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39 trapped miners now safe after rescue out of mine near Sudbury

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 29th, 2021

Thirty-nine miners who had been trapped underground in northern Ontario have returned to the surface safe, the company that owns the mine said Wednesday.

Vale said the rescue operation at Totten Mine near Sudbury, Ont., is complete.

“I’d like to congratulate our rescue team,” said Vale CEO Eduardo Bartolomeo in a statement.

‘Bringing our 39 employees home safe and healthy was our top priority and we’re glad that our emergency plans and procedures worked to deliver that outcome. All the employees are safe now and deserve our deep respect for their perseverance and strong will.”

The workers became trapped in the mine on Sunday when a scoop bucket being sent underground detached and blocked the mine shaft.

Some of the miners were trapped as deep as 1,200 metres below the surface, the company said.

They had to scale a series of ladders to climb out of the mine and were helped along by a rescue crew.

The rescue operation began on Monday night.

A team of 58 responders from the company’s rescue team and the Ontario Mine Rescue agency helped the trapped workers through their long trek up the ladder system, the company said.

‘This is tremendous news flowing from very difficult circumstances,” Bartolomeo said from the mine.

“All of us at Vale were focused on and committed to the safe return of our employees underground.”

Bartolomeo said the company will launch an investigation into what happened “so that the company can learn from it and take steps to ensure it never happens again.”

Vale said the workers stayed in underground “refuge stations” and had access to food, water and medicine before climbing out.

The province’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development said an inspection team will investigate the incident.

Totten Mine opened in 2014 in Worthington, Ont., and produces copper, nickel and precious metals. It employs about 200 people.

Canadians not thrilled but not angry either about federal election outcome: Poll

JOAN BRYDEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 28th, 2021

Canadians may not be thrilled with the outcome of last week’s federal election but a new poll suggests few are angry that it produced an almost identical result to the 2019 nation-wide vote.

Just 10 per cent of respondents to the Leger survey said they’re happy with the outcome, which produced another Liberal minority government led by Justin Trudeau and only minor changes to the seat counts of all the parties.

But another 24 per cent said they’re comfortable with the outcome, while nine per cent said they prefer a minority government in any event and 14 per cent said they’re indifferent.

On the flip side, 12 per cent said they’re angry about the outcome and six per cent said they’re uncomfortable with it. Another 24 per cent said they’re unhappy about it “but life goes on.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has lambasted Trudeau for calling an unnecessary, $610-million election that changed nothing, all in the midst of a deadly fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the poll, conducted Sept. 24-26, suggests Canadians are more sanguine about the result, possibly because they’re lukewarm about O’Toole’s leadership.

The online survey of 1,537 Canadians cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

It suggests that O’Toole was less of an asset for his party than either Trudeau or NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Just 23 per cent of those who voted Conservative said they did so because of the leader. Forty-nine per cent said they voted for the party itself while 28 per cent said they voted for their local candidates.

Among Liberal voters, 34 per cent voted for the leader, 41 per cent for the party itself and 25 per cent for their local candidates.

Among New Democrats, 38 per cent voted for the leader, 38 per cent for the party and 24 per cent for their local candidates.

Both O’Toole and Singh have faced some calls from within their own ranks to step down after their respective parties’ disappointing finish. The Conservatives lost two seats, although they won slightly more of the popular vote than the Liberals, while the NDP gained one seat, remaining firmly stuck in fourth place.

Among Conservative respondents, 49 per cent said they want O’Toole to remain at the helm of the Conservative party. But a majority said either that they want him to go (22 per cent) or didn’t know (29 per cent) if he should stay or go.

By contrast, 82 per cent of NDP respondents said they want Jagmeet Singh to remain as leader of the New Democratic Party.

Among Liberals supporters, 25 per cent said the main reason they voted Liberal was to avoid a Conservative government. Twenty-three per cent said they thought Trudeau was the best leader to lead the country and another 23 per cent said they thought the party best represented their values.

Among Conservative supporters, 39 per cent said they voted primarily to get rid of the Liberal government, 21 per cent backed the party they thought best represented their values and just 14 per cent chose the Conservatives because they thought O’Toole was the best leader.

Among NDP respondents, 48 per cent said the voted primarily for the party that best represented their values, just 14 per cent because they thought Singh was the best leader for the country.

In Quebec, 35 per cent of Bloc Quebecois supporters said they voted for the party they thought was best positioned to defend Quebec’s interests. Another 14 per cent said they wanted a strong opposition party in a minority government while 11 per cent voted because of Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet.

Just seven per cent of Bloc supporters said they backed the party because of a question posed by the moderator of the English-language leaders’ debate, which Blanchet claimed suggested Quebecers are racist.

