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Trudeau's cabinet guessing game and container ship calamity: In The News for Oct. 25

·10 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. 25 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's tricky task of crafting a new cabinet is hitting its final hours before the team of ministers is unveiled.

Any hints of who might be in cabinet could begin trickling out today as those taking on new positions may start arriving in the national capital ahead of Tuesday's swearing-in ceremony.

Trudeau has said there will be gender parity among the regionally balanced appointments.

That means he had to find replacements for three female ministers 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.

Some ministers are likely to have an interest in remaining in their portfolios, but Trudeau has only publicly confirmed that Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland isn't on the move.

Trudeau is under pressure to shuffle Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to a new portfolio amid criticism for his handling of sexual misconduct allegations among the military's senior ranks.

Once sworn in, any new faces in new places will quickly get a crash-course on their portfolios and try to soak up details ahead of Parliament's return on Nov. 22.

The Liberals have said that high atop the agenda for MPs when the House of Commons returns is a $7.4-billion reshaping of federal pandemic aid, which the Liberals unveiled late last week.


Also this ...

VICTORIA — Officials don't yet know how many containers burned aboard a cargo ship in a still-smouldering blaze off the coast of Victoria, a spokesman for the Canadian Coast Guard said Sunday.

The flames initially spread to 10 containers after another 40 fell overboard in choppy waters on Friday, but JJ Brickett said the fire on the MV Zim Kingston was mostly under control by Sunday afternoon.

Provincial and federal officials are working with all the First Nations on the west coast of Vancouver Island while investigating the fire aboard the ship, he said.

Brickett said the location of some of the containers that landed in the ocean is being monitored by helicopter, but efforts to retrieve them can't start until after a break in a storm that is forecast to worsen until later today.

Efforts to read labels on the downed containers in order to try to identify their contents have not been fruitful and officials are trying to account for all of them, Brickett said.

The MV Zim Kingston had experienced some damage as it approached Vancouver and the crew were in contact with the Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada, he said, adding the vessel was assessed off the Strait of Juan de Fuca where it was anchored for repairs and to await further contact with the latter agency.

He said Transport Canada inspectors will be aboard the ship after the "emergency phase" of securing the safety of the vessel and those still on it, and that its Greece-based owner is providing assistance.

Earlier Sunday, the coast guard said in a tweet that the hull of the MV Zim Kingston had been cooled by a tugboat spraying it with water. Applying cold water directly to the burning containers was not an option because two of them contained 52,000 kilograms of a hazardous material identified as potassium amylxanthate.

It said the blaze aboard the ship about eight kilometres off the coast of Victoria posed a significant risk to mariners but not people on shore.

Canadian Coast Guard spokeswoman Michelle Imbeau said an incident command post led by the agency on behalf of the federal and B.C. governments, as well as First Nations representatives, was co-ordinating a multi-agency response to the fire.


And this ...

TORONTO — The fight for control of Rogers Communications Inc. continues today after a Sunday-evening meeting that included ousted chair Edward Rogers and five new, hand-picked board members.

Edward Rogers' camp says he was elected chair at that meeting, and he plans to take his case to the British Columbia Supreme Court to affirm it.

The son of company founder Ted Rogers was removed from his position at the helm of the board on Thursday.

His siblings and several other board members say Edward Rogers' Sunday meeting was illegitimate, because only the board as it existed Thursday has any authority.

But Edward Rogers remains chair of the Rogers Control Trust, the controlling shareholder, which, along with Rogers family members, owns 97 per cent of Class A voting shares.

Martha Rogers, who also sits on the board, has repeatedly taken aim at her brother on Twitter, describing his Sunday meeting as a "pretend 'board meeting'."


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

SAN FRANCISCO — A powerful storm barreled toward southern California after flooding highways, toppling trees and causing mud flows in areas burned bare by recent fires across the northern part of the state.

Drenching showers and strong winds accompanied the weekend's arrival of an atmospheric river — a long and wide plume of moisture pulled in from the Pacific Ocean. The National Weather Service’s Sacramento office warned of “potentially historic rain.”

Flooding was reported across the San Francisco Bay Area, closing streets in Berkeley, inundating Oakland's Bay Bridge toll plaza and overflowing rivers in Napa and Sonoma counties. Power poles were downed and tens of thousands of people in the North Bay were without electricity.

By Sunday morning, Mount Tamalpais just north of San Francisco had recorded 15 centimeters of rainfall during the previous 12 hours, the weather service said.

