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COVID projections and ‘Schitt’s Creek’ motel for sale: In The News for Nov. 26

COVID projections and ‘Schitt’s Creek’ motel for sale: In The News for Nov. 26

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 26 …

What we are watching in Canada …

TORONTO — Ontario health officials are expected to release new COVID-19 projections today.

It will be the first time they have released such data since sending the province’s two biggest virus hot spots — Toronto and Peel Region — into lockdown earlier this week.

Two weeks ago, the province unveiled modelling that showed Ontario could see as many as 6,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 by mid-December unless steps are taken to limit the spread of the virus.

It said the province would reach 2,500 new daily cases by that time if the growth rate was at three per cent, or 6,500 if the growth rate was at five per cent.

At the time, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, one of the experts behind the projections, said a five per cent growth rate was “slightly optimistic.”

Premier Doug Ford announced he would lower thresholds for imposing stricter COVID-19 measures under the province’s colour-coded restrictions system the following day.

Also this …

Quebec’s highest court is scheduled to deliver its ruling today on appeals to the life sentence of Alexandre Bissonnette, who shot and killed six men in a Quebec City mosque in 2017.

Bissonnette was sentenced in February 2019 to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 40 years.

Both sides appealed the ruling: the defence said the killer should be allowed a parole hearing in 25 years while the Crown said 40 years wasn’t enough, and Bissonnette should not have the possibility to leave prison before 50 years.

And in Toronto, a psychiatrist is expected to testify for the defence in the murder trial for a man who drove a van down a crowded Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people.

Alek Minassian has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

The defence argues the 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., should be found not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018, due to autism spectrum disorder.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — A big Biden family Thanksgiving is off the table for president-elect Joe Biden because of the pandemic.

In remarks billed as a Thanksgiving address to the nation, the Democrat urged Americans to “hang on” and not “surrender to the fatigue” after months of coping with the virus.

He noted that public health officials have asked Americans to give up many of the traditions that make Thanksgiving special, like big indoor family get-togethers.

Biden said he knows how hard it is to give up family traditions but that it’s very important this year given the spike in virus cases, averaging about 160,000 a day.

He urged everyone to wear masks, practice social distancing and limit the size of groups, calling it a “patriotic duty” until a vaccine is approved.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

SEOUL — The operator of an online chat room in South Korea was sentenced today to 40 years in prison for blackmailing dozens of women, including minors, into filming sexually explicit video and selling them to others.

The Seoul Central District Court convicted Cho Ju-bin, 24, of violating the laws on protecting minors and organizing a criminal ring, court spokesman Kim Yong Chan said.

The court ruled Cho “used various methods to lure and blackmail a large number of victims into making sexually abusive contents and distributed them to many people for an extended period,” Kim said. “

He particularly disclosed the identities of many victims and inflicted irreparable damages to them.”

Cho has maintained he only cheated victims into making such video but didn’t blackmail or coerce them, forcing some of the victims to testify in court.

Kim said the court decided to isolate Cho from society for a prolonged period in consideration of his attitude and the seriousness and evil influence of his crime.

Both Cho and prosecutors, who had requested a life sentence, have one week to appeal.

On this day in 1917 …

The National Hockey League was founded in Montreal with Frank Calder as president. The NHL replaced the National Hockey Association. Its first teams were the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Toronto Arenas, Ottawa Senators and Quebec Bulldogs.

In entertainment …

There’s a rose-coloured opportunity for would-be hoteliers looking to flaunt their wealth in small-town Canada.

A landmark location from the beloved CBC sitcom “Schitt’s Creek” hit the market Wednesday, offering buyers the chance to re-enact the show’s riches-to-rags saga for a listing price of $2 million.

The Hockley Motel in Mono, a town of about 8,000 people northwest of Toronto, served as the exterior set for the Rose family’s home on the Emmy Award-winning series.

The listing presents the 6.7-acre riverside property as a fixer-upper that would appeal to travellers seeking rural refuge from the commotion and contagion risk of city life in the COVID-19 era.