Still, the poll suggests the Bloc did get a bump from the English debate. Thirty per cent of Bloc supporters said they made up their minds how to vote in the days following the debates — compared to just 15 per or less for supporters of the other major parties.

Overall, 49 per cent of respondents said they made up their minds before the campaign even started, 18 per cent in the opening two weeks, nine per cent over the final weekend and eight per cent on election day.

Just six per cent said the debates changed their minds about who to vote for. Fifty-five per cent said they didn’t pay attention to them, while 39 per cent said the debates confirmed their previous choice.

Fully 83 per cent said they ultimately voted according to their original choice; 17 per cent said they switched parties over the course of the campaign.

In the end, 73 per cent said they voted primarily for the party they liked best. But 27 per cent said they mainly voted strategically to stop another party.

Among respondents who didn’t vote, 29 per cent said they were indifferent about the election, 24 per cent said they didn’t think their vote would change anything.

Other reasons given for not voting were physically or mentally incapable (13 per cent), the polling location was too far away (10 per cent), wait times were too long (nine per cent), afraid to show up because of the pandemic (nine per cent) and didn’t know where to go to vote (six per cent).

The two Michaels are home, but Canada still doesn’t have a foreign policy on China

THE BIG STORY | posted Tuesday, Sep 28th, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, it’s wonderful that two Canadians caught in the middle of geopolitics are home and safe after more than 1,000 days detained in China. It’s not great that the circumstances of their return seem to imply that hostage diplomacy works. How should Canada be dealing with China? Do we have any power in this situation? Was this a win, or a capitulation? And what’s to stop it from happening again the next time we make China angry?

GUEST: Stephanie Carvin, former National Security Analyst, author of Stand on Guard: Reassessing Threats To Canada’s National Security

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Tensions high between vaccinated and unvaccinated in Canada, poll suggests

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 27th, 2021

A new poll suggests tensions over COVID-19 vaccines in Canada are high as frictions grow between those who are vaccinated against the virus and those who are not.

The Leger survey, conducted for the Association of Canadian Studies, found that more than three in four respondents hold negative views of those who are not immunized.

Association president Jack Jedwab says the relationships between vaccinated and unvaccinated Canadians are also viewed negatively by two out of three survey participants.

The online poll surveyed 1,549 Canadians between September 10 and 12.

A margin of error cannot be assigned to online polls, as they are not considered truly random samples of the population.

The survey found vaccinated people consider the unvaccinated as irresponsible and selfish, a view contested by those who are not immunized.

Canada faces immediate, long-term decisions on China ties after Two Michaels’ return

THE CANADIAN PRESS, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 27th, 2021

While the return of two detained Canadians has ended a contentious dispute between Canada and China, experts say Ottawa now faces some hard choices when it comes to Beijing.

University of British Columbia professor Paul Evans, one of Canada’s top experts on China and Asia, expects a number of decisions to be rolled out in the coming weeks and months now that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been returned home.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that the two prisoners were released on bail for health reasons.

A ministry spokesperson made the comment as Beijing sought to downplay the connection between their release and the return to China of a long-detained executive of Huawei Technologies.


Among the decisions Evans is expecting is whether to let Chinese telecom giant Huawei participate in Canada’s 5G wireless network, and the extent to which Canadian universities will be allowed to work with Chinese entities.

University of Ottawa professor Roland Paris, who served as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first foreign policy adviser, says the re-elected Liberal government should also move quickly to develop a long-term strategy for dealing with China.

The Liberals promised in their election platform that they would develop a comprehensive strategy for the Asia-Pacific region, which Paris says is long overdue and will be needed to navigate what will be a challenging relationship.

Spavor and Kovrig were released after being held in Chinese prison for more than 1,000 days in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest  of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Many countries labeled China’s action “hostage politics,” while China accused Ottawa of arbitrary detention.

“The case of Meng Wanzhou is completely different from that of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in nature,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily briefing on Monday.

China released the two Canadians on bail after a “diagnosis by professional medical institutions, and with the guarantee of the Canadian ambassador to China,” Hua said.

Hua did not answer questions from journalists about whether the prisoner releases were entirely unrelated and what the health reasons were.

Wanzhou was released from Canadian custody Friday after reaching a plea deal with authorities from the U.S., where she had faced fraud charges.

Derek Chauvin to appeal conviction, sentence in George Floyd’s death

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 24th, 2021

The former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder in George Floyd’s death intends to appeal his conviction and sentence, saying the judge abused his discretion or erred during several key points in the case, according to documents filed Thursday.

Derek Chauvin said he intends to appeal on 14 grounds. Among them, he claims Judge Peter Cahill abused his discretion when he denied Chauvin’s request to move the trial out of Hennepin County due to pretrial publicity.

