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Kenney resigns and Prince Charles continues tour: In The News for May 19, 2022

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks in response to the results of the United Conservative Party leadership review in Calgary on Wednesday May 18, 2022. Kenney has stepped down as leader of the United Conservative Party. Kenney received 51.4 per cent support from the party in a leadership vote. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

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 Thursday, May 19, 2022 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Alberta's political landscape has shifted, with the resignation of Premier Jason Kenney after narrowly winning the party's leadership vote.

To gasps of surprise from a few hundred supporters at an invite-only event in Calgary, Kenney said the 51.4 per cent support he received was not enough to stay on. Speaking at the Spruce Meadows equestrian centre, Kenney said "The result is not what I hoped for or frankly what I expected." He noted that "while 51 per cent of the vote passes the constitutional threshold of a majority, it is not adequate support to continue on as leader." Typically, leaders consider 75 to 80 per cent, or higher, the minimum credible mandate to continue leading their party. Kenney then asked the party to expedite a leadership vote.

The leadership review took on heightened importance over the past year as Kenney was buffeted by poor polling numbers, sluggish fundraising and open dissent from some in his party and caucus. It was also punctuated by controversy. It had already been delayed by a year when it was set for an in-person ballot on April 9 in Red Deer, Alta. Critics said the change was made to give Kenney the edge as it appeared he would lose the in-person vote.

Opponents in caucus have said the dissatisfaction was not just over COVID-19 policies, but also over his management style, which they deemed to be top-down, dismissive and undemocratic. They said Kenney had not done enough to gain a better deal for Alberta with the federal government on shared programs.

Kenney joins a long list of Alberta conservative leaders sidelined following middling votes in leadership reviews. Former Progressive Conservative premier Ralph Klein left after

 getting 55 per cent of the vote in 2006. Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford received 77 per cent in their reviews but stepped down from the top job when the party pushed back.


Also this ...

The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations asked Prince Charles for a formal apology from Queen Elizabeth as head of the Church of England for its role in residential schools.

RoseAnne Archibald made the request during a reception and explained to the prince that these apologies would help on the healing path forward. In a media release later, Archibald said "I emphasized truth and reconciliation with First Nations peoples and the need for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to acknowledge and then apologize for the Crown's ongoing failure to fulfil its treaty agreements with its First Nations partners as well as acknowledge and apologize to survivors and intergenerational trauma survivors as leader of the Anglican faith for the role the church played in institutions of assimilation and genocide in Canada"

Earlier Wednesday, Charles took part in a whirlwind tour of Canada's capital, where he also met with displaced Ukrainians and lit candles in an Orthodox church. The prince and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, packed numerous Ottawa landmarks into the busy second day of their Platinum Jubilee tour, but the Ukraine crisis, the worst European military conflict since the Second World War, became a major focus of their visit.

During a sustainable-finance roundtable, Charles noted the impact of the Russian invasion on the world economy. In particular, having driven up gas prices across the globe, prompting many to call for quicker action on reducing the world's dependence on fossil fuels. 

The prince urged Canada to use its "incredible influence" at the G7 and in other international forums to work on solutions to the climate and biodiversity crisis. He said he subscribes to an idea put forward by Indigenous Peoples, "that we must be thinking seven generations ahead, really, to have any chance of making sure we leave a better world behind us."

Charles and Camilla are to fly to Yellowknife Thursday for the final day of their three-day tour.

During an earlier reception at Rideau Hall with the Governor General, MarySimon wished the couple a safe trip and encouraged them to listen to the Indigenous leaders, elders and community members they meet in Canada's North, saying their stories are an integral part of the journey towards reconciliation.


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

U-S President Joe Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act to speed up the production of infant formula, while also authorizing flights to import supply from overseas.

The moves come as he faces mounting political pressure over a domestic shortage caused by the safety-related closure of the country's largest formula manufacturing plant. The Defense Production Act order requires suppliers of formula manufacturers to fulfill orders from those companies before other customers, to eliminate production bottlenecks. Biden is also authorizing the Defense Department to use commercial aircraft to fly formula supplies that meet federal standards from overseas to the U.S., in what the White House is calling "Operation Fly Formula."