It’s a sales pitch that may sound familiar to “Schitt’s Creek” fans who have followed the Rose family as they refurbished their motel-turned-home in a town they once purchased as a joke, said property owner Jesse Tipping.

ICYMI …

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — A school superintendent in British Columbia is apologizing to an Indigenous mother whose daughter was given an assignment to find something good about the infamous residential school system.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission detailed how the residential school system played a central role in perpetrating cultural genocide against Indigenous people.

Krista MacInnis says she was reduced to tears when her daughter asked for help on the Grade 6 assignment from William A. Fraser Middle School in Abbotsford.

MacInnis says she asked her daughter to erase the work she had done, which included the web address for a blog post entitled “Balancing the Biased ‘Genocide’ Story About Residential Schools.”

MacInnis says she’s since heard from the superintendent of the Abbotsford school district, Kevin Godden, who told her as a person of colour he was outraged by the assignment her daughter received.

MacInnis says she’s heard from the school’s principal, who told her he has spoken with the teacher responsible for the assignment and they would both like to apologize to the mother and her daughter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020

The Canadian Press

For posterity: George Pimentel project captures effects of COVID-19 on Canadian society

Talia Knezic | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2020

Across the world, people are living through a pandemic the likes of which has not been seen for over 100 years.

While there is little doubt that 2020 and the COVID-19 crisis will be remembered as a dark chapter, it is an extraordinary time in human history and one that is being documented extensively by almost everyone with a smartphone.

One of Canada’s most renowned photographers has taken it upon himself to curate thousands of such images submitted on social media by Canadians across the country, to capture how COVID-19 has altered every facet of their existence.

“It all started when I was looking at photos from the Spanish flu,” George Pimentel said.

With all events cancelled due to the pandemic, including the Toronto International Film Festival where Pimentel has snapped some of his most iconic images, he was left with time on his hands and a desire to do something meaningful with it.

“I thought it’s so important to document the historical value of this pandemic … to archive this for the future. I want to be able to look back at the photos one day and maybe get a sense of what time was like back then,” he explained.

Pimentel began by photographing life during the pandemic for himself — everything from gymnastics practice in a park to a physically distanced visit with his father. Hearing people’s stories as he photographed them has been both heart wrenching and eye opening, he said.

As he started creating a photo essay on his Instagram account, Pimentel began to feel that it was vital to see how others across the country were experiencing the pandemic and get a glimpse of it through their lenses.

To make his vision a reality, he decided to use social media as a hub to gather images from all walks – whether or not they were professional photographers. He began asking people to use #CanadaCOVIDPortrait to share their photos with him on Instagram in hopes of creating a country-wide archive.

“The power of social media — everyone started hash-tagging their photos. We had over 5,000 images come in. It was overwhelming,” he said.

Pimentel said the story of COVID in Canada has so many different chapters — frontline workers, businesses, families, and the elderly to name a few — and the photos he received told rich stories of their real life experiences.

“Each photo tells a story and has the diversity of Canada, from west coast to east coast, we wanted to show everything. There’s photos from Indigenous [people] and Black Lives Matter,” he said, adding that they are all strung together by the common thread of hope and resilience.

“We had over 5,000 images come in.”

Those photos are now part of the ‘Portraits in COVID Times: Documenting a Nation in Change’ exhibit at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

View some of the images from the exhibit below:
Photos provided by George Pimentel

Open Gallery10 items

 

The exhibit itself is one of the many things impacted by COVID-19. With indoor events and gatherings now prohibited, the outdoor format and large scale was a deliberate and necessary decision in order to make the exhibit accessible to as many people as possible.

“There’s no other exhibit like this,” Pimentel stated. “You can see the exhibit from the streetcar, while you’re riding your bike, while you’re walking down here.”

Habourfront Chief Programming Officer Iris Nemani said Pimentel’s vision for the project was in perfect harmony with the centre’s own goals of engaging with the community and bringing them innovative, COVID-safe programming during a time when their extensive roster of events had to be cancelled.

