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As Georgia runoff wraps, Supreme Court considers who wields America’s election power



Another day, another interesting intersection for modern American democracy — this one between the 2022 campaign trail, the perennial search for election integrity, and the road to the highest court in the United States.

Protesters plan to gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court today as North Carolina Republicans seek to persuade the high court of the near-absolute power they believe state legislatures have to regulate federal elections.

Conservative lawmakers hope to strike down a North Carolina Supreme Court ruling that used the state constitution as the basis to reject a congressional map for the 2022 midterms that overwhelmingly favoured Republicans.

That the right-leaning Supreme Court is willing to entertain what’s known as the “independent state legislature” theory says a lot about the current political moment, said Duke University professor Asher Hildebrand.


“This radical theory has no basis in history, no basis in legal precedent and no basis in common sense,” said Hildebrand, an associate professor at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

Should the challenge succeed, critics say it would undermine established norms for administering presidential elections, and likely upend state efforts to prevent the sort of partisan gerrymandering at the heart of the North Carolina case.

It could clear the way for more restrictive voting laws, spell the end of ranked ballots and non-partisan primaries and create a national patchwork of rules and regulations that brings with it a parade of court challenges, he said.

And then there’s the biggest fear: “Those who seek to subvert the will of American voters in future elections would view the decision as a green light to take their chances in a permissive legal environment.”

The outcome will be closely watched in several states, including Utah, Ohio, Kentucky and New Mexico, where Democrats and Republicans alike have filed lawsuits to dispute House district maps or challenge lower court rulings that protect them.

“This court should put a stop to the North Carolina judiciary’s usurpation of the General Assembly’s specifically enumerated constitutional authority to regulate the manner of congressional elections,” the applicants write in their Supreme Court brief.

“Anything less will surrender North Carolina’s 2022 elections to a congressional map that palpably violates the U.S. Constitution, rewarding judicial activism of the most brazen kind.”

The high-stakes arguments come after the final battle of the 2022 midterms, a runoff in Georgia made necessary by a 1964 state law originally intended to blunt the growing power of Black voters.

Ironically, both contenders in the Georgia runoff are Black: incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker, the former football star and friend to ex-president Donald Trump.

With 85 per cent of the ballots counted Tuesday, Warnock was nursing a narrow lead of about 7,000 votes, which if it were to hold would give Democrats a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate.

Of course, in the U.S. these days, elections don’t end just because all the votes have been counted.

Trump has made “election denier” a standard part of the American political lexicon by refusing to accept the results of the 2020 presidential contest — a trend that fuelled delays in Arizona, where it took until Monday for officials to finally certify the results of last month’s midterm elections.

Defeated Republican gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake has promised to fight those results all the way to the Supreme Court, where some fear the 6-3 conservative majority makes the justices more receptive to such challenges.

Walker refused to answer questions Tuesday about whether he would concede a loss.

Even if the former president were to change his ways, the post-campaign denial tactic wouldn’t go away any time soon, said Matthew Lebo, a political science professor at Western University in London, Ont.

“It might go down a little bit, but he didn’t invent it,” Lebo said.

“If Trump were to sail into the sunset tomorrow, you’d still have Kari Lake and a lot of crazies in the House and the Senate, and a lot of governors who deny elections.”

Trump went even further Saturday than he typically does, using his Truth Social platform to call for “the termination of all rules, regulations and articles, even those found in the constitution” in order to get his old job back.

That has been making it difficult — but not impossible — for prominent Republicans on Capitol Hill to avoid denouncing the former and would-be future presidential hopeful.

“Anyone seeking the presidency who thinks that the constitution could somehow be suspended or not followed, it seems to me, would have a very hard time being sworn in as president of the United States,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell stopped short of saying he would not support Trump if he became the Republican nominee.

McConnell was on hand Tuesday for another stark reminder of the fragility of the American experiment, this one a stirring congressional gold medal ceremony for police officers who confronted rioters on Jan. 6, 2021.

Relatives of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries he sustained in the riot, refused to shake hands with McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Family members later said they remain angry over the failure of senior Republicans to aggressively denounce Trump’s steadfast refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election.

“We admire and respect them,” McConnell said when asked about the snub. “They laid their lives on the line. And that’s why we gave a gold medal today to the heroes of Jan. 6.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.