He also claimed the judge abused his discretion when he denied a request to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial, and when he denied requests to postpone the trial or grant a new one.

Chauvin was convicted earlier this year on state charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s 2020 death. He was sentenced to 22 1/2 years — a sentence higher than the presumptive 12 1/2 years after the judge agreed with prosecutors that there were aggravating factors in Floyd’s death.

Chauvin is also charged in federal court with violating Floyd’s civil rights when he knelt on the Black man’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd was facedown on the pavement, not resisting and pleading for air. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Chauvin had 90 days from his sentencing to file notice that he intends to appeal. In addition to his notice, he also filed a motion to put the appeals process on hold until the Supreme Court reviews an earlier decision to deny him a public defender to represent him in his appeal.

In an affidavit filed Thursday, Chauvin said he has no attorney in the appeals process, and has no income aside from nominal prison wages. His case before Cahill was funded by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association’s legal defense fund. Chauvin wrote: “I have been informed that their obligation to pay for my representation terminated upon my conviction and sentencing.”

All grounds that Chauvin raised in his notice of intent to appeal had been raised previously by defense attorney Eric Nelson as the case worked its way through the district court.

Nelson had previously argued that intense publicity around Floyd’s death tainted the jury pool and that the trial should have been moved away from Minneapolis. There were reports in February that Chauvin had been prepared to plead guilty to third-degree murder and an announcement during jury selection that Minneapolis reached a $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family. Also, the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by a police officer in nearby Brooklyn Center happened during Chauvin’s trial and sparked days of protests.

Chauvin’s court filing also said the district court erred when it concluded that Morries Hall, the man who was with Floyd on the day of his arrest, would not be forced to testify on behalf of the defense. He also said the court erred when it permitted prosecutors to present cumulative evidence on use of force.

Chauvin said he also intends to argue that Cahill abused his discretion when he failed to allow Chauvin to strike “clearly biased” jurors for cause, when he allowed the state to add a charge of third-degree murder, when he limited the admissibility of evidence from a prior arrest of Floyd, and when he denied Nelson’s post-verdict request for a new trial and request for a hearing to question jurors to investigate alleged misconduct.

Nelson had accused juror Brandon Mitchell of not being candid during jury selection because he didn’t mention his participation in a march in 2020 to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Prosecutors countered that Mitchell had been open about his views in a jury questionnaire and during juror questioning.

The judge ruled the defense didn’t establish any evidence of juror misconduct either during trial or during jury selection that warranted an evidentiary hearing.

Some election results hang on handful of votes, as mail ballot count continues

MARIE WOOLF, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 24th, 2021

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have picked up one more seat in Quebec, pushing them slightly ahead of the Bloc Quebecois in the province.

Brome-Missisquoi is the only riding so far to change hands since Monday’s preliminary election results, which did not include some 850,000 mail-in ballots.

Once election officials finished counting postal votes in the riding Thursday, Liberal Pascale St-Onge edged ahead of the Bloc’s Marilou Alarie by just 186 votes.

That leaves the Liberals leading or elected in 34 of Quebec’s 78 seats, to the Bloc’s 33 and also puts them slightly ahead in terms of the popular vote.

The Conservatives are leading or elected in 10 Quebec ridings and the NDP in just one.

Nationally, the Brome-Missisquoi victory puts the Liberals at 159 seats, although one of them was won by a disavowed Liberal candidate – Kevin Vuong in Toronto’s Spadina-Fort York – who will now have to sit as an Independent MP.

Late Thursday, Taleeb Noormohamed was declared the winner in Vancouver Granville by 436 votes over Anjali Appadurai of the NDP.

With the mail-in ballot count still continuing in three tightly-contested ridings Thursday evening, the Conservatives stood at 119 seats, the NDP at 25 and the Greens at two.

However, recounts are expected in a clutch of close-run ridings, where a handful of votes separates the victor from the loser.

In most ridings in Quebec, Ontario and Atlantic Canada, counting was complete by Thursday afternoon, as well as in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

But across B.C. _ where more mail-in ballots were received than any other province _ election officials were still tallying thousands of votes.

RELATED: Federal election map and results

RELATED: Toronto, GTA ridings: 2021 Federal Election results

As the remaining results rolled in, election experts warned that, in a few photo-finish ridings, a recount will have to settle who ultimately sits in Parliament.

Experts say a recount is expected in the Winnipeg-area riding of Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley where Conservative Marty Morantz beat Liberal Doug Eyolfson by just 24 votes.

Elections Canada said on Thursday afternoon that counting had finished there and results were being verified.

A judicial recount would likely be triggered there because the margin is so small, experts said.

