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Debate on hybrid Commons sittings, more rain for BC : In The News for Nov. 24


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 ...

Conservatives will oppose a government proposal today to return to hybrid sittings in the House of Commons that give MPs the option of participating virtually in proceedings.

Deputy leader Candice Bergen says Conservatives fear the hybrid format gives Liberal cabinet ministers an excuse not to turn up to answer questions in the House.

They want the House to fully return to normal in-person sittings, as does the Bloc Quebecois.

Both the Liberals and NDP support the hybrid format, which they say helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 and gives MPs who are sick or quarantined the ability to work from home. 

But Bergen says hybrid sittings are designed to protect the government from scrutiny, not from COVID-19, adding that she sometimes sat in the chamber during the last parliamentary session without a single Liberal MP present. 

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says all his 118 MPs are either fully vaccinated or have medical exemptions but he has refused to say how many have exemptions.


Also this ...

British Columbia's public safety minister says more than 6,500 people have registered as evacuees and those whose homes were flooded last week are eligible for a $2,000 grant through the Canadian Red Cross and the province. 

Mike Farnworth is asking residents to pay close attention to the weather forecast as more storms are expected after a so-called atmospheric river dumped an unprecedented amount of rain on the southwest part of the province.

The storms forced evacuations and triggered mudslides that cut off highways and crucial rail supply routes.

Environment Canada has posted special weather statements for much of B.C.'s inner south coast. 

It warns that a new storm is expected to hit the region Wednesday night, dropping 40 to 80 millimetres of rain, before easing Friday.

The weather office says a second so-called atmospheric river is also forecast to drench the south coast Saturday, with total accumulations from both storms likely to exceed 100 millimetres.


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

BRUNSWICK, Ga._ Jury deliberations are scheduled to resume for a second day in the trial of three white men charged with chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery after the 25-year-old Black man was spotted running in their coastal Georgia neighbourhood.

The disproportionately white jury received the case around midday Tuesday and spent about six hours deliberating before adjourning without a verdict in the trial of father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbour William ``Roddie'' Bryan.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley told jurors to reconvene at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a fleeing burglar when they armed themselves and jumped in a pickup truck to chase him on Feb. 23, 2020. Bryan joined the pursuit when they passed his house and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery at close range with a shotgun as Arbery threw punches and grabbed for the weapon.

Arbery's killing became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice after the graphic video of his death leaked online two months later and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case, quickly arresting the three men. Each of them is charged with murder and other crimes.

Defense attorneys contend the McMichaels were attempting a legal citizen's arrest when they set off after Arbery, seeking to detain and question him as a suspected burglar after he was seen running from a nearby home under construction.

Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defence, saying the running man turned and attacked with his fists while running past the idling truck where Travis McMichael stood with his shotgun.

Prosecutors said there was no evidence Arbery had committed crimes in the defendants' neighbourhood. He had enrolled at a technical college and was preparing at the time to study to become an electrician like his uncles.


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

BERLIN _ The three parties negotiating to form Germany's next government will finalize and present their coalition agreement Wednesday, the environmentalist Greens said in a statement.

The centre-left Social Democrats have been negotiating with the Green party and the pro-business Free Democrats since narrowly winning a national election on Sept. 26.

If approved by party members in the coming weeks, the three-way alliance would replace the current grand coalition of Social Democrats and outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats.

Merkel, who didn't run for a fifth term, is likely to be succeeded by current Finance Minister Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats.

The negotiations over the unprecedented three-way alliance were relatively harmonious and speedy compared to previous coalition talks. But the political transition _ with Merkel as caretaker _ has hampered Germany's response to the latest rise in coronavirus cases.

Few details have emerged from the closed-doors talks, including how the parties will divide up the ministerial portfolios.


On this day in 1937 ...

The Canadian Authors Association set up the Governor General's Literary Awards.


In entertainment ...

The Reklaws adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic as best they could, streaming live concerts from their Toronto living room in the early days of lockdown and playing outdoor programs once restrictions loosened.

But those modified shows don't compare to the thrill of performing in front of large, indoor crowds, the Canadian country singers say.

The Reklaws will finally relive a rush they haven't experienced since 2019 when they perform — twice — in front of indoor audiences in London, Ont., this weekend. They headline a concert to kick off Canadian Country Music week on Friday, then cap it with the main event at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards on Monday night.

"It's a whole new energy (with indoor crowds). They're like caged animals that have been trapped and re-released into the wild," said Stuart Walker, half of the sibling duo that makes up the band along with Jenna Walker. 

"It will be incredible to see what the crowd is like after you've taken that away from them for a year."

The award show on Nov. 29 marks the return of the CCMA spectacle in person since Calgary hosted it in 2019. Last year's show was a virtual, multicity production filmed in Toronto and Nashville weeks before it was broadcast.

The Reklaws, from Cambridge, Ont., lead the artist categories for this year's show with six nominations, including entertainer of the year, Amazon Music & Alexa Fans' Choice and single of the year for "Where I'm From."

They're also up for group or duo of the year, interactive artist of the year and single of the year for Dean Brody's "Can't Help Myself," which they feature on.



LOS ANGELES _ NASA launched a spacecraft Tuesday night on a mission to smash into an asteroid and test whether it would be possible to knock a speeding space rock off course if one were to threaten Earth.

The DART spacecraft, short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in a $330 million project with echoes of the Bruce Willis movie ``Armageddon.''

If all goes well, in September 2022 it will slam head-on into Dimorphos, an asteroid 160 metres across, at 24,139 kilometres per hour.

"This isn't going to destroy the asteroid. It's just going to give it a small nudge,'' said mission official Nancy Chabot of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, which is managing the project.

Dimorphos orbits a much larger asteroid called Didymos. The pair are no danger to Earth but offer scientists a way to measure the effectiveness of the collision.

Dimorphos completes one orbit of Didymos every 11 hours, 55 minutes. DART's goal is a crash that will slow Dimorphos down and cause it to fall closer toward the bigger asteroid, shaving 10 minutes off its orbit.

The change in the orbital period will be measured by telescopes on Earth. The minimum change for the mission to be considered a success is 73 seconds.

The DART technique could prove useful for altering the course of an asteroid years or decades before it bears down on Earth with the potential for catastrophe.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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