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Mendicino to testify at inquiry, Russia active over Arctic : In The News for Nov. 22

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 Nov. 22 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino rises during Question Period, Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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 Nov. 22 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Top government ministers will continue testifying today at the Public Order Emergency Commission, which has already heard from more than 65 witnesses over five weeks on the federal government’s response to last winter's "Freedom Convoy" protests.

The inquiry is scrutinizing the events and advice that led to the mid-February decision to invoke the Emergencies Act, which came nearly three weeks into the protests that took over downtown Ottawa and blockaded border crossings.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino is up first this morning, and will likely face questions about his suggestion earlier this year that police requested the Emergencies Act, when they later asserted they did not.

He may also be asked about an email RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki sent to his office the day before the government invoked the Emergencies Act, which suggested police might not need the act's extraordinary powers.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, whose file governs federal relationships with the provinces, is expected to testify later in the day and may be prompted to respond to Prairie provinces' concerns they weren't adequately consulted on federal plans.

More ministers are expected to appear before the commission throughout the week, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's testimony is expected on Friday.


Also this ...

Russia has started sending long-range bombers back over the Arctic toward North American airspace following a short-lived pause during the early months of its war in Ukraine, according to a senior Canadian military official.

Russian submarines are also operating off both coasts as Moscow seeks to demonstrate its ability to strike Canada and the United States, said Lt.-Gen. Alain Pelletier, the deputy commander of the North American Aerospace Defence Command.

``We have seen a reduction this year, especially since the Feb. 24 illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia. However, some of those activities have now resumed,'' Pelletier told the Senate defence committee on Monday.

``The activities are not only limited to the long-range aviation. Russia uses its submarines now both on the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast to actually demonstrate its strategic capabilities and to present a threat to North America.''

While Pelletier did not give more specific details, Norad officials announced last month that two long-range Russian bombers were intercepted by American fighter jets after approaching Alaska. The bombers did not enter North American airspace before leaving.

Pelletier and other defence officials also confirmed that Canada and the U.S. have started to work on modernizing Norad, the shared early-warning system that comprises North America's first line of defence against a foreign attack by air.

The Liberal government announced in June that Ottawa plans to invest $4.9 billion over six years and $40 billion over the next 20 years to upgrade the system in co-operation with Washington, D.C.

That includes replacing the string of 1980s-era radars in Canada's north that form the backbone of this country's contribution to Norad with more modern systems that can see farther and detect and track new types of weapons.


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

Hundreds of people, many holding candles and wiping away tears, gathered Monday night in a Colorado Springs park to honor those killed and wounded when a gunman opened fire on a nightlife venue that for decades was a sanctuary for the local LGBTQ community.

The vigil came as the 22-year-old suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, remained hospitalized after Saturday night's attack in which five people were killed and another 17 suffered gunshot wounds before patrons tackled and beat the suspect into submission. Aldrich faces five murder charges and five charges of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury, online court records showed.

The attack at Club Q has shaken the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city of about 480,000, located 110 kilometres south of Denver. At Monday night's vigil people embraced and listened as speakers on a stage expressed both rage and sadness over the shootings.

Jeremiah Harris, who is 24 and gay, said he went to the club a couple times a month and recognized one of the victims as the bartender who always served him. He said hearing others speak at the vigil was galvanizing following the attack.

``Gay people have been here as long as people have been here,'' Harris said. ``To everybody else that's opposed to that ... we're not going anywhere. We're just getting louder and you have to deal with it.''

Authorities have yet to reveal a motive for the attack, but the charges against Aldrich include hate crime charges, which would require proving that the gunman was motivated by bias, such as against the victims' actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.


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

Iran has begun producing enriched uranium at 60% purity at the country's underground Fordo nuclear plant, official media reported Tuesday, describing it as a response to a resolution by the United Nations' nuclear watchdog.

The step was seen as a significant addition to the country's nuclear program.

Enrichment to 60% purity is one short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%. Nonproliferation experts have warned in recent months that Iran now has enough 60%-enriched uranium to reprocess into fuel for at least one nuclear bomb.

Iran is already enriching to 60% purity at its Natanz nuclear facility in central Iran. Fordo is some 100 kilometres (62 miles) south of the capital of Tehran.


On this day in 1973 ...

In a TV address, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau asked Canadians to voluntarily restrict their consumption of fuels and predicted an energy rationing program at the retail level would not be needed if Canadians co-operated.


In entertainment ...

Kenzo has become the first singer from Uganda to earn a Grammy nomination. He is nominated for best global music performance for ``Gimme Love,'' a collaboration with the American singer Matt B. For Kenzo, any recognition of his work is a reminder of how far he's come. By his own account, Kenzo spent 13 years in the streets after losing his mother when he was only 4. Some Ugandans dismiss his musical style as rather playful, saying he's not that much of a singer. But others see in his experimentation the creative potential that marks him as an artiste with original gifts.


Did you see this?

A report from Statistics Canada shows the national homicide rate has increased for a third consecutive year and nearly one-quarter of killings in 2021 were connected to gangs.

There were 788 homicides in the country last year _ up three per cent from 2020. It marked the highest rate of homicides in Canada since 2005.

Saskatchewan saw both the highest rate of homicides and the highest rate of gang-related killings. The province's homicide rate went up nine per cent from 2020.

Manitoba had the second highest rate, while Ontario and British Columbia also saw large increases.

Alberta and Nova Scotia had significant drops, with the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia contributing to its decrease the following year.

Homicides remain relatively rare in Canada, said Statistics Canada, and accounted in 2021 for less than 0.2 per cent of all police-reported violent crimes.

The cities of Regina, Winnipeg and Thunder Bay, Ont., had the highest rates of homicides.

The data released Monday showed 184 of the homicides were gang-related. The agency said it's the highest rate since data about gang killings was first collected 16 years ago.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2022.

The Canadian Press