Postelection review to probe where Conservatives bled votes to PPC and NDP

While the People's Party of Canada (PPC) didn't win any seats in Canada's 44th general election, it did snag more of the popular vote than the Green Party. And as David Akin reports, PPC voters were not just former Conservative voters.

The former MP leading the review into the Conservatives’ election performance says it will examine how Tories lost votes to Maxime Bernier‘s People’s Party of Canada.

James Cumming, an Alberta representative who lost his seat to the Liberals’ Randy Boissonnault, says he will begin reaching out to candidates and campaign teams this week.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole tapped Cumming to review the party’s campaign after it was defeated by the Liberals and won two fewer seats than it did in the 2019 federal vote.

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Cumming says he will probe the party’s campaign strategy, its ground game and the data it used, as well as O’Toole’s tour over the 36-day race.

One of the questions hanging over the Conservatives is the role Bernier’s right-wing populist party played in their loss.

During his second federal election as PPC leader, Bernier shifted his focus away from immigration and largely railed against vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 health measures.

Although the PPC failed once again to win any seats in the House of Commons, the Tory review will examine how vote splitting on the right impacted Conservatives across the country.

“Anywhere that we’ve had bleed of vote, I think that that’s important that we study and understand what the factors were, so the PPC would represent some of that,” Cumming said in an interview.

“In Alberta we saw significant bleed of vote to the NDP, so that’s an entirely different situation? In all cases we have to look at where we performed and where we didn’t perform and do that analysis on a riding-by-riding basis, region-by-region basis to better understand what the dynamics are within that vote.”

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O’Toole himself spent the final days of the campaign making increasingly direct warnings to Conservative supporters not to split the vote by casting a ballot for Bernier, cautioning that doing so would lead to another Liberal government.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Jean Rochon, former PQ health minister, dead at 83

Jean Rochon, a former Parti Québécois health minister known for introducing anti-smoking measures and reforms that allowed Quebecers to receive care outside of hospitals, has died.

Rochon’s widow told The Canadian Press he died Saturday after a brief illness. He was 83.

Rochon served as a cabinet minister in provincial governments of Jacques Parizeau, Lucien Bouchard and Bernard Landry during a nine-year career in politics between 1994 and 2003.

Premier François Legault was among many provincial politicians who paid tribute to Rochon Tuesday, expressing condolences to the family of his former colleague, whom he described in a Twitter post as a kind and brilliant man.

Born in 1938, Rochon obtained a law degree in 1961 and a medical degree in 1966. He went on to obtain a masters in public health in 1968 and a doctorate in public health in 1973 from Harvard University.

Rochon was elected for the first time in 1994 in the Charlesbourg riding in the Quebec City area and held numerous cabinet positions, notably the health portfolio between 1994 and 1998. He quit politics in 2003.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

City of Regina releases results from pre-budget 2022 survey

Regina’s 2022 budget is set to be released in late November, but residents had the opportunity to share what areas are of priority to them in the municipal budget this past summer.

Results are in from the pre-budget 2022 consultation, which was held from July 14 to Aug. 6 with more than 1,300 Regina citizens taking part in the survey.

Road construction and repair was once again at the top of the priority ranking list with 73 per cent of respondents placing it within their top three spending priorities.

In second was public safety, crime and policing, which saw 67 per cent of those surveyed say it was in their top three.

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Recreation and culture facilities was ranked third at 48 per cent, replacing snow clearing which held the third spot overall in last year’s public budget consultation.

The city said 57 per cent of respondents indicated that maintaining or increasing capital spending remains a top consideration when city council makes decisions. Some 55 per cent feel reducing residential property taxes is another priority for council to consider.

When it comes to new and emerging priorities, the city shared that 54 per cent of surveyors ranked investments in community-based safety and wellness initiatives within their top three. Another 46 per cent prioritized economic development incentives, followed by investments to address homelessness at 45 per cent.

“We value the feedback we have received from Regina residents as we build out the city’s budget,” said Barry Lacey, who serves as Regina’s executive director of financial strategy and sustainability.

“Understanding what is most important to residents is integral to budget planning as we make decisions about how to maintain or improve services affordably and invest in resident and council priorities.”

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An update for the 2022 city budget will be presented to executive committee at Wednesday’s meeting.

Once the budget is released, council is expected to review it on Dec. 15.

The city will then shift to a multi-year budgeting system for 2023-2024, which officials say will “make it easier to determine more long-term budget impacts and will reduce administrative expenses related to annual budget preparation.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

21 passengers escape plane safely after crash in Texas, officials say

No one was seriously hurt when an airplane bound for Boston ran off a runway and burned Tuesday morning near Houston, authorities said.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-87 was carrying 21 people when it rolled through a fence and caught fire while trying to take off from the Houston Executive Airport in Brookshire, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

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Everyone made it off the plane safely and the only reported injury was a passenger with back pain, Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said on Facebook.

