March 1st, 2024

In the news today: MPs return to parliament and election interference inquiry begins

By The Canadian Press on January 29, 2024.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shake hands at a joint press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. The Liberals intend to move quickly to get a Ukraine free-trade bill back up for debate and pressure the Conservatives to support it as MPs return to the House of Commons today following the Christmas break. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to
bring you up to speed on what you need to know today…

House of Commons back after holiday break

The Liberals intend to move quickly to get a Ukraine free-trade bill back up for debate and pressure the Conservatives to support it as MPs return to the House of Commons today following the Christmas break.

The legislation to implement an updated free-trade agreement between Canada and Ukraine became unexpected political fodder in the fall when the Conservatives voted against it in a protest against carbon pricing.

Ukraine has had a carbon price since 2011 and Canada since 2019 but the updated free-trade agreement calls on both to promote carbon pricing.

The Conservatives say they voted against the legislation solely because they won’t support any promotion of carbon pricing and have shown no signs of willing to budge.

Interference inquiry to examine secrecy questions

A federal inquiry into foreign interference begins a week of hearings today on the preliminary point of how to handle the shroud of official secrecy around the controversial issue.

The inquiry says the initial five days of hearings will help identify ways to make information public, even though much of it comes from classified documents and sources.

The discussions on national security and confidentiality of information will help set the stage for the next public hearings, likely to take place at the end of March.

The March hearings are intended to delve into allegations of foreign interference by China, India, Russia and others in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections, with a report on these matters due May 3.

Drought putting pressure on hydro production

Two hydro-rich provinces are being forced to import power from other jurisdictions due to severe drought in Western Canada.

Both B.C. and Manitoba, where the vast majority of power is hydroelectric, are experiencing low reservoir levels that have negatively affected electricity production this fall and winter.

There’s no risk in either province of the lights going out anytime soon. But scientists say climate change is making drought both more common and more severe, which means more pressure on hydroelectric producers in the years to come.

In B.C., large chunks of the province are suffering through drought conditions the federal government has classified as “extreme.”

MAID organ donor numbers rose in Quebec: study

Quebec researchers say organ donation appears to be increasing among people who received an assisted death but they’re calling for greater collaboration to support those who choose to give, along with respect for their autonomy and dignity.

Researchers say 64 people in Quebec donated their organs after receiving medical assistance in dying between 2018 and the end of 2022 and that donations from this group rose to comprise 14 per cent of all gifted organs in the final year of their study.

They analyzed data on all MAID recipients referred to Transplant Québec over the five-year study period for possible organ donation and found the number of donors climbed to 24 in 2022 – up from eight in 2018.

Of 245 people referred after MAID, 82 were retained. From those, 64 were found medically suitable and donated a total of 182 organs – mostly kidneys, but also the liver and lungs, in many cases. Those are the same organs usually retrieved through standard donation after someone has died.

Ceremony planned to mark 2017 Quebec mosque attack

A ceremony commemorating the deadly 2017 attack on a Quebec City mosque is scheduled to take place today.

Six Muslim men were killed and five others wounded when a gunman burst into the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre shortly after evening prayers on Jan. 29, 2017.

Organizers say the event is intended to honour the memory of the dead and show support for their families, as well as for survivors of the attack.

The 6 p.m. ceremony will take place at the centre and will be streamed online.

In 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared Jan. 29 National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action against Islamophobia.

Newfoundland byelection delayed due to weather

A byelection scheduled for today in the Newfoundland riding of Conception Bay East – Bell Island has been delayed due to weather.

Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for St. John’s, warning of poor driving conditions during the Monday evening commute as well as warnings of strong winds and poor visibility.

The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer says the voting will now occur Tuesday, due to inclement weather predicted for Monday.

The decision to postpone Polling Day is due to the forecasted intense weather during the busiest hours of voting.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2024

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