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

·21 min read

A look at news events in September 2021:

1 - The federal Liberals released a re-election platform highlighting $78 billion in new spending. That's more than three times the direct new revenues promised over the next five years. Overall, the Liberal platform added more than $70 billion to the deficit over the next five years, but the party said the debt-to-GDP ratio would still be lower than predicted in last spring's federal budget.

1 - The federal Conservatives introduced an infrastructure plan they said would kick-start the Canadian economy. Leader Erin O'Toole said the Liberals under Justin Trudeau had failed to deliver on their infrastructure promises. The Conservatives said they would be partners on key transit projects across the country, including Ontario's transit plan for the Greater Toronto Area and the extension of Vancouver's SkyTrain to Langley.

2 - U.S. President Joe Biden lambasted the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision not to block a new Texas law banning most abortions in the state. He said he was directing federal agencies to do what they could to "insulate women and providers'' from the impact. It was the strongest abortion curb since the high court legalized the procedure a half-century ago.

2 - Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole outlined his plan for closer trade and diplomatic ties with Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. O'Toole said the proposed deal would reduce trade barriers, increase intelligence co-operation and make it easier for Canadians to study and work within the new free-trade zone. He says a Conservative government would also make it harder for "state-owned companies from non-free countries'' to buy Canadian firms.

2 - Four federal party leaders went head-to-head in the first broadcast debate of the campaign. The French-language debate on Quebec's TVA came at the midpoint of that campaign. The leaders covered a trio of top topics: the pandemic, social issues and economic recovery.

2 - Mexican boxer Jeanette Zacarias Zapata died following a recent fight in Montreal. Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault offered her condolences to the family of the 18-year-old Zapata, who died in hospital from injuries she suffered during her match with Quebecer Marie-Pier Houle.

3 - Alberta reinstated a provincewide mask mandate in all indoor public spaces and workplaces, except in classrooms. All licensed bars, restaurants, and pubs had to stop alcohol sales by 10 p.m. and all businesses were being asked to rethink having staff return to work. Premier Jason Kenney also offered a $100 gift card to those over 18 who got their first or second COVID-19 vaccination.

4 - The Conservative election platform promised to scrap the May 2020 order-in-council that banned a wide variety of guns. The Firearms Act would be reviewed with input from police, gun owners, manufacturers and the public. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole seemed to backpedal on the pledge. When pressed, he said the party would ''maintain the ban on assault weapons.'' The party later sent out an email saying O'Toole did promise to repeal the May 2020 ban but not the prohibition of full-fledged ''assault weapons'' -- distinct from what the Liberals call ''assault-style'' weapons.

4 - The New Democrats promised dental coverage under the national health-care program. The plan was similar to one NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh ran on in 2019. Singh said access to dental care is more important now than ever. The NDP's federal dental care program would provide help to all families that earn less than $90,000 a year. It would be funded by a one per cent wealth tax on people earning $10 million annually.

5 - Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole appeared to have flip-flopped on his intention to scrap a 2020 order-in-council by the Liberals that bans many weapons. O'Toole said they would transparently review weapons classifications, but would not remove the 2020 ban.

6 - Actor Michael K. Williams -- who played the popular character Omar Little on ''The Wire'' -- died suddenly. New York City police said Williams was found dead at his apartment in Brooklyn. He was 54. Williams created one of the most memorable characters in TV history on the HBO series, which ran from 2002 to 2008. Little was a robber of drug dealers who lived by a strict moral code and delivered some of the show's most famous quotes, including: ''All in the game.''

07 - Fully vaccinated foreign nationals were once again welcome on Canadian soil. Quarantine requirements were eased for non-essential international travellers who had a full course of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

7 - Justin Trudeau said the RCMP would decide whether charges should be laid after protesters threw stones at the Liberal leader and his supporters at a campaign stop in southern Ontario. In Montreal, Trudeau referred to the protesters as an "anti-vaxxer mob,'' and vowed not to back away from his policies to appease a few protesters. The stones not only struck Trudeau but also some members of his RCMP protective detail and journalists covering the campaign.

