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Trump's peace plan and Canadians quarantined in China; In The News for Jan. 29

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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. 29 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Ottawa is “looking at all options” to help Canadians quarantined in China during the outbreak of a new coronavirus.

China began drastic containment efforts to limit the spread of the virus last week, cutting plane, train and bus links to Wuhan, a city of more than 11 million people. Several other nearby cities have been quarantined since, cutting off an estimated 19 million people.

Champagne said 250 Canadians have registered with Global Affairs Canada to say they are in Wuhan and 126 of them have asked for help to get home. He said his officials are trying to contact each one of them to assess their needs.

“Every Canadian that has reached out to us for consular assistance will receive it,” he said.

He said Canada will tailor its response based on what it finds after all the Canadians asking for help have been contacted.

He noted the number of Canadians seeking help keeps changing as more and more people register via the Global Affairs Canada website — the previous day, the number of Canadians registered in the region was 167.

Champagne said help could include sending a plane to fly them home, but that Canada is also working with other countries in similar situations. Canada doesn’t have a diplomatic office in Wuhan but other countries do and are evacuating their workers. In some cases, others of their citizens are leaving alongside the diplomats.

Champagne said Canada is in contact with the Chinese government about making sure Canada can help its citizens.

Also this …

Events are being held today in Quebec City to mark the third anniversary of the deadly mosque shooting that claimed six lives.

Organizers from the citizens group “We remember January 29” said the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre where the killings occurred will open its doors to the community this afternoon, with a dinner and speeches later at an area church.

The group organizing the events is urging Quebec City residents to participate in large numbers — calling the grim occasion a chance to come together and affirm a desire to build an open and inclusive community.

The mosque shooting left six men dead: Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42, Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, Khaled Belkacemi, 60, Aboubaker Thabti, 44, Azzeddine Soufiane, 57, and Ibrahima Barry, 39.

They left behind their wives and 17 children between them, while several others were injured when the gunman opened fire inside the mosque in the provincial capital’s Ste-Foy district.

Boufeldja Benabdallah, president of the mosque, said in a recent interview the local Muslim community has seen many “highs and lows” in the three years since the shooting, but overall things have improved.

He noted that people have resumed their lives and returned to work, finding some serenity.

But while the community has moved forward with announcements like the creation of the region’s first Islamic cemetery and a million-dollar renovation to enlarge and secure the mosque, he said the province’s controversial secularism law casts a cloud.

— 

What we are watching in the U.S. …

President Donald Trump is to sign a bill putting the new North American free-trade agreement into U.S. law today.

The ceremony clears the way for the federal Liberal government to move forward with its own implementation bill in the House of Commons.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is meant to update NAFTA, the three-country deal that’s been in effect since 1994.

The new agreement doesn’t come into force until the first day of the third month after the final country — in this case, Canada — serves notice that it’s ready to proceed.

That delay is aimed at giving all three parties time to develop so-called “uniform regulations” used to interpret the terms of the deal.

New labour and environmental standards in Mexico were key to getting support for the deal from Democratic party lawmakers in the U.S. Congress.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited Mideast peace plan alongside a beaming Benjamin Netanyahu, presenting a vision that matched the Israeli leader’s hard-line, nationalist views while falling far short of Palestinian ambitions.

Trump’s plan envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel. It sides with Israel on key contentious issues that have bedeviled past peace efforts, including borders and the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements, and attaches nearly impossible conditions for granting the Palestinians their hoped-for state.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the plan as “nonsense” and vowed to resist it. Netanyahu called it a “historic breakthrough” equal in significance to the country’s declaration of independence in 1948.

“It’s a great plan for Israel. It’s a great plan for peace,” he said.

He vowed to immediately press forward with his plans to annex the strategic Jordan Valley and all the Israeli settlements in occupied lands. Netanyahu said he’d ask his Cabinet to approve the annexation plans in their next meeting on Sunday, an explosive move that could trigger harsh international reaction and renewed violence with the Palestinians.

ICYMI (In case you missed it) …

BANFF, Alta. — It turns out tourists aren’t the only ones who love the national parks in the Canadian Rockies.