“How could we use our 10 acres and really create a visual art canvas for the community to engage artists and to also have relevant conversations? What George brought to us was absolutely a current conversation that was so poignant,” she explained.

For the first time, the entire façade of the main Harbourfront building has been taken over for a single exhibit of black and white photographs.

“Our offices are closed, so it was a non-issue for the people working inside the building. This was a moment to do something that was really impactful and large scale, so we just said let’s take over all the windows,” Nemani said.

“There’s no events going on inside and we felt like the only way to do it is outdoors and the best way to do it is to bring it out to the community,” Pimental added. “We’re just so lucky that the Harbourfront has such a great space.”

But even with the entire building covered, there are still more stories to tell. A second site along the waterfront has been chosen for Part 2 of the exhibit, expected to be completed next week.

“When [people] come down, they’re going to see that maybe they can relate to this.”

It will run along Queens Quay near Rees Street on 200 feet of lineal hoarding that will display an additional 30 images in colour.

 

“This is for the community, both that live here and those who are coming down here, and a way to bring some reflection for what we are all going through together,” Nemani said.

Pimentel added that he hopes the images will help people find common ground during what has been an incredibly divisive and polarizing time for the country.

“When [people] come down, they’re going to see that maybe they can relate to this. The most important thing is maybe they can learn from this and just see how the other side live. And really be sensitive to the issues …and lets all be kinder, it’s COVID,” he said.

Person of interest identified but not arrested in billionaire murders: police

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2020

Toronto police say they have identified a person of interest in the high-profile 2017 homicides of a billionaire philanthropist couple.

However, the force says no arrest has been made related to the murders of Barry and Honey Sherman.

The founder of generic pharmaceutical company Apotex and his wife were killed inside their Toronto mansion in December 2017.

Autopsy results revealed the couple died by “ligature neck compression” and police have said there were no signs of forced entry.

The killings shocked the city and made international headlines.

The family offered up to $10 million for information that would help solve the case, and hired its own team of private investigators.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Test of emergency public alert system expected today across Canada, CRTC says

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 25th, 2020

Most people across Canada can expect an interruption Wednesday by an emergency public alert that will be broadcast on television, radio and sent to mobile devices as part of a countrywide test of the system.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says all provinces and territories, except Nunavut, will get the alerts, but people will not be required to take action.

The exact time of the test will vary depending on the province or territory.

The agency says testing the national public alerting system is aimed at checking performance and reliability “to ensure it operates as intended in the event of a life-threatening situation.”

For a wireless device to receive a test alert, the CRTC says it must be connected to an LTE wireless or a newer wireless network, it must be wireless public alerting compatible and equipped with a recent Canadian version of its operating software.

If a mobile device meets these conditions and does not receive the test, the CRTC encourages Canadians to contact their service provider.

Testing the system, which hasn’t always gone according to plan, started in 2018.

It was supposed to be fully operational under regulator orders by April 6, 2018. But that year in Quebec, it didn’t sound at all. Many wireless subscribers in Ontario also didn’t receive it.

“Since January 2019, hundreds of emergency alert messages were successfully transmitted by emergency management officials to warn Canadians of a potentially life-threatening situation,” the CRTC said in its statement Tuesday. “These alerts have been credited with saving lives.”

This summer, Ontario Provincial Police used the system to alert Lanark County residents that an armed man was at large after a body was found in a motel room.

That alert came about three months after a denturist went on a shooting rampage in Portapique, N.S., killing 22 people. The RCMP was criticized for not using the system.

Quebec City police also faced backlash last month for not using the system to warn the public about a sword-wielding individual roaming the streets, killing two people and injuring five others.

