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Ottawa prepares for new convoy, Ontario budget out today : In The News for April 28

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 April 28 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
Parliamentary security personnel walk past a barrier indicating a road closure on Wellington St. in front of Parliament Hill, Wednesday, April 27, 2022 in Ottawa. More than 800 RCMP officers may be brought into Ottawa this weekend to support local police as they prepare for a second convoy, this time involving hundreds of motorcycles instead of trucks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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 April 28 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

More than 800 RCMP officers may be brought into Ottawa this weekend to support local police as they prepare for a second convoy, this time involving hundreds of motorcycles instead of trucks.

The Ottawa Police Services Board has approved the expedited appointment of "up to 200" additional officers, while as many as 631 RCMP members brought in to help end the downtown blockade in February could also be reappointed as needed.

Interim police chief Steve Bell told Ottawa city councillors on Wednesday that his force has no intention of letting the "Rolling Thunder Convoy'' turn into another illegal occupation, and that officers will act quickly when they see any wrongdoing.

"Threatening or intimidating behaviours will be addressed with all appropriate enforcement action,'' Bell said. "Investigative teams, including our hate crime unit, are in place focused on gathering evidence and laying charges where appropriate. The display of symbols of hate like swastikas will result in charges.''

The chief also sought to reassure residents still shaken by the "Freedom Convoy,'' in which hundreds of protesters occupied the downtown core for three weeks to protest COVID-19 restrictions and demand the Liberal government resign.

The occupation disrupted traffic, forced businesses to close, and sparked complaints of intimidation, harassment and hateful conduct. Relentless honking of air horns from big rigs disturbed residents for days. Police chief Peter Sloly resigned after many criticized police for not taking a harder line with the protesters.

The demonstration, which also disrupted several border crossings with the United States, ended after the federal Liberal government invoked the Emergencies Act, and police moved in to detain and arrest dozens of people.

The Rolling Thunder group has not been clear about the cause they're rallying for, except to say that they will be in Ottawa to "peacefully celebrate our freedom.''


Also this ...

Ontario's Progressive Conservative government is introducing its budget today, which is set to stand as its election platform and includes new promises on widening Highway 401.

A senior government source says the plan is to adjourn the legislature after the budget is tabled, which means it won't get passed before the expected start of the election campaign next week.

Senior government sources say the budget will have five themes, one of which is building highways and hospitals and comes with a plan of spending $158 billion over 10 years.

Of that planned spending, $21.5 billion would be for highway planning, expansion and rehabilitation and would include a new twin bridge over the Welland Canal on the Queen Elizabeth Way and widening Highway 401 in eastern Ontario starting in Pickering and Oshawa.

The government has recently made a raft of hospital spending announcements, including more than $2.1 billion for projects across the province.

The sources say the other four themes of the budget are rebuilding the economy, workers, keeping costs down for people, and a plan to stay open. 

Ontario's Financial Accountability Office released a report earlier this month saying the province is currently on track to balancing its budget by next year, but that spending plans could well change due to the looming election.


And this ...

Three years after the Raptors last played post-season basketball at home, nobody on this side of the border wants to see Toronto's run end yet.

The Raptors face elimination for the third consecutive time Thursday night when they host the Philadelphia 76ers in a do-or-die Game 6 of their opening-round playoff series.

"Raptors in 7" was trending on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. 

Raptors forward and Montreal native Chris Boucher said the excitement from fans is palpable. And the feeling is mutual.

"It's amazing," Boucher said. "They bring so much motivation. You can feel that basketball hasn't been in town for so long. The fans are into it. We're going to need them for Game 6. It's a big game. We can’t do it without them."

The last Raptors post-season run at home, of course, saw them go all the way to winning an NBA championship in 2019. 

The Raptors are two wins away from being the first team in NBA history to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-0. While they still trail 3-2, the pendulum seems to swinging in Toronto's favour. The Raptors have led or been tied a staggering 92.8 per cent over the last three games. And if not for Joel Embiid's clutch three-pointer to win Game 3, the Raptors would be in the position to close out the series in Game 6.

A Game 7 if needed would be in Philadelphia on Saturday. The series winner faces the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. 


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

WASHINGTON _ A majority of U.S. adults say misinformation around Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a major problem, and they largely fault the Russian government for spreading those falsehoods.

A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows 61 per cent of Americans say the spread of misinformation about the war is a major problem, with only seven per cent saying it's not a problem. Older adults were more likely to identify the wartime misinformation as an issue, with 44 per cent of those under 30 calling it a problem, compared with 65 per cent of those 30 and older.

Misleading social media posts, fake pictures or videos and propagandized headlines have proliferated on websites, from TikTok to Facebook, since Russia's assault on Ukraine began in February. In recent weeks, Russian state media and social media accounts have operated in lockstep to push tweets, TV reports and posts that claim photos of bombed buildings and bodies across Ukraine have been staged or faked. Even well-meaning, everyday social media users have fallen victim to the falsehoods, accidentally sharing or liking posts and images that turned out to be inaccurate.

