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Frustration with anti-vaxers and TIFF star power: In The News for Sept. 3


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. 3 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

UNDATED — Some doctors and nurses are frustrated with large groups of anti-vaccination protesters outside hospitals as some provinces introduce so-called vaccine passports and employers mandate immunization against COVID-19.

Steven Fedder works as an emergency room physician at a hospital in Richmond, B-C, and he calls choosing not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 the quote — ultimate selfishness — unquote.

Fedder says exhausted health-care staff are trying to be professional, not judgmental, after months of providing information on vaccines to anyone who hadn't been vaccinated.

Palliative care physician Doctor Amit Arya of Kensington Health in Toronto says rallies outside health-care facilities have been emotionally draining.

He says he has endured months of online harassment and hate mail because of his pro-vaccine stance.

Protests at Vancouver General Hospital and other British Columbia health-care facilities this week prompted Premier John Horgan to say the harassment of health-care workers is completely unacceptable.

Registered nurse Michael Villeneuve, head of the Canadian Nurses' Association, says about three per cent of those in the profession appear to be against vaccination.

He says it's not clear that those protesting against vaccines and claiming to be nurses on social media in particular are actually part of the profession.


Also this ...

MONTREAL — With polls suggesting a tightening race the main party leaders are hoping to get a boost from the first of their two schedule televised debates as they return to the campaign trail today.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will follow up last night's French-language encounter with an announcement and press conference later this morning in Mississauga, Ont.

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole will make an announcement in Montreal before joining supporters at an event in North Vancouver, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will make a platform announcement this morning in Quebec City.

Four of the main party leaders went head to head Thursday night in Montreal in the first televised debate of the campaign, trading barbs over the COVID-19 pandemic, health care and systemic racism in Quebec, a key battleground in Canada's 44th federal election.

The French-language debate on TVA, one of the province's most-watched networks, comes at the midpoint of the campaign and could prove crucial to the outcome on Sept. 20 as Quebec becomes a three-way fight between the Liberals, Bloc Québécois and Conservatives.

Trudeau, O'Toole, Singh, and the Bloc's Yves-François Blanchet took part, with the three opposition leaders accusing Trudeau of unleashing an election unnecessarily amid rising COVID-19 cases and a crisis in Afghanistan.

Trudeau's minority government was elected in 2019 before the pandemic struck and upended federal priorities, which he said necessitated a fresh mandate from voters.

The debate covered three main subjects: the pandemic, social policy and the recovery.

The Green party's Annamie Paul and Maxime Bernier, leader of the People's Party of Canada, were not invited to participate.


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

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is denouncing the Supreme Court’s decision not to block a new Texas law banning most abortions in the state. 

He said Thursday he is directing federal agencies to do what they can to “insulate women and providers” from the impact. 

Hours earlier, in the middle of the night, a deeply divided high court allowed the law to remain in force in the nation’s biggest abortion curb since the court legalized the operation nationwide a half-century ago.  The court voted 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal from abortion providers and others. 

The Texas law prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks and before most women know they’re pregnant. 

It is the biggest curb to abortion rights since the court announced in its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that women have a constitutional right to abortion.

Biden said in a statement that his administration will launch a “whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision” and look at “what steps the federal government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe."


Also this ... 

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden is calling for greater public resolve to confront climate change and help the nation deal with the fierce storms, flooding and wildfires that have beset the country.

Biden is making a sojourn to Louisiana today to get a firsthand look at the devastating impact of hurricane Ida. 

Trips to natural disaster scenes have long been a feature of the U.S. presidency. 

It’s a moment to show compassion and deliver aid in ways that can shape the public’s perception of White House leadership. 


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

TOKYO — Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga won’t run in a ruling party leadership vote this month, paving the way for a new Japanese leader. 

He told reporters that the campaign would have taken his energy and he would focus on the nation's coronavirus response. 

Suga has faced deep criticism for giving an overly optimistic outlook on the pandemic and failing to convince people to treat it as a crisis. 

His decision to step down as party leader is largely a political move to give the Liberal Democratic Party a fresh leader heading into national elections that must be held by late November. 

