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French Conservative debate, Tamara Lich bail hearing : In The News for May 25

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 25 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
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Jean Charest, left, and Pierre Poilievre shake hands following the Conservative Party of Canada English leadership debate in Edmonton, Alta., Wednesday, May 11, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

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 25 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Candidates running for leadership of the federal Conservative party will appear on stage tonight for its French-language debate.

The event is taking place in Laval, Que., north of Montreal, and comes as a deadline approaches for candidates to have their supporters signed up as party members in order to be eligible to vote in the contest. 

Former Quebec premier Jean Charest and longtime Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre are expected to dominate much of the debate as both can speak French fluently and have charted a path to victory through the province. 

Patrick Brown can also speak French and has spent the race campaigning against a controversial secularism law in Quebec that prohibits some public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols on the job, which he says is an affront to religious freedom. 

Party members will also be watching if Leslyn Lewis has improved on her French after she mostly stuck to a prepared script during the 2020 French-language leadership debate. 

Candidates will take the stage after a language reform bill passed Quebec's legislature that critics say goes too far in protecting the French language by potentially denying the province's anglophones the ability to access services like health-care in English.

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Also this ...

An Ottawa judge is expected to decide today whether "Freedom Convoy" organizer Tamara Lich should return to jail. 

Moiz Karimjee, a Crown prosecutor, says Lich violated one of her bail conditions by agreeing to accept an award for her leadership during the Ottawa protest, and should be sent back behind bars to wait for her trial.

Lich and fellow protest organizer Chris Barber are jointly accused of mischief, obstructing police, counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation.

She was released with a long list of conditions, including a ban from all social media and an order not to “support anything related to the Freedom Convoy.”

Lich's lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, says her bail conditions should be loosened to allow her to come to Ontario and use social media.

The "Freedom Convoy" protest evolved into a weeks-long demonstration that gridlocked the streets of Ottawa. 

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

UVALDE, Texas _ An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing at least 19 children as he went from classroom to classroom, officials said, in the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade and the latest gruesome moment for a country scarred by a string of massacres. The attacker was killed by law enforcement.

The death toll also included two adults, authorities said. Gov. Greg Abbott said one of the two was a teacher.

The assault at Robb Elementary School in the heavily Latino town of Uvalde was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

Hours after the attack, families were still awaiting word on their children.

Outside the town civic centre, where families were told to await news about their loved ones, the silence was broken repeatedly by screams and wailing. "No! Please, no!'' one man yelled as he embraced another man.

"My heart is broken today,'' said Hal Harrell, the school district superintendent. "We're a small community, and we're going to need your prayers to get through this.''

The attack came just 10 days after a deadly, racist rampage at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket that added to a yearslong series of mass killings at churches, schools and stores. And the prospects for any reform of the nation's gun regulations seemed as dim, if not dimmer, than in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook deaths.

But U.S President Joe Biden appeared ready for a fight, calling for new gun restrictions in an address to the nation hours after the attack.

"As a nation we have to ask, when in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God's name are we going to do what has to be done?'' Biden asked. "Why are we willing to live with this carnage?''

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

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan _ In Afghanistan, 1.1 million children under the age of five will likely face the most severe form of malnutrition this year, according to the U.N., as increasing numbers of hungry, wasting-away children are brought into hospital wards.

U.N. and other aid agencies were able to stave off outright famine after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last year, rolling out a massive emergency aid program that fed millions.

But they are struggling to keep pace with relentlessly worsening conditions. Poverty is spiralling and making more Afghans in need of aid, global food prices are mounting from the war in Ukraine and promises of international funding so far are not coming through, according to an assessment report issued this month.

As a result, the vulnerable are falling victim, including children but also mothers struggling to feed themselves along with their families.

UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, said 1.1 million children this year are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition, also known as severe wasting, nearly double the number in 2018 and up from just under one million last year.

Severe wasting is the most lethal type of malnutrition, in which food is so lacking that a child's immune system is compromised, according to UNICEF. They become vulnerable to multiple bouts of disease and eventually they become so weak they can't absorb nutrients.

The numbers of children under five being admitted into health facilities with severe acute malnutrition have steadily mounted, from 16,000 in March 2020 to 18,000 in March 2021, then leaping to 28,000 in March 2022, the UNICEF representative in Afghanistan, Mohamed Ag Ayoya, wrote in a tweet last week.

Hit by one of its worst droughts in decades and torn by years of war, Afghanistan was already facing a hunger emergency; but the Taliban takeover in August threw the country into crisis. Many development agencies pulled out and international sanctions cut off billions in finances for the government, collapsing the economy. 

Millions were plunged into poverty, struggling to afford food for their families. By the end of last year, half the population of around 38 million lived under the poverty line, according to U.N. figures. As the economy continues to crumble and prices mount, that could rise this year to as high as 97 per cent of the population by mid-2022, according to the U.N. Development Program.

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On this day in 1950 ...

The federal and provincial governments agreed to build the Trans-Canada Highway. It was completed 12 years later.

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In entertainment ...

Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard is expected to return to the stand today at his sex assault trial.

The Hedley frontman has pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one of sexual interference, a charge that refers to the sexual touching of someone under 16.

Prosecutors allege he violently and repeatedly raped two women, one of whom was 16 at the time, in two separate incidents in the fall of 2016.

The complainants have testified they cried and said no during the encounters, which took place in Toronto-area hotel rooms.

Hoggard began his testimony Tuesday, saying both encounters were consensual and passionate.

He said he relied on verbal and non-verbal cues to gauge consent with each of the complainants.

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Did you see this?

With rising costs of housing, gas and food, some Halifax youth say they’re being priced out of the city.

Gina Grattan, a 25-year-old who works a full-time and a part-time job, says she’s living paycheque to paycheque in order to cover rent, utilities and student loan payments. 

Grattan says Halifax is her home and she’d like to stay there for as long as possible, but it’s getting harder and harder. 

Halifax ranked the least affordable of Canada’s 27 major cities in a study from RBC and Canadian think tank Youthful Cities.

The report says Canadians between the ages of 15 and 29 living in cities have an average monthly deficit of 750 dollars. 

In Halifax, the average young person has a monthly deficit of nearly one-thousand-300 dollars, the highest of any city.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.

The Canadian Press