USMCA poised for star turn and protests in Minneapolis; In The News for May 29

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 May 29 ...

---

article continues below

COVID-19 in Canada ...

The federal government is pumping millions more into helping remote and rural Indigenous communities cope with the COVID-19 crisis.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce today significant new funding for First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, part of which is intended to help them bolster their public health response to the pandemic.

That could include measures such as hiring more health care workers, building isolation facilities or purchasing medical supplies and equipment.

Another part of the funding is to go to financial support for residents living in these remote communities to help cover the pandemic-induced increase in their cost of living.

And a third part is to be dedicated to helping the communities build women's shelters, amid reports that domestic violence has spiked as families have been forced to isolate themselves to curb the spread of the deadly virus that causes COVID-19.

The new funding is on top of the $305-million Indigenous Community Support Fund, which the federal government created in March to help First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities prepare for and cope with the pandemic.

---

Also this ...

Statistics Canada is expected to report today that economic growth swung negative in March and the first quarter as a whole due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The average economist estimate is for a nine-per-cent drop in gross domestic product for March, while the average estimate for the first quarter as a whole is for a GDP pullback at a annualized pace of 10 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The agency said real gross domestic product was essentially unchanged in February as it was hit by teacher strikes in Ontario and rail blockades across many parts of the country.

Declines in educational services and disruptions in the transportation and warehousing sector offset growth in other areas.

In a preliminary estimate for March released last month, Statistics Canada said the economy posted a nine per cent decline as business came to a standstill due to measures taken to slow the spread of the pandemic.

---

In the United States ...

Cheering protesters torched a Minneapolis police station that the department was forced to abandon as three days of violent protests spread to nearby St. Paul and angry demonstrations flared across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck.

A police spokesman confirmed late Thursday that staff had evacuated the 3rd Precinct station, the focus of many of the protests, "in the interest of the safety of our personnel" shortly after 10 p.m. Livestream video showed the protesters entering the building, where fire alarms blared and sprinklers ran as blazes were set.

Protesters could be seen setting fire to a Minneapolis Police Department jacket.

Late Thursday, President Donald Trump blasted the "total lack of leadership" in Minneapolis. "Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts," he said on Twitter.

A visibly tired and frustrated Frey made his first public appearance of the night at City Hall near 2 a.m. and took responsibility for evacuating the precinct, saying it had become too dangerous for officers there. As Frey continued, a reporter cut across loudly with a question: "What's the plan here?"

"With regard to?" Frey responded. Then he added: "There is a lot of pain and anger right now in our city. I understand that ... What we have seen over the past several hours and past couple of nights here in terms of looting is unacceptable."

---

Also this ...

If trade deals were football players, Canada's agreement with the United States and Mexico would have been considered a second-stringer a year ago compared to President Donald Trump's original Hail Mary effort to secure a new pact with China.

But now that COVID-19 has rendered China an international pariah and touched off a global movement to "reshore" manufacturing capacity, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement suddenly finds itself in the spotlight — and under pressure to bring home a win.

"Serendipitous is the right word," said Pedro Antunes, chief economist of the Conference Board of Canada, of the political and economic conditions that will greet the USMCA when it comes into force July 1.

"There's a lot of talk of shortening supply chains, bringing supply chains domestically, and I see that as playing out in favour of Canada's relationship with the U.S. — perhaps strengthening that relationship and those trade ties within North America, within Canada and with the U.S. economy."

The agreement — known in official Canadian circles as CUSMA or ACEUM, T-MEC in Mexico and "the new NAFTA" pretty much everywhere else — was forged during an arduous 13 months in 2017 and 2018, long before "pandemic" would become a household word across North America. This summer, it will make its debut in a world dramatically different than that of its predecessor.

In the U.S., where Trump is shrugging off a COVID-19 death toll that surpassed 100,000 on Wednesday and aggressively cheerleading a rapid return to business as usual, the White House is now clearly counting on the USMCA, as well as its signatories, to help lead the North American recovery.

---

COVID-19 in sports...

Canada's top health official says proposals are being reviewed from sports leagues looking to resume play —including the NHL.

But Dr. Theresa Tam says the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place for now.

Tam says that protecting Canadians remains the key objective when considering a resumption of activities that were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including professional sports.

Tam's comments came two days after the NHL announced its plans to resume its 2019-20 season, which calls for games to be played out of two hub cities.

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are among the 10 cities shortlisted by the NHL as potential locations.

But deputy commissioner Bill Daly has said those markets would be out of the running if the mandatory quarantine at Canada's international border remains in place.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for assistance in coming up with a solution.

---

COVID-19 in entertainment ...

Organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival say they're still planning to have some type of physical festival this year.

But TIFF executive director and co-head Joana Vicente says "it's definitely going to look different."

Vicente says like many festivals during the COVID-19 pandemic, TIFF is developing a digital platform for its annual movie marathon.

Her comments echo those TIFF made last month, when it said it was still planning to go ahead with the festival from Sept. 10-21, but was also exploring new ways to screen films.

"We're developing, of course, as everyone else, a digital platform for the festival and at the same time we're still planning to have some physical festival," Vicente says.

"It's definitely going to look different," she says. "We're trying to figure out how we can still deliver incredible experiences to our audience, and that's really front and centre."

Vicente spoke Thursday, along with TIFF artistic director and co-head Cameron Bailey, in a live video conference panel for We Are One: A Global Film Festival.

---

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

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist



Most Popular