Year in review: A look at news events in August 2021

·16 min read

A look at news events in August 2021:

1 - Toronto's Penny Oleksiak earned a seventh career medal to make her Canada's most decorated Olympian of all time. And sprinter Andre De Grasse became the first male athlete on Canada's team to win a medal in Tokyo. He claimed the bronze medal in the men's 100 metres with a personal-best time of 9.89 seconds.

1 - The Mohawk Council of Kanesatake elected a new grand chief for the Indigenous community west of Montreal. Victor Bonspille defeated Serge Otsi Simon, who held the title for 10 years. Bonspille said he hopes to bring positive change to Kanesatake, which, over the past decade, has seen a rise in cannabis dispensaries and criminal activities, prompting calls for the creation of a local police force.

2 - Point guard Kyle Lowry signed with the Miami Heat, ending his time with the Toronto Raptors. Lowry spent nine seasons with the Raptors and posted confirmation of the news, which had been widely rumoured in the lead-up to the NBA free agency period, on social media.

2 - Britain opened its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from the U.S. and the European Union. Travel industry leaders were urging Britain's Tory government to further ease restrictions.

2 - Poland granted a visa to a Belarusian Olympic sprinter who said she feared for her safety and that her team's officials tried to force her to fly home. In Belarus, the autocratic government had been accused of diverting a flight to arrest a dissident journalist. A Polish Foreign Ministry official said runner Krystsina Tsimanouskaya received a humanitarian visa from the Polish Embassy in Tokyo.

3 - An investigation found that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple current and former state government employees. Two outside lawyers concluded that the Cuomo administration was a hostile work environment and that it was rife with fear and intimidation. Cuomo faced multiple allegations last winter that he inappropriately touched and sexually harassed women who worked with him or who he met at public events. Cuomo had always denied touching anyone inappropriately.

3 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was cleared by the federal ethics watchdog over Liberal MPs using their office budgets to hire the services of a company run by one of his lifelong friends. Conservative MP Michael Barrett had asked Mario Dion to investigate after a report surfaced that most Liberal MPs hired two companies, including friend Tom Pitfield's Data Sciences, to help them manage constituency casework. The ethics commissioner said the prime minister was not involved with the contract, and there was no reason to believe he was trying to further Pitfield's private interests.

4 - NBA veteran Pau Gasol was voted by his fellow Tokyo Games athletes to represent them as a member of the International Olympic Committee. The IOC said the older brother of former Toronto Raptor Marc Gasol got the most votes among 30 candidates for four vacant seats on the Olympic body. Results were announced the day after the Gasols and their native country Spain lost in the Olympic quarterfinals to the U.S. A three-time Olympic medalist, Pau Gasol will be an IOC member through the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

4 - Canadian Andre de Grasse won the gold medal in the men's 200-metre race in Tokyo and set a Canadian-record of 19.62 seconds. He was the first Canadian to win gold in the event in 93 years. De Grasse's victory came 25 years after Donovan Bailey raced to 100-metre gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

4 - The first planeload of Afghan refugees who supported the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan touched down in Canada.

5 - Thirty-one-year-old Damian Warner of London, Ont., became the first Canadian to win gold in the decathlon. Warner didn't just capture the gold medal in Tokyo, he set an Olympic record with 9,018 points. That makes him just the fourth man in history to top the 9,000-point mark. Canoeist Laurence Vincent-Lapointe won the silver in the women's C-1 200-metre race. The 29-year-old from Trois-Rivières, Que., finished the sprint in a time of 46.786 seconds. Lauriane Genest of Lévis, Que., won the bronze medal in the women's keirin track cycling event.

6 - Canada's women's soccer team upped the drama to the max and beat Sweden 3-2 on penalty kicks to win Olympic gold. The game was tied 1-1 after extra time. Vancouver's Julia Grosso scored the winner and Stephanie Labbe was outstanding in goal to end a nail-biter of a game. The first-ever Olympic title for the women's soccer team followed a bronze medal performance by the men's 4x100 relay team and a silver for Moh Ahmed in the men's 5,000 metres. Canada's men's 4x100 relay team raced to the bronze medal -- giving Andre De Grasse his third medal of the Games.

7 - No charges would be filed against Canada's top military officer after a six-month misconduct investigation. Military police identified and interviewed a large number of potential witnesses, which investigators said led them to conclude that there simply wasn't enough evidence against Admiral Art McDonald to warrant charges.

7 - Canada earned a bronze in the first-ever women's C-2 500-metre canoe race to give the country its record 23rd medal at the Olympics. Sprint canoeists Laurence Vincent-Lapointe and Katie Vincent ended up in the water after they accidentally tipped the canoe while sharing a post-race hug. Track cyclist Kelsey Mitchell of Sherwood Park, Alta., claimed gold in track cycling before the closing ceremonies.

7 - Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner was named Canada's flag-bearer for the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. Warner won Canada's first-ever decathlon gold medal with a stellar performance across the event's 10 disciplines, finishing with a score of 9,018 points.

