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Quebec's propane shortage and a teen's popcorn lung; In-The-News Nov. 22

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 Nov. 22.

What we are watching in Canada …

TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with Ontario Premier Doug Ford in Ottawa today.

The sit-down between the pair will be the latest in a series of in-person talks Trudeau is having with provincial leaders after receiving a minority mandate last month.

Trudeau frequently warned voters during the federal election against Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer by trying to tie him to Ford, whose popularity has been sinking in recent polls.

Ford said Thursday that he will bring a collaborative message to the meeting, despite the frequent attacks the prime minister launched against him during the federal election campaign.

Ford says he is eager to work with the federal government on a number of files including health care and public transit.

Also this …

MONTREAL — The federal government is resisting calls to intervene in a railway strike despite the spectre of a propane shortage in Quebec and rising pressure from premiers and CEOs across the country to reconvene Parliament ahead of schedule and legislate the 3,200 Canadian National Railway Co. employees back to work.

“We realize how important this is to the economy of our country, to have a railway system that functions,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters after the new government’s first cabinet meeting in Ottawa on Thursday. “We want this strike to end as soon as possible.”

Bargaining was continuing around the clock under the watch of federal mediators, “but there’s been no significant progress on the key health and safety issues that we’ve raised,” said Christopher Monette, a spokesman for the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference.

The strike at CN Rail has left Quebec with fewer than five days before it runs out of propane, said Premier Francois Legault, who warned of an “emergency” that could wreak havoc at hospitals, nursing homes and farms.

The premier expressed hope for a settlement between the railway and the union, but called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the opposition parties to pass back-to-work legislation if necessary ahead of Parliament’s scheduled return on Dec. 5.

Conductors, trainpersons and yard workers took to the picket lines early Tuesday morning, halting freight trains across the country.

The railway workers, who have been without a contract since July 23, have said they’re concerned about long hours, fatigue and what they consider dangerous working conditions.

ICYMI (In case you missed it) …

TORONTO — A newly published article says an Ontario teenager’s brush with death due to a lung disease highlights exactly how little the medical community knows about the effects of vaping.

The article was written by six doctors who treated the 17-year-old boy during a 47-day hospital stay.

They say the boy went from being in perfect health to being on life support after just five months of regularly using e-cigarettes.

The doctors say his respiratory condition differed from the kinds typically seen in the growing number of confirmed vaping-related cases documented in the United States.

They say the teen’s condition resembled the sort of damage usually seen in factory workers forced to breathe in toxic chemicals often seen in products such as microwave popcorn, which are safe to ingest but not to inhale.


What we are watching in the U.S. …

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A former CIA officer who pleaded guilty to an espionage conspiracy with China could be facing more than two decades in prison.

Fifty-five-year-old Jerry Chun Shing Lee is scheduled for sentencing Friday in federal court in Alexandria.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage, but prosecutors and defence lawyers disagree about the extent of the crime.

Prosecutors say Chinese intelligence officers gave Lee more than $840,000 and that Lee likely gave them all the information he had from a 13-year career as a CIA case officer. They are seeking a prison term of more than 20 years.

Defence lawyers say the government never proved that the money came from China or that Lee ever carried out any plans to deliver government secrets. They’re asking for a 10-year sentence.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

LONDON — Prince Andrew is facing mounting calls to provide information to U.S. law enforcement agencies and to lawyers who are investigating crimes committed by American sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his associates.

Lawyers for Epstein’s victims believe Andrew may have valuable information about the late financier’s sex offences. When Epstein died in August, he was facing charges of trafficking in underage girls who provided sexual favours to the powerful men visiting his luxury properties in the Caribbean, and elsewhere.

The 59-year-old prince stepped down from his royal duties on Wednesday with the approval of his mother, the Queen, after a weekend interview in which he tried to justify his well-documented ties to Epstein backfired spectacularly.

Charities and British educational institutions that had fundraising ties to Andrew — the royal website lists dozens — had quickly begun to question if he could actually hurt their brands.

Andrew still may face legal questioning about allegations that he had sex with a girl provided by Epstein when she was just 17, a charge he has denied and that she insists is true.

Weird and wild …

VANCOUVER — A pioneering study of seven belugas in Canada’s remote Arctic waters has found microplastics in the innards of every single whale.

Researchers from Ocean Wise worked with hunters from the Inuvialuit community of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., to collect samples from whales they harvested between 2017 and 2018.

They found an average of nearly 10 microplastics, or particles less than five millimetres in size, in the gastrointestinal tracts of each beluga.

The study was published last week in the Marine Pollution Bulletin and conducted in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Simon Fraser University.

Ocean Wise says it is the first study of microplastics in a marine mammal in Canada.

Lead author Rhiannon Moore says she wasn’t expecting to see so many microplastics so far north.

On this day in 1981 …

The Edmonton Eskimos won the Grey Cup, defeating the Ottawa Rough Riders 26-23 to become the first team to win the CFL championship four years in a row. The Eskimos made it five in a row the following year, beating the Toronto Argonauts.


Your money …

TORONTO — As Canada’s population ages, more children will be thrust into a reversed role of looking out for their parents and their finances, and will have to be on guard for a wide range of issues.

Canada is only starting to grapple with the wider issue of financial management as the country ages, says Stuart Small, a financial security adviser at Continuum II Inc.

“The front wave of the baby boomers just turned 75, so we haven’t seen anything yet…This is just the tip of the iceberg, this is just the beginning.”

Adults worried about their aging parents should keep an eye out for things like missed bills or confusion about finances as warning signs that their parents may need help, says Small.

When potentially taking over someone’s finances it’s important to build a support team with legal, financial and others to provide advice, says Small.

The person with power of attorney should have a full understanding of expenses, income, accounts, and mortgages to make sure items aren’t missed.

It’s also crucial for family, including siblings, to keep open conversations throughout the process, he says.

“Communication and transparency go a long, long way to thwarting issues and concerns later.”

Celebrity news …

LONDON — The British band Coldplay has decided not to launch a global tour because of environmental concerns.

Frontman Chris Martin tells the BBC that the band is not going on tour to promote its latest album because it wants to take time to determine how a tour can be beneficial to the environment.

He said the band would be disappointed if the tour is not carbon neutral.

He says the band has had a number of major tours and wants to find a way to make the next tour more about giving than taking.

The album “Everyday Life” is to be released today.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2019.

The Canadian Press