A look at what’s In The News for Oct. 14

A wolf pack walk along the Bow River Parkway near Lake Louise, Alta, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013.The Canadian Armed Forces is apologizing after some residents of Kings County, N.S., received a phoney letter warning of wolves in the area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A wolf pack walk along the Bow River Parkway near Lake Louise, Alta, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013.The Canadian Armed Forces is apologizing after some residents of Kings County, N.S., received a phoney letter warning of wolves in the area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

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 Oct. 14.

What we are watching in Canada …

Canadians appear to be turning against mandatory COVID-19 inoculations whenever a vaccine becomes available, with a new poll suggesting the number of people opposed to the idea is growing.

The poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies is the latest to take the public’s temperature during the COVID-19 pandemic, and comes as governments and scientists around the world are scrambling to find a vaccine.

The federal government has also inked a number of agreements with pharmaceutical companies to purchase millions of doses of their vaccine candidates if they prove safe and effective, over fears of a global rush for the drugs.

While the majority of respondents in earlier polls had said they were in favour of the government’s requiring people get inoculated once a vaccine is discovered, the new poll found that was no longer the case.

Only 39 per cent of respondents said getting a vaccine should be mandatory, a decline of 18 percentage points from a similar poll conducted in July and more than 20 points lower than in May.

Fifty-four per cent of respondents instead said a vaccine should be voluntary, an 11 percentage-point increase from July and 15 since May. Six per cent of respondents said they did not know.


Also this …

A man accused of killing a family doctor at a medical clinic in central Alberta is scheduled to be back in court today after a psychiatric exam.

Deng Mabiour is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Dr. Walter Reynolds at the Village Mall Walk-In Clinic in Red Deer.

A judge initially ordered a five-day psychiatric exam to see if the 54-year-old understood the charges against him and was fit to stand trial. Last month, Judge Bert Skinner extended it another 30 days after he said Mabiour was refusing to co-operate with medical staff.

The accused has gone on several tirades against the judge.

Mabiour, who an acquaintance has said is from South Sudan, previously told Skinner that he’s worried about the justice system in Canada and that he doesn’t want “a stupid legal-aid lawyer”.

He has also demanded to know why the judge won’t ask him why he killed his doctor.


What we are watching in the U.S. …

With Election Day just three weeks away, President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden concentrated Tuesday on battleground states both see as critical to clinching an Electoral College victory, tailoring their travel to best motivate voters who could cast potentially decisive ballots.

Biden went to Florida to court seniors, looking to deliver a knockout blow in a state Trump needs to win while trying to woo a group whose support for the president has slipped. And Trump visited Pennsylvania, arguably the most important state on the electoral map, unleashing fierce attacks on Biden’s fitness for office in his opponent’s backyard.

“He’s shot, folks. I hate to tell you, he’s shot,” Trump told a big rally crowd in Johnstown, saying there was extra pressure on him to win because Biden was the worst presidential candidate of all time. “Can you imagine if you lose to a guy like this? It’s unbelievable.”

In his second rally since contracting the coronavirus, Trump spoke for more than an hour to a crowd of thousands packed in tightly and mostly maskless. Like the night before in Florida, Trump seemed healthy, and his rhetoric on the pandemic — including the dubious claim that it was mostly a thing of the past — changed little despite his own illness, except for his threat to kiss audience members to prove his immunity.

Trump made a local pitch, hammering home the claim that a Democratic administration could limit fracking in areas where the economy is heavily dependent on energy, despite Biden’s proposal to only bar new leases on federal land, a fraction of U.S. fracking operations. And Trump, touting his elimination of a federal rule that would have brought more low-income housing to the suburbs, zeroed in on groups whose support he has struggled to retain, including female voters turned off by his rhetoric.

“So I ask you to do me a favour. Suburban women: Will you please like me? Please. Please. I saved your damn neighbourhood, OK?” Trump said. “The other thing: I don’t have that much time to be that nice. You know, I can do it, but I gotta go quickly.”


Also this …

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett batted away Democrats’ skeptical questions Tuesday on abortion, health care and a possible disputed-election fight over transferring presidential power, insisting in a long and lively confirmation hearing she would bring no personal agenda to the court but decide cases “as they come.”