Alert Test Times Across Canada:

  • Alberta – 1:55 PM MST
  • British Columbia – 1:55 PM PST
  • Manitoba – 1:55 PM CST
  • New Brunswick – 10:55 AM AST
  • Newfoundland & Labrador – 10:55 AM NST
  • Northwest Territories – 9:55 AM MST
  • Nova Scotia – 1:55 PM AST
  • Nunavut – No test scheduled
  • Ontario – 12:55 PM EST
  • Prince Edward Island – 12:55 PM AST
  • Quebec – 1:55 PM EST
  • Saskatchewan – 1:55 PM CST
  • Yukon – 1:55 PM MST

Tougher COVID-19 restrictions and a major Grammy snub: In The News for Nov. 25

Talia Knezic | posted Wednesday, Nov 25th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 25 …

What we are watching in Canada …

The Ontario government is expected to spell out its guidelines today for celebrating the upcoming winter holidays as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Toronto and Peel Region are currently under the grey or lockdown level in the province’s tiered COVID-19 alert system, with those restrictions to stay in place at least until the week of Christmas.

Public health measures under the lockdown level include a ban on indoor gatherings except with those in the same household, as well as closing down restaurants for all but takeout and delivery.

The province’s top doctor said earlier this week it seemed unlikely the situation would improve in those regions enough over 28 days to warrant moving them to the red alert level, which is one level lower.

In Alberta, tougher COVID-19 restrictions were announced Tuesday that included limits on social gatherings and less face-to-face class time for students.

Premier Jason Kenney said there are to be no indoor gatherings, but people who live alone can have up to two personal contacts.

He says students in grades 7 through 12 will transition next week to at-home learning and the school holiday break will be extended from Dec. 18 to Jan. 11.

Banquet halls, conference centres and concert venues must also close.

Kenney added that anyone who can work from home should do so and masks will be mandatory in workplaces in Edmonton, Calgary and surrounding areas. The measures will be in effect for three weeks and re-evaluated after that.

Also this …

A review of the Catholic archdiocese of Montreal’s handling of complaints against a pedophile priest is to be released today.

The archdiocese enlisted former Quebec Superior Court justice Pepita Capriolo to examine the church’s response to complaints against former priest Brian Boucher.

Archbishop Christian Lepine is expected to speak about the report, tabled in September, at a news conference today.

Lepine requested the review himself, saying he wanted to establish who knew what in relation to Boucher’s crimes.

Boucher was sentenced in March 2019 to eight years in prison for abusing two boys after being found guilty in one case and pleading guilty in the other.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is not giving up his fight to overturn the election results, even as agencies across the federal government begin to support president-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration.

Career federal officials are opening the doors of agencies to hundreds of transition aides ready to prepare for Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

And on Tuesday, Trump signed off on allowing Biden to receive the presidential daily brief, the highly classified briefing prepared by the nation’s intelligence community for the government’s most senior leaders.

An administration official said logistics on when and where Biden will first receive the briefing were still being worked out.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

The European Union has committed to be “creative” in the final stages of the Brexit trade negotiations but warned that whatever deal emerges, the United Kingdom will be reduced to “just a valued partner,” far removed from its former membership status.

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said “genuine progress” has been made on several issues.

And she said that on the divisive issues of fisheries, governance of any deal and the standards the U.K. must meet to export into the EU, the bloc is “ready to be creative, but we are not ready to put into question the integrity of the single market.”

On this day in 2010 …

Steven Chand, 29, convicted of trying to raise funds for the so-called Toronto 18 terror plotters, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He had been in jail since June 2006 but because of credit for time served, he only had to serve another seven months and 10 days.

In entertainment …

The Weeknd angrily slammed the Grammy Awards, calling them “corrupt” after the Canadian pop star walked away with zero nominations despite having multiple hits this year.

The three-time Grammy winner criticized the Recording Academy on Tuesday after he was severely snubbed, despite having one of the year’s biggest albums with “After Hours” and being tapped as the Super Bowl halftime headline performer. He also topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Blinding Lights” and “Heartless.”

“The Grammys remain corrupt,” the singer said on Twitter. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.”

