U.S. presidential inauguration day and Tory MP’s fate: In The News for Jan. 20 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. 20 …

What we are watching …

Canadians will be watching with bated breath as a new U.S. president takes office today. 

President-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris are to be sworn in at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. 

The pandemic has placed limits on the size of the crowd that would typically gather in the U.S. capital for the ceremony.

So has the lingering threat of violence after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol building this month to stop the transition of power, egged on by the president himself.

Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed ahead of the event, further stoking anxiety among Americans and concerned observers. 

Wanda Beatty plans to watch the ceremony from her Peterborough, Ont., home, switching between news outlets while chatting online with family.

Three of Beatty’s sisters live in the U.S. and she says the instability has taken a toll on them. 

“I’m not worried for their safety, I’m just worried, really, for their mental health,” Beatty said in an interview this week. 

“It’s such a bizarre, unprecedented time.”

Katie Thompson of Thompson Chiropractic in Barrie, Ont., says the clinic plans to stream the proceedings live after several patients asked to schedule appointments around the event. 

“It feels like we have been building up to this day for, well, quite frankly, four years.” 

Also this …

OTTAWA — Conservative members of Parliament will vote today on whether one of their own can remain on the party’s benches. 

Derek Sloan is facing potential expulsion from caucus just 15 months after he was first elected as an MP. 

Party leader Erin O’Toole triggered the effort to boot him after learning Monday that Sloan accepted a donation from a known white nationalist last year — news that broke one day after O’Toole declared there’s no room in his party for far-right extremism or racism.

Sloan has acknowledged he did accept the donation, but has claimed there was no way he — or any other MP — could have vetted every single contribution to his campaign.

Sloan’s aggressive social conservative views have been a thorn in the Conservatives’ side ever since he ran for leadership of the party last year. 

He’s faced accusations he’s racist, drawn condemnation for his views on LGBTQ rights and for his anti-abortion stance, all leading to periodic calls he should be tossed from the party’s benches.

And …

OTTAWA — Canada’s central bank will update its economic forecast for the country Wednesday when it announces its interest-rate decision, offering a glimpse into its outlook for COVID-19 recovery.

The Bank of Canada said in October the country had been spared from a worst-case economic scenario, but it still didn’t see a recovery taking hold until at least 2022.

Since then, case numbers have grown and severe restrictions put in place in parts of the country to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Given the economic conditions, there is widespread expectation that the Bank of Canada will decide today to keep its trendsetting policy rate at 0.25 per cent.

Bank governor Tiff Macklem has said the key rate won’t move from near-zero until inflation is back at the bank’s two per cent target.

Separately this morning, Statistics Canada will release its headline inflation reading for December.

Financial data firm Refinitiv says the average economist estimate is for a one per cent increase in prices at the end of 2020 compared to the same month in 2019.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

India has begun supplying coronavirus vaccines to its neighbouring countries, as the world’s largest vaccine making nation strikes a balance between maintaining enough doses to inoculate its own people and helping developing countries without the capacity to produce their own shots. 

India’s Foreign Ministry said the country would send 150,000 shots of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, manufactured locally by Serum Institute of India, to Bhutan and 100,000 shots to the Maldives today. 

It said after that vaccines will be sent to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles. 

The ministry in a statement late Tuesday said regulatory clearances were still awaited from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius.

Meanwhile, Pfizer has delayed distribution of its vaccine as part of its efforts to increase manufacturing. 

The company is trying to double its production of vaccine doses to two billion this year and is planning to temporarily curb production at its Belgian facility to make upgrades that will allow for that increase.

Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said the delivery delays will affect other countries besides Canada and the European Union, but the company has not identified them.

On this day in 1993 …

U.S. President Bill Clinton picked up his saxophone to jam with the likes of Ben E. King, Clarence Clemons, Herbie Hancock, Dionne Warwick and Chuck Berry at several of the dozen balls honouring his inauguration.

ICYMI …

A Canadian neonatal intensive care nurse who spoke at an anti-lockdown rally in Washington, D.C., has been fired, her employer says.

The London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ont., confirms its termination of Kristen Nagle, who had been suspended since November after attending a similar rally in the city.

Nagle was one of two Canadian nurses who drew attention for speaking in Washington on Jan. 6. before supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, leading to five deaths.

In a statement, the London hospital says it suspended Nagle without pay in November for actions “not aligned” with its values and then began an internal investigation. 

“Safeguarding the health of our patients and their families, staff and physicians is of the utmost importance and remains our top priority,” the statement says.

Nagle, a 14-year registered nurse, could not immediately be reached for comment.

And this …

Each day, translator Nicole Gagnon wakes up and heads to work worried she’ll experience further loss of hearing — a sense even more vital to her livelihood than for many workers.

Gagnon says she and other federally employed interpreters are suffering from injuries that range from tinnitus, which causes ringing in the ears, to headaches, nausea and “acoustic shock” after nine months of translating parliamentarians online via fuzzy laptop mics and poor internet connections.

“I definitely am more tired. There’s excessive fatigue involved,” says Gagnon, who has worked as a translator for 35 years, seven of them freelancing on Parliament Hill.

Seven in 10 respondents to a new survey have experienced auditory issues that forced them to go on leave for recovery, says the association representing some 70 accredited interpreters who translate English into French and vice versa at federal government proceedings.

The strain of Zoom-based proceedings has also prompted shorter shifts and more requests for transfer to non-virtual assignments during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a shrinking pool of available translators.

“As more and more of the staff interpreters sustained injuries in those early days, they began calling more and more on the freelance interpreters such as myself. But we are now suffering the same injuries because of the work involved,” said Gagnon.

“The systems were not meant for interpretation.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2021

The Canadian Press

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