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 July 21 ...
What we are watching in Canada ...
Canada's environment minister says he understands why some people still fight against taking action on climate change, but it is a reality that extreme weather events will be more frequent and more intense in the future
Wildfires are raging out of control in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, where a state of emergency goes into effect on Wednesday to prepare for potential mass evacuations. Nearly 300 fires have burned across that province and threatened communities. Two people died in the village of Lytton, B.C., earlier this month after much of the community was destroyed by fire.
Farmers in the Prairies are also suffering from severe drought conditions, while weather alerts are in effect across Western Canada due to a dense cloud of smoke.
"I think the events that we're seeing this summer are probably underlying that even more for Canadians," Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Tuesday in an interview with The Canadian Press.
"The tragic event in Lytton, I think, was quite shocking for many people ... certainly the forest fires, but also the flooding that we've seen in the last number of years."
Wilkinson was in Calgary to announce a mitigation plan related to the 2013 floods in southern Alberta that led to five deaths and billions of dollars in damage.
He said all of the data suggests the extreme weather won't be improving in the future.
"I think people are starting to understand that it's even more proximate to them, that the impacts of climate change are with us already," he said.
"We need to take action to make sure we're not making the problem worse but, of course, we're also going to need to learn to adapt to the changes that are with us already."
Wilkinson, who grew up in Saskatchewan and now serves as the MP for North Vancouver, said the time to take action is now.
Also this ...
Diversity Minister Bardish Chagger says today's national summit on antisemitism hosted by the federal government will allow community members to speak directly with politicians in an environment that ensures their safety.
Chagger says the government will be listening and engaging with community members aiming to turn their ideas into actions to implement policies that reflect the diversity of Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, federal ministers, opposition critics, premiers and mayors will be participating in the summit along with Jewish community members from across the country.
Irwin Cotler, Canada's special envoy for preserving Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism, says he will be speaking about the rise of antisemitism not only in Canada, but also internationally, which he likens to almost an "explosion."
He says Jews are being targeted and threatened in their neighbourhoods and their synagogues, memorials and institutions have also been attacked and vandalized.
B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish human rights organization, says it recorded 2,610 antisemitic incidents last year, which was the fifth consecutive record-setting year for antisemitism in Canada.
The organization says 44 per cent of violent antisemitic incidents in 2020 were COVID-19-related, with Jews being spat on and otherwise assaulted, driven in part by antisemitic conspiracy theories.
The federal government will also hold a summit on Islamophobia this week.
What we are watching in the U.S. ...
PORTLAND, Ore. — The nation's largest wildfire provided wildlife researchers in Oregon with an unexpected experiment.
Ecologists in a vast region of wetlands and forest have spent the past decade thinning young trees and using planned fires to try to restore the thick stands of ponderosa to a less fire-prone state.
As the massive inferno known as the Bootleg Fire roared into the Sycan Marsh Preserve, firefighters said the flames jumped less from treetop to treetop and instead returned to the ground, where they were easier to fight, moved more slowly and did less damage to the overall forest.
The initial assessment by firefighters suggests that the many years of forest treatments worked, said Pete Caligiuri, Oregon forest program director for The Nature Conservancy, which runs the research at the preserve.
“Generally speaking, what firefighters were reporting on the ground is that when the fire came into those areas that had been thinned ... it had significantly less impact.”
The reports were bittersweet for researchers, who still saw about 50 square kilometres of the preserve burn, but the findings add to a growing body of research about how to make wildfires less explosive by thinning undergrowth and allowing forests to burn periodically — as they naturally would do — instead of snuffing out every flame.
What we are watching in the rest of the world ...
JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister is vowing to “act aggressively” against the decision by Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling its ice cream in Israeli-occupied territories.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made the comments Tuesday as the country’s ambassador to the U.S. urged dozens of state governors to punish the company under anti-boycott laws.
The strong reaction reflects concerns in Israel that the ice cream maker’s decision could lead other companies to follow suit. It also appeared to set the stage for a protracted public relations and legal battle.
Ben & Jerry's said Monday that it would stop selling ice cream in the occupied West Bank and contested east Jerusalem. It says such sales are inconsistent with its values.
Bennett's office said he spoke with Alan Jope, chief executive of Ben & Jerry's parent company Unilever, and raised concern about what he called a “clearly anti-Israel step.” He said the move would have “serious consequences, legal and otherwise," and Israel "will act aggressively against all boycott actions directed against its citizens.”
In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to comment directly on the company's decision. But he said the U.S. rejects the boycott movement against Israel, saying it “unfairly singles out” the country.
On this day in 1961 ...
The government-built town of Inuvik, N.W.T., was officially opened. The town, the largest Canadian community north of the Arctic Circle, was constructed to replace the old settlement of Aklavik, which was being threatened by flood and erosion. Located on the Mackenzie River delta, the town's economy is centred on nearby oil and gas exploration.
In entertainment ...
TORONTO — The organizers of this year's hybrid Toronto International Film Festival are touting an expansion of the shrunken showcase from a year ago with a return of red carpets along with in-person glitz as pandemic border measures ease.
The festival opens with Stephen Chbosky's musical feature "Dear Evan Hansen" as organizers on Tuesday revealed the first selections of high-profile gala and special presentations slots for the 46th edition, which runs Sept. 9 to 18.
Newly announced star-studded features making world premieres include "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" by Michael Showalter, Barry Levinson's biographical boxer drama "The Survivor" and Michael McGowan's Canadian adaptation "All My Puny Sorrows." They're among more than 100 films set to screen digitally and in-person at downtown drive-in and open-air cinemas, as well as some in-person venues, including TIFF Bell Lightbox and Roy Thomson Hall.
TIFF co-head and artistic director Cameron Bailey said the festival wants to stage this year's galas and special presentations as safely as possible while reviving some pre-pandemic excitement.
Still, red carpets will likely be smaller than usual and be held indoors — a departure from the usual outdoor media spectacles that attract hordes of fans seeking hugs, photos and autographs from celebrities.
Tuesday's announcement came a day after the federal government said fully vaccinated United States citizens and permanent residents will be allowed into Canada as of Aug. 9. Visitors from the rest of the world will be allowed into Canada starting Sept. 7.
NEW YORK — The world’s richest man wanted to say thanks to the people who made his brief trip into space Tuesday possible, but for some, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' expression of gratitude went over like a lead rocket.
Bezos built Amazon into a shopping and entertainment behemoth but has faced increasing activism within his own workforce and stepped up pressure from critics to improve working conditions.
After his trip to space, he thanked Amazon employees and customers for their support.
“I want to thank every Amazon employee, and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all this,” the 57-year-old Bezos said during a news conference Tuesday after becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride in his own spacecraft.
His critics countered that he should show his thanks by supporting unionization efforts at Amazon's warehouses and by paying more taxes.
Robert Reich, former secretary of labour under President Bill Clinton and a professor of public policy at University of California, Berkeley, wrote on Twitter that Bezos has crushed unionizing attempts for decades.
“Amazon workers don’t need Bezos to thank them. They need him to stop union busting — and pay them what they deserve," Reich wrote.
Bezos stepped down as Amazon CEO in July, allowing him more time for side projects including his space exploration company Blue Origin. He has said he finances the rocket company by selling $1 billion in Amazon stock each year.
After the spaceflight, Bezos awarded $100 million donations to both D.C. chef Jose Andres and CNN contributor Van Jones to put towards any charity or nonprofit of their choice.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2021