Canadian assessment team deployed to Turkey after earthquake



Canadian assessment team deployed to Turkey

A senior government official says a Canadian assessment team is on its way to Turkey to determine how Canada can contribute to earthquake relief efforts.

International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan was expected to formally announce the deployment of the Canadian Disaster Assessment Team this evening.

The senior official, who spoke on background pending Sajjan’s official confirmation, said the team consists of a handful of military and Global Affairs officials.

The official underscored that the deployment of the team does not automatically guarantee a further deployment of Canadian resources to the country.


The earthquake, which razed thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria on Monday, is one of the deadliest quakes worldwide in more than a decade and the federal government is facing criticism that the window to help with rescue efforts is closing.

Search teams from more than two dozen countries have joined tens of thousands of local emergency personnel and Canadian humanitarian aid workers with charitable organizations were arriving Wednesday

Defence Minister Anita Anand said late Tuesday that the federal government had not ruled out sending a Disaster Assistance Response Team, to help with the recovery effort, but that it was working to figure out what would be most useful.

The assessment team would recommend whether to send additional support, such as a DART.

Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government would match funds donated to Canadian Red Cross relief efforts up to $10 million on top of an initial aid package of $10 million.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2023.

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Canadian soccer player describes the horror of the earthquake in Turkey



Canadian soccer player

Canadian soccer player Sam Adekugbe is one of the lucky ones. He managed to escape earthquake-ravaged Antakya in Turkey.

Some of his teammates and staff at his club Hatayspor are still missing.

The 28-year-old from Calgary is now safe in Istanbul with Canada captain Atiba Hutchinson, who plays in the Turkish Super Lig for Besiktas. But in a Zoom call Wednesday sitting next to Hutchinson, a sombre Adekugbe told a harrowing tale of being caught in the quake — and the horror of what he saw in the aftermath.

“Unfathomable. Something you never really expect,” said Adekugbe, who looked shell-shocked.


Adekugbe was relaxing at home with some teammates after a 1-0 win over visiting Kasimpasa in a Turkish league game Sunday evening. The quake began as he started cleaning up his home when they left.

He started shaking, which initially made him think he was having a panic attack. Then the furniture and TV began to tip over and cups and dishes smashed in the kitchen.

He went outside to find the road split and people yelling amid freezing rain and lighting strikes. After witnessing the damage around his home, he drove the 20 minutes to the team training ground, seeing the devastation along the way.

“It just felt like a movie. You’re seeing collapsed buildings, fires. People yelling, people crying,” he said. “People digging through the rubble. Broken pieces of houses. Just things you never really expect.”

It got worse the closer he got to the centre of the city, which is located 1,100 kilometres southeast of Istanbul in a region bordered by the Mediterranean and Syria.

“Roads split. Bridges broken. Twelve-storey highrises just completely collapsed. Families looking for loved ones. Parents looking for their kids. Kids looking for their parents. It was just something unfathomable. Something you never really expect.”

Adekugbe says people are still missing, including the team’s sporting director, Taner Savut. There is confusion over the whereabouts of Ghana international Christian Atsu, who was at Adekugbe’s home that night.

Reports of Atsu being rescued are now in doubt, said Adekugbe, who joined the search for survivors after getting to the training ground.

“It’s also people who work around the team,” Adekugbe said.

He says one of the team’s equipment men died in the quake. So did the daughters and mother of a woman who works in the team kitchen.

The wife of another equipment man needs urgent medical attention, facing having her arm amputated if she doesn’t get it.

“Of course I’m thankful that a lot of my teammates have been found. But the people that do help the team, the people who work around the club, they still have loved ones that are missing and unaccounted for. Really it starts to hit home when you just see the agony, the desperation on their faces,” he said.

In the light of day, the horror grew.

“You’re looking through rubble trying to find your teammates. You’re trying to yell for them in like darkened spaces of apartments that used to be standing,” Adekugbe said. “It’s just something you never find yourself doing. People coming back with broken bones. People still missing to this day. It’s something you can’t really explain.”

Adekugbe and some of his teammates managed to get out thanks to his coach, Volkan Demirel, who used to play for Fenerbahce, another Turkish club based in Istanbul. He called the Fenerbahce president who organized a plane departing from a city about a 150-minute drive away.

