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 May 31 ...
What we are watching in Canada ...
Statistics Canada is set to release today its latest reading on how the economy fared in March, as well as for the first quarter of the year.
The federal agency's preliminary estimate suggested real gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 2.5 per cent during the first three months of 2023.
However, after posting slight growth in February, Statistics Canada's initial estimate released last month suggested the economy contracted by 0.1 per cent in March.
The GDP report comes ahead of the Bank of Canada's interest rate decision next week.
The central bank, which is focused on returning inflation to its two per cent target, paused its aggressive rate hiking cycle earlier this year.
However, governor Tiff Macklem has signalled that the Bank of Canada is still evaluating whether interest rates need to go higher to tame inflation which ticked higher in April.
Also this ...
Halifax's deputy fire chief says an out-of-control wildfire burning northwest of the city has not grown beyond the evacuation perimeter, where 200 homes and structures have been either damaged or destroyed since the fire started Sunday.
But Deputy Chief David Meldrum stressed at a late-day news conference Tuesday that the blaze is not out, adding it can still "wake up and gain new energy."
No deaths or injuries have been reported as a result of the fire.
But about 16,000 people have been ordered to leave their Halifax-area homes, most of which are within a 30-minute drive of the port city's downtown.
An evacuation order for another 2,000 people has been issued in southwestern Nova Scotia, where a 100-square-kilometre fire continues to grow northwest of Barrington, N.S.
Fire officials have voiced concern about a potential "reburn" due to the extended forecast calling for hot, windy weather today and Thursday, and no rain until Friday night at the earliest.
What we are watching in the U.S. ...
WASHINGTON _ Hard-fought to the end, the debt ceiling and budget cuts package is heading toward a crucial U.S. House vote as President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy assemble a coalition of centrist Democrats and Republicans to push it to passage over fierce blowback from conservatives and some progressive dissent.
Biden is sending top White House officials to meet early Wednesday at the Capitol to shore up support ahead of voting. McCarthy is working furiously to sell skeptical fellow Republicans, even fending off challenges to his leadership, in the rush to avert a potentially disastrous U.S. default.
Despite deep disappointment from right-flank Republicans that the compromise falls short of the spending cuts they demanded, McCarthy insisted he would have the votes needed to ensure approval.
"We're going to pass the bill,'' McCarthy said as he exited a lengthy late Tuesday night meeting at the Capitol.
Quick approval by the House and later in the week the Senate would ensure government checks will continue to go out to Social Security recipients, veterans and others, and prevent financial upheaval at home and abroad. Next Monday is when Treasury has said the U.S. would run short of money to pay its debts, risking an economically dangerous default.
The package leaves few lawmakers fully satisfied, but Biden and McCarthy are counting on pulling majority support from the political centre, a rarity in divided Washington, testing the leadership of the president and the Republican speaker.
Overall, the 99-page bill restricts spending for the next two years, suspends the debt ceiling into January 2025 and changes policies, including new work requirements for older Americans receiving food aid and green-lighting a controversial Appalachian natural gas line that many Democrats oppose.
The House aims to vote Wednesday and send the bill to the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell are working for passage by week's end.
What we are watching in the rest of the world ...
BEIJING _ China's ruling Communist Party is calling for beefed-up national security measures, highlighting the risks posed by advances in artificial intelligence.
A meeting headed by party leader and President Xi Jinping on Tuesday urged "dedicated efforts to safeguard political security and improve the security governance of internet data and artificial intelligence,'' the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Xi, who is China's head of state, commander of the military and chair of the party's National Security Commission, called at the meeting for "staying keenly aware of the complicated and challenging circumstances facing national security.''
China needs a "new pattern of development with a new security architecture,'' Xinhua reported Xi as saying.
China already dedicates vast resources to suppressing any perceived political threats to the party's dominance, with spending on the police and security personnel exceeding that devoted to the military.
While it relentlessly censors in-person protests and online criticism, citizens have continued to express dissatisfaction with policies, most recently the draconian lockdown measures enacted to combat the spread of COVID-19.
China has been cracking down on its tech sector in an effort to reassert party control, but like other countries it is scrambling to find ways to regulate the developing technology.
Worries about artificial intelligence systems outsmarting humans and slipping out of control have intensified with the rise of a new generation of highly capable AI chatbots such as ChatGPT.
On this day in 1968 ...
Canada's first heart transplant was performed at the Montreal Heart Institute. A team headed by Dr. Pierre Grondin operated on 58-year-old Albert Murphy. The retired butcher died 46 hours later.
In entertainment ...
FORT PIERCE, Fla. _ A South Florida art dealer was sentenced Tuesday to two years and three months in federal prison in connection with a scheme involving the sale of fake Andy Warhol paintings.
Daniel Elie Bouaziz, 69, was sentenced in Fort Pierce federal court, according to court records. He pleaded guilty in February to a single count of money laundering, while prosecutors agreed to drop 16 other counts related to fraud and embezzlement. Bouaziz was fined $15,000, and a restitution hearing is scheduled for Aug. 16.
Prosecutors said Bouaziz, the owner of Danieli Fine Art and Galerie Danieli in Palm Beach County, sold counterfeit artworks to a customer in October 2021 including pieces purportedly by Warhol.
Bouaziz told the customer that the pieces, which he was selling for between $75,000 and $240,000, were authentic originals and that some were signed by the artist, investigators said.
Officials said the customer gave Bouaziz a $200,000 down payment that was deposited into Bouaziz's account, and then the comingled funds were wired to other accounts.
Warhol was an American visual artist and filmmaker most associated with the pop art movement of the 1960s.
Did you see this?
A woman who protested topless onstage at the Juno Awards in Edmonton in March says she has agreed to pay a $600 fine.
Casey Hatherly, who goes by the name Ever, says she pleaded guilty to a charge of trespassing.
The environmental activist, who initially faced a charge of mischief, walked onto the Junos stage while Canadian musician Avril Lavigne was introducing a performance.
Messages written on the protester's bare torso read "land back'' and "save the Greenbelt,'' referring to Ontario's decision last year to open a protected area of land for housing.
Hatherly says $100 of her fine will go to a victims support group.
She says the timing of her fine is interesting, with the Alberta provincial election having wrapped up on Monday.
"Why would I wanna give $500 to this province that literally just elected an oil lobbyist while a third of the province is on fire?'' she said in a phone interview, referring to Premier Danielle Smith. "What do they want my money for? Do they need to throw it in the fire?''
The activist, who is involved with a climate advocacy group called On2Ottawa, says they are planning more action.
"It's only May, and how much of this country is actually on fire right now?'' she says. "People are not paying attention and I definitely don't think the work is over.''
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2023.
The Canadian Press