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Federal leaders stay central, COVID cure misinformation : In The News for Sept. 1

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 Sept. 1 ... What we are watching in Canada ... Less than three weeks to go before the Sept.

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 Sept. 1 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Less than three weeks to go before the Sept. 20 federal election, and the three main party leaders are staying central.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau begins his day with an announcement in Toronto.

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole is also in Ontario, with a morning announcement at the Ottawa hotel he has been using as his main base throughout the campaign.

New Democrat head Jagmeet Singh is in Quebec for a housing announcement in Montreal, followed by a virtual town hall in the evening.

Affordability was a key election talking point on the campaign trail alongside the economy on Tuesday, as Statistics Canada reported the economy contracted at an annualized rate of 1.1 per cent between April and June, and estimated another drop in real gross domestic product in July.

Experts say when the economy is good, or perceived to be going in the right direction, voters are inclined to reward the incumbent government.

They also say when voters feel the opposite, they are inclined to punish the incumbent.


Also this ...

A health law professor says a belief by some that a medication used to deworm cattle and horses can treat COVID-19 shows how ideology can lead people to embrace misinformation.

Timothy Caulfield from the University of Alberta is a critic of alternative medicine and says it's fascinating to watch people looking for ivermectin.

He says rejecting a proven vaccine in favour of an unproven drug shows an incredible disconnect.

One animal feed store in Alberta says it has been receiving steady requests for its ivermectin.

Lance Olson, the manager of Lone Star Tack and Feed near Calgary, says he started receiving calls last November and people are still asking for the product.

He says the drug has been removed from the shelves as a precaution.

The US Food and Drug Administration has also issued a warning on its website against using ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

It adds people should never take medications intended for animals.


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

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana communities battered by Hurricane Ida are now dealing with the possibility of weeks without power in the stifling, late-summer heat.

Ida ravaged the region’s power grid, leaving one million people and businesses in Louisiana without power. The New Orleans airport remained closed to commercial flights for a third day on Tuesday.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us and no one is under the illusion that this is going to be a short process,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said as the cleanup and rebuilding began across the soggy region in the oppressive late-summer heat.

New Orleans officials announced seven places around the city people could get a meal and sit in air conditioning. Edwards said that state officials likewise were working to set up places to distribute food, water and ice, but that it wouldn't start Tuesday.

Renell Debose spent a week suffering in the New Orleans Superdome after 2005′s Hurricane Katrina left the city nearly uninhabitable. She said she is willing to give it a few days without electricity, but no more than that.

“I love my city. I’m built for this. But I can’t make it without any air conditioning,” she said.

Shelly Huff, who like Debose was waiting for gas at a Costco, said: “It’s been rough. Not having power is probably the worst thing. But I have great neighbours, one who evacuated left us a generator. We’ve been sharing food and supplies, so it hasn’t been too bad.”

“I could probably last a week without electricity, but any longer and I’m going have to get out of town,” she said.


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

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers face tough economic and security challenges as they return to power in a country that is vastly different from the one they left 20 years ago.

When they last ruled in the late 1990s, Afghanistan was a poor, agricultural nation, and the Taliban were preoccupied with imposing their harsh brand of Islam. This time, they’re inheriting a more developed society with a small middle class, but also an economy that has been devastated by war and corruption.

“The Taliban’s greatest challenge is to ... embrace others in governing Afghanistan,” said Torek Farhadi, a former adviser to the toppled Western-backed government.

“They feel they have a military victory and it might seem strange for their ranks that they now have to gift positions of power to others.”

But, he added, a new government can only succeed if all Afghans, including women, can feel represented.

Several of the Taliban leaders who are now in charge in Kabul were part of the harsher regime of the 1990s, but they appear to have changed during their years in exile.

Their first big test is the formation of a new government. They have promised it will include non-Taliban figures, but it's not clear if they are genuinely willing to share power.

A new government must deliver quickly and ease the economic crisis, said Michael Kugelman, an analyst at the Wilson Center, a U.S.-based think tank.

If it fails, “you have to start contemplating the possibility of large-scale protests against the Taliban that would clearly represent a major challenge to the Taliban as it attempts to consolidate its power,” he said.


On this day in 1961 ...

Leslie Frost's Conservative government in Ontario introduced a three-per-cent sales tax. It became known as the "Frost Bite."


In entertainment ...

TORONTO — Two exhibitions focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic will open this fall at the Royal Ontario Museum.

On Sept. 18, the Toronto museum will unveil a collection of more than 100 masks made by creators across the globe.

"Unmasking the Pandemic: From Personal Protection to Personal Expression" will include about 40 face coverings made by Canadian artists and designers.

The ROM also plans to present a crowdsourced collection of art that aims to show what the pandemic looks like through a child's eyes.

"My Pandemic Story: Youth Create Portraits of a Pandemic," which debuts on Oct. 9, features 50 works submitted by Ontario artists aged four to 18 expressing their emotions and experiences of the COVID-19 crisis.

Both exhibitions are set to run through Feb. 21.



CALGARY — Experts say more price hikes are likely this fall for groceries as severe drought drives up prices for agricultural commodities.

At The Bon Ton Meat Market in Calgary, owner Greg Keller said the spike in retail beef prices over the last two months has been "unbelievable," with some items going up as much as 20 per cent.

"I've never seen such volatile markets, and I've been doing this a long time."

According to Statistics Canada, the price of round steak increased from $17.97 per kilogram in March to $19.05 per kg in July. Prime rib roast jumped from $36.66 per kg to $41.39.

The price of flour, cereal, and some produce items has also crept up since spring, and more increases are expected this fall.

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the agri-food analytics lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said he anticipates a yearly overall food price increase of five per cent on average — meaning Canadian families could spend close to $700 more on groceries in 2021 than they did the year before.

"And I think the worst is yet to come," Charlebois said.

Growing conditions have been so poor in Western Canada that Statistics Canada now projects this fall's wheat harvest will be 35 per cent below last year's levels.

Tom Steve, general manager of the Alberta Wheat Commission, said drought has also been a problem this year in other major crop-producing countries including the U.S. and Russia.

"With a substantially smaller crop, it's going to put a lot of upward strain on prices and sheer availability," Steve said. "This drought will definitely have an impact on the consumer."


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2021

The Canadian Press