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Statistics Canada says Q1 GDP worst showing since 2009

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, May 29th, 2020

Statistics Canada says the economy in the first quarter had its worst showing since 2009 as steps taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 forced businesses across the country to close their doors and lay off workers.

Statistics Canada says gross domestic product fell at an annualized rate of 8.2 per cent in the first three months of 2020.

The collapse came as gross domestic product for March fell 7.2 per cent as restrictions by public health officials and school closures began rolling out during the month.

The average economist estimate is for a nine per cent drop in gross domestic product for March, while the average estimate for the first quarter as a whole is for a GDP pullback at a annualized pace of 10 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

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

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on May 28, 2020:

There are 87,519 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 49,139 confirmed (including 4,228 deaths, 15,319 resolved)

_ Ontario: 26,483 confirmed (including 2,155 deaths, 20,372 resolved)

_ Alberta: 6,926 confirmed (including 141 deaths, 6,106 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,550 confirmed (including 161 deaths, 2,144 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,053 confirmed (including 59 deaths, 975 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 637 confirmed (including 10 deaths, 559 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 281 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 271 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 260 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 255 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 123 confirmed (including 120 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 87,519 (11 presumptive, 87,508 confirmed including 6,764 deaths, 46,177 resolved)

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

The Canadian Press

Legal experts weigh in on Meng Wanzhou decision from B.C. Supreme Court

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

VANCOUVER — A loss in court for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou has prompted another round of legal arguments in her attempt to avoid extradition to the United States on fraud charges.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday the charges Meng faces in America could also be a crime in Canada and the case should proceed, a decision that one legal expert says puts the rule of law above political pressures.

“If you turn a blind eye in the favour of political outcomes, you’re sacrificing the rule of law and then you do become subject to China’s allegation or criticism that this is all political,” said Robert Adamson, who teaches business law at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University.

Meng’s arrest by the RCMP at the Vancouver airport in December 2018 placed Canada in the middle of rising tensions between the U.S. and China, and two Canadians, ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, were detained in China nine days later. They remain in custody.

Meng is accused of misrepresenting Huawei’s relationship with Skycom Tech Co. and making false statements to HSBC, putting the bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Her lawyers argued that Meng’s conduct could not constitute fraud in Canada because it related to American sanctions that Canada doesn’t apply, while the Attorney General of Canada told the court the fraud allegations could be argued without reference to the U.S. sanctions.

Justice Holmes found the U.S. sanctions are relevant to the issue of double criminality, but it wasn’t enough to dismiss the case.

“The essence of the alleged wrongful conduct in this case is the making of intentionally false statements in the banker-client relationship that put HSBC at risk. The U.S. sanctions are part of the state of affairs necessary to explain how HSBC was at risk, but they are not themselves an intrinsic part of the conduct,” she wrote in her decision.

“For this reason, I cannot agree with Ms. Meng that to refer to U.S. sanctions in order to understand the risk to HSBC is to allow the essence of the conduct to be defined by foreign law. Canada’s laws determine whether the alleged conduct, in its essence, amounts to fraud.”

A broad definition of double criminality helps avoid unforeseen consequences, said Adamson, a member of the Canadian Bar Association.

He said a narrower definition of double criminality could stop extradition hearings at preliminary junctures and limit Canada’s ability to extradite as well as ask for someone to be extradited here.

Vancouver extradition lawyer Gary Botting took a different view, saying Justice Holmes’s ruling creates a “hybrid” way of looking at double criminality by importing some, but not all of the context of the U.S. sanctions.

The Supreme Court of Canada has made plain that they prefer to say, “fraud is fraud, theft is theft,” said Botting, adding that’s “more or less what Holmes has followed.”

However, by importing some, but not all of the context of the sanctions, Botting said Justice Holmes “made a mistake of the law.”

“It can’t be both ways. In other words, this is an appealable judgement, in my view.”

In the next phase of the proceedings, the court will hear arguments about whether Meng’s arrest was unlawful.

Her lawyers have alleged the Canada Border Services Agency, the RCMP and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a “covert criminal investigation” at the airport and violated Meng’s charter rights.

Border officers seized Meng’s cellphones, tablet and other devices and wrote down her passcodes, which were then handed to the RCMP.

The Crown has told the court that when the border agency learned of its mistake it told the RCMP that the codes couldn’t be used or shared because they were obtained during the agency’s examination.

It said officials followed the law and there’s no proof that Meng was illegally arrested.

Botting said he believes Meng’s rights were violated.

“Whether that amounts to a stay of proceedings or not is entirely, again, up to the judge.”

Adamson disagreed, saying he hasn’t seen “any strong evidence” of her rights being violated, and from what he understands, that argument from her defence team isn’t as strong as the double-criminality argument was.

