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National Housing Council staffing and B.C. oil leak; In The News for June 15

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 June 15 ... --- COVID-19 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 June 15 ...


COVID-19 in Canada ...

OTTAWA — A key body the Liberals vowed to create to help resolve systemic inequities in Canada's housing system remains unstaffed, with delays in appointments chalked up to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national housing council and a related advocate were created, on paper, as part of the Liberal government's decade-long housing strategy that was put into law last year.

Applications closed in mid-October but the positions hadn't been filled by the time the pandemic struck Canada in mid-March.

An online notice from early April says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. still hopes to establish the council this year, but suggests a delay due to COVID-19.

The notice said the federal government was "focused on addressing this crisis" given the "uncertain and evolving circumstances related to COVID-19." The notice added that appointing the council "remains a priority for the government."

Two months later and with the backdrop of promises by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to address systemic racism and inequities in Canada, appointments have not been made.

Leilani Farha, global director of The Shift, a group that advocates for the right to housing, said the council and advocate could be playing a large role in how governments respond to the pandemic.


Also this ...

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — Trans Mountain estimates as much as 1,195 barrels, or 190,000 litres, of light crude spilled from its pipeline pumping station in Abbotsford, B.C.

While an investigation is ongoing, the Crown-owned company said in a statement the cause of the spill appears to be related to a fitting on a one-inch, or 2.5-centimetre, piece of pipe.

The statement said the pipeline restarted on Sunday afternoon, after all safety protocols were completed.

It said the spill was fully contained on Trans Mountain property, the free-standing oil has been recovered and it will be disposed of at an approved facility.

Sumas First Nation Chief Dalton Silver said the spill happened just south of a cultural and burial ground of great significance to their people.

He said in a statement Sunday that it's the fourth time in 15 years that there has been a spill from the pipeline on their land.


In Case You Missed It ...

MIRAMICHI, N.B. — A former provincial ombudsman says the recent police shootings of two Indigenous people in New Brunswick have left him feeling distraught over the lack of police training on dealing with mental health issues, like those presented by the two victims.

"I've long felt that police are not really well equipped to deal with these kind of cases," Bernard Richard said in an interview Sunday.

"In most provinces (including New Brunswick), there are crisis intervention units that are available around the clock to respond to these types of situations."

However, there has been no indication whether police sought the help of mental health experts before the deadly shootings in Edmundston and near Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation, west of Miramichi.

"That would be one of the first questions I would have to ask," said Richard, who served as the province's ombudsman from 2004 to 2011 and now advises six Mi'kmaq First Nations in New Brunswick on child protection issues.

"I was a bit stunned that, in both these cases, the primary response was police, and they felt it necessary to use lethal force."

And in both cases, police were called to deal with people who appeared to be suffering from mental health challenges, Richard said.


What we're watching in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Senate Republicans are poised to unveil an extensive package of policing changes that includes new restrictions on police choke holds and other practices as President Donald Trump signals his support following the mass demonstrations over the deaths of George Floyd and other black Americans.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the sole African American Republican in the Senate, has been crafting the package set to roll out Wednesday. While it doesn't go as far as a sweeping Democratic bill heading toward a House vote, the emerging GOP legislation shares similar provisions as Congress rushes to respond.

With Trump set to announce executive actions on law enforcement as soon as Tuesday, the crush of activity shows how quickly police violence and racial prejudice are transforming national party priorities.

"I think we're going to get to a bill that actually becomes law," Scott said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." Scott said the choke hold, in particular, "is a policy whose time has come and gone."

The GOP package is one of the most extensive proposed overhauls to policing procedures yet from Republicans, who have long aligned with Trump's "law and order" approach but are suddenly confronted with a groundswell of public unrest in cities large and small over police violence.

Over the weekend, the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks during a routine stop by a white officer in Atlanta led to an outcry, more protests and the police chief's swift ouster.


What we're watching in the elsewhere...

SEOUL — South Korea's president called on North Korea to stop raising animosities and return to talks, saying Monday the rivals must not reverse the peace deals that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reached during 2018 summits.

President Moon Jae-in's efforts to defuse rising animosities came after North Korea threatened Friday to destroy an inter-Korean liaison office located in North Korea and take unspecified military steps against South Korea.

If North Korean were to take such actions it would be a serious setback to Moon's efforts toward Korean reconciliation and finding a negotiated solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.

"North Korea must not sever communications and create tensions to turn back the clock to a past confrontational period," Moon said during a meeting with top presidential advisers, according to his office. "We must not push back the pledges of peace that Chairman Kim Jong Un and I made."

Moon, a liberal who met Kim three times in 2018, was a driving force behind now-dormant diplomatic efforts between Pyongyang and Washington, including the summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in Singapore in 2018.

During two of the three inter-Korean summits, Moon and Kim agreed to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and take other steps to boost exchanges and dial down military tensions. Those summits initially helped to improve their countries' ties significantly, before their relations became strained again after the breakdown of a second Kim-Trump summit in Vietnam in early 2019.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2020

The Canadian Press

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