About 240 kilometers to the north, the California Highway Patrol closed a stretch of State Route 70 in Butte and Plumas counties because of multiple landslides within the massive Dixie Fire burn scar.

The same storm system also slammed Oregon and Washington state, causing power outages affecting tens of thousands of people.

Recent storms have helped contain some of the nation’s largest wildfires this year. But it remains to be seen if the wet weather will make a dent in the drought that’s plaguing California and the western United States.


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

CAIRO — Military forces detained a number of senior Sudanese government figures today, the country's information ministry said, as the country's main pro-democracy group called on people to take to the streets to counter an apparent military coup.

The ministry said the internet had been cut off and military forces closed bridges.

The country’s state news channel played patriotic traditional music and scenes of the Nile river.

The Umma Party, the country’s largest political party, described the arrests as an attempted coup, and called on people to take to the streets in resistance. Earlier, the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, a group leading demands for a transition to democracy, issued a similar call.

A possible takeover by the military would be a major setback for Sudan, which has grappled with a transition to democracy since long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir was toppled by mass protests.

Today's arrests come after weeks of rising tensions between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders. A failed coup attempt in September fractured the country along old lines, pitting more-conservative Islamists who want a military government against those who toppled al-Bashir more than two years ago in mass protests. In recent days, both camps have taken to the street in demonstrations.


In Entertainment ...

LOS ANGELES — A camera operator told authorities that Alec Baldwin had been careful with weapons on the set of the film “Rust” before the actor shot and killed a cinematographer with a gun he’d been told was safe to use, court records released Sunday show.

Cameraman Reid Russell told a detective that Baldwin was rehearsing a scene Thursday in which he was set to draw his gun while sitting in a church pew and point it at the camera. The camera wasn't rolling when the gun went off, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, Russell told a detective according to a search warrant affidavit.

Authorities said Friday that the assistant director, Dave Halls, had handed the weapon to Baldwin and announced “cold gun,” indicating it was safe to use. When asked about how Baldwin treated firearms on the set, Russell said the actor was very careful, citing an instance when Baldwin made sure a child actor was not near him when a gun was being discharged.

The affidavit released Sunday also includes statements by director Joel Souza, who was standing behind Hutchins and was also wounded.

It detailed the moments before the shooting and shows that there was turmoil on the set the day of the shooting. Several members of the camera crew walked off the production in a dispute over payment and lodging, Russell said, and he was left with a lot of work to do.

He said he was unsure whether the weapon was checked before it was handed to Baldwin.


Also this ...

NEW YORK — James Michael Tyler, the actor known widely for his recurring role as Gunther on “Friends,” has died. He was 59.

His manager, Toni Benson, says Tyler passed away Sunday at home in Los Angeles after battling prostate cancer.

He was first diagnosed with an advanced case of the disease in 2018.

Tyler had appeared briefly in 1990s series like “Just Shoot Me!” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” before being cast as a background character in the second episodes of “Friends” in 1994.

Over the show’s multi-year-run, he became the most frequently recurring guest star on the series playing Gunther, the Central Perk worker with an unrequited affection for Jennifer Aniston's Rachel.



MONTREAL — The massive popularity of the Netflix series "Squid Game," which features adults playing children's games turned deadly, has led to fears among Quebec parents and school boards that the violence is being mimicked on school playgrounds.

Guillaume Taillon-Chrétien said his eight-year-old daughter came home one evening this month visibly shaken up, afraid to return to school. "She told me older kids were playing the games from 'Squid Game,'" said Taillon-Chrétien, whose daughter is in Grade 3 at an elementary school in Massueville, northeast of Montreal.

He said the series is "absolutely not suited" for young children, but one girl in the school was playing the role of a doll who determines which characters die. "And she was reproducing it, reproducing when they get shot, lying face on the ground," he said.

Several school boards in the province have recently issued statements warning parents about students imitating the games on playgrounds. The South Korean series features 456 desperate, indebted adults fighting each other to the death for a chance to win a prize worth roughly $48 million.

The show is rated for mature audiences only, and schools from Australia to the United Kingdom are reportedly asking parents to make sure their kids don't watch it following reports of "Squid Game" play at recess.

Montreal psychologist Nadia Gagnier said that for young children, parents provide the most influence and guidance. She said stopping children from watching "Squid Game" isn't enough; parents should discuss the phenomenon as a way to reassure their children and build trust.

"Everybody is talking about it, so pretending nothing is happening, I don't think it's the best approach," Gagnier said.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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