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CN shuts Eastern network; Via halts passenger service amid protests – BNNBloomberg.ca

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Blockades set up by anti-pipeline protesters have forced Canadian National Railway Co. to shut down its entire network in Eastern Canada and Via Rail to cancel passenger service across the country.

CN said Thursday that the company must initiate a “disciplined and progressive” shutdown in the East and stop and safely secure all transcontinental trains across its Canadian network.

Via Rail said it has no other option but to cancel all service on CN track in Canada. There were no more departures as of 4 p.m. eastern and all trains en route were brought to the closest major train station.

“We understand the impact this unfortunate situation has on our passengers and regret the significant inconvenience this is causing to their travel plans,” Via said in a news release.

Protesters across Canada say they’re acting in solidarity with those opposed to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which would cross the traditional territories of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northern B.C.

CN said its shutdown may lead to temporary layoffs for eastern Canadian staff.

It has sought and obtained court orders and requested the assistance of enforcement agencies for blockades in three provinces, but while blockades have been dismantled in Manitoba and may be ending imminently in B.C., a court order in Ontario has yet to be enforced.

Here’s what Canada’s top executives have said about the rail blockades

“Ridiculous behaviour.” “What’s going on?” “This is a good case of insanity.” That’s a sample of what some of Canada’s top corporate executives have said on BNN Bloomberg this week amid disbelief that blockades snarling rail traffic have been allowed to drag on.

More than 400 trains have been cancelled over the last week, said JJ Ruest, CN’s president and chief executive officer, in a news release.

“This situation is regrettable for its impact on the economy and on our railroaders as these protests are unrelated to CN’s activities, and beyond our control. Our shutdown will be progressive and methodical to ensure that we are well set up for recovery, which will come when the illegal blockades end completely.”

He said while Via service will be discontinued across CN’s network, commuter rail services such as Metrolinx and Exo can keep operating as long as they do so safely.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters after landing in Munich, Germany, that his government is monitoring the situation very closely and he had a long and productive conversation with B.C. Premier John Horgan on the plane.

“We’re concerned with the rule of law and we need to make sure that those laws are followed,” Trudeau said.

The B.C. and federal governments have agreed to meet with Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to discuss a blockade near New Hazelton, B.C.

Gitxsan hereditary chief Norm Stephens said the blockade will be dismantled during the talks but if the province doesn’t agree to cancel Coastal GasLink’s permit then it may go back up.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he is deeply concerned by the impact of the decision CN was forced to make and its effect on Via Rail.

“A safe and efficient passenger and freight rail service is critical to the well-being of our country,” Garneau said on Twitter.

Garneau said he would be meeting with his provincial counterparts and Indigenous groups on Friday to discuss a way forward.

He said all parties must engage in open and respectful dialogue to ensure this situation is resolved peacefully.

“We are encouraged by the progress on the blockade in New Hazelton. This is a positive development and we are actively working for a similar resolution on all remaining blockades.”

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Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route but the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say councils only have authority over reserve lands, not traditional territories that have never been ceded through a treaty.

“They got that permit by consulting with the band council,” said Stephens. “They have no authority on the hereditary chiefs’ land.”

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is also setting up a meeting with Indigenous leaders in an effort to halt a blockade near Belleville, Ont., which he called a “highly volatile situation.”

Tyendinaga Mohawk Chief Donald Maracle said he expects the meeting will proceed but he can’t comment on Miller’s request to end the blockade because it wasn’t initiated by his council.

Railway shippers called on the prime minister to “act decisively” to prevent a complete shutdown of Canada’s rail system.

Delays caused by the blockades will have immediate consequences for farmers across the country, said Grain Growers of Canada chairman Jeff Nielsen.

“We are an industry that relies on export markets in order to survive and thrive. Without access to these markets via rail, we risk compounding further losses on top of what has already been a harvest from hell,” he said in a news release.

Canada’s forest products sector is responsible for 10 per cent of total tonnage moved along the country’s railway lines.

“Some companies are now in a position that they can’t guarantee delivery dates to customers – a massive business risk and a dark cloud over Canada’s reputation as a reliable trading partner,” said Derek Nighbor, president and CEO of Forest Products Association of Canada.

Teamsters Canada, the country’s largest union in the transportation sector, also called on the federal government to intervene.

“Hundreds of our members have been out of work close to week. Now up to 6,000 of our members risk not being able to support their families or make ends meet this month, and they are powerless to do anything about it,” said National President Francois Laporte.

Passengers dealing with cancelled Via Rail trains at Toronto’s Union Station were disappointed but calm on Thursday evening. Ethan Sun and Angi Xhang, a Toronto-based couple, were headed to Montreal for a Valentine’s Day getaway. That route has been down for days, unbeknownst to them.

“We’re obviously very frustrated and disappointed, because we have our entire trip planned and we’re very excited for it, and it’s a long weekend,” said Xhang.

