conclut que la participation aux exercices collectifs au sein du Régiment du Saguenay se fait sur une base volontaire et que personne n’oblige les membres à être présents.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien