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 Dec. 25.
What we are watching in Canada ...
Internal government documents show four federal departments have quietly spent months crafting an answer to a cross-party call for the government to end veterans homelessness by 2025.
The motion passed the House of Commons in June before the fall federal election.
It called for the government to deliver by next summer a plan to meet the target, which also included a special rent-assistance program for homeless veterans.
Accurate data about the number of homeless veterans in Canada remains elusive, but various studies peg the number at between 3,000 and 5,000 people, about 10 per cent of them women.
Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen has told stakeholders in meetings of his interest in moving quickly on the issue given the cross-party support for the effort and identifiable policy options.
The Liberals' throne speech this month included a promise that the government will help ensure "that every homeless veteran has a place to call home," although it didn't provide a timeline to do so.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's mandate letters to Hussen and Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay task them with building new affordable housing units for veterans that would include health, social and employment services for "veterans who need extra help."
Also this ...
The son of a Canadian geologist jailed in Dubai after allegedly uncovering fraud in a gold company says the only way his father will get out of prison is if the Canadian government steps up its pressure on the United Arab Emirates.
A panel of Dubai judges on Tuesday rejected Andre Gauthier's appeal on a technicality, according to Gauthier's son, Alexis. He said his father, who has been detained off and on in the Middle East since December 2015, will remain in a Dubai prison indefinitely.
The Gauthier family says Andre was a whistleblower who alerted authorities in the United Arab Emirates to irregular dealings in a gold-trading company, Gold AE. But instead of being thanked for his troubles, he was arrested, charged and convicted with committing 73 counts in the very fraud he uncovered.
In an interview with The Canadian Press from Quebec City, Alexis said the appeals court on Tuesday found his father not guilty on 11 charges. But due to the fact his father's lawyer allegedly didn't appeal the remaining 62 charges within the proper time period, Gauthier will remain in jail.
Alexis said he doesn't understand how his father's lawyer could be that incompetent. He said the family suspects foul play.
"We are extremely disappointed," he said, after learning of the decision. "We can't say we are surprised because the irregularities have multiplied in this case since the beginning. We seem to have the proof now that someone is trying to keep him there."
ICYMI (in case you missed it) ...
Staff in the Alberta government's so-called war room should stop calling themselves reporters, says the president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.
"Don't pretend that you're doing journalism — because you're not," Karyn Pugliese said Tuesday from Winnipeg. "When the government hires its own PR firm, that's fine. But when you pretend that PR firm is journalism, that's positively Orwellian."
Earlier this month, Alberta's United Conservative government opened the Canadian Energy Centre, often referred to by Premier Jason Kenney as a "war room" for reacting to and correcting perceived misinformation on the province's energy industry.
The centre has since published a series of articles on its website. Sources contacted for those stories have told media organizations, including The Canadian Press, that staff identified themselves on the phone as reporters.
The energy centre did not reply to a request for comment Tuesday, but spokesman Grady Semmens has said that staff are "not advised" to use that term.
Pugliese said using the word "reporter" is a dangerous attempt to blur the lines between truth and messaging.
At the very least, she said, journalism must be arm's-length from government. The energy centre's board consists of three provincial cabinet members and is run by a failed United Conservative candidate.
What we are watching in the U.S. ...
Hillary Clinton spent the morning of her husband's impeachment visiting Capitol Hill to rally Democrats to his side. Pat Nixon kept assuring reporters her husband wouldn't quit — right up until he did. Eliza Johnson, frail from tuberculosis, kept watch over her husband during his impeachment while sitting in a room across from his White House office.
Melania Trump, just the fourth first lady forced to grapple with the threat of her husband's impeachment, is pressing on through the ordeal silently, showing no inclination to speak out publicly on behalf of her spouse.
While her husband recently broke his own record on daily tweets and delivered his longest-ever rally speech as he was being impeached, the first lady has largely held her tongue — with the exception of a sharp tweet scolding a law professor who invoked 13-year-old Barron's Trump name during an impeachment hearing.
"Like every first lady, she's sort of trying to forge her own path through this,” said Tammy Vigil, a Boston University communications professor and author of a book about Melania Trump and Michelle Obama. “In this particular case, she doesn't really have a whole lot of history to look toward.”
Melania Trump has said in the past that the president is the one the public needs to hear from since he was the one elected.
What we are watching in the rest of the world ...
The Israeli military said it has wrapped up an investigation into an airstrike that killed nine members of a Palestinian family in the Gaza Strip. The report claims the targeted house had been used by Islamic militants but also admitted it didn't expect the strike to result in civilian casualties.
The Nov. 14 airstrike in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah came in the closing hours of a fierce two-day burst of fighting between Israel and the Islamic Jihad militant group. Without warning, the overnight Israeli strike destroyed the house, killing nine members of the extended Abu Malhous family, including two women and five children under the age of 13.
In a statement, the military said its investigation found the building had served as a “military compound” used by Islamic Jihad. It said that military intelligence had approved the target last June, and that intelligence updates determined the home was used for military purposes in the days before and during the November fighting.
“The review also concluded that when planning and carrying out the attack, it was estimated in the IDF that civilians would not be harmed as a result of an attack,” the army said. It said its review included recommendations “with the aim of reducing, as much as possible, the recurrence of similar irregular events.”
Mohammed Abu Malhous, 19, who lost his parents and three siblings in the airstrike, rejected the findings.
“Why are they not going to punish those who are responsible?” he told The Associated Press. “They are liars ... Our house is well known in the area and we have lived in it for the past 15 years.”
The incident has raised new questions about Israeli tactics in Gaza.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 25, 2019.
The Canadian Press