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A historic meeting and Canada at the World Cup: In The News for Mar. 28

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 Mar. 28 ... What we are watching in Rome ...

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 Mar. 28 ...

What we are watching in Rome ...

ROME — Métis and Inuit delegates are set to speak with Pope Francis at the Vatican in two separate meetings today.

The Métis delegates will have a one hour meeting with the Pope first and the Inuit encounter will follow.

Métis National Council President Cassidy Caron has said she hopes it is an opportunity to share stories from residential school survivors.

Caron adds she also hopes to talk about how Métis people are revitalizing their culture and how the church can support those efforts.

Natan Obed, the president of the national organization representing Inuit people, has said he hopes its an opportunity to get justice and hold accountable members of the church who harmed Indigenous children.

First Nations delegates will meet with the pontiff on Thursday.

All three groups of delegates will then gather with the Pope on Friday. All have expressed an expectation that the Pope will commit to apologizing for the Roman Catholic Church's role in residential schools during a trip to Canada.

An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools. More than 60 per cent of the schools were run by the Catholic Church.

There are a total of 32 Indigenous elders, leaders, survivors and youth taking part in the meetings at the Vatican. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has organized and is paying for the delegation, is also sending a handful of members.

Rev. Raymond Poisson, the group's president, has said he expects the meetings to allow Pope Francis to address the ongoing trauma and legacy of suffering faced by Indigenous people to this day.


What we are watching in Canada ...

OTTAWA — Ontario signed a $10.2 billion child-care deal with the federal government Sunday that will cut child-care fees in the province in half by the end of the year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford will announce the deal today in the Greater Toronto Area, according to sources from both governments with knowledge of the negotiations.

They all spoke to The Canadian Press on the condition they not be named due to the sensitive nature of the talks.

The Ontario deal is the last one needed to fulfil Trudeau's pledge to bring child-care fees down to an average of $10 a day in every province and territory by the end of 2026.

The 2021 federal budget earmarked $30 billion over five years to set up a long promised, but never delivered, national child-care program.

Ontario was holding out for more money and while they didn't get that, provincial sources say they secured more flexibility in when the funds are spent, which will allow them to hit the target of lowering fees to an average of $10 a day.

As well, they secured a review mechanism in year three that lets them provide an updated costing model and ask for more money to account for any shortfalls.


Also this ...

HALIFAX — The public inquiry investigating the mass shooting in Nova Scotia that claimed 22 lives resumes today with testimony expected from the first three RCMP officers to arrive at the chaotic scene in Portapique, N.S., on April 18, 2020.

The testimony will mark the first time the inquiry hears from anyone directly involved in the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history.

Lawyers for some of the victims' families have said they are worried the inquiry's rules will limit their ability to directly question the officers and other witnesses.

The inquiry's three commissioners have said participating lawyers must ask permission before they can cross-examine any witness, a rule that is unusual for public inquiries.

The three first responders scheduled to testify are constables Stuart Beselt, Adam Merchant and Aaron Patton, who have already provided previous, closed-door statements to the RCMP and the commission.

The RCMP and the union that represents officers had argued their members should be exempt from testifying because it would be too traumatic for them, but the commissioners rejected that request.

The trio, however, will not face regular questioning from inquiry lawyers. Instead, they will take part in a so-called witness panel, with the initial round of questions coming from the commission's counsel.

In their previous statements, the three officers confirmed that within minutes of arriving in Portapique at 10:25 p.m., they donned body armour, armed themselves with semi-automatic carbines and quickly moved into the dark, rural enclave where an active shooter had already killed several people.

Testimony is also expected later from five supervising RCMP officers and four senior Mounties, including RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki.


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

WASHINGTON — Russia’s war on Ukraine has most Americans at least somewhat worried the U.S. will be drawn directly into the conflict and could be targeted with nuclear weapons. 

That's according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that shows a level of anxiety that has echoes of the Cold War era. 

Close to half of Americans say they are very concerned Russia would directly target the U.S. with nuclear weapons, and three in 10 are somewhat concerned about that. 

The poll finds 71per cent of Americans say the invasion has increased the possibility of nuclear weapons being used anywhere in the world.


