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U.S. election day and a Trump impersonator in Canada: In The News for Nov. 3, 2020 – CityNews Toronto

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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 Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 …

What we are watching in Canada …

People across Canada will be gathering tonight to watch the results of the divisive U.S. presidential election.

Watching particularly closely will be Americans living here.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, most get-togethers will be virtual but some in-person events are planned.

A spokeswoman for Democrats Abroad says the organization is holding a Canada-wide Zoom watch party. She says more than 400 people have said they will attend with others expected to join as well.

Several pubs and restaurants across the Prairies are hosting some form of election-night party.

It’s unlikely, however, that even those hanging in all night will know whether Republican President Donald Trump keeps the White House or loses it to Democrat former vice-president Joe Biden. Most experts believe it will still take days if not months to get the final results of the vote.

Also this …

A new poll from Leger and the Association of Canadian Studies says a clear majority of Canadians surveyed worry that the U.S. will fall apart if no clear winner emerges in today’s presidential election.

The Leger poll found that three-quarters of those surveyed are worried about the election, and 68 per cent worry that there will be a “complete breakdown of the political system in the U.S. leading to a period of social chaos.”

The survey found that the possibility of significant civil unrest or violence in the streets on election day or the following days worried 77 per cent of respondents, while 72 per cent were concerned that Trump wouldn’t accept the election result if he lost, and 62 per cent were worried about a stock market crash.

Four out of five respondents said they were concerned that increased racial tension would lead to protests and violence.

The poll also left no doubt who Canadians want to win the White House — 80 per cent favoured Democrat Joe Biden.

The survey of 1,516 Canadians was conducted using an online panel between Oct. 30 and Nov. 1.

More Canadian news …

CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island’s governing Progressive Conservatives have won a crucial byelection that will transform their minority government into a slim majority.

With the election of Zack Bell in the district of Charlottetown-Winsloe, the Tories will now have 14 seats to the combined 13 held by opposition parties.

Premier Dennis King has said his government would continue to take a collaborative approach if the Tories formed a majority.

Going into Monday’s vote, the Tories had 13 seats while the Greens under Peter Bevan-Baker had eight seats and the Liberals under interim leader Sonny Gallant had five.

In the 2019 general election, the Tory candidate in Charlottetown-Winsloe finished third behind the Green candidate and the winning Liberal, Robert Mitchell, who stepped down last month after representing the riding for 13 years.

Bell took slightly more than 49 per cent of the votes compared with 27 per cent for Green party candidate Chris van Ouwerkerk, 22 per cent for Liberal Zac Murphy, and one per cent for New Democrat Lynne Thiele.

Nearly 40 per cent of registered voters cast ballots during three days of advance voting for the byelection, and another 5.6 per cent voted by mail.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

VIENNA — Austrian authorities say five people died, including an assailant, and 17 others were wounded in a shooting in the heart of Vienna hours before a coronavirus lockdown started. 

The country’s interior minister says the dead attacker was a 20-year-old Austrian-North Macedonian dual national who had a previous terror conviction. 

Karl Nehammer says two men and two women have died from their injuries in the attack Monday evening. The suspected attacker was shot and killed by police. 

Vienna’s hospital service said seven people are in life-threatening condition today after the attack.

On this day in 1978 …

Wayne Gretzky scored his first goal for the Edmonton Oilers in a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. The 17-year-old had been sold to the Oilers by the Indianapolis Racers the previous day. In his first game with Edmonton, Gretzky wore number 20 instead of 99 for the only time in his pro hockey career.

Health news …

Federal regulators have approved the first HIV self-test in Canada in a long-awaited move that experts have called critical to reaching people who don’t know they have the virus.

Health Canada granted a medical device licence on Monday to a one-minute, finger-prick blood test manufactured by Richmond, B.C.-based bioLytical Laboratories.

Canada follows dozens of other countries in greenlighting the technology, which has been endorsed by the World Health Organization as a tool to reduce the number of people with undiagnosed HIV.

The principal investigator of a study that was submitted to regulators as part of their review says the approval of HIV self-testing could “open incredible doors” to increasing access to life-extending treatments and preventing the spread of infection in Canada.

Dr. Sean Rourke, a scientist with the Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, says he’s working with community organizations across the country to launch a telehealth program in January that will distribute 60,000 self-tests and connect people with care.

Rourke says the need for self-testing has become even more important as a recent survey of roughly 300 front-line providers suggests the COVID-19 crisis has cut access to clinical HIV testing services nearly in half.

ICYMI …

LONDON, Ont. — A Canadian Donald Trump impersonator says business has been slow ever since COVID-19 shut down the U.S.-Canadian border.

Donald Rosso from London, Ont., goes by the stage name Billionaire Donald.

He is one of several Trump impersonators working around the world, and says his features are so similar to the real deal, he hardly has to put in any effort.

The 63-year-old is 11 years Trump’s junior, about an inch shorter, with the same build.

And his natural blond hair can be easily made to look like Trump’s famous comb-over.

Rosso says that before the pandemic, 99 per cent of his work was done in the United States.

Since the border shut down, most of his impersonations of Trump have been done virtually.

