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Pro-pipeline rally draws 1,000 attendees in Alberta town of about 6,600

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Speakers at another pro-pipeline rally in Alberta continued their attacks on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday, saying if leaders in Ottawa don’t hear their message now, they will when a planned convoy arrives there in 2019.

Chad Miller with the group Oilfield Dads told the crowd of about 1,000 gathered in Rocky Mountain House that the province is suffering its “worst recession turned depression” in a generation due weakened oil prices, exacerbated by lack of pipeline capacity.

“Even those that put away for the rainy days and then some have had to use their savings, and more, to try to weather this never-ending hard times scenario,” Miller said.

Chad Miller with the group Oilfield Dads said Alberta is in a “never-ending hart times scenario.” (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Numerous rallies and truck convoys have been held across Alberta and Saskatchewan in recent weeks to protest against federal actions that critics say will make building pipelines more difficult. Those include Bill C-69 to revamp the National Energy Board and Bill C-48, which would ban oil tanker traffic on British Columbia’s northern coast.

A convoy in Medicine Hat, Alta., last weekend attracted 650 vehicles, according to police, and groups are planning one in February that will travel from Western Canada to Ottawa.

“Today, I say to Ottawa, can you hear us yet?” Miller asked the crowd during Saturday’s rally.

“Don’t worry, you’ll see us in February when we convoy to Ottawa!”

A truck convoy was also held Saturday in Lloydminster, which straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary.

Earlier this month the federal government announced it would spend $1.6 billion to help energy companies struggling due to plunging oil prices.

But Jason Nixon, who represents Rocky Mountain House in the provincial legislature, said what Alberta really wants is pipelines.

“Trudeau, we don’t want your money. We want you to get out of the way,” Nixon said to the crowd in Rocky Mountain House.

The groups Rally 4 Resources and Canada Action say in a Facebook event post that the convoy to Ottawa is intended to end Feb. 20 on Parliament Hill. The post says letters voicing support for the industry, as well as individual and family photos, will be delivered to the Senate.

The page stresses that the event is not connected to the so-called yellow vest campaign, which also advocates for pipelines but is associated with opposition to Canada signing the United Nations migration pact.

“To be clear, we take issue with bad policies put forward by Justin Trudeau’s government, but we do not favour any political party. This movement is about supporting our families,” the Facebook post states.

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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