8 - The Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., hosted five federal party leaders as they verbally duked it out over health care, vaccines and the environment in an election debate. Much of the back-and-forth revolved around health care and how to pay for it.

9 - Dozens of foreigners, including Americans and Canadians, left Kabul on an international commercial flight. It was the first large-scale evacuation since U.S. and NATO forces left Afghanistan late last month. Their departure represented a breakthrough in the bumpy co-ordination between the U.S. and Afghanistan's new Taliban leaders.

9 - Indigenous reconciliation, climate change, foreign policy and Canada's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic were the hot topics at the English leaders debate. Erin O'Toole, Jagmeet Singh, Annamie Paul and Yves-François Blanchet piled on Justin Trudeau for calling an election while Afghanistan was falling to the Taliban. Trudeau shot back at his opponents for talking down the work by the military and diplomats to get 3,700 people out of Afghanistan.

10 - The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended that Canadians who are immunocompromised receive a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine. NACI said people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised are shown to have a weaker response to vaccinations.

10 - Federal party leaders defended Quebec against charges of racism. Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said it's a day too late. The controversial issue of secularism in Quebec came up during the English-language debate a day earlier. Blanchet objected strongly to the phrasing of a question by moderator Shachi Kurl. Kurl asked about Blanchet's support for ''discriminatory'' laws in Quebec such as one known as Bill 21, which bars some civil servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols or garb.

11 - One-hundred and 45 Canada-bound Afghan refugees escaped to Pakistan. Canada's Immigration Ministry said all 145 had Canadian visas and would be on their way to Canada within days or weeks.

11 - U.S. President Joe Biden, along with former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, attended a ceremony in lower Manhattan to mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The 9/11 anniversary commemoration at ground zero began with a tolling bell and a moment of silence, exactly two decades after the start of the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.

11 - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau denied that he wanted Jody Wilson-Raybould to lie as he faced new questions about the SNC-Lavalin affair following the publication of an excerpt of the former justice minister's memoir. In the excerpt published in the Globe and Mail, Wilson-Raybould alleged the prime minister wanted her to lie to Canadians about what had happened.

11 - Charges were laid after gravel was thrown at Justin Trudeau during a Liberal campaign stop in London, Ont. Authorities said 25-year-old Shane Marshall of nearby St. Thomas faced one count of assault with a weapon.

11 - Nineteen-year-old Canadian Leyla Fernandez didn't win the U.S. Open title, but she shot up from 73rd in the World Tennis Association rankings to a career-best 28th. The woman who beat her -- 18-year-old Emma Raducanu from England -- jumped 127 spots to a career-high No. 23. Raducanu was the youngest woman to win a major championship since a then-17-year-old Maria Sharapova won at Wimbledon in 2004.

13 - The board of Kansas City Southern ruled that a takeover offer from Canadian Pacific Railway was a superior proposal to its agreement with Canadian National Railway. As a result, the U.S. railway said it planned to terminate its deal with CN and sign a definitive agreement with CP Rail, which has made a proposal valued at about US$31 billion, including debt.

14 - An Ontario judge found Linda O'Leary not guilty in a boat crash that killed two people -- ruling prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was operating the boat without due care or consideration for others. The wife of celebrity businessman Kevin O'Leary was charged following the August 2019 crash on Lake Joseph, north of Toronto.

14 - Canadian-born comedian Norm Macdonald, best known for his tenure on "Saturday Night Live," died at 61 after a private battle with cancer. The Quebec City-raised standup didn't share his health struggles with the public. Macdonald was known for his wry, deadpan delivery in the anchor chair of SNL's "Weekend Update'' in the mid-1990s.