Firefighters were working at midday Tuesday to extinguish the blaze. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said the plane was headed to Boston. The aircraft is registered to a Houston-area investment firm.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Hamilton public school board trustees unanimously approve review of dress code policy

Trustees with Hamilton’s public school board have unanimously approved a review of the dress code policy following criticism that certain students are being unfairly targeted.

Two student trustees introduced the motion forward at Monday’s Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board meeting, sparked by demonstrations at Waterdown District High School after an ill-timed announcement from the school principal that reminded students about appropriate dress.

The announcement came just days after Hamilton police announced they were investigating reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment at the school, with some students saying they felt the principal was engaging in victim-blaming.

“We want to make it very clear that the purpose of this motion is to ensure our appropriate dress policy is equitable, that it does not target female and female-identifying students, and that it is not used to shame or blame victims of sexual harassment and or sexual assault,” said student trustee Aisha Mahmoud during the virtual meeting on Monday.

The motion, which asks staff to review the code to remove outdated standards and to develop a new policy, passed unanimously.

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A second HWDSB school administrator has issued an apology related to the conversation around the dress code.

Laura Bartkiw, principal at Dundas Central Elementary School, sent a letter to families over the weekend regarding “dress code concerns.”

While it’s not clear exactly what was said, the letter references “a conversation about appropriate dress that treated male and female students differently, while alienating those with non-binary identities.”

“We also apologize for implying that the way girls dress could be a factor in unwanted male attention,” Bartkiw wrote. “We caused harm. We are working to address it and ensure it does not happen again.”

During the Monday night board meeting, several trustees expressed concern that the conversation around dress codes has been happening for a long time without any action being taken until now.

“Both my daughters and many other female students over the years have spoken about how the dress code makes the female students feel unfairly targeted,” said Ward 15 trustee Penny Deathe, who sponsored the motion alongside Ward 3’s Maria Felix Miller.

She said those who compare school dress codes to dress codes in a place of business aren’t accurate because students “can’t quit or choose to work elsewhere.”

“School is a place to learn, a place to discover who they are, a place to feel safe and accepted as has been outlined in this motion, and a place where we’re willing to have tough conversations so we can come to a place where all students feel they belong.”

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While a review of the dress code policy isn’t expected to happen right away, associate director Sue Dunlop said a memo will be sent out on Tuesday to principals, vice-principals, and school staff about “updated guidelines” for student dress.

“In addition, our communications department is working on a message for families and students so that you can also see what is being done in the interim while we develop the more comprehensive guidelines,” said Dunlop, adding that staff will also look what other boards are doing when it comes to dress codes.

Ward 13 trustee Paul Tut said he was already concerned hearing from students about the outdated policy, but said the Monday night discussion left him “even more troubled” that administrators who single out students through the dress code aren’t being held accountable for their actions.

“The beliefs of certain teachers and administrators should not be tolerated in this board, particularly when it relates to sexism,” said Tut, becoming audibly emotional during his comments.

“I’m quite frankly getting tired of hearing students coming forward and saying they’re being targeted. They’re being victimized. They’re being traumatized. At some point in time, we’ve got to start saying, you know what? enough is enough. And I know we’ve already said that at previous meetings on other issues, enough is enough. And we’re still back here … dealing with the same type of hurt that these students are experiencing and they’re coming forward.”

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Manny Figueiredo, director of education at the HWDSB, said the issue is that up to this point, there has been no consistent policy that school administrators have been able to follow.

He said some school administrators have adapted while others have adhered to an old handbook that was created years ago and was meant to advise parents on appropriate school dress.

“So we’re going to have to really clearly identify the expectations, give our school administrators an opportunity to then be held responsible with their staff around this,” Figueiredo said. “And if we have incidents that we feel are violation and students feel their human rights are being violated, there is a process to put this forward.”

He also acknowledged that some staff will feel “uncomfortable” about challenging their own beliefs about the dress code but if they refuse to adapt, that’s when action will be taken.

“What I’m hearing from the students this evening and our students from Waterdown about how they’re being approached and the ways they’re being approached, it’s not about respectfully, whether staff feels comfortable or not. It’s about our students and their identity and coming to school feeling safe.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Bitcoin price nears all-time high as U.S. ETF makes trading debut

The first U.S. bitcoin futures-based exchange-traded fund began trading on Tuesday, sending bitcoin to a six-month high and within striking distance of its all-time peak, as traders bet the ETF could boost investment flows into cryptocurrencies.

