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In The News for Dec. 28: What a look back at Manitoba's 2022 politics reveals

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 Dec. 28 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson delivers her annual state of the province speech to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce at the convention centre in Winnipeg, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

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 Dec. 28 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Despite a change in the premier's chair, an economic rebound and new spending announcements, opinion polls suggest Manitoba's governing Progressive Conservatives continue to lag well behind the Opposition New Democrats.

With an election set for Oct. 3, one veteran political analyst believes it will be a tall order for the Tories to turn things around.

"The public mood now is one of frustration, disappointment and anger, and that is not going to go away easily," said Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Manitoba.

After winning two elections under Brian Pallister, Tory fortunes started to slip as COVID-19 case numbers rose sharply in the second wave of the pandemic. During the next wave, intensive care units were so overwhelmed that dozens of patients were flown to other provinces.

With ongoing long hospital wait times and surgical and diagnostic delays, the polling trend has remained steady. The latest quarterly poll by Probe Research Inc. suggests the NDP has a strong lead, especially in Winnipeg, where most legislature seats are. Monthly polls by Angus Reid say Premier Heather Stefanson is at the bottom of approval ratings among provincial leaders.

Stefanson, who took over as premier in November 2021, has loosened the purse strings and made many spending announcements. She's promised more money for health care, including a $200-million plan to hire more professionals, cut wait times and ease workloads. Her government has issued cheques to low-income seniors and low- and middle-income families to help with inflation.

New Democrats have also not yet laid out how they would pay for their promises.

"If you look at the way the PCs are running things, there's a lot of waste, and I think there is the opportunity to find some savings within government, and certainly within health care," NDP Leader Wab Kinew said in an interview.


Also this ...

Charges are expected to be announced today regarding a police investigation into a shooting that left an Ontario Provincial Police officer dead in southeast Ontario.

OPP say Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala of the Haldimand County detachment was shot just after 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday while responding to a vehicle in a ditch just west of Hagersville, Ont.

O-P-P Commissioner Thomas Carrique says Pierzchala had been notified earlier in the day that he had passed his 10-month probation period.

Carrique says the 28-year-old officer was previously a special constable at Queen's Park and had been with the provincial police force for just over a year.

The force says two suspects, a 25-year-old male and a 30-year-old female, were arrested and no other suspects are at large.

Provincial police had issued an emergency alert just before 6 p.m. advising all area residents to remain in place, which was cancelled after the suspects were arrested.


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

The U.S. Supreme Court is keeping pandemic-era limits on asylum in place for now, dashing the hopes of migrants who have been fleeing violence and inequality in Latin America and elsewhere to reach the United States.

Tuesday's ruling preserves a major Trump-era policy that was scheduled to expire under a judge's order on Dec. 21. The case will be argued in February and a stay imposed last week by Chief Justice John Roberts will remain in place until the justices make a decision. 

The limits, often known as Title 42 in reference to a 1944 public health law, were put in place under then-President Donald Trump at the beginning of the pandemic, but unwinding it has taken a torturous route through the courts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attempted to end the policy in April 2022, but a federal judge in Louisiana sided with 19 Republican-led states in May to order it kept in place. 

Another federal judge in Washington said in November that Title 42 must end, sending the dispute to the Supreme Court. Officials have expelled asylum-seekers inside the United States 2.5 million times on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Immigration advocates sued to end the policy, saying it goes against American and international obligations to people fleeing to the U.S. to escape persecution. They've also argued that the policy is outdated as coronavirus treatments improve.


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

Philippine officials say the death toll from heavy rains and floods over the Christmas weekend has risen to 25, with 26 others still missing. 

The national disaster response agency said Wednesday that 81,000 people are still in shelters and some areas still lack power or water. The weather agency said a shear line, the point where warm and cold air meet, triggered rains in parts of eastern, central and southern Philippines. 

While it has weakened, a new low pressure area may bring moderate to heavy rains within the next 24 hours to the same areas. 

The weather bureau said flooding and landslides are likely, especially in areas with significant prior rainfall.

Each year about 20 typhoons and storms batter the Philippines, one of the world's most disaster-prone countries. The archipelago is also located on the "Ring of Fire" along the Pacific Ocean's rim, where
many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.


On this day in 1842 ...

Calixa Lavallee, the composer of "O Canada," was born in Vercheres, Lower Canada (now Quebec). The song, with words by Judge A.B. Routhier, was composed for a national convention of French Canadians held in Quebec City in June, 1880. 

With the exception of "O Canada," Lavallee's work remains largely unknown. 

He apparently gave little thought to preserving his compositions, more than half of which have been lost or destroyed. Nevertheless, Lavalle is considered one of Canada's musical pioneers. 

He died in Boston in 1891.


In entertainment ...

Bell Biv Devoe will sing the national anthem before the 2023 N-H-L Winter Classic next week. 

The Black Keys are scheduled to perform during the first intermission. The Boston Pops will perform throughout the game on a special centerfield stage. 

The N-H-L Classic will feature the Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins in an outdoor game at Boston's Fenway Park on Monday.


Did you see this?

The Public Health Agency of Canada says millions of dollars in fines have been handed out to people accused of breaking federal COVID-19 rules this year.

The agency provided a partial breakdown to the House of Commons in response to a requested for data by a Conservative M-P in the fall. 

The $14.8 million dollars in fines includes tickets handed out from January to August, in Ontario, Manitoba, B.C. and Atlantic Canada.

Some of the most common offences were entering Canada without a pre-arrival test, refusing to do a COVID-19 test upon arrival, and refusing to answer questions from a public health officer.

It's up to the provinces to track what happens after the fines are handed out _ and data from B.C. shows very little of the money has been collected.

Just 95 of the more than 3-thousand tickets have been paid so far, meaning $3.5 million dollars is outstanding.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec.28, 2022

The Canadian Press

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