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Erin O'Toole faces caucus, Echaquan findings addressed: In The News for Oct. 5, 2021

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. 5 ... What we are watching in Canada ...

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. 5 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Two weeks after the Conservative's disappointing election defeat, party leader Erin O'Toole will face his caucus today. 

The 119 Conservative MPs are set to gather in person in Ottawa where, among other things, they'll have to decide whether they want the power to review O'Toole's leadership. 

Under legislation passed in 2015, each party's caucus is required to decide after an election whether it wants to empower its members to trigger a leadership review, which requires a written notice backed by at least 20 per cent of caucus. 

The rule also allows MPs to elect their own caucus chair and make decisions about whether someone should be expelled from the fold.

A spokeswoman for O'Toole says the leader has always supported these legislative provisions and believes members should vote as they see fit.  

Conservatives finished the Sept. 20 election with two fewer seats than they won in 2019 under former leader Andrew Scheer, who resigned as leader under intense pressure shortly after the federal election.

O'Toole's team also lost five incumbents who were visible minorities and failed to make the hoped-for gains in the key battlegrounds of the Greater Toronto Area, Metro Vancouver and Quebec. 

A member of the party's national council from Ontario has already launched an online petition to collect signatures from Conservatives who feel O'Toole has betrayed the party's core values and want to vote on his leadership earlier than the currently scheduled review in 2023.


Also this ...

A coroner who issued a report last week into the death of Joyce Echaquan urging Quebec to recognize systemic racism and root it out of institutions will address her findings today.

Géhane Kamel oversaw the inquiry into the death of Echaquan, finding that while her death was accidental, the racism and prejudice the Atikamekw woman was subjected to contributed to her death.

Echaquan, a 37-year-old mother of seven, filmed herself on Facebook Live as a nurse and an orderly were heard making derogatory comments toward her shortly before her death Sept. 28, 2020, at a hospital in Joliette, Que., northeast of Montreal.

The video of her treatment went viral and drew outrage and condemnation, and the final report into her death found her initial diagnosis was based on prejudice and she wasn't properly monitored before finally being transferred to intensive care.

Echaquan died of a pulmonary edema linked to a rare heart condition.

Despite the coroner's recommendation, the Legault government has steadfastly denied systemic racism exists in the province.

Echaquan's family has not commented on the findings released last week, but is expected to do so later today.


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

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden is urging Republican senators to “get out of the way” and let Democrats suspend the nation’s debt limit. 

Biden made the comment Monday in trying to get action to keep the U.S. government from coming dangerously close to a devastating credit default as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to lend his party’s help on the issue.

Congress faces an Oct 18 deadline to allow for more borrowing to keep the government operating after having accrued a total public debt of $28.4 trillion. The House has passed a measure to suspend the debt limit, but McConnell is forcing Senate Democrats into a cumbersome process that could drag on and approach the deadline with little margin for error.

Both Biden and McConnell have promised that the country will avoid default, yet the public fight and political posturing risks an economic meltdown. The global economy relies on the stability of U.S. Treasury notes, and unpaid debt could crush financial markets and hurl America into recession. Biden noted that the debt limit applies to borrowing that has already occurred.

“They need to stop playing Russian roulette with the U.S. economy,” Biden said at the White House. “Republicans just have to let us do our job. Just get out of the way. If you don’t want to help save the country, get out of the way so you don’t destroy it.”

McConnell said Republicans had given the Democrats a roadmap for dealing with the debt ceiling with months of warning, adding: "I suggest that our Democratic colleagues get moving."


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

Calls are growing for an end to the financial secrecy and shell companies that have allowed many of the world’s richest and most powerful people to hide their wealth from tax collectors after the publication of the so-called Pandora Papers.

The outcry came after the report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists revealed the way that world leaders, billionaires and others have used offshore accounts to keep trillions of dollars out of government treasuries over the past quarter-century, limiting the resources for helping the poor or combating climate change. 

Many of the tax dodges are legal, and analysts say one solution is to ban shell companies that help investors avoid paying taxes.

Gabriel Zucman, a University of California, Berkeley, economist who studies income inequality and taxes, said in a statement one solution is “obvious’’: Ban “shell companies — corporations with no economic substance, whose sole purpose is to avoid taxes or other laws.’’

“The legality is the true scandal,'' activist and science-fiction author Cory Doctorow wrote on Twitter. “Each of these arrangements represents a risible fiction: a shell company is a business, a business is a person, that person resides in a file-drawer in the desk of a bank official on some distant treasure island.''

Some of those targeted strongly denied the claims.

Oxfam International, a British consortium of charities, applauded the Pandora Papers for exposing brazen examples of greed that deprived countries of tax revenue that could be used to finance programs and projects for the greater good.

“This is where our missing hospitals are," Oxfam said in a statement. “This is where the pay-packets sit of all the extra teachers and firefighters and public servants we need."


On this day in 1984 ...

Marc Garneau became the first Canadian in space, joining the crew of the space shuttle "Challenger." He joined six Americans aboard the shuttle, and travelled 6.4 million kilometres in orbit around the Earth. Garneau conducted various experiments, including a Canadian-designed one on human physiology in space. He returned to space in 1996 and 2000.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO — The drama "Drunken Birds" about a lovestruck Mexican drug cartel member who becomes a seasonal migrant worker in rural Quebec will represent Canada in the race for an Oscar nomination for best international feature film.

Montreal's Ivan Grbovic directed and co-wrote the film with Sara Mishara. The film has the French title "Les oiseaux ivres," and stars Jorge Antonio Guerrero and Yoshira Escárrega.

Telefilm Canada says a pan-Canadian committee of about 20 voting delegates chose the project — which includes dialogue in French, Spanish, English and Mandarin — out of a total of 10 films submitted for Academy Awards consideration.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences must now decide which films will move on to the next round of voting in the category, with a short list of 10 films to be revealed Dec. 21.

Films that make the final cut will be announced along with the other Oscar nominations on Feb. 8.

"Drunken Birds" is Grbovic's second feature film after "Romeo Eleven" from 2011, which won the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival and the Discovery Award at the Namur Film Festival.



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — “Star Trek” actor William Shatner plans to blast off from west Texas next week, joining three others on the second crew flight for Jeff Bezos’s space travel company, Blue Origin.

Bezos — a huge Star Trek fan — was on the debut crew in July. At age 90, Shatner will become the oldest person in space when the flight blasts off on Oct. 12. 

He'd also be the first actor in space if the Russians weren't launching an actress and a film director Tuesday to the International Space Station. Shatner's up-and-down space hop will last just 10 minutes and reach no higher than about 106 kilometres.

“Yes, it’s true; I’m going to be a 'rocket man!'” Shatner tweeted. 

Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is a huge fan of the sci-fi series and even had a cameo as a high-ranking alien in the 2016 film “Star Trek Beyond." His rocket company invited Shatner to fly as its guest.

Shatner will become the oldest person to go to space. He’ll join three others — two of them paying customers — aboard a Blue Origin capsule. 


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2021

The Canadian Press