Canada's COVID disparity and the Proud Boys: In The News for Jan. 11

·6 min read

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 Jan. 11 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

It was a day of disparity in Canada's protracted battle against COVID19, with some provinces recording alarmingly high numbers of infections on Sunday while at least one province managed to whittle new cases to zero.

Ontario set a daily record with 3,945 COVID-19 cases, while neighbouring Quebec's elevated case load showed little sign of abating with 2,588 new infections.

The country's lopsided pandemic is evident when comparing those figures with provinces farther east, where Newfoundland and Labrador saw its first new case in several days on Sunday and Nova Scotia – the most populous province in Atlantic Canada – had none.

In the west, while Saskatchewan had no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in a week, it still had 307 new infections while Manitoba recorded 151.

And on the same day that Alberta recorded 811 new cases of the novel coronavirus, New Brunswick had 14 – a massive gap even taking the large population differences into account.

Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, said on Twitter that disease activity remains widespread and the country remains on a path of "continuing resurgence."

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Also this ...

OTTAWA - Authorities are collecting information about the right-wing Proud Boys group as part of a possible terrorist designation, the federal Liberal government said Sunday as it faced calls to ban the organization over its role in last week’s Capitol Hill riot.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s office stopped short of saying when — or even if — the Proud Boys would actually be added to Canada’s national list of terrorist organizations, which includes such groups as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Islamic State.

Blair spokesman Mary-Liz Power instead specifically named it as one of the “ideologically motivated” extremist groups that are being closely watched as Ottawa looks to counter the threat posed by white supremacists and other right-wing organizations.

Founded by Canadian Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys are a right-wing group that is unapologetically misogynist and increasingly linked to white supremacy and hate. It was later banned by Facebook and Instagram in October 2018 for violating their hate policies.

The group first made headlines in Canada when several self-identified members in the Royal Canadian Navy disrupted an Indigenous protest in Halifax in 2017, and has since grown its international profile and membership.

Several members were reportedly among those who stormed Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., following a speech by Trump last week.

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

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will proceed with legislation to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump as she pushes Vice President Mike Pence to invoke constitutional authority to force him out.

The House action could start as soon as today as pressure increases on Trump to step aside.

The president is holed up at the White House, increasingly isolated after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol last Wednesday in support of his false claims of election fraud.

The rioting left five people dead.

A second Republican senator, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, is now calling for Trump to resign.

Lawmakers have been warning of the damage Trump could still do before Joe Biden is inaugurated as America's next president on Jan. 20.

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Also this ...

WASHINGTON — The full extent of the assault on the U.S. Capitol is coming into sharper focus, with scenes of violence so vast they are difficult to grasp.

Countless smartphone videos have been emerging from the scene, and more lawmakers are recounting the chaos that was around them.

Altogether they reveal the sinister nature of the assault. And they point to the crowd as a force determined to occupy the inner sanctums of Congress and hunt down leaders — Vice-President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi among them.

Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts says what he witnessed was a display of "home-grown fascism that was out of control.”

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

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been given the title of general secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party in what's seen as a symbolic move aimed at bolstering his authority.

Kim already was the top party leader and the supreme commander of North Korea’s 1.2 million-member military.

But analysts say restoring the old title formerly held by his father and grandfather helps cement Kim's authority during a time when North Korea faces challenges.

Kim has vowed to build more sophisticated nuclear weapons and disclosed economic developmental goals during an important ruling party meeting this past week.

However, observers doubt North Korea has substantial solutions amid coronavirus-related economic shocks, natural disasters and persistent U.S.-led sanctions.

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Also this ...

TOKYO — More than 80 per cent of people in Japan who were surveyed in two new polls say the Tokyo Olympics should be cancelled or postponed, or say they believe the Olympics will not take place.

The polls were conducted by the Japanese news agency Kyodo and TBS — the Tokyo Broadcasting System.

The results are bad news for Tokyo organizers and the International Olympic Committee as they continue to say the postponed Olympics will open on July 23.

Tokyo is battling a surge of COVID-19 cases that prompted the government last week to call a state of emergency.

In declaring the emergency, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he was confident the Olympics would be held.

Japan has controlled the virus relatively well but the surge has heightened skepticism about the need for the Olympics and the danger of potentially bringing 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes into the country.

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ICYMI ...

TORONTO - Internationally renowned Canadian keyboard player Michael Fonfara died in a Toronto hospital on Friday. He was 74.

The sad news came in an emailed statement from publicist Eric Alper, who said Fonfara had been battling cancer for two years.

Born in Stevensville, Ont., Fonfara played on nine of the late Lou Reed's albums between 1974 and 2005, including "Sally Can't Dance," "Rock and Roll Heart," Street Hassle, and "The Bells," which Fonfara also executive produced.

Lauded by Alper as a "supremely talented musician," Fonfara also performed on Foreigner's iconic album "4," including their major hit "Urgent."

Fonfara had been a 30-year plus member of Canadian blues legends Downchild, and some of the others he recorded with include The Everly Brothers, Rough Trade, Rhinoceros and Electric Flag.

His final recording was Downchild's Live At The Toronto Jazz Festival, recorded at their 50th Anniversary party in 2019, where he performed live alongside special guest stars Dan Aykroyd, Paul Shaffer and David Wilcox.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2021

The Canadian Press