The harsh words come less than a year after the Recording Academy’s ousted CEO accused the group that determines nominations in the top categories of having conflicts of interest and not engaging in a transparent selection process.

ICYMI …

A researcher from the University of Alberta is being recognized for her innovation that uses the sharp edges on salt crystals to destroy COVID-19 droplets on reusable masks.

Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate, says a solution of mostly salt and water is used to coat the first or middle layer of the mask.

As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, she says the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, which damage the bacteria or virus within five minutes.

Rubino collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago.

She is being recognized today with an innovation award from Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that honours researchers from academic institutions.

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval.

Rubino says it could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020

The Canadian Press

Canada-wide survey of women’s shelters shows abuse more severe during COVID-19

BRENNA OWEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 25th, 2020

A new national survey by Women’s Shelters Canada offers a glimpse into the experiences of front-line workers and women fleeing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, with reports of clients facing more violence that is also increasing in severity.

The Shelter Voices survey says 52 per cent of 266 participating shelters reported seeing clients who were experiencing either somewhat or much more severe violence, as public health measures aimed at fighting COVID-19 increase social isolation, while job losses fuel tension over financial insecurity in many households.

Violence “was also happening more frequently, or abusers who hadn’t used violence in the past were suddenly using violence,” said Krys Maki, the research and policy manager for Women’s Shelters Canada.

The survey also found 37 per cent of shelters reported changes in the type of violence clients faced, including increased physical attacks resulting in broken bones, strangulation and stabbings.

Shelters and transition houses that did not report changes in the rates or type of violence were often located in communities that had seen fewer cases of COVID-19, the report notes.

The data show public health restrictions have a “huge impact on women and children who are living with their abusers,” said Maki.

The survey says 59 per cent of shelters reported a decrease in calls for help between March and May, when people were asked to stay home, and businesses, workplaces and schools shut their doors.

From June to October, “as soon as things started up again, we see a huge increase in crisis calls and requests for admittance,” said Maki.

The survey includes responses from shelters and transition houses in rural and urban areas in every province and territory.

Just over half of the shelters in population centres with 1,000 to 29,999 residents reported increases in crisis calls between June and October, said Maki, compared with 70 per cent of shelters in urban centres with populations between 100,000 and just under a million.

Women in smaller communities may be more hesitant to reach out for help, said Maki, “because everybody knows everyone, and everyone knows where the shelter is, too.”

While the survey shows women are facing more severe violence at home, at the same time, 71 per cent of shelters reported reducing their capacity in order to maintain physical distancing and other public health measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

It was more common that shelters in large population centres had to cut their capacity.

To continue serving women remotely, 82 per cent of shelters and transition houses reported purchasing new technology, such as tablets, phones and laptops, although limited cell service and internet connectivity pose challenges in rural and remote areas.

For many shelters, financial difficulties increased throughout the pandemic, as 38 per cent reported raising significantly less money compared with last year.

The shelters were mostly appreciative of the federal government’s emergency funding in response to COVID-19, with some reporting it kept them open, while others said they had to lay off staff because the money didn’t go far enough.

The federal government announced last month it would double the initial amount it was providing to gender-based violence services in response to the pandemic for a total of $100 million, some of which has been distributed through Women’s Shelters Canada.

The survey found more than three quarters  of the shelters faced staffing challenges during the pandemic. That’s not surprising, the report notes, since women make up the majority of shelter workers and have been trying to balance paid work with childcare and other family responsibilities during lockdown periods.

The release of the survey results on Wednesday coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The Canadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment is also working to have Nov. 26 recognized each year to raise awareness about economic abuse.

So far, the cities of Ottawa, Brampton, Parry Sound and Kingston have signed on in Ontario, while Victoria and Comox, B.C., will also mark the day.

There is little data about economic abuse in Canada, said Meseret Haileyesus, who founded the centre, although the shelter survey showed clients were subject to increasing coercion and control tactics, including limited access to money.