The 48-year-old appellate court judge declared her conservative views with often colloquial language, but refused many specifics. She declined to say whether she would recuse herself from any election-related cases involving President Donald Trump, who nominated her to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and is pressing to have her confirmed before the the Nov. 3 election.

“Judges can’t just wake up one day and say I have an agenda — I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion — and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” Barrett told the Senate Judiciary Committee during its second day of hearings.

“It’s not the law of Amy,” she said. “It’s the law of the American people.”

Barrett returned to a Capitol Hill mostly shut down by COVID-19 protocols, the mood quickly shifting to a more confrontational tone from opening day. She was grilled by Democrats strongly opposed to Trump’s nominee yet unable to stop her. Excited by the prospect of a judge aligned with the late Antonin Scalia, Trump’s Republican allies are rushing ahead to install a 6-3 conservative court majority for years to come.

The president seemed pleased with her performance. “I think Amy’s doing incredibly well,” he said at the White House departing for a campaign rally.


What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Unemployment in the U.K. spiked higher in August, a clear sign that the jobless rate is heading towards levels not seen in 30 years as a government salary-support program ends this month and new local restrictions are imposed to suppress a resurgence of the coronavirus.

The Office for National Statistics said Tuesday that unemployment rose by 138,000 in the three months to August from the previous three-month period. The unemployment rate jumped to 4.5%, its highest rate since early 2017, from 4.1% in the previous quarter.

Though unemployment has been edging up during the pandemic, with the likes of British Airways, Royal Mail and Rolls-Royce all laying off thousands, Britain has been spared the surge in unemployment seen in the United States. The British economy endured one of the deepest recessions in the spring and while it has rebounded in the past few months, it is still about 10% smaller than it was at the end of 2019.

The main reason why unemployment has not spike higher has been the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has paid most of the salaries of workers who have not been fired. Some 1.2 million employers have taken advantage of the program to furlough 9.6 million people at a cost to the government of nearly 40 billion pounds ($52 billion).

At one stage, around 30% of the U.K.’s working population was on furlough. Although they weren’t working over the past few months, they were not counted as unemployed.

Since the program ends at the end of October, many of those still on furlough are expected to be made redundant and unemployment to rise further.


Also this …

The Palestinian prime minister said Tuesday it will be disastrous for his people and the world at large if President Donald Trump wins re-election next month.

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the last four years of the Trump administration have greatly harmed the Palestinians.

“If we are going to live another four years with President Trump, God help us, God help you and God help the whole world,” Shtayyeh said Tuesday, repeating comments he made a day earlier in a remote meeting with European lawmakers.

The comments were earlier posted on his Facebook page.

The Palestinians have traditionally refrained from taking an explicit public position in American presidential elections. Shtayyeh’s comments reflected the sense of desperation on the Palestinian side after a series of U.S. moves that have left them weakened and isolated.

The Palestinians severed ties with Trump after he recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and subsequently moved the American Embassy to the holy city. Trump has also cut off hundreds of millions of dollars of American aid to the Palestinians, shut the Palestinian diplomatic offices in Washington and issued a Mideast plan this year that largely favoured Israel. The Palestinians have rejected the plan out of hand.


ICYMI …

The Canadian Armed Forces is apologizing after some residents of Kings County, N.S., received a phoney letter warning of wolves in the area.

The letter, dated Sept. 19, said a pack of eight grey wolves had been released in northern Nova Scotia in August to reintroduce the species into the ecosystem.

Written on what looks like provincial Department of Lands and Forestry letterhead and signed by someone identified as a “large mammal biologist,” the letter advised anyone encountering a wolf to “back away slowly while remaining calm — do not turn and run.”

Lt. Lance Wade, a public affairs officer with the 36 Canadian Brigade Group, acknowledged in an interview Tuesday that the letter came from an army reserve training session at Camp Aldershot outside Kentville, N.S.

“We’re sincerely apologetic,” Wade said, adding the incident was a first for reservists. “Any inconvenience we’ve caused to the public and the Department of Lands and Forestry, we deeply regret.”

He said he doesn’t know why the training required the false note or how it got into civilian mailboxes. He said an investigation is ongoing.


Oct. 14, 2020.