Supplies of baby formula across the country have been severely curtailed in recent weeks after a February recall by Abbott Nutrition exacerbated ongoing supply chain disruptions among formula makers, leaving fewer options on store shelves and increasingly anxious parents struggling to find nutrition for their children.

In a video statement released Wednesday by the White House, Biden said "I know parents across the country are worried about finding enough formula to feed their babies." He added, "As a parent and as a grandparent, I know just how stressful that is."

The announcement comes two days after the Food and Drug Administration said it was streamlining its review process to make it easier for foreign manufacturers to begin shipping more formula into the U.S.

In a letter Wednesday to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, Biden directed the agencies to work with the Pentagon to identify overseas supply of formula that meets American standards over the next week, so that chartered Defense Department flights can swiftly fly it to the U.S.

Regulators said Monday that they'd reached a deal to allow Abbott Nutrition to restart its Sturgis, Michigan, plant, the nation's largest formula plant, which has been closed since February due to contamination issues. The company must overhaul its safety protocols and procedures before resuming production.


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

The battle that turned Mariupol into a worldwide symbol of defiance and suffering drew toward a close as Russia said nearly one-thousand last-ditch Ukrainian fighters who held out inside a pulverized steel plant had surrendered.

The Ukrainian fighters who emerged from the ruined Azovstal steelworks after being ordered by their military to abandon the last stronghold of resistance in the now-flattened port city face an uncertain fate. Some were taken by the Russians to a former penal colony in territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists. 

While Ukraine said it hopes to get the soldiers back in a prisoner swap, Russia threatened to put some of them on trial for war crimes.

Amnesty International said the Red Cross should be given immediate access to the fighters. Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty's deputy director for the region, cited lawless executions allegedly carried out by Russian forces in Ukraine and said the Azovstal defenders "must not meet the same fate."

Meanwhile, the first captured Russian soldier to be put on trial by Ukraine on war-crimes charges pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing a civilian and could get life in prison. Ukraine's top prosecutor has said some 40 more war-crimes cases are being readied.


On this day in 1996 ...

Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau began his second of three space missions. During his 11 days on the shuttle "Endeavour," Garneau used the Canadian-built robot arm to retrieve a scientific satellite. He also performed several scientific experiments, including three developed by Canadians.


In entertainment ...

Selena Gomez joined U-S first lady Jill Biden and the country's surgeon general at the White House on Wednesday for a conversation about youth mental health.

The performer has been public about her own struggles. In 2020, Gomez revealed that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The trio held a conversation with a group of young people who shared how they had improved their own mental health. 

The strategies they shared ranged from finding a therapist to using baking as a way to encourage conversation with others. Biden praised the courage she said it took for them to come forward.


Did you see this?

The number of Canadian adults infected with COVID-19 was three times higher during the fifth wave of the pandemic than the total number of adults infected in the previous four waves. That's one of the key findings from a new study led by Toronto researchers. 

The most recent edition of the Action to Beat Coronavirus study analyzed blood samples from more than five-thousand Canadian adults from the Angus Reid Forum, a public polling cohort. A lead author of the study says the participants' blood samples were tested for antibodies related to COVID-19 to understand the scale of the virus' spread during the fifth wave, as well as Canadians' immunity to the virus -- either through vaccination or natural infection. Patrick Brown says the researchers found nearly 30 per cent of Canadian adults were infected during the first Omicron wave of infections, compared with roughly 10 per cent who had been infected in the previous four waves.

Brown says antibody levels were much lower amongst adults with only two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine compared to those with three doses. He notes that the unvaccinated population, including those who had a COVID-19 infection, also had "quite" lower antibody levels than people with three doses of the vaccine.

Those with three vaccine doses and an infection were found to have the maximum protection against COVID-19.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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