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Truth before reconciliation and vaccine dealing: In The News for June 4

Last Updated Jun 4, 2021 at 4:09 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 June 4.

What we are watching in Canada …

Stephanie Scott shed tears with her daughter and five-year-old grandchild when remains of what are believed to be more than 200 children were found on the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.

“It really hurt us,” says Scott. “There is no denying the truth that the residential school system was responsible for the death of thousands of children.” 

Scott is the executive director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg. It has confirmed the names of 4,117 children who died at residential schools across the country. 

That’s an underestimation of the actual deaths, she says. Unresearched records from churches and governments and unmarked graves probably hold the names of many more children who never made it home. Many children died in hospitals or sanatoriums and are not included in the number. 

While many school boards and universities have changed their curriculums to include the history of residential schools, some adult Canadians have never received that education.

Scott and other experts say the first step toward reconciliation is people knowing the truth — and that means researching, talking about what happened and connecting with Indigenous communities. 

Scott says the national centre’s website includes a multitude of resources, including reports, videos and maps of where the schools were in Canada.

For people to tackle the truth and make change, Scott says, they need to educate themselves — no matter their age.

Also this …

OTTAWA — Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada is trying to negotiate a deal to start getting doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine from the United States instead of Europe.

All 5.7 million doses delivered to Canada from Moderna so far have come from their production lines in Europe. but the company’s shipments to Canada have been spotty and small since April 1.

Moderna has so far delivered or scheduled less than half of the 12.3 million doses initially promised for the second quarter.

In April, Moderna said Canada’s spring shipments might get cut by about one-sixth, citing vague human resource and material problems delaying production in Europe.

Pfizer began shipping doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from its U.S. production facilities in May and Anand is trying to convince both the U.S. government and Moderna to do the same for Moderna. 

“Our government also continues to work with Moderna and the United States government to ensure that a more stable delivery schedule can be established and maintained, including by pressing for deliveries from the company’s U.S. facilities,” said Anand in a statement to The Canadian Press.

A spokeswoman for the company said in early May that Moderna’s deliveries would continue to come from Europe. On Thursday she said there was no change at this time.

Pfizer has been Canada’s “workhorse” vaccine to date, accounting for more than two-thirds of all deliveries to date. But Pfizer will have shipped 80 per cent of its Canadian deliveries by the end of July, leaving Moderna to pick up the slack towards getting all Canadians vaccinated by the end of September.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — Multiple people who have spoken with Donald Trump and his team in recent weeks say they sense a shift, with the former president increasingly acting and talking as though he plans to mount another White House bid. 

Trump will deliver a speech in North Carolina this weekend as he begins a more public phase of his post-presidency. 

The interest in another run, at least for now, comes as a flurry of investigations poses the most serious legal threat Trump has ever faced. New York prosecutors have convened a special grand jury to consider evidence in their criminal investigation into his business dealings.

When Trump called into yet another friendly radio show, he was asked, as he often is, whether he’s planning a comeback bid for the White House. “We need you,” conservative commentator Dan Bongino told the former president.

“Well, I’ll tell you what,” Trump responded. “We are going to make you very happy, and we’re going to do what’s right.”

It was a noncommittal answer typical of a former president who spent decades toying with presidential runs. 

“I have definitely picked up a shift that there’s more of an intentionality to be leaning on the side of it’s going to happen than it’s not,'” said Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, who is close to the former president. “I think it’s a very real possibility.”

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

LONDON — A statue of a 17th-century slave trader that was toppled during anti-racism protests in the English city of Bristol goes on display Friday in a museum, where visitors will be asked to help decide its fate.

The bronze likeness of Edward Colston was pulled from its pedestal and dumped in Bristol harbor a year ago, sparking a nationwide debate about which historical figures deserve commemoration and about Britain’s slave-trading history. City workers hauled the statue out of the water and have kept it in storage ever since.

