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Calls for stronger gun control, failure in Afghanistan : In The News for Sept. 29


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 Sept. 29 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

An influential voice on gun control says it is time for a new cabinet minister to implement the re-elected Liberal government's firearm measures.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the group PolySeSouvient calls for appointment of a minister who "truly supports gun control."

PolySeSouvient has frequently expressed frustration with Liberal efforts to strengthen gun laws, led in recent years by Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief, as public safety minister.

The group includes students and graduates of Montreal's Ecole polytechnique, where a gunman killed 14 women in 1989.

As Trudeau assembles a new cabinet, PolySeSouvient says any MP who publicly defended Bill C-21, sponsored by Blair earlier this year, "would not be trustworthy" to deliver on gun control.

The bill proposed a buyback of recently banned firearms the government considers assault-style weapons, but would have allowed owners to keep them under strict conditions — a feature the group sharply criticized.


Also this ...

A Quebec nurse says her mother was more excited than she was after Premier François Legault announced full-time nurses would receive a $15,000 bonus to keep them from quitting the public system.

Sandra Gagnon says the bonus -- while appreciated -- makes her wonder how much her health is worth, saying she won't have the energy -- or health -- to spend it.

Last week, Legault unveiled what he called a "mini revolution" in the health system, announcing $1 billion towards convincing nurses to stay in a network that is missing more than four-thousand of them.

Full-time nurses in the public system would receive one-time bonuses of $15,000, as would part-time nurses who switch to full-time work.

Nurses who have quit the public health-care network and return full time will receive $12,000, and full-time nurses in five regions hit particularly hard by shortages will get $18,000.

Many nurses and other health-care workers were quick to slam the plan on social media, saying the money is welcome, but it doesn't solve the issue of working conditions, particularly the dreaded mandatory overtime that public-sector nurses are subjected to.

Quebec's plan proposes to reduce mandatory overtime, but not eliminate it.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON — The top U.S. military officer has called the 20-year war in Afghanistan a “strategic failure.” 

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also has acknowledged to Congress that he had favoured keeping several thousand troops in the country to prevent a collapse of the U.S.-supported Kabul government and a rapid takeover by the Taliban. 

Republicans on the Senate armed services committee pointed to Milley's testimony on Tuesday as evidence that President Joe Biden had been untruthful last month when he suggested the military had not urged him to keep troops in Afghanistan. Milley refused to say what advice he gave Biden. 

Milley told the committee, when pressed, that it had been his personal opinion that at least 2,500 U.S. troops were needed to guard against a collapse of the Kabul government and a return to Taliban rule.

Defying U.S. intelligence assessments, the Afghan government and its U.S.-trained army collapsed in mid-August, allowing the Taliban, which had ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, to capture Kabul with what Milley described as a couple of hundred men on motorcycles, without a shot being fired. That triggered a frantic U.S. effort to evacuate American civilians, Afghan allies and others from Kabul airport.

The six-hour Senate hearing marked the start of what is likely to be an extended congressional review of the U.S. failures in Afghanistan.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reassured the British public that a fuel-supply crisis snarling the country and creating long lines at gas stations is “stabilizing.” 

“We are starting to see the situation improve,” he said in a television interview on Tuesday.

His government, though, said it would be a while before gas supplies return to normal. Many gas stations around Britain shut in the past few days because they ran out of fuel. 

The government says a shortage of truck drivers triggered the crisis and it has put army troops on standby to help get gas to stations. Health care organizations and teachers’ groups have called for essential workers to be given priority.

The Petrol Retailers Association also said there are “early signs” the fuel crisis was ending.

The supply problems stem from a shortage of as many as 100,000 truck drivers, due to a number of factors including pandemic-related disruption to driver training, an aging workforce and an exodus of foreign workers following Britain’s departure from the European Union last year.

While other countries, including the United States and Germany, also are experiencing a shortage of truck drivers, the problem has been especially visible in Britain, where it has contributed to empty supermarket shelves and shuttered gas pumps.


On this day in 2004 ...

The Expos played their last game in Montreal, as the club moved to Washington after 36 seasons.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO — A new documentary that spans the career of Celine Dion is going ahead with the blessing of the Quebecois pop star.

Producers say Dion has agreed to participate in what's described as the "definitive feature" on her rise to fame, bestselling albums, world tours and Las Vegas residencies.

Sony Music Entertainment, Dion's record label, is financing and will distribute the film.

The project is being directed by Irene Taylor, who was Oscar-nominated for her 2009 documentary short "The Final Inch," which explored regions of the world where the polio vaccine hadn't been administered.

Dion will return to stages in November with a 10-date residency in Vegas before she resumes her delayed Courage World Tour next year.



A new online survey suggests most Canadians are pessimistic about winning the fight against climate change.

The poll, which was done by Environics and commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund, asked 1,000 Canadians in late August about their environmental future. 

It found 67 per cent of respondents were at least somewhat pessimistic about the planet. Almost as many — 65 per cent — believe the Earth's climate is at a tipping point and that time to act is short. Fourteen per cent believe it's already too late.  

The polling industry's professional body, the Canadian Research Insights Council, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

Sarah Roberton of Environics said respondents reflected the overall Canadian population as closely as possible, and that while the survey echoes previous research done by the company, the pessimism of the responses stood out. 

She suggested that while environmental challenges are front and centre with the public, talk about solutions isn't. She said the survey also showed that 80 per cent of Canadians couldn't say what a nature-based solution consists of, such as planting trees to absorb carbon.

"Canadians see the challenges of climate and biodiversity in high relief," Roberton said. "They don't see the solutions with that same degree of focus."


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2021

The Canadian Press

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