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Bill C-11 could impact algorithms, Commonwealth summit opens: In The News for June 24

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 June 24...

What we are watching in Canada ...

The chairman of the CRTC says it might ask platforms such as YouTube to "manipulate" their algorithms to make Canadian content easier to find, under powers in the proposed online streaming bill.

Ian Scott told a Senate committee examining the bill on Wednesday evening that the CRTC would not want to manipulate algorithms itself, but it may ask platforms to produce particular outcomes.

That's what some critics of the bill have been warning about. They say that kind of manipulation of the algorithm could actually hurt Canadian content producers internationally, leading to lower exposure and revenue.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has said this would not happen -- and his spokesperson says a clause in the bill would stop the CRTC from asking for algorithms to change. 

The bill has passed the House of Commons and is now being scrutinized by the Senate.


Also this ...

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau begins a series of closed-door meetings in Rwanda today to try and bring Commonwealth countries onside with Canada's climate goals and its view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Trudeau arrived in the capital city of Kigali for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on Wednesday, but the summit officially gets underway today.

On the prime minister's schedule is a meeting with the chair of the African Union Commission, which has been at the centre of a tug of war for support between Ukraine and Russia.

Both countries have vied for Africa's friendship as the violent conflict continues, leading to a worldwide spike in the cost of fuel and grain scarcity.

Trudeau also plans to sit down with the leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, Ghana and Zambia.

The prime minister was scheduled to meet one-on-one with Rwandan President Paul Kagame yesterday, but that meeting was delayed.


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

WASHINGTON _ A bipartisan gun violence bill that seemed unimaginable a month ago is on the verge of winning final congressional approval, a vote that will produce lawmakers' most sweeping answer in decades to brutal mass shootings that have come to shock yet not surprise Americans.

The House is set to vote on the $13 billion package Friday, exactly one month after a gunman massacred 19 students and two teachers at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school. Just days before that, a white man motivated by racism allegedly killed 10 Black grocery shoppers in Buffalo, New York.

The two slaughters _ days apart and victimizing helpless people for whom the public felt immediate empathy _ prompted both parties to conclude that Congress had to act, especially in an election year. After weeks of closed-door talks, Senate bargainers from both parties produced a compromise taking mild but impactful steps toward making such mayhem less likely.

"Families in Uvalde and Buffalo, and too many tragic shootings before, have demanded action. And tonight, we acted,'' U.S. President Joe Biden said after passage. He said the House should send it to him quickly, adding, "Kids in schools and communities will be safer because of it.''

The legislation would toughen background checks for the youngest gun buyers, keep firearms from more domestic violence offenders and help states put in place red flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people adjudged dangerous. It would also fund local programs for school safety, mental health and violence prevention.

The Senate approved the measure Thursday by 65-33. Fifteen Republicans _ a remarkably high number for a party that has derailed gun curbs for years _ joined all 50 Democrats, including their two independent allies, in approving the bill.

Still, that meant that fewer than one-third of GOP senators backed the measure. And with Republicans in the House expected to solidly oppose it, the fate of future congressional action on guns seems dubious, even as the GOP is expected to win House and possibly Senate control in the November elections.

Top House Republicans urged a "no'' vote in an email from the No. 2 GOP leader, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana. He called the bill "an effort to slowly chip away at law-abiding citizens' 2nd Amendment rights.''


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

LONDON _ British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a double blow as voters rejected his Conservative Party in two special elections dominated by questions about his leadership and ethics.

The party's chairman quit after the results early Friday, saying the party "cannot carry on with business as usual.''

The centrist Liberal Democrats overturned a big Conservative majority to win the rural southwest England seat of Tiverton and Honiton, while the main opposition Labour Party reclaimed Wakefield in northern England from Johnson's Tories.

The contests, triggered by the resignations of Conservative lawmakers hit by sex scandals, offered voters the chance to give their verdict on the prime minister just weeks after 41 per cent of his own MPs cast their ballots against him.

"The people of Tiverton and Honiton have spoken for Britain,'' said the area's newly elected Liberal Democrat lawmaker, Richard Foord. "They sent a loud and clear message: It's time for Boris Johnson to go, and go now.''

Defeat in either district would have been a setback for the prime minister's party. Losing both increases jitters among restive Conservatives who already worry the ebullient but erratic and divisive Johnson is no longer an electoral asset.

Party chairman Oliver Dowden quit, saying "Our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings."    

The prime minister was 6,400 kilometres away at a Commonwealth summit in Rwanda as the results were announced. He told reporters on Thursday that he would not step down if the Conservatives lost both elections, replying to the suggestion with: "Are you crazy?''

The electoral tests come as Britain faces the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation, with Russia's war in Ukraine squeezing supplies of energy and food staples at a time of soaring consumer demand while the coronavirus pandemic recedes.


On this day in 2019 ...

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques returned to Earth - setting a record for the longest single spaceflight by a Canadian. Saint-Jacques spent 204 days in orbit, beginning his mission on December 3rd. He said it was a bit emotional leaving the International Space Station even as he looked forward to reuniting with his family and friends


In entertainment ...

TORONTO _ Canadian rockers Arkells have their sights set on major homegrown collaborations for their upcoming album.

The Hamilton band offered a glimpse of what's to come on their seventh studio effort "Blink Twice,'' and it includes songs with Calgary pop twins Tegan and Sara, Halifax-based Joel Plaskett and Timmins, Ont. native Lights.

Arkells revealed the details alongside the new single "Dance With You,'' a bouncy electro-disco track featuring U.S. pop singers Aly & AJ and Montreal's Beatrice Martin, known as Coeur de Pirate.

On the song, lead singer Max Kerman performs in French and English with Martin, who wrote the French verse.

"Blink Twice,'' set for release on Sept. 23, is a companion to last year's "Blink Once.'' They were both recorded in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other artists set to appear on the album include Cold War Kids and Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers.

Arkells will perform at Hamilton's Tim Hortons Field on Saturday.

The band will then embark on a Canadian tour that stops in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Quebec throughout July and returns west to play cities in Manitoba, Alberta and elsewhere throughout late October.


Did you see this?

A former Canadian Football League wide receiver convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend is expected to be sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court today.  

Joshua Boden was found guilty last fall of second-degree murder in the 2009 death of 33-year-old Kimberly Hallgarth in the Burnaby, B.C., home she shared with her three-year-old daughter.

Crown prosecutor Brendan McCabe told the court during a sentencing hearing last week that Boden, who is now 35, viciously beat Hallgarth, choked her to death and then staged the scene to make it look like an accident.

McCabe called the murder "blunt, brutal and horrific," saying photos of Hallgarth's injuries were the most shocking he'd seen in his career.

The conviction is a life sentence, but the judge needs to set the term for parole, which the Crown says should be 15 years while Boden's lawyer asked for 12 years. 

Boden played for the B.C. Lions in 2007 before being released from the team in 2008 and signing with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, although he never played a regular-season game with that team before he was cut.

McCabe told the court Hallgarth sent photos of her injuries from a previous assault by Boden to then Lions coach Wally Buono, and Boden blamed her for ending his football career.

He has maintained his innocence in her death.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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