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WE charity probe and Colville painting shatters record; In The News for July 16

Last Updated Jul 16, 2020 at 4:24 am EDT

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 July 16 …

What we are watching in Canada … 

OTTAWA — The first of multiple parliamentary investigations of the federal government’s aborted deal with WE Charity to run a volunteering program begins this afternoon.

The House of Commons finance committee is set to hear from Youth Minister Bardish Chagger and some senior public servants as it probes how WE got a sole-sourced contract to administer the $900-million program.

The Canada Student Service Grant is aimed at students who haven’t been able to find work this summer, offering up to $5,000 toward education costs in exchange for 500 hours of volunteering.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has admitted he should have recused himself from the decision to award the contract, given his family’s links to the group co-founded by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger.

WE gave up the contract amid the controversy two weeks ago.

The government has since taken control of the program, but has been struggling with the details while the summer ticks by.

Also this …

TORONTO — Torontonians will have a final chance to weigh in on public consultations about police reform today, while protesters are set to take to the streets demanding that the force be defunded.

The Toronto Police Services Board’s fourth and final town hall on “police accountability, reform and community safety priorities” is due to begin at 9 a.m.

Late last month, city council voted against a cut to the force’s budget, but proposed a series of changes to policing including anti-racism measures and the implementation of body cameras.

But the group organizing the protest, called No Pride in Policing Coalition, says that doesn’t go nearly far enough.

They advocate against body cameras for officers and are also calling for the force’s budget to be cut by 50 per cent, with the money going towards community programs.

The protest is set to begin at noon outside police headquarters.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump is shaking up his campaign amid sinking poll numbers less than four months before the election, replacing campaign manager Brad Parscale with veteran GOP operative Bill Stepien.

The president announced the move Wednesday night on Facebook.

Trump and Parscale’s relationship has been strained since a Tulsa, Okla., rally that drew a dismal crowd, infuriating the president.

Parscale was a political novice when he ran Trump’s digital advertising in 2016 and was credited with helping bring about his surprise victory.

Stepien has been in politics for years, working for former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and serving as Trump’s national field director in 2016.

What we are watching elsewhere in the world …

LONDON — The European Union’s top court has ruled that an agreement that allows big tech companies to transfer data to the United States is invalid, and that national regulators need to take tougher action to protect the privacy of users data.

Today’s ruling does not mean an immediate halt to all data transfers outside the EU, as there is another legal mechanism that some companies can use.

But it means that the scrutiny over data transfers will be ramped up and that the EU and U.S. may have to find a new system that guarantees that Europeans’ data is afforded the same privacy protection in the U.S. as it is in the EU.

Today in 1990 …

An Ottawa judge threw out charges against Global TV reporter Doug Small in the 1989 federal budget leak case.

In sports news …

As one of America’s most familiar sports franchises finally confronts its controversial identity, experts warn against assuming Canada is farther along than the United States in combating racist attitudes towards Indigenous Peoples.

Washington’s National Football League team confirmed this week it would drop its 87-year-old name and logo, long deemed offensive to Native Americans.

The decision comes with the United States at the centre of a global reckoning with long-standing systemic and institutional racism against Black people and other racialized communities.

Lynn Gehl, an Indigenous author and scholar in Peterborough, Ont., says Canadians should resist the belief that their country is any further along than the U.S. in acknowledging and protecting First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities.

Gehl notes that both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls concluded that Canada has been engaged in acts of genocide.

The CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos are under pressure to change a nickname long considered a derogatory, colonial-era term, while in Morden, Man., a minor-league hockey team faces similar demands to drop the same moniker just abandoned in Washington.

Arts and entertainment …

TORONTO — A painting by Alex Colville shattered a price record for work by the Canadian master at an auction held in Toronto on Wednesday.

Colville’s 1976 canvas “Dog and Bridge” sold for more than $2.4 million — doubling its estimated value. The work had been owned privately for decades and had never appeared at auction before.

Pablo Picasso’s 1939 “Tete de femme” sold for more than $1.3 million — about in the middle of its estimated range.

Abstract Expressionist painter Joan Mitchell’s oil on canvas triptych, “Untitled,” sold for nearly $1.2 million, well above its estimated price of about $500,000. 

Quebec artist Jean Paul Riopelle’s commanding, large-scale “Le reveil” sold for about $1.2 million.

Five works by Lawren Harris were also sold, two for well above their estimates. His “North East Corner of Lake Superior (Lake Superior Sketch XXXVIII)” fetched $481,250 and the abstraction “LSH 89A” went for $277,250.

ICYMI (In case you missed it) …

PORT ALBERNI, B.C. — This is quite a fish tale. 

A commercial fisherman knew he was staring at a fish out of place when a barracuda landed in his net on Vancouver Island.

Tyler Vogrig, 24, says he’d seen the long, silvery body of the muscular fish with giant teeth before, but in Hawaii.

Vogrig says he and his father Brian were catching sockeye at Alberni Inlet as part of their stock-assessment work for Fisheries and Oceans Canada when they hauled in the barracuda.

“We couldn’t believe it,” he says from his home in Vancouver. “The fish was docile because it was being chased by some seals and one of the seals actually nipped it on its tail so it had a little gash on it.”

The duo placed the weak, predatory fish in a tank to recover for about 30 minutes before releasing it. 

Jackie King, a research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, says the presence of Pacific barracuda in British Columbia waters is rare.

The fish are normally found in Baja California in Mexico, bordering the state of California, but have also recently been seen as far north as Washington state neighbouring B.C., likely due to warming waters at home.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press