April 23rd, 2024

In the news today: Grocery CEOs seen as villains, ultra-low-cost airline to shut down

By The Canadian Press on February 23, 2024.

People shop at a Loblaws store in Toronto on Thursday, May 3, 2018. The three Canadian grocers have come under particular scrutiny amid growth in both prices and profits, said Rachel Thexton of Thexton Public Relations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

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

Why Canadians see grocers as villains of inflation

Galen Weston may not be the president of grocery giant Loblaw anymore, but you wouldn’t know that based on how often his name and face appear in connection with the company: in memes, on social media, and now emblazoned across the top of a new Reddit forum dedicated to high food prices in Canada.

Emily Johnson, a mental health and addictions worker in Milton, Ont., created the page r/loblawsisoutofcontrol in November as a space to vent and make jokes. But when Loblaw made headlines in January for reducing its discounts on food nearing its sell-by date – a decision the company later walked back – the page saw thousands of sign-ups overnight. It now has almost 21,000 members.

Against that backdrop, Canadians are increasingly turning a critical eye to the handful of companies that sell the vast majority of groceries, and experts say the grocers face an uphill battle to regain consumers’ trust.

The grocers, for their part, say they’ve been battling tens of thousands of price increase requests from suppliers and are doing their best to mitigate the rising tide of inflation.

Airline shutdown could leave travellers stranded

Come Monday, Canadian travellers booked with the ultra-low-cost airline Lynx Air will be out of luck and its employees out of work.

Officials with the Calgary-based company announced Thursday evening that it is ceasing operations, effective at 12:01 a.m. MT on Feb. 26, 2024, after filing for creditor protection. Lynx Air has advised passengers with existing bookings to contact their credit card company to secure refunds for pre-booked travel.

A statement issued by WestJet also acknowledged the immediate impact the news will have on passengers and employees.

WestJet went on to say that it was ready to help mitigate some of the arising issues. That includes offering discounted fares for stranded domestic travellers and capping fares for Canadian repatriation flights, on non-stop WestJet routes previously served by Lynx.

Convoy organizer suing over use of Emergencies Act

A main organizer of the “Freedom Convoy” is suing the federal government for using the Emergencies Act to freeze his bank accounts, arguing it breached his Charter rights to protest COVID-19 mandates.

Chris Barber, who owns a trucking company in southwestern Saskatchewan, filed last week a statement of claim in Court of King’s Bench in Saskatoon, claiming the federal government’s unprecedented move to invoke the act constituted an abuse of power.

“This disruption deprived (Barber and his wife) of the ability to conduct basic financial transactions and live normal lives, leading to severe inconvenience, hardship, embarrassment, exclusion from modern society, and damaged personal and business relationships,” says the claim, which also names his wife and trucking business as plaintiffs.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. The federal government has not filed a statement of defence. A spokesperson said in an email, ‘We will review the claims in order to determine next steps.”

Terror finding against Veltman marks legal first

The case of an Ontario man who carried out a deadly attack on a Muslim family was the first to recognize terrorism on grounds of white supremacist ideology and further emphasized that terrorism isn’t limited to those who belong to specific groups, experts and observers said after the landmark trial ended this week.

Nathaniel Veltman was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years for each of four counts of first-degree murder in the June 2021 attack that killed four members of the Afzaal family in London, Ont.

It also “marks the first time in Canadian history that a case involving white nationalism has met the threshold of terrorism,” Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, said after the ruling. “This decision will have profound reverberations across Canada,” Elghawaby said.

Veltman, 23, was also sentenced to life in prison for the attempted murder of a boy who survived. All five sentences are to be served concurrently.

Quebec cold case verdict highlights DNA research

A Quebec man’s first-degree murder conviction in the death of a junior college student in 2000 has highlighted advances in DNA research that are being used to solve cold cases all over Canada.

A jury took less than an afternoon on Tuesday to convict Marc-André Grenon, who was arrested and charged with killing Guylaine Potvin more than 22 years after the crime thanks to a DNA project by the provincial crime lab.

Michael Arntfield, a criminologist and professor at Western University, said the speed of the Grenon verdict “speaks for itself in terms of just how compelling this technique is.”

Arntfield said the use of DNA research to track suspects has been accelerating in recent years thanks in large part to the Toronto police, who obtained a government grant to accelerate the use of such techniques in investigating cold cases across Ontario.

Cast of ‘Law & Order Toronto’ on the show’s buzz

Few TV franchises are as cherished as “Law & Order,” and the stars of its new Canadian spinoff learned of its deep resonance firsthand when they were cast on the Toronto-based show.

As word spread last year that “Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent” was headed into production, several of its lead actors say the reaction from friends, family, and even strangers was of a seismic level.

“Everybody has some relationship to ‘Law & Order,'” said actress Kathleen Munroe, who plays Det. Sgt. Frankie Bateman on the series, which airs Thursdays on Citytv.

Munroe says people in her circles know “Law & Order” inside and out. Some have it in their regular “comfort TV” rotation, while others have confessed to being drawn into the show’s round-the-clock cable TV marathons while staying at a hotel.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2024

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