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Vaccine shipment and Canadian on death row : In The News for Apr. 5 – The Record (New Westminster)

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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 Apr. 5 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA – More than two million doses of vaccines are set to arrive in Canada this week as the country scrambles to contain the wildfire spread of more contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus.

That includes the first batch of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines — 316,800 doses — to be sent to Canada from the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as the COVAX Facility.

In addition to the COVAX supply, Canada is to receive 1,019,070 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 855,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine over the next seven days.

The country is on track to receive a total of 44 million doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines by Canada Day.

The federal government is promising that every Canadian who wants to be inoculated against COVID-19 will be fully vaccinated by the end of September.

Canada passed a grim milestone Saturday, recording more than one million cases of COVID-19 since the virus hit the country in January last year.

As of midday Sunday, 23,043 Canadians had died from the disease.

Also this …

OTTAWA – An internal Defence Department report says an errant test on one of Canada’s four beleaguered submarines last year caused permanent damage to the vessel that will continue to pose a risk over the long term.

Obtained by The Canadian Press through Access to Information, the report says one of HMCS Corner Brook’s main ballast tanks ruptured last spring when a contractor tried to drain it faster by applying air pressure after a test.

The report written in August underscores the importance of the main ballast tanks, noting that a malfunction could keep the submarine from being able to dive or surface quickly in an emergency.

But while the report says fully repairing the damage would both be impractical and expensive, the partial repairs being planned could still leave a degree of risk that the Navy will need to monitor.

Canada’s top military procurement official says the ballast tank has been repaired and passed testing since the report was written, and that the Corner Brook is expected back in the water this summer.

Troy Crosby adds that the Navy will not sail the sub if it believes there’s an undue risk, but he won’t say what limitations the vessel will have as a result of the damage.

And this …

RED DEER, Alta – The fate of an Alberta man on death row in Montana could become more tenuous, as the state is close to removing obstacles that prevent it from resuming executions.

Ronald Smith, who is originally from Red Deer, Alberta., has been on death row since 1983.

He and an accomplice shot and killed two young Indigenous men, while high on L-S-D and alcohol, near East Glacier, Montana in 1982.

All executions have been stayed in Montana since 2015, because the state requires the use of a ultra-fast-acting barbiturate, which is no longer available.

But the Montana house of representatives has passed a bill amending the protocol to any substance in a lethal quantity sufficient to cause death.

It is to be voted on by the senate later this week.

Opponents are trying to convince members of the senate to vote down the bill.

Smith’s daughter, Carmen Blackburn, says having her father wait for nearly four decades amounts to torture.

She says she wants him to allowed to serve a life sentence at home in Canada.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — Corporations have given more than $50 million in recent years to state lawmakers who have seized on Donald Trump’s lies about a stolen 2020 election to push for new restrictions on the right to vote. 

That’s according to a new report by the government watchdog non-profit Public Citizen. 

Telecom-giant AT&T was the most prolific giver, donating over $800,000 since 2015 to authors of proposed restrictions, cosponsors of such measures, or those who voted in favour of the bills. 

Other top givers during the same period include cable provider Comcast, tobacco company Philip Morris, insurance giant United Health, Walmart, Verizon, General Motors and drugmaker Pfizer.   

And this …

MINNEAPOLIS  — The trial of a former Minneapolis police officer in George Floyd’s death is expected to turn today toward the fired officer’s training after a first week dominated by emotional testimony from eyewitnesses and devastating video of his arrest. 

Derek Chauvin is charged with murder and manslaughter in the May 25 death of Floyd.

Chauvin, who is white, is accused of pinning his knee on the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, as Floyd lay face-down in handcuffs outside a corner market. 

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo is expected to testify as early as today. 

Arradondo, the city’s first Black chief, fired Chauvin and three other officers the day after Floyd’s death, and in June called it “murder.”

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appeared in court for the resumption of his corruption trial. 

The evidentiary phase of the trial began today as Israel’s political parties met with the president to weigh in on who should form the next government following last month’s inconclusive elections. 

The March 23 vote was largely a referendum on Netanyahu but produced no clear verdict. 

Israel’s longest-serving prime minister faces charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust in three long-running corruption cases. 

He has dismissed the allegations as a “witch hunt” by hostile media and law enforcement.   

And this …

LEMBATA, Indonesia — Rescuers were being hampered by damaged bridges and roads and a lack of heavy equipment after torrential rains caused multiple disasters on remote eastern Indonesian islands. 

At least 55 people have died and more than 40 are missing in Indonesia. 

The tropical cyclone causing the damage is expected to continue affecting Indonesia and East Timor for days and later Australia. 

Rescuers recovered 38 bodies after a landslide tumbled down onto a village on Adonara island. 

Flash flooding killed at least 17 people elsewhere. 

At least 11 people died when cold lava tumbled into villages on Lembata island. 

Tropical Cyclone Seroja has produced high waves, strong winds and heavy rains for the past three days.

