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Parliament resumes and horror in Milwaukee: In The News for Nov. 22

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 Nov. 22 ... What we are watching in Canada ...

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 Nov. 22 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

OTTAWA — Members of Parliament return to the House of Commons today for the first time in five months.

It's a new Parliament that looks almost identical to the old one, after an election Sept. 20 that saw only a handful of seats change hands and gave Justin Trudeau's Liberals their second consecutive minority.

And it's facing many of the same issues: the ongoing battle against COVID-19, rebuilding the battered economy, climate change, Indigenous reconciliation. 

It's likely to face a similar partisan divide as well, with the Conservatives putting up stiff opposition to most Liberal initiatives, forcing the government to rely primarily on the NDP and occasionally the Bloc Quebecois to pass legislation and survive confidence votes.

The session opens today with the election of a new Speaker, followed by a speech from the throne delivered by Governor General Mary Simon in the Senate on Tuesday.

Liberal MP Anthony Rota, Speaker throughout the last session, is widely expected to win re-election after deftly managing to steer the Commons through the first three waves of the COVID-19 pandemic with a new hybrid format that gave MPs the option of participating virtually in proceedings.

Only MPs who are in the House will be able to vote for the Speaker.

But after that, the House will have to decide whether to resume hybrid sittings. Liberals, New Democrats and Greens strongly favour continuation of the hybrid format but the Conservatives and Bloc want the Commons to fully return to normal in-person proceedings. 

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Also this ...

VICTORIA — British Columbia officials are set to provide an update on flooding in the province today, as a rain storm in the north is set to move south.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, along with the ministers of transportation and agriculture, are set to host a morning news conference.

It comes after a weekend that saw soldiers arrive to help farmers save livestock and lend a hand in sandbagging efforts.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for the North Coast with rain expected to move south later today.

Derek Lee, a meteorologist with the agency, says a brief respite from rain is expected Tuesday before another weather system moves in on Wednesday bringing yet more rain.

Federal employment minister Carla Qualtrough says residents displaced or left unemployed due to the funding should apply for employment insurance immediately, even if they normally wouldn't qualify.

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And this ... 

HAMILTON — The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines for children has arrived in Canada. 

A UPS plane touched down in Hamilton at around 5:15 p.m. carrying thousands of pediatric doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

Health Canada approved the modified shot for use in kids aged five to 11 on Friday, and the federal government immediately pledged to have a batch on Canadian soil 48 hours later. 

Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi, who was on hand when the plane touched down, said Friday that 2.9 million doses were expected by the end of this week and would be enough to provide a first shot to every child in the newly approved age range. 

Ottawa will now work to get the pediatric vaccine doses into the hands of the provinces and territories.

Many jurisdictions have begun accepting immunization appointments, but have not yet disclosed detailed plans for the next phase of the vaccine rollout.

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

WAUKESHA, Wis. — A joyous scene of marching bands and children dancing in Santa hats and waving pompoms turned deadly in an instant, as an SUV sped through barricades and into a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee, killing at least five people and injuring more than 40 others.

One video showed a woman screaming, “Oh my God!” repeatedly as a group of young dancers was struck Sunday. A father talked of going “from one crumpled body to the other” in search of his daughter. Members of a “Dancing Grannies” club were among those hit.

The city of Waukesha posted on its social media accounts late Sunday that it could confirm at least five died and more than 40 were injured, while noting that it was still collecting information. The city's statement also noted that many people took themselves to hospitals. The city did not release any additional information about those who died.

A “person of interest” was in custody, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said, but he gave no details about the person or any possible motive. The investigation was ongoing, with assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

“What took place in Waukesha today is sickening, and I have every confidence that those responsible will be brought to justice,” Attorney General Josh Kaul, the state’s top law enforcement officer, tweeted.

The horror was recorded by the city’s livestream and onlookers' cellphones. One video shows the moment the SUV broke through the barricades and the sound of what appears to be several gunshots. Thompson said a Waukesha police officer fired his gun to try to stop the vehicle. No bystanders were injured by the gunfire, and Thompson said he did not know if the driver was struck by the officer’s bullets.

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

BEIJING — Chinese leader Xi Jinping says his country will not seek dominance over Southeast Asia or bully its smaller neighbors, despite a rise in regional frictions. 

Xi made the remarks today during a virtual conference with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, known as ASEAN, marking the 30th anniversary of relations between the sides. 

China has repeatedly sought to overcome concerns about its rising power and influence, particularly its claim to virtually the entire South China Sea that overlaps with the claims of ASEAN members Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines. 

Xi's remarks came days after Chinese coast guard ships blocked and sprayed a powerful stream of water at two Philippine boats carrying supplies to troops at a disputed South China Sea shoal.

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Also this ... 

UNDATED — Peng Shuai's appearance in a video call with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach aired after the Chinese tennis player was out of public view for almost three weeks.

The IOC and the Chinese government would like this to be the end of a saga which has run since Peng accused former vice premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. 

That may be wishful thinking on their part. The interview offered few details, no follow-ups on her allegations, and invited more questions for the IOC, Peng, and China. 

Not only is the IOC now embroiled in this scandal, it has also been widely criticized for going ahead with the Olympics despite alleged crimes against humanity taking place in China.

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In entertainment ...

LOS ANGELES — South Korean superstars BTS were crowned artist of the year at the American Music Awards on Sunday, brushing aside challenges from Taylor Swift, as well as Canadians Drake and The Weeknd as they took home a total of three awards. 

They also teamed up with Coldplay for a raucous “My Universe” and closed the show with “Butter.” 

Olivia Rodrigo came into the night with a leading seven nominations but only took home the crown for favorite new artist of the year. 

The show, broadcast from Los Angeles, celebrated the best popular music for a second pandemic year with a mix of live and pre-taped performances.

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ICYMI ...

MONTREAL — After millions of Canadians rolled up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccines, it could soon be zoo animals' turn to get the jab.

The Granby Zoo, east of Montreal, says it's hoping to vaccinate about 90 animals, including gorillas, big cats and other creatures deemed susceptible to the disease. 

The special animal vaccines are made in the United States and are currently awaiting clearance to Canada.

The Toronto and Calgary zoos have both said they too will begin vaccinating their animals once a shot is available, hopefully within weeks.

Granby veterinarian Emilie Couture says the zoo plans to vaccinate the species most vulnerable to COVID-19, with primates and big cats such as tigers and leopards topping the list.

Couture says there's been a "worrying" rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in North American zoos, especially among large felines.

Three snow leopards recently died at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, in Nebraska, of COVID complications.

Couture says many scientists believe that, like in humans, the more contagious Delta variant is to blame for the rise in zoo cases.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2021

The Canadian Press

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