8 - The Tokyo Olympics were officially over. Sporting white pants, a blue jean jacket and black ballcap, decathlon champion Damian Warner proudly waved the Maple Leaf as he entered the Olympic Stadium for the closing ceremony. He was later joined by about 120 Canadian athletes, coaches and support staff who marched in the athletes' parade. Warner's gold medal was one of a total of 24 medals that Canada won at the Tokyo Games.

9 - For the first time in 17 months, non-essential American citizens and permanent residents were allowed to cross the land border into Canada, provided they were fully vaccinated with a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

9 - One of Jeffrey Epstein's longtime accusers sued Prince Andrew, saying he sexually assaulted her when she was 17. Lawyers for Virginia Giuffre filed the lawsuit. According to the suit, the prince abused Giuffre on multiple occasions when she was under the age of 18. In late 2019, Prince Andrew told BBC Newsnight that he never had sex with Giuffre.

10 - A Canadian man's appeal of his death sentence was rejected by a Chinese court. The Trudeau government condemned the ruling against Robert Schellenberg and appealed to China to grant him clemency. Schellenberg was convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to prison in November of 2018, but his sentence was abruptly upgraded to death in January 2019 -- just weeks after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver's airport.

10 - Massachusetts-based drug maker Moderna signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government for Canada to get a plant to manufacture an mRNA COVID vaccine. It will result in Canada becoming the home of Moderna's first foreign operation.

10 - Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said he was leaving politics. Pallister made the comments during a caucus retreat in Brandon. The premier had been under fire over the past month for comments he made about Canadian history and Indigenous people.

10 - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation amid several sexual harassment allegations. Cuomo maintained that the accusations were false and that the investigation was politically motivated.

11 - Canadian Michael Spavor was sentenced by a Chinese court to 11 years in prison, after being convicted on spying charges. The verdict was the latest indication of how Beijing was stepping up pressure on Canada ahead of a court ruling on whether to hand over Huawei's Meng Wanzhou to the Americans.

12 - Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the country was into the fourth wave of the pandemic. New COVID-19 cases doubled in the previous two weeks, even though more than 71 per cent of the population was fully vaccinated. Tam said most of the transmission was occurring in young adults.

13 - Canadian special forces, along with troops from the U.S. and Britain, were heading back to Afghanistan to help evacuate embassy staff from the capital, Kabul. Taliban forces had been seizing provincial capital after provincial capital -- taking 12 of 34, in a weeklong sweep. Kabul wasn't yet directly under threat -- but the resurgent Taliban was steadily tightening its grip on the region.

13 - The federal government announced a shift in its position on vaccine mandates. Ottawa would now require federal employees, workers in federally regulated industries and many travellers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

13 - The Trudeau government confirmed another flight carrying Afghan refugees had landed in Canada.

15 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a federal election would go ahead on Sept. 20. He made the announcement shortly after meeting with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, who agreed to dissolve Parliament and trigger the 36-day campaign.

15 - The World Health Organization said a patient had tested positive for Ebola in Abidjan, an Ivory Coast city of more than four million people. The 18-year-old woman with Ebola had arrived Thursday by bus from neighbouring Guinea, where authorities had declared an end to another Ebola outbreak back in June. The WHO said it was not immediately known whether the Ivory Coast case is linked to the earlier outbreak in Guinea.

16 - Scenes of chaos and desperation played out in Afghanistan. The Taliban retook power as thousands -- fearing a return of Taliban rule -- were racing to leave the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada planned to send military aircraft back into Afghanistan to evacuate people, many interpreters and their families, who worked alongside Canadians during their 2001-14 mission.

17 - Two more flights from Afghanistan landed in Canada. The planes carried diplomats and special forces troops as well as an unknown number of refugees fleeing the Taliban. The flights came after order was restored at the Kabul airport following a chaotic two days that saw thousands of desperate Afghans rushing onto the tarmac as the Taliban took control of the city and country.

17 - Justin Trudeau revealed that all Canadian diplomats had left Afghanistan. Trudeau said a total of nine flights out of Afghanistan had arrived in Canada in recent weeks. The Department of National Defence confirmed earlier that one Toronto-bound aircraft was carrying Afghans admitted through a special immigration program for former interpreters and others. An Ottawa-bound plane carried Canadian diplomats and special forces troops.

18 - Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservatives scored an upset victory in the provincial election. Liberal Leader Iain Rankin expressed disappointment at the outcome, saying he didn't expect it. Rankin said in the end, voters believed in the Tory line that they can fix health care. Premier-designate Tim Houston said the Tories' big win shows the province is ready for change. He credited his party's plan to tackle the province's struggling health-care system for the win.

18 - The military officer who led Canada's COVID-19 vaccine distribution campaign was charged with one count of sexual assault. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin presented himself to police in Gatineau, Que., after a warrant for his arrest was issued earlier in the week. Fortin's lawyers said the only information they received was that the charge related to an alleged incident that happened in 1988. Fortin was abruptly removed from his post at the Public Health Agency of Canada in May.

19 - The Canadian military arrived back in Kabul, Afghanistan, to help with evacuation efforts and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said more troops were arriving later in the day to help. Two C-17 transport aircraft would be making regular flights out of Kabul.