ICYMI …

The stars of “Schitt’s Creek” are getting recognition from their peers, taking home two Screen Actor Guild Awards on Sunday night. 

The cast of the Canadian sitcom won the award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series. 

Catherine O’Hara also nabbed the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series for her portrayal of Moira Rose. 

Father-son co-creators Eugene Levy and Dan Levy were both nominated for outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series, but were beat out by Jason Sudeikis for his role in “Ted Lasso.” 

“Schitt’s Creek” wrapped up its six-season run last year, when it swept the Emmy’s, winning all seven major comedy awards.

The show also took home best comedy series at the Golden Globes earlier this year, where O’Hara also won best actress in a comedy series. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Apr. 5, 2021

The Canadian Press

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Canada’s manufacturers ask for federal help as Montreal dockworkers stage partial-strike

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MONTREAL (Reuters) – Canada‘s manufacturers on Monday asked the federal government to curb a brewing labor dispute after dockworkers at the country’s second largest port said they will work less this week.

Unionized dockworkers, who are in talks for a new contract since 2018, will hold a partial strike starting Tuesday, by refusing all overtime outside of their normal day shifts, along with weekend work, they said in a statement on Monday.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Quebec’s 1,125 longshore workers at the Port of Montreal rejected a March offer from the Maritime Employers Association.

The uncertainty caused by the labour dispute has led to an 11% drop in March container volume at the Montreal port on an annual basis, even as other eastern ports in North America made gains, the Maritime Employers Association said.

The move will cause delays in a 24-hour industry, the association said.

“Some manufacturers have had to redirect their containers to the Port of Halifax, incurring millions in additional costs every week,” said Dennis Darby, chief executive of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME).

While the government strongly believes a negotiated agreement is the best option for all parties, “we are actively examining all options as the situation evolves,” a spokesman for Federal Labor Minister Filomena Tassi said.

Last summer’s stoppage of work cost wholesalers C$600 million ($478 million) in sales over a two-month period, Statistics Canada estimates.

($1 = 1.2563 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal. Additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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Canada scraps export permits for drone technology to Turkey, complains to Ankara

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OTTAWA (Reuters) –Canada on Monday scrapped export permits for drone technology to Turkey after concluding that the equipment had been used by Azeri forces fighting Armenia in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said.

Turkey, which like Canada is a member of NATO, is a key ally of Azerbaijan, whose forces gained territory in the enclave after six weeks of fighting.

“This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey,” Garneau said in a statement, adding he had raised his concerns with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier in the day.

Ottawa suspended the permits last October so it could review allegations that Azeri drones used in the conflict had been equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, the Canada-based unit of L3Harris Technologies Inc.

In a statement, the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa said: “We expect our NATO allies to avoid unconstructive steps that will negatively affect our bilateral relations and undermine alliance solidarity.”

Earlier on Monday, Turkey said Cavusoglu had urged Canada to review the defense industry restrictions.

The parts under embargo include camera systems for Baykar armed drones. Export licenses were suspended in 2019 during Turkish military activities in Syria. Restrictions were then eased, but reimposed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Turkey’s military exports to Azerbaijan jumped sixfold last year. Sales of drones and other military equipment rose to $77 million in September alone before fighting broke out in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, data showed.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Gareth Jones and Peter Cooney)

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Investigation finds Suncor’s Colorado refinery meets environmental permits

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By Liz Hampton

DENVER (Reuters) – A Colorado refinery owned by Canadian firm Suncor Energy Inc meets required environmental permits and is adequately funded, according to an investigation released on Monday into a series of emissions violations at the facility between 2017 and 2019.

The 98,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in the Denver suburb of Commerce City, Colorado, reached a $9-million settlement with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) March 2020 to resolve air pollution violations that occurred since 2017. That settlement also addressed an incident in December 2019 that released refinery materials onto a nearby school.

As part of the settlement, Suncor was required to use a third party to conduct an independent investigation into the violations and spend up to $5 million to implement recommendations from the investigation.

Consulting firm Kearney’s investigation found the facility met environmental permit requirements, but also pinpointed areas for improvement, including personnel training and systems upgrades, some of which was already underway.

“We need to improve our performance and improve the trust people have in us,” Donald Austin, vice president of the Commerce City refinery said in an interview, adding that the refinery had already undertaken some of the recommendations from the investigation.

In mid-April, Suncor will begin a turnaround at the facility that includes an upgrade to a gasoline-producing fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) at Plant 1 of the facility. That turnaround is anticipated to be complete in June 2021.

Suncor last year completed a similar upgrade of an automatic shutdown system for the FCCU at the refinery’s Plant 2.

By 2023, the company will also install an additional control unit, upgraded instrumentation, automated shutdown valves and new hydraulic pressure units in Plant 2.

Together, those upgrades will cost approximately $12 million, of which roughly $10 million is dedicated to Plant 2 upgrades, Suncor said on Monday.

 

(Reporting by Liz Hampton; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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