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In The News for June 5, 2023: What will the PM have to say to wildfire evacuees?

Department of Natural Resources and Renewables firefighter Kalen MacMullin of Sydney, N.S. works on a fire in Shelburne County, N.S. in a Thursday, June 1, 2023 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Communications Nova Scotia **MANDATORY CREDIT**

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 Monday, June 5, 2023 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to provide an update on the wildfires that have forced thousands of people from their homes and caused widespread property damage in several provinces.

Trudeau will appear in Ottawa today alongside a number of ministers, including Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault.

His announcement comes as several provinces have been dealing with dangerous wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of square kilometres of land across Canada over the last two months.

There were more than 150 fires burning in Quebec on Sunday, which forced thousands of people from their homes in the northwestern part of the province over the weekend.

In Nova Scotia, the largest wildfire in the province's history continued to burn out of control in Shelburne County, while firefighters managed to contain a blaze near Halifax that damaged or destroyed over 150 suburban residences.

Alberta recently ended a provincewide state of emergency it implemented to deal with unprecedented wildfires in that province, even as officials warned the situation remained serious.


Also this ...

A union representing workers at Veterans Affairs Canada says a deal to privatize rehabilitation services has been a failure. 

The $570-million contract with Lifemark Health Group and WCG International Consultants was supposed to take the strain off case managers and help veterans access services. 

But the Union of Veterans' Affairs Employees has given the deal a failing grade in a new report card, issued six months after the contract kicked in. 

It says instead of streamlined services, case managers are dealing with more paperwork. 

The report card says only the least complex files have actually been transferred and delays in getting started have led to backlogs for veterans. 

The union is pointing the finger at a lack of training in Veterans Affairs Canada's guidelines, as well as a lack of understanding of what the clients need. 


This too ...

Paul Bernardo should be returned to a maximum-security prison, the lawyer representing the families of his young murder victims said as he called on  the Correctional Service of Canada to be more transparent about what led to his transfer to a medium-security facility in the first place.

Tim Danson represents the relatives of 15-year-old Kristen French and 14-year-old Leslie Mahaffy, who Bernardo kidnapped, tortured and murdered in the early 1990s.

Danson said he was informed by phone last week that Bernardo, who was serving a life sentence at the maximum-security Millhaven Institution near Kingston, Ont., had been transferred to a medium-security facility in Quebec. 

He said the Correctional Service of Canada, citing Bernardo's privacy rights, refused to answer questions about the reason for the move. Danson said he was also unable to learn whether the serial murderer and sex offender was in protective custody or socializing with other inmates, which that security classification allows. 

"This is one of Canada's most notorious, sadistic, psychopathic killers," he told The Canadian Press.


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

Many big companies in the U.S., including Target and Bud Light's parent company, are still backing Pride events in June despite the minefield that the monthlong celebration has become for some of them.

Target and Bud Light recently came under fire for their efforts to appeal to the LGBTQ+ community, only to come under more fire when they tried to backpedal.

But even as they battle the negative publicity, the two American mainstays haven’t pulled away from this year’s Pride celebrations. Target is a platinum sponsor of NYC Pride, which requires a $175,000 donation. And Bud Light’s parent Anheuser-Busch is a sponsor of Pride celebrations in Chicago, San Francisco, Charlotte and elsewhere.

Many other big companies are sticking to their sponsorships as well, including PepsiCo, Starbucks, General Motors and Jeep parent Stellantis — all of which said they have been supporting Pride events for decades and aren’t hesitating to back them again this year.

Despite the corporate support, there are clouds hovering over the rainbow.

A majority of negative social media posts about Pride this year are attacking companies for being “woke” and accusing them of sexualizing or grooming children, says RILA Global Consulting, which tracks more than 100 million websites and social media pages per day.


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

Looking at the vastness of Utah Beach, its sand blowing in strong wind and bright sunshine, made Robert Gibson's memory of D-Day even more vivid.

“It was tough,” the 99-year-old veteran said of the moment when he landed there on June 6, 1944 alongside more than 150,000 other Allied troops.

Gibson was among dozens of Second World War veterans, mostly Americans and British, who travelled to Normandy this week to mark the 79th anniversary of D-Day, commemorating the decisive assault that led to the liberation of France and Western Europe from Nazi control.

He remembered “lots of casualties. We had almost run over bodies to get in the beach. Never forget we were only 18, 19 years old. ... I’m glad I made it.”

Gibson landed on Utah Beach on D-Day in the second wave, after the assault troops. He survived to continue fighting in Normandy and eventually into Germany.

The first job of his battalion, he said, was "to guard an ammunition dump and the first night it got struck. You didn’t know where you were to go. Bullets were going all over the place. But we ducked it.”

On that single day, 4,414 Allied soldiers lost their lives, including 359 Canadians.


And this ... 

Russia's Defense Ministry announced early Monday its forces had thwarted a large Ukrainian attack in the eastern province of Donetsk, though it's unclear if this was the start of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

The ministry, in a rare early morning video, said its forces pushed back a “large scale” Ukrainian assault on Sunday at five points in southern Donetsk, one of four Ukrainian regions Russia illegally annexed last fall.

“The enemy’s goal was to break through our defenses in the most vulnerable, in its opinion, sector of the front,” said the ministry’s spokesman, Igor Konashenkov. “The enemy did not achieve its tasks. It had no success.”

Konashenkov said 250 Ukrainian personnel were killed, and 16 Ukrainian tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles and 21 armored combat vehicles were destroyed.

Ukraine didn’t comment, and often waits until the completion of its military operations to confirm its actions, imposing news blackouts in the interim. It was unclear why the Russian Defense Ministry waited until Monday morning to announce the attack, which it said started Sunday morning.

For months, Ukrainian officials have spoken of plans to launch a spring counteroffensive to reclaim territory Russia has occupied since invading Feb. 24, 2022, as well as the Crimean Peninsula it seized in 2014.

On this day in 1813 ...

About 700 British soldiers won a victory over 2,000 American troops in a surprise attack at Stoney Creek, Ont., during the War of 1812.


In entertainment ...

Prince Harry is going where other British royals haven't for over a century: to a courtroom witness stand.

The Duke of Sussex is set to testify in the first of his five pending legal cases largely centered around battles with British tabloids. Opening statements are scheduled Monday in his case.

Harry said in court documents that the royal family had assiduously avoided the courts to prevent testifying about matters that might be embarrassing.

His frustration and anger at the press, however, impelled him to buck convention by suing newspaper owners — allegedly against the wishes of his father, now King Charles III.

If Harry testifies as scheduled Tuesday in his lawsuit against the publisher of the Daily Mirror, he'll be the first member of the royal family to do so since the late 19th century, when Queen Victoria's eldest son, Prince Albert Edward, testified twice in court.


Did you see this?

Last week's Alberta election, in which the United Conservatives swept rural seats but lost heavily in the big cities, has raised fears of growing polarization.

But an extensive survey conducted through the University of Alberta suggests the divide is more about identity than ideas.

The survey, by a group of researchers called Common Ground, says Albertans actually want many of the same things from their government.

It found people aren't bound to party platforms or rigid ideologies and pick and choose from left and right.

But political science professor Jared Wesley says the survey suggests voter decisions were much more related to whom they identified with.  

He says it's part of a growing trend toward looking at rivals as enemies to be beaten instead opponents to be persuaded.

He says Canada needs political leaders who seek to build big-tent coalitions instead of parties that can win just enough seats to form a government. 


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2023

The Canadian Press

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