“That is, if Ms. Meng and her defence team had a better change of this case coming to a conclusion it was more likely to be on the double-criminality issue and not on this abuse of process,” he said.

Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti will still have the final say on whether Meng should be extradited to the U.S.

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

Brenna Owen , The Canadian Press

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

Some employees miss working in air-conditioned spaces as central Canada sizzles

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

Natasha Burtenshaw-deVries lives in one of several apartments in a converted house in Brantford, Ont., that doesn’t have central air conditioning.

Her mom purchased her “a bit of a pity gift” of a window air-conditioning unit, and Burtenshaw-deVries invested in several stand up fans during the year she’s lived there.

As central Canada prepares for another day of stifling heat, some employees working from home are missing their air-conditioned workspaces. The mercury in parts of Ontario is hovering around 30 C. Environment Canada has issued heat warnings this week for much of the province.

Burtenshaw-deVries said she was able to receive some reprieve from the heat last summer by working in an air-conditioned office.

This year, with many offices shifting to work-from-home during the COVID-19 pandemic, that is no longer an option for her.

“So far it hasn’t been too bad, to be honest,” she said, noting her hand would get sticky and slide off her mouse a lot, but she didn’t feel her productivity dropped yet.

She’s added cooler snacks, like Popsicles, into her repertoire, and wants to learn how to make iced coffee to help alleviate the heat.

Burtenshaw-deVries said she feels very fortunate to have the resources, from a financial and space perspective, to make the situation as comfortable as possible for herself.

“I’m really worried about a lot of people who don’t have that option,” she said.

Seniors who may not have air conditioning, for example, are being told to stay at home and may not have the money to buy fans, she said.

“How do we find the balance between everything this summer?”

She noted work-from-home employees who can typically take an air-conditioned break at a cafe, mall or co-working space, no longer have those options.

While not yet necessary, she’s contemplated whether it may be possible to shift her work hours if the heat becomes a much bigger problem.

“There’s just a part of me that thinks, you know, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be able to be productive at like one o’clock in the afternoon when it’s 35 or 40 degrees out.’”

The heat wave shines a light on the need for open communication and trust between employees and employers, said Karen Pastakia, partner, human capital consulting at Deloitte Canada.

“People may look for alternate work schedules,” she said, and ask for some flexibility over the summer months.

“I would anticipate that, that will be a real dialogue that starts to happen over the coming weeks.”

Janet Mayhew lives in an Ottawa apartment in a three-story walk-up with her daughter. She’s lived there for nine years without central air and windows that don’t accommodate for a portable unit.

She has several ceiling and stand-up fans throughout the apartment, and strategically closes the windows and blinds during the day, and opens them at night.

“That seems to do the trick,” she said.

Mayhew, who enjoys working from home, said she “certainly did love the AC at the office and not having that right now is unfortunate.”

She’s relying on ice water with lemon, as well as wearing comfy, loose clothing to help keep her cool and is in the market for a new fan.

Like Burtenshaw-deVries, Mayhew is more concerned for vulnerable populations and said it’s good the city is providing cooling stations.

“I’m not really worried about myself. There are definitely people who are suffering more than I am.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 27, 2020.

 

The Canadian Press

Long-term care home report and JK Rowling’s new story; In The News for May 27

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, May 27th, 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 27 …

COVID-19 in Canada …

Members of Parliament will make history today as a few dozen of them gather in the House of Commons, where they’ll be joined by the other 300-odd MPs participating via videoconference.

The new hybrid of in-person and virtual proceedings goes into effect today after the NDP joined forces Tuesday evening with the Liberals to waive normal sittings of the House of Commons for another four months while the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis.

Instead, they voted in favour of a government motion to continue with an expanded version of the special COVID-19 committee that has acted as a stand-in for the chamber over the past month.

The committee has been meeting twice a week virtually and once a week with a small group of MPs physically present in the Commons.

Starting today, all special committee meetings will be a mix of virtual and in-person,  with most MPs participating via big screens set up on either side of the Speaker’s chair.

And there’ll be four meetings each week, Monday to Thursday, until mid-June.

Also this …

Simon Nisbet is convinced that if he hadn’t moved his mother out of her long-term care home, she would never have left alive.

He said daily visits to her window at Orchard Villa in Pickering, Ont., led to a mounting list of concerns as a deadly COVID-19 outbreak swept through the home, killing dozens of residents.

He alleged his 89-year-old mother’s call bell lay disconnected on the floor of her room, not far from where he consistently saw trays of untouched food. Staff, he said, were unable to tell him what she’d had to eat or drink and rarely provided updates on the evolving outbreak.

After she was officially diagnosed with the novel coronavirus herself, Nisbet said he could tell from the look in her eyes that she was deteriorating quickly and needed to be transferred to a local hospital for better care.

By the time she got there, Nisbet said she had sustained serious kidney damage due to dehydration. While she appears to have recovered from COVID-19, she remains in hospital in fragile health.