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

KYIV, Ukraine — With its aspirations for a quick victory dashed by a stiff Ukrainian resistance, Russia has increasingly focused on grinding down Ukraine's military in the east in the hope of forcing Kyiv into surrendering part of the country's territory to possibly end the war.

The bulk of the Ukrainian army is concentrated in eastern Ukraine, where it has been locked up in fighting with Moscow-backed separatists in a nearly eight-year conflict. If Russia succeeds in encircling and destroying the Ukrainian forces in the country's industrial heartland called Donbas, it could try to dictate its terms to Kyiv and, possibly, attempt to split the country in two.

The Russian military declared Friday that the “first stage of the operation” had been largely accomplished, allowing Russian troops to concentrate on their "top goal — the liberation of Donbas.”

Many observers say the shift in strategy could reflect President Vladimir Putin’s acknowledgment that his plan for a blitz in Ukraine has failed, forcing him to narrow his goals and change tactics amid a disastrous war that has turned Russia into a pariah and decimated its economy.

U.S. and British officials also have noted that Moscow has increasingly focused on fighting the Ukrainian forces in the east while digging in around Kyiv and other big cities and pummeling them with rockets and artillery.

The chief of Ukrainian military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, said Sunday the change of focus could reflect Putin’s hope to break Ukraine in two, like North and South Korea, and enforce “a line of separation between the occupied and unoccupied regions.”

“He can’t swallow the entire country,” Budanov said, adding that Russia appears to be trying “to pull the occupied territories into a single quasi-state structure and pit it against independent Ukraine.”

In sports ... 

TORONTO — Canadian soccer fans rejoiced upon seeing Canada's men's soccer team clinch a berth in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after a 4-0 win over Jamaica on Sunday at BMO Field.

This is just the second time Canada's men's soccer team has reached the World Cup in its history and the first time since 1986.

The World Cup is considered to be the most prestigious international soccer event in the world, taking place every four years.

The 2022 World Cup will take place from Nov. 21 to Dec. 18.

"In a way I've been waiting 36 years (for this moment), but it's been mostly the last 15-20 years when I've been watching it closely," said Rob Nootenboom, who travelled from Regina to witness Canada's clinching moment. "It feels like half my life, and I guess it is half my life, almost."

The scene at BMO Field was a festive one with fans coming into Sunday's game ready to celebrate knowing that Canada only needed to draw or outright beat Jamaica in order to see their team reach the World Cup.

"This is probably going to be one of the biggest sporting moments in the history of our country," said Bruce Rayakovich of Brampton, who jumped onto the bandwagon last June during Canada's World Cup qualifying campaign. "To be here for an event like that is just an unbelievable feeling."

The historic win drew reaction from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who Tweeted "That’s what I’m talking about! Congratulations to the Canada men’s national soccer team – taking us to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years." 


In entertainment ...

TORONTO — Newly minted Oscar-winner Patrice Vermette says his Academy Award win for production design on "Dune" is "a dream" come true.

The Montreal artist is one of two Canadians to take home Oscars at last night's star-studded bash in Hollywood.

Vermette won the best production design trophy for his work on "Dune," which was directed by longtime collaborator and Montreal director Denis Villeneuve.

Meanwhile, Halifax director Ben Proudfoot won best documentary short subject with his film "The Queen of Basketball." It's about Lucy Harris, the only woman to be drafted by the N-B-A.

Both won their awards at an hour-long ceremony just before the live broadcast on A-B-C and C-T-V, which included edited footage from the early celebration.

"Dune" director/producer Villeneuve was one of several Canadians chasing hardware for best picture, with Quebec producer Roger Frappier behind nominee "The Power of the Dog" and Toronto producer J. Miles Dale behind "Nightmare Alley."

The deaf family drama "CODA" from Apple T-V Plus ultimately took the top prize.


Did you see this?

LOS ANGELES — Will Smith marched on stage and smacked presenter Chris Rock in the face during last night’s Oscars after Rock made a joke about the appearance of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. 

Smith was awarded best actor for his role in “King Richard” moments later and while tearfully apologizing to the academy during his speech, he pointedly did not apologize to Rock.

The crowd at the Dolby Theatre hushed as Smith twice shouted at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth.” 

Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. 

Pinkett Smith revealed in 2018 that she was diagnosed with alopecia. 

She has often discussed the challenges of hair loss on Instagram and other social media platforms.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 28, 2022

The Canadian Press