A survivor’s debt load, credit rating, and their ability to access housing and educational opportunities may be affected for years, long after they’ve left an abusive relationship, Haileyesus said.

The centre is working with MP Anita Vandenbeld on a petition urging lawmakers to expand the strategy to end gender-based violence to include economic abuse. It also wants Statistics Canada to begin collecting data and studying economic abuse.

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Alberta researcher gets award for COVID-19 mask innovation

CAMILLE BAINS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2020

Salt that crystallizes with sharp edges is the killer ingredient in the development of a reusable mask because any COVID-19 droplets that land on it would be quickly destroyed, says a researcher who is being recognized for her innovation.

Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate from the department of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta, said a mostly salt and water solution that coats the first or middle layer of the mask would dissolve droplets before they can penetrate the face covering.

As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, damaging the bacteria or virus within five minutes, Rubino said.

“We know that after the pathogens are collected in the mask, they can survive. Our goal was to develop a technology that is able to inactivate the pathogens upon contact so that we can make the mask as effective as possible.”

Rubino, who collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago, was recognized Tuesday with an innovation award from Mitacs. The Canadian not-for-profit organization receives funding from the federal government, most provinces and Yukon to honour researchers from academic institutions.

The reusable, non-washable mask is made of a type of polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks, and could be safely worn and handled multiple times without being decontaminated, Rubino said.

The idea is to replace surgical masks often worn by health-care workers who must dispose of them in a few hours, she said, adding the technology could potentially be used for N-95 respirators.

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval. It could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza, Rubino said.

Dr. Catherine Clase, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the “exciting” technology would have multiple benefits.

Clase, who is a member of the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials in the engineering department at McMaster, said there wasn’t much research in personal protective equipment when Rubino began her work.

“It’s going to decrease the footprint for making and distributing and then disposing of every mask,” she said, adding that the mask could also address any supply issues.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recently recommended homemade masks consist of at least three layers, with a middle, removable layer constructed from a non-woven, washable polypropylene fabric to improve filtration.

Conor Ruzycki, an aerosol scientist in the University of Alberta’s mechanical engineering department, said Rubino’s innovation adds to more recent research on masks as COVID-19 cases rise and shortages of face coverings in the health-care system could again become a problem.

Ruzycki, who works in a lab to evaluate infiltration efficiencies of different materials for masks and respirators, is also a member of a physician-led Alberta group Masks4Canada, which is calling for stricter pandemic measures, including a provincewide policy on mandatory masks.

New measures expected in Alberta and pandemic weight gain: In The News for Nov. 24

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 24 …

What we are watching in Canada …

EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says COVID-19 has become like a snowball rolling down a hill, picking up size and speed, and threatening to overwhelm the health system.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says immediate action is needed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Premier Jason Kenney and select cabinet ministers were to meet with Hinshaw, and new measures are expected to be announced today.

Alberta, once a leader in how to prepare for and contain the virus, has in recent weeks become a national cautionary tale.

There have been well over 1,000 new cases a day for five straight days, and there are more than 300 patients in hospital and more than 60 in intensive care.

Kenney has said he wants targeted measures to control the virus while keeping businesses as open as possible.

Others, including some doctors, say the focus needs to be on a sharp clampdown, even for a short period.

Also this …

A new poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests many Canadians are gaining weight because they’re eating more and exercising less during COVID-19 pandemic.

Thirty-two per cent of respondents said they have gained weight since March, while 15 per cent said they lost weight over that time.

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says this is one of the collateral effects of the pandemic, as the survey suggests there is a link between weight gain and fear of COVID-19.

Forty-six per cent of respondents who said they are very afraid of COVID-19 gained weight during the pandemic.

Forty-four cent of those who expressed that level of fear said they have been exercising less than they did before the pandemic and about 46 per cent said they were eating more than usual.

The online survey of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Oct. 29-31 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

The U.S. General Services Administration has ascertained that president-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said Monday that he is directing his team to co-operate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.