When a bombshell report from the Canadian Armed Forces outlining a litany of problems at five long-term care homes including Orchard Villa was released on Tuesday, Nisbet said he was not surprised.

COVID-19 in the U.S. …

In the rubble of buildings and lives, modern U.S. presidents have met national trauma with words such as these: “I can hear you.” “You have lost too much, but you have not lost everything.” “We have wept with you; we’ve pulled our children tight.”

As diverse as they were in eloquence and empathy, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama each had his own way of piercing the noise of catastrophe and reaching people.

But now, the known U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is fast approaching 100,000 on the watch of a president whose communication skills, potent in a political brawl, are not made for this moment.

Impeachment placed one indelible mark on Donald Trump’s time in the White House. Now there is another, a still-growing American casualty list that has exceeded deaths from the Vietnam and Korean wars combined. U.S. fatalities from the most lethal hurricanes and earthquakes pale by comparison. This is the deadliest pandemic in a century.

Actual deaths from COVID-19 are almost certainly higher than the numbers show, an undercount to be corrected in time.

At every turn Trump has asserted the numbers would be worse without his leadership. Yet the toll keeps climbing. It is well beyond what he told people to expect even as his public-health authorities started bracing the country in early April for at least 100,000 deaths.

COVID-19 around the world …

Dominic Cummings helped Boris Johnson win power by pitting the people against the elite. Johnson’s Conservative administration has branded itself “the People’s Government.”

The prime minister’s populist appeal has been hammered by news that, as the coronavirus outbreak raged, chief adviser Cummings drove 250 miles (400 kilometres) to his parents’ house while he was falling ill with suspected COVID-19 — allegedly flouting lockdown rules that the government had imposed on the rest of the country.

Cummings says he travelled to the family farm in northeast England so that his nieces could care for his 4-year-old son if he and his wife both became sick. But that explanation cut little ice with many Britons, who say they have endured isolation, anxiety and sometimes loss in order to follow government advice to “Stay Home … Save Lives.”

On Tuesday, junior Scotland minister Douglas Ross quit Johnson’s Conservative government, saying “the vast majority of people” didn’t agree with Cummings’ action.

“I have constituents who didn’t get to say goodbye to loved ones; families who could not mourn together; people who didn’t visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the government,” Ross wrote in a resignation letter. “I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior adviser to the government was right.”

Johnson, however, appears determined to hang onto an aide who has been dubbed “Boris’ brain,” even if it fractures his government and erodes Britain’s response to the pandemic.

COVID-19 in entertainment …

JK Rowling is publishing a new story called “The Ickabog,” which will be free to read online to help entertain children and families stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The “Harry Potter” author said Tuesday she wrote the fairy tale for her children as a bedtime story over a decade ago. Set in an imaginary land, it is a stand-alone story “about truth and the abuse of power” for children from 7 to 9 years old and is unrelated to Rowling’s other books.

Rowling said the draft of the story had stayed in her attic while she focused on writing books for adults. She said her children, now teenagers, were “touchingly enthusiastic” when she recently suggested retrieving the story and publishing it for free.

“For the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again. As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again,” she said.

“’The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed).”

The first two chapters were posted online Tuesday, with daily instalments to follow until July 10.

The book will be published in print later this year, and Rowling said she will pledge royalties from its sales to projects helping those particularly affected by the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2020

The Canadian Press

Twenty-nine of Canada’s 48 national parks to reopen to day-use visitors June 1

COLETTE DERWORIZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

More than half of Canada’s national parks — including Banff in Alberta, Pacific Rim in British Columbia and Cape Breton Highlands in Nova Scotia — are to reopen June 1.

Minister of Environment Jonathan Wilkinson says 29 of the 48 national parks will open for day use, and there will be access to washrooms.

“It’s an opportunity for folks, particularly those who live reasonably close to national parks, to be able to get out in nature in a manner that can allow physical distancing,” he told The Canadian Press.

All national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas have been closed for weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Wilkinson said parks such as Banff, Jasper and Waterton in Alberta will open day-use areas and trails to visitors.

In Banff, the town and many of its businesses have been preparing to reopen on June 1.

“This has been devastating for our town that relies solely on tourism as our economy,” said Mayor Karen Sorensen, adding it was difficult to ask visitors to stay away.

“We wanted to make sure we had protocols in place to make it safe not only for our community, but also for our visitors.”

The town’s council decided Monday to close two blocks of its often-crowded main street, Banff Avenue, to vehicle traffic to make more room for pedestrians.

“If … people need to line up to get into one of our businesses on Banff Avenue, there will be space,” said Sorensen. “There will be space for some outdoor patio seating and some outdoor retailing opportunities and there will still be space for outdoor pedestrian flow.”

Banff is the country’s busiest national park, with about four million visitors annually.

