Emergencies Act passes Commons vote and Ukraine on edge: In The News for Feb. 22

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Published February 22, 2022 at 4:15 am

Trudeau

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 Feb. 22 …

What we are watching in Canada …

A motion to approve extraordinary, time-limited measures in the Emergencies Act, passed Monday night, mostly along party lines.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the law last week in a bid to end blockades in Ottawa and at several border crossings.

The motion to confirm the declaration of emergency powers passed 185-151 on Monday evening with the New Democrats voting in favour alongside the minority Liberal government.

New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh said earlier Monday his party would support the motion but would withdraw that support as soon as it decides the measures are no longer necessary, including if remaining convoy members stopped lingering in Ottawa and near border crossings.

Both the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois opposed it, while the two Green MPs in the House were split.

Leading up to the vote, there were signs the government had decided to make it a confidence vote, meaning that if it failed, the minority Liberal government could have fallen, which would have triggered an election.

Trudeau had not officially designated the vote as such, but he opened the door to that interpretation by likening the decision to a vote on a throne speech, which lays out the government’s agenda.

Joel Lightbound, a Liberal MP who has criticized the government over its handling of the crisis, said invoking the act was “a slippery slope.”

He said he would be inclined to vote against the measures if it were not a vote of confidence, and asked for clarification from ministers.

He also voted in favour of the motion Monday night.

Also this …

An independent public inquiry is set to begin in Nova Scotia almost two years after a gunman disguised as a Mountie went on a shooting rampage that claimed 22 lives.

The federal-provincial inquiry, which was supposed to start in October, is expected to hear opening statements from the three commissioners leading the proceedings at the Halifax Convention Centre.

Before any evidence is presented, there will be a panel discussion on mental health and wellness, which will acknowledge how the multiple murders on April 18-19, 2020 had a painful ripple effect across Canada.

The commissioners have said the evidence presented at the hearings will rekindle awful memories for many people, so they will seek to “normalize and validate” people’s emotions and prepare them for the information to be revealed during the inquiry.

A report on the inquiry’s preliminary findings is due May 1, and a final report with recommendations on improving public safety must be submitted no later than Nov. 1.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

The U-S federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights is expected to hear closing arguments today.

Jurors will be picking up the case after a month of testimony.

Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are charged with depriving Floyd of his right to medical care as Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nine-and-a-half minutes.

Lane was the final officer to present his defence, testifying Monday he didn’t realize how dire Floyd’s condition was while handcuffed, facedown on the street until paramedics turned him over.

Lane held the 45-year-old Black man’s feet, Kueng knelt on his back and Thao held back bystanders.

Kueng and Thao are also charged with failing to intervene to stop Chauvin in the May 25th, 2020, killing that triggered protests worldwide and a re-examination of racism and policing.

Chauvin pleaded guilty in the federal case in December, months after being convicted of state murder and manslaughter charges.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

World leaders are lining up to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin after he ordered his forces into separatist regions of eastern Ukraine.

Leaders in Asia and elsewhere on Tuesday voiced strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, along with worries about how a European war could hurt global and local economies and endanger foreign nationals trapped in Ukraine.

Some nations publicly signalled a willingness to pursue punishment.

A top European Union official says Russia’s recognition of the Ukrainian separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states and to send troops into the territories is an “act of war.”

Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice, said the 27-nation bloc is ready to implement sanctions against Russia.

Speaking to Belgian broadcaster RTBF, Reynders said a unanimous accord from EU member countries is needed for new sanctions to be imposed.

Earlier, Ukraine called for a rare evening session of the U.N. Security Council.

The country’s ambassador to the U.N. demanded that Russia drop its recognition of the independence of separatist regions in the east, immediately withdraw the “occupation troops” sent there by President Vladimir Putin, and return to negotiations.

Sergiy Kyslytsya said Russia’s latest move scuttles earlier negotiating frameworks and “may be considered” a unilateral withdrawal from the Minsk Agreements, and its disregard of the Normandy format comprising Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany which has tried to resolve the eight-year war in the east.

Despite Putin’s actions, he said, “the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine have been and will remain unchangeable regardless of any statements and actions by the Russian Federation.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s U.N. ambassador accused the United States and its Western allies of egging Ukraine toward “an armed provocation.”

Vassily Nebenzia accused Ukraine of sharply increasing shelling in residential areas of the separatist Luhansk and Donetsk regions and in Russian towns and villages near the border.

On this day in 1980 …

The “Miracle on Ice” took place in Lake Placid, New York, as the United States Olympic hockey team upset the Soviets, 4-3.

ICYMI …

Steve Fonyo, who lost his leg to cancer as a child and ran a marathon across Canada to raise millions for cancer research, has died at 56.

Fonyo lost a leg to cancer when he was 12 and became a national hero in 1985 after his Canada-wide marathon to raise money for cancer research, five years after Terry Fox attempted the same thing.

Fonyo completed Fox’s planned trek, and called it the Journey for Lives. Starting in St. John’s, N.L., he travelled 8,000 kilometres on his artificial leg along the Trans Canada Highway, reaching Victoria after 14 months.

He raised more than $13 million and inspired countless people from coast-to-coast, who lined the road to cheer him on along the way.

Fonyo was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in at the age of 19 — the youngest person to receive the honour at the time.

However, his Order of Canada membership was terminated in 2009 following multiple criminal convictions.

Alan Zweig, who directed a documentary about Fonyo, says Fonyo was a complicated person who felt he’d disappointed Canadians and had tried to live a better life.

Fonyo’s niece Melody Kruppa says Fonyo was her hero.

“He was 11 years older than me. I looked up to him,” she said on Monday. “What I respected about him was that he had a lot of difficulties, but he kept going. He just persevered.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2022

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