Dropping mask requirements, Indigenous SCOC nominee speaks: In The News for Aug. 24

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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 Aug. 24 ...

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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 Aug. 24 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Universities that require masks on campus are in the minority as the fall semester and the prospect of another wave of COVID-19 infections loom.

Students walk across campus at Western University in London, Ont., September 19, 2020. Universities that require masks on campus are in the minority as the fall semester and the prospect of another wave of COVID-19 infections loom. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins

Despite the lifting of provincial and territorial mask requirements, some post-secondary institutions have decided to keep them for the safety of staff and students.

Fourteen out of 83 universities surveyed by The Canadian Press through email, interviews and online notices say they will require students and employees to mask up in different settings on campus.

Western University in London, Ontario, and an affiliated school, Huron University College, were the only ones surveyed that have vaccine mandates.

Universities that offer medical training still have mask policies in clinical settings, as recommended by public health officials.

Also this …

Michelle O’Bonsawin, the judge poised to become the first Indigenous justice on the Supreme Court of Canada, will speak at a parliamentary committee meeting this afternoon.

Today’s meeting with MPs and senators will be O’Bonsawin’s first public appearance since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nominated her for the role last Friday.

Justice Minister David Lametti and the head of the independent advisory board for Supreme Court appointments will separately appear in front of the House of Commons justice committee this morning.

O’Bonsawin comes to the court after serving as a judge at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa for the past five years.

She is a fluently bilingual Franco-Ontarian and an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation.

The question-and-answer session will allow MPs and senators to learn more about O’Bonsawin, but unlike the process in the United States, a vote by elected officials is not required to cement her appointment.

And this too …

Patrick Laracy says the historic deal signed Tuesday between Canada and Germany involving hydrogen energy could be a boon for his company’s salt reserve in western Newfoundland.

Laracy is the chief executive officer of Atlas Salt Inc., which owns the mineral rights to a subterranean cylinder of salt called the Fischell’s Brook salt dome, which reaches more than 2.4 kilometres into the earth.

The company says the vertical salt column near St. George’s, N.L., spans an area of about five square kilometres, and Laracy says it could be used to store industrial quantities of hydrogen.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signed a deal in the nearby town of Stephenville, N.L., Tuesday to kick-start a transatlantic hydrogen supply chain, with the first deliveries expected in three years.

A company called World Energy GH2 has proposed up to 164 onshore wind turbines to power a hydrogen production facility in the town, with long-term plans of tripling the project’s size.

Laracy says he believes storage capabilities will be an important component of hydrogen projects in the area, and he says salt chambers make perfect vessels for gas storage because the mineral’s low permeability traps the gas.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

MIAMI _ U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist won the Democratic nomination for governor in Florida on Tuesday, setting him up to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis this fall in a campaign that the Republican incumbent sees as the first step toward a potential White House run.

In selecting Crist, Florida Democrats sided with a candidate backed by many in the party’s establishment who viewed him as the safest choice, even after he lost his previous two statewide elections. The 66-year-old moderate, who served as Florida’s Republican governor a decade ago, hopes to appeal to voters in Florida’s teeming suburbs as Democrats seek to reverse a losing pattern in a state that was recently seen as a perennial political battleground.

Above all, the Democratic contest centred on DeSantis, who views his November reelection as a potential springboard into the 2024 presidential contest. Given the stakes, Democrats across Florida and beyond expressed a real sense of urgency to blunt DeSantis’ momentum.

Crist decried DeSantis as an “abusive” and “dangerous'” “bully” in his victory speech.

“Tonight, the people of Florida clearly sent a message: They want a governor who cares about them and solves real problems, preserves our freedom, not a bully who divides us and takes our freedom away,” Crist declared. “This guy wants to be president of the United States of America and everybody knows it. However, when we defeat him on Nov. 8 that show is over. Enough.”

