April 15th, 2024

In the news today: Key politicians to testify at foreign interference inquiry today

By The Canadian Press on April 2, 2024.

Provincial Liberal candidate Han Dong celebrates with supporters while taking part in a rally in Toronto on Thursday, May 22, 2014. A federal inquiry into foreign interference is set to hear from Independent MP Han Dong after it was alleged he willingly participated in Chinese interference efforts and won his seat with Beijing's help in 2019 — claims he denies. 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…

Han Dong to address foreign interference inquiry

A federal inquiry into foreign interference is set to hear from the Independent MP at the centre of allegations about foreign meddling in Canadian elections.

Han Dong left the Liberal caucus after it was alleged he willingly participated in Chinese interference efforts and won his seat with Beijing’s help in 2019 – claims he denies.

Special rapporteur David Johnston found last May that there were “irregularities” observed with Dong’s 2019 nomination and “well-grounded suspicion” that these were tied to China’s Toronto consulate, but that Dong was not aware of these issues.

Dong is slated to testify this afternoon, as is former Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan, who is now the deputy mayor of Markham, Ont.

Chan is suing the CSIS and others over allegations the spy agency surveilled him and had concerns about improper activities with Chinese officials.

This morning, campaign directors for the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP will testify on a panel.

Aid group says Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed at least seven volunteers

A Canadian-American dual citizen is believed to be among the seven people — including international aid workers and their Palestinian driver — killed in an apparent airstrike in Gaza.

According to a media release from World Central Kitchen, an Israeli strike hit one of their charity food deliveries late yesterday, hours after the group brought in food by ship.

The other nationalities listed by the organization include citizens of Australia, Poland and the United Kingdom.

On social media, Chef José Andrés, the group’s founder, says he is “heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole WCK family.”

He also called on the Israeli government “to stop this indiscriminate killing,” “to stop restricting humanitarian aid” and “stop using food as a weapon.”

There has been no word from Global Affairs Canada as of yet.

Uber legacy: Taxi driver lawsuit begins in Quebec

A trial opens Tuesday in a class-action lawsuit accusing the Quebec government of destroying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxi permit value by allowing ride-hailing company Uber to operate and then abolishing the permit system.

The government’s negligence led to the disguised expropriation of taxi licences – without proper compensation – in areas where Uber was offering its services, according to a lawsuit by former permit holders.

Quebec allowed Uber to violate the laws and regulations governing the taxi industry when the company started operating in the province in 2013, “which led to a drop in demand for taxi owners’ permits and an inevitable decline in their value,” according to the statement of claim.

The lawsuit also alleges that the province’s actions – including the creation of a pilot project in 2016 that legalized Uber’s operations in Quebec – contributed to the further decline in the value of taxi owners’ permits before they were eliminated as part of a 2019 taxi industry reform.

Enviro groups up pressure over forestry emissions

Nearly a dozen environmental groups are calling on the federal government to expand its review of Canada’s forestry sector emissions.

They say the current scope fails to address their concerns about underreporting.

In an open letter, the groups say the federal government’s review must consider how forestry emissions are estimated in the first place.

The letter, signed by representatives from 11 environmental groups including Nature Canada, says the review’s scope undermines its credibility.

The letter comes after the federal environment commissioner issued a report last year recommending Ottawa initiate an independent review of how it estimates and reports on emissions related to logging.

In response to that report, the government agreed that independent review was important but noted that the science underlying its carbon reporting was peer-reviewed.

Orca calf breaching regularly in B.C. lagoon

A stranded killer whale calf is showing signs of regular activity as it breaches every seven to 10 minutes in a lagoon near the northern Vancouver Island village of Zeballos.

The two-year-old orca has been alone in the lagoon near Little Espinosa Inlet since March 23, when its mother became trapped by the low tide and died on the rocky beach.

The orca calf is rising out of the water from a mid-section of the lagoon but it is staying clear of the narrow exit area that leads to the open ocean, which is also where its mother died.

Efforts by members of the area’s Ehattesaht First Nation, Fisheries Department marine mammal scientists and others to coax the orca calf through the narrow channel area, using boats, directional lines and whale calls, have not been successful so far.

The daily low tide at the lagoon reveals the difficult channel area where the orca calf must pass through, but also shows a healthy shoreline that is home to starfish, oysters, mussels and clams.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2024

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