Jane Gooder was trying to get home to London, Ont., after working in Toronto through the week.

She said she’s found someone to come pick her up, but she was “gobsmacked” when she first heard all trains were cancelled.

“I just thought, ‘Where do I start? Do I stay over?’ And then they said, ‘Even if you stay over the next day there’s no guarantee, this could go on to next week,’ ” she said.

In Manitoba, protesters dismantled a blockade on an east-west CN Rail line near Winnipeg due to a court injunction but insisted that there would be more action to come.

Protesters in B.C. planned mass demonstrations at numerous government buildings on Friday, days after hundreds blocked the entrances to the legislature and chanted “Shame.”

However, a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted the province an injunction on Thursday afternoon authorizing police to arrest and remove anyone blocking entrances at the legislature.

TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s transit authority, also said all West Coast Express commuter trains heading eastbound from downtown Vancouver to Mission were cancelled due to protesters blocking Canadian Pacific tracks.

– With files from Chris Purdy in Edmonton, Mia Rabson in Munich, Germany, Nicole Thompson and Ross Marowits in Toronto, David Reevely in Ottawa, Camille Bains in Vancouver and Dirk Meissner in Victoria.

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Disney to lay off nearly 28K workers at California, Florida locations due to coronavirus – Global News

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U.S. President Donald Trump would not say during his first debate with former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday if he will urge his supporters to stay calm in the event of a contested election in November.

Asked by moderator Chris Wallace, Trump said he is urging people to be poll watchers to stop fraudulent activity both in polling places and with mail-in ballots, which Trump has repeatedly said will be a “disaster.”

Read more:
Donald Trump refuses to condemn white supremacists during first U.S. presidential debate

“I hope it’s going to be a fair election. If it’s a fair election, I am 100 per cent on board,” Trump said. “But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that.”

“What does that mean?” Wallace asked. “Does that mean you’re going to urge your people to take to the streets?”

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“It means you have a fraudulent election,” Trump replied.

“These people aren’t equipped to handle it, number one. Number two, they cheat,” he continued.






3:07
US Presidential debate: Trump avoids condemning white supremacist groups


US Presidential debate: Trump avoids condemning white supremacist groups

Biden, when asked the same question, promised to not declare victory until the election results are independently certified.

“Here’s the deal: we count the ballots,” he said. “Some of these ballots in some states can’t even be opened until Election Day. And if there’s thousands of ballots it’s going to take time to do it.”

Trump also said he’s counting on the Supreme Court to settle any dispute in the final electoral count. By that time, the court will likely include Trump’s third nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, creating an unbreakable conservative majority if the Republican-led Senate votes to confirm her before Nov. 3.

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“I’m counting on them to look at the ballots, definitely,” he said. “I hope we don’t need them in terms of the election itself, but for the ballots I think so.”

Trump has already refused to confirm whether he’ll accept a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.

For months, the president, Attorney General Bill Barr and other fellow Republicans have argued that mail-in ballots — which is being expanded or introduced in nearly every state due to the novel coronavirus pandemic — will lead to widespread fraud, while providing little concrete evidence. They have voiced support for solicited absentee ballots, which Trump himself has used to vote.


Click to play video 'US Presidential debate: Biden presses Trump to release his tax returns after Trump claims he’s paid ‘millions’'



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US Presidential debate: Biden presses Trump to release his tax returns after Trump claims he’s paid ‘millions’


US Presidential debate: Biden presses Trump to release his tax returns after Trump claims he’s paid ‘millions’

While Trump tried to point to examples of election fraud during the debate, those were full of mischaracterizations. A story about a group of Trump’s so-called poll watchers being turned away from an office in Philadelphia, for example, was due to many reasons beyond hiding fraud, local media has pointed out.

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Biden pointed out during the debate that members of the military have been voting by mail since the Civil War, and refuted Trump and Republicans’ arguments that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud.

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“Why is it for them somehow not fraudulent,” Biden asked, speaking of military members. “It’s the same process. It’s honest.”

Biden closed by promising that not only would he accept the results if he loses, but so would Trump.

“Once the winner is declared and all the ballots are counted, all the votes are counted, that’ll be the end of it,” he said.

“If we get the votes, he’s going to go. He can’t stay in power. It won’t happen. So vote,” he said earlier, directly addressing the camera.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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These COVID-19 symptoms are more concerning for kids than the sniffles: B.C. doctor

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VANCOUVER —
When it comes to COVID-19 symptoms, there are some that parents of young kids should be more wary of, a B.C. doctor says.

Dr. Rhonda Low, a physician based in Vancouver, says sneezing and sore throats don’t necessarily mean parents need to sound the alarm or keep their kids at home. This comes more than a week after health officials suddenly changed screening requirements for students heading to class.

“Talk about making parents nuts because kids have runny noses and sore throats all year, as soon as school starts,” she said about the old requirements on CTV Morning Live Tuesday.

