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More Line 5 disputes, GG requested briefing on Indian Act : In The News for March 17

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 March 17 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
Mich. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a news conference on Friday, March 11, 2022, at the governor's office in Lansing, Michigan Business leaders from the United States and Canada are again wading into the fray over Line 5, accusing the state of Michigan of dragging its heels to ensure the controversial cross-border pipeline remains in a state of legal limbo even as both countries contend with a looming energy crisis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Eggert

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 March 17 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Business leaders from the United States and Canada are again wading into the fray over Line 5, accusing the state of Michigan of dragging its heels to ensure the controversial cross-border pipeline remains in a state of legal limbo even as both countries contend with a looming energy crisis. 

In a new joint amicus brief, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, its U.S. counterpart and chambers in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin reiterate their concern that shutting down the Enbridge Inc. pipeline would have "tremendous negative consequences" on both sides of the border. 

"Such a shutdown would constrain an already disrupted energy supply, an especially problematic development given recent decisions related to importation of petroleum products from Russia," reads the brief, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press. 

Gasoline prices have been spiking across the U.S. and Canada, a combination of production and supply-chain pressures created by the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by bans on imports of Russian energy, part of the global effort to sanction Russia over its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. 

The dispute over Line 5 has been raging since November 2020, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — citing the risk of a spill in the ecologically sensitive Straits of Mackinac, where the line crosses the Great Lakes — abruptly revoked the easement that had allowed it to operate since 1953.

Enbridge insists the pipeline is safe and has already received a level of state approval for a $500-million concrete tunnel beneath the straits that would house the line's twin pipes and protect them from anchor strikes. The company has repeatedly insisted it would not shut down the pipeline voluntarily. 

The court dispute, however, has less to do with pipeline safety and environmental impact than it does with legal jurisdiction. Whitmer and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel have been trying to get the case heard in state court, while Calgary-based Enbridge has argued successfully that it belongs before a federal judge. 

Enbridge won that argument last fall, prompting Michigan to abandon that challenge, instead taking up a separate case that was still at the county court level. That case is once again seized with the identical question of whether the dispute should be elevated to federal court. 

Advocates for the pipeline say Line 5 delivers more than half the propane and home heating oil consumed in Michigan, and is a vital source of energy for Ohio and Pennsylvania as well, to say nothing of Ontario and Quebec.


Also this ...

Canada's first Indigenous Governor General, within months of being appointed to the role, requested government officials outline what departments were doing to allow First Nations to move away from the Indian Act. 

Mary Simon, an Inuk leader, diplomat and negotiator, was sworn in last July as the country's 30th Governor General. Born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, in the Nunavik region of northern Quebec, Simon has made advancing the country's reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a priority. 

Her appointment as the first Indigenous person to the office made history, and came at a time when Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities were reeling from the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential school sites.

A glimpse at what that looks like behind the closed doors of Rideau Hall was recently revealed in documents released to The Canadian Press under federal access to information legislation. 

Briefing notes show Simon met with the deputy minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations last August to discuss what role she could play "in Indigenous issues and reconciliation as a whole." 

Another meeting took place that October between Simon and the same deputy minister as well as the deputy minister of Indigenous Services Canada to discuss the Indian Act. 

"The Governor General is interested in being updated on the important work underway … with respect to the Indian Act," reads a briefing note prepared for one of the officials. 

"Specifically, how (departments) are providing opportunities for First Nations to succeed within the legislation, or to move away from it partially or fully."

An accompanying presentation prepared for the October meeting with Simon includes an overview of the past attempts to reform the Indian Act, as well as the challenges faced by First Nations wanting to move away from it and the establishment of modern treaties and self-government agreements. 


And this ...

A group of Toronto volunteers is collecting tactical supplies to send to Ukraine.  

Julia Zaritsky says she started the effort two weeks ago to help Ukrainians defend themselves against the Russian invasion. 

The supplies her group is collecting include first aid kits and thermal clothes to send to partner organizations in Ukraine.

The group is also working on getting a special export permit to be able to send certain models of bulletproof vests, helmets, and night vision goggles to Ukraine. 

Zaritsky, who immigrated to Canada from Ukraine five years ago, says she felt she needed to do something to help.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that Canada would send another $50 million in specialized equipment, including Canadian-made cameras for surveillance drones, to help Ukraine.

Canada previously said it was shipping non-lethal equipment such as body vests and helmets, as well as more than $10 million in weapons such as machine-guns, rocket launchers and hand grenades.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

HOBBS, N.M. _ Authorities are trying to determine why a pickup truck crossed into the opposite lane on a darkened, two-lane West Texas highway before colliding head-on with a van, killing nine people including a 13-year-old boy in a fiery crash.

Six of the dead were New Mexico university students and a coach returning from a golf tournament. Also killed in Tuesday evening's crash were University of the Southwest students from Portugal and Mexico while two Canadian students were hospitalized in critical condition.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board was sending an investigative team to the crash site in Texas' Andrews County, about 50 kilometres east of the New Mexico state line.

The golf team was travelling in a 2017 Ford Transit van that was towing a box trailer when it collided with the truck, and both vehicles burst into flames, according to NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss. He said the vehicles collided on a two-lane asphalt highway where the speed limit is 120 kph, though investigators have not yet determined how fast either vehicle was travelling.

The Texas Department of Public Safety identified the deceased as: Golf coach Tyler James, 26, of Hobbs, New Mexico; and players Mauricio Sanchez, 19, of Mexico; Travis Garcia, 19, of Pleasanton, Texas; Jackson Zinn, 22, of Westminster, Colorado; Karisa Raines, 21, of Fort Stockton, Texas; Laci Stone, 18, of Nocona, Texas; and Tiago Sousa, 18, of Portugal.

