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Leak in military sex misconduct deal, Tory leadership poll: In The News for June 15

Chief of the Defence Staff, General Wayne Eyre, left, joins Minister of National Defence, Anita Anand, and former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour (not pictured) as they release the final report of the Independent External Comprehensive Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces in Ottawa on Monday, May 30, 2022. The company overseeing the federal government's 900-million-dollar settlement deal with military members who experienced sexual misconduct in uniform has admitted to more privacy breaches despite repeated promises to have fixed the problem. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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 June 15 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

The company overseeing the federal government's 900-million-dollar settlement deal with military members who experienced sexual misconduct in uniform has admitted to more privacy breaches despite repeated promises to have fixed the problem.

Epiq Class Action Services Canada confirmed the additional errors after a third veteran came forward to The Canadian Press to report having received an email containing the personal details of a different claimant earlier this month.

The Federal Court appointed Epiq to administer the settlement process after the government reached an agreement in November 2019 with plaintiffs in three overlapping class-action lawsuits dealing with sexual misconduct in the military.

The company on its website says 109 of the nearly 20,000 people who have asked to be included in the settlement have had their personal information inadvertently released.

The latest breach comes even after an oversight committee composed of victims, military representatives and lawyers for all parties agreed in April to launch an independent audit assessing Epiq’s claims process.

The federal privacy commissioner’s office said in March when the first breach was revealed that it was looking into the matter, but a spokesman did not have any other update on that investigation.


Also this ...

New polling suggests Liberal and New Democrat voters think Jean Charest or Patrick Brown would make the best leader of the federal Conservative party. 

The online survey by the research firm Leger asked respondents which of the six candidates in the running they believe would make the best leader of the party, which will unveil its new leader Sept. 10. 

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque says one of the issues they come across when they poll Canadians about a party leadership race is that roughly one-third appear indifferent. 

The data suggests 58 per cent of respondents answered they didn't know or picked none of the above when questioned on which candidate would make the best Conservative leader. 

When it came to Conservative voters, the polling suggests 23 per cent of respondents said they didn't know and only eight per cent selected none of the above. 

Of Tory voters who responded to the survey, data suggests 44 per cent of them believe Pierre Poilievre, the longtime Ottawa-area MP known for his attacks on the government and Bank of Canada over inflation, would make the best party leader.

Charest, Quebec's former premier, came in a distant second at 14 per cent among Conservative voters, according to the survey's findings, while the four other remaining candidates ranked much lower. 

Looking at respondents who back other political parties, Leger's data suggests 25 per cent of both federal Liberal and NDP voters feel Charest would make the best Conservative leader. 


And this too ...

Toronto police are set to release race-based statistics today on officers' use of force and strip searches.

Interim Police Chief James Ramer is scheduled to discuss the findings at a news conference this morning.

The statistics relate to incidents that took place in 2020, the first year the provincial government began collecting race-based data related to use of force from police services.

That move stemmed from legislation passed in 2017 that required several Ontario public sectors to start collecting data on race.

In the fall of 2019, the Toronto Police Services Board approved a policy on race-based data that would start with use of force and later extend to other police processes such as stops, searches, questioning and the laying of charges.

At the time, the board said the data would not be used to identify specific officers or manage their performance, but to "identify trends that contribute to professional development and organizational change."


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

The number and rate of U.S. abortions increased from 2017 to 2020 after a long decline, according to figures released Wednesday.

The report from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, counted more than 930,000 abortions in the U.S. in 2020. That's up from about 862,000 abortions in 2017, when national abortion figures reached their lowest point since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized the procedure countrywide.

About one in five pregnancies ended in abortion in 2020, according to the report, which comes as the Supreme Court appears ready to overturn that decision.

The number of women obtaining abortions illustrates a need and "underscores just how devastating a Supreme Court decision is going to be for access to an absolutely vital service,'' said Sara Rosenbaum, a George Washington University health law and policy professor.

Medication abortions, the two-drug combination sometimes called the "abortion pill,'' accounted for 54 per cent of U.S. abortions in 2020, the first time they made up more than half of abortions, Guttmacher said.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have pushed down the numbers in some states, according to the report. In New York, abortions increased from 2017 to 2019, then fell six per cent between 2019 and 2020. One in 10 clinics in New York paused or stopped abortion care in 2020. Texas saw a two per cent decrease between 2019 and 2020, coinciding with pandemic-related abortion restrictions in the state.

Elsewhere, the pandemic may have limited access to contraception, some experts said, or discouraged women from undertaking all the health care visits involved in a pregnancy.

Guttmacher conducts the nation's most comprehensive survey of abortion providers every three years. The tally is considered more complete than data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that omits several states including California, the nation's most populous state.


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

NAIROBI, Kenya _ A new study has found that Facebook has failed to catch Islamic State group and al-Shabab extremist content in posts aimed at East Africa as the region remains under threat from violent attacks and Kenya prepares to vote in a closely contested national election.