15 - The NDP confirmed two of its candidates had dropped out of the election with days left to go. The party said Dan Osborne, the candidate for Cumberland-Colchester in Nova Scotia, and Sidney Coles, the candidate for Toronto-St. Paul's "agreed to educate themselves further about antisemitism.'' Coles reportedly tweeted misinformation that Israel was linked to missing COVID-19 vaccines while Osborne was reported to have sent a tweet to Oprah in 2019 asking if Auschwitz was a real place.

15 - CP Rail won the battle against CN Rail over Kansas City Southern. CN announced it was dropping its takeover bid for the American railway, days after KCS said CP's proposal was the superior offer. CP Rail said the merger would create the first rail network that stretches from Mexico to Canada, and would provide new competitive transportation options and support North American economic growth.

15 - Olympic gold medallist Simone Biles cried as she told a Senate committee that the FBI and gymnastics officials turned a blind eye to USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse of her and hundreds of other women. Biles said USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee knew that she was abused by their official team doctor.

15 - For the first time in nearly 25 years, members of the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation had clean, running water. The community on the Manitoba-Ontario boundary had been under a boil-water advisory since 1998. Its new water treatment plant finally opened, ending one of the longest boil-water advisories in the country.

15 - U.S. President Joe Biden announced that the United States was forming a new Indo-Pacific security alliance with Britain and Australia that would allow for greater sharing of defence capabilities -- including helping equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

15 - Alberta's United Conservative government made an abrupt about-face as the fourth wave of COVID-19 threatened the province's health-care system. Premier Jason Kenney offered a mea culpa, admitting that lifting almost all public health restrictions more than two months ago was the wrong call.

15 - SpaceX's first private flight streaked into orbit with two contest winners, a health-care worker and their billionaire sponsor. It was the first time a spacecraft circled Earth with an all-amateur crew and no professional astronauts. SpaceX's recycled rocket soared from the same Kennedy Space Center pad in Florida that was used by the company's three previous astronaut flights for NASA.

16 - Lisa Byington made history as the Milwaukee Bucks' new play-by-play television broadcaster. The Bucks announced the hiring and said Byington is the first woman to work as a full-time TV play-by-play announcer for any major men's professional sports team. She had become the first female play-by-play broadcaster for the NCAA men's basketball tournament earlier this year.

16 - Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole pinned the COVID-19 crisis in Alberta on Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. He said Trudeau, not Premier Jason Kenney, let the Delta variant gain a foothold in the province and then called an election as a fourth wave of the pandemic surged. Kenney lifted all public health restrictions in Alberta on Canada Day, despite multiple warnings from health experts across the country.

16 - Health Canada announced new names for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines based on a request from the drug companies. The Pfizer vaccine would now be known as Comirnaty, which is a mash-up of the terms COVID-19, mRNA, community and immunity. The Moderna vaccine would go by SpikeVax and the AstraZeneca vaccine would be named Vaxzevria.

17 - U.S. federal regulators approved a drug from Eli Lilly for a new use in preventing disease in people who have been recently exposed to COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use of the drug for adults and children older than 12 who may have an infection and are at high risk for getting severe COVID-19. Previously the drug was authorized for high-risk patients with confirmed COVID-19.

17 - The charge of obstruction of justice filed against former defence chief Jonathan Vance would be dealt with as a summary, not an indictable offence. A military law expert said the announcement made during a brief virtual court hearing meant Vance would face a maximum of two years less a day in prison if convicted, rather than up to 10 years.

17 - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said a Toronto-area candidate had been asked to pause his campaign after the party learned he previously faced a sexual assault charge that was dropped. At a campaign event in Windsor, Trudeau said that he learned about the allegations against Spadina-Fort York candidate Kevin Vuong after the Toronto Star reported on the 2019 charge against him, which was later withdrawn. Vuong said in a statement that the allegations are false.

18 - A Canadian-led study finds the area of the globe covered by coral reefs has been cut in half since 1950. Fishers along reefs have to spend more than twice as much time and effort to land the same catch they did 50-years-ago. And reefs around the world have lost almost two-thirds of their biodiversity. Study author Tyler Eddy of Newfoundland's Memorial University says the culprits range from overfishing to pollution to climate change.

