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Retaliation after Meng ruling and Trump on Twitter; In The News for May 28

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, May 28th, 2020

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 28 …

COVID-19 in Canada …

The Team Canada spirit that has prevailed among first ministers during the COVID-19 crisis will be put to the test today as Justin Trudeau broaches with premiers two topics that fall squarely within provincial jurisdiction: the operation of long-term care homes and paid sick leave for workers.

The prime minister has promised federal support in both areas but his offer has met with a mixed reaction from provincial and territorial leaders.

He has also promised to raise the issues tonight, when he conducts his eleventh first ministers’ conference call.

So far, those calls have been notable for their collegial, collaborative spirit as prime minister and premiers all work as one to cushion the impact of the deadly pandemic on Canadians’ health and the country’s economy.

But there are signs that team spirit may be starting to give way to the usual regional tensions and jurisdictional spats that have historically bedevilled federal-provincial relations in Canada.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault, whose province has always jealously guarded its jurisdiction against perceived federal intrusions, is lukewarm about Trudeau’s promise to ensure 10 days of paid sick leave for workers who fall ill with COVID-19 or are required to go into quarantine after exposure.

Fallout from Meng Wanzhou case…

The two Canadians imprisoned in China could face retaliation because Wednesday’s court ruling in the Meng Wanzhou case didn’t go the way the People’s Republic would have liked, experts are warning.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa angrily denounced the decision by Justice Heather Holmes in the extradition case of the Huawei executive, who is wanted on fraud charges in the United States, as it once more called for her immediate release.

Canada held firm, with Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne calling for the release of the two “arbitrarily detained” Canadian men.

Michael Kovrig, an ex-diplomat working for the International Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur who did business in North Korea, have been in Chinese prisons with no access to lawyers or their families since they were arrested nine days after Meng’s arrest by the RCMP in December 2018.

They are accused of violating China’s national security interests, and they have been denied even the regular monthly visits by Canadian diplomats since January because of COVID-19 restrictions on Chinese prisons.

But some analysts say their treatment could get a lot worse, especially based on recent Chinese government statements leading up to the ruling.

COVID-19 in sports…

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney wants the federal government to help clear the way for NHL players to come to Edmonton.

His counterpart in British Columbia, John Horgan, says his province isn’t interested in making any concessions.

The two premiers had markedly different responses to the NHL’s plan to resume the 2019-20 season, in which teams would play at two hub cities, one for each conference.

Edmonton and Vancouver, as well as Toronto, are three of the 10 cities still in the running to be host cities, should the plan come to fruition. But the NHL said Tuesday the Canadian government’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country would make markets north of the 49th parallel a non-starter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kenney responded by sending a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in which he encouraged the federal government to deem professional athletes and team staff as essential workers — similar to what U.S. officials announced late last week.

Horgan, however, said the government won’t be making any concessions in a jurisdiction that has done well to minimize infections.

Trump on Twitter…

President Donald Trump, the historically prolific tweeter of political barbs and blasts, threatened social media companies with new regulation or even shuttering on Wednesday after Twitter added fact checks to two of his tweets. He turned to his Twitter account — where else? — to tweet his threats.

The president can’t unilaterally regulate or close the companies, and any effort would likely require action by Congress. His administration has shelved a proposed executive order empowering the Federal Communications Commission to regulate technology companies, citing concerns it wouldn’t pass legal muster. But that didn’t stop Trump from angrily issuing strong warnings.

Tech giants “silence conservative voices,” he claimed on Twitter early Wednesday. “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.” Later, also on Twitter, he threatened, “Big Action to follow.”

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that Trump would sign an executive order relating to social media companies but provided no further details. White House strategic communications director Alyssa Farah said Trump would sign it Thursday.

In his tweet, he repeated his unsubstantiated claim — which sparked his latest showdown with Silicon Valley — that expanding mail-in voting “would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots.”

Helicopter remains, wreckage found…

The Canadian Armed Forces has located the remains of some of the military members who died last month when the helicopter they were in crashed in the Mediterranean.

A Canadian search and recovery team working with the United States Navy discovered the remains early Wednesday morning, not far from where they also located a large piece of the helicopter’s fuselage, the military said in a written statement.

“This is encouraging news,” said Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau, the commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command.

“We do not leave our fallen behind, and recovering Stalker 22’s crew is of the utmost importance to all of us in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence.”

The CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, known as Stalker 22, crashed in the Ionian Sea April 29, killing four members of the air force and two from the navy. The helicopter was returning to HMCS Fredericton after a training flight and crashed within full view of the ship, which was in the Mediterranean participating in a NATO mission.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2020

The Canadian Press

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