Latest inflation numbers, Trudeau heads to Rwanda : In The News for June 22

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 22 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Statistics Canada will release its latest reading on inflation this morning and expectations are for it to climb even higher.

The agency is to report its consumer price index for May.

The annual inflation rate hit 6.8 per cent in April, its highest level since January 1991 when it reached 6.9 per cent.

However, economists at the Bank of Montreal are predicting the May figure will top seven per cent amid a surge in energy prices.

The big bank’s forecast calls for a year-over-year gain in the consumer price index of 7.4 per cent in May.

It says if the forecast is correct it would make it the fastest pace since February 1983.

Also this …

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on his way to Rwanda for the first leg of a 10-day trip to confer with other world leaders as the war in Ukraine is expected to loom large over nearly all his discussions.

Trudeau is expected to arrive in Kigali, the capital, on Wednesday evening, where he will gather with the heads of government from the other 53 countries in the Commonwealth for the first time since 2018.

He will then depart for Schloss Elmau, a resort in the Bavarian Alps of Germany, for the G7 leaders’ summit before heading to a NATO meeting in Madrid. He will also meet Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister of Spain.

The consequences of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, have been felt around the globe — particularly in some of the smaller nations whose leaders Trudeau will meet in Kigali.

The conflict sparked a massive refugee crisis. It also limited other countries’ access to wheat from Ukraine, often referred to as the breadbasket of Europe because of its significant food production.

African countries, 19 of which are Commonwealth members, have faced especially severe food insecurity as a result. The UN World Food Program has warned that millions of people in the developing world and conflict zones are in danger of starvation.

Before the war, Russia and Ukraine produced about 30 per cent of the world’s exported grain. The closure of key ports in the Black Sea has made it difficult to ship those goods to the countries that need them.

Canada will work along several lines to alleviate the food crisis that has been sparked by the war, said government officials who provided media with a briefing ahead of the trip on the condition they not be identified.

Canada has already extended humanitarian support to Ukraine and elsewhere, officials said, and can draw on Canadian farmers’ expertise in storing and shipping crops in difficult situations to help Ukrainian grain reach those who need it.

And this too …

The lawyer for the former truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash is hopeful he will get a chance to argue against his client’s possible deportation before the Federal Court of Canada.

The Canada Border Services Agency recommended in March that Jaskirat Singh Sidhu be handed over to the Immigration and Refugee Board to decide if he should be deported back to India. 

Sidhu’s lawyer, Michael Greene, has already filed an argument with the Federal Court and expects a response from the Department of Justice by the end of the month. 

He says a federal judge will then decide if the matter can be argued in open court.

In March, 2019, Sidhu was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm in the April 6, 2018, collision that killed 16 people and injured 13. 

Greene says if he is successful with his appeal, the matter would then be sent back to a new officer at Canada Border Services Agency for a new appraisal.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

In her first week on the job at a Philadelphia abortion clinic, Amanda Kifferly was taught how to search for bombs. About a year later, protesters blocked the entrances and exits of the The Women’s Centers, at one point pulling Kifferly into something resembling a mosh pit, where they surrounded her and shoved her around.

And on the night of last winter’s arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case that could end the nationwide right to abortion, people gathered outside a clinic in New Jersey with lawn chairs, a cooler and a flaming torch _ a sight that brought to mind lynchings and other horrors of the country’s racist past, says Kifferly, who now serves as vice president for abortion access.

Such scenes have become familiar for providers and patients across the country over the decades since the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion. At times the violence has been far more severe, including bombings, arson and murders _ from the 1993 killing of Dr. David Gunn outside a Florida abortion clinic to the 2015 fatal shooting of three people inside a Colorado Planned Parenthood.

Now providers and some in law enforcement worry what will come next. They’re preparing for an increase in violence once the Supreme Court rules, saying there has historically been a spike when the issue of abortion gets widespread public attention, such as after a state approves new restrictions. If the decision ends Roe v. Wade _ as a leaked draft opinion indicates may happen _ they also anticipate protests, harassment and other violence to be more concentrated and intensify in states where abortion remains legal.