18 - Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole insisted he was running a safe campaign. But O'Toole, during a campaign stop in Dundas, Ont., wouldn't say just how many of his candidates were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Instead, he turned the focus to Justin Trudeau, condemning the Liberal leader for calling an election during a pandemic.

18 - ''Belfast'' was the big winner at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Northern Ireland-set family drama from writer-director Kenneth Branagh won the People's Choice prize.

19 - "The Crown'' was the winner of the best drama series Emmy Award, giving Netflix its first top series win. Netflix won a leading total of 44 awards, equalling the broadcast network record set back in 1974, by CBS.

20 - Canada's next Parliament would feature another Liberal minority government headed up by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. No party reached the 170 seats needed to declare a majority.

21 - The girls on Afghanistan's national soccer team were given asylum in Portugal. Team captain Farkhunda Muhtaj spent the last few weeks communicating with the girls from her home in Canada. Muhtaj said the girls had had an anxious time trying to get out of the country. Even though the girls feared what their lives might become like under the Taliban, who forbid women and girls from playing sports, Muhtaj said Afghanistan would always be in their hearts.

21 - Alberta Premier Jason Kenney made two changes to his cabinet amid growing internal and public backlash over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tyler Shandro was shuffled from health to labour and immigration, swapping positions with Jason Copping, who is now minister of health. Kenney said leaving the role was Shandro's idea after he faced sharp criticism during the COVID-19 public health crisis and an ongoing dispute with Alberta physicians.

22 - COVID-19 vaccine certificate or vaccine passport programs were now in effect in both New Brunswick and Ontario.

22 - The Liberals were re-elected in Fredericton. The race between incumbent Jenica Atwin and Conservative Andrea Johnson was too close to call on election night. But with the counting of more than 2,000 mail-in and absentee ballots, Elections Canada reported the former Green politician beat Johnson by just 502 votes.

22 - There were more than 600 signatures on an online petition calling for a review of Erin O'Toole's leadership of the Conservative party. National council member Bert Chen said some party members weren't happy with the more moderate direction O'Toole had taken the party, and believed he needed to be held responsible.

23 - The Canadian Hockey League confirmed the 2022 Memorial Cup will be hosted by the Saint John Sea Dogs in New Brunswick. The COVID-19 pandemic had forced the cancellation of the tournament for the past two years. The round-robin tournament will take place from June 3 to 12.

23 - A former Nazi death-squad member died in the midst of his Canadian deportation hearing. A lawyer for Helmut Oberlander recently asked the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada for an adjournment in a hearing on whether Oberlander could remain in Canada or be deported to Germany. The 97-year-old, who had been living in Waterloo, Ont., was a member of a Nazi death squad that operated behind the German army's front line in the eastern occupied territories during the Second World War.

23 - Charges were laid against two former SNC-Lavalin executives for allegedly paying bribes to obtain a contract. The Quebec engineering giant's international business arm was also facing multiple fraud and conspiracy charges.

24 - Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were freed. The two Canadians detained in China were released and on their way home. Justin Trudeau spoke just hours after the U.S. Justice Department resolved criminal charges against a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei. Meng Wanzhou reached a plea agreement with U.S. prosecutors, prompting the court here to stop extradition proceedings against her.

25 - Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor landed in Calgary aboard a Canadian Forces plane. They were welcomed home by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Global Affairs Minister Marc Garneau ahead of reunions with loved ones.

26 - Newly elected Toronto MP Kevin Vuong confirmed that he would not resign, and instead, would sit as an Independent. Vuong initially ran as a Liberal, but the party dropped him as a candidate just two days before Monday's election over a sexual assault charge laid against him in 2019, which was later dropped.

