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Officers charged in Floyd death and vaccine summit; In The News for June 4

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 4th, 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 June 4 …

American anti-racism protests …

Prosecutors charged three more police officers in the death of George Floyd and filed a new, tougher charge against the officer at the centre of the case, delivering a victory to protesters who have filled the streets from coast to coast to fight police brutality and racial injustice.

The most serious charge was filed against Derek Chauvin, who was caught on video pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck and now must defend himself against an accusation of second-degree murder. The three other officers at the scene were charged for the first time with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

All four were fired last week. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to four decades in prison.

Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Those charges still stand.

The new second-degree murder charge alleges that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death without intent while committing another felony, namely third-degree assault. It carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, compared with a maximum of 25 years for third-degree murder.

The other officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — face the same maximum penalties for aiding and abetting. All three men were in custody by Wednesday evening. Chauvin was arrested last week and is still being held.

The multiple charges against each officer would offer a jury more options to find them guilty.

Anti-racism in Canada …

B.C. Premier John Horgan is calling on the federal government to lead an anti-racism program, saying fighting racism needs a nationwide plan to ensure the participation and support of Canadians.

The premier said Wednesday he will lobby for a national anti-racism program during a conference call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his fellow premiers Thursday.

Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States and saddened by the unfolding situation as protests continue in cities across America.

“We are pretty clear in B.C. that again we are wanting to push as hard as we can for national approaches to these vexing problems,” he said at a news conference. “We have enough to deal with here in B.C. by ourselves, but if we are aided by a federal program and a federal initiative that has us all working together from coast to coast to coast, I think that lifts up all Canadians.”

Horgan said a federal plan, supported by the provinces, will add strength to messages of anti-racism in Canada.

COVID-19 in Canada …

Federal prison chaplains say the spiritual needs of inmates have become an unnecessary casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic at a time when offenders are feeling particularly vulnerable and alone.

The Correctional Service of Canada is allowing only emergency in-person visits from chaplains to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The correctional service says it is ensuring inmates have access to spiritual guidance from chaplains via telephone or other technology as a temporary alternative.

The chaplains, however, say few inmates even know about such options, let alone have a chance to use them. In some cases, technological hurdles are preventing prisoners from connecting with chaplains.

It means many inmates no longer have regular contact with a person they trust, said one chaplain who works with offenders at a federal prison in Ontario.

“It’s just not a good situation and the tensions are rising, and there’s a lot of fear and isolation,” she said in an interview.

“They need something to reach out to, and have something there.”

Also this …

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will take part today in his third international summit in a week as Canada campaigns for a coveted seat on the UN’s Security Council on a platform of helping to rebuild the post-pandemic world.

Today’s summit, hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is aimed at ensuring poor countries will have ready access to an eventual vaccine for the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Trudeau will be joining leaders from 50 countries and major organizations, including philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, at the international pledging conference, which hopes to raise nearly $10 billion for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance — the leading agency for distributing vaccines to less-developed countries.

He has already announced Canada’s five-year, $600-million pledge to GAVI, which has immunized 760 million children and prevented 13 million deaths in the world’s poorest countries since 2000.

Trudeau’s participation in today’s virtual conference comes one day after he delivered an address to a virtual summit of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States.

He told that summit Canada is committed to helping developing countries, hardest hit by the pandemic, to survive the crisis — underlining a message he delivered last week when he co-hosted a United Nations-sponsored conference aimed at developing a co-ordinated global recovery plan that leaves no country behind.

Nova Scotia shooting update …

Nova Scotia RCMP are expected to provide an update today on their investigation into the mass killing in April that claimed the lives of 22 victims.

It’s been more than a month since the Mounties have held such a briefing — though the police force did provide an update in a statement on May 11.

Investigators have yet to reveal key details about the shooting rampage, which started late on April 18 and continued for the next 13 hours across northern and central Nova Scotia.

Among other things, police have offered few details about the weapons the killer used or how he obtained them.

They have said three of the four semi-automatic weapons came from the United States.

Gun control advocates say details about the firearms are important to the discussion surrounding the federal government’s move to ban 1,500 military-style assault firearms.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2020

The Canadian Press

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