Second World War veteran Robert Spencer celebrated his 100th birthday with family, friends and fellow veterans all in attendance at the celebration.
Second World War veteran Robert Spencer celebrated his 100th birthday with family, friends and fellow veterans all in attendance at the celebration.
WASHINGTON — A former Trump campaign associate who was the target of a secret surveillance warrant during the FBI's Russia investigation says in a federal lawsuit that he was the victim of “unlawful spying.”The suit from Carter Page alleges a series of omissions and errors made by FBI and Justice Department officials in applications they submitted in 2016 and 2017 to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to eavesdrop on Page on suspicion that he was an agent of Russia.“Since not a single proven fact ever established complicity with Russia involving Dr. Page, there never was probable cause to seek or obtain the FISA Warrants targeting him on this basis,” the lawsuit says, using the acronym for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.Page has received death and kidnapping threats and has suffered economic losses and “irreparable damage to his reputation," according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal court in Washington.The lawsuit to some extent echoes the conclusions of a Justice Department inspector general report that found significant problems with the four applications. Former FBI and Justice Department leaders who were involved in signing off on the surveillance have since testified they wouldn't have done so had they known of the extent of the issues, and the FBI has initiated more than 40 corrective steps aimed at improving the accuracy and thoroughness of applications.In the complaint, Page accuses the FBI of relying excessively for information on Christopher Steele, a former British spy whose research during the 2016 campaign into Donald Trump's ties to Russia was funded by Democrats. It says the FBI failed to tell the surveillance court that Steele's primary source had contradicted information that Steele had attributed to him, or that Page had denied to an informant for the FBI having “any involvement with Russia on behalf of the Trump campaign.”The complaint also accuses the FBI of having misled the surveillance court about his relationship with the CIA, for whom Page had been an operational contact between 2008 and 2013. A former FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, pleaded guilty in August to altering an email to say that Page had not been a source for the CIA.The suit names as defendants the FBI and the Justice Department, as well as former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and additional officials who were involved in the Russia investigation.Despite the problems with the warrant applications, the scrutiny of Page, who was never charged with any wrongdoing, accounted for only a narrow portion of the overall investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.The same inspector general report that detailed problems in the applications also concluded that the FBI had a legitimate basis for opening the Russia investigation, and did not find evidence that any of its actions were influenced by political bias.____Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAPEric Tucker, The Associated Press
LONDON — The British government said Saturday that it had struck an agreement with France to double the number of French police patrolling beaches in the country's north in an attempt to stop people crossing the English Channel in small boats. Britain’s Home Office said Home Secretary Priti Patel and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had agreed on the measure as part of efforts to make the route “unviable” for people-smugglers. The agreement also will boost surveillance using “drones, radar equipment, optronic binoculars and fixed cameras,” the U.K. said. It said the two countries had agreed to spend 31.4 million euros ($41 million) on the measures. Migrants have long used northern France as a launching point to reach Britain — usually in trucks or on ferries —and the issue has long strained relations between the two countries. Many migrants appear to have turned to small boats organized by smugglers during the coronavirus pandemic because virus restrictions have reduced traffic between France and Britain. More than 8,000 people have made the dangerous journey so far this year, up from about 1,800 in all of 2019. Last month, a family from Iran, including two parents and their children aged 6 and 9, died when their boat capsized in the Channel. Their 15-month-old son is missing and presumed drowned. Aid and human rights groups say the best way to stop the journeys is to provide safe routes for people to seek asylum in Britain. The Associated Press
Members of Nova Scotia leagues who live in Halifax will miss the social connection of sports over the next couple of weeks, but organizers say the pause is vital to preserving the rest of their seasons.New regulations are clamping down on travel in and out of Halifax Regional Municipality until at least Dec. 9 to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19.The heads of three different leagues told CBC's Mainstreet on Friday how they will handle the break.Amy Walsh, Hockey Nova Scotia executive director, said Friday that those affected live in Halifax and some parts of Hants County, regardless of whether they actually coach or play for a team outside that zone.Walsh said the break means many kids will miss out on seeing their friends for a couple weeks, which will be the toughest part."At the end of the day, hockey is about developing individuals and building communities," Walsh said."But I think we need to put that aside for now and really focus on the health and well-being of our province and keeping everyone safe ... there's an overall understanding about that, that the pause is worth it for the long run."Some other hockey leagues, like the Nova Scotia U15 Major and Scotia Minor Hockey League, have voluntarily shut down all games across the province.On another type of ice, five curling rinks in the Halifax area also shut down for two weeks Wednesday.Virginia Jackson, Nova Scotia Curling Association executive director, said the move affects about 2,500 people.Everyone wants to get back into playing as soon as possible while staying safe, Jackson said, since there are a couple upcoming provincial competitions everyone hopes can still take place.Curlers have already adjusted to playing under public health restrictions like wearing masks on the ice if they prefer, staying physically distanced and more sanitation."It's going to be for the betterment of the clubs and the curlers all around going forward," Jackson said."I don't think you'll see any changes. I think a lot of things that we're doing now, you'll see going on into the future."Teams urged not to skirt rulesAlthough basketball hasn't started yet, the shutdown puts a damper on tryouts and getting teams up and running, said Katherine Brien, executive director of Basketball Nova Scotia.She said their organization is happy the break is happening now, since no games need to be rescheduled.Brien said basketball could start up as expected in January with minimal impact if things get back to normal in the next few weeks.She said BNS is still figuring out competition structure and how it will hold provincial tournaments. Those are about four months away and a lot can happen in that time.The most important thing right now is to work together to fight the virus, Brien said. That way there might be regular-season play early in 2021.She added that anyone trying to break the rules by squeezing in practices or looking for loopholes within the restrictions isn't helping."It's only two weeks," Brien said. "The sport of basketball ... isn't more important than everybody's health and safety."All school sports games, in all regions of the province, are paused until early December.MORE TOP STORIES
People who visited curling facilities in two communities in northern Saskatchewan during specific periods in November are required to self-isolate due to the risk of COVID-19 exposure, the Saskatchewan Health Authority says.All individuals who attended any events at the Lakeland Curling Club in Christopher Lake between Nov. 16 and 22 are considered close contacts, and required under public health orders to isolate for 14 days from their last attendance, the health authority said in a Saturday media release.The order includes people who visited the Lakeland Curling Club board meeting on Nov. 16.People who visited the curling rink and lounge at the Richardson Pioneer Recreation Centre in Shellbrook also need to isolate if they curled or socialized at the facility at any time between Nov. 9 and Nov. 26, said the SHA.In addition to the required self-isolation, the agency strongly recommends COVID-19 testing for anyone who was at either location during the affected dates. People can book a testing appointment by calling HealthLine 811. Christopher Lake is about 35 kilometres north of Prince Albert, while Shellbrook is about 45 kilometres to the west of the city.