Crist won the Democratic nomination over Nikki Fried, the state agriculture commissioner. She staked out a more progressive campaign and was particularly vocal in defending abortion and LGBTQ rights. The 44-year-old cast herself as “something new” and hoped to become Florida’s first female governor. In a sign of the party’s meagre standing in Florida, she’s currently the only Democrat holding statewide office.

“We are going to make Ronald DeSantis a one-term governor and a zero-term president of the United States,” she said as she conceded Tuesday, calling on her supporters to unite behind Crist.

DeSantis won his first election by less than half a percentage point, but soon became one of the most prominent figures in GOP politics. His hands-off approach to the pandemic and eagerness to lean into divides over race, gender and LGBTQ rights have resonated with many Republican voters who see DeSantis as a natural heir to former president Donald Trump.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

BEIJING _ Tropical Storm Ma-on was headed for Hong Kong and other parts of southeastern China Wednesday after displacing thousands in the Philippines.

The Hong Kong Observatory on Wednesday warned of flooding in low-lying areas and advised people to stay away from the shoreline, though Ma-on is not forecast to make a direct impact on the southern Chinese financial hub with its population of 7.4 million.

The storm is expected to make landfall Thursday morning in Guangdong province, about 200 kilometres southwest of Hong Kong, before moving inland toward the Guangxi region, Yunnan Province and northern Vietnam, China’s National Meteorological Centre said on its website.

The storm’s arrival comes as many parts of central and western China are facing severe drought brought on by temperatures that broke records for August, withering crops and endangering drinking water supplies.

In the key agricultural province of Sichuan, cloud seeding is being used to try to promote rainfall. Hydropower plants that generate around 80 per cent of the province’s electricity have operated at far-reduced capacity, forcing rolling brownouts and the cutting of factory work hours.

Ma-on weakened slightly after barrelling across mountainous northern provinces in the Philippines, where at least three people were left injured by trees knocked down by the high winds. Classes were suspended and government offices closed in the capital Manila.

On this day in 2006 …

The International Astronomical Union approved a new definition of a planet, stripping Pluto of its status and placing it in a new category known as dwarf planets.

In entertainment …

TORONTO _ The story of Canada’s tarnished pocket gem the BlackBerry is headed for the movies.

Producers say filming has wrapped on a feature-length production that recounts the rise and fall of the device _ once affectionately known as the CrackBerry among its most obsessed users.

“BlackBerry” centres around the masterminds at Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), the Waterloo, Ont.-based technology company responsible for creating what was once the world’s most popular smartphone brand, years before Apple’s iPhone came to market.

A representative for Canadian distributor Elevation Pictures says the film will co-star Glenn Howerton, cast member of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” as co-CEO Jim Balsillie, while Ottawa-born Jay Baruchel, known for the comedy “Knocked Up,” will play his business partner and company co-founder Mike Lazaridis.

“BlackBerry” is adapted from the non-fiction book “Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry,” written by Globe and Mail reporters Sean Silcoff and Jacquie McNish.

The film was shot largely in the Hamilton area by director Matt Johnson, whose previous work includes “The Dirties,” “Operation Avalanche” and TV docu-comedy “Nirvanna the Band the Show.”

Other cast members include Cary Elwes of “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning,” Saul Rubinek from “True Romance” and Michael Ironside from “Total Recall.”

“BlackBerry” is financed by XYZ Films which intends to shop the film to global distributors at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Did you see this?

Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada will today mark Ukraine’s Independence Day with the launch of an immersive exhibition in Toronto created during the most violent phases of the war with Russia.

Yulia Kovaliv will launch a multimedia exhibition featuring footage of Ukrainians defending their country on the front lines.

Ukraine is celebrating its independence from Russia 31 years ago, but also marking six months of the war.

To mark the event, Kovaliv will also host a charity auction in Toronto to raise money for ambulances and evacuation vehicles.

Among the items set to be auctioned is a piece of a Russian missile that destroyed a training base near the Polish border.

Weeks before the missile struck, killing 43 people, Canadian personnel had been training Ukrainian soldiers at the base.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 24, 2022.

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