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New federal gun bill, NS mass shooting inquiry faces backlash: In The News for May 30

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 30 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
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A 9mm handgun produced by Honor Defense, a gunmaker in Gainesville, Ga., is displayed on April 25, 2018. New measures to curb handguns are expected to be a central feature of federal legislation tabled this afternoon, the Liberal government's latest -- and likely boldest -- suite of proposed actions to control access to firearms in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Lisa Marie Pane

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 30 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

New measures to curb handguns are expected to be a central feature of federal legislation tabled this afternoon, the Liberal government's latest — and likely boldest — suite of proposed actions to control access to firearms in Canada.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino will present the bill after the daily question period before joining Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and supportive voices, including some city mayors, from across the country for a press conference at Ottawa's Chateau Laurier hotel.

The legislation will revive some federal measures that did not pass before last year's general election and flesh out new proposals made during the subsequent campaign.

They include a mandatory buyback of guns the government considers assault-style firearms, a crackdown on high-capacity firearm magazines and efforts to combat gun smuggling.

The Liberals also promised to work with provinces and territories that want to ban handguns outright.

Though a national ban is not anticipated in the bill, the government could take steps in that direction by phasing out handgun ownership with a cap on the number of firearm licences, outlawing the importation and manufacture of new handguns, or enacting tougher storage rules.

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Also this ...

The Mountie in charge of the RCMP's initial response to the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia is expected to testify before an inquiry today.

But the public will be barred from hearing what he has to say — at least for the next few days.

For unspecified reasons, Staff Sergeant Brian Rehill has been granted permission to testify via a Zoom call, which will be recorded and released at a later date.

As well, Rehill has been exempted from facing cross-examination by lawyers representing relatives of the 22 people killed in April 2020.

That decision prompted most of the families to boycott the proceedings and stage a protest last week outside the hearings in Truro, Nova Scotia.

The backlash is believed to be unprecedented for a public inquiry on this scale.

Ed Ratushny, professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa, says it would appear the inquiry has lost the confidence and trust of the families involved and potentially of the general public.

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And this too ...

Closing arguments are expected today at the trial of a father and son accused of murdering two Métis hunters on a rural Alberta road.

Anthony Bilodeau, who is 33, and 58-year-old Roger Bilodeau face two counts each of second-degree murder and have both pleaded not guilty.

Jacob Sansom, who was 39, and his 57-year-old old uncle Maurice Cardinal were found dead on the side of the road near Glendon, Alta., northeast of Edmonton, on March 28, 2020.

Sansom was shot once in the chest and Cardinal was hit three times in the shoulder.

The Crown has argued that the father and son thought the hunters were thieves who had earlier been on their property, so they followed them on the highway before Anthony Bilodeau shot both men without justification.

Lawyers for the Bilodeaus say there was a confrontation, the men feared for their lives and they acted in self-defence.

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

UVALDE, Texas _ U.S. President Joe Biden grieved with the shattered community of Uvalde on Sunday, mourning privately for three hours with anguished families of the 19 schoolchildren and two teachers killed by a gunman.

At Robb Elementary School, Biden visited a memorial of 21 white crosses _ one for each of those killed _ and first lady Jill Biden added a bouquet of white flowers to those already placed in front of the school sign. The couple then viewed individual altars erected in memory of each student, the first lady touching the children's photos as they moved along the row.

After visiting the memorial, Biden attended Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where several victims' families are members, and one of the families was in attendance.

Speaking directly to the children in the congregation, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller tried to assuage the fears of the youngsters, some appearing about the same age as the victims.

"You have seen the news, you have witnessed the tears of your parents, friends,'' he said, encouraging them not to be afraid of life. "You are the best reminders to us that the lives of the little ones are important.''

As Biden departed church to meet privately with family members, a crowd of about 100 people began chanting ``do something.'' Biden answered, ``We will,'' as he got into his car. It was his only public comment during roughly seven hours in Uvalde.

Biden later tweeted that he grieves, prays and stands with the people of Uvalde. ``And we are committed to turning this pain into action,'' he said.

