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Latest federal poll numbers, Nova Scotia premier swearing in: In The News for Aug. 31

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 Aug. 31 ... 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 Aug. 31 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

A new poll suggests the Conservatives and NDP have momentum heading into the second half of the federal election campaign, while the Liberals are bleeding support.

Thirty-four per cent of decided voters who took part in the Leger survey said they support Erin O'Toole's Conservatives — ahead of the Liberals and up four percentage points since Aug. 16, when the campaign got underway.

Support for Jagmeet Singh's New Democrats is also up four points, to 24 per cent.

Support for Justin Trudeau's Liberals, meanwhile, is down five points to 30 per cent, while Green party support is down three points to two per cent.

In Quebec, support for the Bloc Québécois stands at 29 per cent, behind the Liberals at 33 per cent.

The online poll of 2,005 Canadians, conducted Aug. 27 to 30 in collaboration with The Canadian Press, cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.


Also this ...

Nova Scotia will welcome a new premier into office later today. 

Tim Houston is also set to name the members of his cabinet as he ushers in a new era in provincial politics. 

Houston led his Progressive Conservatives to a surprise win in the Aug. 17 provincial election, toppling Iain Rankin's Liberals and securing a majority mandate. 

He won by a wide margin after focusing his campaign on improving health care. 

Houston will name his cabinet during a ceremony at the Halifax Convention Centre at 2:30 p.m. local time.

Members of the legislative assembly were sworn in Monday during a ceremony at Province House.


And also this ...

When students return to Ontario classrooms after a year of pandemic-disrupted studies, a number of school boards say they will pay early attention to individual needs in order to address the phenomenon known as "learning loss." 

Several boards say they'll be assessing students when school resumes next week to get a sense of how much the children have retained since the last academic year, and where they most need support. 

Psychologist Todd Cunningham, who specializes in academic interventions for students with learning disabilities, says it's likely that students will be returning to school with a wide range of academic needs that schools should be prepared to meet. 

He says students have had unequal access to online learning during the pandemic and some have struggled more than others, leaving them disconnected from school for over a year and a half and threatening some core skills like reading and mathematics.

Cunningham recommends teachers take care to help students feel comfortable at school again before prioritizing coursework. 

The provincial government says its research into COVID-19's impact on students shows the need for a focus on early literacy and math as students return to class, as well as a need for mental health supports.

It says the research indicated Indigenous and Black students, those from low-income households, and students with disabilities and special education needs have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.


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

WASHINGTON — After two decades, the United States has completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending America’s longest war and closing a sad chapter in military history. 

It's likely to be remembered for colossal failures, unfulfilled promises and a frantic final exit that cost the lives of 13 service members, some barely older than the war. 

The last U.S. Air Force evacuation flight from Kabul airport late Monday marked the end of a frantic effort to get out Americans, Afghans and others desperate to escape the Taliban's return to power 20 years after they were ousted in a U.S.-led invasion. 

More than 2,400 Americans lost their lives in the long war.

In announcing the completion of the evacuation and war effort. Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said the last planes took off from Kabul airport at 3:29 p.m. Washington time, or one minute before midnight in Kabul. 

He said a number of American citizens, likely numbering in “the very low hundreds,” were left behind, and that he believes they will still be able to leave the country.

President Joe Biden said military commanders unanimously favoured ending the airlift, not extending it. He said he asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to co-ordinate with international partners in holding the Taliban to their promise of safe passage for Americans and others who want to leave in the days ahead.


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

BRUSSELS — The European Union has recommended that its 27 nations reinstate restrictions on tourists from the U.S. because of rising coronavirus infections there, but EU nations can still allow fully vaccinated U.S. travellers in if they want. 

The decision by the European Council to remove the U.S. from a safe list of countries for non-essential travel reverses its advice in June, when the bloc recommended lifting restrictions on U.S. travellers before the summer tourism season. 

The guidance is non-binding, though, and U.S. travellers should expect a mishmash of travel rules across the continent. 

The EU’s decision reflects growing anxiety that the rampant spread of the virus in the U.S. could jump to Europe at a time when Americans are allowed to travel to the continent. Both the EU and the U.S. have faced rising infections this summer, driven by the more contagious delta variant.

More than 15 million Americans a year visited Europe before the coronavirus crisis, and new travel restrictions could cost European businesses billions in lost travel revenues, especially in tourism-reliant countries like Croatia, which has been surprised by packed beaches and hotels this summer.

U.S. travellers would have to be immunized with one of the vaccines approved by the bloc, which includes Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson&Johnson. Possible restrictions on them could include quarantines, further testing requirements upon arrival or even a total ban on all non-essential travel from the U.S.

In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stressed Monday that the EU travel restrictions applied to the unvaccinated, adding that “the fastest path to reopening travel is for people to get vaccinated, to mask up and slow the spread of the deadly virus.”


On this day in 1988 ...

The Conservative majority in the House of Commons gave final approval to the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, with a vote of 177 to 64.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO — After lengthy delays and months of internet hype, Drake is promising his new album "Certified Lover Boy" will be out on Friday.

It is the Toronto rapper's first full-length album in three years.

Early Monday, Drake uploaded an image composed of 12 pregnant women emojis alongside the album title and date.

Elliott Wilson, the chief content officer of the Tidal streaming music service, tweeted saying the emoji creation was Drake's official "Certified Lover Boy" album art. It's a cryptic design that almost instantly had people talking on social media. 

Some wondered if Drake, born Aubrey Graham, was sending a coded message to his fans, while others criticized the simplicity of the design.

But the cover might be a subtle nod to the lengthy gestation period "Certified Lover Boy" faced before its due date was set.

Originally, the album was expected last January, but Drake postponed the release after suffering a knee injury. The new date is almost nine months later.



BEIJING — China is banning children from playing online games for more than three hours a week, the harshest restriction so far on the game industry as Chinese regulators continue cracking down on the technology sector. 

Regulators announced that minors in China can only play games between 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, weekends and on public holidays starting Sept. 1. That limits gaming to three hours a week for most weeks of the year, down from a previous restriction set in 2019 that allowed minors play games for 90 minutes per day and three hours on public holidays. 

The restriction is part of an ongoing crackdown on technology companies amid concerns that they may have an outsized influence on society.

The new regulation affects some of China’s largest technology companies, including gaming giant Tencent, whose Honor of Kings online multiplayer game is hugely popular globally, as well as gaming company NetEase.

Earlier this month, Tencent said it would limit gaming time for minors to an hour a day and two hours during holidays, as well as ban children under the age of 12 from making in-game purchases.

The company issued the curbs hours after a state-affiliated newspaper criticized the gaming industry and called games “spiritual opium.”


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2021

The Canadian Press