Quito Maggi, a pollster who runs public opinion firm Mainstreet Research, said voters should expect recounts in a number of ridings.

“The Charleswood seat is heading for a judicial recount. I suspect that at least two or three other (candidates) will ask to go to recount,” Maggi said.

“We noticed at this election that there were a larger number than expected close races. The turnout was way, way down too. At least 1.2 million fewer people voted in this election than the last election.”

An automatic judicial recount is triggered if there is a tie between the two leading candidates or if the difference in votes is fewer than one one-thousandth of the total votes cast.

In other tight races, the loser has the option to go to court to ask for the votes to be counted again. The NDP, Conservatives and Liberals did not say, when asked by The Canadian Press, whether they would demand recounts in ridings where they have come second by a tiny margin of votes.

Among the close-run results is in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., where less than one per cent of the vote separates the Liberals and the Conservatives. Liberal Terry Sheehan narrowly fought off Tory Sonny Spina by 247 votes after mail ballots were counted.

In the Davenport riding in Toronto, the Liberals’ Julie Dzerowicz won by fewer than 200 votes, after a close-fought challenge from the NDP.

The NDP snatched Edmonton Griesbach from the Tories, with a greater than expected margin, after a dynamic campaign by two-spirit Metis leader Blake Desjarlais.

Similarly, Liberal Patrick Weiler emerged Thursday from the mail-in count with a lead of almost 2,500 votes ahead of his Conservative rival in B.C.’s West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea-to-Sky Country.

Elections Canada expected more ridings to finish counting mail-in ballots Thursday night. But in some with thousands of postal votes _ many of them in B.C. _ counting will continue on Friday.

On Thursday evening, several B.C. ridings, including Nanaimo-Ladysmith, which is the site of a fierce battle between the NDP, Conservatives and Greens, were still counting.

In Victoria, elections officials were busy tallying up more than 12,600 ballots sent in by mail _ the most in Canada.

Counting was also progressing in Saanich-Gulf Islands, where over 10,700 people have opted for postal votes and Elizabeth May, the former Green party leader, was on Thursday declared the winner.

But in Richmond Centre, B.C., voters were holding their breath as mail ballots were tallied in an epic battle between rookie Wilson Miao and veteran incumbent Alice Wong.

On Thursday, Liberal Miao had a narrow lead over veteran Conservative Wong who has been the local MP since 2008.

Elections Canada said it expected counting to be completed in almost all ridings by Friday.

A terrifying week on campus at Western University

THE BIG STORY | posted Thursday, Sep 23rd, 2021

In today’s Big Story podcast, Western has always been known as a party school, and with that comes a culture that can lead to sexual violence. But this year’s freshman orientation week (“O-week” as the school calls it) was horrifying even by that standard. Multiple accounts of sexual assault and violence are being investigated both by the school and the police. A fed-up student body led a 12,000-person walk out. And the administration has promised to take action and change the culture.

How? What happened two weeks ago on campus? How inevitable was something like this? And did an influx of young students, who had spent most of the past 18 months in lockdown only to emerge on their own for the first time, lacking support, make this even worse?

GUEST: Rebekah Rodrigues, news editor at the Western Gazette (You can read the Gazette’s coverage right here.)

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

Most mail-in ballots have now been tallied: Elections Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 23rd, 2021

Elections Canada says it believes most of the 850,000 mail-in ballots not counted on Monday night have now been tallied, but there are still several close-run ridings that have yet to be determined.

On Wednesday, the ridings of Fredericton, Edmonton Centre, Northwest Territories and Yukon were declared for the Liberals after the count wrapped up, along with the Toronto riding of Davenport, where Liberal Julie Dzerowicz beat NDP candidate Alejandra Bravo by 165 votes.

Toronto’s Spadina-Fort York was declared for Kevin Vuong, who was on the ballot as a Liberal although he’d been disavowed by the party over a late campaign revelation that he’d been charged with sexual assault in 2019. The charge was later dropped but the party has said Vuong will have to sit as an Independent MP.

A recount is expected in the Winnipeg-area riding of Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley, where Conservative incumbent Marty Morantz beat out Liberal Doug Eyolfson by 24 votes.

In Edmonton Griesbach, where The Canadian Press is projecting that Blake Desjarlais delivered a notable victory for the NDP over the Conservatives, mail ballots are still being counted.

In Nanaimo-Ladysmith, less than a thousand votes separated New Democrat Lisa Marie Barron from Conservative Tamara Kronis, with Green Paul Manly, the incumbent, relatively close behind, where 6,892 postal votes were still being counted on Wednesday.

Elections Canada warned that in some ridings with thousands of postal votes, final results may not be available until Friday.

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