April 22nd, 2024

In the news today: Foreign interference inquiry begins today, findings due May 3

By The Canadian Press on March 27, 2024.

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

Interference inquiry to hear from diaspora members

Members of diaspora communities are slated to testify today as a federal inquiry begins two weeks of hearings into foreign meddling allegations and how the government responded to them.

The hearings will focus on possible interference by China, India, Russia and others in the last two general elections.

The commission of inquiry, led by Quebec judge Marie-Josée Hogue, expects to hear evidence from more than 40 people, including community members, political party representatives and federal election officials.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, members of his cabinet and various senior government officials are also slated to appear at the hearings, which run from today through April 10.

An initial report of findings from the commission is due May 3.

N.S. mass shooting inquiry: RCMP to release update

The RCMP are expected to provide an update today on the progress they have made in responding to the inquiry into the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting that killed 22 people.

The report from RCMP commissioner Mike Duheme comes three months after the police force’s self-imposed deadline passed, and almost a year after the public inquiry released its final report.

The federal-provincial Mass Casualty Commission investigated the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history and issued 130 non-binding recommendations to improve public safety, a majority of which apply in some form to the Mounties.

Earlier this month, the RCMP’s website was quietly updated to show it has responded to two key recommendations – one dealing with critical incident response training and the other with management culture.

Court date for suspects in 2022 border deaths

New details have been released in the Manitoba human trafficking case that saw an Indian family freeze to death in 2022 while trying to cross into the U.S. on foot in the dead of winter.

Harshkumar Ramanlal Patel is facing seven counts of human smuggling after allegedly organizing transportation for the family of four to the border near the rural community of Emerson, Manitoba.

In court papers in Minneapolis, prosecutors allege the 28-year-old Patel had been warned of blizzard conditions ahead of dropping off Jagdish Patel, his wife Vaishaliben, and their 11-year-old daughter Vihangi and three-year-old son Dharmik. It’s not clear if the family was related to the defendant because Patel is a common name in India.

The documents also link Patel with a human trafficking group based out of India, which uses student visas to get Indian nationals into Canada before helping them cross the border into the U.S.

Patel is due for a court appearance in Minnesota today.

Housing biggest risk to economy: survey

Business leaders see the housing crisis as the biggest risk to the economy, a new survey from KPMG Canada shows.

It found 94 per cent of respondents agreed that high housing costs and a lack of supply are the top risk, and that housing should be a main focus in the upcoming federal budget. The survey questioned 534 businesses.

Housing issues are forcing businesses to boost pay to better attract talent and budget for higher labour costs, agreed 87 per cent of respondents.

“What we’re seeing in the survey is that the businesses are needing to pay more to enable their workers to absorb these higher costs of living,” said Caroline Charest, an economist and Montreal-based partner at KPMG.

The need to pay more not only directly affects business finances, but is also making it harder to tamp down the inflation that is keeping interest rates high, said Charest.

Activists seek review of Ontario hunting dog law

Two animal rights organizations have requested a review of a new Ontario law that expands a licensing regime that allows dogs to track down captive coyotes, foxes and rabbits in massive fenced-in pens.

Last year, the province passed legislation that would allow the expansion of licences for so-called “train and trial” areas where hunters can bring their dogs to search for, and chase down, wild animals. The dog sport has seen its numbers dwindle since past Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris’ government made new licences illegal and allowed others to phase out.

Animal Justice and Coyote Watch Canada filed the review request last week under the province’s Environmental Bill of Rights, asking Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Graydon Smith to both stop the train and trial area expansion plans as well as phase out existing ones.

Mae Martin demystifies gender fluidity for CBC doc

Non-binary Toronto comedian and actor Mae Martin says their new documentary about gender fluidity feels especially relevant as transgender rights “are really under attack” in Canada and the United States.

Martin hosts “Fluid: Life Beyond the Binary,” airing Thursday as part of CBC’s “The Nature of Things” series, and says the doc will provide a “counterpoint” to dangerous myths about gender identity perpetuated on both sides of the border.

Directed by Michelle Mama, former executive producer of “Canada’s Drag Race,” and produced by Robert Lang, the documentary debunks pseudoscience and introduces the latest research showing that gender exists on a spectrum for humans and many other species.

Martin said that’s especially important at a time when laws being enacted or proposed in parts of Canada and the United States are trying to limit “life-saving health care” and mental health care for transgender and non-binary people.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2024

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