The visit to Uvalde was Biden's second trip in as many weeks to console a community in loss after a mass shooting. He travelled to Buffalo, New York, on May 17 to meet with victims' families and condemn white supremacy after a shooter espousing the racist "replacement theory'' killed 10 Black people at a supermarket.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

KATHMANDU, Nepal _ The wreckage of a plane lost in Nepal's mountains was found Monday scattered on a mountainside and 14 of the 22 people on board were confirmed dead, the army said.

Rescuers recovered 14 bodies from the crash site, said Teknath Sitaula of Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu. There was no word on survivors, and the search of the crash site was continuing.

Aerial photos of the crash site showed aircraft parts scattered on rocks and moss on the side of a mountain gorge.

The Tara Air turboprop Twin Otter lost contact with the airport tower Sunday while flying in an area of deep river gorges and mountaintops on a 20-minute flight.

The army said the 43-year-old plane crashed in Sanosware in Mustang district close to the mountain town of Jomsom where it was heading after taking off from the resort town of Pokhara, 200 kilometres west of Kathmandu.

Four Indians and two Germans were on the plane. The three crew members and other passengers were Nepali nationals.

The plane's destination is popular with foreign hikers who trek the mountain trails and also with Indian and Nepalese pilgrims who visit the revered Muktinath temple.

The Twin Otter, a rugged plane originally built by Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland, has been in service in Nepal for about 50 years, during which it has been involved in about 21 accidents, according to aviationnepal.com.

The plane, with its top-mounted wing and fixed landing gear, is prized for its durability and its ability to take off and land on short runways. Production originally ended in the 1980s. Another Canadian company, Viking Air, brought the model back into production in 2010.

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On this day in 2005 ...

The Canadian Red Cross pleaded guilty to a single charge arising from the tainted-blood scandal and publicly accepted responsibility for the disaster that left thousands of people with HIV and hepatitis C. Criminal charges were dropped in exchange for the plea. The charity said it would pay a $5,000 fine and dedicate $1.5 million to a scholarship fund and research project aimed at reducing medical errors.

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In entertainment ...

TORONTO _ Ronnie Hawkins, the southern U.S. rockabilly artist who sowed the seeds of Canada's music scene after moving north, has died at 87.

His wife Wanda confirmed to The Canadian Press that Hawkins died Sunday morning at a hospital in Peterborough, Ont. He had faced various health issues in recent years.

"He went peacefully and he looked as handsome as ever,'' she said in a phone interview from their home.

Known for his vivacious personality and enthusiastic stage presence, the singer of ``Ruby Baby,'' ``Mary Lou'' and Bo Diddley cover ``Who Do You Love'' earned several nicknames including Mr. Dynamo, Sir Ronnie, Rompin' Ronnie and the Hawk.

Hawkins was godfather to a generation of influential artists, including musicians he enlisted for his backing band the Hawks, which would go on to play for Bob Dylan on his infamous 1966 tour when the folkster embraced the electric guitar.

Many credit Hawkins _ who had an affection for designer cars, large aviator sunglasses, women and parties _ with laying the path for budding Canadian artists to enter the U.S. market.

He won a Juno in 1982 for best country male vocalist for the album ``Legend In His Spare Time.'' He was honoured with a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in October 2002, where the Tragically Hip's Rob Baker thanked Hawkins because he took ``aspiring musicians and marinated them.'' He was also an Order of Canada recipient in 2014.

Hawkins is survived by his wife Wanda, who he married in 1962, three grown children, Robbie, Leah and Ronnie Jr., as well as a raft of musicians who considered him a close friend.

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Did you see this?

MONTREAL _ More than 20,000 homes in Ontario and Quebec remain without power, one week after a severe wind and thunderstorm swept through both provinces.

At least 11 people were killed during last Saturday's storm and its aftermath as wind gusts up to 151 kilometres per hour seriously damaged power lines and other infrastructure.

In Ontario, Hydro One reported more than 8,000 were without power Sunday, mainly in the eastern part of the province.

Hydro Ottawa said 9,900 clients were still without power Sunday.

Hydro-Quebec, meanwhile, said there are more than 8,000 without electricity in the province, mainly in the Laurentians region of Quebec, the Outaouais and Lanaudiere.

Environment Canada has said last weekend's severe weather involved a derecho _ a rare widespread windstorm associated with a line of thunderstorms _ that developed near Sarnia, Ont., and moved northeast across the province, ending in Quebec City.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2022.

The Canadian Press