LONDON — The British government appointed a vaccines minister on Saturday as it prepares to inoculate millions of people against the coronavirus, potentially starting within days. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Conservative lawmaker Nadhim Zahawi will oversee the country’s biggest vaccine program in decades. The U.K. medicines regulator is currently assessing two vaccines — one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the other by Oxford University and AstraZeneca — to see if they are safe and effective. The Guardian newspaper reported that hospitals have been told they could receive the first doses of the Pfizer shot the week of Dec. 7, if it receives approval. The U.K. says frontline health care workers and nursing home residents will be the first to be vaccinated, followed by older people, starting with those over age 80. Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, enough for 20 million people, and 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. In all, the U.K. government has agreed to purchase up to 355 million doses of vaccine from seven different producers, as it prepares to vaccinate as many of the country’s 67 million people as possible. Decisions about which, if any, vaccines to authorize will be made by the independent Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. Pfizer and BioNTech say their vaccine is 95% effective, according to preliminary data. It must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures of around minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit). The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at conventional refrigerator temperatures, and is also cheaper than its main rivals. But some scientists have questioned gaps in its reported results. Oxford and AstraZeneca reported this week that their vaccine appeared to be 62% effective in people who received two doses, and 90% effective when volunteers were given a half dose followed by a full dose. They said the half dose was administered because of a manufacturing error, and they plan a new clinical trial to investigate the most effective dosing regimen. The British government hopes a combination of vaccines and mass testing will end the need for restrictions on business and everyday life it imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Britain has had Europe’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, with more than 57,000 confirmed virus-related deaths. The prime minister said this week that officials hope to inoculate “the vast majority of the people who need the most protection by Easter.” But he warned that “we must first navigate a hard winter” of restrictions. A four-week national lockdown in England is due to end Wednesday, and will be replaced by three-tiered system of regional measures that restrict business activity, travel and socializing. The vast majority of the country is being put into the upper two tiers. The restrictions have sparked protests, with police arresting scores of people at an anti-lockdown demonstration in London on Saturday. Several bottles and smoke bombs were thrown as anti-mask and anti-vaccine demonstrators scuffled with officers in the city's West End shopping district. The Metropolitan Police force said 155 people were arrested. Johnson also faces opposition to the measures from dozens of his own Conservative Party’s lawmakers, who say the economic damage outweighs the public health benefits. Bur Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the restrictions were “grimly” necessary to avoid the health system being overwhelmed this winter. Writing in The Times of London, Gove said there are currently 16,000 coronavirus patients in British hospitals, not far below the April peak of 20,000. A rise in infections would mean coronavirus patients would “displace all but emergency cases. And then even those.," he said. “If, however, we can keep the level of infection stable or, even better, falling, and hold out through January and February, then we can be confident that vaccination will pull the plug on the problem,” Gove wrote. Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
PARIS — Tens of thousands of critics of a proposed security law that would restrict the filming of police officers protested across France on Saturday, and officers in Paris who were advised to behave responsibly during the demonstrations repeatedly fired tear gas to disperse rowdy protesters who set fire to France's central bank and threw paving stones.The mood was largely peaceful, however, as dozens of rallies took place against a provision of the law that would make it a crime to publish photos or video of on-duty police officers with the intent of harming their “physical or psychological integrity.”Civil liberties groups, journalists, and people who have faced police abuse are concerned that the measure will stymie press freedoms and allow police brutality to go undiscovered and unpunished.“We have to broaden the debate, and by doing that, we say that if there were no police violence, we wouldn’t have to film violent policemen," Assa Traore, a prominent anti-brutality activist whose brother died in police custody in 2016, told The Associated Press.She was among at least 46,000 people who packed the sprawling Republique plaza and surrounding streets carrying red union flags, French tricolour flags and homemade signs denouncing police violence, demanding media freedom or calling for the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron or his tough-talking interior minister, Gerald Darmanin.The crowd included journalists, journalism students, left-wing activists, migrants rights groups and citizens of varied political stripes expressing anger over what they perceive as hardening police tactics in recent years, especially since France’s yellow vest protest movement against economic hardship emerged in 2018.Violence erupted near the end of the march as small groups of protesters pelted riot police with small rocks and paving stone. The officers retaliated with volleys of tear gas, prompting minor scuffles. Rioters then set fire to the facade of the central bank and to police barricades; in the melee fire trucks struggled to reach the site.Macron's government says the law is needed to protect police amid threats and attacks by a violent fringe.But the chief editor of French newspaper Le Monde, Luc Bronner, argued at the protest that the law against publishing images of officers is unnecessary.“There are already laws that exist to protect civil servants, including police forces when they’re targeted, and it’s legitimate – the police do a very important job," Bronner said. “But that's not what this is about. It’s about limiting the capacity of citizens and along with them, journalists, to document police violence when they happen.”While journalists have been the most outspoken over the security bill, it could have an even greater impact on the efforts of non-journalists who film police during aggressive arrests, notably minorities who can try to fight police abuse and discrimination with a few seconds of cellphone video.