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Patrick Brown's challenge and Mariupol's last stand : In The News for Apr. 18

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. 18 ... 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 Apr. 18 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

OTTAWA — An apology to the Tamil community, improving cricket infrastructure, and putting a visa office in Kathmandu are just some of the promises Patrick Brown has made in hopes of becoming the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. 

But a search for these pledges on the campaign website, and social media accounts of the Brampton, Ont., mayor come up empty.

They appear only to exist in pitches he delivered to leaders and members of the country's Tamil and Nepalese community, whom he's courting, among other immigrant and racialized Canadians, to buy party memberships as the clock ticks down to the June 3 deadline. 

And while Brown's main rival, Pierre Poilievre, is drawing crowds by the thousands, the former MP and leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservatives has been criss-crossing the country, making his case to rooms of sometimes only as many as 20. 

A glimpse into his strategy can be found in a series of videos and clips shared on Facebook by those who attended such events, including a meeting Brown had with Muslim community members in British Columbia, 17 minutes of which was livestreamed April 1. 

"My path to victory is not winning the party membership," he says. "My path to victory is bringing new people in and having a decent level of support within the party."

Since entering the race, Brown has fashioned himself as a fighter for religious freedoms, pointing to his vocal opposition of the controversial secularism law in Quebec known by its legislative title of Bill 21. 

Passed in 2019, it prohibits public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, like hijabs, turbans, kippahs on the job.


Also this ...

CALGARY — From carbon capture and hydrogen development to the accelerated rollout of wind and solar power and rapid electrification of transportation systems, the federal government has laid out an ambitious roadmap to get Canada to its climate target of cutting emissions by 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and net-zero emissions by 2050.

But overhauling this country's entire energy infrastructure in a short amount of time represents an unprecedented technical challenge that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, experts say. And pessimists are quick to point out that Canada doesn't have a good recent track record when it comes to getting ambitious, expensive infrastructure projects over the finish line. 

In Alberta in particular — where the ghosts of cancelled pipeline projects still haunt the public consciousness — some observers believe this country has lost the political will and spirit of national unity that's required to get big things done.

"We've spent a decade making building anything extremely difficult, if not impossible," said Calgary-based energy analyst, oil services sector executive and consultant David Yager. 

"Canada's recent history suggests these (net-zero) targets are aspirational, to say the least."

Yager points to Enbridge Inc.'s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which was quashed by the federal Liberals in 2016. 

In 2017, the proposed $15.7-billion Energy East project was cancelled by TransCanada after being bogged down by regulatory delays, new environmental criteria, and opposition to the line along major sections of the proposed route.


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

PITTSBURGH — Authorities say shots fired at a house party in Pittsburgh left two 17-year-olds dead and at least eight more people wounded. 

The incident, one of three mass shootings in the U.S. this holiday weekend, happened early Sunday morning as hundreds of people gathered at a short-term rental home. 

Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert says the “vast majority” of them were underage. 

Two male gunshot victims died and eight others were wounded by gunfire. 

Others were hurt trying to flee, including two who broke bones while jumping out the building's windows. 

No arrests were immediately reported. 

Schubert said there was gunfire both inside and outside the rental home, “and potentially back and forth.”

Meanwhile, the lawyer for a man arrested in connection with a mass shooting at a South Carolina mall tells news outlets his client fired in self-defense. 

Attorney Todd Rutherford represents Jewayne Price, who currently faces a charge of illegally carrying a pistol. 

Saturday’s shooting in Columbia was one of two Easter weekend shootings in South Carolina with multiple victims, and one of three in the nation. 

Nine people were also hurt early Sunday in a Hampton County, South Carolina, nightclub shooting.


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

KYIV, Ukraine — Multiple explosions apparently caused by missiles struck the western Ukrainian city of Lviv early Monday as the country was bracing for an all-out Russian assault in the east.

Regional governor Maksym Kozytsky said the attack killed six people and wounded another eight.

He said there were four strikes, three of which hit military infrastructure facilities and one struck a tire shop.

Hours earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to “fight absolutely to the end” in strategically vital Mariupol where the ruined port city’s last known pocket of resistance is holed up in a sprawling steel plant laced with tunnels.

With missiles and rockets battering various parts of the country, Zelenskyy accused Russian soldiers of torture and kidnappings in areas they control.

The fall of Mariupol, which has been reduced to rubble in a seven-week siege, would give Moscow its biggest victory of the war. But a few thousand fighters, by Russia's estimate, were holding on to the giant, 11-square-kilometer Azovstal steel mill.

“We will fight absolutely to the end, to the win, in this war,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal vowed Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” He said Ukraine is prepared to end the war through diplomacy if possible, “but we do not have intention to surrender.”


In entertainment ...

“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” got off to a less than magical start in its first weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters. 

The third installment in the Harry Potter spinoff opened to $43 million in North America, according to studio estimates Sunday.

It was enough to secure the film the top spot on the box office charts, but it’s also a low for the franchise. 

The first film had a $74.4 million debut in 2016 and the second, “The Crimes of Grindelwald” opened to $62.2 million in 2018. “The Secrets of Dumbledore,” which Warner Bros. released in 4,208 locations in North America, also carries a $200 million production price tag.

It’s more common than not for sequels and threequels to come in lower than their predecessors, but “Dumbledore” also follows several franchise titles that defied that logic, including “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Venom 2” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2.”

Critics were largely not on board with “Dumbledore.” With a 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, most came in on the negative side. 


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TORONTO — After remortgaging her house and borrowing from friends and family to keep her business alive through the pandemic, Carolyn Hatfield is happily struggling to keep up with demand from pet owners seeking daycare for their COVID puppies.

"We're booked out for assessments through to June," the owner of The Canine Social Company Ltd. said in an interview.

Like many in the pet industry whose businesses were upended by COVID, Hatfield’s biggest challenge now is managing the heightened separation anxiety of workers and their pets as more people return to the office.

She carefully screens dogs to make sure they're a good fit for her doggie day care facility east of Toronto's Greektown. Whereas most dogs were approved in the years before COVID, as few as 40 per cent of applicants are currently accepted because their high stress would disrupt other four-legged customers.

"It's kind of (like) the phenomenon of kids going to kindergarten for the first time, and they're clutching the parent's leg," she said.

Nearly half of dogs she sees are exhibiting anxiety these days. Most are puppies that have never been separated from their owners, but even some older dogs are indicating that they'd rather be at home on the couch.

This animal anxiety comes after the pandemic upended the pet business. Retail stores were periodically forced to close during successive waves after being declared non-essential services while demand for dog walkers, daycare and boarding dried up as pet owners worked from home and stopped travelling.

Through it all, Canadians added pets to their families in record numbers. Pet fostering increased 70 per cent during the pandemic, while space-related euthanasia cases at shelters has been virtually eliminated for dogs and drastically reduced for cats.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Apr. 18, 2022

The Canadian Press