In The News for May 9: China expels Canadian diplomat in tit-for-tat retaliation

·10 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 May 9 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

China has declared a Canadian diplomat as "persona non grata" in retaliation for Ottawa's expulsion of a Chinese consular official who Canada's spy agency alleged was involved in a plot to intimidate Conservative MP Michael Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, China's Foreign Ministry posted a statement on its English website saying China was deploying a "reciprocal countermeasure to Canada's unscrupulous move,'' which it said it "strongly condemns and firmly opposes.''

The statement said Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, consul of the Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai, has been asked to leave before May 13, and that China reserves the right to further react.

On Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly issued a statement that Canada had declared Toronto-based diplomat Zhao Wei as "persona non grata.''

Calls for Zhao to be expelled began last week after a report in the Globe and Mail that CSIS had information in 2021 that the Chinese government was looking at ways to intimidate Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong. The federal government has confirmed that report.

Following Joly's announcement, China's embassy in Ottawa issued a statement that accused Canada of breaching international law and acting based on anti-Chinese sentiment.

It said the move "sabotaged'' relations between China and Canada, according to an official English translation provided by the embassy, and promised unspecified retaliatory measures.


Also this ...

Wildfires continue to rage in Alberta and British Columbia, as forecasters warn the current rain and cooler temperatures helping with suppression efforts are expected to end soon, bringing the threat of new fires.

Alberta remains under a state of emergency, with more than 29,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes in recent days.

There were roughly 90 active wildfires burning as of Monday evening, with 25 listed as out of control.

The provincial government has announced one-time payments worth $1,250 per adult and $500 per dependent child will be available as early as today for those forced to spend at least seven straight days away from home.

Premier Danielle Smith says military personnel will be deployed to prevent looting and maintain order in evacuated communities.

In B.C., evacuation orders or alerts remain in place for much of the areas surrounding the Red Creek and Boundary Lake fires, about 1,300 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

In its latest update, the B.C. Wildfire Service reported the Boundary Lake fire was an estimated 5,900 hectares. The fire at Red Creek sits at 2,800 hectares.

The fires are burning on either side of the city of Fort St. John.

In a provincial wildfire status update Monday, the B.C. Wildfire Service said there are a total of 62 active wildfires, but 91 per cent of those are under control or being held. The majority of active fires, and all wildfires of note, are in the Prince George Fire Centre.

It said wildfire crews are also supporting flood responses in the southern interior and Grand Forks region, and a 16-person incident management team has been deployed in Alberta to help with the fire response there.


And this too ...

Canada is throwing its hat in the ring for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, pledging to advance issues from online speech to access to abortion.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly will announce this afternoon Canada's candidacy to sit on the council for 2028 to 2030, through an election that will likely take place in 2026.

Two government sources familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly before the official announcement, say Canada is running on a bid that will highlight six main priorities, including holding states accountable for locking up human-rights activists.

Advancing gender equality, LGBTQ rights, sexual health and reproductive rights will be another focus of Canada's candidacy.

Canada plans to echo the Harper government's focus on freedom of religious beliefs, while tying it to anti-racism programs and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples worldwide.

So far, Greece has announced a run for one of the three spots that will be available to countries that sit in a grouping of 28 that includes Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The Council investigates alleged human-rights breaches in UN states, committed by governments or societal actors.

It also issues reports on human-rights issues in general, such as Iran's ongoing crackdown on women's rights.


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

AUSTIN, Texas _ A U.S. Army sergeant convicted of murder in the shooting death of an armed protester in a Black Lives Matter march in Texas faces up to life in prison when his sentencing hearing begins Tuesday, even as Gov. Greg Abbott presses for the chance to pardon the soldier.

Sentencing for Daniel Perry is scheduled to last up to two days. State District Judge Clifford Brown, who presided over Perry's trial, last week denied his request for a new trial.

Perry was convicted in April in the 2020 shooting of 28-year-old Garrett Foster, who was legally carrying an AK-47 rifle through downtown Austin during a summer of countrywide unrest over police killings and racial injustice.

The verdict prompted outrage from prominent conservatives including former Fox News star Tucker Carlson, who called the shooting an act of self-defence and criticized Abbott on the air after he didn't come on his show.

Abbott, a former judge who has not ruled out a 2024 presidential run, tweeted the next day that "Texas has one of the strongest `Stand Your Ground' laws'' and that he looked forward to signing a pardon once a recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles hits his desk.

The board has already begun what legal experts say is a highly unusual and immediate review of the case on the orders of Abbott, who appointed the panel.