Also killed were Henrich Siemans, 38, of Seminole County, Texas, and an unidentified 13-year-old boy who had been travelling with him in the 2007 Dodge 2500 pickup. 

Critically injured aboard the van were Canadian students Dayton Price, 19, of Mississauga, Ontario, and Hayden Underhill, 20, of Amherstview, Ontario. Both were taken by helicopter to the University Medical Center in Lubbock, about 110 miles (180 kilometres) to the northeast.

The University of the Southwest is a private, Christian college located in Hobbs, New Mexico, near the state line with Texas. A memorial was set up Wednesday at the course near campus where the team practices. There were flowers, golf balls and a handmade sign with a cross and the initials USW. 


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

KYIV, Ukraine _ A Russian airstrike ripped apart a theatre where hundreds of people have been living in the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said, as Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a "self-purification'' to rid his country of anyone who questions his invasion.

The bombardment Wednesday of the theatre, which had become a makeshift shelter as combat tore across the port city over the past three weeks and made thousands homeless, left many people buried in the burning rubble, Ukraine's foreign ministry said in a statement. There was no immediate word on how many people were killed or injured. 

At least as recently as Monday, the pavement in front of and behind the once-elegant theatre was marked with huge white letters spelling out "CHILDREN'' in Russian, according to images released by the Maxar space technology company.

"My heart breaks from what Russia is doing to our people,'' Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday night, hours after he delivered a speech via video to the U.S. Congress that garnered several ovations.

The Russian defense ministry denied bombing the theatre or anywhere else in Mariupol on Wednesday.

Six nations have called for a U.N. Security Council meeting on Ukraine on Thursday afternoon, ahead of an expected vote Friday on a resolution demanding protection for Ukrainian civilians "in vulnerable situations,'' yet making no mention of Moscow's responsibility for the war.

Russian attacks have battered cities and villages across large parts of Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, where residents have been huddling in homes and shelters. Russian troops shelled areas in and around the city on Wednesday, including a residential neighbourhood just 2.5 kilometres from the presidential palace. A 12-storey Kyiv apartment building erupted in flames after being hit by shrapnel. 

Putin went on television to excoriate Russians who don't back him, even as both sides expressed optimism over efforts to negotiate an end to the fighting. Russians "will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouths,'' he said. "I am convinced that such a natural and necessary self-purification of society will only strengthen our country.''


On this day in 1955 ...

The "Richard Riot'' broke out in the Montreal Forum. Canadiens fans were enraged that NHL president Clarence Campbell suspended star forward Maurice Richard for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs for a stick-swinging incident with a Boston player and an assault on a linesman. When Campbell appeared at the Habs' game versus Detroit, fans threw tomatoes and set off tear gas. After the game was suspended after one period and the Red Wings awarded a 4-1 win, the mob moved outside to overturn cars and loot stores for the next four hours. Without Richard, the Canadiens lost the Stanley Cup to Detroit.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO _ Geddy Lee is putting down his bass guitar for a guest role on "Murdoch Mysteries.''

The former Rush band member will make another case for his occasional acting career with a bit part on an episode of the detective series set to air Monday on CBC and stream on CBC Gem.

The storyline follows the mystery of a murdered blues saxophonist whose death was seemingly foretold in vivid detail through the lyrics of a song.

Lee is part of a subplot, playing a carriage driver who's transporting lead character William Murdoch and his pregnant wife.

The musician's appearance adds to his growing number of cameos and small roles on hit TV series, including "Chicago Fire,'' "How I Met Your Mother,'' and the Hollywood comedy "I Love You, Man,'' where he starred alongside Rush bandmates Alex Lifeson and the late Neil Peart as themselves.

In a promotional clip, Lee explained he first entertained the "Murdoch Mysteries'' role while mingling with star Yannick Bisson and his wife at a fundraiser.

"We just got chatting through the course of the evening and he said, 'Why don't you come and hang out with us one day?' And I said, 'Sure sounds like fun.' And here I am,'' he said.

"I have to use some sort of modest acting skill to fit into the already well-established 'Murdoch Mysteries' scenario,'' he added with a laugh.


Did you see this?

CALGARY _ Close to 3,000 employees of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. could be off the job early Sunday morning.

Calgary-based CP Rail said in a release Wednesday that it has issued 72-hour notice to the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference of its plan to lock out employees at 00:01 eastern time on Sunday if the union and the company are unable to come to a negotiated settlement or agree to binding arbitration.

CP Rail said it tabled an offer Tuesday to address 26 outstanding issues, including the union's key issues of wages, benefits and pensions through final and binding arbitration. The company said the union rejected the offer and continues to table additional demands.

Teamsters Canada said in a release that the company's move was expected and noted its members voted 96.7 per cent to authorize strike action.

Teamsters' spokesman Dave Fulton said the union is committed to working with federal mediators and reaching a negotiated settlement. He said the union is willing to remain at the bargaining table until the March 20 lockout deadline and beyond.

The union represents about 3,000 locomotive engineers, conductors, train and yard workers across Canada.

Many of CP Rail's customers have raised concerns about the possibility of a labour disruption at a time when supply chains are already strained due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadian manufacturers, grain shippers, and farmers have all warned of potential wide-ranging impacts.

Labour Minister Seamus O'Regan issued a statement Wednesday night about the lockout notice. He said the federal government strongly encourages both parties to consider making compromises necessary to reach a deal that is fair for workers and the employer.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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