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Possible COVID restrictions in Ontario; Palestine elections: In The News for April 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 April 1 ... What we are watching 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 April 1 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

The Canadian Press has learned that Ontario is expected to announce a 28-day provincewide "shutdown" today to stop the spread of COVID-19 as an alarming spike in cases threatens the critical care system.

A source with knowledge of the restrictions discussed at an hours-long cabinet meeting Wednesday night says the final details of the new measures will be worked out this morning. 

The source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the announcement, says schools will remain open after the Easter weekend.

Premier Doug Ford urged Ontarians earlier this week to stay home and not make plans for the Easter long weekend in anticipation of the new rules.

Ontario reported 2,333 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 15 more deaths linked to the virus.

The province also had 421 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units -- a new high.


Also this ...

The Toronto Blue Jays start their season in New York today against the Yankees.

Where they finish remains a mystery.

Hyun-jin Ryu gets the start for the second opener in a row for Toronto as the Blue Jays face their American League East rivals to kick off a three-game series.

The Blue Jays have said they will play all home games through the end of May at their spring-training facility in Dunedin, Fla., because of COVID-19 restrictions. The home opener is April 8.

The team has said it hopes to return to Toronto's Rogers Centre at some point this year. Buffalo, N.Y., the team's home last year, also is a possibility for home games later in the year.

The Blue Jays are scheduled to conclude their campaign with a home game against the Baltimore Orioles on Oct. 3.


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

After the ambulance took George Floyd away, the Minneapolis officer who had pinned his knee on the Black man’s neck defended himself to a bystander by saying Floyd was “a sizable guy” and “probably on something,” according to police video played in court Wednesday.

The video was part of a mountain of footage — both official and amateur — and witness testimony at Officer Derek Chauvin 's murder trial that all together showed how Floyd's alleged attempt to pass a phoney $20 bill at a neighbourhood market last May escalated into tragedy one video-documented step at a time.

A security-camera scene of people joking around inside the store soon gave way to the sight of officers pulling Floyd from his SUV at gunpoint, struggling to push him into a squad car as he writhed and screamed that he was claustrophobic, and then putting him on the pavement.

When Floyd was finally taken away by paramedics, Charles McMillian, a 61-year-old bystander who recognized Chauvin from the neighbourhood, told the officer he didn't respect what Chauvin had done.

“That’s one person’s opinion," Chauvin could be heard responding. "We gotta control this guy ’cause he’s a sizable guy ... and it looks like he’s probably on something.”

Floyd was 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds, according to the autopsy, which also found fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system. Chauvin's lawyer said the officer is 5-foot-9 and 140 pounds.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter, accused of killing the 46-year-old Floyd by kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, as he lay face-down in handcuffs. The most serious charge against the now-fired white officer carries up to 40 years in prison.


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

A popular Palestinian leader imprisoned by Israel has registered his own parliamentary list in May elections, his supporters said Wednesday, in a last-minute shakeup that could severely weaken President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party and help its militant Hamas rivals.

Marwan Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, registered the list hours before the deadline set by the election commission. Polls indicate it would split the vote for Fatah, potentially paving the way for another major victory by Hamas. That increases the likelihood that Abbas will find a way to call off the first Palestinian elections in 15 years.

Barghouti, 61, a former Fatah militant commander, is serving five life sentences in Israel following a 2004 terrorism conviction. But he remains a popular and charismatic leader, and by breaking with Abbas he could reshape Palestinian politics and potentially replace him as president.

His entry reflects growing frustration with Abbas, who has presided over an increasingly authoritarian and unpopular Palestinian Authority that has failed to achieve national unity or advance Palestinian hopes for an independent state.

It's unclear how Barghouti's rise would affect relations with Israel. Both he and Abbas want a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, but there have been no substantive peace talks in over a decade. Israel is unlikely to release Barghouti regardless of his political fortunes, and may refuse to engage with a leader it views as a terrorist.

Abbas has decreed parliamentary and presidential elections for May and July this year, the first since 2006, when the Islamic militant Hamas won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections. That precipitated a crisis that led to Hamas’ seizure of Gaza from Abbas’s forces the following year, leaving the West Bank and Gaza divided between rival governments.


On this day in 2003 ...

Air Canada filed for bankruptcy protection.



A three-year-old boy who was missing near Kingston, Ont., for three days has been found safe, police said Wednesday, hailing the development as "unbelievable."

Provincial police had been searching for the boy since he wandered away from his family in South Frontenac on Sunday morning.

"I can't tell you the overwhelming joy that was felt right across our organization at this news," said Ontario Provincial Police spokesman Bill Dickson. "And the fact that he was found alive and well -- it's just unbelievable."

Dickson had little information about where the boy was found, or how he survived for three days, apparently on his own.

But he said an officer found the tot on Wednesday afternoon, and the boy is going to be checked by paramedics.

Police had conducted a massive ground search for the boy, along with helicopters, drones, police dogs and an underwater dive team.

They had to turn civilians away from helping in the effort, Dickson said previously, as untrained volunteers could hamper the search.

Police are now thanking everyone who helped bring the boy home to his family.


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

The Canadian Press