Year in review: A look at news events in June 2020

·16 min read

A look at news events in June 2020:

01 - Federal health officials said nursing homes had reported nearly 26,000 deaths among residents from COVID-19.

01 - U.S. President Donald Trump declared himself "the president of law and order'' amid ongoing racial unrest across the country. Trump threatened to deploy the military to American cities if state governors and the National Guard couldn't quell the violent demonstrations. Even as Trump spoke in the White House Rose Garden, loud tear gas explosions could be heard as military and law enforcement moved peaceful protesters in nearby Lafayette Park. Following his speech, police used tear gas to clear protesters before Trump made a quick trip to the nearby St. John's Church for a photo-op.

02 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a long pause before he answered a question about the racial violence going on in the U.S. Speaking outside his home, Trudeau stood silently for a time before answering that Canadians are looking at the violence in the U.S. with "horror and consternation.'' He went on to say it's also a time for Canadians to recognize that we too have issues with racism, calling systemic racism a "lived reality" for Canadians of colour.

03 - The Bank of Canada kept its key interest rate target on hold at 0.25 per cent. It said the impact of the pandemic on the global economy appeared to have peaked and Canada seemed to have avoided the worst-case economic scenario, but noted there is uncertainty about how the recovery will unfold.

03 - The mission to recover the wreckage of a Canadian military helicopter that crashed off the coast of Greece in April ended. The Canadian Armed Forces said the remains of some of the six service members who were on board the Cyclone helicopter were recovered. Wreckage from the aircraft was also retrieved to allow investigators to determine the cause of the crash.

03 - The three other Minneapolis police officers involved in the arrest that led to the death of George Floyd were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. The men had been fired along with Derek Chauvin, who was seen on video pressing his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes. Chauvin was originally charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, but those counts were upgraded to a charge of second-degree murder.

04 - New Brunswick public health officials reported the province's first death from COVID-19. In social media posts, the family of a man in his 80s who had been living in the Manoir de la Vallee long-term care home in Atholville, N.B., said he died from the virus.

04 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said new federal modelling showed that COVID-19 was in decline across Canada, but the country was not out of the woods. He said the country would have to do better at testing and contact-tracing to stamp out flare-ups.

05 - Statistics Canada reported a record-high unemployment rate as the economy added 289,600 jobs in May, with businesses reopening amid easing public health restrictions. The unemployment rate rose to 13.7 per cent, topping the previous high of 13.1 per cent set in December 1982. The increase in the unemployment rate came as more people started looking for work.

05 - University of Windsor librarian Heidi Jacobs won the $15,000 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour for her anti-romance "Molly of the Mall: Literary Lass and Purveyor of Fine Footwear.'' The book follows aspiring novelist Molly MacGregor's unromantic travails as a shoe seller at the West Edmonton Mall.

05 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took part in an anti-racism protest in Ottawa, one of multiple events in Canada that followed days of demonstrations against racism and police brutality in numerous American cities.

06 - Joe Biden formally clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, setting him up for a challenge to U.S. President Donald Trump that would play out against the unprecedented backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic collapse and civil unrest.

07 - New Zealand eradicated COVID-19 in the country. Health officials said the final person known to have contracted the virus had recovered. It had been 17 days since the last new case was reported in New Zealand. Experts said a number of factors helped the nation of five million wipe out the disease, including its isolated location and the leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

07 - As anti-police violence protests sweep the globe, a northern Alberta First Nations chief says his face was left bruised and bloodied during a dispute with an RCMP officer over expired tags on his truck. Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam described his March arrest as like being hit with a "clothesline'' wrestling move before falling to his knees. The Mounties said Adam was resisting arrest and their officers had to use force.

07 - A film about a “trainer turned whistleblower'' at Ontario's Marineland aquatic park won the top audience prize at Hot Docs. "The Walrus and the Whistleblower," directed by Nathalie Bibeau, won the Hot Docs Audience Award for a feature film, which is awarded based on audience votes. The Canadian documentary film festival was held online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

08 - U Sports cancelled six national championships, including the Vanier Cup, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women's field hockey and rugby, cross-country running, men's and women's soccer were also called off.

08 - Flight investigators determined the military helicopter that crashed off the coast of Greece in April did not respond as the crew on board expected before going down into the Mediterranean Sea. The finding was in a preliminary investigation report published by the Royal Canadian Air Force, which said investigators would now focus on both the Cyclone helicopter's various systems and what role "human factors'' played in the crash. Six members of the Canadian Armed Forces were on board when the Cyclone helicopter crashed on April 29 while deployed with the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton.

08 - Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders announced his resignation eight months early. He'd been with the force for 37 years and took over the top job in 2015, becoming the city's first Black chief of police. Saunders said he looks forward to being a full-time father and husband.

09 - George Floyd was taken to his family's burial site in Houston after more than 500 mourners packed a church for his funeral. The death of the Black man at the hands of police in Minneapolis inspired a worldwide reckoning over racial injustice.