Low says according to current data, kids under the age of 10 aren’t likely to have COVID-19 if they just have a runny nose.

“The chance of them having COVID is only about seven per cent,” she said. “If a child has a sore throat, the chance of them having COVID is only about 13 per cent.”

The new checklist for schools says kids should stay home if they have fever, chills, a cough or shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. But if they have a runny nose, a sore throat, headache, fatigue or body aches, they are no longer required to be absent.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, addressed the changes last week.

“There are so many things that cause children to have one symptom that has nothing to do with an infection,” she said.

“It’s a balancing act to make sure children are able to attend school as much as possible and minimizing the risk that they pose.”

Some of the symptoms that are still on the screening checklist are more concerning for young kids.

“The most important symptoms that seem to indicate that we should get your child tested for COVID are a fever and a cough,” Low said. “And those two are present in about two-thirds of cases.”

And Low says new research confirms what health experts have understood since earlier in the pandemic: kids under 10 are less likely to become infected, even with similar exposure to COVID-19 as adults.

“But the role of kids transmitting to others and adults is still not really clear,” Low said.

Source:- CTV News Vancouver

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Three Shoppers Drug Mart workers test positive for virus in Belleville stores – Belleville Intelligencer

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Medical officer of health Dr. Piotr Oglaza stands outside Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.
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Luke Hendry / Luke Hendry

Three employees at a trio of Shoppers Drug Mart store locations in Belleville “have tested positive on a presumptive test for COVID-19”and are in isolation away from work, said parent firm Loblaw Companies Limited.

Word of the three cases follows public notification by Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health of two positive cases of COVID-19, one recorded Tuesday and another reported Thursday in the region.

The transmission origin of Tuesday’s case is listed as pending while Thursday’s case was attributed to close-contact transmission.

Loblaw Companies said on its website that given “the important role we play in our communities, we are prepared for all possible situations, including a positive test for COVID-19 in our stores.”

All public safety measures are taken by Shoppers Drug Mart to clean and sanitize stores following a positive test of an employee, the firm said.

“In these cases, we work closely with public health and follow their guidance to ensure proper notification of close contacts and required cleaning and sanitization in our stores.”

The company said for “transparency, we regularly update the sections … with all positive COVID-19 cases in our stores by province in the last 15 days. For privacy, we will not release any personal information about our colleagues and employees.”

One infected employee working at Shoppers’ 150 Sidney Street location worked their last day Sept. 23, said the company, while another infected employee at Shoppers’ 405 Dundas Street location worked their last day Sept. 20, the company confirmed.

The employee at Quinte Mall’s Shoppers Drug Mart location at the Quinte Mall’s 390 North Front Street location worked their last day at the store Sept. 22, said the firm.

Quinte Mall property management did not return a phone call by The Intelligencer placed Monday for comment on any possible actions, if any, were needed to protect mall visitors.

Dr. Piotr Oglaza, medical officer of health for Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health, declined comment Monday on the Shoppers’ employee testing positive on a presumptive test at Quinte Mall and whether there was a safety concern for a privately-owned mall that sees high footfall daily on its premises.

Oglaza told The Intelligencer in an interview the health unit is bound by provincial health privacy provisions not to release information that could lead to the identification of an individual.

However, speaking in general terms, Oglaza said identifying an individual case and issuing a public COVID-19 advisory can be warranted if the health unit deems a public health safety risk to the public when proper contract tracing cannot locate all people who have been exposed to an infected person.

In the case of a COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year at a Kingston beauty services salon, for example, health unit officials there made the name of the spa public to trace all customers who may have visited the spa in order to conduct further contact tracing to find, isolate and stem any further spread of the virus.

Oglaza said contact tracing in all 54 local cases so far listed by HPE Public Health up until Tuesday’s latest additional case confirmation has been successful to the point that there has been no need to make any public appeals in the health unit’s catchment area.

Contact tracing is key to countering more anticipated cases in a second wave, Oglaza said, because health officials can rapidly identify, trace and isolate new infections to avoid community spread throughout Hastings and Prince Edward catchment area.

“There is a role, time and place for public announcements. That’s when we are unable to trace contact if the nature of the setting is challenging, impossible, and if there is a risk if we don’t get to the public,” Oglaza said.

“In cases of COVID-19, our work is really focusing on as quickly as possible connecting with the person who has been confirmed and getting from them a detailed history of who they’ve been in contact with over a certain amount of time we deemed they were infectious and then getting that list of individuals and connecting with them directly.”

“In that situation, once these contacts are basically identified,” Oglaza said, “connected with all the measures that are in place, there really is no need for anything more for the public to know other than there is a case and it’s being handled by us because any more information provided by a case could potentially lead to identify who that individual is and we’re not a position to do that.”

“This is personal health information,” Oglaza said.

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