Adekugbe and other Hatayspor players and staff were bused to the waiting plane, which took them to Istanbul.

“We were very lucky,” Adekugbe said.

“I just grabbed what I could … I have three suitcases and my dog.”

Hutchinson was waiting to take him in. Adekugbe had called him in the aftermath of the quake, showing him the damage via FaceTime.

He called his parents when he got to the training ground.

Antakya is renowned for its cuisine, which has many Middle Eastern influences. UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has designated Antakya as a “city of gastronomy.”

Adekugbe, who joined Hatayspor in June 2021 from Norway’s Valerenga Fotball, has won 37 caps for Canada and saw action in all three of Canada’s games at the World Cup in Qatar.

Born in London, England, he was three when his family moved to Manchester and 10 when it came to Calgary.

At 16, he moved to Vancouver to join the Whitecaps residency program. He signed a homegrown contract with the MLS team in 2013 but made just 16 appearances for the team over the next four seasons, spending much of the time out on loan.

Adekugbe had loans stints with Brighton in the English Championship and Sweden’s IFK Goteborg before joining Valerenga in January 2018.

While Istanbul escaped quake damage, Hutchinson’s concern for Adekugbe grew when internet connection was lost and a second quake hit.

Both players urged Canadians to donate to relief organizations to help the region and its people.

“There’s a lot of people that are still under the rubble,” Hutchinson said.

“People are just really in bad conditions right now,” he added. “It’s really cold here. Just making it through the day and the night, it’s extremely difficult.”

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2023.

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How much money is needed to retire in Canada



Canadians now believe they need $1.7 million in savings in order to retire, a 20 per cent increase from 2020, according to a new BMO survey.

The eye-watering figure is the largest sum since BMO first started surveying Canadians about their retirement expectations 13 years ago. It’s also a drastic increase from the $1.4 million in savings Canadians expected to need for their nest eggs just two years ago.

The results reflect Canadians’ concerns about current economic conditions, particularly inflation and higher prices, said Caroline Dabu, head of wealth distribution and advisory services for BMO Financial Group.

“If you look at the average Canadian, they’re feeling the rising inflation costs,” said Dabu.


“And so, not surprisingly, we are seeing that Canadians are feeling they absolutely will need more to retire.”

Canada’s annual inflation rate hit a four-decade high of 8.1 per cent in the summer of 2022 and has since fallen to 6.3 per cent as of December 2022. BMO Economics expects the country’s CPI to decline to around three per cent by the end of the year.

The sharp increase to Canada’s inflation rate in 2022 exceeded wage gains, eroding purchasing power for most families and heightening fears about the future. The BMO survey found that just 44 per cent of Canadians are confident they will have enough money to retire as planned — a 10 per cent decrease from 2020.

But while the $1.7 million figure may sound overwhelming to working-age Canadians, Dabu said the number says more about the economic mood of the country than it does about real-life retirement necessities.

“Certainly when we’re working with clients, we find that many overestimate the number that they need to retire,” she said.

“It really does have to be taken at an individual level, because circumstances are very different … But $1.7 million, I would say, is high.”

While rising inflation may require tweaks to a retirement plan — such as contributing slightly more to savings each month if you’re a young worker, or making cash flow adjustments if you’re nearing the end of your working career — Dabu said these changes don’t necessarily have to be drastic.

When it comes to retirement planning, Dabu said, knowledge is power. By working with a professional financial advisor and making a plan that encompasses individual circumstances and goals, Canadians can come up with their own retirement savings number.

“In the survey, we note that 53 per cent of Canadians didn’t know how much they will need to retire,” Dabu said.

“That increased confidence comes from knowing the exact number that I need to save for, and how I’m going to get there.”

The BMO survey also found that approximately 22 per cent of Canadians plan to retire between the ages of 60 and 69, with an average age of 62.

Millennial and generation z Canadians are the most nervous about their ability to save and invest right now, the survey found. However, all age groups — 74 per cent of survey respondents — said they are concerned about how current economic conditions will affect their financial situation, and 59 per cent said economic conditions have affected their confidence in meeting their retirement goals.

The BMO survey was conducted between Nov. 4 and 7, 2022 by Pollara Strategic Insights via an online survey of 1,500. The survey’s margin of error is plus/minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2023.


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