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Help for Alberta's COVID battle and California spill: In The News for Oct. 4

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 Oct. 4 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

EDMONTON — A military contingent is expected to be in position today to decide where to deploy eight critical care nurses who will help Alberta in its desperate struggle with COVID-19.

Public Safety Canada says the Canadian Red Cross is also planning to send up to 20 medical professionals, some with intensive care experience, to augment or relieve staff working in Alberta's hospitals.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canadian Armed Forces members will use their experience to help Alberta battle the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Operation LASER is the Canadian Armed Forces’ response to COVID-19.

Sajjan says that since the beginning of the pandemic, the military has responded to more than 65 requests for assistance from provincial or federal partners.

Newfoundland and Labrador is also sending a medical team of five or six intensive care staff to work in Alberta's northern oil hub city of Fort McMurray.

Alberta's health delivery agency has seen over 1,000 new daily COVID-19 cases for weeks, and has had to scramble and reassign staff to handle the surge of intensive care patients.

Intensive care physicians, emergency ward doctors, the executive of the Alberta Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association have called for a swift lockdown to reverse the rising tide of COVID-19 patients. But Premier Jason Kenney has, so far, rejected that idea.


Also this ...

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered a private apology to the chief of a British Columbia First Nation after passing up opportunities to honour Canada's first official Truth and Reconciliation day in the community, prompting one major Indigenous advocacy organization to call on him to voice his contrition in public. 

Trudeau's office said the prime minister spoke with the head of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation on Saturday and apologized for failing to accept invitations to mark Sept. 30 in the community where more than 200 unmarked graves were discovered at the site of a former residential school. While Trudeau was in the province that day, he chose instead to spend personal time with his family.

The head of the The Native Women's Association of Canada said she welcomed word of Trudeau's private apology, but called on him to make a more public statement and cautioned that his actions may have lasting consequences.

Chief Executive Officer Lynne Groulx said members had asked Trudeau to admit he made an error in judgment, but believes there now needs to be a message directed at the wider Indigenous community. 

"It's every single residential school survivor, intergenerational school survivor — we know that that's 100 per cent of our communities are impacted by residential schools," she said.

Trudeau spent Sunday in Tofino, B.C., where he has been since last Thursday when he flew there on a day meant to honour Indigenous survivors of Canada's residential schools system. 

His location came as a shock after his itinerary initially reported he was in Ottawa for private meetings.


And this ... 

OTTAWA — A Canadian senator says Afghan women ministers issued pleas for help to Canada — and warnings about atrocities — two months before the Taliban took control of Kabul. 

Senator Salma Ataullahjan says more should have been done earlier to help Afghans leave the country, before the Taliban took complete control.

The senator says that during a June videoconference with Canadian politicians, female Afghan ministers begged Canada to act, and warned that a crisis was looming. 

In July, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada briefed Canadian parliamentarians on Taliban brutalities, including targeted killings, as they advanced towards the Afghan capital.  

Ataullahjan says she will make a statement in Parliament and ask ministers why Canada did not do more to evacuate Afghans before the Taliban seized Kabul in mid-August.

A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada says the federal government remains committed to Afghanistan and its people and recognizes women there have fought hard to achieve their rights.


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

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Some residents, business owners and environmentalists questioned whether authorities reacted quickly enough to contain one of the largest oil spills in recent California history, caused by a suspected leak in an underwater pipeline that fouled the sands of famed Huntington Beach and could keep the beaches there closed for weeks or longer.

Booms were deployed on the ocean surface Sunday to try to contain the oil while divers sought to determine where and why the leak occurred. On land, there was a race to find animals harmed by the oil and to keep the spill from harming any more sensitive marshland.

People who live and work in the area said they noticed an oil sheen and a heavy petroleum smell Friday evening.

But it wasn't until Saturday afternoon that the Coast Guard said an oil slick had been spotted and a unified command established to respond. And it took until Saturday night for the company that operates the pipeline believed responsible for the leak to shut down operations.

An estimated 572,807 liters of heavy crude leaked into the water and some washed up on the shores of Orange County. The city and state beaches at Huntington Beach were closed, and late Sunday the city of Laguna Beach, just to the south, said its beaches also were shuttered.

Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said the beaches of the community nicknamed “Surf City” could remain closed for weeks or even months. The oil created a miles-wide sheen in the ocean and washed ashore in sticky black globules.


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

HONG KONG — Shares in troubled real estate developer China Evergrande Group and its property management unit Evergrande Property Services were suspended from trading in Hong Kong on Monday as investors awaited the next steps in the saga of its debt crisis.

Cailian, a Chinese online news service affiliated with the state-run newspaper Securities Times, said another developer, Hopson Development Holdings, was planning to acquire a majority share in Evergrande Property Services Group.

Hopson suspended trading of its shares in Hong Kong on Monday. The suspension was “pending the release of announcement(s) in relation to a major transaction of the company under which the company agreed to acquire the shares of a company . . . listed on the stock exchange," it said in a filing.

Evergrande Property Services said in its announcement to the Hong Kong exchange that its shares were suspended from trading pending an announcement related to a merger or takeover.

Evergrande has been struggling to avoid defaulting on billions of dollars of debt. The company owes billions to banks, customers and contractors and has been selling off assets to resolve its cash crunch.


Also this ... 

TOKYO — Fumio Kishida has been elected Japan’s prime minister in a parliamentary vote and will be tasked with quickly tackling the pandemic and other challenges and leading a national election within weeks. 

Kishida won by a comfortable margin since his party and its coalition partner hold a majority in both houses. 

He and his new Cabinet will be sworn in at a palace ceremony later in the day. 

Predecessor Yoshihide Suga resigned after only one year in office as his support plunged over his government’s handling of the pandemic and insistence on holding the Tokyo Olympics as the virus spread.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO — Jann Arden says it took very little contemplation to call off the possibility of a COVID-19 storyline in the third season of her hit comedy series.

The Calgary singer-songwriter says she met with the writers’ room of “Jann” last year and together they agreed the show’s fictitious world wouldn’t dabble in real-life problems.

Arden says the sitcom is an alternate universe where real-world political, social and pandemic troubles don’t exist.

But Canadian celebrities still do, including a diva-esque version of Arden herself, and a roster of new guest stars including singers Michael Bublé, Bif Naked and sisters Tegan and Sara.

The season picks up as Arden’s character takes a shot at recovering from a painful breakup with her girlfriend by dating a new man.

"Jann" airs Mondays on CTV and streams on Crave.



WHISTLER, B.C. — A Whistler, B.C., woman has been hit with a $60,000 fine after feeding bulk produce to bears over the course of one summer.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service says it launched an investigation in July 2018 after reports of a person feeding black bears.

The service found a resident had been intentionally feeding bulk produce -- including up to 10 cases of apples, 50 pounds of carrots and up to 15 dozen eggs -- throughout the summer.

The service linked the feeding to three bears it had to kill in September 2018 after the animals destroyed property and showed no fear of humans.

Conservation officer Sgt. Simon Gravel says the fine is precedent setting and the service hopes the large sum deters others from feeding animals.

The majority of the fine has been ordered to go to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2021

The Canadian Press

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