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New federal cabinet, improving health care in Ontario : In The News for Oct. 26

·9 min read

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 Oct. 26 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Justin Trudeau will overhaul his cabinet today as he gears up to rapidly deliver on a host of priorities for his third term as prime minister.

He is expected to add a number of new faces from the Liberal backbench, shuffle the existing roster in some of the most senior portfolios and drop at least one minister altogether.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau is expected to be dropped from cabinet as Trudeau makes room for fresh blood while maintaining gender parity and regional balance.

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is expected to be moved to natural resources, with a new focus on clean tech, while Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, a prominent environmentalist in Quebec before jumping into politics in 2019, is likely to take over at Environment.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who has been criticized for his handling of sexual misconduct allegations among senior ranks of the military, is also expected to be moved, although he will remain in cabinet.

Newcomers to cabinet are expected to include Randy Boissonnault, elected in Edmonton Centre in 2015, defeated in 2019 and re-elected last month. He is considered a shoo-in for cabinet as one of only two Liberals elected last month in Alberta.

There are expected to be a number of new female faces around the cabinet table as well. Trudeau has to name replacements for three women who lost their seats in last month's election — Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef and Seniors Minister Deb Schulte — as well as Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna who did not seek re-election.

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Also this ...

Reducing patient wait times; expanding mental health, addiction and home care services; and preparing for the next pandemic are among top priorities for a group representing Ontario doctors.

The Ontario Medical Association shared its recommendations for improving the province’s health system in a new report published today.

It also highlights the need to strengthen public health units and assign a linked team of health-care providers to every patient.

The group is calling on political parties to include its recommendations in their platforms leading up to next June’s provincial election.

It says tackling the pandemic backlog of services must be done along with reducing the long-standing problem of patient wait times.

The report calls for adequate funding to address the backlog, ensuring services are fully staffed, educating people about healthy lifestyles, offering more services outside hospitals and improving data collection.

It recommends setting provincewide standards for mental health and addiction services, more funding for those services, providing mental health supports to health workers and increasing the number of supervised drug consumption sites.

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And this ...

Many parents are planning to let their children go trick-or-treating this year — but they may find fewer doors open than in pre-pandemic Halloweens.

A new study by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies found that well over 90 per cent of respondents whose kids trick-or-treated last year intend to have them go candy hunting again this Sunday.

But the online survey suggests fewer than half of Canadians will open their doors to trick-or-treaters due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the 56 per cent who checked no, half said they would typically dole out candy on Halloween.

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque says some parents who kept their kids at home last year may allow them to hit the pavement on Oct. 31, given the high vaccination rates now versus the absence of vaccines a year ago.

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

DETROIT — Hertz has announced that it will buy 100,000 electric vehicles from Tesla in one of the largest purchases of battery-powered cars in history.

The news of the deal triggered a rally in Tesla’s stock, driving the carmaker’s market value over the $1 trillion mark for the first time.

The purchase by one of the world’s leading rental car companies reflects its confidence that electric vehicles are gaining acceptance with environmentally minded consumers.

In an interview, Mark Fields, the interim CEO of Hertz, said that Teslas are already arriving at the company's sites and should be available for rental starting in November.

Hertz said in its announcement that it will complete its purchases of the Tesla Model 3 small cars by the end of 2022. It also said it will establish its own electric vehicle charging network as it strives to produce the largest rental fleet of electric vehicles in North America.

Fields wouldn’t say how much Hertz is spending for the order.

The deal likely is worth around US $4 billion because each Model 3 has a base price of about $40,000. It also ranks at the top of the list of electric vehicle orders by a single company. In 2019, Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, a startup manufacturer of electric van, pickup trucks and SUVs. Amazon is an investor in Rivian.

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

GENEVA — The UN weather agency says greenhouse gas concentrations hit a new record high last year and increased at a faster rate than the annual average for the last decade.

In its annual report on heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the World Meteorological Organization also said that parts of the Amazon rainforest have gone from being a carbon “sink” that sucks carbon dioxide from the air to a source of CO2 due to deforestation and reduced humidity in the region.

The report’s release came days before the start of a UN climate change conference in Scotland.

In a separate report, the UN climate office warned that the world remains off target for meeting its goal of cutting emissions and is on track for warming of 2.7 Celsius.

According to the report, concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide were all above levels in the pre-industrial era before 1750, when human activities “started disrupting Earth’s natural equilibrium.”

The report draws on information collected by a network that monitors the amount of greenhouse gases that remain in the atmosphere after some quantities are absorbed by oceans and the biosphere.

Meanwhile, officials say a target for rich countries to provide poor nations with US$100 billion in aid each year to tackle global warming will be missed, dealing a blow to the upcoming climate talks. Senior officials from Britain, Canada and Germany, who had hoped to break a deadlock in negotiations ahead of next week's summit, announced Monday that current data shows the goal won't be reached until 2023 — three years later than agreed.

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On this day in 1984 ...

New Brunswick premier Richard Hatfield was charged with possession of 26.5 grams of marijuana. The charges were laid after RCMP officers discovered the drug on Sept. 25 in Hatfield's luggage while he was accompanying the Queen during her visit to New Brunswick. Hatfield was later acquitted.

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In entertainment ...

"Bootlegger," a drama about an Indigenous graduate student involved in a debate over the sale of alcohol on her Quebec reserve, has won the Dramatic Feature Award at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.

The drama was directed and co-written by Algonquin-French filmmaker Caroline Monnet of Outaouais, Que. Devery Jacobs, who grew up in the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory in Quebec, stars alongside Pascale Bussières of Montreal.

The award is worth $7,500.

The Quebec-shot film has already won several festival awards, including one for its screenplay at Cannes in 2017 before the film was shot.

Other winners in 18 categories included "Angakusajaujuq — The Shaman's Apprentice" by Inuk filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk. It won the $7,500 Live Action Short Award, which means the film can now be submitted for the Best Live Action Short category at the Oscars.

To be eligible for Oscars consideration, short films must either have a theatrical release or win a qualifying award at a specified film festival. Toronto-based imagineNATIVE was designated "a qualifying festival" for that category in 2019.

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ICYMI ...

A U.S. court order says the offspring of hippos once owned by Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar can be recognized as people with legal rights in the U.S. in a case that involves a lawsuit against the Colombian government over whether to kill or sterilize the animals.

An animal rights group is hailing the order as a milestone victory in the long sought effort to sway the U.S. justice system to grant animals personhood status. But a legal expert in Colombia says the order won’t carry any weight where the hippos live.

“It will be the Colombian authorities who decide what to do with the hippos and not the American ones,” said Camilo Burbano Cifuentes, a criminal law professor at the Universidad Externado de Colombia.

The hippos are descendants of animals that Escobar illegally imported to his Colombian ranch in the 1980s when he reigned over the country's drug trade, but were abandoned after his death in 1993.

A group of scientists has warned that the hippos pose a threat to the area’s biodiversity and could lead to deadly encounters with humans. They are advocating for some of the animals to be killed. A government agency has started sterilizing some of the hippos, but there is a debate on what are the safest methods.

In the suit, attorneys for the Animal Legal Defense Fund asked the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati to give “interested persons” status to the hippos so that two wildlife experts in sterilization from Ohio could be deposed in the case.

Federal magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz in Cincinnati granted the request on Oct. 15. The animal rights group based near San Francisco said it believes it’s the first time animals have been declared legal persons in the U.S.

Christopher Berry, the lead attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said: “This really is part of a bigger movement of advocating that animals’ interest be represented in court. ... We’re just asking that animals have the ability to enforce the rights that have already been given to them.”

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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