The move clears the way for the start of the transition from Trump’s administration and allows Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.

An official said Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, most recently in Michigan, which certified Biden’s victory Monday.

And today, Biden is preparing to formally announce his national security team to the nation.

Those being introduced during an afternoon event are among Obama administration alumni whose roles in the upcoming administration signal Biden’s shift away from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies.

The picks include former Secretary of State John Kerry to take the lead on combating climate change. Outside the realm of national security and foreign policy, Biden is expected to choose former Fed chair Janet Yellen as the first woman to serve as treasury secretary.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

China’s latest trip to the moon is another milestone in the Asian powerhouse’s slow but steady ascent to the stars.

China became the third country to put a person into orbit a generation ago and the first to land on the far side of the moon in 2019.

The Chang’e 5 mission, launched today, will be the first to bring back moon rocks and debris since a Soviet mission in 1976.

Future ambitions include a permanent space station and putting people back on the moon more than 50 years after the U.S. did.

On this day in 2002 …

Quebec Premier Bernard Landry announced that the May 24th Quebec holiday, “La fete de Dollard,” would henceforth be known as “La Journee nationale des Patriotes.” The name was changed to honour the movement that contributed to the Rebellions of 1837-38 in Lower Canada and became an early symbol of French-Canadian nationalism.

In entertainment …

Anne Murray wasn’t sure her singing voice was still intact until a few months ago.

The famed Canadian crooner had left her most-cherished instrument largely unchecked while in retirement, aside from belting out a song here and there while doing household chores.

But last summer, she decided to dust off her guitar to see whether her trademark lush alto voice could still carry a tune.

Murray says she performed a few of her old songs “just for the fun of it,” and was pleased to learn her famous pipes are still humming.

The winner of 24 Junos and four Grammys swore off recording new music more than a decade ago, but she recently compiled several of her classic tracks for a new holiday album.

“The Ultimate Christmas Collection” brings together 22 songs pulled from Murray’s various Christmas albums, including “Joy to the World, “Blue Christmas” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” with Michael Buble.

ICYMI …

A Quebec municipality that had planned to cull about 15 white-tailed deer in the coming days relented late Monday amid pressure on officials to relocate the animals.

Longueuil Mayor Sylvie Parent said in a statement the threat of people intervening or attempting to thwart the cull has forced the city to consider other options.

Parent noted the plan to capture and slaughter the deer, approved by Quebec’s Forests, Wildlife and Parks Department, was supported by a “broad consensus within the scientific community.”

But given the circumstances, she’s asking the city’s top civil servant to come up with a plan to move the deer from Michel-Chartrand Park to a sanctuary authorized by provincial officials.

Parent’s announcement came hours after an animal rescue group and a lawyer who champions animal rights urged the Montreal-area city to reconsider its plan to kill half the white-tailed deer in the park and donate the meat to a food bank.

The organization, Sauvetage Animal Rescue, along with well-known Montreal lawyer Anne-France Goldwater, had urged Parent to consider its own plan to relocate the animals to a sanctuary, free of charge.

Ultimately, the city relented but Parent said the deer situation would need to be resolved quickly.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EST on Nov. 24, 2020:

There are 337,555 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 133,206 confirmed (including 6,842 deaths, 115,367 resolved)

_ Ontario: 105,501 confirmed (including 3,505 deaths, 88,992 resolved)

_ Alberta: 48,421 confirmed (including 476 deaths, 34,779 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 27,407 confirmed (including 348 deaths, 19,069 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 14,087 confirmed (including 236 deaths, 5,353 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 6,708 confirmed (including 37 deaths, 3,807 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,190 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,074 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 445 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 349 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 321 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 294 resolved)

_ Nunavut: 134 confirmed (including 2 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 69 confirmed (including 64 resolved)

_ Yukon: 38 confirmed (including 1 death, 22 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Total: 337,555 (0 presumptive, 337,555 confirmed including 11,521 deaths, 269,195 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Rent relief for businesses and AMA love for The Weeknd: In The News for Nov. 23

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Nov 23rd, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 23 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA — Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for a long-awaited new commercial rent-relief program offered by the federal government.