11 - Bell said its new 5G wireless network launched in five cities. The new high-speed service is available to customers in Montreal, the Greater Toronto Area, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Rival Rogers Communications launched its 5G network earlier this year in downtown Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

12- Alberta reopened theatres, casinos and churches. Premier Jason Kenney said the province had been doing well in its fight to slow the spread of COVID-19. Phase 2 of the province's re-launch also increased the limit on gatherings to 50 people indoors and 100 people outside.

12 - Cineworld PLC said it had terminated its $2.8-billion takeover of Canadian movie exhibitor Cineplex Inc. after "breaches" of the acquisition deal. The U.K. cinema operator did not outline the specifics of what parts of the transaction it believes Cineplex ran afoul of, but the London-based company noted that Cineplex had denied any such breaches.

15 - Saskatchewan's finance minister said the COVID-19 pandemic was mostly behind a predicted $2.4-billion deficit this year, but the government wouldn't cut programs and services. Donna Harpauer tabled a full 2020-21 budget after presenting just expense estimates in March. Harpauer characterized the shortfall as a "pandemic deficit" rather than a larger, structural one.

16 - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Canada-U.S. border would remain mostly closed for at least another month, until July 21.

17 - Statistics Canada said the consumer price index for May was down 0.4 per cent compared with a year previous, extending a run of negative inflation that began in April.

17 - Canada lost its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Canada lost to Norway and Ireland in the first round of voting for two available seats for a two-year term starting next year.

18 - Canada officially recorded more than 100,000 cases of COVID-19 over the length of the pandemic.

20 - British media said police were treating a stabbing attack in the town of Reading as terrorism-related. U.K. police said three people were killed in the attack and a suspect was arrested.

20 - U.S. President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., drawing a much smaller crowd than organizers had anticipated. The event was held in a 19,000-seat area, but there was plenty of standing room on the stadium floor and sections of empty seats in the balconies. Trump campaign officials quickly blamed the lower turnout on protesters and the media.

22 - CTV said Ben Mulroney would step down as anchor of the celebrity news show "etalk" to make room for "diverse voices" after a scandal involving his wife, Jessica Mulroney. Ben Mulroney made the announcement on Monday's broadcast of CTV's "Your Morning,'' which he will continue to host. CTV also dropped Jessica Mulroney's reality series "I Do, Redo'' after lifestyles influencer Sasha Exeter said the celebrity stylist threatened her livelihood.

22 - Joel Schumacher, the flamboyant journeyman director who shepherded the Brat Pack to the big screen in "St. Elmo's Fire" and steered the Batman franchise into its most campy territory in "Batman Forever" and "Batman & Robin," died at 80.

23 - Top-ranked Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the fourth player to test positive after taking part in a tennis exhibition series he organized in Serbia and Croatia. Djokovic was criticized for organizing the tournament and bringing in players from other countries, who were seen hugging and partying in night clubs and restaurants after the matches.

25 - The World Health Organization declared an end to the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. The virus killed 2,280 people in eastern Congo during a nearly two-year crisis, which was the first time an Ebola outbreak erupted in a conflict zone. Even with the emergence of two vaccines, the response was repeatedly challenged because of armed groups.

26 - The Supreme Court of Canada upheld an Ontario Court of Appeal decision that allowed Uber drivers to continue their legal battle to be recognized as employees. The decision opens the door to a class-action suit led by Ontario UberEats driver David Heller that aims to secure a minimum wage, vacation pay and other benefits for drivers.

25 - The president and CEO of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights resigned following recent allegations of systemic racism, discrimination and sexual harassment at the Winnipeg facility. The museum's board of trustees says John Young agreed it was in the best interest of the museum that he step down, effective immediately.

26 - The remains of four Canadian Armed Forces personnel killed in a helicopter crash in the Mediterranean Sea were taken to funeral homes in Halifax and Truro. People lined the route of the procession from Halifax Stanfield International Airport for Capt. Brenden MacDonald, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins.

26 - The Canadian Red Cross sent 900 people to work in Quebec's long-term care homes until mid-September, replacing Canadian Armed Forces members. Premier Francois Legault had urged the military to keep at least 1,000 soldiers in the facilities until the fall. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a small contingent of military personnel would remain at four of the care homes until the COVID-19 situation is stable, while 10 teams of seven would be ready to deploy in case of an emergency.

26 - The WE charity was tapped to hand out federal government grants to students who volunteer under the Canada Student Service Grant program. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the civil service decided the organization was uniquely equipped to establish a large network to reach enough students and groups. New Democrat Charlie Angus called the decision ''highly dubious'' because Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau have appeared at events run by the WE organization.

26 - The Nova Scotia government announced all bars and restaurants could operate at full capacity after more than two weeks without a single new case of COVID-19. Premier Stephen McNeil said the limits for gatherings such as weddings, funerals and cultural events and performances would also be increased.