“There were all those protests in the summer against police violence, and this law shows the government didn’t hear us... It’s the impunity. That’s what makes us so angry," protest participant Kenza Berkane, 26, said.Berkane, who is French and of North African origin, described being repeatedly stopped by police for identity checks in the metro or while going to school. while white friends were allowed to pass. “We ask ourselves, when will this stop?”The cause has gained renewed importance in recent days after footage emerged of French police officers beating up a Black man, triggering a nationwide outcry.Macron spoke out against the video images on Friday, saying “they shame us.”Video that surfaced Thursday showed the beating of music producer Michel Zecler, following footage of the brutal police evacuation Tuesday of migrants in a Paris plaza. The officers involved in the beating of Zecler were suspended pending an internal police investigation.An internal letter from Paris Police Prefect Didier Lallement called on officers to use “probity, the sense of honour and ethics” when policing Saturday's protests, which were authorized by authorities despite France's partial virus lockdown.Through most of the march police hung back, chatting while holding their helmets or watching silently as protesters shouted “Shame!” at them.The crowd was overwhelmingly peaceful, but some in the unruly minority came equipped with gas masks and helmets.Article 24 of the proposed security law criminalizes the publishing of images of police officers with the intent of causing harm. Anyone found guilty could be sentenced to up to a year in jail, and fined 45,000 euros ($53,000).Many protesters, police and journalists have been injured during protests in recent years, including several Associated Press journalists.Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Friday that he would appoint a commission to redraft Article 24, but he backtracked after hearing from angry lawmakers. The commission is now expected to make new proposals by early next year on the relationship between the media and police.___Alex Turnbull in Paris contributed to this report.Angela Charlton And Thomas Adamson, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canadian egg and poultry farmers who've lost domestic market share due to two recent free trade agreements will soon have access to $691 million in federal cash, Canada's agriculture minister announced Saturday.Marie-Claude Bibeau shared details of the long-awaited funds in a virtual news conference. "Today we position our young farmers for growth and success tomorrow," she said. The money follows a previously announced $1.75 billion for the dairy sector linked to free trade deals with Europe and countries on the Pacific Rim, one that came into effect in 2017 and the other in 2018.The dairy sector funds were to flow over eight years, and the first $345 million payment was sent out last year.But on Saturday Bibeau announced a schedule for the remaining payments that will see the money flow over three years beginning with $468 million in 2020-21, $469 million in 2021-22 and $468 million in 2022-23.Bibeau said the most recently announced funds for dairy farmers amount to an average farm of 80 cows receiving a direct payment of $38,000 in the first year. David Wiens, vice president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, said the money will help farms make investments for the future. "I think particularly for the younger farmers who have really struggled since these agreements have been ratified, they can actually now see opportunities, how they can continue to make those investments on the farm so that they can continue on," he said. The payments are based on formulas devised by working groups formed after the trade deals were signed, Bibeau said.What that means is the money doesn't reflect precisely how much the various industries have lost due to the deals, she said. "It's really our best understanding of the future impact and to give them the possibility to adapt." The dairy, poultry and egg industries in Canada are regulated to ensure a steady income for farmers in that sector, but Canada's foreign trade partners argue the system is protectionist.That made the trio of industries a sticking point in three separate trade deals Canada has concluded in recent years — the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe (CETA), the Comprehensive and Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) and the Canada — United States — Mexico Trade Agreement (CUSMA). Trading partners wanted more Canadian access for their products, which Canadian suppliers said would result in massive hits to their bottom line. The Liberals' March 2019 budget had in turn allocated up to $3.9 billion in compensation for the trade concessions made on supply management.The funds announced by Bibeau Saturday are linked only to CETA and the CPTPP, but she said the latest arrangement does use up the balance of the previously announced funds. "I think it's a great day because there's something on the table," said Benoit Fontaine, chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada, who said he had yet to see the details of the funding arrangement for his sector.The money announced Saturday comes ahead of Monday's reveal of the fiscal fortunes of the Liberal government, in the form of an economic update that is expected to lay out how much has been spent on emergency COVID-19 related programming but also outline some new spending in other areas. Bibeau said the funds announced Saturday will be reflected there, but said the amount to be set aside as compensation for the Canada-U.S.-Mexico deal is still being decided. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Quebec set a new record for daily COVID-19 infections Saturday while surpassing the threshold of 7,000 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.The province reported 1,480 new confirmed cases Saturday, exceeding the previous record set on Thursday of 1,464 new diagnoses.Meanwhile, the 37 most recent deaths pushed the provincial total to 7,021."We must continue to respect health measures throughout Quebec and in all settings if we want to limit the transmission of the virus," Health Minister Christian Dube said through his Twitter account.Of the deaths, 10 were recorded in the past 24 hours while another 23 were recorded during a five-day period between last Saturday and Thursday.The number of hospitalizations increased slightly, with nine more patients seeking care for a total of 678. The number of patients in intensive care increased by three to 93.The Quebec government has said it will need to see a reduction in cases to trigger a plan to allow for a maximum of two gatherings of 10 people from three households between Dec. 24 and 27.Health authorities want people to quarantine for one week before and one week after the proposed four-day gathering period.The province is expected to introduce new measures and some restrictions for patients in long-term care homes and seniors residences ahead of the holidays to keep COVID-19 out of those facilities. "Those new rules are going to be published early in the next week," Dr. Horacio Arruda said on Friday during a news conference in the Saguenay.On Saturday, four long-term care homes and 14 seniors' residences were listed as critical in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases.Much of the province has been at the highest COVID alert since October, with restaurant dining, gyms and entertainment venues now shuttered until at least Jan. 11.The province has 11,716 active cases of COVID-19.Montreal reported the most new infections with 429, followed by Monteregie, south of Montreal, with 215 cases and Lanaudiere, northeast of the city, with 120.The province has now reported 139,643 COVID-19 cases and 7,021 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, along with 1,179 new recoveries for a total of 120,906.The province conducted 29,652 tests on Thursday, the last day for which numbers were available.