The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy replaces an earlier rent-support program for businesses introduced in the spring that saw little pickup because it relied on landlords to apply for help.

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on revenue declines, with an extra 25 per cent available to the hardest-hit firms.

Federal cabinet ministers will highlight the program during a news conference this morning in which they will also open two initiatives designed to help businesses owned by Black Canadians.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents thousands of small companies across the country, is welcoming the new rent program as long overdue for firms hard hit by COVID-19.

However, it is criticizing the government for not opening it to businesses that would have qualified for the previous rent-relief program, but could not access federal funds because their landlords chose not to apply.

Also this …

OTTAWA — N-D-P MP Laurel Collins is reviving a call for the environment commissioner to be a stand-alone officer of Parliament.

Collins is pushing a motion at the environment committee to pull the position out of the Office of the Auditor General and make it a separate entity.

The Victoria MP says the commissioner needs its own dedicated staff to ensure it can fulfil its mandate.

She says the commissioner used to perform up to five environmental audits annually but has just one underway this year and two planned for 2021.

The Liberal government of former prime minister Jean Chrétien created the position in 1995, but did not meet a campaign promise to make it an office independent from the auditor general.

The motion from Collins is nearly identical to one passed by the same committee 13 years ago but the request was never fulfilled.

ICYMI …

OTTAWA — Canada and Britain struck a new trade deal on Saturday, allowing the long-standing partners to trumpet a commercial triumph in the face of the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interim deal beat the looming Dec. 31 Brexit deadline, replacing Canada’s current agreement with Britain under the European Union that covers trade between the two countries.

Announced amid a virtual gathering of G-20 leaders, the interim pact is a placeholder that buys Canada and Britain another year to reach a more comprehensive agreement while also warding off a no-deal scenario that would have triggered new tariffs on a range of Canadian exports on Jan. 1

But few details were released about the new agreement. Breaking with past practice during trade negotiations, there were no pre-announcement briefings for journalists and no text was released.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U-S President Donald Trump’s campaign has filed plenty of lawsuits in six states as he tries to upend an election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

The strategy may have played well in front of TV cameras, but it’s proved a disaster in court, where judges uniformly have rejected claims of vote fraud.

The latest case ended Saturday, when a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani presented only “speculative accusations” and no proof of rampant corruption in the vote.

A law school professor says the suits threaten the future of elections because so many Americans believe the claims being made by Trump’s team.

Meanwhile, Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning.

If nominated and confirmed, Blinken would be a leading force in Biden’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which Trump questioned longtime alliances.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

LONDON — AstraZeneca says late stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University were “highly effective’’ in preventing disease.

The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca.

The drugmaker reported today that no hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in those receiving the vaccine.

“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 per cent effective,’’ said Professor Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator for the trial.

Two other drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing that their COVID-19 vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective.

In entertainment …

LOS ANGELES — Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at last night’s American Music Awards.

She beat out Canadians Justin Bieber and The Weeknd for the top award, while also winning favourite music video and favourite pop/rock female artist.

Though The Weeknd lost artist of the year, he still kicked off his all-star week as a big winner: Days before he’s expected to land multiple Grammy nominations, the pop star dominated the 2020 American Music Awards with multiple wins.

The Toronto native won favourite soul/R&B male artist, favourite soul/R&B album for “After Hours” and favourite soul/R&B song for “Heartless.

The Weeknd didn’t break character throughout last night’s three-hour show with his gauze-wrapped face, which matched the vibe of his recent album and music videos where he appears blooded and bruised.

He was one of several artists who appeared live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the fan-voted awards show. Others taped performances because of the pandemic.

Bieber and fellow Canuck pop star Shawn Mendes opened the show with a performance of their new duet “Monster.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020

The Canadian Press

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