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In the news today: Opening arguments at the Alberta blockade trial for trio of men


A truck convoy of anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate demonstrators block the highway at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. Opening arguments are scheduled today in the trial for three men charged for their role in the blockade of the Canada-U.S. border at Coutts, Alta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today...

Opening arguments set for Coutts blockade trial

Opening arguments are scheduled today in the trial for three men charged for their role in the blockade of the Canada-U.S. border at Coutts, Alta.

The blockade over COVID-19 pandemic health restrictions paralyzed Alberta's main border crossing with Montana for more than two weeks in 2022. 

Marco Van Huigenbos, Alex Van Herk and Gerhard Janzen are charged with mischief over $5,000. 

Jurors were picked Tuesday after they were quizzed on their opinions about the COVID-19 lockdowns and the blockade.

The Crown is set to lay out its case when court resumes this morning in Lethbridge.

O'Toole, MPs to testify at interference inquiry

Former Conservative leader Erin O'Toole is set to testify this morning at a federal inquiry into foreign interference, alongside three politicians who claim China has targeted them.

O'Toole said last spring that Canada's spy agency told him he had been the target of Chinese interference intended to promote false narratives online about his policies and discredit him during the 2019 election.

The Tories say security officials never informed the party about these concerns, which O'Toole blames for the loss of eight or nine seats. A government rapporteur found little evidence of such a link.

This afternoon, former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu is slated to take the stand, followed first by NDP MP Jenny Kwan and then Tory foreign affairs critic Michael Chong. 

All three believe China has targeted them for advocating for human rights.

Rescue team attempts to feed stranded orca calf

Plans to save a killer whale calf stranded in a remote tidal lagoon off northern Vancouver Island for almost two weeks have been elevated to attempts to feed the young animal.

Federal Fisheries Department rescue team members say they will now look to see if the orca calf will eat harbour seal remains placed at areas of the lagoon where the young killer whale is known to frequent.

Paul Cottrell, the department's Pacific region marine mammal co-ordinator, says the rescue team has yet to see the orca calf eat anything from the lagoon, though the animal was photographed with a bird in its mouth.

But he says the lagoon does offer feeding opportunities for the young orca as it is plentiful with fish.

Report says drought a risk to natural gas industry

Persistent drought conditions are poised to challenge natural gas producers even as they aim to ramp up in anticipation of Canada's first liquefied natural gas export terminal opening, a new report warns.

The report by Deloitte Canada identifies potential water shortages in Western Canada as a key risk facing the oil and gas sector in 2024.

Some of the most extreme drought conditions currently are in northeast B.C. and northwest Alberta, a region that is the epicentre of Canada's natural gas drilling industry.

The report notes Alberta's government has already set up a drought advisory panel to begin water usage negotiations, while B.C. Premier David Eby has called his province's situation "the most dramatic drought conditions that we've seen."

Indigo to go private after sale to holding company

Indigo Books & Music Inc. has agreed to be taken private after agreeing to a sweetened offer from a holding company connected to its largest shareholder.

The retailer says its agreement will see Trilogy Retail Holdings Inc. and Trilogy Investments L.P. pay $2.50 per share in cash for the stake in Indigo they do not already own.

The Trilogy companies, owned by Gerald Schwartz, the spouse of Indigo chief executive Heather Reisman, offered Indigo $2.25 per share in cash in February. 

Indigo did not say what caused Trilogy to boost its offer but noted the new price reflects a 69 per cent premium on the share price of $1.48 that Indigo had when Trilogy first made its bid.

Indigo says an independent committee of its board of directors recently unanimously recommended the company accept Trilogy's latest offer.

Flaherty remembered for funny 'SCTV' characters

Forty years after he invented them, Joe Flaherty's characters can still raise a smirk, and often more, from Canadians of a certain age.

"Rest in peace to one of the great comedy minds of my lifetime," one heartsick fan opined on social media Tuesday after Flaherty's death was announced.

Anyone watching TV in the '80s, who had the requisite anarchic sense of humour, can probably still rattle off the characters Flaherty invented for 'SCTV.' The sketch series about a fictional TV station is still memorialized behind a showcase in Edmonton's Global TV building, the show's original home.

Among the classics was Guy Caballero, the wheelchair-bound (sometimes) president of the imaginary network; acerbic-to-the-point-of-rude newsman Floyd Robertson; and talk show host Sammy Maudlin with the inflated Afro hair and lounge-lizard tux.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2024

The Canadian Press

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