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Pour la première fois depuis le 25 septembre, la Gaspésie et les Iles-de-la-Madeleine passent sous la barre des 100 cas actifs de COVID-19. La péninsule rapporte 12 nouvelles infections, samedi, toutes dans la communauté. Il faut remonter au tout début de la deuxième vague, alors que la Baie-des-Chaleurs était touchée par une importante éclosion dans ses communautés et ses résidences pour ainés, pour retrouver un tel nombre de cas actifs en Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine. Avec 12 nouvelles infections et 20 guérisons, la péninsule gaspésienne passe sous le cap des 100 infections actives, 95 personnes étant toujours porteuses du virus. Parmi ces nouvelles infections, six se retrouvent dans la MRC de Bonaventure. La MRC du Rocher-Percé rapporte de son côté 5 nouveaux cas, tandis qu’une seule personne de plus a reçu un diagnostic positif dans la Côte-de-Gaspé, où la COVID-19 frappait fort il y a une dizaine de jours à peine. La santé publique se dit confiante d’avoir réussi à juguler les éclosions dans les milieux de vie pour ainés, comme le Manoir Saint-Augustin de Gaspé. «La région a connu plusieurs éclosions dans des milieux fermés, où le virus frappe très fort, particulièrement dans les centres pour personnes âgées. Plusieurs sont maintenant résolues, ou presque.», soutenait le directeur de la santé publique gaspésienne, Dr Yv Bonnier-Viger, au Soleil mercredi. —— INSCRIVEZ-VOUS à notre infolettre «L’Est aujourd’hui», qui vous livre chaque mercredi nos meilleurs reportages et des inédits sur les régions de l’Est-du-Québec. (https://www.lesoleil.com/infolettres/inscriptions)Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
For the first time, people can vote in this year’s Festival of Trees online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each year, festive trees are decorated by local merchants and organizations and displayed inside Steveston’s Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site. In addition to the new online voting option, the cannery will also be open for in-person viewing and voting, starting Tuesday (Dec. 1) with additional protocols in place. There will be 15 trees decorated this year, says marketing and visitor services manager Mimi Horita. She adds that, as expected, some groups have cancelled due to different circumstances during this unusual year. “We did not hold a ‘decorating party’ this year, and scheduled the decorating times over a one-week period to ensure safe distancing,” Horita says of the changes to this year’s planning. While advance tickets are not required, capacity will be reduced to allow for physical distancing. In keeping with new public health restrictions, all visitors must wear a face mask while visiting the display. Staff and volunteers at the cannery also wear masks at all times. The Festival of Trees will be open daily from Dec. 1 to 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Dec. 24 it will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Regular admission is $11.90 for adults and $10.20 for seniors, with youth under age 17 and society members able to enter for free. Admission will be by donation on Sundays: Dec. 6, 13 and 20. For more information, call 604-664-9009.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Squamish Public Library is set to permanently acknowledge its location on the traditional territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation through a commissioned artwork. The library is inviting artists from the nation to submit designs for a vinyl window covering for the front of the library building and the children’s area. "The intention is for the artwork of a Squamish Nation artist to publicly and permanently acknowledge the library's location on the traditional territory of the Squamish Nation,” Rachel Bergquist, public services librarian, said. "This art commission aims to celebrate the art, traditions, culture, and land of the Squamish Nation through the unique vision of the artist.” She said windows of the library offered the opportunity for a large-scale showcase of art, visible to library patrons, passersby, and the hundreds of people who use Squamish Transit. "We have so many visitors to our town and the library really is a hot spot for people looking for directions, bathrooms, and other resources," Bergquist said. "So, it’s just exciting to have the opportunity to have that public acknowledgement facing outward to both the people who are living in our community, but also those people who are passing through who might not have as much of an understanding of where they are.” The library is searching for a design that will feel like an integrated part of the building and still allow for some visibility through the windows, with the final image to be printed on cut-out frosted vinyl in monochrome white and grey. “We wanted something that still allows for us to see outside and allows the natural light in,” Bergquist said, on the choice of frosted vinyl. “We want people inside the library to be able to see the world around them. Sitting inside the library, looking out that window, you can see the Stawamus Chief.” The chosen artist will receive $5,400 for the digital file of their commissioned work and the library will arrange for the production and installation of the final product. Acknowledgement and information about the art and artist will also be installed along with the window covering. Bergquist said artworks received will be reviewed by a selection committee of library staff, the director of library services and be shown to Squamish Nation Elders for their blessing. She said the library team was excited to see the designs artists submit and were available for any questions artists may have about the project. The public art project was made possible by a Community Arts and Culture Enhancement Grant from the Squamish Arts Council and capital funding from the District of Squamish. The submission deadline is Dec. 15, 2020, at 5 p.m. The successful artist will be announced early next year, and it’s hoped the installation will occur in spring. All proposals must be submitted to Rachel Bergquist or dropped off at the library at 37907 Second Avenue, Squamish, B.C. Find the full call for artists here. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador has announced two new confirmed cases of COVID-19, including a man who recently returned to the province from the United States. Health officials say the man in his 50s in the Eastern Health region travelled on Air Canada Flight 7480 from Montreal to St. John’s on Nov. 25.The province is asking anyone who travelled on the same flight to call 811 to arrange a COVID-19 test.Meanwhile, officials say the second confirmed case is a female in the Eastern Health region in her 60s.She is a member of the same household of a previously known case, which was connected to the recent cluster in Grand Bank. Newfoundland and Labrador has 32 active cases of COVID-19.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.The Canadian Press
The Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A;) Public Health Unit has released a video detailing how a single case of COVID-19 was transmitted to up to 20 local individuals over the course of the past week. “You can see now how from one individual…that there’s a cascade,” said Kingston’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore. “This is 15 to 20 proven COVID-positive individuals now with threats to schools, to the acute care sector, to the business sector, to home case services. All the result of one transmission.” The case of COVID-19 was originally contracted when an individual had to travel to Toronto for work, Dr. Moore said, noting that he has changed a few details in the transmission description to protect the identities of those involved. “He had to go into a closed space, crowded with individuals and close faces, and hence as a result was exposed to the virus and brought the virus home to family,” Dr. Moore said. “Many of the family members also got ill. People who came and visited the family and got ill.” One of the family members then had to go to work, and while pre-symptomatic, also went to the gym. Dr. Moore did not identify the workplace or the fitness facility in the video, however KFL&A; Public Health has indicated that whenever they suspect a risk to the general public, that information is shared. “At work as a Personal Support Worker (PSW), there was incidental transmission to a patient, and from that patient to another PSW. When the person went to the gym, there appears to have been transmission at the gym to a healthcare worker,” he said. “That healthcare worker had exposure with another… so there’s an investigation at that workplace.” Kingston Health Sciences Centre confirmed on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020 that two employees at Kingston General Hospital had tested positive for COVID-19. “One of the members of the gym went back to a different family. Everyone in that family was infected,” Dr. Moore continued. “That family has children that were school-aged so that’s another investigation to ensure that there’s no transmission in the school setting.” Dr. Moore noted that this is just one example of several investigations underway by Public Health this week. The key lessons he said, are to be careful when travelling outside the region, to minimize the number of contacts and to go for testing if symptoms arise. “Tremendous thanks to the community. We still continue to have a very high testing rate. We can’t do our work unless the community comes forward if they have symptoms to get tested, so that’s a big thanks. Our local lab is working very well, and our assessment centre,” he added. Dr. Moore noted that anyone accepting visitors into their home from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) should feel free to screen them for COVID-19 symptoms. The latest information on signs and symptoms of COVID-19 can be found at COVID-19.ontario.ca. “The safest thing is not to travel,” he said. “Stay within your household setting, be very careful about the ‘Cs’ — crowded spaces and close faces.”Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
OTTAWA — There was a strong message conveyed to cabinet ministers last week as senators grilled them on the Trudeau government's bill to expand access to medical assistance in dying.We told you so.Ministers were repeatedly reminded that when the federal government introduced its first bill in 2016 to legalize doctor-assisted death in Canada, senators warned it was unconstitutional and predicted it would be struck down by the courts. A majority of senators voted at that time to drop the central pillar of the bill: that only those whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable should be eligible for an assisted death.The government rejected the amendment and senators ultimately backed down. But, as they'd predicted, the near-death provision was subsequently struck down in a Quebec Superior Court ruling in September 2019.Now, some senators are convinced the bill introduced to bring the law into compliance with that ruling is also unconstitutional. And they're pondering how far they should go to protect the rights of Canadians seeking access to medically assisted death.All legislation must be approved by both houses of Parliament. The Senate can defeat a bill outright, although that has rarely happened.If the Senate amends a bill, it is sent back to the House of Commons to decide whether to accept or reject the changes. The Senate can dig in its heels and insist on an amendment rejected by the Commons, potentially leading to legislation ping-ponging back and forth between chambers without resolution.In practice, however, because senators are not elected, they generally acquiesce to the will of the Commons, as they did on the 2016 assisted-dying bill.But some senators argue that a different standard applies when fundamental constitutional rights are at stake."If it's a very clear violation of a constitutional right, I think we have the right, the moral obligation even, to stick to our position and to insist (on amendment)," says Sen. Pierre Dalphond, a former Quebec Appeal Court judge who sits with the Progressive Senate Group.Dalphond is highly skeptical that the government's latest assisted-dying bill, C-7, is constitutional. He's awaiting further explanations from the government before making a final decision.Appointed in 2019, Dalphond was not in the Senate when the chamber last debated medical assistance in dying legislation. But some senators who did live through the 2016 debate seem particularly determined not to let history repeat itself.Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan believes Bill C-7 violates the guarantee of equality rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by specifying that people suffering solely from mental illnesses will not be allowed access to an assisted death. He thinks the proposed two-track approach to eligibility — one set of rules for people who are near death and more restrictive rules for those who aren't — is similarly problematic."I think the government has created another bill that will have to come back … in two or three years after a court challenge," Carignan says.He believes the government is determined to proceed cautiously on assisted dying and is quite content to have the courts force its hand every step of the way. The trouble with that approach, in his view, is that it forces vulnerable people who are suffering unbearably from serious illnesses to spend time, money and energy fighting for their rights in court."That's really tough. So I think if we want to protect those people we have to insist and say, 'Look, don't go there another time.'"Fellow Conservative Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu is hopeful the Senate will propose, and the government will agree, to a compromise this time: amend the bill to remove the mental illness exclusion but give the government one or two years to come up with guidelines and safeguards before that part of the law goes into force.He said that could "be a good compromise" that would avoid a potential standoff between the Senate and the government over the issue.Dalphond is inclined to support such a compromise because it would force the government to act on the issue, rather than leave it to be discussed, possibly without resolution, during a promised parliamentary review. That review must grapple with other thorny matters, such as whether to allow advance consent for assisted death, as well as access to the procedure for mature minors."We have an opportunity maybe to straighten things up now. Why wait another one, two, three years? … People will be suffering during that period."The composition of the Senate has changed considerably over the past four years so it's not yet possible to gauge whether the current crop of senators will go as far as — or further than — senators did in 2016 to protect charter rights. There are certainly many senators who are passionately opposed on moral grounds to any expanded access to assisted death, and especially opposed to extending it to people suffering solely from mental illnesses.But senators with extensive legal backgrounds — both veterans like Carignan and more recent appointees like Dalphond — who grilled ministers last week during committee hearings on the bill all questioned its constitutionality.The most recently appointed senator, Brent Cotter, a prominent legal ethicist and former senior public servant in Saskatchewan, pointedly asked Justice Minister David Lametti whether he believes senators have a duty to ensure legislation is constitutionally valid.Lametti did not answer and Cotter concedes it's a question he's wrestling with himself."The nice thing about the Senate is, on the one hand, I do think we have to advance our viewpoint on the basis of principle and we have much more luxury to do that in a less partisan Senate," says Cotter, a member of the Independent Senators Group."And on constitutionality, it's quite possible that senators need to be firm … But at the same time I don't think we have the right to overreach because we are involved in a role where we are appointed, we are not elected by constituents and we need to be respectful of the electoral process that leads to government according to law."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
Wife of OPP Const. Marc Hovingh, Lianne Hovingh, spoke at his funeral Saturday and read an email from the son of a family friend. Const. Hovingh died last Thursday in a shooting that also left a civilian dead in Gore Bay, Ont., on Manitoulin Island.
A year after Canadian Forces soldiers helped clear snow in the great snowfall of January 2020, the military may be called to domestic duty again in Newfoundland and Labrador to help distribute COVID-19 vaccine. Premier Andrew Furey says he not only welcomes it, he’s already been in touch to make it happen. “We know how important a role our friends in the military played early this year during Snowmageddon,” he said during Friday’s virtual COVID-19 briefing in St. John’s, “so we’re very happy to continue to welcome their efforts in helping us get through the next phase in this pandemic.” That phase may start within the next few weeks, but Furey admitted the delivery of vaccine to Canada will be gradual. According to some quick math, he said the province may receive up to 50,000 doses by March 2020. Those will go to vulnerable groups such as elderly and Indigenous groups, as well as health-care workers on the front lines. The province saw four new confirmed cases Friday, all between the ages of 40 and 70. Three of them have not been linked to another case yet, but the chief medical officer of health said that’s not a major concern. “It’s still very early in the investigation, so it doesn’t mean we don’t know the source,” Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said. “It just means that we’re starting the investigation.” The province now has 31 active cases. Fitzgerald said the current influx of cases still doesn’t surprise her, but the next four to six weeks could be a tipping point. “This has the potential for a perfect storm as the threat of COVID and Christmas collide,” she said. “But we know so much more than we did seven months ago. We have the tools to prevent COVID from taking hold in our province.” Added Health Minister Dr. John Haggie: “We have said before, and will probably end up saying it again, that we will see cases from time to time. The important thing is that these are identified, contained and traced.” Fitzgerald says her office has been flooded with questions about what partners and children of rotational workers can or can’t do under current policies. So she offered some rules, which only apply if the worker is asymptomatic and has not returned from outside Canada or a workplace with an outbreak. A partner: • can go to work at any time if a worker is asymptomatic; • can work in a personal care home, as long as personal protective equipment is worn; • should wear a mask if around other people (that includes teaching); • should wear a mask when in another house with extended friends or family. However, she said the rules for children have not changed. “The reason that we did not include children in this policy change is that we do not want to be further stigmatized any more than they sometimes already are,” she said. “And let me be very clear in saying stigmatization should not be happening. It is completely unacceptable and, to be honest, it is heartbreaking for me to hear.” She said parents should act if they witness any form of bullying going on. “Ask your child to imagine themselves in the classmate’s position and how sad and worried they must be feeling. Teach them the golden rule, to treat others as you want to be treated.” She advised parents to make sure they’re setting a good example. “Your children see when you’re afraid, and little ears are everywhere. If you voice concerns about a neighbour or another parent who recently travelled, your child will pick up on that.”Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