The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF began trading on Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s NYSE Arca on Tuesday under the ticker BITO after being greenlighted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bitcoin futures have been overseen by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for four years and ETFs – securities that track an asset and can be bought or sold on a stock exchange – are regulated by the SEC, offering some level of investor protection, SEC chair, Gary Gensler, said on Tuesday.

“Yet it’s still a highly speculative asset class and investors should understand that underneath, there is the same volatility and speculation,” he told CNBC.

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Bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, touched $63,337.54 after the listing, its highest since
mid-April and near its record of $64,895.22.

Known throughout its 13-year life for its volatility, bitcoin has risen by some 40% this month on hopes the advent of bitcoin ETFs – of which several are in the works – will see billions of dollars managed by pension funds and other large investors flow into the sector.

The BITO ETF was last at $40.95, up slightly from its $40.88 open.

“It has traded tightly, within a penny of fair value pretty much all morning, so it’s part of the ecosystem,” said Dave Nadig, chief investment officer and director of research at ETF Trends.

The ETF had traded around $500 million worth, notionally, by late morning, which is “about what we would expect for a media-darling first launch in the space,” he said.

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Much of BITO’s initial volume appeared to be from retail investors, as there were only four block trades, above 10,000 shares, all morning, Nadig said.

Nasdaq Inc on Friday approved the listing of the Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF, and Grayscale, the world’s largest digital currency manager, plans to convert its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust into a spot bitcoin ETF, the company confirmed.

Crypto ETFs have launched this year in Canada and Europe amid surging interest in digital assets. VanEck and Valkyrie are among fund managers pursuing U.S.-listed ETF products, although Invesco on Monday dropped its plans for a futures-based ETF.

The SEC has yet to approve a spot bitcoin ETF.

Bitcoin futures were up 2.21% at $63,035.

(Reporting by John McCrank in New York, Tom Wilson in London; additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Katanga Johnson in Washington; Editing by Kim Coghill, Jason Neely and Andrea Ricci)

© 2021 Reuters

FDA set to authorize mix and matching for 3rd COVID-19 booster shots in U.S.

WATCH: Latest COVID-19 headlines and how booster shots could become a reality

Federal regulators are expected to authorize the mixing and matching of COVID-19 booster doses this week in an effort to provide flexibility as the campaign for extra shots expands.

The upcoming announcement by the Food and Drug Administration is likely to come along with authorization for boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots and follows the OK for a third dose for the Pfizer vaccine for many Americans last month. The move was previewed Tuesday by a U.S. health official familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement.

The FDA was expected to say that using the same brand for a booster was still preferable, especially for the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that have proved most effective against the coronavirus. The agency was still finalizing guidance for the single-shot J&J vaccine.

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Preliminary results from a government study of different booster combinations found an extra dose of any type revs up levels of virus-fighting antibodies regardless of the brand people first received. But recipients of the single-dose J&J vaccination had the most dramatic response — a 76-fold and 35-fold jump in antibody levels, respectively, shortly after either a Moderna or Pfizer booster, compared to a four-fold rise after a second J&J shot.

One confusing decision is what Moderna dose to recommend in combination with other brands. Moderna has applied for its booster to be half the original dose, saying that’s plenty for people who already received two full-strength shots. But the mix-and-match study used full-strength extra doses, and there’s no way to know if a half-dose Moderna booster would trigger as strong a reaction in J&J recipients.

Allowing mixing and matching could make the task of getting a booster simpler for Americans and allow people who may have had adverse reactions to the initial dose to try a different shot.

Last week, the U.S. said it would recognize combinations of vaccines administered overseas for the purposes of entering the country. The practice was common in Canada and some European countries in the early months of the vaccination campaign..

___

AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard contributed.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Ontario NDP bill proposes capping rent increases between tenants

The Ontario NDP has put forth a new bill that it hopes will stabilize rents in the province while cracking down on “renovictions.”

The Rent Stabilization Act: Pay What the Last Tenant Paid was unveiled in a series of news conferences from NDP MPPs in London, Ottawa and Toronto.

During an announcement near Western University, London North Centre MPP Terence Kernaghan said if passed, the proposed legislation would ensure that when a new tenant moves into an apartment, they’ll be charged the same rent as the previous tenant.

The only price hikes allowed would be ones tied to government-regulated increases that are based on annual inflation.

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“One of the most common stories I hear from renters is that when they move out, their apartment goes back on the market, costing anywhere from 200 to 400 more dollars,” Kernaghan said.

“The new rent is hundreds of dollars more, despite the fact that there hasn’t been a single upgrade or improvement.”

The MPP added that Ontario has seen an uptick in “renovictions,” which he describes as a practice where “landlords will evict their current tenants, make some upgrades to the unit and then charge exponentially more rent.”

“A good tenant shouldn’t lose their home because of this and this bill would remove that profit incentive for landlords and keep reliable tenants housed,” Kernaghan said.

