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Liberals, NDP gather for online conventions; volcano watch: In The News for April 9

Last Updated Apr 9, 2021 at 4:28 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 April 9 …

What we are watching in Canada …

The federal Liberals and New Democrats are both holding conventions that will bring multitudes of party delegates online.

Thousands of federal Liberals gathered last night for the start of a three-day national convention.

Meanwhile, federal New Democrats will gather online today to kick off their three-day policy meeting.

While the Liberal convention promises to be downright dull compared to a similar event held by the Conservatives, the New Democrat gathering could expose some internal party divisions.

There could be a fight over the definition of anti-Semitism or debate on proposed resolutions that call for abolition of the military and nationalization of major automakers.

Priority policy resolutions up for debate and votes at the Liberal gathering include calls for a universal basic income, enforceable national standards for long-term care homes and a green economic recovery.

Also this …

Statistics Canada will say this morning how the job market fared in March as communities loosened, then looked to tighten, public health restrictions.

February’s jobs numbers whipped past expectations as the economy added 259,000, almost wiping out losses from the preceding two months, and bringing the unemployment rate to 8.2 per cent.

Overall, the country was left just under 600,000 short from pre-pandemic levels.

The figures gave hope that businesses had adapted to the restrictions on economic activity officials have enacted to slow the spread of COVID-19 and variants of concern.

Economists expect March to show another round of gains, albeit far smaller than the one recorded in February, and the unemployment rate to tick down slightly.

The jobs numbers also come just over a week before the federal Liberals release a budget where employment levels are expected to be used as a gauge for planned stimulus measures.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from being pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck, a medical expert testified at former Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial Thursday, emphatically rejecting the defence theory that Floyd’s drug use and underlying health problems were what killed him.

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died,” said prosecution witness Dr. Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University’s medical school in Illinois.

Using easy-to-understand language to explain medical concepts and even loosening his necktie to illustrate a point, Tobin told the jury that Floyd’s breathing was severely constricted while Chauvin and two other Minneapolis officers held the 46-year-old Black man down on his stomach last May with his hands cuffed behind him and his face jammed against the ground.

The lack of oxygen resulted in brain damage and caused his heart to stop, the witness said.

Tobin, analyzing images of the three officers restraining Floyd for what prosecutors say was almost 9 1/2 minutes, testified that Chauvin’s knee was “virtually on the neck” for more than 90% of the time.

He cited several other factors that he said also made it difficult for Floyd to breathe: officers lifting up on the suspect’s handcuffs, the hard surface of the street, his prone position, his turned head and a knee on his back.

Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 3 minutes, 2 seconds, after Floyd had “reached the point where there was not one ounce of oxygen left in the body,” Tobin said.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Authorities in Northern Ireland sought to restore calm Thursday after Protestant and Catholic youths in Belfast hurled bricks, fireworks and gasoline bombs at police and each other. It was the worst mayhem in a week of street violence in the region, where Britain’s exit from the European Union has unsettled an uneasy political balance.

Crowds including children as young as 12 or 13 clashed across a concrete “peace wall” in west Belfast that separates a British loyalist Protestant neighbourhood from an Irish nationalist Catholic area. Police fired rubber bullets at the crowd, and nearby a city bus was hijacked and set on fire.

Northern Ireland has seen sporadic outbreaks of street violence since the 1998 Good Friday peace accord ended “the Troubles” — decades of Catholic-Protestant bloodshed over the status of the region in which more than 3,000 people died.

But Police Service of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts said Wednesday’s mayhem “was at a scale we have not seen in recent years.” He said 55 police officers had been injured over several nights of disorder and it was lucky no one had been seriously hurt or killed.

There was a further outbreak of violence Thursday night in the nationalist Springfield Road area of Belfast, where youths threw stones at police, who responded with a water cannon blast.

Britain’s split from the EU has highlighted the contested status of Northern Ireland, where some people identify as British and want to stay part of the U.K., while others see themselves as Irish and seek unity with the neighbouring Republic of Ireland, an EU member.

Also this…

Authorities on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent said Thursday they believe an active volcano is in danger of erupting and have ordered mandatory evacuations.

The island’s emergency management office switched the alert level to red as officials began to evacuate people who live near La Soufriere volcano to soon place them aboard cruise ships, send them to nearby islands or take them to shelters elsewhere in St. Vincent that are outside the danger zone.

Roughly 16,000 people live in the red zone and will need to be evacuated, Erouscilla Joseph, director of the University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Center, told The Associated Press.

The pandemic could hamper evacuation efforts.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said in a press conference that people have to be vaccinated if they go aboard a cruise ship or are granted temporary refuge in another island. He said two Royal Caribbean cruise ships are expected to arrive by Friday and a third one in the coming days, as well as two Carnival cruise ships by Friday. Islands that have said they would accept evacuees include St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua.

“Not everything is going to go perfect, but if we all co-operate … we will come through this stronger than ever,” Gonsalves said.

On this day in 2018 …

The Weeknd’s EP, My Dear Melancholy, debuted atop the Billboard 200 album chart.

In entertainment …

As “Kim’s Convenience” nears its series finale Tuesday, star Paul Sun-Hyung Lee is in mourning.

“It really is like grieving a death: with time it gets better, and sometimes it forms like a scab,” Lee, who plays patriarch Appa, said in a recent phone interview.

“You’re fine until you pick at it, and when you pick at it, it starts to bleed again and it hurts again. And it scabs over again, and then you might pick at it and it’ll bleed again. But over time there’s less and less until there’s nothing, like it healed over. And there might be a little scar underneath but you’re fine.”

Last month, producers of the hit CBC comedy, about a Korean-Canadian family who run a corner store in Toronto, announced the show will close up shop after the current, fifth season.

That’s a season shorter than planned early last year, when the Canadian Screen Award-winning sitcom was renewed amid accolades for its cultural representation and global following on Netflix.

But producers said co-creators Ins Choi and Kevin White were moving on to pursue other projects. Given their departure from the series, producers felt they could not “deliver another season of the same heart and quality.”

ICYMI …

Thousands of workers at a southern Alberta beef-packing plant where there was a major COVID-19 outbreak last year will soon be offered vaccinations in their workplace.

Nearly half of the 2,200 workers at Cargill’s facility at High River, south of Calgary, which shut for two weeks last April, contracted the novel coronavirus and two employees died.

Immunizations will be provided by occupational health nurses employed by the company and by doctors with local primary health networks, said Dr. Brent Friesen, medical officer of health in the Calgary Zone.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 union is reaching out to its members about the vaccination program, Friesen said, adding information is also being provided in different languages.

The Alberta International Medical Graduates Association is partnering in the effort as well.

“It has been exciting to see this collaboration in terms of different groups coming together to work in the best interest of the employees,” Friesen said Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2021

The Canadian Press

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