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E-learning for Peel Region schools; Broncos crash tribute: In The News for April 6

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 April 6 ... What we are watching in Canada ...

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 April 6 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Schools in Peel Region are closed for in-person learning starting today.

Dr. Lawrence Loh, the region's medical officer of health, has ordered schools in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga to move classes online.

The closure will remain in place until April 18 and Loh says it may be extended if necessary.

The top doctor in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph public health unit has ordered all schools to stop in-person learning starting tomorrow, with classes to return no sooner than April 19.

In Toronto, the public health unit says it has recommended the closure of 20 schools as COVID-19 cases are investigated.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association have also asked for schools in virus hot spots to move classes online until teachers can be vaccinated.


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Ryan G. Hinds longs for the days of walking through the halls of a theatre and seeing musicians warm up, stage managers chit-chatting and technicians sharing a piece of licorice before a show.

It's been a long year for the 42-year-old Toronto actor and cabaret performer, who has watched how a safety net for unemployed workers has failed to catch gig workers like Hinds.

The place of gig workers has become a key issue in ongoing deliberation on how the decades-old employment insurance system will be updated.

There is general agreement that the social safety net program created eight decades ago needs to be adapted to cover gig workers when they fall on hard times.

Questions exist at the practical level, such as how to calculate premiums and benefits, in addition to policy concerns about determining when someone needs aid, given that the nature of gig employment includes ups and downs.

"EI has to join the 21st century because to me, an EI that doesn't cover everybody isn't a functional or realistic or fair or useful EI," said Hinds, who uses the pronoun they.

The April 19 budget could signal where the government is heading, particularly as it lays out federal expectations for premiums paid by employers and employees, and benefits to be paid out, over the coming years.


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

The Minneapolis police chief testified Monday that now-fired Officer Derek Chauvin violated departmental policy — and went against “our principles and the values that we have” — in pressing his knee on George Floyd’s neck and keeping him down after Floyd had stopped resisting and was in distress.

Continuing to kneel on Floyd's neck once he was handcuffed behind his back and lying on his stomach was “in no way, shape or form” part of department policy or training, "and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values,” Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said on Day Six of Chauvin's murder trial.

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

While police have long been accused of closing ranks to protect fellow members of the force charged with wrongdoing — the “blue wall of silence,” as it’s known — some of the most experienced officers in the Minneapolis department have taken the stand to openly condemn Chauvin’s treatment of Floyd.

As jurors watched in rapt attention and scribbled notes, Arradondo testified not only that Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the force, should have let Floyd up sooner, but that the pressure on Floyd’s neck did not appear to be light to moderate, as called for under the department's neck-restraint policy; that Chauvin failed in his duty to render first aid before the ambulance arrived; and that he violated policy requiring officers to de-escalate tense situations with no or minimal force if they can.

“That action is not de-escalation," the police chief said. "And when we talk about the framework of our sanctity of life and when we talk about our principles and the values that we have, that action goes contrary to what we are talking about.”


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

Steam and lava spurted Monday from a new fissure at an Icelandic volcano that began erupting last month, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of hikers who had come to see the spectacle.

The new fissure, first spotted by a sightseeing helicopter, was about 500 metres (550 yards) long and about a kilometre (around a half-mile) from the original eruption site in the Geldinga Valley.

The Icelandic Department of Emergency Management announced an immediate evacuation of the area. It said there was no imminent danger to life due to the site’s distance form popular hiking paths.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said the new volcanic activity wasn't expected to affect traffic at nearby Keflavik Airport.

The long-dormant volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwest Iceland flared to life March 20 after tens of thousands of earthquakes were recorded in the area in the past three weeks. It was the area’s first volcanic eruption in nearly 800 years.

The volcano’s proximity to Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík, about 32 kilometres (20 miles) away, has brought a steady stream of tourists to the area, even with the country in partial lockdown to combat the coronavirus. Around 30,000 people have visited the area since the eruption began, according to the Icelandic Tourist Board.


Also this...

Ten officials have been indicted in Iran over the 2020 military shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane that killed 176 people, Iranian media reported Tuesday, an announcement coming just as Tehran begins indirect negotiations with the West over its collapsed nuclear deal with world powers.

The timing of the announcement comes after Iran faced withering international criticism last month for releasing a final report into the shootdown of Ukraine International Airlines flight No. PS752 that blamed human error but named no one responsible for the incident.

Tehran military prosecutor Gholamabbas Torki made the comment Tuesday while handing over his office to Nasser Seraj. The semiofficial ISNA news agency and the Iranian judiciary's Mizan news agency both reported the remarks, without elaborating.

Following three days of denial in January 2020 in the face of mounting evidence, Iran finally acknowledged that its forces mistakenly downed the Ukrainian jetliner with two surface-to-air missiles. In preliminary reports on the disaster last year, Iranian authorities blamed an air defence operator who they said mistook the Boeing 737-800 for an American cruise missile.

The shootdown happened the same day Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on U.S. troops in Iraq in retaliation for an American drone strike that killed a top Iranian general.


On this day in 1851 ...

The Canadian government took over the country's postal system from Britain.


In sports news ...

A virtual tribute is planned for today to mark the third anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

Sixteen people died and 13 were injured when a semi-trailer ran a stop sign and into the path of the junior hockey team's bus near Tisdale, Sask., on April 6, 2018.

The service from St. Augustine Catholic Church is to be livestreamed on the city of Humboldt's Facebook page.

It's to involve lighted candles and tolling church bells, followed by a moment of silence at 4:50 p.m., about the time the crash occurred.

The mayor has deemed today '2017-18 Humboldt Broncos Day' and would like to see that continued every April 6.

Meanwhile, the City of Humboldt says it has a plan to permanently commemorate the deadly Broncos bus crash.

The preliminary plan from the Broncos Memorial Committee includes a $25-million tribute centre, which is to have a gallery honouring the victims as well as an arena and a fitness and physiotherapy area.

"Committee members recognized there was an opportunity to do more than just build a simple, solemn memorial to those who are lost," said Humboldt city manager Joe Day at a news conference Monday.

"There was the opportunity also to celebrate what each of those who were lost really stood for, to celebrate the outpouring of support from around the world, to build something that could benefit the community for generations."



A former student of an all-boys Catholic school is suing Toronto police over a sexual assault investigation the teen alleges was negligent and resulted in "baseless charges" against a victim.

The teen launched a $1-million suit against the Toronto Police Services Board and several officers for their role in a sexual assault investigation at St. Michael's College School in 2018.

The boy, who cannot be named due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act but goes by John Doe in the court documents, said he was not involved in the sexual assault of a member of the school's football team on Nov. 7, 2018.

Later that month, police laid several charges against the teen, including sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon.

The Crown dropped the charges against the boy in August 2019.

The teen's lawyer said his client had been the victim of sexual assault in a similar incident and he felt revictimized by police.

"He was the victim of a brutal sexual assault," said the teen's lawyer, Justin Linden. "And instead of receiving the support he should have received at the outset, he was mistakenly charged by the police with participating in another sexual assault, was taken into custody, his parents had to hire a criminal lawyer, and he was completely innocent."

The Toronto Police Services Board declined to comment.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2021

The Canadian Press

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