“We know from experience, it’s not like the people protesting clinics in banned states just pack up and go home,” said Melissa Fowler, chief program officer for the National Abortion Federation.

The group and the hundreds of abortion clinics it represents have been on “heightened alert” since the opinion leaked, Fowler said. The organization has staff who specialize in security on call around the clock. They go out to clinics to do drills with employees and volunteers on scenarios such as bomb threats or active shooters and advise them on things like where to position security cameras. They also conduct safety assessments at the homes of physicians, monitor online threats and consult with local law enforcement.

In some places, local police are working with clinics to try to tamp down potential for violence. In Jacksonville, Florida, the sheriff’s office said last month they would station an officer outside the clinic, and police in Little Rock, Arkansas, installed a camera atop a crane near an abortion clinic that has been the site of protests, hoping to deter bad actors.

NAF, which collects monthly data from its over 500 members on harassment and violence, reported a spike in incidents in 2020, the most recent year for which the group has published data. The number of death threats or threats of harm and of assault and battery both increased by more than double, and providers reported more than 24,000 incidents of hate email or internet harassment.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

KABUL, Afghanistan _ An earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, killing at least 255 people, authorities said.

Information remained scarce on the magnitude 6 temblor that struck Paktika province, but it comes as the international community largely has left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the country last year amid the chaotic withdrawal of the U.S. military from the longest war in its history.

That likely will complicate any relief efforts for this country of 38 million people.

The state-run Bakhtar news agency reported the death toll and said rescuers were arriving by helicopter. The news agency’s director-general, Abdul Wahid Rayan, wrote on Twitter that 90 houses have been destroyed in Paktika and dozens of people are believed trapped under the rubble.

“A severe earthquake shook four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our countrymen and destroying dozens of houses,” Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban government, wrote on Twitter. “We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe.”

Neighbouring Pakistan’s Meteorological Department put the earthquake at a magnitude 6.1. Tremors were felt in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and elsewhere in the eastern Punjab province.

The European seismological agency, EMSC, said the earthquake’s tremors were felt over 500 kilometres by 119 million people across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

On this day in 1976 …

The House of Commons approved, by just eight votes, a bill abolishing the death penalty. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau called the decision a further step away from violence and barbarism. The last execution in Canada was in 1962.

In entertainment …

A tale of two lovers separated in North Korea has won Ontario’s top literary prize.

The Toronto-based poet and filmmaker Ann Shin took home this year’s Trillium Book Award for “The Last Exiles,” published by Park Row.

The novel spins the story of a privileged young woman and her impoverished lover, who attempt to escape from Kim Jong-il’s totalitarian regime.

Robert Marinier’s “Un conte de l’apocalypse,” published by Éditions Prise de parole, nabbed the French-language Trillium Book Award.

Each author receives $20,000 for Trillium’s main book prize, which recognizes literary excellence across genres. Their publishers receive $2,500 to promote the titles.

The Trillium Book Award for Poetry, which honours one of the first three works by an emerging writer, went to Bardia Sinaee for his collection “Intruder,” from House of Anansi Press.

The French-language equivalent prize was awarded to Chloé LaDuchesse for “Exosquelette,” published by Mémoire d’encrier.

In each of these categories, the author receives $10,000, and the publisher receives $2,000.

Did you see this?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to virtually address Canadian university students this morning.

Zelenskyy is scheduled to speak to an in-person audience at the University of Toronto about how Canadian universities can support Ukraine, nearly four months after Russia’s invasion of the country.

Students from 10 other universities across Canada will take part virtually, including the Université de Montréal, the University of Alberta, Western University and Dalhousie University.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is also expected to attend the event, which is being hosted by the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

University of Toronto President Meric Gertler says the institution has a “special connection” with the Ukrainian president and that his country has demonstrated “incredible bravery” fighting off the Russian aggression.

Last month, the institution announced a program to welcome more than 200 students whose studies were disrupted by the war in Ukraine, and a group of 20 students arrived to Toronto from Kyiv last month.

Zelenskyy visited the university’s campus in 2019 to attend an international summit on the future of Ukraine.

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

The Canadian Press

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