26 - Microsoft said it would permanently close nearly all of its physical stores around the world. Like other retailers, the software and computing giant had to temporarily close its stores in late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Flagship stores in major cities such as New York and London were to reopen.

26 - An Ontario judge convicted an off-duty Toronto police officer of assault, saying his ''razor-thin'' claim to self-defence evaporated when he struck a badly injured and retreating Black teen in the head with a metal pipe. Const. Michael Theriault was cleared, however, of the more serious charge of aggravated assault and of obstruction of justice. His brother Christian was acquitted entirely. The beating left Dafonte Miller, 19 at the time of the 2016 incident, with a ruptured eye and other serious injuries.

26 - Minneapolis city council unanimously advanced a proposal to change the city charter to allow the police department to be dismantled. The 12-0 vote came after a spate of recent shootings in Minnesota's largest city and widespread criticism of law enforcement over the killing of George Floyd.

27 - Prosecutors argued that fully revealing the information used to obtain search warrants following Nova Scotia's recent mass shooting could compromise the police investigation. A media consortium sought to have a provincial court judge release blacked-out sections of the court documents submitted by the RCMP, as well as the results of the searches. Some family members of the 22 victims said they hadn't been told enough about what occurred during the rampage.

27 - A plan to store hazardous nuclear waste deep underground near the Lake Huron shoreline was formally put to rest. The plan had been in the works for more than 15 years. But in a recent letter to the federal environment minister, Ontario's publicly owned power generator said it no longer wished to proceed.

27 - Charles Webb, a lifelong non-conformist whose debut novel "The Graduate" was a deadpan satire of his college education, died at the age of 81. In 1967, "The Graduate" was made into a movie with Dustin Hoffman that outstripped the popularity of Webb's novel. Webb was only 24 when his most famous book was published, in 1963.

28 - Johns Hopkins University reported the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world surpassed 10 million, while the number of dead surpassed 500,000.

28 - Pride events took place around the world, with major adjustments. New York City marked the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in the city, which followed the Stonewall protests a year earlier that sparked the modern Gay Pride movement. Toronto, where up to two million people usually gather for one of the world's biggest Pride parades, held this year's event virtually.

28 - Conservative MPs sent a letter to the auditor general seeking an investigation into the Liberal government decision to have an international charity administer a $900-million COVID-19 program for students. The Tories said the ''outsourcing'' of the Canada Student Service Grant to WE Charity meant the proper channels for its scrutiny had been circumvented.

28 - Mississippi lawmakers took historic votes to remove the Confederate battle emblem from their state flag. Spectators in the capitol cheered and applauded after the votes. Mississippi's was the last state flag with the Confederate symbol that many people condemn as racist.

29 - Jazz pianist, singer and composer Freddy Cole — the younger brother of singer Nat King Cole — died at 88 of complications from cardiac-related illness. Cole's signature song, the tongue-in-cheek “I'm Not My Brother, I'm Me,” was a fan favourite.

29 - Canada was accused by a human rights group of shirking its responsibility to bring home dozens of Canadian men, women and children being held in Syrian camps after fighting for the Islamic State group. Human Rights Watch said Ottawa was not taking the "necessary and reasonable steps to assist nationals abroad facing serious abuses.''

29 - Alessia Cara emerged the top winner at the Juno Awards, picking up three trophies in the virtual ceremony. The 23-year-old pop singer from Brampton, Ont., picked up both artist and songwriter of the year, as well as pop album of the year for "The Pains of Growing.'' Cara was originally supposed to host the show in Saskatoon in March, before it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

29 - Iran sent the flight data recorder from a downed Ukrainian passenger jet to France for further analysis. The Iranian military accidentally shot down the jet in January, killing all 176 people aboard, including 55 Canadian citizens. Since then, the country had been under pressure from Ukraine, Canada and other nations that lost citizens in the crash to allow a thorough investigation.

29 - A military investigation found the ejection seat of one of its Snowbirds planes tangled with the pilot's parachute as he tried to escape from a crash in Georgia in 2019. The finding followed similar concerns about the Snowbirds' ejection seats after Capt. Jennifer Casey died in a crash in British Columbia in May.

30 - Beijing approved a controversial law that would allow authorities to crack down on subversive and secessionist activity in Hong Kong. Opponents said the law would be used to curb opposition voices in the semi-autonomous territory. Amnesty International said passage of the law represented the greatest threat to human rights in Hong Kong's recent history.

30 - Actor, comic and "Dick van Dyke Show" creator Carl Reiner died at the age of 98. Considered one of Hollywood's greatest writers, actors and directors, Reiner broke through as a "second banana'' to Sid Caesar and rose to comedy's front ranks. In recent years, he was part of the roguish gang in the "Ocean's Eleven'' movies starring George Clooney. He was also the father of actor-director Rob Reiner.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2020.

The Canadian Press