The governor has not said publicly how he came to his conclusion. It is not clear when the parole board will reach a decision on Perry's case.

Perry served in the military for more than a decade and was stationed at Fort Hood, about 110 kilometres north of Austin. He was working as a ride-share driver the night of the shooting and had just dropped off a customer when he turned onto a street filled with protesters.

Perry said he was trying to get past the crowd blocking the street when Foster pointed a rifle at him. Perry said he fired at Foster in self-defence. Witnesses testified that they did not see Foster raise his weapon, and prosecutors argued that Perry could have driven away without shooting.

After the trial, the court unsealed dozens of pages of text messages and social media posts that showed Perry having hostile views toward Black Lives Matter protests. In a comment on Facebook a month before the shooting, Perry allegedly wrote, "It is official I am a racist because I do not agree with people acting like animals at the zoo.''


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

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday told his country's Victory Day parade on Moscow's Red Square that "a real war'' has been unleashed against Russia by the West's "untamed ambitions,'' shortly after the Kremlin's forces rained cruise missiles on Ukrainian targets.

"Today civilization is once again at a decisive turning point,'' Putin said at Moscow's annual commemorations celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. "A real war has been unleashed against our Motherland.''

Since Russia invaded its neighbour more than 14 months ago, Putin has repeatedly framed the war in Ukraine as a proxy conflict with the West. The Kremlin's official narrative of the war has painted a picture of an existential conflict with the West, which in Moscow's view is merely using Ukraine as a tool to destroy Russia, re-write its history and crush its traditional values. That version of events has dominated Russian state media coverage of the war.

In his speech, Putin insisted that the West's "untamed ambitions, arrogance and impunity'' are to blame for the conflict.

Putin welcomed soldiers fighting in Ukraine who were present at the parade. "To Russia! To our brave armed forces! To Victory!'' Putin concluded the speech.

Russia unleashed a barrage of cruise missiles on Ukraine overnight into Tuesday, hours before the start of the Moscow parade, which this year is taking place amid tight security measures.

The Kremlin's forces launched 25 missiles overnight in a wave of attacks across Ukraine, the Ukrainian air force said, adding that air defence had successfully destroyed 23 of them.

In a Telegram post, the air force said eight Kalibr cruise missiles were launched from carriers in the Black Sea toward the east and 17 from strategic aircraft.


On this day in 1994 ...

South Africa's new parliament chose Nelson Mandela to be the country's first black president.


In entertainment ...

It could be the day for the petit basset griffon Vendeen named for Buddy Holly. Or the Pekingese could notch his breed's third Westminster Kennel Club dog show win in little over a decade.

And what about the French bulldog that nearly won last year? Or will the purple-and-gold best in show ribbon go to ... Ribbon?

Buddy Holly the PBGV (for short), Rummie the Peke, Winston the Frenchie and Ribbon the Australian shepherd are headed to the Westminster Kennel Club dog show finals Tuesday, along with three other finalists yet to be chosen.

The first four got their chance to vie for the best in show trophy after making it through two rounds of judging Monday. First, each bested other dogs of its breed, and then of its "group'' _ toy dogs or hounds, for example.

Ribbon, the Aussie, is ``like the fun girl at the party,'' handler Jessica Plourde said. Buddy Holly is "just a PBGV through-and-through,'' said handler and co-owner Janice Hayes.

Rummie comes to Westminster with handler, owner and breeder David Fitzpatrick, who has guided two other Pekes to Westminster wins: Malachy in 2012 and Wasabi in 2021. Rummie has what it takes, too, he said.

The Frenchie, Winston, came in second at Westminster last year and went on to win last fall's National Dog Show, hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia. Now he's representing the most prevalent dog breed in the United States, as of rankings released in March.


Did you see this?

HALIFAX _ The federal Fisheries Department says it has spotted endangered North Atlantic right whales in Canadian waters for the first time this year.

The department says two whales were seen Sunday by a surveillance aircraft in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, northeast of the Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

It says fishing in the area where the whales were spotted will be closed for 15 days started Thursday at 5 p.m., and a 15-day vessel slowdown will also be in effect.

The department says it is giving fishers 72 hours notice before the closure due to the weather forecast.

There are an estimated 340 North Atlantic right whales remaining, and so far this year two deaths have been reported in U.S. waters _ a 20-year-old male that was hit by a ship and a calf that showed no signs of vessel collision or entanglement in fishing gear.

Scientists report that 12 right whale calves have been born this year.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2023.

The Canadian Press