About three-quarters of the American public fault the Russian government for advancing misinformation around the war, while many also blame social media users, tech companies and the news media. Far fewer place a great deal of blame on the Ukrainian or U.S. governments.

Russia's falsehoods about the war are finding millions of eyeballs across social media and in state-media reports. Earlier this month, for example, a chorus of Kremlin media reports, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and Telegram channels tried to refute photographs and satellite images of bodies left by Russian soldiers in the streets of Bucha, Ukraine by calling the images a "hoax.''

The poll shows a majority of Americans _ about 57 per cent _ say they think Putin has directed Russian troops to commit war crimes, while six per cent say they think he has not done so. An additional 36 per cent say they don't know enough to say.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the AP and the PBS series ``Frontline'' have verified evidence of 178 potential war crimes.

The poll shows about six in 10 Americans say social media users have significant responsibility for the spread of misinformation about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Roughly half also fault social media companies and the news media.


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

BEIJING _ Beijing shifted more classes online Thursday in a further tightening of COVID-19 restrictions, as China's capital seeks to prevent a wider outbreak.

The city of 21 million has already ordered three rounds of mass testing this week for the virus, with the third due to take place on Friday, and closed down some communities where cases were found.

On Thursday, it moved most students in the sprawling Chaoyang district to online learning, with exceptions for middle and high school students who are preparing to take crucial exams that could determine their academic futures.

Beijing announced 50 new cases on Thursday, two of them asymptomatic, bringing its total in the latest wave of infections to around 150. Students make up more than 30 per cent of total cases, with clusters linked to six schools and two kindergartens in Chaoyang.

At least three other districts had already moved students online, and officials on Thursday announced rules requiring residents to remain inside two housing compounds in Chaoyang where cases have been detected.

Beijing has moved more swiftly than many Chinese cities to impose restrictions while case numbers remain low and the scale of the outbreak is still manageable.

The goal is to avoid the sort of sweeping measures imposed on Shanghai, where the highly transmissible omicron variant has torn through the city of 25 million. Restrictions confining many Shanghai residents to their homes are now in their fourth week and all schools have been online since last month.

The strict measures have spurred anger and frustration over shortages of food and basic supplies, the inability of hospitals to deal with other health emergencies and poor conditions at centralized quarantine sites where anyone who tests positive _ or even has contact with a positive case _ is required to be sent.


On this day in 2003 ...

The Air India trial opened in Vancouver. The two men charged in the worst mass murder in Canadian history, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, pleaded not guilty in the 1985 bombing that killed 329 people. In March 2005, they were found not guilty of murder and conspiracy charges.


In entertainment ...

"Jeopardy!" champ Mattea Roach has proven she can conquer dozens of quiz clues with ease.

But in addition to displaying superior skill with the buzzer, the Toronto-based phenom has had to prepare for another challenge that can get harder with each win: coming up with engaging anecdotes for each TV episode.

Such are the lesser-known consequences of dominating "Jeopardy!" categories like the 23-year-old Roach, whose 17 wins give her the show's longest win streak by a Canadian and the eighth-longest run in the quiz show's history. 

"Jeopardy!" champion-turned-host Ken Jennings holds the record with 74 consecutive wins in 2004.

"It does get hard," Roach said when reached by phone on the day of her 13th episode. "I didn't watch Ken's run all the way through as a kid because I was like, five, six years old when it was happening but I'm sure that he must have really been scraping the bottom of the barrel by the end of it."

As of Wednesday's game, Roach had collected a total haul of US$396,182 and had cracked the Top 10 list of the show's highest earners in regular-season play. She has also earned a spot in the show's Tournament of Champions, set to air in the fall.

Show banter is typically featured after the first commercial break, when hosts Jennings or Mayim Bialik offer each contestant a few minutes to tell the audience about themselves. 

In past episodes, Roach has regaled them with accounts of her first kiss, crashing her mom's car in a parking lot and being spat on at a comedy show.

As long as she keeps winning, she'll need more stories.


Did you see this?

Better wildfire management in Canadian and Alaskan forests could offer a cost-effective way to limit greenhouse gas emissions, a new study says.

Research published in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday found wildfires in North American boreal forests could represent about three per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement's budget to limit warming below 1.5 C.

But enhanced fire management could avoid the release of up to 3.87 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050, it said.

Carly Phillips, lead author of the study, said wildfires were a huge threat to climate change mitigation goals. A researcher-in-residence on the wildfire and carbon project at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at the University of Victoria, Philips said boreal forests are extremely dense and store massive amounts of carbon.

"When they burn, they end up actually releasing more carbon to the atmosphere than a ground fire.''

These wildfires could emit up to 11.93 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by mid-century if fire suppression levels remained unchanged, she said.

"That's roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of 2.6 billion fossil-fuel cars.'' 

The study said boreal forests cover about 16.6 million square kilometres, contain roughly two-thirds of global forest carbon, and have the potential to play an outsized role in future fire-related emissions. It suggests the amount of Canadian boreal forest that is burned each year could increase by between 36 per cent and 150 per cent by 2050, if mitigation levels were unchanged.


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

The Canadian Press