20 - Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan confirmed that the first Canadian military plane carrying Afghan refugees lifted off from Kabul airport with 188 people on board.

20 - Canadian officials said 106 more Afghans had now left the country on board a C-17 Globemaster transport plane that evacuated them from their chaotic home country. They said the flight took off from the Kabul airport and brought passengers to an unspecified, safe third country.

20 - Producer Mike Richards stepped down as host of "Jeopardy!'' after a report about past misogynistic comments surfaced this week. Richards was chosen the previous week as the successor to Alex Trebek, but his selection was seen as divisive from the beginning after the show embarked on a broad search that included actors, sports figures, journalists and celebrities.

22 - Canada airlifted another 121 people from the chaos in Kabul, Afghanistan. The evacuees included Canadian citizens and family members, as well as Afghan nationals accepted for entry by Ottawa and its allies.

23 - Just as it did after the death of longtime host Alex Trebek, "Jeopardy!'' was back to using guest hosts. The first of the new guests was Mayim Bialik, who recently signed as the host for "Jeopardy!'' prime-time and spinoff shows. Her three-week guest-host stint followed the one week hosted by the man who was supposed to be Trebek's successor. But executive producer Mike Richards quit after some of his past comments on a podcast drew criticism.

23 - The Northwest Territories confirmed its first death related to COVID-19.

24 - Democrat Kathy Hochul became New York's first female governor. Hochul picked up the reins following what many described as a disastrous exit by her predecessor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo submitted his resignation letter weeks after he faced a potential impeachment trial connected to multiple reports of sexual harassment.

26 - The Canadian mission in Kabul ended and the vast majority of Canadian Armed Forces personnel left the airport about midnight eastern time.

26 - An Afghan official said at least 169 Afghans were killed in attacks involving a suicide bomber and gunmen. They targeted crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul's airport. U.S. officials said 13 service members were killed, including 11 marines and a navy medic. The complex attack was believed to have been carried out by the Islamic State group. The insurgent Taliban condemned the attacks.

27 - The athlete who carried the Canadian flag at the opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Paralympics won a silver medal. Priscilla Gagne of Sarnia, Ont., came in second in the women's 52-kilo judo competition. It was one of two silver medals Canadians won. Track cyclist Kate O'Brien finished second in the women's C-4 500-metre time trial.

27 - Ottawa managed to get another 500 Canadians out of Afghanistan on an American flight.

27 - Health Canada approved the use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine in children as young as 12. Ottawa approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children and teens in early May.

28 - The Pentagon says the military had begun its final withdrawal from Afghanistan amid a heightened threat of terrorist attacks. An official said the number of U.S. troops remaining had dropped to 4,000 or fewer, three days before President Joe Biden's deadline for getting out and ending the longest war in American history.

29 - Two Afghan athletes, Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli, arrived in Tokyo, after what was described as a harrowing journey from Kabul to Paris, to compete in the Paralympics.

29 - Jacques Rogge, the Olympic sailor and orthopedic surgeon from Belgium who led the International Olympic Committee as president for 12 years, died. He was 79. The IOC announced his death without giving details. Rogge's health had visibly declined when he attended Olympic events since his presidency ended in 2013. Rogge represented Belgium in rugby and was a world champion in sailing.

29 - Actor Ed Asner, the blustery but lovable Lou Grant in two successful television series, died. He was 91. Asner was a journeyman actor in films and TV when he was hired in 1970 to play the grumpy TV news boss Lou Grant on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show.'' He won Emmys for both shows as well as for "Rich Man, Poor Man'' and :Roots.''

30 - Celebratory gunfire erupted across the Afghan capital as the United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan. It brought an end to America's longest war and closed a sad two-decade chapter in military history. The last U.S. Air Force evacuation flight departed Kabul airport, ending a frantic international effort to airlift citizens and Afghans desperate to escape the Taliban's return to power.

30 - Americans were being told to reconsider travel to Canada due to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called ''high'' levels of COVID-19 cases. There was no specific reason given for the revised advisory beyond the CDC's notice.

31 - The Taliban now had full control of Kabul's international airport after the last U.S. plane took off, marking the end of America's longest war. Vehicles with armed Taliban fighters raced back and forth along the airport's sole runway on the northern military side of the airfield.

31 - Mike Richards was out as executive producer of "Jeopardy!'' and "Wheel of Fortune.'' It came days after he exited as the quiz show's newly appointed host over reports of his past misogynistic and other crude comments.

31 - Manitoba had a new premier -- Kelvin Goertzen. The governing Progressive Conservative caucus chose Goertzen as interim party leader to replace Premier Brian Pallister, who was scheduled to leave office the next day. Goertzen's reign, however, would be a short one as the party was to vote for a new leader on Oct. 30.

31 - Shiny gold medals were won in Calgary by Canada's national women's hockey team. The women won their first world hockey championship in almost a decade with a 3-2 overtime victory over the five-time defending champion United States. Marie-Philip Poulin scored the winner with a goal that needed video review. Canada went unbeaten through the championship in Calgary. Earlier, Finland beat Switzerland 3-1 for the bronze medal.

The Canadian Press

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