In the fall of 2019, Bernie McClean had to dry every single bushel of canola on his farm in northwest Saskatchewan — something he never had to do before.Weather was just one of various challenges farmers in the province had to deal with last year.According to Statistics Canada, realized net farm income was up in six provinces, but not in Saskatchewan, where farmers saw a $307 million decline — the largest in Canada. Lower oilseed receipts contributed to the drop, said a Statistics Canada report released this week."The real difficulties actually began in the fall of 2019," said McClean."Excessive amounts of rain during harvest that turned into cold weather and actually eventually it turned into a fair bit of snow. And that stopped harvest completely. There were a lot of areas that the snow melted and we were able to get going again."But those types of conditions, they increase the costs substantially."McClean and his family grow grains and oilseeds on their Glaslyn-area farm, including wheat, oats, barley, canola and forage crops. Part of their land recently also became home to bison.In 2019, he and his family were able to harvest all their crops in the fall, but "it was right to the very final minute to get it done," he said."There have been a number of years that have been difficult in the northwest part of Saskatchewan."Farm income rose in Canada, not in Sask.Overall, Canada's farmers saw an increase in realized net income of 14.9 per cent from 2018, to $5.5 billion in 2019. According to Statistics Canada, the increase is the result of higher cannabis and livestock receipts in the country, along with increased program payments.The drop in realized net income in Saskatchewan, though was 14.4 per cent.A drop in realized net farm income in Saskatchewan means that there was a reduction in income relative to expenses during that year, explains Richard Gray, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan's department of agricultural and resource economics.The total net income, which takes inventory change into account, also dropped in Saskatchewan in 2019. Trade disputeGray says two main factors affected oilseed income."The harvest was very long and delayed," he said. "There was significant acreage of canola that was not harvested in 2019 but was left to the spring to harvest in 2020."So that grain, which would have been income, was left in the field because of weather conditions."The other factor, according to Gray, was a large outbreak of African swine fever in China. The disease reduced the size of hog herds in the country, and consequently the demand for oilseeds.A trade dispute with China also created headaches for the province's canola farmers, after China effectively stopped buying the crop from Canadian producers."Saskatchewan farmers produce the most canola in the country and they were the most affected by the drop in price," said Todd Lewis, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. He is a fourth-generation farmer in the Gray district, south of Regina.The trade dispute with China "seems like a long way from Saskatchewan, but it really does come straight to the farm gate here in the province."There is a possible upside to the Canada-China dispute, said McClean."The trade disruption that we've experienced with China has actually taken the blinders off a little bit and allowed us to investigate and further explore other or emerging markets … whether that's export markets or whether it's opportunities right here in Canada," he said.2020 a better year for Saskatchewan's oilseed farmersAfter the lows in 2019, this year has been much better for Saskatchewan oilseed farmers. "There was an early harvest," said Gray."Grain shipments have been at a record level. Because of the recovery in the hog herd in China, soybeans and oilseed prices are actually higher this year. So prices have gone up, volumes [have] gone up."According to the provincial government's final crop report, Saskatchewan saw above-average crop quality this year. While rail disruptions in 2019 caused problems for producers, the economic slowdown due to COVID-19 has allowed for improved movement of grain in 2020, said McClean.The livestock industry, on the other hand, has been negatively affected by COVID-19, with some slaughter plants closing down, said Lewis.Farmers and ranchers now have to feed more cattle, but the price for feed grain has gone up, he said."So it's been positive for the grain producers."
A North Vancouver not-for-profit is hoping to make the lives of hundreds of residents impacted by COVID-19 a little brighter this festive season with a surprise gift but is calling for a little bit of help to get the job done. North Van Cares has just launched its Holiday Helpers initiative and is asking the community to nominate someone they know on the North Shore who is senior, immuno-suppressed, isolated, bereaved or just needs a little extra cheer this year, to receive a special gift pack. The initiative has a lofty goal of handing out up to 300 presents to residents who are nominated. "We’re specifically looking for those folks who would never ask for help but could use a little extra joy this season," Jacquie McCarnan, the founder of the not-for-profit organization, said. "We all know people who give so much of themselves and never ask for anything. Those are the people we want to help." She said seniors and immuno-suppressed folks who may not have family around to help out this holiday season are their main target. "It’s not a charitable thing for the needy, it’s more a pick me up for people who just need a bit of joy," McCarnan said. McCarnan launched North Van Cares in March when the pandemic first hit hard as a Shopping Buddies initiative to help seniors get groceries and prescriptions during quarantine. “The reason I started North Van Cares is because my own parents, who live in Ontario, are 88 and 90, and they’ve never accessed social services and they wouldn’t even have a clue how to do that or how to get their groceries delivered,” McCarnan said. She said as she thought about her own parents, she realised there must be people on the North Shore having similar issues and set out to help them. From there the not-for-profit blossomed, and McCarnan has since created two T-Shirt campaigns, with nine North Shore neighbourhood designs, which have raised more than $2,000 to help support a variety of groups, including Backpack Buddies, North Shore Rescue, North Shore Black Bear Society, Neighbhourhood House, and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Profits from more recent T-shirt sales will also go towards the Holiday Helpers initiative. All the Holiday Helpers gifts will be North Vancouver-inspired and include donations from the community. The gifts will also have a handmade card created by local students – with the surplus of cards set to be delivered to residents at seniors’ homes in the area for Christmas. McCarnan said the initiative had already received a bundle of donations, so the gifts would “have really lovely surprises for so many.” “There are so many people who are going to be so lonely these holidays because they’re not going to be able to have their families come and visit like in the past,” she said. “I just thought, so what can we do to cheer them up?” For anyone who’d like to contribute, the group is still accepting donations. A donation of just $20 means they can add another nominee to the list. To nominate someone to receive a Holiday Helper’s gift pack go to Nominate a Neighbour. Nominations close Dec. 15. Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