He says he’s hoping for a Trump win in tomorrow’s election and a quick reopening of the border so his business can be booming again.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Commander leading COVID vaccine rollout leaves pending investigation

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A top military commander tasked with Canada‘s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has unexpectedly left his assignment pending the results of a military investigation, a government statement said on Friday.

Major-General Dany Fortin was brought in by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to lead Canada‘s vaccine distribution in November, describing the effort as the greatest mobilization effort the country has seen since World War Two.

The brief statement did not elaborate on the nature of the investigation. Acting Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant-General Eyre will be reviewing next steps with Fortin, the statement added.

Fortin, who has decades of experience including in warzones, was a key fixture of the government’s vaccine briefings and his team coordinated the logistical challenge of reaching vaccines to Canada‘s far-flung places.

Canada‘s vaccination campaign has picked up pace after a rocky start, with some 43.1% of the country’s population receiving at least one dose.

 

(Reporting by Denny Thomas; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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Canada slams ‘unconscionable’ Iran conduct since airliner shootdown

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Canada on Thursday condemned Tehran’s “unconscionable” conduct since Iranian forces shot down an airliner last year, killing 176 people, including dozens of Canadians, and vowed to keep pressing for answers as to what really happened.

The comments by Foreign Minister Marc Garneau were among the strongest Ottawa has made about the January 2020 disaster.

“The behavior of the Iranian government has been frankly unconscionable in this past 15 months and we are going to continue to pursue them so we have accountability,” Garneau told a committee of legislators examining what occurred.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight shortly after it took off from Tehran Airport. Iran said its forces had been on high alert during a regional confrontation with the United States.

Iran was on edge about possible attacks after it fired missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the killing days before of its most powerful military commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a U.S. missile strike at Baghdad airport.

Garneau complained it had taken months of pressure for Iran, with which Canada does not have diplomatic relations, to hand over the flight recorders for independent analysis and said Tehran had still not explained why the airspace had not been closed at the time.

In March, Iran’s civil aviation body blamed the crash on a misaligned radar and an error by an air defense operator. Iran has indicted 10 officials.

At the time, Ukraine and Canada criticized the report as insufficient. But Garneau went further on Thursday, saying it was “totally unacceptable … they are laying the blame on some low-level people who operated a missile battery and not providing the accountability within the chain of command.”

Canada is compiling its own forensic report into the disaster and will be releasing it in the coming weeks, he said.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Mexican union was set to lose disputed GM workers’ vote

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General Motors Co workers in Mexico were on track to scrap the contract negotiated by one of the country’s biggest unions, according to a Mexican government report on a vote last month that led to a U.S. complaint under a new North American free trade deal.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration called for a probe into allegations that worker rights were denied at GM’s Silao pickup truck plant during the vote to ratify workers’ collective contract with the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM).

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday said he accepted the U.S. recommendation to make sure there would be no fraud in union votes, noting that many “irregularities” had been detected in the union-led vote at GM.

The CTM, which represents 4.5 million workers, is one of several traditional unions accused by workers and activists of putting business interests over workers’ rights.

A ministry report into the vote, reviewed by Reuters, shows that 1,784 workers cast ballots against keeping the CTM contract, while 1,628 workers voted to maintain it.

Allegations of interference – including the ministry’s findings that some blank ballots in union possession were cut in half – have raised suspicions among some activists and experts that the CTM may have been headed for a deeper defeat.

A follow-up vote, which the Labor Ministry ordered to take place within 30 days, could result in a wider margin against keeping the current contract, especially if more workers who were apathetic or scared of voting turned out the second time, said Alfonso Bouzas, a labor scholar at Mexico’s National Autonomous University.

“This whole new opportunity is going to awaken conscience and interest,” Bouzas said.

CTM’s national spokesman, Patricio Flores, said the union supported the regional trade deal and would comply with the law and whatever “would not harm investment in Mexico.”

He did not dispute the vote tally in the labor ministry report, but called for an investigation into the disputed proceeding before a second vote.

“We should listen to the voice of these workers and not let pressure from unions in the United States and Canada have influence right now,” CTM said in a statement.

‘DOESN’T SEEM RIGHT’

The ministry document showed that just over half of the 6,494 workers eligible to vote did so in the first of two days of voting, before labor inspectors halted the process.

If GM workers scrap their contract, either the CTM or a new union could negotiate new collective terms.

Many collective bargaining contracts in Mexico consist of deals between unions and companies without workers’ approval, which has helped keep Mexican hourly wages at a fraction of those in the United States.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which took effect last year and replaced the 1994 NAFTA, sought to strengthen worker rights in Mexico and slow migration of U.S. auto production south of the border.

GM has said it respects the rights of its employees to make decisions over collective bargaining, and that it was not involved in any alleged violations. It declined to comment on the Labor Ministry report.

GM has indicated that it is ready to shift away from the old system that had let companies in Mexico turn a blind eye to worker rights, said Jerry Dias, the head of Canada‘s largest private sector union, Unifor.

“The rules are changing and a company like GM is not going to get caught,” he said.

Dias said he hoped to personally monitor the follow-up vote at the Silao plant.

Contract ratification votes are required under Mexico’s 2019 labor reform, which underpins the renegotiated free trade pact, to ensure workers are not bound to contracts that were signed behind their backs.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Christian Plumb, Richard Pullin, Paul Simao and David Gregorio)

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