Other national parks reopening June 1 include Riding Mountain in Manitoba and Grasslands in Saskatchewan.

Wilkinson said some parks, including many in Northern Canada, will remain closed to reduce travel to areas sensitive to the spread of COVID-19.

“There’s also some of the parks that are co-managed with First Nations, like Haida Gwaii, where the First Nation has asked that the park not be reopened,” he said.

Camping, he said, will still not be allowed in national parks until at least June 21.

“Camping is going to be something that a lot of Canadians are going to look at, given that travelling outside the country is going to be particularly challenging,” said Wilkinson.

The British Columbia Parks website crashed soon after it opened summer bookings for provincial campsites Monday, while Alberta Parks saw nearly 40,000 campsite bookings on its first day of offering rebookings.

Many provincial governments have reopened camping for June 1, but are only allowing their own residents to reserve spots to prevent non-essential travel.

Wilkinson said Parks Canada will have protocols in place once they allow camping, but the agency doesn’t plan to put in restrictions by province.

“We are a national agency that belongs to all people who live in this country,” he said. “We will be telling people that they need to be paying attention to the travel guidance of their respective province or territory.”

Some governments have restricted travel in and out, while others have asked people not to travel to their jurisdictions.

Wilkinson said there could be restrictions on a park-by-park basis.

“In some cases, we’ll be opening more things because we think it’s set up in a way that can accommodate physical distancing,” he said. “In others, where there are some … trails that are extremely busy, we may not open those because we can’t allow for safe usage.”

Other possibilities could include setting limits on how many people can visit at a time or closing parking lots at popular areas.

Wilkinson said he realizes Canadians have been through a lot in recent months.

“Many have stuck very, very close to home,” he said. “One of the key things for us is trying to give Canadians opportunities to get out, as summer comes, to enjoy nature.

“It’s part of what Canada is for most Canadians.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 27, 2020

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

HISTORY MADE AS SIMON COWELL CROWNS WINNER OF CANADIAN FAMILY’S GOT TALENT

Breakfast Television Staff | posted Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

History was made on Citytv’s Breakfast Television this morning as singing trio CZN was announced the winner of Canadian Family’s Got Talent.

The competition came to a stunning finale as Simon Cowell of America’s Got Talent infamy awarded the Toronto, Ontario trio with the award Tuesday morning.

Simon had some complimentary words to say to the group.  “I have to tell you, what you did – I think you’re very current, I think you’re very cool, I think you’re very likeable. Most importantly talented, creative, inventive – and I can’t wait to meet you in person”

The reaction: priceless.

“We’re so grateful. There’s so many talented people in this competition. So for Simon to crown us the winner is incredible,” said Matthew Novary Joseph as his teammates jumped and fist-pumped in the background. “To have someone like him say that, and invite us to do that, is astounding. We’re so happy. The next step is to make music. And that’s freeing, to be able to be given that vote of confidence.”

CZN consists of CJ Capital, Seth Zosky, and Matthew Novary Joseph. Their sound features a unique blend of RnB, Rap and Pop with catchy hooks and harmonies. The group has released 5 singles to date with their song titled ‘TIMEZONE‘ hitting over 25,000 streams.

Remarkably, this award was further sweetened by an announcement by Cowell himself, stating that the winner of this competition would automatically claim a spot on America’s Got Talent’s next season.

“I could make a case that every one of those three could be the winner. In the end I went with my gut, but that’s not to say anyone here has walked away as a loser,”  Cowell said.

“Congratulations. You’ve all done great. I loved all three acts. Canada DOES have talent.”

The month-long contest on the expanded national hour of Breakfast Television included thousands of entries from across the country, with more than 30,000 votes from Canadians online.

Season 15 of America’s Got Talent premieres tonight on Citytv.

Feds to update efforts to procure COVID-19-related protective equipment

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

OTTAWA — The federal government will update Canadians today on the results of the mad scramble to procure personal protective equipment _ just as demand is poised to skyrocket with more people returning to work and public health officials preparing for a potential second wave of COVID-19 infections.

As of May 19, data posted by Public Services and Procurement Canada showed only a fraction of the millions of gloves, masks, face shields, ventilators and litres of hand sanitizer ordered by the federal government had so far been received.

For example, of 29,570 ventilators ordered, only 203 had been received.

When it comes to the coveted N95 respirator mask that’s the standard-issue covering for the heath-care profession, upwards of 104 million have been ordered but just less than 12 million received and, of those, 9.8 million didn’t meet Canadian standards.

The equipment has been in high demand worldwide, with every country competing for scarce supplies from a limited number of suppliers, mostly in China. In what’s been described as a “wild west” battle, some confirmed orders have been snatched out from under Canada’s nose by other countries willing to pay more.

Even so, officials argue that the federal government has so far been able to deliver everything that the provinces and territories have requested.

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