Despite recent studies showing bird populations are declining in many areas of North America, scientists with Parks Canada have found that most songbirds are doing well in Banff, Jasper, Waterton Lakes, Yoho and Kootenay national parks.

“Our populations are stable to increasing,” Jesse Whittington, a wildlife ecologist with Banff National Park in Alberta, says.

Whittington was a lead author on a paper published in November in the journal Ecosphere that looked at broad trends in bird populations in the five mountain parks in Alberta and British Columbia.

“We analyzed bird trends for 64 species from 544 sites,” he says. “We detected over 34,000 bird songs.

“Over that time, we found that 91 per cent of the bird species (were stable or) increased their range over 10 years. That was really good to see.”

Weird and wild …

VICTORIA — A lone male wolf that spent last weekend sniffing out a busy neighbourhood in Victoria, just steps from British Columbia’s legislature, has been safely relocated to a new territory much farther from human contact.

A social media post by the Conservation Officer Service says the mature male wolf was assessed by veterinarians early Monday and found to be uninjured and in good health.

The service says the animal was safely released hours later in a coastal habitat on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Conservation officers say they are confident the wolf is the same one that has lived alone for the last seven years on Discovery Island about a kilometre off the Victoria coast.

They believe it managed to swim through the treacherous currents that sweep past the tiny island in order to reach Victoria, but aren’t certain why it left its long-term home. 

“It is not being released on Discovery Island as it left for a reason – the wolf was looking for food or resources, and for the safety of the public and the animal, it was relocated out of the urban environment,” the post says.

Know your news …

World champion canoeist Laurence Vincent Lapointe won her doping case this week by convincing a tribunal that her positive test was the result of contamination from her ex-boyfriend. Name the pro tennis player who successfully convinced the Court of Arbitration for Sport that his positive drug test was the result of kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub.    

(Keep scrolling for the answer)

On this day in 1985 …

New Brunswick Premier Richard Hatfield was found not guilty of possession of marijuana, which had been discovered in his bag during a security search on Sept. 25 while the Queen was visiting the province.

Entertainment news …

TORONTO — Before Alessia Cara steps into hosting responsibilities at this year’s Juno Awards in Saskatoon, she hopes to lean on beloved crooner Michael Buble for a little advice.

The 23-year-old pop singer from Brampton, Ont. — who also leads with six nominations at the biggest celebration of Canadian music — says Buble, who’s played master of ceremonies twice, stands out as the Junos host with the most.

“I love how Michael Buble does anything,” Cara says. “The way he speaks to people on his tour is so great, it sounds like he’s even hosting there. I’ll get in contact with him.”

Cara and Buble have a few things in common when it comes to the Junos.

For one, they’ll both compete for album of the year, as he’s nominated for his covers collection “Love,” while she’s in the running with “The Pains of Growing.”

She’s also nominated for the songwriter award, Juno Fan Choice, pop album, artist of the year and single of the year for “Out of Love.”

The 49th Juno Awards will air on CBC from the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon on March 15.

The games we play …

Luke Willson has experienced the best, and worst, of playing in the Super Bowl.

The Canadian experienced the thrill of winning the Lombardi Trophy in 2014 as a rookie tight end when the Seattle Seahawks dispatched the Denver Broncos 43-8. But then came the exasperation of a controversial 28-24 loss the following year to the New England Patriots.

The personable 30-year-old native of LaSalle, Ont., says there’s no bigger high — or more bitter disappointment — in football than winning or losing the Super Bowl.

“I don’t think so,” Willson said this week during a telephone interview. “The year we won it, we started out hot (11-1 en route to a 13-3 record) and felt like we had a pretty good team so it was kind of in the back of everyone’s mind.

“When we finally got to that moment where we did win, it was just pure jubilation. And it was just the polar opposite the next year.”

Willson and Regina native Jon Ryan, who was Seattle’s punter in both Super Bowl appearances, were the last of 15 Canadian-born players to participate in the game, according to NFL Canada. That drought will end Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs face the San Francisco 49ers. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, from Mont-Sainte-Hilaire, Que., will start at right tackle for the Chiefs.

Know your news answer …

Richard Gasquet. The French tennis star was acquitted in 2009 in what became know as the “cocaine kiss” case.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2020.

The Canadian Press