The battered, paint-splattered statue is going on public display at Bristol’s M Shed museum alongside placards from last year’s protest. It will be on show until Sept. 5, and visitors will be asked to complete a survey about “what happened that day and what you think should happen next,” the museum said.

Responses will go to the We Are Bristol History Commission, which was set up after the protest. Options include removing the statue from public view, creating a museum or exhibition about the transatlantic slave trade and restoring the statue to its plinth in the center of the city.

Some Bristolians have criticized toppling the statue as an act of historical vandalism, while others welcomed the removal of a stain on their community.

Colston was a 17th-century trader who made a fortune transporting enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas on Bristol-based ships. His money funded schools and charities in Bristol, and his name adorned streets, schools and major buildings in the city. Many have been either renamed or made the subject of ongoing debate.

Bristol went on to become Britain’s biggest port for slave ships during the early 18th century. Ships based in the city transported at least half a million Africans into slavery before Britain outlawed the slave trade in 1807.

On this day in 1979 …

Joe Clark became Canada’s youngest prime minister when he was sworn in one day before his 40th birthday. Lincoln Alexander was also sworn in as the first Black federal cabinet minister, and 29-year-old Perrin Beatty as the youngest federal minister. Clark’s Progressive Conservative government lost a Commons budget vote the following December and the ensuing election to Pierre Trudeau’s Liberals.

In entertainment …

TORONTO — A French film inspired by the life of Quebec chanteuse Céline Dion is causing a stir on social media because of what its trailer doesn’t mention — her name.

The trailer for “Aline, the Voice of Love” was released last fall but has gained renewed attention after news the drama will screen out of competition at next month’s Cannes Film Festival.

French actor-singer-filmmaker Valérie Lemercier directed and also stars as the protagonist, whose life trajectory appears to mirror that of Dion and her late husband René Angélil.

Many on Twitter remarked that the the trailer features Dion’s songs and details about her life, including her storybook rise from humble Quebec roots, but not her name.

Instead, the lead character is named Aline Dieu and her manager-turned-husband is named Guy-Claude.

Quebec actor Sylvain Marcel plays Guy-Claude in the film, which isn’t the only screen project that’s attempted to profile her life. In 2019 a publicist said Quebec director Marc-Andre Lavoie was set to oversee the English-language film “Celine Before Celine.”

That feature was sanctioned by Dion’s family and her nephew, Jimmy Dion, had signed on as a screenwriter, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

And in 2008 the CBC-TV movie “Celine” aired with Christine Ghawi in the lead role.


A new study says endangered right whales are becoming shorter and suggests a key factor in their stunted growth may be the fishing gear many haul around after becoming entangled.

“It’s just the sheer energy loss from dragging around the extra gear, especially if (the entanglement) happened earlier in the whale’s life,” said Joshua Stewart, lead author of the study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

“If you’re dragging a sand bag around, you’re going to have less energy to devote to other things like growing.”

The U.S. study found whales born in recent years are on average about one metre shorter than whales born in the early 1980s. The collaborative work included data from aerial observations and other photographs gathered by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the New England Aquarium, with measurements of 129 individual whales. 

The ages of measured whales ranged from one year to 37 years old, including whales born from 1981 to 2019. Eleven whales in the study were observed with fishing gear on their bodies.

Stewart, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in La Jolla, Calif., said in an interview this week the average decline in length was about seven per cent from 1981 to 2019, and in some cases young whales are about two metres shorter than expected.

Stewart says the data suggested whales in the study that had gear entanglements had slower growth in length. He also says that when female whales were entangled while nursing, the data showed their calves would also lose growth due to receiving less nutrition.

In the past four years, the Canadian government has imposed a series of measures to protect the whales, including periodic fisheries closures and mandatory speed limits that apply to much of the Gulf of St. Lawrence but not the Cabot Strait. At least 34 North Atlantic right whales died between 2017 and 2021 — 21 of them in Canadian waters.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2021

The Canadian Press