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In 2018, the Ontario government introduced legislation that scrapped rent control on new builds that are occupied for the first time after Nov. 15, 2018.

Apartments that do fall under rent control have to follow Ontario’s rent increase guideline, which is capped at 1.2 per cent for 2022.

The province enacted a rent freeze for 2021 that is set to expire at the end of the year, but advocates are pushing for an extension as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Controversial councillor squeaks out a win in Calgary's Ward 4

Incumbent Councillor Sean Chu remained the representative for Calgary’s Ward 4 as of Tuesday morning.

With all polls reporting, Chu unofficially won over DJ Kelly by a margin of 52 votes.

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There is the potential for a recount if one of the candidates seeks one within 44 hours of when the polls closed.

A recount would take place Thursday, according to returning officer Karen Martin.

Chu has been under fire after a CBC News story that focuses on an internal misconduct investigation that was done when he was a Calgary Police Service officer in 1997.

The CBC story alleges he had inappropriate contact with a minor.

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Chu released a statement in response to the story on Sunday: “As many of you will have heard, there are serious allegations being made publicly against me based on a CBC News story that was released on Friday. These allegations misrepresent the truth of the matter and come at a time meant to hurt me the most in this campaign.”

Global News was unable to verify the findings of the internal misconduct review.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the Calgary Police Service said when the matter was raised in 1997, “it was taken seriously by the service and managed in accordance with the Police Act and Criminal Code.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

COVID-19: Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge health unit reports 82% of residents fully vaccinated

More than 82 per cent of eligible residents within the jurisdiction of the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data released by the health unit.

In its weekly vaccination rate data released late Monday, the health unit — which serves the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County — reported the following data:

All eligible residents (ages 12 and up):

  • Single dose: 86.7 per cent — up from 86.3 per cent on Oct. 11 (women 88.1 per cent; men 85. 1 per cent)
  • Two doses (fully vaccinated): 82.3 per cent — up from 81.5 per cent on Oct. 11 (female 84 per cent; male 80.3 per cent)

Adults (age 18 and up):

  • One dose: 87.2 per cent — up from 86.7 per cent on Oct. 11 (women 88.5 per cent; men 85.5 per cent)
  • Two doses: 82.8 per cent — up from 82.1 per cent on Oct. 4 (women 85 per cent; men 80.7 per cent)

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Other data:

First dose received by residents:

  • Over the past seven days: 627 (the week prior there were 544 first doses administered)
  • Over the past four weeks: 3,191
  • To date: 148,983

Second dose received by residents:

  • Over the past seven days: 1,478 (the week prior there were 1,683 second doses administered)
  • Over the past four weeks: 7,550
  • To date: 141,340

Fully vaccinated coverage rate by age group within the health unit’s jurisdiction:

  • Age 12-17: Approximately 74 per cent (female 73.7 per cent; male 73.8 per cent)
  • Age 18-29: Approximately 70 per cent (female 74.3 per cent; male 65.8 per cent)
  • Age 30-39: Approximately 80.7 per cent (female 84.4 per cent; male 76.9 per cent)
  • Age 40-49: Approximately 85.4 per cent (female 87.9 per cent; male 82.3 per cent)
  • Age 50-59: Approximately 78.3 per cent (female 81.5 per cent; male 75 per cent)
  • Age 60-69: Approximately 91.5 per cent (female 92.3 per cent; male 90.7 per cent)
  • Age 70-79: Approximately 88.4 per cent (female 86.5 per cent; male 90.5 per cent)
  • Age 80+: Approximately 80.5 per cent (female 81.8 per cent; male 78.2 per cent)

As of Monday afternoon, the health unit reported 10 active cases of COVID-19 within its jurisdiction. No updates are issued on Tuesdays.

There are no active cases of COVID-19 in schools within the health unit’s jurisdiction as of Tuesday afternoon after the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington District School Board reported a case resolved at St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School in Cobourg.

Upcoming COVID-19 vaccinations are available at the health unit’s office in Lindsay (108 Angeline St. S.) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 19 and on Friday, Oct. 22.

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Upcoming mobile vaccination clinics this week:

Northumberland County:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 20: Alnwick Civic Centre (9059 County Rd. 45) in Roseneath from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 23: Keeler Centre (80 Division St.) in Colborne from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Haliburton County:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 19: Stanhope Fire Hall  (1123 North Shore Rd.) in Algonquin Highlands from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. — drive-thru clinic
  • Thursday, Oct. 21:  Oxtongue Lake Fire Hall (3979 Hwy. 60) in Dwight from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. — drive-thru clinic

Visit Ontario’s pharmacy COVID-19 page for a list of pharmacies that offer a vaccination.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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