Plugging the pipeline and presumed consent: In The News for Jan. 18 News Staff

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 Jan. 18 …

What we are watching in Canada …

OTTAWA – The premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan are condemning Joe Biden’s plan to scrap the Keystone XL pipeline expansion on his first day as U.S. president. 

Biden’s plan is outlined in transition documents seen by The Canadian Press. 

Jason Kenney and Scott Moe say halting construction on the controversial project will be disastrous for both the Canadian and U.S. economies. 

Kenney says his government — which announced a $1.5 billion investment into the expansion last year — is prepared to “use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project.”

Moe, meanwhile, is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with Biden and says his government will be in touch with its contacts in Washington. 

Trudeau has so far been silent on the issue, but his ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, is defending the pipeline, saying it fits into Canada’s climate plan and promises good jobs. 

TC Energy Corp. doubled down on that last night, confirming an ambitious plan to spend $1.7 billion US on a solar, wind and battery-powered operating system for the pipeline to ensure it is zero-emission by 2030, and to rely exclusively on union labour.

Also this …

HALIFAX – Nova Scotia is the first jurisdiction in North America to implement presumed consent around organ donation as of today.

Legislation passed in April 2019 finally takes effect this morning following more than 18 months of work to make sure the province’s health-care system can cope with the change. 

Under the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act, all people in Nova Scotia will be considered potential organ donors unless they opt out.

Dr. Stephen Beed, medical director of Nova Scotia’s organ and tissue donation program, says the new opt-out system presents a rare opportunity to transform a part of the health care system.

He believes organ donations could rise by as much as 30 to 50 per cent within five years.

Beed says an opt-out registry has been developed and safeguards are in place such as double checking with families to ensure the last known wishes of a potential donor are respected. 

He says those who tell their families that they don’t want to be donors will not be donors, even if they haven’t opted out.

And this …

TORONTO – Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of immunity to the virus, leading to questions of whether those who’ve already recovered from the disease still need a vaccine. 

And is there urgency to inoculate them, or can they move to the back of the vaccination line?

Experts say a vaccine will likely offer the safest bet for longer-term protection, meaning those with previous infections should still get them. And prior COVID illness shouldn’t determine someone’s place in the queue.

The exact level of immunity acquired from a natural infection is yet to be fully determined, says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at McGill who’s also on Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine task force. 

It may be that protection begins to wane quicker in some people, or that those with previous mild infections aren’t as protected as someone who had more severe symptoms, he says. Still others may think they’ve had a COVID-19 infection but can’t be sure if they didn’t get tested at the time. 

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASINGTON, D.C. – U.S. defence officials say they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. 

That concern is prompting the FBI to vet all 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event. 

The massive undertaking reflects the extraordinary security concerns that have gripped Washington following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters.

And it underscores fears that some of the very people assigned to protect the city over the next several days could present a threat to the incoming president and other VIPs in attendance.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

MOSCOW- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s arrest as he arrived in Moscow after recovering from his poisoning with a nerve agent drew criticism from Western nations and calls for his release, with Germany’s foreign minister on Monday calling it “incomprehensible.” 

Navalny was detained at passport control at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after flying in Sunday evening from Berlin, where he was treated following the poisoning in August that he blames on the Kremlin.  

His arrest adds another layer of tension to relations between Moscow and the West that have long been strained and were worsened by his poisoning.  

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas noted that Navalny had returned of his own volition and said “it is completely incomprehensible that he was detained by Russian authorities immediately after his arrival.”  

European Council President Charles Michel tweeted that Navalny’s detention is “unacceptable” and also called for his immediate release, a call echoed by France’s foreign ministry and by Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau.  

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for national security adviser called on Russian authorities to free Navalny.   

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday the stream of reactions to Navalny’s arrest by Western officials reflects an attempt “to divert attention from the crisis of the Western model of development.”

ICYMI …

OTTAWA – Petty officer Richard Austin was sitting at his position on board HMCS Athabaskan when he heard a clang. It was 1991, and the Canadian destroyer was traversing an Iraqi minefield in the Persian Gulf, on its way to rescue a crippled American warship.

“I remember waiting for the bang,” Austin recalls of those tense few moments nearly 30 years later. “Looking at the two pictures of my sons on the top of the weapons panel. The bang never came.”

Austin’s story is one of several Canadian experiences from the first Gulf War that were collected by Historica Canada and released on Sunday as part of a new video on what is a largely forgotten chapter of Canada’s military history.

Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, the massive attack that eventually resulted in U.S.-led forces pushing the Iraqi military from Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded in August 1990 under then-president Saddam Hussein.

The anniversary passed largely unnoticed by the government on Sunday, with no official statements by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan or Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay.

That was despite Canada being one of dozens of countries to condemn Iraq’s invasion, with three Canadian warships as well as fighter aircraft, security personnel and medical troops deployed in support of the American coalition that liberated Kuwait.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021

The Canadian Press

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