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In The News for Nov. 28: It is the expert's turn at the Emergencies Act inquiry

Commissioner Paul Rouleau arrives at the Public Order Emergency Commission in Ottawa, on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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 Nov. 28 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

The inquiry into the Liberal government’s historic choice to invoke the Emergencies Act to quell weeks-long demonstrations against COVID-19 mandates last winter is now moving into its public policy phase.

The Public Order Emergency Commission is expected to hear this week from about 50 experts who will share their perspectives on the use of the Emergencies Act, including whether it needs updating.

A session this morning will focus on fundamental rights and freedoms at stake in public protests, as well as their limits, while an afternoon session will explore financial governance, policing and intelligence.

Other topics to be discussed this week include cryptocurrency, international supply chains and criminal law, with discussions largely driven by policy papers the inquiry commissioned earlier this year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14 after thousands of protesters associated with the "Freedom Convoy" blockaded downtown Ottawa and key border crossings.

Calling a public inquiry is a requirement under the emergency legislation and Justice Paul Rouleau, the commissioner of the inquiry, must submit his report to Parliament by Feb. 20, 2023.


Also this ...

A British Columbia coroner's jury will begin hearing evidence today into the death of an Indigenous teenager at a group home in the Fraser Valley. 

The body of 17-year-old Traevon Desjarlais was found on Sept. 18, 2020, in the closet of his Abbotsford, B.C., group home four days after he was reported missing. 

At the time of his death, Abbotsford police said there was no criminality involved, although the cause of his death was not released. 

The teen had been living in the home operated by the Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society under contract to the provincial government. 

The coroner's jury will hear evidence from witnesses under oath, but the inquest is not a fault-finding inquiry.


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

A white gunman who targeted a Buffalo, New York, supermarket in a predominantly Black neighbourhood plans to plead guilty on Monday to killing 10 people and wounding three others, according to lawyers representing victims' relatives.

Payton Gendron, 19, is scheduled to appear in Erie County Court for a hearing that was postponed for a week by a snowstorm. 

Gendron's lawyers disclosed in recent weeks that he planned to plead guilty to all of the counts in a state indictment and to waive his right to appeal, according to attorneys John Elmore and Terrence Connors, who represent families of those killed and injured.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn declined to comment on the nature of Monday's court appearance, citing a court-imposed gag order.

The 25-count grand jury indictment includes charges of murder, murder as a hate crime and domestic terrorism motivated by hate, which carries an automatic life sentence upon conviction.

Gendron also faces charges for separate federal hate crimes that could result in a death sentence if he is convicted. The U.S. Justice Department has not said whether it would seek capital punishment.


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

NATO returns on Tuesday to the scene of one of its most controversial decisions, intent on repeating its vow that Ukraine, now suffering through the 10th month of a war against Russia, will join the world's biggest military alliance one day.

NATO foreign ministers will gather for two days at the Palace of the Parliament in the Romanian capital Bucharest. It was there in April 2008 that U.S. President George W. Bush persuaded his allies to open NATO's door to Ukraine and Georgia, over vehement Russian objections.

About four months later, Russian forces invaded Georgia. Some experts describe the decision in Bucharest as a massive error that left Russia feeling cornered by a seemingly

ever-expanding NATO. NATO counters that it doesn't pressgang countries into joining and that some requested membership to seek protection from Russia, as Finland and Sweden are doing now.

More than 14 years on, NATO will pledge this week to support Ukraine long-term as it defends itself against Russian aerial, missile and ground attacks, many of which have struck power grids and other civilian infrastructure, depriving millions of people of electricity and heating.


On this day in 1965 ...

The Canadian satellite "Alouette II" was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. It was designed to help study the ionosphere, the part of the atmosphere that stretches from 80 to 460 kilometres.


In entertainment ...

Merriam-Webster has chosen "gaslighting" as its word of the year for 2022. 

Lookups for "gaslighting" on the dictionary company's website increased this year by 1,740 per cent over 2021. Ahead of Monday's unveiling, Merriam-Webster's Peter Sokolowski tells The Associated Press exclusively that lookups were pervasive all year long. Typically there's a single event that drives searches. The word refers to a form of psychological coercion. 

Merriam-Webster chooses its word of the year based solely on data. 

Sokolowski and his team weed out evergreen words most commonly looked up to gauge which word received a significant bump over the year before.


Did you see this?

Canadian food insecurity researchers say holiday appeals for people to donate to their local food banks can be tough to swallow.

Lynn McIntyre, professor emeritus at the University of Calgary's medical school, says donating to food banks doesn't address the root causes of hunger.

McIntyre said in a recent interview that people go hungry because they can't afford food, which indicates a need for systemic changes like higher wages and income support rates, or even a basic income program.

Josh Smee of the Newfoundland and Labrador group Food First says he hopes anyone donating to a food bank this year will also write to decision-makers and ask them to raise the minimum wage and index income support levels to inflation.

He says food banks and private charities are filling in for the gaps in the social system.

Smee says food banks were introduced in the early 1980s as a temporary relief measure, adding that without increases to people's incomes, they'll likely never go away.


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

The Canadian Press

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