27 - The centre-left Social Democrats won the biggest share of the vote in Germany's national election. They beat outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right Union bloc in a closely fought race. Election officials said a count of all 299 constituencies showed the Social Democrats won 25.9 per cent of the vote, ahead of 24.1 for the Union bloc. The environmentalist Greens came third with 14.8 per cent, followed by the pro-business Free Democrats with 11.5.

27 - China's Foreign Ministry said Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were released on bail for health reasons, not in a prisoner swap. During a news conference, a ministry spokesperson tried to downplay the connection between their release and the return to China of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou.

27 - Green Party Leader Annamie Paul resigned after coming in fourth in this year's election, saying there was a struggle underway for the soul of the party. Paul said she didn't have the heart to put up with the attacks that she said were coming. That included a review of her leadership.

27 - R. Kelly was convicted in a sex trafficking trial. His accusers testified how he subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage girls. A New York City jury of seven men and five women found Kelly guilty on a racketeering charge. Kelly was also convicted of criminal counts accusing him of violating the Mann Act -- making it illegal to take anyone across state lines "for any immoral purpose.''

27 - Cadence Weapon won the 2021 Polaris Music Prize for his album "Parallel World.'' The Edmonton-raised rapper's project -- which fuses hip-hop, electronic and grime music -- was selected by an 11-member grand jury as the best Canadian album of the year, based on its artistic merit.

29 - Japan's former foreign minister Fumio Kishida won the governing party leadership election and was set to become the next prime minister. Kishida replaced outgoing party leader Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who was stepping down after serving only one year.

29 - Indigenous rights campaigner Freda Huson of B.C.'s Wet'suwet'en First Nation won Sweden's Right Livelihood Award. The foundation that awards what are known as the "Alternative Nobel'' recognized her "fearless dedication to reclaiming her people's culture and defending their land against disastrous pipeline projects.'' The foundation also recognized a gender and peace activist who has worked to prevent sexual violence against girls in Cameroon, a Russian environmental campaigner and India's Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment.

29 - Ottawa lost its bid to appeal a decision that called for First Nations children to be compensated after it was ruled the government didn't properly fund child and family services on reserves. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled in 2019 that Ottawa didn't properly fund the services, which amounted to discrimination. It ordered Ottawa to pay $40,000 each to about 50,000 First Nations kids and their families.

29 - A judge suspended Britney Spears' father from the conservatorship that had controlled the singer's life and money for 13 years. Spears' lawyer Michael Rosengart said she was relieved that her nightmare was finally over. The move was a major victory for the singer, who pleaded in dramatic hearings in June and July that her father needed to be out.

30 - Canada observed a sombre day on the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It was a day to recognize the horrors of Canada's former residential school system and honour the lost children and survivors. The new national holiday granted a paid day off to federally regulated employees and public servants, and some provinces did the same for their workers.

30 - Labrador's Innu Nation ended its legal actions against Ottawa and the Newfoundland and Labrador government over a recent $5.2-billion refinancing deal for a troubled hydroelectricity project. The federal and provincial governments agreed to consult the Innu Nation about any future financial restructuring of hydroelectric projects on the Lower Churchill River in Labrador.

30 - The Metis National Council elected its first new leader in many years. Cassidy Caron, who previously served as youth minister with Metis Nation of B.C., is the first woman to take the role. Former president Clement Chartier had held the position since 2003, but in recent years there was internal turmoil with regional leaders calling for his resignation.

30 - A member of Saskatchewan's caucus resigned for misrepresenting her vaccination status. Nadine Wilson had represented the constituency of Saskatchewan Rivers since 2007, and remained as an MLA but would be considered an Independent in the legislature. Premier Scott Moe said the remaining 47 members of the Saskatchewan Party caucus were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

30 - A spokesman for Justin Trudeau said the prime minister spent hours speaking with residential school survivors to hear their stories of trauma and healing, and get advice on how Canada should move forward in reconciliation efforts with First Nations. Trudeau had come under fire for spending part of Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Tofino, B.C., with his family. His office denied Trudeau used the day as a holiday.

The Canadian Press

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