LDP has the majority in Parliament, meaning the new prime minister likely will be whoever wins the party vote.


Also this ...

BERLIN — Angela Merkel will leave office as one of modern Germany’s longest-serving leaders and as a global diplomatic heavyweight. 

Her legacy has been defined by her management of a succession of crises that shook a fragile Europe rather than any grand visions for her own country. 

In 16 years at the helm of Europe’s biggest economy, Merkel ended military conscription, set it on course for a future without nuclear and fossil-fueled power, enabled the legalization of same-sex marriage and introduced a national minimum wage, among other things.

On the international stage, Merkel, 67, insisted on seeking compromises and pursuing a multilateral approach to the world's problems through years of turbulence that saw the U.S. drift apart from European allies under President Donald Trump and Britain leave the European Union.

“I think Ms. Merkel's most important legacy is simply that, in such a time of worldwide crises, she provided for stability,” said Ralph Bollmann, a biographer of Merkel and a journalist with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper.

Merkel’s political longevity is already historic. Among democratic Germany's leaders after the Second World War, she lags only Helmut Kohl, who led the country to reunification during his 1982-98 tenure. She could overtake him if she is still in office on Dec. 17. That's feasible if parties are slow to form a new government after the Sept. 26 election.


On this day in 1962 ...

Prime minister John Diefenbaker officially opened the Trans-Canada Highway from the summit of Rogers Pass, B.C. Total cost of the world's longest national highway, which stretched 7,821 kilometres from St. John's, N.L., to Victoria was more than $1 billion. The target for completion was 1956, but the highway was not finished until 1970.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO — There will be plenty of star power at next week's Toronto International Film Festival, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizers have announced a long list of talent slated to attend in person for this year's hybrid movie marathon, which will screen films at indoor and outdoor cinemas and online.

Dozens of names on the guest list include Oscar-nominated actors Jessica Chastain and Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, who will be in town for what TIFF calls a "mystery screening." TIFF calls it a world premiere and "special surprise screening of a never-before-seen film" from Soderbergh, who won an Oscar for directing the 2000 drama "Traffic."

The festival runs Sept. 9 to 18 with a list of attendees that also includes writer-director Stephen Chbosky, actor Ben Platt and other talent from the musical feature "Dear Evan Hansen," the opening-night film.

Cumberbatch stars in two TIFF films this year: Jane Campion's "The Power of the Dog" and Will Sharpe's "The Electrical Life of Louis Wain."

Chastain also headlines two festival films: Michael Showalter's "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" and "The Forgiven" by John Michael McDonagh.

Other international stars slated to appear in person include Keira Knightley, Dionne Warwick, Sigourney Weaver, Andrew Garfield, Kenny G, Justine Bateman, Vincent D’Onofrio and Lily-Rose Depp.

Homegrown talent on the list includes Danis Goulet, Michael Greyeyes, Alanis Obomsawin, Alison Pill, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Miriam Toews.



LE CANNET-DES-MAURES, France — Winemakers are taking stock of the damage after a wildfire blazed through a once-picturesque nature reserve near the French Riviera. 

Rows of charred grapevines stand next to a vast expanse of steaming black vegetation devastated by the fire, which raged for a week in late August. 

The blaze left two people dead, injured 27 and forced some 10,000 people to be evacuated. 

At least one small wine estate saw its vines completely destroyed. And the grapes that survived may be too smoke-damaged to produce a sellable wine.

The region is well-known for its Cotes de Provence wines.

Pierre Audemard of the Domaine de la Giscle vineyard lost his cellar full of stock and his equipment in the fire. "We're receiving hundreds of messages from people who want to buy our wine, but we have nothing left,” he told local broadcaster France-Bleu.

For the winemakers lucky enough not to have lost their crops, their attention now shifts to the lingering effects that could threaten their wine production during the upcoming harvest.

“Even if a vineyard has not been directly touched by the fire, the smoky winds can actually affect the taste of the wine,” said Maxime Mathon, head of communications for MDCV wine group, which owns several vineyards in the region affected.

It's been a particularly difficult year for French wine, after a surprise April frost killed off vines and caused two billion euros in industry losses. A study later by World Weather Attribution said the frost was made more likely by climate change.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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