The two-year study by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue found Facebook posts that openly supported IS or the Somalia-based al-Shabab _ even ones carrying al-Shabab branding and calling for violence in languages including Swahili, Somali and Arabic _ were allowed to be widely shared.

The report expresses particular concern with narratives linked to the extremist groups that accuse Kenyan government officials and politicians of being enemies of Muslims, who make up a significant part of the East African nation's population. The report notes that "xenophobia toward Somali communities in Kenya has long been rife.''

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab has been described as the deadliest extremist group in Africa, and it has carried out high-profile attacks in recent years in Kenya far from its base in neighbouring Somalia.

The new study found no evidence of Facebook posts that planned specific attacks, but its authors and Kenyan experts warn that allowing even general calls to violence is a threat to the closely contested August presidential election. Already, concerns about hate speech around the vote, both online and off, are growing.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue found 445 public profiles, some with duplicate accounts, sharing content linked to the two extremist groups and tagging more than 17,000 other accounts. Among the narratives shared were accusations that Kenya and the United States are enemies of Islam, and among the posted content was praise by al-Shabab's official media arm for the killing of Kenyan soldiers.

Concerns about Facebook's monitoring of content are global, say critics.

"As we have seen in India, the United States, the Philippines, Eastern Europe and elsewhere, the consequences of failing to moderate content posted by extremist groups and supporters can be deadly, and can push democracy past the brink,'' the watchdog The Real Facebook Oversight Board said of the new report, adding that Kenya at the moment is a "microcosm of everything that's wrong'' with Facebook owner Meta.

"The question is, who should ask Facebook to step up and do its work?'' asked Leah Kimathi, a Kenyan consultant in governance, peace and security, who suggested that government bodies, civil society and consumers all can play a role. "Facebook is a business. The least they can do is ensure that something they're selling to us is not going to kill us.''


On this day in 2012 ...

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith declared the laws banning doctor-assisted suicide are unconstitutional, but also suspended her ruling for one year to give Parliament time to draft new legislation. She also granted ALS sufferer Gloria Taylor an exemption in her ruling, allowing her to seek a physician-assisted suicide during the one-year period if she wanted. But Taylor died unexpectedly in early October of an infection resulting from a perforated colon. (In October 2013, B.C.'s Court of Appeal reversed the decision. In 2015, the Supreme Court struck down the prohibition and a law was passed in June 2016.)


In entertainment ...

TORONTO _ New albums from Arcade Fire, The Weeknd and Shad are among those longlisted for this year's Polaris Music Prize.

The juried award for best Canadian album of the year was narrowed down to 40 contenders who will now vie for a spot on the short list, to be revealed July 14.

Other artists in the running include Haisla Nation rap duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids, masked country singer Orville Peck and Toronto punk band Pup.

Previous Polaris winners Tanya Tagaq, Haviah Mighty and Backxwash each made the list with their latest projects.

The Polaris Music Prize awards $50,000 to the artist or group that created the best Canadian album of the previous year _ irrespective of genre or sales _ as chosen by a group of journalists, broadcasters and bloggers.

Last year, the prize went to hip hop artist Cadence Weapon for "Parallel World,'' his poetic reflection on race, policing and technology that was largely inspired by the George Floyd protests in 2020.

The long list was selected from 223 albums that made the first ballots.

The Polaris winner will be announced Sept. 19 at a gala presentation held at Toronto's Carlu, and webcast on CBC Music. The other short list nominees each receive $3,000.


Did you see this?

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. _ As a plane carrying 177 Ukrainian refugees touched down in St. John's, N.L., Tuesday night, Pamela Ryder Lahey was at the front of the crowd inside the airport waiting for five young people to walk through the gates.

The retired chief executive officer of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court has spent the past months securing the five 21-year-old graduate students a spot at Memorial University in St. John's. She also found them a four-bedroom house and raised enough money to ensure their rent was paid, their fridge was stocked and their beds were warm and waiting.

"We are here because of this great woman,'' said Angelina Schevchenko, pulling Ryder Lahey into a tight hug. Schevchenko said she was thrilled to be in Newfoundland, where she'll start a master's degree in social enterprise and entrepreneurship.

But it was also hard to leave her homeland, she said, and the four others she travelled with agreed.

"We miss Ukraine,'' Schevchenko said.

The plane Tuesday was the second airlift chartered by the Newfoundland and Labrador government to bring Ukrainians fleeing Russian attacks to Canada's easternmost province. The first arrived on May 9, carrying 166 passengers.

The plane departed from Warsaw, Poland, where the province set up a satellite office in March to help Ukrainians resettle in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Immigration Minister Gerry Byrne was at the airport to welcome each person, family and pet. With the 177 people arriving Tuesday night, Byrne said the province has welcomed 478 refugees since the Russian army first advanced on Feb. 24.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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