A Winnipeg boy under the age of 10 has died from COVID-19, becoming the youngest person in Manitoba to lose their life to the illness.The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus continued its steady climb on Saturday, reaching a record high of 327 — up from 322 on Friday, the province said in a news release. Of those, 44 people are in intensive care.The grim updates come as Manitoba announces 487 new cases of the illness, its third-highest single-day increase to date.Of the nine other deaths announced Saturday, five are connected to known outbreaks in Manitoba.They include a man in his 70s and a woman in her 90s linked to the Gilbert Plains Personal Care Home; a man in his 80s with ties to Fairview Home in Brandon; a woman in her 80s connected to Heritage Lodge Long Term Care Home in Winnipeg; and a man in his 90s linked to Park Manor Care in Winnipeg.The remaining deaths announced Saturday are two women (in their 60s and 80s) from the Winnipeg health region; a man in his 60s from the Interlake-Eastern Health region; and a woman in her 80s from the Southern Health region, the province's news release says.The latest deaths bring Manitoba's number of coronavirus-linked fatalities to 290.The province has declared COVID-19 outbreaks in the GD4 unit at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg and at the Manitoba Developmental Centre in Portage la Prairie — a long-term care facility for residents with intellectual disabilities. Both sites have been moved to the critical red level on the province's pandemic response system, the release says.Meanwhile, outbreaks previously declared at Arborgate School in La Broquerie and Reston School are now over.The chief provincial public health officer warned again on Friday that Manitoba's health-care capacity is being stretched to its limits, with record numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospital and dozens in intensive care."We're not going to be able to have enough capacity to maintain these numbers for much longer," Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference.Manitoba's five-day test positivity rate — a rolling average of the COVID-19 tests that come back positive — is down slightly again to 14.2 per cent. In Winnipeg, that rate is now 13.9 per cent, the province says.There have now been 16,118 cases of COVID-19 identified in Manitoba, 6,804 of which are considered recovered.Another 9,024 cases are still considered active, though Roussin has previously said that number is inflated because of a data entry backlog.Nearly two-thirds of the new cases announced on Saturday (307) are in the Winnipeg health region, while another one-fifth (104) are in the Southern Health region.The remaining cases are spread out across the Northern Health region (38), the Interlake-Eastern health region (23) and the Prairie Mountain Health region (15).On Friday, 2,640 more COVID-19 tests were done in Manitoba, the news release says, bringing the total completed in the province since early February to 348,768.WATCH | Dr. Brent Roussin speaks about recent COVID-19-related deaths:
Despite new provincial restrictions introduced this week, large crowds descended on Chinook Centre during Black Friday sales — and Calgary police say a couple of instances quickly got out of control. Multiple fights broke out Friday evening, police confirmed, and officers escorted a "whole bunch" of unruly patrons out of the facility. No charges were laid. At this point, Calgary police Staff Sgt. Mike Calhoun said the emphasis remains on education rather than enforcement — but that could change. "We're starting on giving warnings," Calhoun said. "If we're starting to see [people] not complying, we'll move to enforcement." Cadillac Fairview, which owns the mall, said a group of youth "impeded traffic flow and caused disturbances" throughout the mall, which resulted in numerous police officers attending the site to escort them from the facility. "We will continue to work closely with CPS, who will have a presence again on site today and support our efforts to ensure customers' shopping experience and safety is not hindered," Cadillac Fairview said in a statement. The company said it was actively monitoring capacity levels throughout the holiday shopping season to fall in line with the province's new restrictions. The facility has also implemented additional measures like enhanced cleaning protocols, signage, directional arrows and installation of barriers where required. 'It makes me feel awful' Taylor Tuffnell, who works in the mall, said she saw multiple "huge gatherings" of shoppers moving through the hallways. "All of a sudden, another huge wave started happening," Tuffnell said. "So I was like, this is awful! So I'm going to do something [about] this, because this shouldn't be happening right now." In a recording shared to social media, Tuffnell captured the busy hallways within the facility, a scene that wouldn't look out of place in a regular year. "It is Black Friday, so we were expecting the mall to be pretty busy," she said. "[But we had] people hanging out, talking in the hallways, blocking entrances and lineups. That's basically what [the posts were] showcasing, just how many people were chilling at the mall." Tuffnell said it's hard to say how this year might compare to Black Fridays of years past, but said it "felt like so much more" because many were chatting and hanging out instead of shopping. "It made me feel awful. I love my store, I love my job, I love going to work every day," she said. "But I am also filled with this overwhelming anxiety when I see these situations, because I have family too. "To see people taking it lightly and hanging out in malls, instead of going out for essentials for Christmas shopping, holiday shopping, it's so disheartening." Tuffnell said she hoped that people attending malls would follow implemented safety protocols. "[If not], I would just say, guys, stay home," she said. "If you're not going to buy things in the mall, just stay home." New provincial restrictions New mandatory restrictions announced by the province this week require businesses that can remain open to limit their capacity to 25 per cent of fire code occupancy. Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said Friday that about 700 peace officers in Alberta would be given the authority to enforce the province's health orders. Madu said the province is ready to enforce the new rules, but added that Alberta is not asking officers to "harass responsible Albertans going about their everyday lives." "My expectation is that those who are in violation of the measures that we have put in place would have to be held accountable," Madu said at the news conference. "I think you are going to see a heightened level of enforcement in those cases where there are individuals who are blatantly not compliant with the health measures." WATCH | Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announces new COVID-19 restrictions for Alberta Speaking earlier this week, Premier Jason Kenney said his government will re-evaluate the new restrictions on Dec. 15 and impose stricter measures should case numbers continue to rise at the current rate. "We will continue to assess it, but we're not going to let political pressure or ideological approaches to cause indiscriminate damage to people's lives and livelihoods," Kenney said. "We're going to protect the health-care system using targeted measures. We'll have to be more restrictive if they don't work."